RLDG Discussion 20, on Integrating Levels of Economics

Held Friday 2 September 2022.

Topic of Discussion:
(a) Levels of economic activity (micro, macro, etc.) and how to undestand and integrate them.
(b) GDP, measurement and the need to embed economics among other aspects.

The main purpose of these RLDG discussions is to develop our Rethink of Economics (Full or Summary). The main purpose of this 20th discussion is to review, comment on and refine the current Section 3.4, on Multi-level Economics and the Section 5.4, on Aspects of the Levels. It is part of the series of the RLDG discussions, which started at the 2020 Reith Lectures. The discussion actually went beyond this into GDP and measures. Summaries are added at the end of each section.

Present: CA, NO, LP, CO, TB, (later:) SJ, AH, JC, KHS, (host:) AB
Apologies: DPW

-- Contents

-- About This Page [zek01]

[This is an annotated transcript of the 20th RLDG discussion. AB typed notes during the discussion, then filled them out by transcribing the audio recording, (20 September 2022), inserting links, and notes and comments in square brackets.

AB adopted two roles in doing this, (a) of editor, "Ed.", e.g. giving links to other material, adding "***" to important points attaching unique labels for future reference (actually only places for labels to be added later), or explaining things; and (b) of contributor ("AB:"), inserting responses to what had just been said, especially some that he would have made had be not been taking notes. AB's responses are added in order to further the discussion, especially in a way that could contribute to our Rethink. Sometimes he will criticise himself for what was said on the day!

"???" indicates unclear wording on audio. Unnecessary or contentless wording like "Hmm, Kind-of, sort-of" and some sentences that were started but not finished because the speaker switched to another, are usually omitted. However, some are left in so that readers can see the degree of certainty or uncertainty with which people spoke. ]


----- Introduction [zek02]

[Recording started]

--- Recap [zek03]

# AB: It's been some time since we have been discussing, two months since our last one, and at least three months since the four of you have been [several missed the last one; a bit of discussion of when the first four had last been in a RLDG discussion or had met us].

# AB: Just to recap. This is the 20th [RLDG discussion], which is quite something. I expected there to be only about four or five of these discussions after the 2020 Mark Carney Reith Lectures, and we keep on going. []
# That is partly because, from the first half a dozen discussions, it appeared that we actually had something to say. (I wonder if I was a little too arrogant, not being trained in economics, "Therefore I know everything about economics!" [laughter] I can say everything in my arrogance.) []
# But it seemed that, from a Christian and a Dooyeweerdian point of view, we could actually contribute to what recent thinkers were saying, and go beyond them. And one example being that various recent thinkers emphasise certain things, that had been missing, whereas Dooyeweerd enables us to take the view of / put them all together in an holistic view. And there was the Christian view of Creation, Fall and Redemption and so on, and the possibility of redemption rather than just education [etc.] to correct things. And all sorts of things. []

# And so we started putting something together and from / I tried to make it from our discussions, this kind of Christian Rethink that / it's now a massive document. []
# And now that itself needs to be rethought, rewritten. Other things need to be brought in, and so on. And we have been going through the main sections of that, and the Dooyeweerdian part, and []

# AB: and today the idea is to go through the section on integrating different levels of economics - microeconomics, household economics, macroeconomics, economics of nations, economics of businesses and so on, and global economics. And see what is said about that. There is much less there in the Rethink about those than about others. []
[03.45]

Contents

--- Introductions [zek04]

# AB: So, since it has been some time since we have been on, so shall we briefly introduce [ourselves to] each other.
[Ed. only summaries given]

# AB: Background in information systems and sustainability, application of Dooyeweerd to these things. In sustainability, economics is an important issue. That's why I started the discussions. []
# CA: Economics Finance and Background at Durham Uni. Area of research: bank soundness. So this is very interesting to me. []
# NO: Texas. Business. CFO healthcare companies. Viewpoint: financial cause and effect. Lutheran. []
# LP: Economics and industrial engineering. Climate socio entrepreneur. Redemption. Writing. Prototype project in soil building restoration. Apply natural [aspectual?] law. Transform waste into good soil. In Dohar. []
# CM: Sheffield. Educational project in NE Asia with Christian charity. Engineering background. Career moved from more exact science and engineering gradually into project management, marketing, product management. Back to study China, Korea, including economics. Retired, hence voluhteerihg. Amateur in lots of things: Ecological economics, ecotheology. Anglican evangelical-charismatic. []
# TB: AI, engineering. Amateur in all else. Here for first hour. Sheffield, Guildford. []

[Ed. Others joined later. SJ is senior lecturer in Digital Systems at University of Teesside, UK. KSH is Research Leader in Manchester Chambers of Commerce. AH has published in statistics and is currently concerned with climate and environmental responsibility. JC is freelance project manager and likewise environmentally concerned.

# AB: We have a variety of background. This is good, because it's where new thoughts come from. []
[09.50]

Contents

----- On Integrating Levels of Economic Activity [zek05]

# AB: We are talking about various levels. Not quite sure how to take it, or even what question to ask, but I suppose the fundamental question is,

# That's maybe the question that goes through the whole thing. []
# Let's think: is it a good thing to try to integrate the levels, or is that a Motherhood-and-ApplePie kind of question, "yes of course it's good". Anyone want to say anything?

[Ed. Maybe AB should have listed some of the levels there, because "levels" is a very generic term, often synonymous with "aspects". Because he omitted that, did people go off in a different direction? No matter; we returned to levels of the economy. ]

Contents

--- Need to Widen Economics [zek06]

# NO: When you talk about integrate the levels of economics, do you mean / In the discussions up to this point, we try and expand the horizon of economics and widen the definition, as opposed to trying to put everything into economics. []
# So, using the word "integrate", I'm sometimes not sure / maybe this is semantics. But I think what we are trying to do is to create that new view of economics. []

# I found it interesting, that site that you forwarded from AH, about what New Zealand is doing with their measurement. []
# So the short answer to my long comment is, "Yes it is a good thing to do this [integrate levels]." []
# Even if we go back to what Marianna Mazzucato was saying, about how we leaving value out of the equation of economics and it's all become price and market driven. It think that emphasises that there has to be a better view of economics, whether we call it "integrated economics" or "embedded economics". []
# So, my answer is Yes. []
# There are several reasons for why, besides just the environmental reason. []
# NO: So that's my response to your question.
[13.15]
# AB: "Several reasons for why" Would you like to expand what you have in your mind there?
# NO: Economics is a driver of human activity. Done that way from the time of the Greeks, the Phoenicians, whoever. So, in terms of how we behave, whether it's respecting the environment or respecting each other, economics is / can motivate a variety of behaviours. []

Summary: Economics needs to see wider, because it drives human activity, so it needs to integrate levels.

Contents

--- Problem of Micro and Macro Levels [zek07]

# CM: I agree with that.
# I think the question perhaps is, "Are we trying to talk about what economics can and should be, as a human science that assists human society towards flourishing, shalom?" (whatever else; the phrases you talk about in the latter part of your writing). []

# In which case we definitely need to integrate, because it actually operates in reality at all those levels. [] ***

# And the critique of the orthodox economics science / well it calls itself a science, a social science but it it tries to become a 'scientific' physical science, almost, which is one of its weaknesses. (You perhaps have discussed that.) []
# So the problem with that is, that they classically make the mistake of dividing between micro and macro. So you literally find two textbooks by the same author on the same topic. Or you find one fat textbook, which is basically still divided into two parts where, suddenly, there is a paragidm shift in the way that the models are made and the way the phenomena are actually explained and the diagrams or equations they use. []
# When you are actually at the when you are at the micro level, or typically at the market or the individual agent and firm, they typically then also then extrapolate from that and produce the so-called "representative agent". (I think you reference in what you are writing.) []
# And they then say, "Now we have a population of representative agents that operate like this" and they fail to recognise the complexity of that aggregation. [] ***

[AB: Dooyeweerd? "fail to recognise the complexity of that aggregation" Could be understood as largely ignoring the social and most post-social aspects and trying to explain in terms of lingual or formative aspects of individuals communicating or doing. ] []

# CM: And actually, sometimes, as a result of that complexity, you get an entanglement (you could use all sorts of different words with various meanings). As a result of that, you actually get inverse phenomena, you get inverse cause and effect. [] ***

Summary: The conventional division of economics into macro and micro is problematic in various ways, and confuses and fails to recognise complexity of reality.

[16.20]

Contents

--- Example Confusion: The Paradox of Thrift [zek08]

# CM: So you have this ??? Paradox of Thrift. [] ***

# It was interesting that you focus quite a bit on Dooyeweerd's frugality as the economic good behaviour: not wasting. []
# But then you get the idea of saving. []

[AB: Is saving the same as frugality? Need to understand the difference and the link between them. ]

# The paradox of thrift is that,

[Example scenario] Right now, in the UK, everybody is worrying about increasing fuel bills. So then going out and spending. I have 20 in my wallet. I decide not to go down the pub this evening with my friends and pay for a round of drinks and have a good time, and develop all sorts of other aspects, the social and so forth, elements of life. I decide to put it on the shelf and decide to just stay home and have a cup of tea on my own. And keep that money, because I might need it to pay the gas bill in a couple of month's time, and that then I have to pay 20 more than I used to.

As result, the pub does not have as many customers, it starts to lose business, it goes bankrupt, the employees lose their jobs, and they do not go out and spend things. So the economy at the macro level goes into a downward spiral. Because everybody is saving money. ]

# And that is what Keynes recognised in the 1930s, that the government then has to intervene in order to stimulate the economy effectively, by creating new money and spending it. []

# So you have got this micro effect, that a thrifty and frugal household is basically a good thing (they are not wasting) but in the macro, you get the inverse, that suddenly society no longer has so many good things. # AB: Interesting. # CM: ??Ending in poverty. [] ***
[18.00]
[Ed. i.e. ]

# AB: Is that a (CM, CA), is that a recognised phenomenon is it, that inverse?

[Ed. The Thrift Paradox is a well-known issue, discussed in both Wikipedia and Invstopedia. The Investopedia article is easier to understand because it explains it in terms of actual economic objects whereas the Wikipedia article explains it in abstract mathematical terms like "balance" between numerical trends. Moreover, the Investopedia article contains critiques of the Thrift Paradox model, which the Wikipedia article lacks. ]

Summary: Good at one level leads to less good at another level. Example (Paradox of Thrift): household saving can reduce economic income for firms and at the macro level.

Contents

--- Might the Paradox of Thrift be a False Paradox? [zek09]

[AB: The following reflections occurred while transcribing, and is added here in order to further the discussion.

On the surface, The Paradox of Thrift sounds like a paradox, in which a good activity generates a problem. At the business level, it seems problematic since businesses gain less income, while still having to pay same wage bill. And at the national level, which sums the total of all the businesses closing and people's lower income, it sounds problematic; we might end in poverty. Thus we seem to have a paradox, that something good at the household level is harmful at the macro levels.

But is it really a false paradox? A false paradox is not inherent but arises from the way (as a mere artefact of) the way we see things as problematic, especially at the macro level. To answer that, we must ask, "What presuppositions do we make, which makes things problematic? And are those presuppositions necessary, or are there other tenable presuppositions that resolve the paradox?" Discussion of these suggest that there might not be much of a problem, and hence no paradox.

To Dooyeweerd, such paradoxes often arise when we misunderstand the kernel meanings of aspects, or assume we can reduce one aspect to another. Might that be the case here?

Here are two basic presuppositions:

Here are a number of other specific presuppositions within economics.

