Reith Lectures Discussion 8: Justice, Service and Peace

Friday 4 June 2021

[Transcribed by AB from audio recording 14 June 2021. Some is near-transcript, but some material has been shortened or summarized, and this is indicated by "##".]

# Present: NO, TB, Apologies: CA, NB. CA sent comments afterwards.

# TB: Opened in prayer. Thanked for Fridays and time, and gave this time to the Lord, asked for new ways forward re. the economy.

# AB: Last time we ended by agreeing to discuss the last three Christian Values, Justice, Service, Peace, and how they impact the economy, and possibly how the economy should be to foster Christian Values.
[05.xx]

Contents:


----- NOT ABOUT CHRISTIAN VALUES

--- Marianna Mazzucato Book [z801]

# AB has begun reading Marianna Mazzucato's book, which had been recommended by NO, and had sent round a rather 'brainstorm' critique. We discuss that first.
# AB: Mariana Mazzucato book 'The Value of Everything': Sent round an initial critique.

[AB: The following points were sent round (but added to and rearranged here).

Insofar as these are problematic, most might arise from the tendency of economists to not sufficiently recognise that the economic aspect is only one aspect of reality / life and that the other aspects offer their own value which might not be fully expressible in the economic. ] [z820]

# AB: MMz seems deeply concerned the role of the public sphere has been overlooked and devalued (and she presents some convincing examples) - but this reflects the battle-lines drawn in the USA, and hence might not be the most fundamental of problems.
# Her book was mentioned by Mark Carney and she was one of the people allowed to ask a question of him. # NO: He called it a seminal work.

# NO: I think it does go to the question of how the economy can impact Christian values, because what she's predominantly talking about is that she's really only looking at the economic system, and how it's constituted and behaves. It's problematic in my opinion. I'll respond more to your comments when I write this weekend, but I think you were exactly right. [AB: NO sent me some comments; I hope to make them available.] In that she's not concerned about issues of piety. [z821]
# I tend to see her as a bit of a Marxist - see that running through some of her comments, and her championing the labour side of the equation.
# She's certainly not looking at it from a Christian values standpoint.

[AB: NO might have meant two things: Either he meant (a) She does not come from a Christian perspective, or (b) She's not looking at the values that are outwith the economic in their meaningfulness, which some of the Christian values are.]

# NO: But I think she's correct in that the problem we have with our economy, a dual issue:

# AB: Did you think this was a valid thing for her to say?
# NO: That's a real tough one, because it's absolutely true that some of these projects - because in the 1960s the US government built the interstate highways, funded thrugh taxes, and these highways have been the lifeblood, and people derive all sorts of benefits from that. So to that extent the government has provided / she uses examples of Apple, technology etc. But same thing is going on in different respects. I think that's true; the government can do some of the right things and should get some of the credit for that. [z824]
# The problem is, our government, which is hugely indebted, but spends money on ridiculous things. [z825]
# e.g. "pork barrel projects": "you support my project and I'll support yours" e.g. build a bridge in my state, and no cars go over.
[11.10]

# NO: There was once a (very libertarian) guy I heard lecture, who said interesting thing about government, that governments are like the old pot belly stove that sits in your sitting room and warms your house. When it does that, it is a good thing, but when the fire jumps out of it we have trouble. So government has to be properly controlled and restricted. [z826]
# AB: Arguing from a metaphor? ;-) [snip] Said with glint in eye - but every joke has part of truth. [z827]
# AB: I was interested NO you recommended it earlier, but I noticed the support in it for government, and thought "NO would not support that" but you've explained. So, thank you.

# AB: To my mind, the public-private debate is not very relevant. I'm not very concerned about public v private; because either way, money is spent, and my question is whether it's spent on the right things or the wrong tings. [z828] ***
# NO: I think that is what she is trying to point out.

# NO: The other issue that she brought up - and Carney dodged the question she put to him - is about: she calls it the issue of "rents" (though I think she was using a bad term. What she's really talking about is the financialization, where you're creating trade, financial trade, for the sake of financial trade. [z829] ***
# And to me that's a misuse of capital. If you do that, you should pay much more in taxes and reserve requirements, etc. because you're speculating. [z830]
[15.10]

--- Some Theology [z802]

[Some of this section has been summarised, especially those marked "##".]

# AB: I believe that Martin Luther did not like commerce and so on.
# NO: It's funny. As young man I thought Luther was great as far as theology went. As I got older, I thought L was half right. Today, I think he got only one third right. # AB: Which third?
# NO: Luther was right on the priesthood of all believers. We don't really need a priest or bishop to mediate our relationship with God and Christ. I'm not saying we don't need instruction or guidance and someone to lean on. But I think he's right about that. Another thing he was right about, is the doctrine of Sola Gratia, Sola Fides, Sola Scriptura, and so on. Christ and the Cross always goes right before us.
# AB: What not right about?
# NO: He was not a very ecumenical guy. He condemned a lot of people. He was, at the time, anti-semitic, said some terrible things about Jews.
## NO expressed the importance of relationships with each other.
## NO struggles with the idea of an elect in the way Luther and Calvin believed.
## We had some discussion about criteria on who 'goes to heaven'. AB referred people to "On the Death of a Friend" that expresses part of his struggle. Some of us tended to believe that salvataion is only through Christ but more will be saved through Christ than we think, yet we don't believe in universal salvation.
# NO: It is Mystery. I cannot understand it but I think that's a good thing.

