[Transcribed by AB 31 July 2021. AB as transcriber is distinct from AB as participant.]
Present: CA, NO, NB, RG, TB, AB (host)
# CA: Been busy sorting this out. Got some ideas. Useful to write things down.
[NW USA and Canada had had huge temperatures]
# NO: Texas having rain. If rain comes from west, it leaves a sandy residue, but from east it's clean. Rain because it is sweeping down from mountains. High pressure systems push down. El Nino. Usually bad for Mexico, Ecuador.
# NB: Meterology an unsolved science. Mysteries.
# AB: Affected by high temperature?
# NO: Yes, west texas 100 miles west will get it. A horrible fire season.
# AB: More fires than able to grow?
# NO: Don't know. Lots of die off because of a certain beetle. So a lot of dead wood. Burns like crazy. Multiple things.
# NB: We dind't know the role of fire in these ecosystems. Used to burn every 10 years, burned away the undergrowth.
# NO: Book '1491'. Plains Indians would burn away the grass. Managing the environment to support their lifestyle. Pilgrims amazing. Shows how man works with nature. [za50] ***
# AB: Genesis 1:26-28. How God wants humanity to shepherd, not exploit, the rest of Creation, for its own sake rather than ours, so imaging God's agape love. Shepherding involves opening up its potential so that it flourishes, along with human beings.
# AB: Must get the book.
# NO: Sad that when we got over here, was that we did not listern.
# AB: That's another discussion.
[---- recording on ----]
# AB: Last time, NO offered to tell us something about his - he was very complimentary about these discussions and offered to tell us something about his response to them.
# He has has prepared something, and I received it yesterday morning and sent it out last night.
[NO had put sent a file with overview of the Discussions and a proposal for the way ahead. The text of NO's ideas is below at the end.]
# I don't know how many have read it, but I have a few questions for him, and we can have questions as we go.
# AB: How many people have actually read and might have questions? [most put up hands. One person said "Skim read"] # TB: I would if I'd had a chance, really wanted to. # AB: I'll give priority to you lot in asking questions. I expect a lot will come up.
# AB: Hand over to NO. NO, thank you very much for being willing to do this.
# NO: Thank you. For scribing and guidance.
[First NO, recounts positive experience of the discussion, expanding on what he says in his paper]
# Been a great experience for me, faithfully, intellectually. Difficult to put it into words, but found it very affirming, speaking to smart Christians across the wide ocean that have many different perspectives and experiences, and yet we can talk about coming to grips with some important issues that should concern Christians. [za51]
# So maybe that's a little bit of evidence that God's grace is at work and the Spirit's in the world. It's evidence that it's a boundless thing. That it will move everywhere.
# It's been intelldectually stimulating. I haven't talked to a lot of academics - some in the world, people from different academic backgrounds and business experience. So it's great for me from that standpoint.
# NO: The other thing I noted [in the paper] is that everything I put down there is my take on things - the good, bad and ugly. It doesn't necessarily agree with all the thinking, but I put it out there to see if it could add some value to the discussions.
# So, with that as a preamble - not to go through the whole paper since people have read it some /
# [JC joined] NO: Hi JC, how are you doing.
# I went back through our discussions and the notes and there's a lot there. It's a little difficult for me to synthesize it all.
# So I took the approach that if we figure out a target for the CHristian efforts that we discussed, then maybe coming to an agreement on where the end is, or the target, could be, that would also correspondingly help focus some of the actions measurements or issues that we wanted to dwell on.
# So I looked at this thing, and I said [in the document] that there are essentially four targets or leverage points (as I like to think about it) [za52]:
[AB: The following from NB was interjected below, but it makes more sense here. So I've moved it here.]
# NB: I'll just jump in a little bit.
# These four targets that you've identified. There's a sense that you think of them as knobs that we can twist, like on a stereo hifi system - these are knobs that we have some attempt to control over.
# But I think they are interrelated. The point of changing the measurement knob, of trying to introduce new mesuarements, is to influence hearts and mids of individuals and the policies of governments. So, messing with one of these inevitably messes with the other three as well. [za53] ***
# Which I think is a good thing - It means that your sense of that numbers 2 and 3, or numbers 1 and 3, [individuals, governments] are untouchable might not really be as dire as it sounds.
# That you can look at them as a whole as well as individuals. [za54]
# NO: Yes. That's correct. But ... [See below at the interjection point]
# So the net that I came up with was that we're not going to have much luck influencing governments or individuals.
# But we can make headway if we look at the measurements that are out there and who's involved with those measurements.
# And then number (2) [actually number 4] the markets themselves will help us as we can bring these measurements to better focus.
[AB: I think by "we" NO meant those involved in the Reith Lectures Discussion Group, rather than Christian or even human thinkers and actors as a whole. It is a suggestion for what this group can do that might have some actual effect, rather than just being a talking shop. That means that others might be able to effect chances in the others. Yes: this is confirmed by what he says lter]
# That's pretty much where I ended up.
[AB: The following was what I wrote during the conversation. I don't know where these wordings came from. I would be surprised if they came just out of my mind at the time, but they are not on the voice recording: "2. measurements, GDPs and the like, and their reporting. 3) The policies of governments, world or individual governments - sovereign, or unified associations and such. 4) The marketplaces of exchange. Won't have much ..." Maybe not all we said was recorded? I keep it just in case it is useful. ]
[AB: Here is where NB interjected, which I have moved above. AB had interjected an invitation to ask questions. ]
# NB: ... [the four are interconnected].
# NO: Yes. That's correct.
# NO: What I'm suggesting - what I was looking for was where we can make most bang for the least buck. [za55] ***
# And if we can do this with the measurements, which is already underway in some respects, and is a smaller group of people to influence - this is a rather political look at things - then some of these other things will follow along. [za56]
[AB: NO is thinking tactics, about what we can do as a group. Action]
# Doesn't mean we'll be successful, or that they won't be corrupted at a later date, which is unfortunate /
# NB: We're not called to be successful, only faithfully obedient. # JC: Amen! # NO: I feel a lot better now. [laughter] [za57] ***
# NO: So, under the rubric of trying to fulfil the Great Commission [AB: Genesis 1:26-28, to shepherd the rest of Creation], we want to try and improve the way we look at the economy, so that it's a more wholesome (I guess; I don't know if that's the right word). # AB: We used the term Healthy Living Environment HLE, didn't we. # NO: Yes. [za58]
[AB: question: Can we not have an impact on individual hearts and minds, or on governments? Perhaps not in our own strength, but can the Holy Spirit not be active, convicting people, as has been done before? Of course we cannot tell what the Holy Spirit will do. But can we not work things out, and intercede about this if we have passion for it? ] [za59]
# NO: I'll comment briefly on Mariana Mazzucato.
# There's another book by a news person, I guess, called Makers and Takers (I think that's what it's called). [AB: "makers and takers" is a phrase that MMz uses].
# MMz is critical of her profession, which is economics (I believe). She teaches at the London School [of Economics].
# Her issue is that the focal point of economics has moved away from value issues, in terms of value extraction and value taking, and it's turned instead to just all about price and market and transactions. To the extent, she says, that they don't even teach some of the earlier theories in economics any more. [za60]
# NO: What I feel is right about that is - I've thought for a long time - is /
# I make a distinction, between the banking world where you are banking and financing projects that are constructing things or developing things, as opposed to where you're engaged in finance that is simply trading paper. And a good deal of our economic system now hinges on what's called these financial papers. And we've inflated the value of things so that we can trade bigger and bigger papers. [AB: MMz message is "productive rather than unproductive"] [za61]
# And it has created development, but [so] let me not be negative on some of that, at all. It does create a bigger money supply; it does create the opportunity to fund projects. [AB: NO is acknowledging a possible benefit of that finance-oriented economics before he mentions its downside - as mentioned in MMz] [za62]
# But what happens with this thing is two bad things.
# 1. One is that - I'm not sure how much you're familiar with manufacturing systems and stuff: when you create a bigger process or system, sometimes you create bigger leakages, bigger tolerances.
# For example [AB: NO is using this as metaphor]: If I was making a spring or a wheel and it was a 13" wheel, my machines might have a tolerance of a quarter of an inch or so. But if I was making an 8-foot wheel for an aeroplane, my machines might have a tolerance of an inch.
# What happens in the money markets is the same thing: When you blow up the money supply, you got a lot more opportunity for the dark economy, for leakage. That has its own multiplier effect, which is a problem. [za63]
# So that's one issue.
# AB: Is that MMz saying that, or is that you interpreting her? # NO: That's probably me drawing a conclusion from what she's trying to talk about.
# NO: The second problem with this trading-for-tradin's-sake is greed. [za64] ***
# And the 'inventive human mind'. [za65]
[AB: I inserted scare-quotes around that because NO laughed and I think that, though inventiveness is in itself positive, NO was meaning it slightly sarcastically: inventiveness targeted at bad ends, driven by greed. ]
# If somebody can figure out a way to package up securities and get them floated out there, and make a 5% commission on a $500m bond issue, they're going to do it. And unfortunately, we've got people making money that you and I will never see in our lifetime, on a deal. [za66]
# So, I think there's a principle [or principal?] problem here that we get into when /
# She [Mariana Mazzucato] has identified this issue of economics without a relationship to productive value or poor extraction. That's what she's talking about.
# She quizzed Mark [Carney] in one of the first lectures. She put the question to him about "Rent" - which is a kind of technical term that I don't think people understand. [AB: "Rent" in MMz's book is about making money out of other people's needs, rather than by producing some good? Taker rather than maker.]
# And he bascially dodged the question in his answer. Because he is part of the money machine. [za67]
# NB: ??? not able to understand that it was a meaningful question! # NO: Yeah. Unfortunately. So that's sad.
[AB: a critique of MC]
[AB: See also fuller comments on Mariana Mazzucato by AB and NO. ]
# NB: NO, you were talking about how these markets and these complex security instruments do - you used the word "create" development - I would maybe go "facilitate development" - Is the issue that there is a better way to facilitate development where you get more development per human energy than the current system? Or is that not really the critique? [za68] ***
# NO: I probably need to think about that a little bit.
# But what happens is that financiers go to countries that don't have a lot of infrastructure, education, and they will propose building a resort, harbour facilities - whatever it is - and that particular country may not have resources to deal with those projects. But that's 'OK' because they'll go out and contract some big national firm to bring people in from some place else.