Given the different presuppositions we make in our Rethink, about money and income enabling human functioning, which can be Good, Harmful or Useless, about multi-aspectual value, about the mandate and kernel meaningfulness of economics, and that all levels of economic activity and assessment integrate, the problemness presupposed in the Paradox of Thrift vanishes, and there is no paradox.

In fact, might the problem lie in the very opposite direction? A large amount of the economic growth we have had seems to have been built up on monetization of things that do not need to be monetized, including socialising and enjoying life (as well as on welcoming Harmful activity). That is a falsity. Worse, the monetization of socialising etc. has, in many cases, robbed it of many of its good aspects that make it rich, and bred increased self-centredness. Hence, might the keeping the 20 in the pocket, and socialising without money, in fact be bringing us back to truth?
]

Summary: The Paradox of Thrift might be a false paradox, because we have traditionally made unhelpful presuppositions about economics. This section has discussed a number of these and indicated that our Rethink, which makes different presuppositions, might dissolve the paradox.

Contents

----- Embedding Economics Among Other Spheres of Activity [zek10]

--- Conventional Understanding [zek11]

[18.15]
# CA: I think that when we teach economics in classes, we have to start with the fundamentals so that people understand, what is micro, what works in micro. And then try to bide??, at a global, yknow, macro level. So that they can first understand the workings of it first. And then, after that, come up with, yknow, answering the rest of the question, "Is this really helping the world today?" So this is the questions about like "What we have studied so far: how can we apply that to the real working of the world today?" [] ***

[AB: Question: Might there be a different teaching of fundamental of economics? It does seem reasonable to teach those things that are meaningful specifically to the economic aspect and then widen that to apply to other aspects (the third stage), but need it be micro (first stage) that is seen as 'fundamental'? ] []

# Like for example, we have the [Ukraine-Russia] war going on. So a lot of banks going bankrupt, or they will be going bankrupt, because the ratings are already coming down for them, because they are not doing enough business, because businesses are closing down, because they cannot afford to pay their energy bills. Inflation is going up. It's already 10% and predicted to move up here in the UK. []
# So, all of these functions that are coming in to play, we have to put them all together, and then we ask the question, "How or what can we do?". []
# Because rightfully, at this point of time, people have to save. Because the income that they get is not above inflation, it's below inflation. So we cannot afford to spend. []
# And now, the government has to come up now with their own initiative, to see how they can help us. But bringing in more / whatever money that they have saved up, bringing that in. To help us. Or cut our taxes, or cut the national interest. Yknow, these sort of things.

[AB: UK treasury built up a pot during the pandemic, so what could they do with it? What Good could they do? And how? A better economic policy? ]

# So it's a very dynamic problem. [] ***

Summary: The links between micro and macro, and both those and real life, are complex, but we tend to teach micro, then macro, then other aspects.

[20.20]

Contents

--- Multiple Dimensions [zek12]

# CA: The idea is: The tools are already given to you. And then we are now trying to use tools and seeing how we can fix the car. []

# So, when we talk about the multidimensional aspects of things, this is basically like the exam questions that you get in your exam. Because then they say, "Today we have a real-life situation where we have war. So how can economics help us here?" We have a recession and all this. So, how can you use your tools in your economic ?? that you have learned. and apply them so, the multidimensional aspect of things comes at that point. []
# So you bring in the politics of things, you bring in technology, you bring in the environment. (Like now they [the UK government] are cutting down on these green taxes, because they want to redirect the money to sustain the economy.) So, when you get environment and environment in / we are also looking at the legal aspects of things. Like especially like, what they can actually do, is it legal?

# CA: Like some of the things we are doing, I think this is very much to the AI discussion, for all the things that / Like the datasets, that / the non-traditional data sets that the banks are actually gathering about you: How many times do you / What website you visit, what do you click on, who do you call? And who are your contacts? They are using those information to check up on whether you are credit worthy or not. That sort of things - Which is not legal. []

# CA: So we have to look at things from different angles. So I think the multidimension point is spot-on. []

[AB: This seems to be underlining our requirement for embedding economics among all other aspects. ] []

Summary: Multidimensional, multi-aspectual economics. Must consider all aspects: the impact of economics on, and impact on economics of, all other kinds of functioning, and our responsibility regarding those.

[22.30]

Contents

--- Multi-dimentional, Multi-aspectual Economics is Fundamentally Different [zek13]

# CM: I was going to say that the question of course is, "What are the fundamentals?"

# If I may make a slightly silly analogy, my feeling at the moment is that the conventional tools that most, within UK at least, both the government and as it is and it's going to be under probably Liz Truss, even worse actually [Ed. This was 3 days before we know that Liz Truss had won the election to be Conservative party leader in the UK and hence Prime Minister.] []
# (- Because she just wants to get rid of taxes; how she's going to 'pay' for that, I'm not sure! # AB: Except to increase expenditure on defence!. # CM: Well, yes. # AB: Sorry, carry on.)
# CM: The point actually is that there are loads of robust academic peer reviewed evidence that that sort of tax cutting trickle-down idea basically does not work, in terms of dealing with people's real needs at the ordinary level of society, or people in the lower deciles of society. But that's a matter of detail. []

[AB: Interestingly, in the growth debate that CM referred us to below, Tim Jackson argued that around 1980 economic growth did actually help the poor more than the rich, and Jackson commented that the trickle-down theory might have worked just a little then, but that by 2010, it had completely reversed. The 1970s UK economy was a high-tax economy, and still informed by the idealism of the 1960s. Nowadays, trickle-down completely does not work and economic growth exacerbates inequalities of income or wealth. ]

# I think that the analogy I would make is that you've got a problem with your car, the engine is not working properly, and so what you do it you get out the out welding kit, [whereas] actually it's the computer of the engine that has failed. The welding kit is not going to help you fix the engine management computer in the car. []

# The interesting thing is that a heterodox economics approach, which is what I've mostly [taken] / (I've not trained in Neo-classical other than in some Development Economics relating actually to the rather unusual days?? of East Asian development/ Japanese developmental state, where there is a lot of State intervention in policy as well as in financial and monetary and taxation issues.) And the heterodox approach would say actually that it's the fundamentals that are basically wrong. []
# Because we are starting off with the idea that everything is essentially free, within a robust juridical environment in which property rights are maintained robustly, and then everybody then just negotiates contracts with each other in a free-market situation. That's the free-market liberalism that underlies that. And of course if you talk to a Marxist, they will say, "Absolutely not; it's about class, power and conflict." That's an extreme opposite position. []

# I actually think that the aspects [Ed. Dooyeweerd's?] allow you to come at it from a more holistic and, in a positive sense of the word, a more humanitarian viewpoint. It's about individuals and how we relate to each other, and money and the economy is just a part of that. [] ***
# And in fact how we relate to the natural world as well, of course, making it the really the biggest picture. []
# Rather than it being all about contractual relationships, it's actually about community or communal life. It's [Ed. The marxist view?] about communal life that is divided by class and conflict. []
# But of course, the Christian view is that it is not, because we should recognise the image of God in every other fellow human. [] ***
[25.50]

# AB: Can I just check: The contractual relationships one: is that a microeconomic view? []
# CM: Well, yes, but then it becomes macro because it applies also even at the international level of the debt of governments to banks, because they want to balance their budget by borrowing. And then they do that internationally, both commercial banks and with the IMF and so on. []
# So it's all about robust property rights: you have an obligation, you have to pay it; you own something, you control something, you can decide what happens to it. []
[26.30]

# CA: I think there is a lot more things that we actually do not see from where we are. []
# For example, what happens to a particular country. Why do they have a lot of debt, and things like that. []
# We cannot just look at from "Why is economics not helping?" because it is multidimensional. Yknow, there is politics involved as well. There are other things that has led to that debt happening in the first place. []

[aB: Yes indeed, multi-aspectual. We could see how the pistic and ethical aspects lead to the debt happening, in the aspirations and assumptions people have, and whether they are selfish or self-giving. And other aspects besides: all aspects might play a part, in fact. ]

# CA: And then, you see, there is a lot of factors that has brought to a position. And then we are trying to say "Let us look at economics tools to see how we can fix that particular problem." But then we can't. Because there is a lot of elements that have come together to get a country or a company into the state that it has got into. So we have to, again, use mutliple tools to solve the problem. []
[Ed. See more below.]

[AB: It seems to me that CA and CM are saying the same thing in different ways: multiple aspects, dimensions, tools. ]

Summary: "Heterodox economics." Both the liberalist contractual view and the Marxist class communal view are rejected. The Christian view is that people are made in the image of God, and the Dooyeweerdian aspects offer a more holistic, multidimensional, humanitarian economics.

[27.30]

Contents

--- Bridging the Levels? [zek14]

# AB: Going back to what CM said, more or less at the beginning, which relates I think to this multiple tools / let me see / he said something about the Paradox of Thrift, and so on. /
# AB: (For those who don't know, what I tend to do is not take too much part in the discussion but try to write down what you have said and so onl. Now I know I've got the audio. But getting you face to face and writing it down helps.) []

# AB: The Paradox of Thrift, that the household or the person reduces their spending, does not go to the pub, so the pub loses business, closes down, goes bankrupt, and it affects the next level up, and even the national level when a lot of pubs go down, and so on. []
# Is there any accepted way of understanding that, or is it still / That seems to be multilevel, a bridge, a causal effect between the micro and the macro, or between the household and the firm, or something like that. So, my question is, "Is there an accepted and good way: Is there an accepted way of understanding that bridge, that / and is it a good way?" []

[AB: Our contribution: The Investopedia article, viewed after this discussion, says that economists are still divided about how to understand this. So, it seems useful even to the field of economics if we find a good way to understand it. ]

# Now, CA and NO put up their hands [on screen].
# This is probably the multi-tool thing. But it seems something that we need to understand. []
# Who first? CA or NO, or even CM? Let's have NO. # CM: I'll go third, because I've said a lot already.

Summary: The Paradox of Thrift bridges the levels, but economists still argue how to do so?

[29.40]

Contents

--- Inside and Outside the Circle [zek15]

# NO: I think the issue with that kind of economic scenario is - and this gets back to one of the points I wanted to talk about - is that it is measuring outcomes in terms of ROI or profit and loss, which is obviously part of finance and economics, but it does not have a longitudical view of wealth, value and wellbeing. [] ***
# Which is why I think we have to, in the 21st century here, step out of some of this market control. This market view of economics. []

# It's valid in terms of when you are inside that circle; yes, that's what is going to happen. But if you base everything on - which is the problem with Marxism - if you base everything on who's getting eploited / And so, you could say "Well that's true" if you are inside that circle. Same thing with the Lockean view, which you were talking about on the contract: that's true if you are inside that circle.

# The issue [however] is, our human wellness and what is respectful to the planet requires us to look in some way beyond the circle.
# And that's what I think is part of the discussion which we are trying to develop here. [] ***

Summary: Within their own framework ("inside the circle"), each economic paradigm makes sense, but to deal with human and environmental wellbeing, we need to go beyond these ("beyond the circle"). [AB: C.f. CM saying we need to question the foundations.]