# NO: Doctrine is important, and doctrine sometimes determines who we are and what is of value [AB: That is one impact of doctrine on the economy.] [z831].
[25.30]

------ DISCUSSING THE LAST THREE CHRISTIAN VALUES: JUSTICE, SERVICE, PEACE

# AB: Right, let us look at Justice, Service and Peace.

[AB: CA sent some suggestions through with discussion; see Appendix 1. AB had earlier made some brief suggestions as to what these three mean; see Appendix 2. ]

--- Service [z803]

# TB: I'm getting the feeling that services is something to address first. Justice seems more the latter. [AB: For some reason, I also felt that service would be good to discuss first.]
# AB: Service is defined [on Christian Values list]: "Meaning is found in service rather than in self-centredness."
# TB: Well, it's all about: To give and not take. [z832]
# AB: How does that help the economy.
# TB: Greed is always wrong. Favourite [verse]. [z833]
# But expanding it beyond a point blank statement: In a way, in an economy there needs to be some focus on self-focus on any business, in which they've got to protect what they need to sustain themselves. [z834]
# But there's also a kind of acknowledging the service they stand for, as well. And the fact that they exist and others cannot - or that if others do, there's always a limit to them. [AB: What did TB mean by that? Was it referring to competition and crowded markets, in which there is a zero-sum game, so that if one business flourishes it is at the expense of other? Or did he mean something else, for example, the limitation of business as such in the wider context of life?] And if they are, being a business, they've got a sort of value to them, in a way. They've got an act of service to society. They have to find their place in that. [z835]

[AB: To Discuss: Does that raise the question of how high a value we should place on the survival and flourishing of any given individual businesses? Issues to discuss: (the validity of) self-sustenance, the service they stand for, service to society, their limit, the value (or Good) in being a business.] [z836]

[AB: Dooyeweerd might help: The qyalifying aspect of a business - the aspect that most determines its destiny, dignity and responsibility - is the economic aspect. But the economic aspect is NOT just about finance, but about resources and their management with a norm of frugality. So, the service (responsibility) of each business is to help humanity manage resources frugally. That is the norm by which they should operate, and it sets a limit on them, and which gives business its value and dignity. Zero-sum competition should not come into it, except as a means to frugality. ] [z837] ***

[AB: In that case, service is closely related to dignity, destiny, responsibility, to role in wider context of the whole of Reality. Dooyeweerd: It is the for-the-sake-of-others. c.f. Egbert Schuurman's principle that technology should be guided not just by the norm of the aspect that qualifies it, but by those of all the other aspects. Similarly with business: It should be guided, not primarily by the norm of the economic aspect, but guided by the norms of all other aspects. Maybe if that happened then a lot of our problems would be over?] [z838] ***

[29.00]

# NO: We're seeing more of that today, where there are activist investor groups, demanding that corporations do more to improve economy or inequalities etc. [z839]
# NO: My view is that we need to formalize a measurement for this kind of service. In USA we can deduct charitable contributions from our taxes. Companies can do the same thing. But we don't report on any of this. Again I think we should - and we're starting to do some of this now: Companies are issuing reports on what their contributes are to the environment, to people / I think, if we want to be part of the economy, we need to somehow report on in ??? informalise that. [z840]
# AB: Why? # NO: People manage what you measure (Peter Drucker).

[AB: Is that really true? Are there not many things in life that we manage, not by reference to measurements, but by reference to rules of life that we hold? Paul Marshall says that "obedience" is sometimes a better guide than measurement. See also z123 in First Reith Lectures Comments, which suggested juridical rather than quantitative approach. ]

# NO: You tend to do that. It's an imperfection, but it's a truism. # AB: Why an imperfection if a truism? # NO: Unfortunately we do two things.
# (a) Some people start to abuse the measurements - cheat, falsify, whatever. [z841]
# (b) People focus on it, it becomes a form of idolatry. [z842]

# NO: And so, it's just - we as human beings unfortunately are not perfect.

--- On Rewards for Service [z804]

# NO: Think about it: we have a national holiday for a lots of things. Do you think we could have a national service day where we applauded people who gave service, who did things for their local community. [z843]
# There are awards like that, for example your local # TB: Interesting thing: In the UK, during the first lockdown, we had a weekly clapping for the National Health Service. It was promoting people who do what was necessary to keep our contry together in times of crisis. [z844]
# As much as one would have done in a war zone in WW2. Ever since, we have had honour on Remembrance Day to those who served in the military.
# But the interesting thing about that is one could to ask is why did that [clapping for the NHS] go wrong?
# It stopped because some people started politicizing it. And more vocal louder voices in the NHS were saying "Don't thank us with claps" because the government was joining in but not rewarding them with what they believed was believed to be the correct remuneration for the work they were doing." [z845]
# I think that's an interesting thing: Is that actually then a reaction to what one measures, and does the work they do have to be measured in what they earn? And not the value that they bring to a society. [z846] [on non-measuring]
# And it can be quite difficult that one. Effectively, they're getting the claps from those that are revelling in economic gains for themselves. And that is very hard. [z847] [About the value people bring being enjoyed by others.]
# [Example:] When a prime minister is clapping along with his now-wife, who has spent ridiculous quantities of money putting up wallpaper that nobody can ever afford. [NO remarked on their getting married, but TB went back to:] ... expenditure that was extortionate. Yes, just for the domestic needs of a leader of a country. One small little flat. [z848]

[AB: That sounds like the root of the problem is not the type or medium of the reward but issues of justice and attitude: injustice and self-centred, arrogant attitude.] [z849]

