The 16TH RLDG Discussion:
Other Thinkers

Held: Wednesday 6th April 2022

The aim of this discussion was to consider how Section 2 of our Rethink of Economics deals with other thinkers, especially recent ones, so as to refine it. A couple of other topics were also discussed. It is part of the series of the RLDG discussions, which started at the 2020 Reith Lectures.

Present: NO, AH, CA, AB

[AB hosted this discussion, recorded it and then transcribed it (25 April 2022), inserting links, notes and comments. AB adopted two roles in doing this, (a) of editor, e.g. giving links to other material, adding "***" to important points, or explaining something, or attaching Unique labels for future reference; (b) of contributor, inserting responses to what had just been said, especially some that he would have made had be been able to, which are added in order to further the discourse, especially in a way that could contribute to our Rethink. These are distinguished as "[Ed: ...]" and "AB: ...]". Sometimes he will even criticise himself for what was said on the day! ]

Contents

----- Creation Care Weekend [zeg01]

[Not on recording]

# NO: Bill Gates buying farmland. Farmland reducing.
# Meat eating increasing
# AH: But meat inefficient.
# NO: cider maker had to move apple supplies.
# AH: impact of CC apples not as sweet as used to be, because less freezes.
# AH: CC should be a plus for western NY. Just below the ideal temperature range for best economic activity (52-59 deg F annual avg). [check source]
# Real winners of CC will be Russia. Per capita income will increase several fold, while US will decrease.

# CA opened in prayer.

[Recording started]
[0.00] # AB: Thank you for all being here. Four is quite a nice number for a conversation.

--- Summary of CC Weekend [zeg02]

# AH: What we have done is bring a group of three churches together, a Methodist, a Presbyterian, and a United Disciples of Christ. So we had a team of six people plan this event, and then we publicised to throughout our two towns, Elma, New York, Eastham, New York, close to Buffalo, Western New York. [zeg40]

# We attracted as many Christians as we could, for the purpose of talking about "Restoring relationships between God, Humans and Nature". [zeg41]
# We opened with a talk from a speaker from CareOfCreation, Ed Brown. He's a pastor and he goes around the world promoting Creation Care among Christians, mobilising Christians to preserve and protect God's planet. [zeg42]
# He opened up with a plenary talk, and we opened up with discussions both in large and smaller groups. Roughly 25-26 people attended. [zeg43]

# Main discussion groups on two topics:

# Those were the two sessions.

# We plan to follow this up by building a consortium of Christians in these two towns, where we would meet regularly, encourage each other and engage in Creation Care projects such as tree planting, or cooperative agriculture to reduce the distances our food travels, bicycle paths, political activism in terms of promoting carbon sequestration and other legislation that would reduce carbon emissions. [zeg46]
# So, how's that for a summary? # AB: Thank you very much.
[04.30]

# NO: I thought that was fascinating and encouraging in many respects. I just was just registering my approval of what he said. [zeg47]
# AH: People pretty exhausted after the preparations. So we give them a week to recover. Hope we can move fast enough, so that the interest and excitement has not evaporated. [zeg48]

# NO: I do have a question. You mentioned at the beginning. It was "Restoring relationship between" - what were those three things? # AH: Between God, Humans, and the Rest of Creation.
# AH: The natural world. One of the big themes, that the pastor Ed Brown promotes in his book etc. is that "Shalom is relationships." The proper functioning of creation according the Old Testament especially: how we relate first to God then to others, and then to the natural world. If one [relationsp] is broken, especially the relationship with God, then nothing else can function correctly. [zeg49] ***
# AB: That's great. Is there any report or website or anything? # AH: Yeah, I could send you materials, especially the handout we used. You have access to Google Docs in the UK? If I put materials on Google Docs, you can pick those up. [zeg50]
# ACTION: AH: Send out a few materials, e.g. give us access to your Google Docs. [zeg51]
[07.20]

--- On Environmental Action [zeg03]

# CA: I think that we have talked about this in your church, AB. I remember coming to one of the sessions that was similar to this. I was asking R, saying "Do you have a key takeaway, which is the important thing?" [zeg52]
# We are very aware that change needs to be done. But the thing is, we want to start small. So, what small things we can do to make that start, to make that change ourselves, before we start say something to other people, because other people might say "You are not doing it yourself." [zeg53]
# So, I thought that a session which gives more about these sort of things that you can do, that type of session is great for me. Because I know that immediately after that I can look through to see, at least in my situation, what are the little things I could do? Maybe even one thing I could do, one time in my life, and then slowly escalate and do other things. And then tell people, "Look, out of this whole list, I have done one of these things." [zeg54]
# There's a change. The thing is, there's a lot talk about, "We need to change ; things are getting bad. We know all of these things; we want some ideas, small bits and bobs, like Number 1, do this. / [zeg55]

# We live in a world today where we have to think a lot about a lot of things. And we don't want this to be on our conscience, like "I didn't do anything about it, because I couldn't think of something to do." We don't want that to be on our conscience. So when people give a list away to us, it's a bonus. [zeg56]

# AH: I would love to talk for hours and hours with you, CA, about that. Because you've raised so many issues. Honestly, some of what you have said is controversial and contested. I'd love to address those. [zeg57]
# But what I can say now very briefly is that according to the most recent research I've seen, there are two barriers to action, to preserve the environment and especially to preserve the climate. [zeg58]
[10.00]

[Ed: In an earlier session we discussed research about what kinds of moral norms inspire different people. See =====.]

# AH: So, with respect to the first one, the best communicators I've seen are recommending that we do connect those dots, between individual people and the climate and the environment. Where you show them that since environment affects everything, it will affect everything you are interested in, whether it's your children, the sports you enjoy, the gardening you do around your house, whether it's the trips you take, whether it's the beauty of God's Creation - all these things are connected to environment. [zeg61]
# People are generally environmentalists already. They just don't realise it, because they haven't connected those dots. [zeg62] ***
# AH: So, that's one strategy with respect to the first thing ???, especially the feeling that we're not connected to the environment.