[31.50]

Contents

--- Equilibrium of Saving and Spending [zek16]

# (AB: Welcome SJ.)

# AB: CA what were you going to say about this paradox?
# CA: I was just thinking about myself as a person. As a person, we go through different stages. There are some stages we need money, like when you start to work, you want to to buy a house, you want to buy a car, you need money. So you need money at some point. And then when have got your house, you start paying for it, then when the whole house belongs to you, then you have some money in your hand. So, we go through different stages, when we have money, or we don't have the money and we need to to aquire money. And when we have the money we put it on deposit; that's the saving. So we go through this cycle. And businesses go through the cycle as well. So, when they have money and when they don't have money. []

# So, the thing is, it's not bad to say that, at some want and want to save, I will to save because I am at that point in my life where I'm OK. I have a job and I have a house, I pay for it and any money that's remaining, I can put it in my saving account. And save it. []
# And at some point I may be at a point where I'm just earning enough to just spend it, and I cannot save. []
# So when I'm at that cycle about some saving, / and so that's why economics says that there will be some people saving, there will be some people spending. []
# So we need to accommodate for these two types of people, to make sure that people who need money get the money, and the people who want to save get some kind of return. []
# So we have that in balance. []
# AB: [Not sure then whether CA meant "in balance" or "imbalance"] When you say "inbalance", do you mean "in-space-balance" it is balanced, or do you mean it is unbalanced? # CA: It's in balance because there are always some people always needing money, some people always want to save. [i.e. equilibrium] []
# So, it's the same concept for the government as well, for development purposes and things. Also for companies, they are all working the same way. They will be saving sometimes and they will be spending at other times. So we have the subsidies and we have the taxes. []
# So, it works the same way. So they will be looking at, if I'm a country, I will be looking at, "OK, now what are things that I can subsidise?" So I will subsidise that. I will take money from taxes, from all the people paying taxes, and all the rich people, take money from them. And then I'm going to channel that over here. []
# So that is the basic economic banking concept. [i.e. simple conventional economic theory] []

[AB: Our rethink: That view presupposes money as owned commodity, and ignores its flow, and it ignores human functioning enabled by that flow. However, the multi-aspectual element ]

# But of course [i.e. in reality], we are not just looking at / When we study it's what we study [in banking 101?], but there are many dimensions that affect this smooth working of things. Like politics and everything else. That is why this smooth working of things does not really work out: because there are other dimensions coming in to play. []
# AB: Ah, yeah, so we are back to the multidimensional. OK. []
[Ed. sadly, CA did not have time to develop that about multiple dimensions.]

Summary: According to simple conventional economic theory, saving and spending tend to be in equilibrium, and individual entities tend to save and spend alternately. But that is too simple, and there are in fact many dimensions.

[35.50]

Contents

--- Widening that Model: Three Actors [zek17]

# CM: I need desperately to come back on the last comments that CA is making, because I disagree quite profoundly, because I am a heterodox economist, if I am any kind of economist. []

[Ed. I think he disagreed with the conventional view, not the bit about multiple dimensions. Is that so? ]

# What has been presented is the conventional orthodox view. Come back to that in a moment. []

# CM: So we have basically three players, or three groups - "groups" is better than "players" - to say players means they are groups of actors. []
# It's right to say that some households, and equally among firms, although firms rarely accumulate substantial amounts of cash savings unless they are are actually financed with them (that's whole other subtopic but let's not go there for now). []
# We have

# [With] the first two, you have the issue of balance. So if the proportion of households that are saving is increased, compared to the proportion that are dis-saving, spending, then you end up with the problem of the Paradox of Thrift. []
# Money is being snatched out of the economy and put into the banking system just as saving. Probably in relatively liquid form: it's probably not being invested in productive businesses. It might go into them, but if the businesses themselves are reluctant to invest, because they don't see a growing economy, they will lose force???? and to cut their own investment. So those savings cannot go into that investment. If the investment is created first normally, the savings follow on afterwards, because the banks have made loans to the companies and then they can take in money, from savers. []

[AB: But even if firms do not invest, if they receive the money and spend it e.g. to buy materials or services or pay employees, then is not that money still flowing? Is CM talking about a view that separates 'the economy' from the government? ]

# That's another tough question: how the savings and investments ?? worked out. []
# But potentially, you end up with both of those actors suffering from the Paradox of Thrift, at the macro level. The one exception is the government. []

[AB: I cannot yet see how that changes the possibility, above, that the Paradox of Thrift is not really a problem at the macro level. ]

# CM: And that is where I actually disagree quite profoundly with the idea that the government has to balance its books. The government is not a household. This is a fallacy that was vigorously promoted by the monetarist economists, Margaret Thatcher in the UK being their basic agent, saying ""We cannot spend the money that we have not got in tap." And the current successors of her, one of whom is going to become the next Prime Minister [of the UK] believe this same dogma. And it's not true. []

[AB: Why should not the government be treated like a household? Is not the Greek root eco mean a household? ] []

# CM: Because the government has the sovereign right to create its own money. Unless you are in the Euro zone, which is a separate subtopic (which is a great mess!) The British government has the sovereign right. []
# (The Euro governments do not; they are in the Euro zone, or they are tied to it in some way; they have a bit of a / they have to work together in a complicated mess. And if they are Greece?? they are basically in big trouble. [AB: But does not that just mean that it is the Euro zone that is acting as a government in that sense, of having the sovereign right to create its own money?] ) []
# But the British government can create more money. They can just decide sovereignly to credit their own bank account, making??the Bank of England independent?? (which they did not need to do), but they could in theory say, "No, we want you, Bank of England, to credit our bank account; we want to spend some more on building HS2 all the way up to Scotland, that will stimulate the economy." And so on. Whether it's a good thing or not, it puts money into the economy. []
# The problem is that, if they do that too much, they then start spending money on trying to buy stuff that is not there. People who are available because they are all employed already. Or product is not available because it physically has not been ??fitted yet. []
# And then you get inflation, because they put too much money in the economy. []
# And so what they have to do is they have to take that money out. And the way money comes out of the economy is in tax. []

[AB: But surely tax is part of the economy, not outwith the economy? Or by "the economy" does he mean only that cycle of money flowing around firms and households, with government outside the economy? ] []

[40.00]

# CA: I think /
# CM: What I have been giving you is basically a little summary of so-called modern monetary theory. Which I think actually is a very believable theory. Hitch?? all the bells and whistles to it, maybe not all correct, but that is the basic idea, that the government creates the money. []
# Now, what happens at the moment is that most of the money has been outsourced to the banks, who create it through loans. And the government just regulates how much they can do that by working the rudder on the massive supertanker by tweaking the interest rate through the Bank of England. []
# ??? effective control over it. [Ed. Not sure whether he said they have, or do not have, effective control over it.]
# AB: That sounds interesting.

Summary: In addition to households and businesses, there is also government, which can create money, and this changes the balance between saving and spending. That makes the reality much more complicated than the two-player model suggests.

[40.40]

Contents

--- Multi-dimensional Economics, continued [zek18]

[Ed. See above.]

# AB: But actually I think what CA was doing, was she was putting over the conventional view but she does not necessarily believe it herself. [Ed. And indeed she began to widen it by referring to multiple dimensions.] CA, would you like to come back? []

# CA: Yes. When you talk about the interest rates, the idea of the interest rate is to get savings in, so that is why the interest rate is moving up and down. [] [AB: but not if it is very low!] And we also have to look after the interest rate, because it is tied to inflation. Like CM was saying, if we have more money going out, even we can actually print our own money, and just put them out. And again, we already know that at this moment in time we already have high inflation, and printing more money is going to bring more money into the economy and that is going to just ??restus the existing situation. []

# So, coming back to the point, we have to look at it from a holistic point of view and just say, "Now, economics, you have to sort the problem! And everything is on your head right now." But there are a lot of other elements involved, like politics: what are we going to do for that? []
# AB: So, are you saying, CA, you are saying to Economics, "You don't have to solve the problem alone; there are other things"? # CA: Yeah, there are many dimensions, that they have to work cohesively to solve the problem. []
# CA: Now, if / just say one person, let's say the Bank of England, wants to do certain things, they do not do it in isolation, on their own. They need to be talking to Liz Truss [UK Foreign Secretary, candidate for Prime Minister] and everybody else. Yknow, politics come into play, and politicians will have a different view of what they want, what outcome they want. []
# So it's something which is very complex. Economics is not working on its own. It's working with the help of everything that comes into perspective. [] ***
# AB: Very helpful.
[43.00]

Summary: To understand saving, spending, interest rates and inflation, we need to consider all dimensions: multi-aspectual economics.

[AB: Both CM and CA argue that the simple model is too simple, but they complicate the model in two different ways. 1. What CA is putting over is the multi-aspectual 'real life' of economics, the reality of how things work, as human functioning in other aspects impacts economic functioning and vice versa, and it matches our call for "Embedded Economics" or whatever name we give it. 2. However, what CM is putting over is a complication of the model with concepts meaningful in the economic aspect, such as inflation and creation of money. So, both economic and extra-economic complications are needed. ] []

Contents

--- The Problem of Government Money and Subsidies [zek19]

# AB: NO, you had something?
# NO: Just quickly, Of course, not to get into the debate / but I a fully?? monetary policy is ?? effect of reality. []
# But the problem is that a little bit of what CM and CA are saying, we have to remember that the governments, particularly here in the USA, they don't really control money. This debt that they print, the treasury bonds, are monetized through the banking system. []
# And it's the banking system, that then, aside from taxes, which is only a portion of the economic equation, it's the financial system that has been going wild and crazy. []
# Again, if we listen to Marianna Mazzucato is trying to tell you, it's gone crazy because that monetization, financialisation as they call it, of the debt, is not really being employed very productively. [] ***
# So, for example, today, we have /just to give a small example, we have the government trying to incent people to produce electricity. So there are tax credits that we have for producing electricity. In fact, the electrical companies have to pay part of their money back to somebody who produces electricity.

So what's going on in some places here is that people are putting up all these server farms, they are running server farms because they are mining bitcoin all over the damn place. Well, when they do that, they put up solar panels that generate electricy so they get cheap electricity to drive all their servers to produce bitcoin. Which, to me, has no redeeming social value. []

[AB: Example of Need to Reconceive Money: To me, this shows why we need to take into account the human functioning that money enables, rather than just think in terms of money as such, and that opens the door to differentiating harmful and useless from Good economic activity. And mining bitcoin is part of useless. It would be harmful in consuming so much power except that that power is generated via solar cells. But those solar cells could be producing electricity for more productive purposes, for Good rather than Useless. ] []

# NO: But the fact is, what's happening is, governmental policy is being supported, because whose loaning the money to produce all those servers and the solar panels? Well, the banks are! They are financing the dmd development of this thing. []
# Again, the question of what's of value - as long as you keep looking at the price and not going back to considering what is the value of these things - which is again what we were trying to bring in aspects of the broad economics into the equation here. []
# Yknow, we can talk about monetary policy, fiscal policy, Keynsian - whatever it is. Again, we have got to get out of the bubble. And if we don't, what's happen is, the banking system has gone crazy. And there is no real control over these things. []
# That's again I guess I'm going a bit too far here.
# AB: OK, thanks. I just feel somehow that all these statements are all little packets that are all relevant to each other. []

[AB: Such evil must be tackled in some other way, because its evil is not economic but juridical, ethical and pistic. ]

Summary: Governments printing or subsidising leads to people using that received money for bad or useless things. We must get out of that bubble; our rethink might help us escape, with reconceiving money and differentiating Harmful and Useless from Good.