[35.23]
# TB: Has society forgotten how to measure things in terms of societal value? [z850]
[35.44]

# NO: I think you are exactly right. I think we are very screwed up w.r.t. these kinds of things.
# Indeed, it is my hope the 21st Century will be the one where we return to first principles. Not economics, principles. [z851]

# Interesting: I had no idea you had all done that. I guess I should not be surprised that some people in the Unions should say "Just shut up and pay us."
# AB: I don't think it was the Unions. There was a debate about it. Some of the health workers really appreciated it. The woman who got it going stopped it after 10 weeks - I think she said right at the beginning that it was for only 10 or 8 weeks. Which I think was very wise, otherwise we would never have known how to stop it.
# AB: But my feeling is that it did actually do an awful lot of good. Because it showed that the health workers that they were appreciated - by the people. The first one, they did not know how many claps they were going to have, but it was quite astounding. [z852]

# TB: The irony of it was that [people in] the NHS themselves, those working there were joining in, to clap on occasion, because they wanted to applaud each other as a team. Yes, there was that cameraderie and collegial spirit (if that's the right word). It had a very important purpose in keeping spirits up.
And actually it did a lot more for the wellbeing of individuals as well. The fact that if one does stand outside [on] their doorstep, we were saying "Yes, we're still here for each other." It did mend a lot of things. [z853]

# But of course, then people started to look at it the other way [wanting money]. And there's always a divide of opinion, and people will just want to rentract out, and have their own opinions, "Its no good for anyone; I'll just bow out of it."
# If it's something so trivial that a country cannot unite on / And it's getting unity on such a thing / Yes you almost need 90% of country to say "Yes we've ???? this" to really make it stand. And could that ever evolve into something that when we get out of this, that there would be almost a memorial day, a remembrance day, or whatever name we want to give it, where actually we did the clapping in memory, and clapped ???. And we are where we are.
# NO: That's a good thought.
[39.18]

--- On Change of Attitude and Behaviour after the Pandemic [z805]

# NO: Get the sense that - I can only speak from a limited viewpoint Texas - but I get the sense that people are more aware of two different things.
# (a) They're more aware of how we all are tied together through this Covid experience. [z854]
# (b) But we are also more aware of our freedom. Of how nice it is to go outside and get together with a bunch of people. [z855]

[AB: Two results on the economy of Covid-19 pandemic]

# So, I think we've got this somewhat schizophrenic situation here where people are like "We're all really tied together, we need healthcare workers, we need bus drivers, and on on." On the other hand, we get the feeling, "I want to go somewhere and have a beer with my friends and I don't want to worry about staying 6 ft apart."
# What's coming out of this - I don't know, it's really strange - I think we will just see more articles here.
# There's people in the States, where people are saying "I don't want to commute any more". I once had a job where I had to commute for 50 minutes, to get to work and 50 minutess back. People are saying now, "Why shouldn't I work at home? I don't want to commute." And if they're not taking jobs if the job has a commute, they're saying "Screw it up; I'm not even talking to you." That's a change. [z856]
[41.20]
# AB: [Example:] I remember hearing on the radio, interviewed, an ex driving instructor who doesn't want to go back to driving instruction, ...

# ... because he's seen the value of walking, nature, fresh air, etc.
# NO: We have stores called The Outdoor Acadamy. They sell all kinds of outdoor stuff. But if you go in our store, they have almost no bicycles. They cannot keep them. People buying bicycles like crazy. What's going on?! [z857]
# TB: Interesting, because cycling in the USA is less of a custom. [z858] # NO: Yeah, most definitely. It's more in the North-East and some places where there, or California where the weather's nice, but it's grown a lot here in Texas. There's many more people / In fact our city government is all about there are big parks planned for recreation, it's all about putting some more bike trails. In fact they're going to put an 8-foot trail through my damn front yard! So people can ride their bicycles.
# AB: Ah well, what you can do is put up a gospel poster! # NO: Oh yeah, I may well do that. [laughter]
# Anyway's TB, it's changing. And I think some people's behaviours are changing.
# I hope it's for the good. # TB: All being well.

# AB: That sounds a fairly good time to end [the toopic of] Service.
[44.00]

--- Justice [z806]

# AB: Maybe look at justice now? # TB: Yes I was thinking Justice.

# TB: Justice to what, exactly? Or is it general? [z859]

[AB: 2 topics here: specific and general justice]

# NO: I was looking at what CA wrote. ("People of different colour, gender, creed, disability should all be treated equally when it comes to pay, promotion, pay rise, workload etc.") I couldn't support that without qualification. I don't agree with that.
# I think the issue is: there's a difference betwen equality and justice. [z860]

# I think people should be treated justly. When we are all brought up on charges, we should have a fair and just hearing. [z861]
# But I think "equality" is a bad thing, a bad word in the English language. The only equality that should exist is equlaity of opportunity. [z862]
# But that's a different subject, not justice.
# Justice should be fair, justice should be blind, justice should have some - justice should fall with a heavy hand on people.

[AB: For Discussion: Given there is a difference between equality and justice, why is it that so many equate the two, at least loosely? Why do inequalities feel unjust? ] [z863]

[AB: Might Dooyeweerd help us with inter-aspect analogy? Might it be that Justice is a juridical issue while equality is an economic issue that echoes the juridical idea of justice? i.e. an analogy of the juridical in the economic? (I mean equality of income, wealth, resource, etc. and maybe also of opportunity, though the latter also has some formative aspect.) ]

# AB: Is that justice or judgement? Hebrew mishpat or tsedeq. [z864]
# NO: Good thought. Justice or judgement. You can/cannot [not sure which he said!] justice without a judgement, right?