# The other one is much more in agreement with what you [i.e. CA] said. Personal efficacy as they call it, the feeling that we can do something, and that things are not hopeless. [zeg63]
# So, many times, not just with the environment, but general living, there's an inertia in each of us, where we're used to be living in a certain way, and it's too hard to change anything, to adjust our lives. [zeg64]
# And that leads honestly to a hopelessness. Because you look at yourself and say "I'm not doing enough." Well, if you just took that first step, you would be doing something, and that would create hope. [zeg65]
# We often think that hope leads to action, but in fact, it's the reverse. Action leads to hope. As soon as you start to move, then hope arises. [zeg66] ***
[12.40]

# [ACTION: AH, CA: To discuss these things together.] [zeg67]

# CA: I just wanted to say, those are the two points; it's not what I said. # AH: I think that once you grasp those, then a lot of the other things you said are going to fall into place. That's the connection I'm trying to draw.
# AB: Thank you very much, AH. That's very helpful.

# So, Economics.
[13.30]

----- Economics [zeg04]

# AB: What we're trying to do is to our Rethink ready to be published and so on. We looked at the Overview last time.
# AB: NO kindly rewrote the Overview. I've had no comments back.
# Today we'll look at sections 1, 2, especially with how we engage with recent thinking.
# CA: have you any comments?

--- About What Versions of the Rethink to Have [zeg05]

[Ed. In this section, there is little about economics; all the discussion is about which versions of the Rethink to have on the website. ]

# CA: I have a lot of comments about the bigger version of it. NO's summary put the whole thing in perspective.
# I was looking at the bigger one, and have points to bring up.
[Ed: NO sent a file with two pieces in it, a 500-word new overview, and the rest, which collected some of his ideas about the whole Rethink. It is not clear whether by "the bigger one" CA is referring to that, or to the xn.rethink.html that is on the website.]
# AB: shall we discuss that now, or by email, especially as, NO, you felt that the bigger bit after the shorter bit, you were still thinking it through: is that right?
# NO: Yeah. I would love to get those comments [from CA] because, as I tried to say in that cover, these are just some of the things I am pulling out from my perspective, and so on a collaborative basis, it would be valuable to hear where I have missed something or I'm on the wrong track. [zeg68]
# Yeah, I do think that the work needs something that is a little more digestible, if I could put it that way. Again, it depends where the target audience is. If it's a broader audience, people are going to want to get hooked in, and be able to get the sense of what the recommendations and thoughts are, in a little smaller format.
# Yeah, email it to me, and we can discuss that.

# AB: CA, would you like to give some of your comments?

# AB: [About NO's shorter one] I intend now, pending any comments that we have on it today, to put your shorter one up. # NO: OK, great. [zeg69]
# ACTION AB: Put up NO's shorter summary onto the website. [zeg70]

# Do you think that we need the shorter overview that is there already, as a kind of mid-way step between the two-pager and the long one?
# CA: When NO said that this is the shorter version, and they you also said that you want some feedbacks and things, so if that is going to be the case, will this get the bigger then, yknow if everybody's going to put some feedback in the stuff will that get bigger? # AB: I think possibly we might have three levels, three versions - or even four if we want a longacademic version. [zeg71]
# AB: But I think your comments, CA, are not on the first two pager, it's on the other thing, isn't it?
# So, let's go ahead with that. Since we have limited time, let's go ahead with your comments on the bigger one.
[18.30]

# CA: OK.
# So, I was reading the bigger part, and I thought of a few things.

----- On The Goodness and Problems of Economics [zeg06]

[Ed. CA is rightly concerned about the negative picture we give of economics as 'the bad guy'. This came up in several forms at several times. So I give it a major section.]

# CA: 1. When I was reading it, that brought me to the first conversation that I brought up. I was thinking that when we talk about economics, economics brings a lot of goodness. Economics in itself has a lot of goodness. But it depends on in whose hands it falls into, and it also has other externalities that controls and manipulates it, like politics. So therefore we cannot say that economics is all bad. Like, "Until today, economics has not addressed this, that or the other." Because, when I read that, I feel that it's not correct. [zeg72] ***

# CA: Let me give you some examples.
# If you look at / I'm going through Adam Smith. And so far, what I'm going through: He has not written in a way which was of self-interest. He did not write things out of selfishness. The only thing he said, he used the word "self-love" when he talked about specialisation. He said that you come up with what you want based on what you love. So, if I love to bake cakes, then I bake cakes and put them out for sale and people will buy them from me. [zeg73] ***

[AB: Excellent: correcting misinterpretations of Adam Smith. "Self-love" is not self-centred, selfish self-interest, but a recognition that love of things in life comes into economics. ] [zeg74]

# CA: Yknow, so far I'm reading his work. There is nothing which is saying that / what he's coming up with is purely about making money and progressing from that.
# I'm still working on his work. The thing that I recognise / there's a little bit of a contradiction here /
# I don't know if talk about this now or another time, because this is about Adam Smith stuff. # AB: Why don't we have a session on Adam Smith another time?
[21.50]

[Ed. Topic of goodness of economics continues below.]

--- Recent Thinker: Mohammad Yunus [zeg07]

# CA: Another example. Microfinance, Mohammad Yunus.
# He came up with microfinance, and this has two components in it, a social part and an economic part. [zeg75] *** [a recent thinker]
# Now, those are good things.

--- Recent Thinker: Abhijit Banerjee [zeg08]

# If you look at all all of these people, and Nobel Prize winners / if you look at what Abhijit Banerjee - he's a Nobel Prize winner, and he looks from Human Development Index. # Sorry, that's not him; that's Amartya Sen, who looks at Human Development Index.

[Ed: Actually, Abhijit Banerjee's main work seems to be Poor Economics, 2008,which advocates distance from both market economics and grand plans, but rather "listening to what the poor have to say. Often the answers are startling and counter-intuitive but make the utmost sense when circumstances are understood. Also, avoid Igmorance, Ideology and Inertia. See Wikipedia entry on "Poor Economics".

AB: "What the poor have to say" sounds like respecting everyday experience, which Dooyeweerd very well equips us to do.