[46.55]

Contents

--- Whom to Protect? Those Most Vulnerable [zek20]

# AB: But LP, you have been listening. Have you any comment / you can say whatever you like.
# LP: Yeah yeah. I'll just mention about my views from the practical aspect of it. []

# Coming back to the original questions, what is the point of bringing everything into integration, this multi-dimensionality, what kind of breakthrough we can do. []
# I am very agreeing with what NO said in the beginning, that the economic is supposed to be brought for respecting each other and also the environment.
# And going to the questions of thrift. I think that the one way to break through is to / actually the questions, "What to spend?" and "Who to protect?" [] ***
# (That's always in the back of my mind as a small climate socio-entrepreneur.) []

# I always believe that the one [question] "Who to protect?" especially learning from our Covid of the past few years, is that the weakest link should be our focus. The children, the small entrepreneurs, the environment that cannot speak. [] ***
# So the children are always / have always been victimized all this time. And we are all struggling on how to redeem them, this generation. []
# And also the small entrepreneurs like me. Like I believe that what we try to do is try to break through, [continues]

Summary: In practice, ask what to spend and whom to protect. Protect the weakest link, such as children, small entrepreneurs and those that have no voice, such as the environment.

Contents

--- Innovations and Entrepreneurs [zek21]

# LP: [continued] especially in this country, where the solution is actually in the waste. [...] Because I am a certified permaculturalist?? and I observe that the way they treated the waste is not appropriate, and especially you have to scour? / # AB: Do you mean "waste"? # LP: [Yes] the food waste, the abandoned waste, that are not treated well and just shipped somewhere else, to Third-World countries. []
# And that is exactly what I am trying to do. I found out that actually the beginning of all this thing is, is you have to restore the water first.
[50.00]

# LP: So I came up witn some innovations on my own for years, without any help. But I really put them in the lab and tested them by myself, in my own lab, and in professional labs. I did it with with my own pocket. []
# And here I am, trying to promote the idea, as my social conscience told me. []
# I also innovate for body restoration. This is for climate, because what we do to the body will affect the environment. []

# And how do you protect yourself with your proprietary rights? Because here, for instance, you have to establish a company, and how to / more than half of your rights will be the locals, and so on and so on. And so there is no guarantee whatever that the system will protect you. []
# But the demand is there, sorry, the need is there to restore the environment. And it works so well, and it is integrated. So someone said / I agree with Bishop NT Wright when he said "The future of the world has to / it is the flourishing of the world right to us as agents." []

# But I do not agree that there is no solution out of the Covid. []
# I think the idea of Dooyeweerd is the one where you can enter as a breakthrough. Because when we really apply the natural law [Ed. I think she means laws of aspects] is solved, ykow, in nature, when we are faithfully doing that, then we can restore it. That is what happen. []
# AB: Say a little more about that. By "natural law" do you mean the laws of the aspects or do you mean Natural Law as understood in Europe as kindof fundamental legal system? []
# LP: No no no. For instance, when I try to treat sickness, for instance, I understand it that at least you don't hurt first, you treat / you treat it / you understand what is working in the microbial level, and the genetics level and how it actually can be restored with the microbes when they are becoming more plural in terms of size and also kinds. []
# Morality?? actually starts with the soil and also our God??. []
# They can work well. Our body can function, can be restored. []
# And so I see / And also happen to the soils when we treat the food waste right. []
# [...] I have it all in my writings. Actually I have (I am not ??? here) I have a lot of recent papers that needs for someone, a scientist, to take it and to do works with me. It's just that it's not here. []
# But at least in this institution they say they have microbiology and so on, that I still don't understand how it works. In order to protect my proprietary rights for instance. []

[AB: In terms of today's topic of integrating levels in economic activity, LP seems to be spanning three levels: the individual entrepreneur, the household and the business. She also seems to be talking about several aspects, including the formative aspect of innovation and the juridical aspect of proprietary rights, and the social aspect of being alone and wanting help. ]

# LP: [...] Dooyeweerd has this justice aspects. So that's why these questions are always in my mind. And because it also applies to the sustainability. The going concerns of them. Somehow, how it can be applied. []
# Because I have also a mission back in my country: I want to console?? / subsidize that project. It's an educational and also health project that I have, so [that] it becomes public. How am I supposed to find something like that? []
[55.15]

# AB: I think, overall, what you are saying is about: you are thinking about it as a small entrepreneur, innovation, proprietary rights, but the thing you are innovating is related to sustainability, trying to increase sustainability especially of soil and so on, dealing with waste. And you are needing help from help from various people, scientists. But also the question of how it becomes public, which presumably is a higher level thing. And how it / you put your own finance in but you need other finance to expand it. Is that [what you are saying]? []
# LP: No no, I am not worried about that. I am not worried about how to finance that. I am worried about that aspect of justice. Because I think the multi-dimensional, multi-aspectual of the real world idea can be help us to understand it, achieve sustainability. []
# [...]

# LP: You say about soil, right? The soil aspect of it. Everybody is producing waste all over the world. And I found this innovation that can transform your food waste, no matter how toxic it is, to be a good humus for agriculture. So we are not going to be relying on this synthetic any more that creates all these health problems and environmental problems. []
# So that will create peace. So, that aspect [financial] I am not worried. It is, how are you going to support. to protect yourself so you can also / as an entrepreneur you can also have a project that you can harness. # AB: Harness for what? # LP: for goodness, in a developing country. []
# AB: So, this idea of Overall Good? # LP: Yeah.

[58.00]
# AB: Do you see / What levels do you see in what you are doing? There is the individuals, there is the business, the households, the nation. How do you cross all these levels? []
# LP: At the moment my plan is part of the Qatar Foundations. It is starting with the school. That all supporting on me. Because of my limitaton as someone who likes small, being small is a problem. So I am becoming / making me creative: I have to think on how to segregate things, so that they can still respect me. []

# LP: Being an open source information, I don't think will create sustainability in this aspect. # AB: That's where you thinking?? about proprietary rights, being / # LP: Yeah. # AB: And you are saying "That's not quite sustainable, open source"? # LP: Yeah. []
# LP: Now you are ??training Dooyeweerd, you understand that, right. Not everything has to be open source, otherwise everything will become commodity, and how are you going to work? How are you going to be creative again? []

[AB: I think that AB misunderstood what she was saying. He thought LP was saying that there must be proprietary rights rather than open access information. But I now sense, from the vague tone of LP's "yeah", that she was not saying that, but something else. She seemed to have been talking about the contribution that intellectual capital has towards sustainability as a whole. But because I led her towards that issue, she then spoke on it. ]

Summary: A small entrepreneur is concerned with innovation, proprietary rights. What LP is innovating is trying to increase sustainability especially of soil and so on, dealing with waste.

[59.45]

Contents

----- Summary so Far [zek22]

[Ed. Several other people had now joined, so AB though it good to give a summary of the discussion so far.]

# AB: Anyone like to come back on that? But let me specifically invite JC, AH and SJ [who had just arrived].

# AH: I am sorry I missed the beginning of that.
[1.00.00]
# AH: I wish I had heard the start of that conversation, it sounded interesting.

# AB: [Summary so far] What we are doing: We are talking mainly about different levels and how to bring them together. []
# AB: CM initially (I think it was CM or was it NO): The Paradox of Thrift: Because energy prices are going up. /
# chat: 01:13:35. TB: So sorry I have to rush to the lab now. Useful to hear of the discussion!
# AB: OK, thanks TB. Do you want to say anything. Oh, has he gone. OK.
# [TB left]
# AB: Because prices are going up and so on, I've got 20 in my pocket, I keep it in my pocket to pay my energy bill rather than going down the pub and socialising. So I don't get the benefit of socialising but also the pub loses money, goes bankrupt, closes, its employees go out of work, and so on, and it spreads. So there is this paradox of thrift that we have been talking about. There is thrift at the household level, but there is the problem at the level of the business and at the national economy, and so on, and how we get across those. That is one of the things we have been talking about. [Ed. See also whether this is a false problem.]
# [Ed. We also discussed the need for multi-aspectual economics. ]
# And then LP was moving onto the real-life of the small entrepreneur fitting into the world, trying to do good. That is where we were.
[1.01.55]

Contents

----- On Measuring and Assessing [zek23]

--- On Disruption of the Economy [zek24]

# AH: Well, for me, my initial reaction is to think back to 2008/9, with the recession here in the US. I don't know how much that affected the UK or other parts of the world. []
# But here many people were suffering, yes, but in my social circles the main story was that having less money, and less spare money especially, helped them to focus on what they thought was most important in life. That they had stopped spending money on frivolities, on things that did not matter, things that did not give them happiness, distractions from reading the Bible, from social activities. So, in a way it was a blessing for many of my friends. [] ***
# Of course, I cannot generalise too much. Some people were already on the edge, and this could be a real hardship to have less affluence. So it is ??various. []

[AB: Maybe refer to or cite that testimony as an example? That seems a good example to demonstrate how to calculate the real value of some intangible values, especially the value of less. However, take into account what follows. ]

# NO: Do you think Covid has done the same thing? # AH: Oh yeah. That is the reason why I bring it up. It could be maybe more complicated though, because there are so many other implications to the Pandemic besides the financial. []

# CM: Absolutely, it has in the UK. It has increased inequality in the UK. []
# For multiple reasons. But one simple one is that the savings of the upper parts, more affluent parts of society have gone up, because they have not been able to spend on frivolities?? as you elegantly??eloquently describe them. ??? the days whenever??? else. []
# And when of course, the lower deciles of society have suffered, been out of??work or otherwise in problems, or downright sick, or ended up in some cases of course dead. Because they are in the front line, yknow medical work or care work or something, and were interacting with active patients. []
# ??? been divisive and inequality has got worse. It has got worse during the last 20 years, for multiple reasons, but it has got a lot worse during the last two years. []
[1.04.15]

# NO: I'll take that opportunity just to say that, any time there are systemic [big] problems and disruptions - whatever: hurricanes in a particular location, wars that are being experienced in Europe - the people who suffer are those at the lower end of the economic spectrum. It's just a reality.
# By the way, we are not going to fix everything. []
# But the point is, that, again, what happens is, because the business and the economics of world is obsessed with GDP, and those type of market measurements, we are going to see, again, a terrible misallocation of individuals' efforts and resources. And people are going to be left high and dry when there are problems. []

Summary: Major disruptions in the Economy (pandemic, 2008 crash) have a bad effect that people in the lower deciles suffer more, but can have the good effect that the affluent realise they can live without so many frivolities. [AB: Rethink: Should this be taken as an opportunity to cut the access to frivolities of the affluent? ]

[1.05.18]

Contents

--- Need Better Measurement [zek25]

# NO: So, again, that is why I am appreciative of the conversations here, since we can try to bring a bigger Christian view to the economics, to try and incorporate a better standard of measurement. []
# chat: 01:25:49. AH: glad you're here, CM...plainly you are adding important dimensions & knowl to our group

# NO: Which is why I will just mention like I did at the beginning, that I find it very interesting what AH sent around about some of these countries and how people are trying to come up with a wellness index or something that is reaching beyond some of the traditional tools. []
# Now, how we do that and what that is made of, I think, is really what is very important for our discussions. []
# Where I think Mark Carney and some people missed the boat, is that all they want to do is incorporate that into better financial reporting. Well, that is not necessarily going to do it, in my opinion. It's just going to continue the runaway machine that is out there. []
[1.06.30]

# AB: Can you think what will do it?
# NO: Well, I've said before (and it's just my view), we need to, similar to what you guys did with the paper to UN on the chart of accounts business.