# AB: I studied this. In the Hebrew tsedeq is translated both "justice" and "righteousness", whereas mishpat is translated "judgement", good judgement, just judgement. We tend use the word "justice" sometimes as the operation of judgement, which I think it is probably what you've used it as.
# Whereas justice as the equivalent of righteousness - this is Paul Marshall making this point ([n book 'Thine is the Kingdom'] /
# But when I looked in Scripture - probably the first Hebrew study I made - was to look at it statistically. I looked at all the times tsedeq was used (and also dikaiasune in the Greek) and counted up the number of times it ws translated "justice" and "righteousness", and then looked at other words translated as those. And what I discovered was that (in the KJV) there was really no difference between justice and righteousness, no basis for translating them one way or the other. [z865]
# We tend to think of justice as a social thing and righteousness as a personal thing, but Paul Marshall said that both are "right relationships among all things in the Created order." So [justice/righteousness, tsedeq, dikaiasune] a kind of state of being right, in God's eyes, as God intended Creation to be. # NO: Very interesting. [z866]

[AB: See web page that contains that study: "http://abxn.org/tsedeq.html".]

# NO: That's different from the mishpat? # AB: Mishpat, if you like, is judgement. It's good judgement, but it's the operation of judging. # NO: Is that like commonsense or something? # AB: It's like what you say: people should be treated justly. # NO: fairly, etc. # AB: A just hearing. [z867]

# AB: We can discuss both, and the operation of both for the economy.
[49.57]

-- Mishpat, Judgement [z807]

# AB: Shall we look at Mishpat first, getting a just hearing, and when judgement is made, making sure it is a just judgement.
# How does that help the economy, a healthy economy not just a growing one? # NO: It is essential.
# NO: If you are corrupt. e.g. look at many countries in the third world where justice [AB: i.e. the operation of judgement] can be bought. People suffer because people who have the gold rule, and they get greedier, and they don't get punished for bribes or corrupt activity. Instead, they get rewarded, and the economy, or at least the market economy, becomes dysfunctional. [Corruption] [z868]
# AB: How does it become dysfunctional? [To Discuss]

-- The Value of Housework, Prostitution and GDP [z808]

# Not so much in third world countries but in Britain at least, there's a kind of corruption where / Let me think / Well, a bit like what Mariana Mazzucato was talking about. One of the things I liked about her, was that she was pointing out at length that for example household work was not rewarded in the economy, it was not seen as part of the economy. [z869]
# And she was criticising why it's not. In fact, I sent something round on this. I copied you in to an email I sent to the United Nations about it. [AB received a positive reply from the UN, inviting us to contribute to rethinking GDP.]

# AB: But there are other things that are included in GDP. She mentioned e.g. prostitution, gambling and things like that. And also crime seems to benefit the GDP. [z870]
# How is that different from the third world? Because that [kind of thing] seems to boost our GDP [whereas it is the opposite of value].
# TB: Yeah. And would they ever get any drugs trade in that as well? # AB: Yes, drugs included contri9bute to GDP. # TB: Because if prostitution is illegal, which it is, then there's no tax paid to it, and it's all measured by the circulation of money, which is all coming in. [z871]
# And that's where countries relying on the tourist industry have been looked bad on in the sense that the drugs and prostitution can then profit off that incoming economy. And it does and they pay it and it goes into their system, whether or not it's taxed. [z872]
# AB: Yes, the drugs barons were going to get the money and they were going to spend it on fast cars etc. or security services or guns or something, and that's part of [contributes to] the GDP.

[AB: I think AB was meaning that excluding housework, which has real good value, from GDP while including prostitution etc., which does harm, in GDP, is a kind of corruption. The UN rethink starts from recognising this.]

[54.05]

# NO: I was thinking of this, more in the sense of the court system.
# But I would agree with her and you - and I've felt for a long time - that this GDP number needs to be revised or we need a new GDP or a different type of GDP, because for exactly those reasons, it isn't a measure that is / It [GDP] is a very flawed measurement. [z873]

[AB: To Discuss: How does the court system contribute to a healthy economy? ] [z874]

[54.55]

-- Tsedeq: Justice, Righteousness, the Idea of a Proper Order [z809]

# AB:: That might bring us to tsedeq, in the sense that GDP is a flawed measurement.
# AB: When we say "flawed", we are saying there's a wrong relationship in the created order. There's a hiatus, a fracture in the created order. So I wonder it that's part of tsedeq. [z875]

# NO: Yes I think it would be if you say that.
# If you accept the premise that there is a proper order to things, then you would have to say that when you have an indicator that is not reflecting that order you have a potential problem. [z876] ***
# AB: I like that.

[AB: Contribution of Christian thought: the idea of proper order - but how to put it over]

# NO: I'll go back to what I've mentioned before, which is one of the projects I hope to be working on: that in the financial world - and GDP is part of that - is only measuring the cost side of the equation.
# And that's why you don't see the value of a housewife who takes the time to proper school and raise her children. That's the value side of the equation that they are not measuring, but we should. [z877]

# TB: It's all then how we quantify it, to show that the stability of household does create - brings up children that are good to serve the economy. And will sustain it and strengthen it in the longer term. [The Value of Housework and Household to the economy.] [z878]

# NO: Yeah, For example, we know as a matter of fact, fairly sustantially proven in studies and analyses, that children that are raised with both a mother and father are more successful, more productive, and have less problems [than those that are not]. [z879]
# So why are we not measuring in our economy how many nuclear families, if you will, we have? [To discuss?]

