RLDG Discussion 21, on Visions for, and Progress of, Rethink, and the Way Ahead

Held: Friday 4 November 2022

Topic of Discussion:
(a) Visions for Economics
(b) Strengths and weaknesses of our approach
(c) Towards Version 2: Progress Report
(d) On communicating the Rethink.

The main purpose of these RLDG discussions is to develop our Rethink of Economics (Full or Summary).

This 21st discussion is part of the series of the RLDG discussions, which started at the 2020 Reith Lectures. This time there are no summaries at the end of each section, but instead there are indications of how various points have been incorporated into version 2 of the Rethink.

Present: AH, AB, JC, DPW, CM, NO
Apologies: CA.

-- Contents

-- About This Page

[This is an annotated transcript of the 21st RLDG discussion. AB typed notes during the discussion, then filled them out by transcribing the audio recording, (21 January 2023), 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. ]

[recording started]

# AB: 2 discussions today, one leading into the other. One is a discussion of our visions for economics, led by AH. The other, led by AB, on presenting where we have got to in presenting our Rethink. Each will take about half an hour. So it's not going to be a free-ranging discussion. There is going to be some questions. []
# So, half an hour for AH.


----- Introduction [zel00]

# AB: Two discussions today, one leading into the other, each nominally half an hour.

# It is not going to be a free-ranging discussion; there will some questions to lead discussion. [recording started]

----- Discussion 1. Visions for Economics [zel01]

# AH: Yeah, yknow, AB, I was thinking about the outline for the call, Maybe what I say could be taken into the second half, where we think about further steps, and we rethink about Number 2, and so forth. []
# Anyway, to begin here, I do have a lot to say, and I doubt we can resolve issues in our short time today but maybe it will be food for thought. And if comments arise as I am speaking, please do interrupt me.

# I want to begin by referring to the model prayer that our Lord specified in Matthew 6:10. In that prayer, we pledge our desire for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. And I think this group is one effort towards that end. We seek an economy that provides for the justice and peace that God wants, where every person and every living thing exists in harmony and has enough. []

# AB: Right, can I interrupt you? I should have started in prayer. So shall we pray that prayer together. It's not just God's will be done on earth, but God's kingdom come on earth, and God's holy Name be honoured on earth as in heaven. So, shall we start. []
# [Ed. AB, JC: Prayed the Lord's Prayer.]
# AB: Thank you.
# AH: Yes, I believe that God's kingdom is included in God's will. But it's certainly appropriate to make that more explicit. []

# AH: So, again, we seek that economy, as shown on the screen, and I like to refer to the New Jerusalem that God will institute in full in the end of times. []


--- Ideal or Real [zel02]

# But one question I have not heard addressed by the group is "Should we focus on the ideal or the real?" Another way to state that is, "How much should we work towards the ideal economy, versus one of the economies that would work and would be achievable in the near term, given human sin and weakness?" [] ***
[5 November 2022: real and ideal incorporated into xnr2] # AH: To some extent, I think that the ideal and the real are mutually exclusive. And let me try to explain why I think that way, and that might generate discussion. []
[Ed. See also below on Green Ecovillage Utopianism. ]


--- Massive Change is Required [zel03]

# First, in the developed world, few of us realise the immense changes to current economies that are needed if we are to live in harmony with each other and with Earth itself. []
# So, if everyone in the world polluted and consumed resources as much as we do in the US, about five Earths would be needed to make that sustainable. So, justice to future generations, and also justice to developing nations today, requires that we drastically improve our environmental impact, certainly pollute less and use fewer resources, much much less. [] ***

[Ed. This is the idea of Ecological Footprint. ] []

# And that can be accomplished via some combination of better impact per person and/or fewer people. []
# Now, I don't want to promote depopulation. And I don't think anyone here wants that. So, then I think that our attention must turn to improving environmental impact for everybody alive. []
# So, how can the average person reduce his or her resource use by that much? (Again in the US, that would be by 80%.) And that is the challenge described by such illustrations as Kate Raworth's Doughnut Economics. []

[Ed. AH then introduces three major issues, which stimulated discussion throughout:




--- The Commons [zel04]