[Ed. Papers to UN: 1. Broader Comments by RLDG on Bringing Wellbeing and Sustainability into National Accounts, (pdf version). 2. Concerning Multinational Enterprises ]

# NO: What has gotta be different is, we have to come to better measurement of what we want to see. And that, to me, is not necessarily going to be one number, like a CO2 number; it's going to be a kind of an index, that is built up of some of these broader measurements. []

[AB: Rethink: We advocate measurements or assessments per aspect and then, within each aspect, more detail. We also recognise the impact of attitude (pistic and ethical functioning) on measurements. ]

Summary: We need better, broader measurements.

[1.07.25]

Contents

-- The UN Human Development Index [zek26]

# CM: Can I comment on that? The UN has had such indices for decades, but they do not apply them to everybody. They only apply them to developing nations, ones that are getting UN support. The simplified version of their measure is the HDI, the Human Development Index, which is a composite of GDP, ???action and I think life expectancy or perinatal mortality or something like that. [] ***
# But there are 20 or 30 measures in more detail, around levels of literacy. And of course then you can subdivide it by gender and age groups and all sorts of other things. And similarly lots of different medical, health-related, public-health-related issues in terms of infectious diseases, vaccination rates, childhood mortality, and all kinds of other things. Lots and lots of different ones. You go to the Internet you can find tools that allow you to map these and show them progressing through time. []

Summary: There are many indices that encompass many issues.

Contents

-- Are our Measures (HDI) Neo-colonial? [zek27]

# But we don't apply that to developed nations because we basically say they are OK. []
# And then occasionally you get bombshell reports like in the UK from charities that investigate these things and show that inequality is increased, and malnourishment, in the UK is worse than it was 10 years ago. And so on. []
# And everybody is shocked. And then it's another story the next week, and it gets forgotten again, apart from a few politicians normally on the left, who want to emphasise that. []

# The only comment I would make about that. I was interested in your engagement with the UN and the SNA system, that one element in which you could say that there's a moral (or is it an ethical?) problem with that, which occurs to me: is that it actually is potentially quite neo-colonial in its view. [] ***
# It is saying that everybody should present a national performance according to the same measures, irrespective of race, culture, historic traditions, and so on and so forth. And I do wonder whether that is actually appropriate. [] ***
# AB: Just to clarify, are you saying that this attempt to have common measures might be neo-colonial? # CM: Well, yes. []
# CM: You go to a society that is, quote, 'not so developed', unquote - that is a very neo-colonial thing to say in itself. A society that is still patriarchal, tribal, quite feudal, where the Big Man and the elders in the village decide on how resources are allocated, on a sort of obligations and gifting basis, []
# without the exchange of money, because money, as David Graeber points out, is about lack of trust, []
# where there is actually trust because there is relationship and so you know there will be mutual future obligations that will fulfilled. And you try to, as NO was just saying, you try to monetize everything and you come up with numbers for everything and impose that system on a culture such as that, []
# and say "Well, are you actually in a better place as regards your wellbeing than you were?" And you might be, if you start to move into becoming a liberal democracy with a financial system and robust banking and property rights, and all the Capitalist, Western stuff that we live in. But it might not be their system at all. [] ***
# I'm just positing that as a devil's adcocate, a little bit. []

[AB: But it is very useful. Because in our Rethink we do not presuppose money. Interesting that money = lack of trust. ]

[AB: I am taking "neo-colonial" to be a word high on negative connotation and low on semantic signification. It is usually used as a synonym for "culturally inappropriate". That is the word I will use below. ]

Summary: Requiring same measures across all nations might be culturally inappropriate, because of the different cultures. Especially, we should not assume money.

[1.11.30]

Contents

--- We Need Broader Measuring, to Bring into Economics [zek28]

# NO: Well, let me just mention something. Absolutely, CM is right. There are statistics that are out there. The UN gathers a bunch, the World Economic Forum gathers another bunch. The dilemma that I'm trying to present, the dilemma is that none of these statistics are tied to the financial markets. They [financial markets?] don't really care about a lot of these things when they measure their persormance, they are going to measure their return on capital, return on investment etc. [] ***

[AB: Dooyeweerdian explanation for that: The HDI measures are about value in aspects other than the economic. But if those in the financial markets see only things from the economic aspect, they will ignore these things. This is why we need an attitude in the whole of economics of seeing itself as embedded and serving other spheres, and multi-aspectual values and how to measure or account for them. ]

# NO: So, until we can get some of those broad indicators embedded into this capital view (Now whether this is through government policy, which I would hate to see, or whether that's through better partnerships between business and governments, something that Marianna Mazzucato is trying to promote, I think has a little more merit) but eventually we've got to come up with the braoder measurements bringing those up. []

[AB: Whether or not "neo-colonial" is the most appropriate adjective, the HDI seems to reflect the mores of affluent, individualistic cultures, and underplays the importance of such things as unpaid household activity, caring, children, mother-with-father, rest, generosity, civility, trust in and love for God, and the purity of commitment to Christ, and so on. Raworth's dozen elements of the social foundation, for example, seems comprehensive, but the question has been asked, Is Doughnut Too Western?.

Dooyeweerd: I believe Dooyeweerd can help us by getting us to give every aspect its due and allow all aspects into self-critique. ]

Summary: Current economics omits things of real value from its calculations; we need to bring them in.

Contents

--- The Value of Children, Mother and Father [zek29]

# NO: The most obvious one, back to what LP was talking about, the children. Again, our GDP and even the United Nations, it doesn't measure the value of the caregiver. [AB: C.f. our theme of unpaid economic activity.] []
# NO: It does not measure the value of the mother that stays home, and educates and raises and takes care of the children - because there is no financial transaction. And that is what has to change in our, what we call the chart of accounts. [] ***
# We need to move away from just valuing things on a transaction cost basis. We have to start to value the outcome - what is the outcome? [] ***
# What is the value of that housewife who spends fifteen years raising children? There is a huge value in it.
# What is the value - I'm going to say it! - a family that has a woman and a father in a home together. # I can tell you statistic after statistic: if the kids are raised in a single-family [parent?] house, probably they are likely to end up less educated, poor or in jail. []

[Ed. Here are a few references supplied subsequently by NO:

]

# So we need to measure outcome and stop measuring just the cost of these things. []
# That's part of what I think needs to fundamentally change. []
# AB: Great: measuring outcome. I know you have mentioned that before, NO. Thanks. [Ed. It was in Discussion 17 at clause zehe5. Also CA mentioned it at clause zehd7]

Summary: The value of unpaid family life (and other unpaid activity) with no financial transactions, is huge but ignored. One solution is to measure outcomes not just costs.


[AB: Rethink: Measuring Aspectual Functioning and Outcomes. That relates closely to our theme of measuring, taking account of, human functioning that money enables rather than the quantity of money itself, plus that human functioning that occurs without money. Human functioning always has repercussions in the various aspects, thus outcomes. Again, if we measure functioning per aspect, then we can measure outcome per aspect. Question: should we outcomes directly, and bypass the functioning that produces it? Maybe, but measuring, or at least taking account of, aspectual functioning explicitly and in detail helps us understand multi-aspectual outcomes, and why they arose and what to do to encourage or prevent in future. That functioning and outcomes are closely tied together per aspect makes it easier than if we did not use aspects. Simplifying to equations, we have:


WHEN Fa THEN Ga.

or conversely,
WHEN Da THEN Ha.

where Fa is functioning and Da is dysfunction in an aspect, a, and Ga is a repercussion that is good according to that same aspect, a, and Ha is the correspondingly harmful repercussion.

See also about causation of outcomes below. ] [] *** for rethink.


[1.14.20]

Contents

--- Interim Overview [zek30]

# AB: JC and SJ, do either of you have any comments?
# SJ: I'm not an expert in economics; I enjoy just listening, will continue listening.
# JC: No comments directly on what LP was saying. I came in towards the tail end; I didn't hear the ???.

[Ed. Good overview of above:]
# JC: But the ability to even reflect on the neo-colonial perspective, CM, is pretty interesting. I don't think that any of us has brought that up yet. We have just assumed the rightness of our direction. []
# But that's a thought. But I would not dismiss our progress and our process to the point where NO said outcome-oriented idea [continues] []

# JC: [continued] where the opportunity to basically transfer state cultural, state funds into private homes or private households, is kind of the structural end, that the application of the SNA would go towards. I think that goes into a deeper critique, which it does seem to be / # AB: Welcome KHS [KHS had just arrived]. # JC: That idea, that outcome would not necessarily be neo-colonial. But that. it transfers wealth from state to individual, and there is an aspect of that. []

Summary: The neo-colonial-ness of our measuring and measurements is a new insight, which needs thinking about seriously. Measuring outcomes, yes. State and individual?

[1.16.05]

Contents

--- Locomotion Program [zek31]

# I do want to draw attention to the Locomotion program, which I shared yesterday about creating a multi-regional and aspectual framework to properly manage outcomes and direction into basically zero emission and climate neutral plans, in a way that we can study after this conversation. Application and parnerships with other groups. That's all I want to say about that. []
# chat: 01:30:23. JC: https://www.locomotion-h2020.eu/#
# chat: 01:31:44. NO: Thanks JC! I will check it out.
[1.16.40]
# AB: Welcome KHS.
# chat: 01:30:07. KHS: I do not have audio, so I may need to try leaving and rejoining.
[some admin bits]
[1.17.30]

Contents

--- On Outcomes and their Causes [zek32]

# CM: May I comment on this topic of outcomes? And actually in a sense refer back to what I was already saying, about cultural distinctions and the dangers of imposing cultural norms on other cultures. []

# Even within a Western culture, what is the outcome? Thinking about the home and family, and bringing of children, and so on, that NO already referenced. And i accept what he is saying as being evidential; that's ??what we observe; I think we observe things in the UK, perhaps to a less degree, I'm not sure. []
# On other hand, what is the causation that produces those outcomes?

[Ed. See also above comment about measuring aspectual functioning related to measuring outcomes. ]

# CM: [For example] Is it the existence of the single-parent home and the breakdown in the 'normal' family as it used to be conceived? Or is it the inability to access provision and services because of that domestic circumstance? So it's not the context of the home itself, but it is the inability to access what should be available in the public realm in some sense. [e.g.] Children who do not turn out reliably to school because they cannot afford the uniforms and they get shamed and they run away. Or they otherwise cannot afford the books, or they do not have books at home because that home is itself ???atavistic?? relational issue impoverished. And should that be addressed in a different way? []

[AB: Contentious issue. Sounds like we need to take multiple aspects into account in both diagnosing the problem and seeking to rectify it. Might (on average) mother-father families often develops their pistic and ethical functioning by hard experience, and is that what NO alludes to implicitly? Might that impact social and lingual (learning and conversational) functioning? Might that in turn impact ability to plan and achieve (formative functioning, and communicate with those in authority who provide services (juridical-lingual functioning), which seems to be what CM is concerned about? ]

# I am perhaps coming more from a, in traditional speak, a more left-wing perspective, but that problem could be addressed by improved public provision of basic needs, these being fairly basic needs, rather than putting the responsibility of that onto the household. []
# Now, that's a moral and philosophical issue, the degree to which those two need to be in balance. Should it be provisioned commonally in society, locally, or even a more national level that the hardleft people would have it absolutely done at the national level, yknow via massive taxation and so on. Other people would say it should be more community based. Others would say, "No, it's the responsibility of the family; it is their problem!" It is the atomisation issue that we tend to notice in Western societies now. [AB: Summary: Who is responsible to provide basic needs?] []
# AH: Yeah I /
# NO: That's baloney! I mean, how many billions do we have to spend, where we give families beautiful apartments and they tear the crap out of them! And they go down to the local pool hall and they don't give a damn about the children. We got to have a moral basis and a family orientation because, any time you give people stuff they don't respect it. [AB: Rather an all-encompassing, caricaturing statement that?! Did NO actually mean something a little less absolute, namely that needs-provision can encourage selfishness or laziness? ] []

# CM: Well, I would beg to / That may be the American experience, and it may be to do with a/the particular American psyche, I don't know. But yknow, if you look at other countries, that does not happen. # NO: Baloney! # CM: In a lot of European liberal democracies they have many facilities, they have high taxation, and they do not have these problems. And they have a far smaller prison population in general, for example. []

# AB: Can I come in there. Most of our discussions have been really good, and we have not got onto two sides battling each other! And I'd like to keep it that way.