# TB: It's a participation metric. [z880]
# [Example:] We have done this in higher education, by measuring the participation by the postcode that students come from (or Zip code) and/or whether they were elibible for free school meals. Because that helps to actually work out whether they have widened the participation [in higher education] to a deprived upbringing.
# Yes, I suppose you could take the same statistic, couldn't you, because actually in a school they would log the parental status of each child - or at least they should do - then it's kind of a participation metric, or a progression metric. # NO: Interesting: I didn't know you did that. We have some of those programmes here. But I don't know that we really look at whether there's single [parent?] family kids or not.
# TB: I don't know whether that can be easily found out. It will be captured somewhere. I guess it will be census information, because they capture, every ten years, the home status of where people are or whatever. And they will be able to evaluate whether children are in separated homes or together homes, or if they have married parents or cohabiting parents, and these kind of things. [z881]
[1.00.10]

--- On Measuring and Reporting Christian Values [z810]

## NO: [summarized:] CO2 concentration in the earth's atmosphere is measured and statistics on this are published.
# NO: what if we developed a statistic like that on the amount of Good, of good value, good homelife, that our country produces. Rather like the statistics What if we did that and published that. [z882]
## [summarized:] However, what would happen if we were to do that? Would people complain, e.g. "Its unfair, because I got divorced, it's not my fault"? It may be true - but the emphasis would be to try to keep families together. ## AB: [summarized:] In Britain we've got political correctness, against reporting such things. [z883]

## AB then said how he supports the statistics of CO2 emissions, and CO2 equivalent, and explained something about them. Various greenhouse gases might be more powerful than CO2, but there is a measure, CO2e, which is "CO2 equivalent" that includes them. [z884]

## AB: [summarized:] But I do wonder whether there's a way of [measuring and reporting things like good homelife], that does not put people's backs up. I don't mean dressing it up in deceitful ways - but getting debates going. But it's going to be hard work. # TB: Exactly. [z885]

[AB: To Discuss: How to get debates going around the benefit of Christian values for the economy. ]

# AB: [Example] The idea of a proper order. I think, NO, you said "if you accept the premise that there is a proper order to things". And I thought, "Yes, that is a genuine contribution that Christians could make, the idea of a 'proper order'. And I think a lot of the world is crying out for that idea now. [z886]
## [summarized:] But not in the old Scholastic way (Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, etc.) that tries to force Christian norms onto people.
# But I feel there's a way of getting it over such that people will discover it [the benefit of recognising a proper order] for themselves.
# Jesus spoke in parables. And partly He did so, so that people would think about things and come to their own conclusions. [z887]
# And I wonder if we can do that with the idea of a proper order.
[1.05.30]
# NO: That's a good thought. I'd like to think about that. It would be wonderful if something like that could be done.
# TB: Yes. Doing something that's not invasive of an individual's privacy. [z888]

# TB: Is there a kind of metric, a stability metric of some sort, that says where the stability metric is weak, and therefore we can see characteristics of a 'weak' in that local environment, such as crime, progression and so on. [Not clear what he meant by "characteristics of a weak" since "weak" is a an adjective not noun. Might have been "week" but that does not make sense. So I have put the adjective in quotes to make it a adjectival noun.] And to then say there's a need to do something to support and grow that stability metric. [z889]
# That might get round the political correctness thing because, probably what one could still argue is, whatever one's view are of a family or not, they would probably still accept the togetherness as being important to maintain. I would be surprised if there was much disagreement on that. And relationship building.
# NO: I like that term 'stability metric/index'. I think that could be a good way to approach this thing.
[1.07.30]

--- Peace [z811]

# AB: Now is that a good time to switch over to discussing Peace? [AB had in mind that household stability is a kind of peace.]
# TB: Yes, good point. Because it can fit itself into peace, can't it.

# TB: It's whether you take that metric purely as a households - you know, volume of households - because I suppose GDP is - you know a sort of value per population, isn't it, a monetary value per population. Then I suppose it's a / It's almost a kind of health and prosperity, not prosperity but, health and # AB: welbeing? # TB: wellbeing, maybe, It's partly that isn't it. [Not clear what TB was trying say]
# But it's also a "What would you say to describe how secure /"
# Well maybe it's a security thing: if one is in a secure family environment. Yes, or secure household. That would probably be the word that would have to get used.
# Because actually that would translate anyway to shared homes environments as well.
# I suppose it's domestic security. And a health and wellbeing factor. [z890]
# Yes, then there would be a number per thousand that has a low wellbeing or health state, or domestic security. And yes you could split them, those three, and get an overall factor. That is almost very equivalent to GDP language.
[1.09.22]

--- Vested Interests [z812]

# NO: I think a lot of this can be done. I believe we can measure a lot more things today than we could have 20 30 40 years ago.
# The problem AB was alluding to earlier: I think there are vested interests that don't want to measure that stuff. There is a burocratic inertia out there sometimes that says "well, we've got it handled. Why do we need to upset the applecart?"
[1.10.18]

# AB: Yes, I looked at Mariana Mazzucato. She cited the SNA Structure of National Accounts. I downloaded it (it's huge!).
# It talks about households. And I was appalled at the reasons they gave for not including households in GDP. It almost felt like vested interest. They talk about "extreme difficulty" yet there was extreme difficulty in other things. And in fact, given that the UK Treasury is looking at how to get biodiversity into GDP, or whatever, I would have thought that has the same extreme difficulties. Then I read today, in M Mz, continuing on that, [she was] saying, Well they include housing in GDP and impute rent from owned houses. They just impute it. So why cannot they impute something about household activity!? [z891]