# And it tends to create a false economy, that is not necessarily beneficial to the people living that area.
# So that's where I see a problem. And that's where perhaps there could be some better guidance somwhere.
[AB: Is the root problem there that the top decision-makers in that country are motivated by hubris? That they like iconic projects to satisfy their egos - the "pride of life" (I John 5:12?)? pistic dysfunction, Christian values relevant. But read on ...]
# NB: So the issue there is not that there is a better way to create more development but that there's a way to create better development. There's a difference between the efficiency of how much development you get for human energy, and an economy that encourages us to be critical about what kinds of development are desirable. [za69] ***
# NO: So, I'm writing down "development" over "human energy", because I like that. I want to think about that some more. There could be some indicator that makes sense.
# AB: It sounds like the issue of good and harm, isn't it. # NO: Oh, definitely. [za70]
[AB: This kind of discussion is part of the reason why we think it is necessary to widen beyond presupposing economic activity is good, to recognising some of it is harmful. ]
# JC: Your example of tolerances, NO, resonates with me. Is there a way we can build a functional focus.
# Thank you for bringing that idea / bringing that in focus to where we aim. Because all we have now is the potential for marchier: we're just going to shoot everywhere and we're not going to hit the centre point if we don't have a point to move around. [za71] [AB: Need to focus our efforts - as NO was suggesting earlier]
# But when you bring in the example of tolerances, to your point, the finer the focus on maybe what NB brought up, is maybe understanding the paths or modes or development creation.
# And figuring out how to measure efficent modes and tradeoffs of development creation could be a good critique. [za72]
# I'm just listening to you all and reviewing: there might be something there, that we focus on this: If our tolerances are tight, we don't have that much 'off'. You know, we can maybe encompass that focus thing. It needs to be clear.
[AB: JC subsequently clarified it as follows:
There is a way to create better development (Nick's comment), with his response as Development over Human Energy, discussion on both the types and efficiencies needed to have "better development" spurned the thought...
My comments were going towards focusing on some form of definaible/discernable "target" and definition of tolerances of what is allowable surrounding the target to be useful in defining what is "better development". The hamartia comment is the sin analogy as missing the mark. Where we all in this discussion are stating that we (humanity with our current discussions of what is economically viable) are missing the mark for what should be acceptable and Good economic activity because we narrowed down economic activity so acutely on the definable scope of value (money) creation, instead of coupling the directly caused externalities to that activity. By aexaming the modes of development creation or economic activity to examine the supply chain, workers, pollution and other "modes" of economic development creation we can better discuss what certain types of economic development creation affords (in the transspherical sense of the word affords).
# NO: I think that's a great point.
# NO: So, when we think about when we're going to have economic measurements that are broad, i would love to see those measurements that measure both the good things and the bad things. [za73]
# So [example], if we had a measurement that also told us, "Here's the level of corruption" - and there are actually people that have put some of these things together - but if we formalise that here's the level of leakage and corruption that's going on, then my hope is that - what was the saying? - that "visibility fixes things", or "you cannot fix a problem you cannot see", or something like that.
[AB: was it "You cannot manage what you cannot measure?" However I'm not sure that's wholly true. See 3.4.2 Role of Measurement. ]
# NB: Can I give an example: I'm curious that both NO and JC - if this is getting at what you're talking abut:
# For a while the world was very enamoured with micro finance. (I dunno if that's fallen out of favour in economic circles, CA, at all or not.) But the idea of small loans for individuals. [za74]
# So I for a decade ago there was a website "Kiva", that was meant to directly connect capital to people in development situations who need the capital.
# So I participated in that for a while, and I always tried to target loans that resulted in production of some sort. [AB: C.f. Mariana Mazzucato] [za75]
# So [for example] a loan for to buy some construction equipment or a loan for someone to buy some raw lumber, or a loan for someone to buy a sewing machine - as opposed to loan for people to buy a bunch of pop to stock their convenience store.
# Not that I'm suggesting that people wanting to open a convenience store in Nigeria and sell pop to the passers by would be unsuccessful in helping them get out of poverty -
# But I was using my own judgement about "That's a development that wouldn't bring as much new human flourishing as a new sewing machine or new construction equipment." [za76] ***
[AB: Sounds an important issue to me. It is about the essential versus the non-esssential. ]
# NB: So, I'm making judgements about the kind of developments I think are valuable. Above and beyond what the economic system would [allow?] / the judgements of the economic system would say "If people want to buy pop, they'll spend their money on you know on Coca Cola."
# Who am I to say that that's not the way to increase human flourishing? And I say, "Well I'm a human being using my judgement, that's who I am."
# So, is that what you're getting at when you talk about good development versus poor development?
# AB: I would say so.
# I remember, back in the beginning of the pandemic, I had the question in my mind: The pandemic was spread initially by people flying - came from China by people flying. and then it was then spread from the places like Spain and so on, to let's say Britain and so on, again by people flying.
# And I realised that there's an awful lot of flying that I called "non-essential". You know - like people going on holiday because they could.
# [Example:] I remember, a dozen years ago, one of the travel firms tried to encourage people to have five flights a year - five breaks a year, flying. It was based on the idea [slogan] that we should have five good pieces of food a day [vegetables and fruit]. So they were trying to increase the amount of flying just by saying "Have more breaks."
# And I felt: there's some non-essem\ntiality about that. And I know that RG doesn't like the idea of non-essentials , but I felt that there's something there:
# A lot of this economic activity of flying actually is harmful ecologically and also even culturally. And a lot of the harmful - I mean sometimes you've got to do harmful stuff - but some of the harmful seems to be non-necessary.
# And I had that in my mind - I had this idea of GHU "Good, Harmful, Useless" I called it then.
# I kind of develop that. It didn't really go very far, and I realised that the Useless or Non-essential is different from the Good and the Harm.
# But that's the sort of thing I had in mind, and it sounds very like what you're talking about, NB.
[AB: At the time I had created a wee Youtube on it, Moving the Global Economy Towards a New Normal ("https://youtu.be/X_Y0fEGMrNA"). I emailed a Dutch Senator about it, and he replied that the idea of Good, Harmful and Useless would be helpful to him. ]
# NB: It's also the case that most activities involve both some good and some harm. The good and the are incommensurable. [za77]
# [Example] Someone who drinks Coke, a bottle of Coca Cola, receives some good from it. There's pleasurable feeling having those flavours flow over our tongue, down our through. It feels good. We should not discount the psychic benefit of drinking a bottle Coke. There's also some biotic harm: your pancreas now has to deal with you know 16 teaspoons of sugar.
# But to compare it, "Is the good worth the harm?" - they're not comparable. They occur in different aspects.
# Flying is similar. There's ecological damage from the carbon and there's some cultural imperialism that can come - but it's also enjoyable. And we shouldn't ??? discomfort either.
# JC: This practical solution, I mean /
# JC: AB, when you mention the whole non-essential flying to me: As a fundraiser, that covers the Mid-Atlantic and the SouthEast, I covered a wide territory of the country.
# But AB's comment 18 months ago really derailed my thinking. [AB: I think it was about the harm flying does and that much of it is non-necessary.] Thank God, Covid came, because I didn't have to buy a ticket, for 18 months.
# But I come for the practical thing yesterday, when I had to buy my first flight in 18 months.
# I was thinking here, "What do I do?"
# And NO, and everybody: This might be a little window into kind of a tool we can build.
[AB: Suggestion for project the RLDG might do? ]
# JC: I didn't know what the distance ratio was, and the tradeoff ratio was: of my time. I've got two small kids. Do I drive, so I can get home quicker? Or do I fly so it's quicker and I'm not tired. I don't know how to do that maths. [za78]
# Then I thought, "Maybe I'll just drive." Well, guess what happened: (Not sure if anyone knows the States.) There were no rental cars ye all, there are no rental cars. I had never faced this problem before, being privileged in the East I could get a rental car anywhere. I cannot get a rental car to rent to drive to DC. DC is four and a half to five hours away depending on traffic, sometimes can be seven or eight because of the traffic. And so I can make that drive. But now I don't have the option to get the rental car to drive. I have to buy the ticket. [za79]
# You see what I'm saying. That real down-to-earth example of: "What's the flourishing affordance there?" - that's the word, the flourishing affordance, where I do my work, I'm going to meet 30-some-odd people, on the 29th up in DC, a couple of individual visits, where the work happens. But at what cost? [za80]
# You know, I don't have a tool to make that decision. [za81]
# NO: That's great. I like that idea too.
# Again, that might be something that needs to be put out there for people to take a look at. [Suggestion for project.]
# AB: Yes, that's exactly where I was.
# I was thinking: I don't want to ban flying, I don't want to ban this and that. But somehow we've got to think about it. Because there is something wrong in the amount people fly, compared with - like what's happening in Africa and so on.
# What's God going to say to us at the Judgment Day?
# That's what I had in my mind. I don't want to ban. How do we deal with it?
# Your statement JC of that was great, that down-to-earth example was great.
# NB: The economist's answer to that would be to raise the price of flying. And for climate change, in terms of CO2 release, a carbon tax is a relatively straighforward solution that would increase the price of flying to reflect its real cost. [za82]
# But, AB, you're talking about a wide variety of detriments that come from flying, and I don't know how to price them, and I certainly don't know how to convince governments to institute that as policy. [za83]
# AB: I have a feeling that the individual hearts and minds issue, that NO mentioned - but he said we cannot deal with that.