Summary: There seem to be multiple aspects of problems in families. Might an aspectual approach help?

[1.21.35]

Contents

----- On Levels of Economic Activity, contd. [zek33]

[Ed. We return to the main topic: levels of economic activity. ]

--- The Validity of Each Level [zek34]

# AB: It seemed that, just before NO came in, but also because ???, I was seeing what you were saying, CM, as multi-level and that every level has its validity, but it has a different validity. []

[AB: "every level": whether individual, household, state, etc. Each has its own responsibility, needs,challenges and opportunities, different from other levels. ]

# Maybe we can understand the validity of each level by using Dooyeweerd. So that, for example, the household (and this is maybe in section 5.4, on Dooyeweerdian understanding of Multi-levels) the household level it has certain concerns, certain abilities and certain responsibilities. The level of the company - whether it's the small entrepreneur like LP, or whether it's the bigger company, maybe we have to split those, I'm not sure, has different responsibilities, different concerns, different capabilities. And the national has - yknow whether it has federal state in the US or just nationalities in the UK, or whatever, again has different capabilities and responsibilities. [] ***
# And I am thinking of those capabilities and responsibilities as

# So I'd like to explore - not necessarily today - the validity, the mandate, the capability, and the responsibility of each level, together. [] [To Do] ***

Summary: Understand the responsibilities, challenges, concerns and capabilities of each level of economic activity.

[1.23.30]

Contents

--- Sphere Sovereignty [zek35]

# AB: But AH, I think, was about to come in.
# AH: And all this is really fascinating. I'm mainly in listening mode as well. I put something in the chat.
# chat: 01:36:20. AH: would the possibilities CM is raising conflict with Kuyper's Sphere Sovereignty? I wonder whether we could learn something by comparing them.
# Because what CM was talking about raises the topic for me of Abraham kuyper's sphere sovereignty. And he had many recommendations about the responsibilities of various institutions and sectors of society, and the world, and I wonder how those compare with some of the possibilities CM was raising. So / [] ***

# AB: What do you have in mind?
# AH: Well, the designation of the family as a biological institution if I recall correctly. And how we often place the moral developjent in the family realm. I think NO was leaning in that direction. And the way I was brought up, I / that's the kind of thinking I am most used to. []
# I should probably shut up, though, because it's not my area of expertise at all. Those were the things running through my mind.
# AB: Excellent, that's great. Thanks.

[AB: On Kuyper's idea of sphere sovereignty. It was very helpful for AH (and LP below) to introduce Kuyper's idea of sphere sovereignty. It speaks into the discussion of levels of economic actors, in that we might understand each level as led by or founded in different aspects.

What AH seems to be saying is that, according to Kuyper, if the family is a bioticaly-founded institution, then we might question whether it is appropriate for it to be the place of moral development. However, Dooyeweerd (and maybe Kuyper) designated the marriage as founded in the moral aspect, of self-giving love. So, maybe what NO was referring to implicitly was this self-giving love of the mother-father marriage.

Whatever the details of which aspect founds each kind of institution, the idea that each kind of institution might do so might be helpful in our Rethink about levels of the economy. However, we should also be aware of its limitations. The idea can help, but sometimes it might downplay the multi-aspectual nature of real life, as is revealed by what follows. ] [] ***


[1.25.10]

# CM: But may I ??? interject the fact that I think that is culturally conditioned, with all due respect to Abraham Kyyper. Loads of respect. But he's writing in a cultural and historical context. [laughter]

[AB: It might be wise to keep in mind the cultural context in which the idea of sphere sovereignty arose. Kuyper was a politician, not just an academic, and he wanted to right wrongs. Some of the wrongs he was then aware of were the illicit imposition of church on state and on family, for the past 1000 years in Europe, and the rising of the state to counter it and impose itself on church, family, etc. Sphere sovereignty served very well to offer a vision of the root of those wrongs and what to do about it. But it should no longer be taken by us as a truth. It is still valid and useful, but 'in moderation'. ] []

# CM: If you go to a tribal society, and the moral and social education of the children is corporate. It's not going to be in the family, it's going to be in an extended tribal group, it may be all the women or something. It depends on what the society is. []
# I'm not an anthroplogist but I'm vaguely aware that that ?? is what they observe when they go and see other places that are not Westernised in their cultures. []
# So the spheres that / that the framework of sphere sovereignty is to some sense is valid, but it has to be contextualised. [] ***
# NO: The vast majority of tribal societies are patriarchal, and believe me, that is very family centric. []

# chat: 01:42:28. LP: I think Sphere of sovereignty can be applied multi-culturally if the ultimate institution all the other institutions have to serve is: Family.

# chat: 01:42:30. NO: Sorry CM and all to be argumentative.
# chat: 01:43:23. CM: No worries, NO: I apologize too for being inappropriately enthusiastic(?!)
# chat: 01:50:39. AH: I don't think either NO or CM should apologize. Recognizing these differences is very helpful & productive. As a non-economist, I'm learning a lot here

# AB: That actually brings us onto Dooyeweerd's theory of progress and so on, and it has been criticised. And I personally don't like it. [AB: Actually I like some of it.] []

[AB: Dooyeweerd's theory of progress is that tribal societies are 'unopened' whereas with the opening process, societies become differentiated with different spheres or sectors defined by different aspects. That seems indeed what has actually happened with the Global-north societies, but Dooyeweerd's idea has been criticised (by Klapwijk 1987) for being too conveniently Western. It is this that I think CM is reacting against, and I think that NO may be reacting to something different, namely the liberal-academic denigration of the family with father and mother. (My own view is that the presence of both father and mother in a family is a basic norm in both tribal and 'progressive' societies.)

However, my note here is about something else. I prefer to see all societies, whether tribal or differentiated, as functioning in all aspects, and the extent that they function well in all aspects results in the extent of their wellbeing etc. So tribal societies can function well in all, and so can 'progressive' societies. See the more detailed discussion below of the contention about cultures and family structure. ]

Summary: Kuyper's idea of Sphere Sovereignty might be helpful in helping us think about, and integrate the levels of economic activity. Kuyper suggested that each societal institution is sovereign in its own sphere (and should not be dominated by others), and Dooyeweerd made the idea more robust philosophically, as social institutions led by or founded in various aspects. However, we should recognise that the idea of Sphere Sovereignty itself is, at least to some extent, culturally conditioned, and seek to understand in what ways.

[1.26.40]

Contents

--- Levels of Economic Activity, Here and Now [zek36]

# AB: KHS, I'd like to welcome you [KHS had to leave and rejoin with audio]. The topic of today is multiple levels and how they integrate. Have you been thinking of that or have you just joined us for the discussion?
# KHS: Thank you, AB. Good afternoon (UK time) or good morning or good evening, depending on which part of the world you are at.

# KHS: The integration between those different strands of thinking is actually quite interesting to me. And I am particularly contextualizing it against the now and the here, what we see in terms of the economic news, the challenges, the hardships that families are facing, that hardships that businesses are facing, which in turn affects the families. []
# I was thinking in those terms. However, because I joined the meeting an hour and fifteen minutes late (because I had work meetings unfortunately - I did give my apologies to AB). []
# But let me be in listening mode and hopefully next time I can contribute a bit more. []

Summary: Hardships of each level here and now. [AB: To inform our understanding of, and response to, responsibilities, challenges, concerns, capabilities of each level. ]

[1.28.05]

Contents

----- Intended Outcomes and the Importance of Mindset [zek37]

# CA: I just wanted to say something.
# I wanted to say about the intention and the outcome.

# For example, if you look at GDP, the question is, "What is the intention?" "With what mindset are you looking at GDP from?" [] ***
# If you have a different intention [outcome will be different]: like, if my intention is to increase productivuty, so the outcome will become increase in productivity. But if the intention is a little bit different, [for example] I want to see how the increase in GDP has affected the wellbeing of people, then the outcome will be different. So, I think what is important here is to look at the intention because that will determine the outcome. []

Contents

--- Intentions When Using GDP [zek38]

# CA: So, there is nothing wrong with GDP and all the things we are looking at, because they are just indicators, to tell us how bad or how good things are, so that you can then move ahead or move back, step back. You can navigate your progress. So, there is nothing wrong with those indicators. But the question is, "What is the intention, with what mindset are you looking at all of these indicators, and what outcome are you looking to achieve from them?" []

[AB: Good point. (Is "nothing wrong" is too much of a claim, given the fundamental limitations on measuring?) We can affirm the basic point, which is that there is something truly valid in GDP and what it was devised to achieve, and that many of the problems that arise from its use are exactly that: its use. We should critique the intention, the "what looking to achieve". This is governed ultimately by the motivation and attitude, as discussed in our rethink. ]

[1.29.40]

# AB: OK. How does that relate to what we have said. I feel it does, but what did you have in mind when you came in with that? []
# CA: Because NO was talking about the outcome. And outcome is, like I said, like GDP. Yknow, it depends on what is the intention, how you are looking, with what mindset you are looking at it. []
# chat: 01:52:41. KHS: I don't think high GDP growth will yield better outcomes. [Ed. See below]

[AB: Clarify: Two meanings of "outcome". It seems that CA uses "outcome" as "intended outcome" whereas NO uses "outcome" as "actual outcome" including, I think, externalities. I think KHS also means "actual outcomes". However, actual outcome arises from intended outcome to a greater or lesser extent (except that externalities arises regardless of intended outcome). However, if we give due regard to attitude and motivation then the link between intention and actual might be stronger. ] [] ***

# CA: So, if you are looking at it as "I just want to increase productivity" then the [intended] outcome is only to be increasing productivity. Yknow, do we have more companies, do we have more people working, why are people not working, and yknow it's going to be like that. []
# But if you are thinking about, OK, we are increasing GDP, which means we have some money so how about our hospitals, how about our fire, ambulances, do these people get paid enough, and all of this. []
# So, if you change the mindset about how you are looking at these indicators, or what you are actually looking to solve, then the [intended] outcome will be different. So it's the the action that determines the [actual] outcome at the end, if you get what I'm trying to say. []

Summary: It is not GDP as such that is a problem, but the intention with which we use it.

Contents

--- Intention [zek39]

# AB: So what do you mean by "intention"? You gave the general example of intention to increase productivity. Can you give another one? What do you mean by "intention"? []
# CA: If GDP is high, this means we are saying that countries that have got a high GDP this means they have a good road system, they have a good, what is that, hospitals and all of this, and it is affordable for people. People can afford them, people are living comfortably. Yknow, "it is supposed to be like this" - but is it? THis is the question. Is it?