# NO: Because they are - I think it's partly their mindset [z892]. They are accountants. They want to be able to see a measurement. They want a measure they can control. I think it's really problematic.
# That's my point. We could measure some of this stuff, and develop a better sense of economic wellbeing, a stability index, wellness index, or whatever you want to call it.
# And have the government make better policy decisions. Right now, all the policy decisions are based on cost. And somehow we need to get to a value decision. That's my point. [z893]
# TB: And GDP is easier to control in that sense, because its about distributing public funding into growing something that will push?? the economy to give them [ever-increasing?] GDP. [z894]

[C.f. z214 in Second discussion.

# NO: But look at the insurance industry. Billions of dollars. Let's just say life insurance, for example, what are they doing? They are figuring out what that value of your life is, that remaining ten years, five years, thirty years, right. That's what it's based on. It's not based on the forty years you've already lived. They're measuring the next fifty years. [z895]
# Well, guess what, if the the insurance company can measure that, we can measure the benefit the economy's got out there for all those people, right.

--- GDP [z813]

# Why is GDP easier to control? Is it because it's numerical? Or / And is it really easier to control?
# NO: I think it's because it's transactions, so, in other words, they can measure an event. You know, you bought a car for 30,000 or whatever. That's somewhat concrete; I can measure that. [z896]
# AB: But, this imputed value of house - that's not transactions. # NO: What they are doing is, they're saying "If we look back over time we can see that the housing market has increased 8% per annum over a 20 year period, or that rent has gone up 8% over a 20-year period, so I'm going to impute another 8% for the next 20 years."
# So, it's all based on historical cost-driven transactions. That's generally where they're going to.
# NO: But it's flawed, not adequate. [z897]

[AB: "Historical". That means it's driven by the past and not the future or even the present; it's backward-looking. Discuss. ]

[1.15.15]

--- The Root Problem: The Idol of Mammon, the System of Money [z814]

# AB: It makes me wonder, whether the whole idea of measuring is actually going against God's Plan [i.e. God's intention for how Creation should operate]. I don't mean it's wrong to measure - but to put so much [emphasis and reliance] on measuring / [z898]
# It's interesting. Jesus said "You cannot serve God and Mammon" (as it's translated in the KJV). I looked at the word: Mammon is actually the word in the Greek, and ii's used in several places. But it's a different word from coinage and currency. It seems to indicate a kind of - I cannot exactly remember what it was - but the system of money. It's not money itself but the system of money, the system by which we all agree that money is important. [z899]

[AB: Also, might the "cannot serve God" link to not being in line with God's plan or intention for Creation? ]

# In the past, I've always thought: "Such a verse, that cannot apply to the economy, because there was no 'the economy' in those days, they were all primitive all those people 2000 years ago, etc. etc." But [now] I'm thinking maybe it does apply to the economy. [AB was thinking of the sacred-secular divide] [z8a0]

# TB: Yeah, because ultimately as Ive always understood, Mammon is like riches personified as an idol - as I've seen as the definition. Yes, it's the system of money, and it's then giving it that importance, and it's as though there is a, you know, ???ility on it.
# ABL I think, it's not riches as such, it's not wrong to be rich as such (though there are other problems of being rich, like getting through the eye of a needle and so on), but it's not that it's talking about. It's the system of money, almost the deificaton of money. Yes, so it's like an idol.
# TB: Yes, that's right. It's then the greed and the idolatry. ??? getting into the error. [z8a1]
[1.18.09]

--- What is Valuable? [z815]

## NO: [summarized:] Many (especially young) people make an idol of stardom (rock, movie stars). Many young people want to become stars. It seemed like a shame to me.
# AB: Why was that wrong? # NO: Because, it's not giving anything back. [z8a2]
# There's very few people who become a star anywhere. And I think it's em, you know: wouldn't being a brain surgeon be more important than being a movie actress?
# AB: When you say "not giving something back", well, surely you could argue that being a good actor in a film actually entertains people? Is entertainment not a good thing? Now, I'm not actually assuming that it is, but it's a question.
# NO: Not, certainly, most of the entertainment that's coming out of Hollywood today, in my opinion. [laughter]
# AB: I hear Mariana Mazzucato speaking through you, the value of the Productive and Unproductive, and so on.
# TB: That's right. It's a sense of productivity, isn't it. If I could end my day of work reading a Vollander book or something, that I like to read sometime, it would /
# Yeah, it's enabling my brain to refresh and probably develop a better productivity the next day. [z8a3]
# Films for some people might have that effect. I don't watch films much any more, but it is / but I suppose, films in their own right will sometimes not be /actually /
# Obviously it's a whole subject in its own right: what is the quality and value of what the film is portraying? And clearly some films do not actually have much of that value attached to them, they only have the aim of promoting violence or sexual immorality. Or whatever else. [z8a4]

[AB: To Discuss: On what basis may we judge the value of different professions or ambitions? ]

# AB: We're over time, folks.
[1.21.40]

--- Using Dooyeweerd's Aspects [z816]

# I was thinking: Dooyeweerd's aspects?
# We could maybe use Dooyeweerd's aspects, the different aspects, saying "Each of the aspects provides a Good," if you like. [z8a5]