# (In some ways I've got at the back of my mind, that) we, who belong to Christ, have a way of dealing with that.
[AB: AB was thinking of the Gospel of Christ, including filling with the Holy Spirit, which can radically change people, from the heart outwards. ]
# And I would cite as evidence the various revivals that happened. I studied the Welsh Revival in 1904, where a lot of people cam to Christ and of their own volition gave up drinking, gambling, beating their wives and so on. And it changed society. And the police and magistrates suddenly had nothing to do, because there was no crime, because people's hearts had changed. [za84]
# Now, I realise that that is a specific situation, and we cannot (if you like) depend on that happening, because it's God's sovereign choice. [za85]
# But I do believe there is something there: that we who follow Christ can take that into account.
# And I don't know how to do it yet.
[AB: Suggestion for project: Work out the possibility of the Gospel changing people's hearts and minds in this way. ] [za86]
# NO: Well, I think, that if we get initiatives that are pinging the people who are responsible for these economic mesurements, and if we broaden this discussion and bring some of these questions - these "non-essential" questions [i.e. questions about non-essentiality] out - I have a great / #
# And I think we can see, particularly in many of the young people today: they are very inventive. They are coming up with things that I would never have thought of 30 years ago, I have to tell you.
# And we have a lot of tools today.
# That's one of the reasons I said that the market place is actually a friend to what we want to do.
# Because I think, if we bring these conversations out, and can focus on some measurements and discussions, I think it'll go two ways.
#  I think it'll go towards the people who are formulating these evaluations.
#  And I think some people will take off and say, "Hey look," like JC said, "here's an index that we can [use?] - here's a site that everybody can use, that will help you to reduce your footprint." And you can put this calculation in here, or you can do this here. I think some of these things may take on a life of their own. I have some faith that these kind of tools and possibilities are there. And we just need to drive home some focus on that forefront. [za87]
[AB: Suggestion for project? Develop calculator tool or index to measure some of these. ] [za88]
# (I think it's a lost cause to go to governments, and have governments mandate some CO2 level that and then the laws gotta pass through there and the businesses will figure out a way around it, because they do it all the time /) [za89]
# I think it would go right to the new measures. We need new measures. That's kind of where I'm at with that.
# CA: I was actually thinking about something else. I was reading what NO was proposing, then I was thinking:
# When NB asked the question, whether we should give a loan for someone who sell pop or whether to give out a loan to someone who wants to buy a sewing machine.
[AB: In what follows, I think CA is presenting the standard Economist's view, starting from NB's question. ]
# So, how the economists look at this is: "How many people are in the supply chain?" [za90]
[AB: Is that reduction to quantitative aspect? ]
# For example, to make pop, you need to get sugar cane or something, so it goes through agriculture. then it comes to manufacturing, then it goes to sales. So, how many people are involved in that chain. The more people involved in the chain of production, the better the chances is going to be. # NB: the better the chances of what? # CA: The better the chances of getting the loan [in conventional finance, not micro finance]. [za91]
# This is how the bank is looking at it. The more industries and sectors that we are covering, the more people are getting paid, more people have a job because of this. So then it's something we're going to invest in. [za92]
# So pop is going to be a better answer compared to a sewing machine. Because you're going to give money to that one person, the person is going to sew it, and then the person is going to sell it. So how many people are involved in that supply chain - not a lot.
[AB: But surely the supply chain for the manufacture of the sewing machine would be huge, and add to that the supply chain of the thread and material used ... is that not as large as that of pop? Maybe not if the sewn articles are not sold on multiple times, but used for the Good of one person each. ]
[AB: NOTE, HOWEVER: I think that CA was not primarily trying to argue about which supply chain was better, but that this is the way that economists look at it, and that it is not a good way of looking at it. I discovered that later on in conversation, below. ]
# So, how they are looking at things is like this: For example, this was the question we asked two weeks ago about McDonalds. We said, Look at McDonalds: McDonalds is causing a lot of harm to people. But if you go into McDonalds' website, and look at the CSR projects that they do, they say "We going to hospitals, we're helping these kids ..." All these things they are doing.
# They're saying "I am selling all these burgers and things that are bad for people's health and bad for kids and everything, but still I am doing this CSR, and puttinng out my energy to help other people out." [za93]
# So if you are going to look at it from a Christian lens - AB will remember this conversation. AB said, "We cannot say, I'm going to part good, part bad." All of it has to be good, all of it has to be bad. We cannot do part-part. [za94]
# This is where the problem is.
# But when you look at [it from the perspective of] economics, it is working part-part.
[AB: I think that CA is saying the equivalent of: (a) Good and Harm are realities that we take into account, and we must aim for the Good and try to reduce the Harm, not accept both equally. (b) But economics does not differentiate them and so ends up mixing Good and Harm together. ]
# So, for example, if there is a lot of people admitted in the hospital because of the amount of junk food that KFC, etc. is happening, it comes to a severe situation where we cannot find people to work in factories and things. It is [When it gets] beyond the break-even point already - then they are going to step in and see how they can help out.
# Then it's like the pandemic, Covid [where governments stepped in and took action].
# But if it's not affecting any one - you know, money is rolling around, it's affecting people but it hasn't come to a stage where the economy has come to a standstill, then why should I [as economist] worry about it, I won't worry about it. But when the economy comes to standstill, yes, now is the time to get worried.
[AB: Comment: That is tragic/bad. It is making the economy the only thing that matters. It is isolating economic activity from every other aspect in life, and denying their value. This happens because of idolatry of the economy, because of pistic dysfunction, by politicians, by opinion-formers, by society as a whole. ]
# Like Covid-19. Look at Covid-19. Although, people were dying. People are dying and people were saying "I don't want to go out there, I have to go to work" - they say "You know what, people are dying all the time; go out to work!" - So when a hospital starts to become too overwhelmed, and we cannot cope any more - it's past the breakeven point, and they put a cut to it and they say "Everybody stay at home."
# So once they can cope again - like now a lot of people have vaccine - so they say, "You know what, you people are going to be OK; you might have a bit of fever or cough or something, but you're still going to be OK, so we're still going to send you out."
# When it starts to disrupt the economy then it has already reached the cut-off point; only now am I going to take action. # AB: That's interesting. [za95]
[AB: I sense an implication there that while we have covid, we should not be sending people out to work. If so, we have a challenge here: If we don't go out to work, then the measured / formal economic activity will be less, and so people will have less money to buy things, and will buy less. How do we face this? Do we just succumb to the siren call of the economy to serve it at all costs? Or do we find a way of having a HLE and human flourishing without such a large economy? Project: If we seriously want to countenance the latter, how do we do it? ]
# CA: So then you will ask the question, "Why is this happening? Why do you take this measure of only cutting off when it goes beyond the breakover point?" [za96]
# Now, these happen Because of labour.
# So now we have a huge population come back to those space. Everybody needs to have a job. They need to sustain their family, they need to get some money.
# Now, how do I get everyone to get a job? So only way I am going to get people to get a job is if I can start a business.
# So, if I can start a business, so for example, if you are buying shares, you are starting a business, no matter how small your share is. You might have only 1000 - but you are already considered a shareholder. So now if you are starting a bz, you are an important person, because now you have given jobs to people.
# The bigger the organisation is, the better it is because more people can get employed.
# So it is the same thing: the more processess I have in my factory, the better it is. The bigger my factory is, the more processes there are going to be, the more people are going to be employed, the better it is. Because it's going to bring people to the factory to work and they are going to earn some money.
# Then the government is OK because [it thinks] "I don't have to support all these people, these people are earning their living."
# So now, everyone has a job.
# So then you ask the question, so this answers the question about when you got to the shop why do I have so many choices [which was in an earlier discussion]? Why do we have olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil - you name it, all the oil from all over - we have it. This is because we [believe we] need to create jobs.
[AB: This is the pure economist's view. It seems to have this iron logic of bigger and bigger. It obscures us from thinking about the Good and Harm of the jobs. Does this go beyond a romantic "Small is beautiful" perspective (even though it is true): an acknowledgement of the variety of kinds of harm and good, and to bring those into economics theory and practice? Suggested project ] [za97]
# Chat: "00:57:19 RG: I'll be disappearing in 5 mins to pick up my daughter... sorry I can't stay longer! I look forward to hearing your conclusions..."
# Now, then you're going to ask this question /
# Another example: If you look at the banks, how do the banks work: interest rates moving up and down - how is that? They make the decision, to say, "We are going to encourage people to spend, to stimulate the economy. We'll reduce the interest rate." So everyone is out there, buying things, spending money, because, what's the point of keeping the money in the bank, it's pointless.
[AB: That way of thinking sees money as a static thing rather than as a dynamic flow. Is that surely a flawed view? Mark Carney treats money as dynamic flow, and so does Dooyeweerd. ]
# So everyone is [saying] "Stimulate, stimulate the economy. Let people buy."
# Now, I've already bought all the things, now. And then suddenly, inflation is rising, so now cut it. So now I'm going to increase interest rates, so then people will then put their money back into the bank.
[AB: I don't see how increasing interest rates will reduce inflation - but that is probably Economics 101 that I need to learn. ]
# From that structure itself you can see how they are controlling the economy, because that is controlled by how much money is spent and everything.
# Just say, for example, I'm taklking about frugality here. I say "I don't want to spend any money; I'm frugal; I want to save some money here." Now where do I come in? They don't want people like this. Because when they say "Spend" I'm supposed to spend, when they say "Now save" I'm supposed to save.
# AB: Clarify: are you putting over what should be but what standard government and banks tend to say?
# CA: That's basically how they are operating. [za98]
# The alignment /
--- RG had to leave. [1.00.25 zoom recording time, which is larger than our time by about 17 minutes.]
# Chat: "01:00:25 RG: Bye!"
# CA: Now we need to think about what we are actually looking at [what we want].
# CA: Because this is how the economy is actually functioning. Because they are going to turn around and ask you "If you really want that question that NB just asked, 'which is more valuable? [sewing machine or pop]' - how many people are in the supply chain?"