However, CA then brings us more up to date about him. ]

[22.45]
# Abhijit Banerjee looks at economics from political, sociological, athropological, psychological perspectives. So he looks at things multi-dimensional. [zeg76]
# He also talks about economic growth but he compares that with the quality of life. [zeg77]
# So he talks about economics in conjunction with everything else. And he says "Look, we haven't thought about this enough, because we were all just focusing on one part." It's like just focusing on one part of a car and not looking at it from a holistic persppctive. He says "We have the answers here."
# What I'm trying to say is, when we do the right thing, /
# CA: If you want, I can write that part up about we are not just focusing on one area all the time, about economics. Because we do bring in the social dynamics; we do talk about quality of life; we do bring all of these things in. [zeg78]

[AB: This is the perspective of embedded economy. ]

# CA: I want to say that economics itself is not at fault or harmful, but it depends on whose hands it falls into. And also how people / that people / could be the lobbyist, they could be the rich people; it could be whoever who try to manipulate things to the way they want it to be. [zeg79]
[24.40]

# NO: I think I understand what you are saying. It sounds like that you are advocating in Section 2, there is a list of people that we mention but the people that you brought up are not on that list. So would you like to have some of their thinking listed as part of this overview of economics, as part of that section on the problems with economics.
# CA: Yeah. So we have Kate Raworth, and then the question was asked , "Is that part too big or can we bring other people in?" So, these could be the other people that we brought in.

--- Economics as Good, contd. [zeg09]

# And also that top part that we talk about yknow "Economics is not good". This is what I was trying to say.
# CA: So I'm volunteering to write that first part out so that it doesn't look at "Economics is the bad guy and that's it." I want to fix that part. That's what I'm trying to say. [zeg80]
# AB: That's great! Wonderful!
# NO: That would be great. Why don't you send some of that around to us?
# ACTION CA: Rewrite that part that is too negative about economics. [zeg81]

# CA: And the point I was trying to say, was: One is politics. So let me give you an example.
# During ??? he pushed for something called Green GDP. But a Congressman from West Virginia, he put a halt that effort because he was fearing it would hurt his coal mining industry. This is what I'm trying to say. I want to put examples, so that we can actually see what that means. [zeg82]
[27.15]

[AB: can tackle that via Good, Harmful, Useless and Responsible Economics. ]

[Ed. Topic continues below.]

--- The Ukraine War and Multi-dimensionality [zeg10]

# CA: Another thing that make me really think a lot, a view of since the war started, is what is happening in Ukraine. If you think about it, it's terrible; it's a war that is going on. People are getting massacared. [zeg83]
# And we are just here. What are we saying about that? [zeg84] ***
# AB: Where do you think this should come in to economics? Tell us about this, because his is very important.

# CA: Think about, now they are saying "Let's put sanctions." Now, sanctions are not helping that country or any other country at the end of the day. People are leaving the country, going all over the place. Sanction after sanction after sanction after sanction - so what! [zeg85]
# We here feel helpless because there is nothing we can do. How did we get into this situaton. This is exactly the global financial crisis, if you look at it, it's the same thing. It's like people stand and watch as things happening. [zeg86]
# Why? What is the force that is stopping us from doing something? We have all sorts of things. Those forces - it can be politics, it can be anything - they are all flowing into different areas. [zeg87]

--- Economics Linked With Other Issues [zeg11]

# We talk about "multi-dimension" here. So, if you are going to say "Get multi-dimension," this is multi-dimension now, we're talking about the war. [zeg88]
# That same attitude is overflowing to different places. [zeg89]
# So, if you want to go ??? [zoom lost words] if you want to say "multi-dimensional," then we will be bringing in everything from politics to economics, because they will be flowing into each other, and we need to find a framework that is going to encompass. [zeg90]
[30.15]

[AB: Embedded economics links economics with all other spheres. So, CA here is showing some of the 'reality' of doing this. ] [zeg91]

# NO: Situation in Ukraine, and how that plays into the situation in economics, I have two thoughts on that. [Ed. NO gives his first point, but maybe not his second - unless it we merge into it.]

# 1. There are issues of fundamental principles of governance. Those are not necessarily economic issues. [zeg92]
# e.g. You can have a socialist marxist country that has a somewhat representative government. You can also have one that exists in a totalitarian state. So the issue of bad totalitarian actor, e.g. Putin, is the issue of governance not economics. So maybe we can make a statement that ultimately some principles of governance should be addressed as principles of of governance not economics. [zeg93] ***
# Take you back to Plato. Plato, in Republic, laid out five forms of government: He laid out the tyrant, the democracy, the republic, the oligarchy, and the aristocracy. Those are governance forms and they still exist today. They are the primary ones. [zeg94]
# So governance is the principle we can comment on, but the direction of what we are talking about is economic behaviour of people and markets and that sort of thing. [zeg95]
# Now, the point I would make on that is that history has shown us - recent history - that when you have an economic system that allows people to engage across market transactions and engage in things like Adam Smith talked about, that you mention, that promote their own own self interest, those systems flourish better in a democracy or a republican environment as opposed to a totally directed economy. And I think we can see that in history. [Ed: Should it be "totally directed society"? So as to not mix together governance with economy? ] [zeg96]

# So, to your point, we can make a few comments. I would love to get your writing that perhaps would be something that would fit within the issues with economics action. That's kind of where I see this conversation evolving. [zeg97]
# But I don't know that we need to go too deeply into the Ukraine situation - not that I want to avoid it. I think that's a political, governance issue that is being played out right now. [zeg98]
[34.00]

--- Goodness of Economics, contd. [zeg12]

# CA: What NO is saying is exactly what I said.
# What I said was "We have economics, then we have other factors affecting it, making it look like a bad guy." Now, economics is not the bad guy. It's all the other factors making it look like the bad guy. [zeg99]
# And that is the corporate governance issue itself. And these corporate governance issues if it is not controlled then we've got the global financial crisis.
# Then, who is to be blamed for that? People will say "Go back to economics. They are to be blamed." So, now, everything in economics is looking bad to us because we are using, because of the corporate governance errors that have happened, and people think that "Hey, what is happening to us right now - yknow, we're not living the life we are supposed to live - because economics is not supporting it." It's not economics; it's all these corporate governance sorts of things. They are basically those glasses that people are wearing to see economics. That's what I'm trying to say.

# AB: I think we can take it that we are going to rewrite it so that we don't give the impression that economics is bad. # CA: Yes. [zega0] ***
# ACTION AB: Rewrite (with CA's help?) those places that give the impression that economics is bad.