[AB: Dooyeweerd: CA is questioning expectations here, which is part of society's functioning in the pistic aspect. ]

# Like, if you are living in the UK, you are living in you??as / Do you have a good access to hospitals and things? And how about the salary of the people who are working in the hospitals? Is it sufficient, is it enough? How about the firefighters; do they get enough money? []
# Because, if you say GDP is high they you are supposed to have all these things, then if you are not, then we have to start focusing on "Why is that happening?" So our focus will be different. []
# So, instead of saying, "Oh, we want to increase more GDP therefore, I want to get all the people who are not working to go to work" or something like that, to increase more productivity in the country. Or yknow, the rainforest so we can use all the logs and send them out for export. Or something like that. []

[AB: Cf. Rethink. Looking at the good human functioning that money-flow, as measured by GDP, enables. And also the evil, harmful human functioning that aiming for GDP etc. fosters. This is in our rethink at GHU and also re. human functioning. ]

# AB: Are you talking about "It's supposed to be like this" and so on, are you talking about linking intentions [related to GDP etc.] with our expectations as a society? [] ***
# CA: The intention and the outcome. They are, yknow, what is the intention that these indicators are used for? Like, everybody has access to these indicators, but what are they using the indicators for? That's what I am trying to say. [] ***
# AB: OK, thanks.

[AB: CA did not pick up on expectations. Why does AB seem so keen in expectations? That needs to be made explicit. Answer: Because expectations, along with other pistic things like aspirations and assumptions, and what is seen by people as meaningful and important. These influence what our intentions are in relation to GDP or anything else. CA was thinking at the level above expecations, the level that pistic functioning impacts, about the intentions and outcomes. ] []

Summary: The intention we bring to using indicators like GDP (what we use them for) affects which outcomes we seek from using them. Intentions, in turn, are influenced by what is meaningful to us and our expectations: our pistic functioning.

[1.33.30]

Contents

--- Statistical Reasons for Doubting GDP [zek40]

# AB: [...] # CM: KHS wants to say something about indicators.
# KHS: Thank you. I was going to comment on the indicators. The first thing, AB, is to understand / and I'm not saying people don't understand it, but just to repeat, it's probably worth mentioning that GDP as a measure has got some limitations.

# So if you look at it for example, Japan's economy as measured by GDP is one third the size of the Chinese economy. Now, you can then talk about, do the Chinese and the Japanese, across the board, have similar living conditions? And the answer is clearly "No".
# We can also ask the question, let's say in a country like the UK, where GDP is quite high (it's probably the fourth or the fifth largest in terms of nominal GDP) "Do people in different parts of the country have got access to the same quality of schools, have got access to the same quality of hospitals, have got access to the same set of public services, etc.?" And the answer is, again, "No". []

# So, it's not just what the indicators are, and I think you have made a very good point (I don't know your name, I'm afraid) but you made a very strong point about what GDP is and what people automatically equate it to. But I don't think GDP equates to living standards. That is the first point I wanted to make. [] ***

# KHS: The second point I wanted to make is if you look at regional inequalities, and how we capture regional inequalities, actually, there are huge discrepancies.
# Productivity for example. Productivity in the UK is highest in the City of London. It is 300,000 per person. But you come to the Northwest, or even you just outside the City of London, as a district, productivity falls down by [to?] one fifth of that. And when we come to the Northwest, or up to Scotland, productivity is one tenth of what it is in the City of London and in Westminster. # AB: One tenth? So it is 30 per person? # KHS: It is 30,000 per person, yes. []
# Now there is a reason for that. And the reason for that is very simply that the population in the City of London is so small but the financial services have got a huge contribution to UK GDP.
# And so, going by numbers can sometimes be immensely misleading. And, as a saying, I've said this in the last meeting I attended last, I said there are lies, damned lies and there are statistics. And that, to a large extent, is what we are faced with. []

# KHS: So, the issue of intentions is important, but I would also question whether we are bit too much focused on GDP. []

# Because, what does GDP ultimately tell us? It just tells you that [money-measured] output in the various sectors that contribute to a country's GDP has actually increased. And that is all it tells us. So, it could be a factor that prices have increased, could be a factor of actually prices elsewhere having decreased and so profitability in some sectors have increased, and so on. So there are numerous dimensions to what makes up GDP. []

# So, if we are going to focus on GDP as a proxy for understanding lifestyle or wellbeing, then I would suggest that we actually use GDP per capita. As I said, the Chinese economy is three times as large as the Japanese economy, but then when we look at the per-capita figures, they would be significantly smaller than what the Japanese, European or even North America. So we could look at GDP per capita. []
# We could even look at it on a regional scale. Again, the makeup of individual ingredients. (And again I am using the UK as an example because I live here in the UK.) I live in Manchester, so I'll use the Northwest as an example [Northwest England, where Manchester is, and so is Cumbria]. The Northwest economy for example is 40% in Greater Manchester. Cumbria makes up 6%. But if you actually look at the output that comes from Cumbria and its importance, it's all of the rural, it's agriculture, nowadays it's power generation because of the nuclear power plant. Those are huge contributions to the people and the population in the Northwest. Now, economically they might be slightly smaller in number.
# So I would probably use other measures and I completely recognise the fact that GDP does not have any level of semblance to what lifestyle, or quality of life, or even the access to public services, is in any practical way. [] ***

[AB: It seems that there are two main reasons why GDP is flawed as a proxy for wellbeing etc. 1. Statistical reasons: Dimensions like per-capita and regional differences are all meaningful within the economic aspect. 2. There are also yet others that are meaningful in other aspects, and for which it is difficult to fix a quantitative economic value. For Rethink: In our rethink we have so far focused mainly on the latter, but we also have to recognise the importance of the former. ] []

[AB: Rethink: Meaningfulness. That links with our multi-aspectual values: the biotic aspect of agriculture and physical-formative aspects of electricity, in which Cumbria is strong, are as important as the aesthetic aspect and commercial economic aspect of Manchester. ] []

Summary: There are many statistical reasons, meaningful in the economic aspect, which mean that GDP is not a good indicator of e.g. wellbeing, because we must be careful against which quantities we normalise it. []

[1.38.30]

# CA: I think that what I wanted to say was, maybe it was misconstrued, actually what I was trying to say is, "If you take for an example of GDP, like you use GDP, and what is The intention of using GDP?" That's what I'm trying to get at, an example of using GDP. []
# Of course you want to look at using GDP for its own purposes and that purpose has to be a good purpose. The intention has to be positive, and then the outcome will be positive. That's what I'm trying to say. []

Contents

--- Inequalities in Society [zek41]

# CM: But there is evidence that rising GDP does not improve wellbeing beyond a certain level. # CA: Yes, that's what I'm saying. []
# chat: 01:54:14. KHS: Income inequality has widened. Very good point, CM.
# CM: Some of the date are, or the evidence is, contentious, or open to scrutiny, shall we say, but I think that [that rising GDP not improve wellbeing] is a reasonable conclusion, based on modestly robust evidence. []
# CM: And that is one of the reasons why (and I think you have already looked at it in this group) that the real, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, that the New Zealand, the Scottish and other governments are into that. They tend to be rather fringe governments; I mean, New Zealand is the biggest and most selfcontained one. But the / []
# I mean, GDP itself is a weak measure, because it's just about totality. It has obviously got to be per-capita otherwise it becomes meaningless. It pretty much needs to be purchasing-power-corrected, as well, in some way, probably. []

# But I would always say to people, "If you just want simple measures that are currently available, and the data is pretty accessible, you look both at GDP but to compare two countries and particularly over time, you look at the GINI coefficient, which is a distributional outcome. Or some other measure of top income and bottom-level income. []
# Because you get countries that have developed fantastically over the last few decades, Brazil, South Africa. They have developed their natural resources. They have also helped to ruin the planet (but that's a different aspect of the question) but in doing so, they have also gone over to a tremendously unequal society, tremendously unequal. []
# And in the UK and elsewhere we have been more homogeneous. But as I mentioned earlier, we have already become less equal over the last 20 years or so. Particularly because high salaries have gone up dramatically, because of bonuses and all these sort of things.
# ???The thinking of?? more people, is the thing to go with. Things to do with outcomes about actual human life and positive outcomes in terms of flourishing life. []

[AB: Does that cover the two meanings of "outcomes" above?]

[AB: We should maybe recall our question of what "inequality" means and what is actually wrong with inequality. It seems mainly a juridical wrong rather than an economic one. Does that need to be brought into the above discussion? ] []

[1.41.30]

# AB: Yeah. It has always struck me that the Christian Gospel helps to narrow the gap [between richest and poorest] wherever it has had effects, over centuries and so on. []
# chat: 01:55:15. AH: i wish i could stick around & listen to all these good observations, but i must prepare for another meeting. bye

Summary: Seeking to increase GDP has widened inequalities in society [as well as environmental damage].

Contents

--- Different Measures: Longevity and Behaviours [zek42]

# NO: I think I am in total agreement with everybody, that GDP is a lousy way to look at life. It is a business, financial indicator, based on transactions which could be any kind of transaction. Even crime is factored into it.

# chat: 01:55:20. LP: Hi NO, I wrote somehow in line with what you mentioned, on Outcome and Unpaid household works. It's still a preliminary article. I wish everyone can contribute it it multi-aspectually.
# chat: 01:55:28. LP: https://www.project-gemi.com/post/economics-and-sustainability
# chat: 01:56:14. KHS: I will be right back

# NO: So what I have been advocating for, and we have talked about it to some degree, is to get outside of these financial indicators. []

# So let me give you an example. I think a more meaningful statistic would be something like the number of days added to human lifespan etc. For example, the insurance industry, the marine insurance industry, is a huge commercial industry. And they have the statistics of the ??wazoo on what is going to happen to life expectancies. And that gets equated into moneys and policies and the returns. []
# So what I am merely suggesting is that we look at the outcome attributed to, by businesses, by governments, to a different set of statistics, to a statistic on life expectancy, for example. And in that way, we can begin to reflect these elements that are not just what you pay for your car, but what did that car do to promote your life, your neighbour's life, etc.
# One of the big problems that I think we have is a problem of waste, particularly in the food arena. [Ed. c.f. LP above.] And if we began to measure food, this human index, if you will, in terms of what promotes additional days of healthy life, maybe we can then begin to turn some investment and turn some behaviours so that we can eliminate the waste. []
# So, again, what I am trying to suggest is that we develop numbers and an economics that focuses on the added / like CA said, the directional outcome we think we should see as Christians. Not just what it costs, but what's the benefit, in turning some focus on the positive outcomes. []
# CA: yes

[AB: Rethink: This is yet another point in favour of moving to considering human functioning - "behaviours" that affect life expectancy or which increase waste. And also bad behaviours below. However, does this fully encompass all aspects? ]

Summary: Suggestion for quantitative measure: number of days added to human lifespan.