# Now as a Christian you would [might?] say, "The more people employed the batter." You would think like that as well, right? So then you start to say, "Let me start to think, what are the products that are beneficial to people that we need to produce?" You can say like that.
[AB: I think that CA was aligning Christian view with max employment because we want to help all others. But from this Christian perspective, maybe not aim for maximum employment, because we see employment as not the only way to have HLE, human flourishing. I think that CA recognises that. ] [za99]
# Chat "01:01:56 JC: [Challenge] Could we think of a supplychain that produces a "product" that has "no" "negative" externalities or only "renewable" or "reusable" externalities that don't then lead to "negative" externalities??" [zaa0] ***
# CA: But then again, in this place [RLDG] we also had a discussion, that we don't want to be - (who are those people who live a very simple life, they are very frugal?) # JC: The Amish. # CA: OK, so [if] we don't want to be the Amish, because then it brings you to the other extreme. [zaa1]
# Bur then the economy is striving to have people buying all these things. But then they will tell you when to do the buying and when to stop. They will do the cutoff themselves. [zaa2]
# CA: To stabilise the economy, through monetary policy that they are doing, and they also have the physical policy, which is the taxation.
# So at the end of the day they are just balancing, balancing, balancing [c.f. part good, part bad?]. But we are trying to say "We don't want to do balancing; we want you to take out all that is bad." We ourselves don't want to get into the Amish situation, so basically what do we want?
# We don't want that extreme, the 'balancing' [conventional economics], we don't want the other extreme, which is the Amish [lifestyle], so now we need to think of what do we want? What is it? [zaa3] ***
[AB: Important question for us. Not only which do we want, but on what grounds, and with what conceptual framework do we analyse, judge and effect it? ] [zaa4]
# NO: In my perfect world we all go back to being farmers. [zaa5]
# CA: That is the worst thing that economists don't want you do so. [zaa6]
# NO: That's not my problem. [laughter] # CA: You're just growing the corn and you're just selling it, and that's it. And soon its gone. But manufacturing is a longer process.
# NO: So, what you are saying to me is that the structure of these systems, is not conducive to some of the Healthy Living that we'd like to see. [zaa7]
# Chat "01:04:00 JC: like an the complete opposite of corn syrup?"
# And my point is, that you're not going to be able to re-engineer all these processes and systems and it is good like you say that people have a job. My point is, that if we can get the right type of measurement in front of people, and we begin to reward people for some of these behaviours, we may be able to change the direction of some of those processes. So there's not so much Coke produced and not so much McDonalds, more vegeburgers. [zaa8]
# CA: For example, if you are entrepreneur, you have money and you are starting something, then you are the main person in the economy, you are the key. [the next sentence was actually between the two on firefighers] Because if you are an entrepreneur, you are in the middle, you are the heartbeat of the economy. [zaa9]
# So answering the question like you said, "Hey, fire fighters are important people, teachers are important people, nurses are important people - why are they getting paid terrible amounts?" [zab0]
# If you are the rest of the people, they are all supporting the heartbeat, they are the support. So, the firefighter, he is only maintaining the economy, just like the teachers, just like the doctors - all maintaining, supporting that heartbeat which is money.
[AB: CA is reinforcing the idea that current economists idolize the economic aspect and reduce all others to it. And that, in fact, value is not purely economic / monetary, but is of diverse types. I would understand that via Dooyeweerd's aspects. This helps us understand the value of each kind of role. ]
[AB: However, we must also take into account the value of the role. One might argue that if nobody got ill then nurses would not be so necessary: nursing is only there because of dysfunction in the biotic aspect - a negative necessity. Likewise fire fighters and police. However, teachers are there for a positive reason as well, to develop peoole (usually children). See Types of Non-essentials. ]
# NO: The answer to that is that that person that is the heartbeat is putting more at risk. The fireman, the policement are not putting their capital at risk. They are supporting. So guess what, they don't earn as much because they don't have as much at rish. That's the market.
[AB: I don't think NO was saying this is how it should be; he was just explaining why it is as it is at present.] [zab1]
[AB: But that elevates putting-one's-capital-at-risk as the most valuable the most important the most meaningful thing to do in life. Today 29 July 2021 I just listened to a BBC Radio 4 programme about hospital cleaners who put their very lives at risk when going into an area with deadly disease to clean up (in hermetically sealed suits). So do fire-fighters. Surely lives are more valuable than mere capital - so why are these people not paid double what the financiers are paid? Actually, JC says that, further down.
# CA: It's just like: We can just look at like the CEO of a company. The CEO is the one who makes those decision - investment and financing decisions and all these things. So he earns a bigger share of what the company makes. Compared with the support system. Whoever is doing the job, supporting the system. That explains why the firefighters, because they are just in a support role, are getting less pay and not even thought about. [zab2]
# CA: And the same thing like the household. You can say "What happens to the housewife?" [AB: of either sex!] They don't get paid, so that is not in the system. They are totally out because they are not getting paid there. [zab3]
# NO. that's right. But I think that's what I would like to change. I would like to make, instead of valuing everything again /
# So the whole structure is set on valuing transactions at a price. And what's looked at as either productive and adding value to taking away from value isn't getting measured. [zab4]
# Until we measure that, you're only going to see people continue behave in the way they're intended to [AB: by whom? those who say Spend or not?].
# CA: Yeah. So their focus now is just on the heartbeat [money]. They're not focusing on everything else; they don't care about everything else. They will only focus on the heartbeat. [zab5]
# So now, if you say "Oh, the global finacial crisis, how did that happen?" they they say "Oh, it's just something that went wrong; that's it. And then we move on. We just cope and just move on. That's it." [zab6]
[AB: Comment: Sounds like heinous lack of concern! Ezekiel 16:49: "overfed, arrogant, unconcerned ... and so I destroyed them." ]
# So then you understand why whoever's shouting and screaming over here, amd whoever's saying "I want to have beans with no salt in it; I cannot find it" - NB was saying "Becauase it's not important" - he's right: I'm [they are] not important. [zab7]
# [Only] the heartbeat is important. Whoever is investing and opening up [is deemed important]. Like Schindlers List. He had a business and he was thinking, "How many people can I get into the factory to work for me?" That is exactly how many people can get a job out of your money. If a lot of people can get a job, you are in that heartbeat. You are very important. [zab8]
# AB: Schindler's List was because he wanted to save as many Jews as he could. It wasn't just jobs. # CA: Yes. He wanted to save. But the idea was to get the people more into work, get them working.
# AB: That sounds to me like there's something fundamentally wrong with the whole of economics if it's like that. [zab9] ***
# This is why we have something to say.
# We're saying / A lot of what they're doing is saying "Purely economic aspect." I notice, CA, that the arguments you portray as of them giving are all meaningful in the economic aspect and not the others. And we can perhaps offer to say "Let's put economics, the economic aspect among all the others."
# CA: So, when we say rethinking the economy, what we're trying to say, is rethink /
[CA then switched to outlining the conventional thinking again, which has been mentioned above.]
# CA: You know: "Now it is like this. All these people need a job. A big population in here; peoole need some work; what are we going to do? So let's now create jobs, create jobs. So if you start to get through ??? to say "That is wrong; McDonalds is wrong, Cabs is wrong", so then that will start to get lesser and lesser. [zac0]
# So what else can people do. So the thing we have to do is think about alternative answers to this. So let us think about another route out of thins. [zac1] ***
[AB: Challenge to us]
# So now the problem is, we have X amount of people, who need X amount of jobs. So what we gonna do?
[AB: Comment: Presupposes people can only have HLE and human flourishing if they have jobs. That is not true; think of the housewife. Think of those in Africa who grow their own food. etc. I think CA recognises that is a presupposition, but it is a challenge to us; if we question the presupposition, then we must think carefully about how to achieve HLE without everyone having a job. ]
# NB: We cannot answer that question without a vision of what human flourishing really is, cannot answer that question without a vision of what environmental flourishing also really is. [zac2] ***
# Economic activity that increases human flourishing is different from economic activity [as such]. And our economy just doesn't recognise that. [zac3] ***
# Example: If I get cancer, I'm going to make some economic transactions that give an awful lot of people a job. But that doesn't mean I'm glad I got cancer. [zac4] ***
# And so, to define economic measurements that take into account the goodness or badness that result from the jobs that result from the economic transactions. [zac5] ***
# [Example] If I buy some pop, is giving the people up the supply chain a job worth giving myself diabetes. Probably not.
# CA: So this is excatly our conundrum that we are facing here.
# Because you are looking at it from the Christian perspective, where ... "We don't want to talk about any bad in there, it has to be all good. But then the economy says "If you are going to be all good, we are not going to survive. [zac6] ***
# We [the RLDG and Christian thinkers] have a problem because what are people going to do? "People need jobs." So, this is the problem that we have.
[AB: Comment: We must question what "survive" means, when the economy says that. ]
# So whatever we talked about, all the time, we are saying "This is the probolem, that's the problem." Yes, it is the problem - BUT HOW DO WE SOLVE THIS? [zac7] ***
[AB: (This was inserted on transciption and is not part of the original discussion, but tries to answer CA's question.
- Widen economic activity to see it as related to all aspects of life - the idea of healthy living environment(HLE) or a multi-aspectual economy
- Widen the presupposition of Good to recognise Harm.
- Widen our understanding of economic activity beyond being either micro or macro economic activity, to embrace both within a single understanding - and in fact all levels, from individuals and households to the most global, the whole of humanity.
- Widen the idea of value, beyond money and even beyond measurement.
It is argued that we can do most of these by reference to Dooyeweerd's aspects and his wider philosophy, and then enrich those further with a Christian perspective of Christian values, the idea of sin, heart, and redemption.
Actually, some of that was then said in the discussion as follows ...
# AB: I feel that even if the economists say that, they I think probably they're wrong, because I think that we can redefine the economy.
# It is not a matter of not talking about the bads. We recognise both the good and the bad [and conceptually distinguish them in our thinking and practice].