# AB: I'm very happy with that, more than happy, partly because, I'd like to think that, what we're doing here, in Dooyeweerdian terms, is that we're looking at the economic aspect itself [zega1]
# and, in theological terms, I see each aspect as something that the Creator has put into the Creation in order to bless the Creation. Therefore the economic aspect itself is Good with a capital G. [zega2]

--- Why Economic Activity can Cause Harm [zeg13]

# And the reason it's become bad is because (a) of human sin [zega3]
# economic sin - but also of human sin including as NO says because of corporate governance [Ed. NO did not say "corporate", only "governance".] [Ed. AB never gave a (b).] [zega4]
# (AB apologised for misnaming NO.)
# So, we're doing two things.

# And then together, we're trying to understand how all that together can be both good and bad. [zega7]

# NO: I think that's correct. That's what I see, that's what I understand.
# And I really think that adding some of what CA is trying to express will bring a little more balance and maybe clarity to the issue that we're trying to attack.
[37.30]

# NO: Which goes back to greed, sin, idolatry. [zega8] ***
# Because, I will make the point, that what our government has done, unfortunately (I'm speaking more in the US here) is we have really enabled a lot of financial activity that has no redeeming benefit to maybe the overall public good. [zega9]
# AH: Gambling would be one of those? # N: Yeah, you could definitely make a point on gambling. You could definitately make a point on / My point is / [zegb0]

--- Structure and Direction [zeg14]

[Later on, around 42.00, AH said the following, which is very helpful to this topic of the economy being good.]
# AH: Wanted to say one thing before moving ovvv that topic. Within reformed economics, you have the idea of structure and direction. I that actually covers all the aspects as well, that any of our activities, at least those of which we are potentially subjects of, not objects but subjects. There could be a good structure but bad direction. [zegb1]
# That's a philosophical way of looking at much of what CA has been saying.
# That economics is not the bad guy; Economics is actually good. And God created it and intended it to be developed. But it's been taken in a bad direction. So, that's language that you could borrow from Goudzwaard and so forth. [zegb2] ***
[Continues at the discussion of Goudzwaard]

[AB: Important. CA is clarifying the harm and good that economic activity is doing, as not of economics itself but of the other aspects that affect our economic activity. However, some of the harm from economic activity comes from economic activity encouraging certain (harmful) types of behaviour and discouraging others.

ACTION AB: Add that into the following sections:

]

----- Rewriting Section 2: Recent Thinkers [zeg15]

[Ed. Rewriting the section on recent thinkers is a major topic discussed this time. hence a major section. Several other thinkers were suggested for inclusion. ]
(See also Recent Thinker: Abhijut Banerjee above.)
(See also Recent Thinker: Mohammad Yunus, Microfinance above.)

--- Recent Thinker: Mazzucato Book Mission Economy [zeg16]

# NO: And this is a perfect segway to Mariana Mazzucato's work, which I've boon looking at more and more. I really think she's on the right track with some of this. [zegb3]
# Basically, goverment should have missions that are targeted to achieve a better economic outcome for people as a whole.
# Unfortunately, in our country [USA] / The UK does a better job of it in some respects, because it does have a bit more of a directed economy, which may not be all that good. But in our country, our government, it doesn't have any strategic thinking. [zegb4]
# We talk about energy policy or green new deal, but it's like all-or-nothing. There's no real talk of transition. [zegb5]

[AB: Interesting aside. Observation and Note: This is about redirecting the nation and economy, and such redirection is pistic functioning. (See AH's "direction" below.) "All-or-nothing" could refer to commitment to two opposing extremes, but in popular speech often has connotations of one sector trying to force new beliefs onto others. Transition could refer to the formative and other aspects of how we change direction. However, given centuries of experience, "transition" is often employed by those who want to resist change of direction, and hence its use is part of pistic functioning. ] [zegb6]

# No real thought of, like as she mentions in her book, her recent one, about how going to the moon, the Kennedy challenge of 1962, became a mission that the government undertook with industry. We did by 1969. And there are over 20 major benefits that came out of that initiative, that we are living with today. [zegb7]
# The point is, the idea that government should keep its hands off economics is not necessarily what they should do. [zegb8] ***

[AB: For Section 6 of Rethink, on conventional economics: "Conventionally there is an argument about whether, or how much, government should control or meddle in the economy. On the one extreme, there are those that hold that the economy will sort itself out and government should have no input, while at the other extreme, the government should choose and determine everything in the economy. Mariana Mazzucato is arguing for partnership. It may be seen as a welcome 'middle way' between the two extremes, but it can be seen much more positively than that. If the important thing is human functioning that contributes to Overall Good and does not undermine it with harmful or waste it with useless economic activity, then it does not matter whether this Good functioning is being carried out by governments, businesses or even the unpaid sector of the economy. In some contexts, governments and ordinary people can work to correct an undue elevation of economics above the rest, in other contexts, the economy and ordinary people can correct flaws in government, and in yet others, both might correct flaws in the way ordinary people live. What determines what is seen as flawed is the beliefs that prevail throughout society - society's pistic functioning." ] [zegb9] ***

[40.30]
# I would refer you to a couple of things that she's done about the myths of government and how we've gotten ourselves into thinking that it should only be trying to tinker with things rather than re[zoom lost words] mission. [zegc0]
# AB: Thank you. In fact I ordered that Mission Economy yesterday. # NO: I just ordered it today.

[Ed. Here, AH mentioned structure and direction, relevant to the topic of the economy as good. So I've moved it there. ]

--- Recent Thinker: Bob Goudzwaard [zeg17]


[42.30]

# AB: [AH,] thank you for mentioning Goudzwaard. In fact, I'll come in there and ask you. Could you please tell us a little bit more on Goudzwaard, because what we've got in our Rethink is a very limited bit of it. And I think you commented in the past that there's a lot more to him. You probably haven't prepared anything, but could you / [zegc1]

# AH: I'm a huge fan of him.
# AH: My primary reading in Goudzwaard has been Capitalism and Progress book, I think it was published in 1979 - is that about right? Right around the time when Dooyeweerd published The Roots of Western Culture [Dooyeweerd, 1979]. [zegc2]
# So. At that time, he [Goudzwaard] talked about the history of how capitalism and progress were conceived. And Capitalism was the primary vehicle by how we hoped to achieve progress. So that is taken us in a certain direction, oriented towards growth as the primary economic good. [zegc3]
# And what were the barriers that needed to be removed from mediaeval times, and what we think of as the Dark Ages (What a misnomer that was, of course!). All the barriers that needed to be removed in order for capitalism to take the throne and then to become that idol. [zegc4]
[44.20]