Contents

--- Penalising the Bad [zek43]

# CM: And should we also therefore penalise the bad? And how do we do that? []
[1.45.00]
# NO: That's a great question. My view is, if we have the proper incentives for the good, you are going to eventually diminish the bad. []

# But again I want to be realistic: you are never going to get rid of corruption, you are never gonna get rid of poverty, you are never gonna get rid of the evils, until Christ comes, Who said so. But my view is that if you have the proper good incentives, ???that-n-that you will see proper progress.
[1.45.45]

# CM: I am being a little bit more parochial, living in a British city. There is fairly well-evidenced linkage between vehicle usage and particularly use of the internal combustion vehicle, and child development, due to the particulate pollution that is produced. And we don't really tax that very much; it's very marginal, the level at which we tax that. We do a few Little bits. But it's mainly a way of getting money for the government. Rather than either to penalise either the carbon output or the pollution, and the health impact. And we don't really tax the vehicles; they pay a very small amount each year, based on the amount of pollution they produce. []
# So, yknow, we could actually come to that much more aggressively as a penalty for the bad things produced, socially, the bad outcome. []
# We don't have a voice for the children; they dont have a voice. []

[AB: Two approaches to reducing the bad: incentives for the good and penalties for the bad, such as taxes. ]

[AB: (A theological aside: It is a perennial question for Christians: If evil is not going to be completely eliminated until the New Heavens and Earth, how much should we bother trying to reduce it now? My view is that we should work hard at being Christ's representatives here and now, and leave the results of our efforts in His hands. This is partly for (a) this life is a training ground of the next, (b) doing so lets others see the heart of God here and now (and might turn to Christ), (c) Christ might wish to reduce suffering of Creation here and now.) ]

# NO: That's true. I am not suggesting that we don't maintain and develop better fiscal policies. I am merely indicating, I'm merely suggesting that what we can try to create in this embedded economics that we talk about is a signpost other than GDP, to try and create the more faithful path for the blessing we have received. []
# And that's / but certainly, other proper government rules??roles and policies obviously should be maintained. []

Summary: We need to deal with the bad behaviours. Two ways: to incentivize the good, and to penalise of tax the bad.

[1.47.45]

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--- Time up? [zek44]

# chat: 02:02:01. CM: I have to finish soon to switch to a webinar on degrowth!
# chat: 02:02:37. NO: Thanks LP and CM - I will look at this. NO@NOostman.com

# AB: Right. It is now / we have actually gone 2 hours. [laughter]. Those who have been in from the beginning: I don't know if it has felt like two hours. But it has certainly been a interesting and, I found, a very rewarding discussion, with a lot of different things. []
# And I am going to try and transcribe it, and put in my comments as usual, and try an make sense of it and try and bring it all together. []
# The little bit of disagreement between CM and NO at one stage, I felt that that was (thank you both for apologising) I felt that was helpful in some ways because I think / what I am looking for is a way that both those views be incorporated. And so /
[1.49.00]

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--- Growth and De-growth [zek45]

# AB: Oh, CM, your thing on De-growth, would you like to send something on it? Very inteesting "de-growth").

[Ed. See Limits to Growth 50 Anniversary Conference. A five-hour conference, but see the section by Tim Jackson and the screen showing how growth helped various income deciles. ]

# CM: There was actually a very interesting workshop on Tuesday; I think it was earlier this week, from the Stockholm Climate Institute. And also / this guy, cannot remember his name now, Swedish guy. He worked at Stockholm and in Berlin. And it was looking at the Limits To Growth, the Club of Rome publication 50 years ago now, and kind of updating on that.
# They are people who came up with the planetary boundaries. Kate Raworth did not come up with the Doughnut idea, but they came up with the 9 planetary boundaries. They were looking at that but there was also some discussion of De-growth and whether Green Growth was possible or not. And so on. But this is another similar thing on that same topic. But only the De-growthers are talking, I think, not the people who think you can have growth but you can decouple it from green issues. []
# Which I ??? basically . I am sold on De-growth as an aesthetic?? That is ??? for highly developed economies, obviously not for Burkina Fasso or somewhere like that. That is meaningless to talk about de-growth there.

# chat: 02:03:58. NO: I am for lots of growth!

# AB: What I find / I mean, I am sympathetic to that, because the Bible does not say anything about [AB: I meant "make it a norm"] growth of an economy. OK, it's a different culture and so on, but / # CM: It talks about you can have prosperity without growth, which you have referenced already. # AB: Tim Jackson, yeah. []
# AB: I think we need to explore that because, for example, there is growth if we think in terms of contributing to Overall Good. []
# AB: Humanity is supposed to increase the Good in the world, the Overall Good, as it were.
# And GDP I see as an intention to measure some kind of Goodness. And that was its intention, and the guy that invented the [GDP], I found the other day, the guy that invented it [GDP] actually explicitly said it should not be just for monetary stuff. And so I am also sympathetic to that poor little thing that keeps on getting bullied and knocked, which we call GDP, and so on, even though I am one of the not-growth. []
# chat: 02:04:43. CM: Is sustainable growth an oxymoron in a finite world?

Summary: There is a debate over whether or how economic growth should continue, and especially "de-growth", in which certain sectors are deliberately shrunk. Our Rethink might contribute to that by seeing it differently, in a way that can incorporate both growth and de-growth.

[1.51.50]

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----- Ending [zek46]

# AB: Is KSH back? No. I knew that he was going to be an hour and a quarter late, and he will presumably join us next time.
# But I think we need to draw this to a close.
# So, thank you everybody. Is anyone /

# chat: 02:05:20. NO: If we are smart about it. Not wasteful as today.
# AB: "if we are smart about it, as not as wasteful as today?" How do you mean, NO? [AB: I thought NO was saying we had been wasteful in our use of time!]
# NO: Oh, sorry, I was just responding to something from CM [via chat].
# NO: I /
# CM: I consider "sustainable growth" is an oxymoron because we live in a finite system. []
# And much better ??? [several voices] we already ???two hours?? once we start on that, we will be 20 hours!
# NO: I found this conversation very valuable. There are several references people have brought that I am going to have to look at. So thank you everybody. []
# AB: JC, you are indicating.
# JC: Just giving a thumbs up.

# AB: KSH, You are back. # KSH: I am.
# AB: We were about to close down actually. LP has not been speaking for a long time. Is there anything that either of you would like to say before we close?

# KSH: I have nothing to add, anything useful anyway.

# AB: So, I'd like to close in prayer. And thank you all for this.
[AB closed in prayer.]

# NO: Good to see everybody.

# AB: Next time there / The AI one will be around mid-month. I am waiting for a date from JC. # JC: There are too many things at work that affect the date that I can do, but I will get back to you as soon as possible. # AB: Great. JC is going to lead us on a few things on AI. Thank you very much JC if you are OK with that.
# And the next economics one, I suggest it in a month's time. It will be a little bit into October, because I am helping Ruth with a Climate Action Frodsham thing [Big Green Day] and maybe one or two others, so it is likely to be towards the end of the first week of October, which would be a Friday.

# Is there anything anyone would particularly like to discuss? For example, is there anything that, from today, that you felt has not been discussed that you would like to, or is there anything else? [Silence] Let me know by email. []

# Thank you very much. So I will say, "Thank you everyone. Thank you for a wonderful discussion. I look forward to the next."

# Is this sort of time on Friday OK for everyone? [thumbs up]
# So, I'm not going to end the meeting because I'm going to paste one by one all the chats, just in case Zoom does not send them to me, because they are all important. So I am going to turn myself off, and I'll say "Goodbye!"
# LP: Bye everyone.
[1.56.24]

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----- A Comment on Contentions [zek47]

[AB: In this discussion, some contention arose. AH found it useful, and so did I, because it raised the issue of how we, the RLDG, might deal with the battles that are going on over various topics, often as part of the war going on in Western cultures between left and right. I find that Dooyeweerd helps put them all into a bigger picture, in which they can actually come together, and that my Christian commitment to peace-making and to wisdom urges me to seek such a bigger picture. So here I reflect on how this might be achieved with battles that arose, which were two: about family structues and about growth. ]

Contents

--- Contention About Cultures, Family Structure and Bringing Up of Children [zek48]

[AB: Truth on both sides about Cultures?

On the one hand, with Klapwijk, I question elements of Dooyeweerd's theory of progress, in which it is the very fabric of Creation that society should, and will inevitably, differentiate into specialised spheres (which is a philosophical grounding of Kuyper's idea of Sphere Sovereignty), and that what we call 'primitive' cultures are so because they have not yet differentiated (with an implication that the 'primitive' is somehow 'lesser' becasue not-yet-developed-like-us). Klapwijk found it rather too convenient that Dooyeweerd's theory of progress coincidentally ends up with current Western culture. Thus, it was valuable that CM pointed out that many cultures have different ways of bringing up children. I believe that we should not so readily dismiss the validity of 'primitive' cultures. Especially since they exhibit certain aspects much more positively than ours does, not least the ethical in the guise of generosity.

On the other hand, NO's gritty defence of the mother-father family indicates a useful critique of views pervading anthropology, to which CM appealed. I deeply question tenets of anthroplogy, as it has come down to us from the early anthroplogists, and set the agenda and direction of the field of anthropology in the decades to come, until this present day. In reading (about) some of them, I get the feeling that they 'loved' academic novelty and 'loved' to shock those they thought the establishment, and hence their publications would overplay the 'shocking', novel stuff they came up with. What they came up with was likely to be only a partial picture, viewed through a certain 'lens', in which the differences from Western culture were noticed and pronounced and similarities with it either went unnoticed or were omitted as 'uninteresting'. Moreover, given their own mindset (not seldom anti-Christian), and the 'lenses' they adopted when viewing the 'primitive' cultures they observed, it is not unlikely that they particularly welcomed things that 'went against', and were not just different. That provided their material for emphasising novelty and for 'shocking'. In particular, would they 'love' to downplay mother-father family and up-play other forms of family? (What perhaps I am saying is: ws their 'truth' socially constructed, by the academic culture of that time, namely anti-establishment and partly anti-Christian?)

However, I dislike much Christian support for the 'nuclear' family and refusal to consider other forms, because I see it arising largely from reaction that narrows the thinking rather than from genuine wisdom of Proverbs, which welcomes critique. In so-called primitive societies, human relationships involved all aspects functioning together. In the bringing up of children all would be involved, of course, but that does not deny some kind of special bond between the children and their two parents. Might we 'advanced' cultures have something to learn from 'primitive' ones? Yet, do those who delight in questioning the mother-father family tend to be seen through rose-tinted lenses by most of us?) there was also dysfunction in all the aspects just as there is among us.

I dislike using aspects to impose or argue about boundaries on the valid functioning of things like family life. What I like using aspects for is to acknowledge multi-aspectual functioning, and the idea of shalom as what God intended for Creation, understanding what is good and what is not good (dysfunctional) in each aspect. ]

Contents

--- Contention over Growth and De-growth [zek49]

[AB: I believe we can admit both.

On the one hand, growth in Overall Good in Creation is what God intended of humans: to open up the potential of Creation, for its sake. That would seem to put us on the side of growth.

However, it ignores human sin. The problem is that humans refused that Creational Mandate, wanting to use the rest of Creation as resources for our own agenda of selfish pleasure, competition, war, etc. And (skipping a lot) over the past 100 years, as economics has developed as a field, we have redefined growth, not as increase in Overall Good, but as increase in a quantitative total of the money flowing in the economy. And in doing so, we ignore much unpaid good, and include much paid-for evil as though it were good.

Therefore, on the other hand, that puts us on the side of de-growth. As Jason Hickel, 'father' of de-growth, points out, it is the affluent economies that should de-grow, and they should de-grow in those sectors that are harmful, but grow in sectors that give real good.

However, there are problems with that. One is that the de-growth discourse seems to have no basis for decide what needs to grow and what to de-grow. Another is that it seems to assume innate goodness and reasonableness of human beings, and take no account of human sin (unless it be only in those who who want growth), A third is that it seems to overlook the importance of attitude, being selfish disposition and idolatrous expectations, aspirations and assumptions.

Our Rethink tackles those. As a result, it would seem to work at a deeper level than the growth-degrowth debate, and if we work it out, it is likely to achieve much of what both growth and degrowth people aim for. ]

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----- End Material

--- References


Klapwijk J. 1987. Reformational philosophy on the boundary between the past and the future. Philosophia Reformata 52:101-34.

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