# But that - and this perhaps some research that needs to be done - If the economy is orientated towards the good and not the bad [AB: AB did not mean just conflate them together but differentiate them], would we actually in the end get a better economy, - "better" meaning something more healthy - a flourishing economy which is in line with a healthy living environment? [zac8]
# And I don't know that anyone has asked that question. [zac9] *** [Research needs to be done.]
# I tend to think in terms of Dooyeweerd's aspects, and define the Good as the good in each aspect - e.g. biological good, ethical good, juridical good, aesthetic good, social good, pistic good, lingual good, technical good, and all these sort of things. [zad0]
# And somehow, I suppose because of my Christian faith, but even without a CHristian faith, I could think that, if we function well in these, then we're going to get Shalom and the economy would flourish [along with a Healthy Living Environment]. [zad1] *** Because / I'd like to find some research on this - Because it seems to me that companies that started with some ethical basis - like Lever Brothers, Cadbury, even Guinness - those are the ones that have lasted 100 years. Even [Thomas] Cooks and so on. Those are the ones that have lasted 100 years. Because they
# the Good is not the enemy of the economy, as many economists assume. That Good, in the long term, makes for a better and more robust and more healthy economy. [zad2]
# Am I completely wrong on that, or is that something that needs research, or what?
# CA: It's the same question as McDonalds, isn't it. McDonalds do a CSR as well. So are they good or bad.
# AB: I'm not talking about CSR. I'm talking about something much deeper than CSR. I'm talking about /
# OK: there might be a little bit of CSR there, that. 'yes they can do some things'. But McDonalds ... could find a way of doing the good without putting a lot of people in hospital.
[AB: Pity AB defensively diverted himself in the middle of that sentence, to explain what the "deeper" was. Maybe the deeper is about Dooyeweerd's aspects? ]
# JC: AB, you're saying that Guinness was trying to make a low alcohol beverage with high vitamin yield in order to keep the Irish people sober and functioning and not beating their wives? # AB: Yes. # NO: Is that right? I had no idea. Is that the history of that? I love the product! # JC: Yes, they were very successful.
[AB: See Reality Bites short videos of some of those entrepreneurs. And also Long-Term Business Success and Quaker Capitalism. ]
# JC: So it's like trying to think of purposes of activity - and CA's heartbeat and supply chain thing is right - just listening to the words NO that a base truth is this:
# JC: When you [NO] say "They're not risking as much" - and it's true, but they're risking so much more - firemen, policemen. [zad3] ***
# NO: I understand.
# JC: We don't have a measurement that is able to properly value or function that for human life, dignity and environmental flourishing. We simply do not have the tool to say: / [zad4] ***
# "Yeah, the heartbeat of the economy, capital flows, perhaps the supply chain, that creates billion jobs, they are also missing a trillion dollars. Compared to the guy who saved that guy from a burning building. The gal who saved that gal from getting shot. # NO: I agree with you. # JC: Where is that little tool that we can create?
# NO: That's my point: We need measurements for a multi-aspectual economy. [zad5]
# We need measurements that are not just driven by that profit motive per se, but they are driven by more fundamental principles. That's what I think will help get us out of CA's hamster wheel of how this thing works.
# NO: But I have an idea on that, by the way.
# I think what needs to go with that is a a different vehicle of funding.
# E.g. generational bonds. Say, take everyone 25-45. Issue a bond against their productive money. 100% 10% or whatever. These people fund that bond. They can put some of their money into that bond. They can also control what that bond is going to fund.
# Example: a young man like my son, and say we're concerned about the world in another 20 years, and let's say we want to plant more trees so that we can counteract some of this environmental stuff. Then I'm going to want that fund to finance those king of things.
# So now we have economics working under a different control. It's not just a profit - it has to show a profit but if the directors and the share holders are a different group of people they're people who want to know, when they get to 60, that these investments have done something more than just earn money.
# So it's a strategy that we might be able to engage people with, and create a new financing vehicle that the people can use to fund the better initiatives that are not McDonalds necessarily.
[AB: A project for us? ]
# CA: What's the difference from the pension scheme that we're working with right now? Everyone has a pension and then that pension is being invested in investments and they are not a risky investment because people need the money at the end of the day. Now the problem with the pension scheme is people say "You have put my money in a lower risk investment and now the returns are low and it's not helping me through my pension years; that money is so little." So then you ask the question, "Where should I put the money?" "Oh you should put money where you can get a higher return." And that higher return is all the businesses that are taking a lot of risk. [zad6]
# So, then can we fit /
# Why do businesses take a lot of risk? What sort of business that they are doing? Maybe companies are coming are coming up with some kind of a new innovation. Sometimes it doesn't work out. Like for example angel companies.
# I think that we are doing a lot of these things already. But the circle is coming back to us in a sense, to say "This money is not enough."
[AB: Questions: 1. (Deeper question) Do we need to question what is "enough"? 2. (Technical question) Is there a way to slightly restructure the economy so that bad-and-risky companies are not able to make more money than good ones? I suspect that the deeper question (what is "enough"?) is important if we are to get through this, but that the technical question links to NO's idea of new kinds of measures. ]
# NO: Well, what I am proposing is (the pension funds are a good example): that the people are going to buy into that fund. So they will have a control over what those funds are invested in. Not like today where you work somewhere and they have a pension fund, they turn it over to let's say like Calipers, which is the big fund that runs pensions all the teachers' pensions in California. And Calipers goes out an contracts with all of these private equity funds and investments, because they want to have that high return - you're right. They have a certain amount of obligation [to future] they want to be able fund down the road.
# But what I'm suggesting is that the generational people will buy into these things and they'll have a more direct control. And the purpose will be that the bond will be chartered for a purpose. [For example?] it'll be chartered to improve the environment. They won't necessarily be chartered to make a 25% return on investment. I think that's again a different way to get out of this cycle. [zad7]
# But you're right.
# NB: NO, how would you characterize the distinction between what you're proposing and socially responsible investing, investing in a company - [for example] I've got some of my retirement funds invested in a green fund that buys into solar farms and water treatment.
# NO: I think I'm very much recommending that. I just want to change the \ what I want to do is put a different structure into that. I want to be able to take an entire generation and focus people on the longer term. Not just "You've got it and you're investing in it, because you want to have an adequate return and make sure that it does something good."
# But what I'm trying to say is "Let's look at this thing generationally. Let's take a group of people and let these people that are going to be earning and working for the next 20-25 years - let them put something into some fund that is going to pay some sort of environmental dividends for them at the end of the day and a dividend to the world."
# NB: OK. Thanks.
[AB: Is this like Extinction Rebellion's idea of Citizens' Assemblies? There, 'ordinary people' come together and, hopefully, chart a wise course for the future. Many of their participants are young. ]
[AB: But does this rely on that people overall will decide to invest in Good rather than Bad or shady or etc.? Do both these funds and Citizens' Assemblies presuppose that humanity is not really very sinful or self-centred or irresponsible? I question that presupposition. How do we overcome the deep sinfulness and selfishness in us? Now, at the start of something, then people often do do the right thing. So, such funds and such Citizens' Assemblies will work fairly well for the first few years, maybe a decade. But after that, it is likely they will deteriorate, unless the Gospel has a key influence. (I'm reminded of the people of Israel after Joshua.) However, it's probably worth trying that: doing some good for a time, whatever the outcome. ] [zad8]
# CA: So I think this is the trend at the moment with the net-zero 2050 and everything, with a lot of mutual funds are already getting into this platform, saying "OK, so they work a base on the trend as well. Now, with this net zero, now let us come up with a fund which is net zero. Everybody's going to come and buy this fund." They are also working with a trend, to see how they can use the trend to actually make some money.
# But we are still in that heart circle, but thing is, now - the approach is a little bit more different. The intention is a bit more different. It's not just about making money, it's more about helping the environment, helping people. [zad9]
# AB: That's going to be uweful.
# Because: This UN SNA (Structure [System] of National Accounts) that I've been invited to [contribute to] and I'll be taking on board an awful lot of what you lot have been saying. So, thank you very much for helping me understand some of that. [zae0]
# And I'd like to involve some of you in it if that's alright.
# AB: It's only about ten minutes to go if we stick to our normal time.
# NO presented. Then discussion just flowed. THank you NO.
# I offered the opportunity to raise questions, and one or two people put up their hands. NB and JC I think had questions; have they been discussed?
# NB: My question was about the four knobs, the four levers we can pull. And I don't know that I agree with NO on his assessment of the amount of leverage we have on each of these levers. But the beauty of an economy is that the six people in this chat don't have to agree on which lever has the most leverage. We can each pull on our own lever, and some movement will happen as long as we're pulling in the same direction. [zae1] ***
# AB: THat's a useful statement.
# NO: It'll get a lot farther if all the ??? are going in the same direction.
[AB: I found that very encouraging! Thank you. It helps us find an action way forward without us all having to agree. I assume "the same direction" generally refers to a Christianish perspective, and maybe the kinds of widening we want to encourage. ]
# JC: Listening to these lectures and the conversations in the last few months, made me read some more up on John Maynard Keynes. And review Picketty stuff over the last couple of months. [zae2]
# JC: And there are elements that just hearing from all of your conversations, that you're kind of pushing on a kind of paradigm shift level that is akin to Keynes removing the gold standard in the City of London.
# And so, when Keynes, was the out-far academic up in Cambridge, having his - what would be considered still today - an alternative lifestyle [laughter] - like, he was just doing his thing, he was a really smart guy - and then the banks were going to go bye-bye and the City of London was going to collapse. They were like, "Hey, the smart guy up in Cambridge, let's bring him in to make sure everything works." And he's like "Remove the gold standard." Like when a lot of other implications - CA, AB, everybody - a lot of other implications, but he pushed that, and then that rippled throughout the world.
# Chat: "01:31: JC: The price of peace: Money, Democracy and the life of john maynard kenyes."
# JC: Picketty right now is starting to really really push this idea of equity across everyone.
# And to your point, NO, generational bonds, he's starting to say that we should have generational bonds for guaranteed equity disbursement of wealth throughout the world.