[AB: A possible perspective on Growth, for Rethink: Growth as the primary economic good: Centuries ago - and this is in Adam Smith too - economic growth was seen as a measure of growth in human good, in the context where many suffered disease, disasters, wars, injustices, etc. because they did not have enough money for e.g. seed, health care, etc. while the wealthy had too much and spent it on luxuries. Economic growth, then, was a good thing. But, now that our economies have grown to provide such basic necessities more widely and more equitably than before, it has become an idol, an end in itself that determines much else and to which much else is sacrificed, and it is increasingly being channled towards luxuries for the affluent peoples, while it is causing environmental and other problems elsewhere. Goudzwaard therefore introduced the idea of the Blossoming Economy, using the metaphor of the tree. While young, the tree is mandated to grow, but once it reaches a certain mature height, it stops growing taller and devotes energy to blossoming and fruiting. By this metaphor, the economies of affluent countries should cease growing, while those of developing countries should grow. Bob Goudzwaard also published Idols of Our Time, in which he wrote about economic growth (and technology, revolution and national security) as being idols that lead us astray.
] [zegc5]
***

# Really, I don't feel qualified to say much more, but /
# I will say that this same idea of structure and direction comes up in Genesis 1, the way I see it. If you look at the six days of Creation. If you look at five of the days, God said it was good. He created the birds and the fish on Day 2, and He said it was good. He created the dry land and the seas, and He said it was good, and so forth. [zegc6]
# But on Day 6, when humans came along He said it was very good. Isn't that Interesting? [laughter of appreciation] # AB: Yeah.
# AH: Somehow after we're on the scene, things become very good, not just good.
# You could interpret that in different ways, but I think there is evidence at least that humans have a way of adding to creation, or making it better than it was. At least there's the potential for that.
# And we see that in several indigenous cultures. For instance, Native Americans have some techniques for improving the productivity of land, and biodiversity, and ways of taking care of themselves and making everything beautiful and work together. And so - maybe that's an echo of that portion of Genesis 1, Day Number 6.

# AB: Great. Could you say something about / That's very overview, theological and so on, and structure and direction are philosophical. Could you say just a few points about how Bob Goudzwaard sees economics function, please. [zegc7]
# AH: I don't think I'm the best person to do that. # AB: You're not the best person, but could you give us a few pointers and then we can look them up and so on. Just from your memory. Doesn't matter if they are incomplete.

# AH: Just to recognise the idols that we build up. [zegc8]
# And then to focus on healthy human functioning and functioning / [zegc9]
# I think he was focused more on humans than I would be. [zegd0]
# To focus on functioning and of health rather than particular narrow economic goals. [zegd1]
# AH: I would bring in much more of the Romans 8:19-23 than I believe he did. Yknow, especially verse 19-23 here it talks about / in fact, you're more familiar, with this, AB, than I am. You've written about it a lot more. I've even gotten most of my ideas about that from you. So I should shut up. [zegd2]

[Ed. See Romans 8 Revisited. ]

# AB: He [Goudzwaard] was writing that in 1979, yknow before a lot of the environmental awareness came in. But it resonates, it seems to me, with environmental awareness. # AH: Sure.
# AB: Thank you very much. We'll bring in more of Goudzwaard, in Section 2 [of Rethink].
[48.05]

# NO: I like that table that's in 3.6, the Table 2. [zegd3]
# I do think it fits better in Section 2, where we're talking about these economic ideas. [zegd4]
# To include some of the ones CA made, be able to educate us on. [zegd5]
# ACTION AB: Move the table to Section 2, and update it. [zegd6]

# NO: But I do want to think some more about the headings that go across the top [Ed: the five widenings]. I want to think about it some more about the headings that go across the top. I don't have anything I can tell you right now, but I think it's a nice recap. [zegd7]
# ACTION NO: To suggest changes to the headings of the Table 2 on Thinkers, when he has thought out what he suggests to change. [zegd8]

# NO: Maybe worth even another table that would come out differently. [zegd9]
# AB: what kind of things do you have in mind?
# NO: I would want to add a couple of things different on Mazzucato, which is the only one I am familiar with. [zege0]
# ACTION NO: To edit and add to the pieces on Mazzucato in the text and in the table. [zege1]

--- Explanation of the Recent Thinkers Table [zeg18]

# NO: My question is: Across the top, the columns are Embedded, Multi-Valued, Moral, Multi-level, and Responsible. So, what are we ? We're trying to indicate whether that particular thinker has said something with respect to those columns, is that correct? # AB: Yes, that's right. # NO: And where they haven't, it's blank? # AB: It's blank. But it's also limited as well. [AB: What AB meant was that sometimes a thinker says a little about it, or alludes to it, but not fully, but in a limited way.] [zege2]

# NO: The last column "Responsible [Economics]": what does that mean? # AB: Well, we're going to discuss that in a few weeks' time. We discussed a bit about the word "Responsible" last time, and I realised that it's not actually clear. I'm still thinking about that, I'm still thinking about what I had in mind by adding it. I think it was something to do with Action, it was a prompting to Action. It was opposing self-interest - yknow, the self-interested rational economic actor. But I think a lot of rethinking is needed [about Responsible]. [zege3]
# NO: Would another word be "Outcome" "Recommended Outcome" or "Recommendation"? That may be hard to divine. # CA: Or is that "Sustainability"? # NO: "Sustainability": That's interesting; I like that. # AB: That's interesting; thank you. [zege4] [*** Other words for "Responsible"]
[52.10]

--- Radical and Reformist Thinking [zeg19]

# NO: I think we're struggling with one of the thoughts that came up earlier. CA was talking about. It's the idea of what's their direction / do they have a directional recommendation. [zege5]
# Because one of the differences is, some of these guys have a very broad directional recommendation, like what I understand about the Doughnut people, but some of the others are just reforming / they just want to reform the system, as opposed to taking a broad directional change. [zege6] ***
# Which we certainly are on the side of taking a broader rethink. [zege7]

# And so maybe the / anyways I'm thinking: what is the synthesis / how categorically are these people recommending things.
# Go back to Carney. He sort of wants to / if he wants to have a sort broader economics but he is really / I don't see him as advocating major reformational change, he's just saying "Hey we gotta add that kind of thinking to the whole process." [zege8]
# CA: I think it's good to have those people as well, because they give the overview. And then when we start writing it then we can get into the details of it. # NO: Yeah. I think it really again puts some context around where our thoughts are, as opposed to some of these other thinkers. [zege9] ***