[AB: Example: By reference to aspects and their inter-aspect relationships? Brain surgeon is biotic, formative and juridical; movie actress is aesthetic. ]

# I tend to think of: God has created a Creation - the fabric of Creation is multi-aspectual, and when we're functioning well in all aspects, that is, if you like, Shalom, that is Good: Good aesthetically, Good lingually, good socially, good ethically, good juridically, good biologically, and so on. [z8a6]
# And that might be a way of being able to say, "Well, certain films can be good, and so can books, and so can computer games - BUT! When they portray evil, then they are bad not because of aesthetics but because of ???
# But that's for another time. [AB: To Discuss]

# NO: Those would be good aspects to build a stability index out of, perhaps. Maybe if you give that some more thought. I'll think about that some more myself. [z8a7]
## [shortened:] TB: When I use Dooyeweerd [aspects], I normally take the thing I'm at, and I list all the aspects. And then it helps me think, which are the useful aspects and which are less so (though all relevant to some extent). [z8a8]
# And we will realise that some that we've not paid much attention to, like biotic, actually do matter, because in Covid-19 we've learned how biotic can be quite vital to a suitably good economy. [z8a9]

# NO: I think those aspects could work well. And like TB mentioned, it's a great methodology to try to approach complex problems. [z8b0]
# Unfortunately we have a propensity to reduce things to either-or choices, So we try to throw stuff out right away. Well, sometimes that's not a good thing because we need to look at all the elements.
[1.24.33]

--- Future Discussion [z817]

# AB: Would that be useful for a future discussion?
# NO: I'd like to think on that.
# TB: Jot some down, put them into a spreadsheet and ??? what we found.

# AB: Well done, folks, we've managed to finish that list of Christian Values.
# Now there's a question of whether they are the 'right' Christian values - Fruit of the Spirit might be, or Dooyeweerd's aspects might be, but never mind [they are a good list to start on]. We've finished Christian values.
# Last time, it was suggested that I bring all the points together and present. And maybe what I'll do is next time I'll do that and also maybe introduce this idea of Dooyeweerd's aspects as something we could go forward on.
# NO, TB: Agreed.

# NO: Wishing us peace.
# AB: Closed in prayer, thanking God for our discussion and the ability to think together even though we have different views etc.

# Next meeting: Probably in 3 weeks time, but maybe in two.
# NO: Fortnight. [laughter]
[1.28.29]


--- Appendix 1. CA's Suggestions [z818]

[These were CA's suggestions she sent before the discussion.]

-- Justice [z8b2]

People of different colour, gender, creed, disability should all be treated equally when it comes to pay, promotion, pay rise, workload etc.

-- Justice + Peace [z8b3]

Justice also goes together with peace which leads to prosperity. For example the tension between China, Australia, US on trade + south china sea domination or Palestine and Israel war. Where is the Justice here? What is WTO is doing?

Who is the world's police who keeps things in order? The opposite of war is peace. A peaceful world can happen if the world police whoever this is steps in and helps out through law and order.

Lets look at Myanmar and Iran putting sanctions on them is not helping as the civilians are suffering just like war the civilians are suffering.
[Is this how the economy could encourage or discourage these values in society?]

How we see things- China road and belt initiatives. This is a wonderful project as most part of Asia if connected together can prosper through trade. The landscape in Asia is dense with thick rain forest, deep valley etc which makes some government unable to make proper road system, although colonization helped a little but roads were only build from resources ie iron, timber places to ports. So the road and belt initiative is a good plan. Now the IMF can help here by helping these countries to pay for this service. As a proper road system will increase productivity.
[Is this really a positive?]

-- Service [z8b4]

Abolishing 3rd world debt could also be a service to the Asian countries. As it helps them to progress and prosper.

We all know that if the basic hanslow [Maslow] needs are not met it is impossible to even think about Net zero. So war torn areas like Syria, Palestine and poor countries need to be given help to alleviate themselves. This would be a service to these countries.

-- Peace in one's life [z8b5]

Also the workload nowdays are increasing, most people have to work for long hours, work throughout Saturday and Sunday or hold down 2 or 3 jobs to just make ends meet. What is happening here? Something is very wrong. Nobody has time to relax, recuperate. People do not have time to spend with the family and friends anymore. This is straining relationships causing divorce, children who need attention are left unattended, grandparents who are supposed to be resting are made to look after their grandchildren. This is a vicious cycle. People don't feel peaceful or have peace in their lives therefore are turning to drugs, smoking and other bad activities. There are more people with mental health problems today than ever before. Something is wrong here.

--- Appendix 2. CA's Comments on the Discussion [z8b6]

Here are my thoughts on the discussion:

Economic rent is a term used in Economics it shows the difference in what we are suppose to pay fire fighters/nurses/teachers which is above and beyond what they normally get paid. If you notice these people get paid very little compared to the service they offer. Yes Neal you are right here, Carney dodged the question. But he also said something interesting if you think it is important than it should be voiced out to the parliament to be put in the agenda. If it is not in the agenda it is not recognized.

[AB: That seems to me an example of how other aspects impact on the economy: Juridical aspect of parliament making policies, and lingual aspect of voicing concern.]

In finance we talk about 2 things financing and investment - terms of securitization and trade is looked at more of an investment - a lump sum money paid - when we talk about our own employee in our company we talk more about financing issue like how much we are paying employees, I think this is the problem for the government to look at. The speculation usually works on the first investment.

Well said Tim that is a good point on clapping to value the front liners in NHS and the remuneration. Which brings us to economic rent we mentioned above.