# NO: Who's that? # JC: Thomas Picketty, the French author. He wrote Capital and then Capital and Ideology. They are I think worth reading for everybody, honestly.
# Chat: "01:33:24 JC: Thomas Picketty: (1) Capital in the Twenty-First Century Capital and Ideology."
# JC: But what we're pushing, and what I'm hearing, AB, correct me if I'm wrong is this type of thing: You are trying to say, we need to look at things differently. So we remove the guards/gods ?? that create our goals right now, we need to move them away. We need to find a different standard.
# NO: definitely. It's a structure issue. The structure needs to change. If you don't change the structure, you're just going to get the same behaviour.
[AB: Comment: Similar to Giddens Structuration, and maybe an aspectual version of that. See Giddens' Structuration from a Dooyeweerdian Perspective.]
# AB: Yes. It's not just a new theory, not just new mesurements, it's a new way of seeing, understanding the economy. I think it is as fundamental at that.
# NB: New measurements are a way of seeing the economy in a new way. # NO: Yes that's right.
[AB: Is it better to say that new measurements emerge from, are based on, are justified and required by, a new way of seeing or understanding? And once they emerge, they can express that new way of understanding? ]
# AB: But it's not just a matter of tinkering with measurements as it were.
# It requires that [new measures], but I have felt intuitively that Yes, there is something in this group that is bringing up the possibility of a completely new paradigm for economics. [zae3]
# [AB: The components of this new paradigm might be ... ]
# And I sense that Dooyeweerd's aspects and the idea of good and harm are part of it, and that Christian perspective - not just values but of sin and redemption - might be part of it as well. [zae4]
# JC: One aspect of Keynes' theory that has still not become manifest is where he postulated that in three or four generations everyone's needs will be met because of the continued increase of monetary supply and the eventual peace that would come out of that monetary supply ?? structure. That is the lingering aspect that, clearly, has not been. [zae5]
[AB: Actually, has it not been partly fulfilled in the post-war peace in Europe over the past 70 years? Can we learn something from that? ]
# JC: But frankly, everyone, if there's a way to nest this work in that avenue -
# Because we're talking about abundance of Shalom. Shalom is not limited in nature; it's abundance for all.
# There might be some inklings of: Once we remove the idea of, CA, "The heartbeat is monetary creation and wealth creation" - what if we remove that!? Just remove that. Like, remove the gold standard, we just create a new system. Keynes postulated a couple and people bought it.
# We just think of one. [laughter] I just think of one and then between the people that are on here, plus RG, we could do the math. You all can do the maths, to make it, you know, to firmament??.
# I'm reading the history. This is like what I'm seeing with these brilliant people on the Zoom call. I'm seeing it happen.
# I'm just saying that as an encouragement. # AB: Thank you. # JC: So you can ??? the time reading???
[AB: Comment: It is nice to be encouraged that what we are doing is meaningful and possibly potentially important, and indeed I do have hope that this is a new paradigm that actually promises some real benefits to the field. However, Paul recommends making "sober" judgements of ourselves. So I won't be fully confident that this is so, until people in mainstream economics, finance or business say what JC has just said. Therefore, let us aim to submit our ideas into the mainstream and see what reaction obtains. ]
# AB: TB, what is your take on what you have been hearing?
# TB: Not had much to contribute [so been listening].
# TB: But I'm all for wider contextualization of value monitoring.
# I think it's really down to - how it fits in the country's cultural context as well. [zae6] ***
[AB: TB then outlined three elements of a country's cultural context, as follows ...]
# And actually what the country's - and how they, I suppose, want a societal way of functioning, and that that /
# and how they relate to one another, and
# (yeah) because actually I think some contries rely more on family support - so [the question is] how an economy fits around that. [zae7] ***
# whereas in a country that more relies on a state support and has a much more established state support and absence of the class system and these things, [the economy would fit around that diffeently].
# I think that is em how I think we probably be needing to then get more measurable values. In that sphere.
[AB: The UN SNA is actually considering how to bring families into national accounts. ]
# CA: So, if you look at the developing economies, they don't have support. If you don't have a job, you just don't have money. So the need for you to get a job is very important. [zae8]
# Even in here we can say that people don't want to be on benefits. People want to go and work. Nobody wants to be on benefits.
# The thing is, in the wider world, people are associated with work.
# And also when we talk about mental health, they say that those who have a job (ok, they have a lot of pressure at work and stress and all of that as well) but they are still are better off then those who don't have a job. Because that's very closely related to mental health issues - those people who don't have a job. [zae9]
# So job is something that is important.
# So now the qustion is, how do we get people on a job? We need to get all these people, this whole population into work. [zaf0]
# TB: Indeed. Or that .. [Ums etc. removed] if the only income is getting a job, actually it depends how one defines having a job for an individual or possibly a household.
# Actually of course something like a married couple's allowance enables then one worker to be providing a support allowance to a household.
# And indeed, the one that doesn't get employed .. could have a great deal of value, in what they are contributing to society in a voluntary way towards local education or health or whatever they may be doing. With a caring responsibility in that end. [zaf1]
# CA: So this is great isn't it. Because now, just like what NO was sayhing: we are looking from the end and working backwards. So if the end, this is what we want where one person goes to work and the rest of the people stays at home, and if this is what we want, and we can work backwards, and see how the economy could work. [zaf2]
# TB: How then the economy joins in to the whole function of society.
# I was only thinking to myself earlier today, I was thinking when [couldn't transcribe words "someones fying puts pison"] at work. And someone working in health can say "Yeah that's to enable people to function." [zaf3]
[AB: Note: not "to enable the economy to function". ]
# TB: But in order to have a health service, you need to have an economy that helps pay for that and drive that. And you need then a business to enable services, and whatever, to then keep the livelihood of the whole wider society. [zaf4]
# How its then all contributing into the function of a nation. [zaf5]
# And that, then, what one's doing in their work is - what they're technologically doing - is meaningless in the sense that /
# Or what they're contributing might be that you don't / Its providing something that's not necessarily needed. [zaf6]
# Because [But] that could be said of any business.
# It is just providing something that / [is not actually needed]. Like Coca Cola, it's not needed, it just might actually [laugh] do something, if in the right quantities, to help someone's livelihood. [zaf7]
[AB: Comment and Suggestion. That was an interesting discussion between TB and CA, which brings out a number of things that perhaps we need to tackle in our rethink of the economy.
It addresses the relationship between the economy and other aspects or functions of human life, whether jobs are necessary or not, the value or meaningfulness or meaninglessness of jobs. CA seemed there to be siding with the narrow focus on money and jobs, which contradicts what she said earlier - until she remarked that what TB was saying is "great". I am reminded of Graeber's book, Bullshit Jobs, in which he estimates that 50% of American jobs are "bullshit", not producing or doing anything really meaningful.
By contrast, sometimes jobs are not actually necessary, not even to get money. On the one hand, TB mentions households, in which one person only earns money (c.f. Housewives above). On the other, when I was in Uganda, someone told me "We don't need money. We grow our own food, we build our own houses. All we need money for is education fees and hospital fees." That stuck in my mind ever since. Example 2: A similar thing was said in a South African publication I just reviewed, which picks up the idea of non-monetary work in households. Moreover, I have known and do know people who live on benefits (or long-term injury pensions) - and use that to actually do a lot of good, and NOT just layabout. Maybe what CA says is true 50% of the times, believed to be true in another 40% and not true in the remaining 10%? At least our thinking needs to be able to cope with such people as my Ugandan friend, even if only as "an exception".
An understanding of the less-obvious reasons why people 'need' a job or want not to be on benefits, would help. She indicates here several reasons why jobs are important: money, the conventional association of people with jobs, and mental health. These (and others we might mention) could be seen as different aspects of jobs - different kinds of Good that a job can bring about. As well as some kinds of Bad, which CA mentions (stress). For example, the link between jobs and mental health could be having that a job might be because of dignity and a feeling of meaningfulness and value. In Dooyeweerd's view, this is a person's pistic functioning. If that is so, then maybe we should recognise this as part of the importance of the pistic aspect to the economy: for understanding the multi-aspectual economy.
# NO: Interesting point. Just kind of occurred to me (I'll think about it some more), that is some questions at the macro level. For example: How much should the government spend on defence? How much should they spend on health and wellness? Or on technology, or whatever. [zaf8]
# Those are questions that would have a great impact on how we go forward.
# But unfortunately that never seems to be a very / It never seems to have a long term view of things. [zaf9]
# I mean, they say it's going to be / We're going to set this idea that we're going to have full employment - one of the things they talk about in the States, "We want full employment." But then again it never sort of happens. You know, because there are so many other tings that get crowded around it. [zag0]
# So I think again that if we can get a paradigm shift, like AB and JC were talking about, if we can move the goal posts to some other place, then maybe some of this will fall into order. [zag1]
# NO: By the way, I just want to thank everybody for looking at the comments I wrote and giving me some questions and issues to continue to think about, and for us to continue to work on. I thank you all for that. [zag2]
# AB: Well, thank you everyone. It's been a very interesting conversation.
# I think we've brought up things (I mean, we've brought up things we have done before) but I sense that there were things that we haven't really touched on before, especially ??? in some sort of detail. [zag3]
# I've been trying to scribble down, and I've found it more difficult this time to keep typing as people were talking. I don't know whether you've all been talking much faster or something, but I made a whole host of spelling mistakes. I'm going to put them up as raw text, and then I'll be transcribing and so on.
# I think possibly we should stop here.
# What we'll do is officially stop, and let those who wish to continue, to continue.
[-- A bit of news:]
# I'll just let you know that I've been putting up - I've got something up that I mentioned, on the ChristianThinking website, Economics, on [page file name]
maspl.html about A Multi-aspectual View of the Economy. I sent it round and had something about currency and what Mark Carney had been saying, and today I've added to that a macro economic thing, about what Mark Carney was saying about Magna Carta, about the economic and financial reasons why Magna Carta came about. (Magna Carta is the famout document that was brought in to curb the rule of kings etc. and a lot of it was to do with financial things.) And defence (actually attack) was one of them. I've analysed them all aspectually, and will continue to do so. So that we can think of that.