[AB: Again, this might be seen as understanding the economic aspect with other aspects, and the relationship between all aspects. The 'broader rethink' emphasises the need to re-embed economics among those. The reforming looks especially at how the realities of the economic aspect as such can be reflected in a system that has distorted the economic aspect. I think of Dasgupta's work as an instance of reforming, in which he argues for bringing biodiversity into accounts, the UN SNA work is a bit broader, in that it brings in not only biodiversity and sustainability, but also wellbeing, and not only wellbeing, but also (quite radically) unpaid household activity. Then Doughnut goes further, but it still presupposes Western lifestyles. Carney maybe goes further still, though also being reformist, in wanting to bring values in. ]

--- Changing the Rethink Text [zeg20]

-- Table 2 on recent thinkers [zeg21]

# NO: Anyway, I wanna just say that I think that the Table goes to Section 2 and we may want to flesh it out a bit more. [zegf0]
[54.55]
# AB: I actually was thinking of 'unfleshing' it, having two tables, a very bare-bones one, without shades of grey, a yes-or-no one to really pack a punch, and then one where it is more fleshed out. # NO: That could be a good idea. I'd love to see what you're thinking in that respect. [zegf1]
# NO: And I definitely wish CA would send us a couple of names of these people she mentions in her economic thinking.

-- CA's Rewrites [zeg22]

# CA: So, coming to that question, where do I write? Do I follow on from NO's work? Because, NO, you said you want to write something as well. What do I do? # NO: Well, I suggest you just give us / rewrite your raw thoughts. The people that you / # CA: Because I was thinking of putting it where it belongs, and then writing it out. Because what I have in here, you won't be able to see where it fits in and how does that contribute to the next paragraph, and those type of things. So if you want / # AB: I don't think that matters. I suggest you just write. # CA: OK I've go an idea: I'll just take what NO has done, then just write it, and highlight it so you can see what I've written. You can take that and then do whatever you want to. # AB: Yeah, do that, then write, especially about economics being good / [zegf2]

# AB: Bye AH. # NO: Bye.
# AH: Really enjoyed our conversation. Bye bye; take care.
[AH left]
[57.20]
# AB: Then we can think about where it goes. So don't try overmuch to fit it in. Respond to NO's thing. But add your own section rewriting why economics is good not bad. Then we can work out how and where it goes. [zegf3]
# CA: So, once I've done it, I'll send it to both of you, is that OK? # NO: That's OK by me.
# ACTION CA: Respond to NO's piece, add about how economics is good. [zegf4]
[58.05]

-- Giving Examples (For Rewriting) [zeg23]

# CA: I've got one last to say. two last things to say.
# I was reading 3.3.2, Types of Harm, the bigger version. It says "Types of harm, poverty and environment" and I remember during this time, I was giving an example of the of the Black Rhino, the horn of the Black Rhino got chopped off. During Covid-19. But that was not there. [zegf5]
# So I think we need to give it more context to make it understandable. [zegf6] ***
# AB: In what way? # CA: Like when you said "types of harm of poverty and environment" so if we give an example, people will understand it better. # AB: So you mean: use the Black Rhino as an example? # CA: Yeah, because that is what I said. [zegf7]

# CA: And I also see another example, that I said about McDonalds but it was not picked up. I do feel when you wrote that thing, did you just think of writing the points down and then later on, if we want to expand on it, go and look / yknow, go and listen to the video at that part and put the examples down? Or was that the plan. # AB: Yes, it was the plan. But because I've only got 24 hours a day and lots of other things, I have yet to do that plan. # CA: OK. [zegf8]
# CA: If you want, I can help to add some of these things that I remembered and that I mentioned, and you can put them in. # AB: Yes please. # CA: To make it more holistic. [zegf9]
# ACTION CA: to find examples from our discussions (or elsewhere) to illustrate points made in the Rethink, especially about harm. e.g. Black Rhino, McDonalds. ACTION AB: To add them into the text. [zegg0]
1.00.20]

--- GDP and Alternatives [zeg24]

# CA: The other thing that I wanted to share was that I was thinking for the past few days about GDP itself and how it came about. And what was the story behind it. [zegg1]
# We keep talking about capitalism and money and why it is bad, and all of those things. I was thinking "How did all of this come about?" [zegg2]
# And then it occurred to me, that we equate money with happiness. So if we equate money with happiness, then money becomes important. So, how much we earn becomes important. GDP growth becomes important for a country. [AB: The 'causal' chain of how GDP growth becomes important. ] [zegg3] ***

# Then I also have the caption: What GDP cannot do. [zegg4]
# GDP cannot distinguish between economic activities that increase a nation's wealth and eat into the natural endowment. [Ed. Two unclarities. 1. I assume those are the two of the "between", i.e. "those that eat into ..." but they might both be on the one side of the "between", and the other side was actually not spoken. 2. I think she said "endowment" rather then "environment" both times, but am not certain.] So when we talk about "Natural endowment" we talk about cutting down the ??virgin forest, we talk about ??? [soom mumble]. [zegg5]

[AB: That is what we are trying to rectify in distinguishing harm from good. ]

# But if we change the paradigm, that says Happiness is equal to quality of life, then everything changes. [zegg6]
# AB: (Well that's, of course, what has happened with the Happiness Index in Bhutan, isn't it.) [zegg7]
# CA: Yeah, but if you look at this one, that ??economists have come up with, which is talking about the Human Development Index, they are looking at all aspects of things. ??? looking at people being happy and things. # NO: Who are you referring to? I couldn't understand it. # CA: The one that we were talking about, the Human Development Index. So this is looking at things from the economist's perspective, and he is a Nobel Prize winner, and his name is Amartya Sen. [zegg8]

# CA: So, then I was looking at what we have worked on. We have worked on "Healthy Living Environment". [zegg9]
# But there's a lot of diagrams on quality of life. This quality of life has been studied rightly?? and there's a lot of diagrams and a lot of research and journal articles on it. [zegh0]
# So I was thinking, "Why don't we take the HDI for [zoom missed that] what we are looking to do? ??? [zoom mumble] One of the final talks ... we came to the end??? as the Healthy Living Environment, if you remember that. [zegh1] ***
# AB: So are you suggesting [we] taking the Human Development Index? # CA: I thought of taking the Quality of Life Index.
# CA: Let me tell you where we can find that ???. ??? [zoom mumble]
[1.04.40]