The appreciation by people is a good point Andrew. How much more can we the public do to show appreciation. We have acknowledge it the government should do and not turn a blind eye.

The problem here with memorial day is why do we remember the dead but we don't do anything to honor those who are alive? NHS workers some of them have died. Yes we need to remember them. But what about those who are still alive? How we can respect the job they do give them more pay is one way to go about it.

I like the point about commute Neal. I am tired of commuting too. I wish I can work from home.

In terms of corruption what I notice is that the corruption in 3rd world countries is open and obvious but the corruption in developed economy is hidden. We have money laundering investigators asking questions like where did you get this much of money from and what is your provision so how does the drug dealers are escaping this loop is something unexplainable.

On the point of value with the example of housewife not being measured for the work she does raising children. We pay for house keepers, nanny to look after children because we pay for this services it is quantified. If we add all of this service pay up we can come up with a pay for house wives but the question is who is paying for this? If we look at accounting we say money in and money out in the ledger. So where is the money here? In accounting we also have something called Goodwill - good name of a company which is an estimated measure. Perhaps we can apply the same principle here.

If we look at science how we are studying microbiomes and look at how we have developed in space science. Sorting out economics shouldn't be a problem. But the two above doesn't involve people. Economics on the other hand involves people their decisions, involves money that is created and why we cant solve this is a question mark. There is so much politics and vested interest in economics because of making money from nothing look at bank how they can create money out of nothing and how it is benefiting certain vested groups government or politicians or the rich I think this is poison that leads to poverty, inequality etc.

The system of money- if you look at the bank - the bank creates the money out of thin air and charges for it. Then there are people who have no money and no food to eat. Why should this happen if the money is created out of nothing?

[Then sent another email, adding:]

I forgot to mention about Justice and equality. In Artificial Intelligence we are looking to see if the system is just in making decisions that is not biased or discriminatory based on colour, creed etc. I think it depends on the context we are using Justice on. I hope this helps to clarify Neals point.

--- Appendix 3. AB's Suggestions [z819]

# Justice - Redistributive whether via taxes or via generosity. c.f. the firms that lasted 100 years because they provided for the poor, e.g. Lever, Boots, Cadbury; Quaker Capitalism. What about animals?

# Service - Because service enhances the economic and other health of the other. c.f. Servant Leadership in management (another discipline qualified by the economic aspect)

# Peace - (a) War leads to huge sovereign debts that then dictate, constrain and stifle future economic activity into debt-repayment rather than productive things leading to genuine responsible prosperity. (b) when people or firms expend much of their financial and economic resources on competing and fighting rivals, much opportunity for prosperity is lost. (c) Peace in the heart: the confidence one is in harmony with the rest of Creation.

----- COMMENTS BY CA AFTER THE DISCUSSION

These comments were sent by CA 15th June 2021.

"Here are my thoughts on the discussion:

Economic rent is a term used in Economics it shows the difference in what we are suppose to pay fire fighters/nurses/teachers which is above and beyond what they normally get paid. If you notice these people get paid very little compared to the service they offer. Yes Neal you are right here, Carney dodged the question. But he also said something interesting if you think it is important than it should be voiced out to the parliament to be put in the agenda. If it is not in the agenda it is not recognized.

In finance we talk about 2 things financing and investment- terms of securitization and trade is looked at more of an investment- a lump sum money paid- when we talk about our own employee in our company we talk more about financing issue like how much we are paying employees, I think this is the problem for the government to look at. The speculation usually works on the first investment.

Well said Tim that is a good point on clapping to value the front liners in NHS and the remuneration. Which brings us to economic rent we mentioned above.

The appreciation by people is a good point Andrew. How much more can we the public do to show appreciation. We have acknowledge it the government should do and not turn a blind eye.

The problem here with memorial day is why do we remember the dead but we don't do anything to honor those who are alive? NHS workers some of them have died. Yes we need to remember them. But what about those who are still alive? How we can respect the job they do give them more pay is one way to go about it.

I like the point about commute Neal. I am tired of commuting too. I wish I can work from home.

In terms of corruption what I notice is that the corruption in 3rd world countries is open and obvious but the corruption in developed economy is hidden. We have money laundering investigators asking questions like where did you get this much of money from and what is your provision so how does the drug dealers are escaping this loop is something unexplainable.

On the point of value with the example of housewife not being measured for the work she does raising children. We pay for house keepers, nanny to look after children because we pay for this services it is quantified. If we add all of this service pay up we can come up with a pay for house wives but the question is who is paying for this? If we look at accounting we say money in and money out in the ledger. So where is the money here? In accounting we also have something called Goodwill- good name of a company which is an estimated measure. Perhaps we can apply the same principle here.

If we look at science how we are studying microbiomes and look at how we have developed in space science. Sorting out economics shouldn't be a problem. But the two above doesn't involve people. Economics on the other hand involves people their decisions, involves money that is created and why we cant solve this is a question mark. There is so much politics and vested interest in economics because of making money from nothing look at bank how they can create money out of nothing and how it is benefiting certain vested groups government or politicians or the rich I think this is poison that leads to poverty, inequality etc.

The system of money- if you look at the bank- the bank creates the money out of thin air and charges for it. Then there are people who have no money and no food to eat. Why should this happen if the money is created out of nothing?"

REFERENCES


Marshall P. 1984. Thine is the Kingdom. Marshalls.


Schuurman E. 1980. Technology and The Future, Wedge Publishing.


19 June 2021: Added CA's comments.