# NB: I find those valuable to read.
# CA: I was just thinking about something while you were talking, and I thought this was important:
# When you start to look at rules and regulations, some rules and regulations are very well thought about, and was actually helping the banks when they actually started off. But then, as the banks started to flourish, they took out all these good rules.
# And one of these rules was called the Glass-Steagall Act. The Glass-Steagall act was saying "Don't put investment banks and commercial banks together. Separate them." Because then [if you put them together] bad things was going to happen. And then they took that rule out. They took that rule out, and you saw what happened in the global financial crisis.
# So, there's a lot of good rules and regulations that have been really well thought-about, and was put in the banking acts and things. But as they start to grow and start to make more money, they said "You know what, we're just going to throw them out, because this is causing hindrance." So that is where the benchmark, they crossed that line.
# NO: Actually, that's interesting. i looked at a little bit of that too.
# NO: But the big reason the American Banks used to get rid of the Glass-Steagall Act was that they coullnd't compete with all the European banks. # CA: Yes. # NO: Because the European banks had all their investments in UPS and DeutscheBank and the other ??? and all those guys had brought their investments in house. And of course, if you look now, there's been corruption and corruption. # CA: Yes. # NO: The DeutscheBank is dirty. The ??? had to fire people. The Citibank has had problems. Everybody has had problems.
# CA: And money-laundering problems as well.
# CA: Because then they become so opaque, so complex, that you cannot really see through them. Then things start to happen.
# NB: Greed wasn't good.
# AB: Was it that the European banking had the corruption, or both had corruption?
# NO: They both entered corruption.
# CA: Yes, so, first the US banking they were separate, commercial bank and investment were separate. But then when they started looking at Europe, they saw "Those banks are actually making more money, working together, where we are separated like this. So this is not good for us." Then they changed, got rid of the Glass-Steagall Act, and become like them.
# Of course everyone puts their inventiveness when they do whatever they do, and then this just got of hand.
# Because that's why until today a lot of people cannot understand how the banks work, because they're so opaque, and they got so complex, because they have two things joined into one. Now they have wealth management inside that as well. How complex is that! Money is being just moving around just inside the bank. I'm the commercial bank of the same bank, and I'm going to give a loan to investment bank in the same bank. How's that! It just became worse.
[AB: I think that our framework, especially with Dooyeweerd's ideas, might be able to help us account for (a) why the rule was good, (b) why they decided to get rid of it, (c) why what happened afterwards and why it caused the kinds of damage it did. At least, our framework should be such as to be able to do so. (a) Rule was good because each type of bank is qualified or led by a different aspect; the economic "bad things" can perhaps be explained by this conflation of aspects. (b) They got rid of it because of pistic and ethical dysfunction among those making the decisions. "Hindrance" was seen in selfish terms and in terms of the absolute priority of money-making (worship of Mammon). In particular, these appeared in their structural forms, of pervading attitude of selfishness, and prevailing false belief about the nature of money (indeed, a serving of Mammon). (c) To be worked out, but taking into account the retrocipatory effect of the ethical and pistic dysfunctions. ]
# AB: This is what your thesis was about, partly, wasn't it, CA. Would you be willing to share your thesis with everyone.
# CA: My thesis is huge. A lot of things covered in there.
# AB: I was thinking you contrast these banks with the Australian and Canadian banks.
# NO: That would be interesting.
# AB: At least send it to NO. NO's not an academic, so he's probably got time to read it. ;-) [laughter, with NO demurring!]
# NO: I don't know how you write everything you do! I don't have time to read. # AB: I don't read; I just write. I've got 70 years of stuff in here I've read and thought about. # NO: That's my problem too. I need to go off now.
# NO: I think we can make more progress.
# AB: In three weeks' time I'll be away. So can we meet at the end of August, in about five weeks' time?
# NO: I may send some stuff around.
# AB: What do we want to do in five weeks time? Any suggestions?
# CA: I think it would be good for us to go through all we have talked about, all this time. And start to think about - because now we've said,
"We don't want the centre to be capital, which is making the money and all of that. Which is just solely for some people's benefit."
[Questions to address:] So, if we want to keep it there, how does that have to be? And if we want to take it out, what else can that be? Keeping in mind that people need to have work. And also keeping in mind, that just for example we say, "One person in the household works"
# - and if I hear that news, it's happy days for me, because I just want to be at home, I don't want to crack my head any more.
# But not everyone is thinking like this. You know, some women will say "I don't want to be at home just sitting around. I want to open a business."
# It's what the majority wants as well. Because people may say, "I don't want to be sitting at home."
# So, although we can say ideally that would be good, because now we don't have to crack our brains about getting more more more more. Companies producing rubbish goods for all of us. Let's keep them to the minimum. And so, only a few people have a job. Then the wife will turn around and say "What happens if something happens to him? I'm on my own, and I don't have a job." And it shows economic prominence.
# AB: Those have been faced in the past in some ways. But yes, it's something to bring into account. Because even though in Europe and Britain and America we have individualistic - this is almost a cultural mindset, almost a pistic vision of what life ought to be, a ground-motive or something - individualistic - most of the rest of the world is based on family.
# And so you know maybe even if we work out something that's not appropriate for the one fifth of the world that's individualistic, it might be relevant to the four fifths of the world that is family-based. # CA: Yes. # NO: I like that one.
# NB: I'm afraid I need to run here.
# AB: I was going to ask CA if she would prepare something for five weeks time.
# CA: What do you want me to prepare. I've already said what "This is how we're supposed to be looking at." So it's more like an idea. What are people thinking about in these lines?
# AB: NO and NB: You can leave; we can say bye bye. [TB remained]
# AB: I was thinking, if you would like to prepare something like NO prepared, some ideas. It doesn't have to follow NO's thing. But you've a lot of ideas, and /
# Would you be willing in principle to prepare some points?
# CA: Yes, I think what I said today were some of the points that I thought about since our last discussion about McDonald. I was thinking about this. Like "How do we come out of this?" I started to read around. And it occurred to me: this is the cycle; this is how it is. So now the question is, how do we come out of this cycle. [zag4]
# Before this, we were grappling, to find out what was the framework that economics is working on. We didn't know what was the framework it was working on. Is it this? Is it that? Why is this not happening? [zag5]
[AB: That's interesting: that economists don't know what framework they are working on. Or, is it that they think they have a framework, but it fails them - and us? ]
# CA: So, now we got the answer, to that question, now it's just about reframing that framework. Like, what else can we do? So I think i got some answers out of people already today. TB was saying about households, and NO was saying about the fund has to be green, or something. So I've already got two answers. So I've got to go away and think about - and come up with some more answers. [zag6]
# AB: OK, that would be great if you can do that. What you said today, there been some new stuff there. But there was a huge amount of detail and I think the points got lost in the detail. [AB: on transcribing, tried to bring out main points] So if you can do some thinking about it, distil it down to some points, like NO did with his four things [NB's 'levers' or 'knobs'] then that would be very useful.
# CA: I think what I'll do is I'll come up with a diagram. # AB: Yeah. # CA: Because it allows you to see what I'm talking about.
# AB: You and I can keep in conversation and you can keep in conversation with the others, if you like, to throw some ideas around. # CA: I don't think people have time! It's so busy, they don't feel like coming into the session then talking and going away. # AB: People have time for what they find meaningful and interesting.
# AB: Partly. That was why RG was here today, because he found some of the things that we have been coming up with, in the last meeting, interesting. It's a pity he had to go. I was hoping to / he would be able to put his question. So I'm going to ask him to put in writing and I'll send it round. I had five questions, comments, which I didn't manage to get [in], but I did send them to NO and he did find them useful. So, I think possibly I'll be putting up all the questions on the site anyway, and NO's ideas, so people can read. [zag7]
# CA: OK. # AB: Thank you very much. Last week in August something like that? # CA: Yeah. You said you are going away. So when does the email stop? If I want to send you an email and say / # AB: I'll still have emails. Cannot guarentee to put a lot of work into them, but at least I can look through. Back on something like 16th August. So if we put our next meeting the last week of August, that gives me a week after I'm back and we can touch base then.
# [some personal stuff omitted]
I begin with an apology to fellow participants. I may well fail to accurately reflect the varied well-meaning comments and ideas we shared. Not out of disregard for them and each participant's value but more due to my limited recall and viewpoints, which come via my background and experiences. Above all, none of this response or our progress would be possible without the scribing and guidance of Dr. Andrew Basden. For his offer to me to participate and all his good works, I am grateful and blessed.
Secondly, I declare personal delight and benefit - a dose of hope (God's working grace?) by participating in these discussions. To see, hear and share with Christian hearts and minds from across an ocean of physical, cultural, and perspective distances, to me, affirms that God's grace is boundless. I have been enriched in Christ by meeting each of you.
Finally, as the last shoe drops, this response is my take - all its errors, oversights, and disagreeable assertions as they may be.
From the conclusions - See #8 http://christianthinking.space/economics/reith2020/z-points.html#conclusion
Here are these elements - the world economy- its activity as now measured, values, Christian values, harm and good, and Dooyeweerd's aspects (the DW aspects I leave for later commentary). Into this formula is human sin. On the desired outcome side, we have from the introduction:
# Rethinking the economy [z101] from a Christian perspective. # We aim for Healthy Living Environment (HLE) to which economic activity contributes, not just for economic growth nor even vibrant economy as such. # HLE can be thought of as multi-aspectual. [z439]
# What we are doing is trying to build a framework. [z715]
Culling these down to broad categories, I find the economy, values in general, Christian values, and human sin all in play against the desire for a healthy living environment (HLE). A healthy economy which will engender a sustainable environment.
To these elements, I found the summary at xn.rethink helpful:
we found the following benefits from our discussion thereof:
Second, the Christian understanding of the reality of human sin is freeing...