# CA: Oh, and I also wrote about Adam Smith on value. So maybe I'll add that in here as well.

[AB: Two things from our discussion or rethink are relevant to that. (a) Good and harm differ. (b) Sometimes it is not appropriate to try to measure, and sometimes it is.
]

[1.05.00]

----- For Rewriting our Rethink [zeg25]

(See also Giving Examples)
(See also CA's Rewrites)

# AB: CA you've taken on a lot to do. That's wonderful [of you]. [zegh2]
# AB: NO would you like to continue thinking about the larger part of your thing, especially in view of what AH and CA have been saying, and develops your thoughts? That would be very helpful. [zegh3]
# NO: Yeah, I'd like to think about the table. I'd love to see what CA has said. I'll look up that Human Development Index, and see what all that's about. [zegh4]

# I think, again, one of the things for us to remember, is that we're looking for this multi-dimensional, multi-aspectual economic view that needs to have a linkage to the Christian principles. [zegh5] ***
# Needs to help us get away from the idolatry of growth that has captured a lot of the current economics. That needs to make sure that we are acting as proper agents for the blessings we have received. And so, the message /
# I think the outcome of where our thinking is, is not just the Human [Development] Index, it's that in a relationship with the Creation that we have been blessed with. [zegh6] ***

[AB: That is a very good way of putting it: Human development/prosprity in relation to the whole Creation. ]

[1.07.14]
# AB: Thank you.
# CA: I think I can write a little bit of that if you want, because I have been reading about it. But I cannot write a lot but I can write a little bit, on that. # AB: Yes, write, CA. I little bit's a lot better than nothing. And it will stimulate more. In fact, you can send it in little bits, if you like. That's more easily digestible. [zegh7]
# CA: The thing ... right now, I have written up the things before I came to this meeting, and if I send this to you, you will probably be wondering if - like, what is ??? and where is all of this going to fit into? But if I take NO's work and put it into perspective and highlight it, then you can see the flow of the work itself.
# AB: What I suggest, CA, is that you send us what you've written for this meeting already, send us that immediately, and then we'll recognise that the meeting has happened since. And then respond to NO.

# ACTION CA: To send what wrote before meeting.
# ACTION CA: and then respond to NO.

# CA: Can we all work under Google Docs. If it is there, then we can just add things as we go. And as soon as we add it other people can see it immediately. [zegh8]
# NO: I think I can get to Google Docs; does somebody give me permission or something like that?
# CA: I think that once you put your work in, then you can share it with this person and then that person can see your work. So as you type, it updates itself immediately.
# AB: So shall I set up a Google Docs for this, or do you want to do it, CA? # CA: I think that if you set it up, because you can set it up for all of us, then / yknow that some people are not here but then they want to look at that and contribute something. And that's easier, compared with looking at the whole document like that, which is??? huge. # AB: Right, great. OK, good idea. # CA: And then you put everybody - and some people are not here today - and they may want to add something in. # AB: OK I'll do that. [zegh9]

# ACTION AB: Set up Google Docs. so people can add things in.
[1.10.00]

--- On Publishing and Publicizing Our Work [zeg26]

# CA: I also wanted to ask something.
# We have written quite a lot of things in here, and when I listened to what we have discussed, we have discussed a lot of things, things which are meaningful. [zegi0]
# So, I was thinking: Is the reason why we did not do anything about it, is because we are waiting for the final finale to put everything in and then / yknow, not to talk about it but to put everything in, and then push it out there? Or do we / or was any of us thinking about, like, here, we have talked quite a lot about this [so] can we put something out there? and then we will slowly gather up and put a bigger work??? out there? [zegi1]
[AB: Excellent question: when should we put our work out there?] ***

# AB: [Explanation] You're asking that. I think the answer is Yes and Yes. I have been wanting to put something out for 12 months - nearly, or maybe 6 months anyway. Because I thought we've got something to offer. [zegi2]
# But every time I thought about that, I've come across things and thought, "Ah! What we've got is a bit tatty. You know, a bit shallow or whatever it is; it's not ready. And so that's part of the purpose of these discussions now, to try and get it ready so that it's not shallow and not tatty.
# But I think we can put stuff out immediately. Some of it is repeating??? what other people are sayihg. But that's no bad thing.

--- Ways in Which Our Rethink is Unique [zeg27]

# AB: There are a few things that I think [other] people are not saying.

# And I'm still really thinking that out.

# AB: So, please feel free to use anything of it that you wish, even now.
# You don't need to make reference to it [if you prefer not to]. Just use the thinking. It's been put out there so that anyone can use the thinking. It's not like an academic paper where we need to protect our authorship and that sort of thing. [zegi3]

[AB: Purposes of Our Site. Later on, JC probed me with questions about our work, and I replied that I am putting all this up as

And then I realised that for long, at the back of my mind, has been the feeling that:

] [zegi4] ***

# CA: Because, there are a lot of avenues that whatever we have talked about can actually go. It doesn't have to be something full. [zegi5] ***

--- On Publishing Our Work, continued [zeg28]

# CA: Every time I am looking at it, I am thinking, "We have talked so much, and we have done such a good work, why is it not out there?" It can go into the conversation.

# CA: Another thing that I have actually noticed, I was asking myself "What happened? Why are we were talking so much, and everything?" And then I saw in journals, in the book of ???, people were saying "We listened to the Reith Lectures on - there are so many Reith Lectues" and they just made a commentary. They said "This is our commentary." And I was thinking, that was what is missing. Let's talk about it ???.
# AB: That is what was intended, and, in fact, on our website is a bit of a commentary on the Reith Lectures, but that was before our discussions got going. [AB: Yes we should have put stuff out; I tried, but while we are still working out our foundations, it is dangerous to do so, because putting stuff out too early locks us into what we said.] [zegi6]
# AB: So, please use this material, however you wish.
# CA: So, put something out there.
[1.14.50]

# CA: What I'm trying to say is that /
# So, let me give you an example.

# CA: [Example of using Compiling Together.] One of the things I am working on right now is Trauma, Trauma in Kids. When I look at the engineering of the whole thing that came together, all of us came to the first meeting. They called everybody in and they said "We want to write something up about trauma and kids, so what do all of you think?" So everybody said, "We can contribute something." One person comes up with, like, Google Docs. And then they just write something. And then someone else starts writing, someone else starts writing. And then they came up with the whole write-up, and then somebody goes through the whole thing, fixes this and that and everything, and then it's done. ???[zoom mumble] and then it goes out. And when you at that, and I'm thinking, "That is a really good way to go." And I think that's what we need. [zegi7]

[AB: Can that help us see more clearly what we are doing? By comparing our situation and aim with that? 1. Are they just bringing people's thoughts together, while we are trying to forge an integrated understanding. 2. Are they compiling an edited volume to get published (I know from experience a lot of academics do that), whereas we are not? 3. Are those involved working from existing paradigms, while we are trying to formulate, fashion, generate a new paradigm? 3. Was the "fixing" that took place fairly minor compared with our major rethinking and reworking? HOWEVER, I think we can make use of that technology and technique in order to bring out things, especially now that we have established some draft kind of paradigm. So I have set up Google Docs. ] [zegi8]

# CA: And all of us needs to put our name in there because the credit for all this work belongs to all of us. We came??? for all of these meetings. We talked and discussed these ???life things and I think that, that's where we need to go. [zegi9] ***
# AB: The thing about credit is a thing that I haven't really tackled yet. But I'm just wondering whether people want to put everyone's name on this thing. I've deliberately kept names out of it and just used initials, because some people don't want their names up there. [AB: And also because some comments are 'off-the-cuff', unprepared, and while they are valuable as comments and insights, they are ill-formed and we don't want them used as ammunition against people in future. However, the Rethink should have all our names on it.] But somewhere we can actually put names if you wish. But that's something we can do [deal with] by email. [zegj0]
[1.15.48]

--- Why Discuss Other Thinkers [zeg29]

# AB: Folks, thank you very much for the conversation, especially about the other thinkers. What I'll do is bring in other thinkers. I'll make a new table, make a new Overview of Views page, add some more thinkers in. [zegj1]
# ACTION AB: Bring in other thinkers.

# The reason for having all these thinkers is to try and / because most of the thinkers focus on just one or two of these areas.
[1.17.30]
# AB: NO, you mentioned the columns at the top of the table. That does need sorting out. But that's to be sorted out as we go through with the Overview and how we go through Section 3. Because, as we go through Section 3, which I think we might have to do over five months or something - unless we do something other - we'll rethink those things, especially the idea of Responsibility. We'll come up with something else. [Ed. Because in the previous discussion it was suggested that "Responsible Economics" is old-hat.] Then we'll have different columns in the Thinkers Table. [zegj2]

# NO: Yeah. I think that's a good thing. I think part of what I heard from CA / I kind of agree I'm going to think of it a bit more. [zegj3]

--- Versions [zeg30]

# To some extent, this is a (I hate to use this word) it's an evlutionary discussion, that can have a one part that is something we put out there, that says "Here's where these discussions are, and are heading." [zegj4] ***
# "And there's an ongoing effort. If you want to be part of that, you can / we can moderate it and we can have some people who want to add some value to it." Maybe that becomes more of a working group. We can formalise this a bit more. [zegj5]

# NO: But I think what I'm trying to say is, perhaps we can go down two paths here. [zegj6]

# AB: Well, that's partly what your overview is, isn't it. # NO: Yeah, I think thta's what I was trying to get to. That Overview and Introduction together being some sort of - I don't know, I'm not an academic, I don't know the terms for all of this, but what I've heard in the past, is a working paper or something like that. [zegj7] ***
# AB: That's good. Yeah. I think that's a very good idea, actually.
[1.20.50]

[AB: Since that discussion, I have thought that we might have three versions, each with a full version and an overview:

for both Christians, other religious people, and supposedly non-religious people.
] [zegj8]
***

----- Wrapping Up [zeg31]

# AB: OK. Is that enough for today? Can we leave it there?
# CA: Yeah, I was just wondering, when are you going to set up the Google Docs for us. # AB: I'll try to do it today or tomorrow. [zegj9]
# NO: Is it time to go? # AB: Yes, it's past time to go. # NO: I'll be on my way. I just gotta go. Got a message here. # AB: We're a way over the hour, one and a half hours; I'm sorry about that. # NO: No, that's great. # AB: A lot to be said and so on. [zegk0]
# AB: Thank you very much everyone.

# AB: Next meeting first Wednesday in May [4th May]? We can change times. But is that OK for both of you? [zegk1]
# CA: No. First Wednesday of May is when I am doing my teaching. [Ed. There followed some discussion of date for next meeting, which I have omitted. Especially because what we agreed (Wednesday 27th April) was actually changed to Wed 4th May because CA's work plans were changed!] [zegk2]
# NO: So, I will follow up on whatever you guys recommend. I'm pretty flexible right now. So, thank you so much AB and CA; I really appreciate this session. And look forward to continuing. [zegk3]

# NO closed in prayer.

# CA: So I will start the write-up on NO's work, and then I'll send it over. # AB: Well, first of all, send what you've written for today, just as it is. # CA: OK, I'll send it just after this. # AB: Send to basdentab. I can send it to them. The NO writeup and the Adam Smith. [zegk4]
[1.29.44]

--- Summary of Actions [zeg32]

# ACTION: AH: Send out a few materials about Creation Care weekend, e.g. give us access to your Google Docs.
# [ACTION: AH, CA: To discuss together which of CA's ideas might be "controversial and contested".

# ACTION AB: Put up NO's shorter summary onto the website.
# ACTION AB: Set up Google Docs. so people can add things in.
# ACTION AB: Bring in other thinkers.
# ACTION AB: Move the table to Section 2, and update it.

# ACTION CA + AB: Rewrite those part that are too negative about economics, that give the impression that economics is bad.
# ACTION CA: respond to NO's pieces
# ACTION CA: to find examples from our discussions (or elsewhere) to illustrate points made in the Rethink, especially about harm. e.g. Black Rhino, McDonalds. ACTION AB: To add them into the text.
# ACTION CA: To send what wrote before meeting.

# ACTION NO: To suggest changes to the headings of the Table 2 on Thinkers, when he has thought out what he suggests to change.
# ACTION NO: To edit and add to the pieces on Mazzucato in the text and in the table.