Thirdly, the Christian idea of redemption, which is made possible by God in Christ and not just human effort, gives the antidote to human sin (forgiveness and cleansing: c.f. I John 1:9) and the harm it does (restoration: Romans 8:19-23). So, if there is acknowledgement of human sin, then God can act to rectify in a way that humans cannot....This is the basis for hope (but not for complacency).
The current economy of the world is measured in monies based on transactions. As Mariana Mazzucato points out in her seminal book, The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy, the economic value of everything is has become based on price. Further, what is gathered for these measurements does not clearly identify 'value takers' (extraction) from the 'value makers' (creators).
Truly the measurement of economic activity, GDP, and the like, is value flawed, as she and we have noted. Unpaid work, like housework, is not counted; however, rent, which requires no work is counted. Lectures enter the GDP numbers via the usage of paper, electricity, wages, but the benefit of the knowledge transfer is not measured.
Suppose we want to have economic behaviors that measure more than the outcome of monied or priceable transactions. In that case, it seems fairly well resolved that the current economic measurements are value agnostic and flawed in this view. They must change or new measurements be created. We desire a multi-aspectual economy and this requires its own measurements.
So where and how can this occur - as said in the discussion quoted below - It is an issue calling for a new framework:
# NB: But also need to think about: we're thinking about how these values contribute to good economic systems. The next necessary step is: how do we construct an economic system can encourages these values. Or construct a political system that encourages these values. Or social-cultural whatever. [z714]
# To me this is probably the harder question. I don't know how to encourage people to be joy-filled, faith-filled, and self-giving. And pointing out that these things have economic benefits, is one small part of that perhaps.
# [all agreed]
# NB: That might be having to solve all of society's problems! [laughter] We'll cross that bridge when we get there!
# NO: That's why we have this great group of brains here! [laughter]
# CA: So it's more like building a framework, isn't it. [z715] # NO: Yes, it's an architecture issue. # AB: Think that's a great idea.
An 'architecture' will have a unifying or coherent form. To have such unity begs for both definitions and corresponding measurements. To construct any framework- of size, precision and utility- one needs uniform and reliable measurement tools. If the yardsticks are all marked with divergent degrees, well, the carpenters will begin to fight among themselves - or quit.
Setting aside the eight Christian values we have discussed for later comments, I want to focus on the where and what to apply our measured efforts. If we identify the arena where we can be most productive this should tighten the next steps to be taken.
My approach is starting with the end, the target, in sight. Working backwards may well bring the next steps into focus and provide a structure in which definitions can be tightened.
Okay, let's assume measurable Christian-like values can be developed. Then where should they be applied. In what area would we see the best likelihood of realizing some meaningful change?
They are four foundational arenas for change:
There is no need to list changing cultures or societies as these are only the aggregated outcomes from behaviors in and among the arenas above.
Now, how can we determine which arenas are the better grounds to affect our desired changes?
Since there are limited resources to deploy, the best target can be derived by considering where the best leverage exists. And within which the most change can be delivered in the fasted and widest manner. Let's consider each of the four arenas above, starting with the No Ways.
#3 NO. The policies of governments, world or individual governments - sovereign, or unified associations and such. The governmental arena is hopeless for a couple of reasons. They are by nature designed to compete for the benefit of each populous. Achieving a global consensus of governments is hopeless. When has there been one which proved to provide sustainable world benefit? Politics by nature is about power which is coercive and corrosive to building good citizen character. Secondly, those governments controlled by an oligarchy or by representatives voted in by the citizenry will require first their constituents evidence a sustained demand for new values and measurements. This will need to occur before they finally institute meaningful administrative changes and policies. Achieving such universal governmental traction in the near term would seem to be a forlorn hope- despite Zero Net 2050.
#1 No. The individual(s) - hearts and or minds. That Christians should shine the light of the Gospel and actively call for, prompt, and carry on our values in the public square; in this, I believe we all agree. But for that to achieve a good measure of success, I doubt. This is due to human sin, greed, and self-idolatry, which never seems to diminish. Even now, when we have more wealth and fewer people in the world dying of starvation and disease, yet people seem more absorbed in entertaining themselves than in helping their neighbors - here or aboard. Till Christ comes and finally removes the 'log' in our eyes, I doubt that we can motivate a universal resurgence of Christian behaviors. It would be joyous to see a 'great awakening' like occurred in the US during the 1740s and later in the early 1800s. But in those times, the Devil had far fewer things for distracting people than he has today. Yet, we remain - Romans 12:12..."rejoicing in hope, preserving in tribulation, devoted to prayer..."
This leaves the #2 measurements and the #4 marketplaces as the remaining avenues to consider. Focusing our efforts in these areas would seem to have the most promise for the following reasons:
Yes - #2. The measurements, GDPs and the like, and their reporting
1) Reforming or introducing new broader value-based measurements is, in a military view - an attack on a smaller front. Christians can amass more resources to propose and hound the keepers of GDP and like measurements than attacking the whole of governments or mass populous. This would likely entail changes to the governmental economic accounts. These efforts are already underway in corporate reporting. Note the recent merger of International Integrated Reporting Council, IIRC and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, SASB into the new Value Reporting Foundation - https://www.valuereportingfoundation.org/. Dr. Basden's correspondence to the United Nations Economic Statistics Division has revealed their efforts to expand the values measured. Additionally, the UK Treasury's report on biodiversity has been issued. Reforming or creating better measurements is an arena where Christian effort can be applied against a smaller target. This will leverage more results.
2) The saying 'you can't manage what you can't measure' (M.A. Cohen) and other similar sayings are truisms. If we hope to create behavior that economically or individually leads to more sustainable environmental activities, we need to measure its status - good and bad. Even biblically, we see this - Ref. Mark 4: 23 "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." v24 He went on to say, "Pay attention to what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and even more will be added to you...." By providing better measurements, environmental clarity and accountability will be readily present for evaluations and reactions.
Yes -#4). The marketplaces of exchange
1) Regarding the marketplaces, commerce, and public forums of all stripes, the horse is simple out of the barn. But this is a good thing for the world. In this respect, we need to thank recent technologies which have allowed the digitization of data and the ability to execute electronic exchanges within the blink of an eye. The state of electronic communications (and behaviors) is pervasive and, in many ways, egalitarian. The children in villages as remote as Patagonia are playing the Angry Birds app. Let's ignore the perverse use of these technologies, which are true and horrible, to realize their powerful force. Imagine what we can exert if measurements of Christian-like values can be created and deployed against market activities. The electronic marketplaces of today are extensive channels through which rapid innovations and information flow.
What this means is that efforts to control and restrict these marketplaces will have an undesirable effect. Such restrictions will slow the ability to disseminate beneficial technologies, innovations, and attending positive measurements. It will also tie up precious resources for the monitoring and administration of such controls.
(I am in no way suggesting that interdiction and control of Internet activities like porn and human trafficking are to be reduced. Rather legitimate activities and exchange do not need governmental restrictions which favor a biodiversity plan.)
Efforts to affect Christian values to promote a healthy and sustainable living environment should be channeled toward creating and/or changing global economic measurements which embed these values. Further that the subject of these measurements should be market activities. However, the nature of these measurements needs to transcend the current restricted accounting methods. The current national accounts systems arose out of the prior two centuries and are woefully inadequate for our new 21st century.
My thinking on the nature of new economic measurements is the subject of a paper that is underway.
Should anyone doubt that the best avenue for effecting meaningful change lies in measurement tools and their electronic deployment, I suggest they look at the methods the Chinese Communist Party uses to enslave their 1.4 billion people. WeChat has over 850 million active users, and the CCP uses it to monitor everything from chats to if you came to work a few minutes late. Additionally, here are 30 apps in the west from eHarmony to Hulu which have a corresponding Chinese version https://money.cnn.com/interactive/technology/china-apps/index.html. Who wants to bet that the CCP does not monitor these Chinese versions?
We should focus efforts on improving measurements that impact market transactions. If we can bring these closer to Christian values, the 'invisible hand' (Adam Smith) and future innovations will do the rest.
I would be happy to discuss my views on the following issues related to our discussions:
I am concerned that the eight core Christian values are not precise enough for use in developing value measurements that can be utilized to reasonable effect. This will entail the discussion of 'managing vs. shepherding' in relation to the common weal. For example, from the discussion notes - see below - clearly some categorizing is needed. Notice how Pistic is repeated.
6.3 Kinds of Value
ab. Each aspect defines a different kind of value, good. # A few examples from our discussions:
# z3. reputation is a kind of value [z341] - [pistic and social aspects]
# z3. electromagnetic exposure as a kind of pollution [biotic aspect]
# Home life stability
# Love (ethical aspect)
# Faith, aspiration (pistic aspect)
# Trust (ethical and pistic aspects)
# Biodiversity and sustainability (biotic aspect)
# Resources (economic aspect)
# Opportunity (formative aspect)
# Justice (juridical aspect)
# How can each of these be measured (quantitatively)? Can we? Should we? When and when not?
Perhaps if we can bridge the traditional theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love against the civic virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance, then the eight values above will come into a more concise resolution.
In this respect, I am concerned that his aspects are too diverse for the initial investigation. I plead a good deal of ignorance in this. However, it strikes me that they are best suited as secondary investigations once the targeted category or category for measurement is established. There are after all only three spatial dimensions and time in the universe. Against these we have the three worldly constraints of geography, demographics, and time. Crafting measurements to promote healthy living environments without abrogating freedoms may be best sketched out if we start with a few colors.
The need to take stock of where we are in capabilities and time is more critical today than in any prior era. Questions that we touched on: 5.2 the Role of Human Beings and 'Are we messing with God's Creation by using AI?; speak to our relationship to the real. We need to re-set the false thinking of philosophers like Hume and Kant, which have led us to view the world as something to be mastered by man. "Man is seen less as a living being embedded in the world, and more a knower detached from the world that he tries to control." Robert Sokolowski, The God of Faith & Reason, p.22