# AH: So, my understanding of current thinking among sustainability experts is that such a massive change requires much more sharing among people of common property. We seem to need an economy of immense common property. Or, we could tall it The Commons, and sharing. [] ***
# So that, the property of individuals can be more sparse than we in the developed world are accustomed to. For instance, cars, automobiles are terrible for the environment. They pollute immensely and they use enormous amounts of resources. Even when you are not driving them they still decay, they require maintenance and replacement. []

# So, in the ideal economy, where we would have as much benefit for all people, instead of every household having an automobile, then a community might have one. []

[Ed. It seems that by "ideal economy" AH means e.g. that every person on Earth has the same (economic) benefits or potential of them. ] []

[AB: Not just each household but each adult having their own car! Why? Early thinkers - who, Keynes? - expected that, once everyone had 'enough.' economic growth would no longer be needed and the economy would become stable, and were surprised when it did not happen. Why did they believe that? Because they presupposed purely economic aspect, of 'enough' and frugality, and ignored other aspects? Why did the economy continue to grow in affluent cultures? Subsequent thinkers - who? - suggest that people are "addicted to growth". But maybe we can provide more insight: (a) pistic aspect of idolatry of economic growth (one of Goudzwaard's, Idols of our Time) , (b) ethical aspect of selfishness and greed of individuals. To do: Add this to Rethink. ] [] ***

# Now, given human sinfulness, this presents a problem, because this type of sharing is impossible, or at least difficult, for many types of resources. Mainly due to a problem known as the Tragedy of the Commons. [] ***
# AH: And probably most of are familiar with that, although I've given a summary on the screen here.

[Ed. Garrett Hardin introduced the Tragedy of the Commons (ToC) as follows:

"Picture a pasture open to all. ... As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain. Explicitly or implicitly, more or less consciously, he asks, 'What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to my herd?' This utility has one negative and one positive component. The positive component is a function of the increment of one animal. Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the additional animal, the positive utility is nearly +1. The negative component is a function of the additional overgrazing created by one more animal. Since, however, the effects of overgrazing are shared by all herdsmen, the negative utility for any particular decision-making herdsman is only a fraction of -1. Adding together the component partial utilities, the rational herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to pursue is to add another animal to his herd. And another; and another ... But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational herdsman sharing a commons. Therein is the tragedy."

See Wikipedia for Tragedy of the Commons. ]

# So, basically it means that, when you have a Commons, it is so easy and almost unavoidable that some people will use more than their share and deplete the resource for the rest of us. []
# So, once you are aware of the Tragedy of the Commons, of course, you see it everywhere. Not just in agriculture, where the Tragedy of the Commons was originally illustrated, but in pretty much in all uses of resources. []
# For instance, farmers in the South-West US derive too much water from aquifers, and that jeopardises the water supply of everybody else, especially the residents. []
# Another instance of that is, to maximize their own safety on the roads, people drive big cars and now SUVs are becoming even more popular than they have, then even as they increase the dangers faced by others. Then that, to me, is another example of the Tragedy of the Commons. []

# Or consider climate change, in which the Commons is the stable climate that we all depend on, for avoiding sea-level rise, for growing crops, and so on. []
# So almost all individuals and businesses in developed countries pollute too much, damaging the climate, which is the Commons. []

# AH: Now, various steps have been proposed to mitigate various manifestations of the Tragedy. []
# One step of course to mitigating damage to the climate is carbon pricing, in which those who pollute by burning fossil fuels paying for the right to pollute. And that system shifts the economy towards clean energy. []
# However, personally, I am quite sure that, his side of heaven, as long as humans sin, the Tragedy of the cannot be avoided. []
# Especially if we drastically increase the Commons, as seems necessary. []

[AB: I might have mentioned selfishness at that point. The ToC presumes the 'rational economic actor' whose decisions are guided purely by selfishness ("self-interest"). ]

[AB: Thanks to AH for introducing the Tragedy of the Commons. It stimulates a lot of very useful discussion below, which fills it out. It has been incorporated into Version 2 of our Rethink.] []


--- Trainer and the Idea of Simplicity and Communality [zel05]

# Now, according to one book I am reading, and that is something that AB distributed yesterday, by Ted Trainer. []
# The Commons should include things like machinery, workshops, windmills, water wheels, bicycles, vehicles, buildings for craft groups, drama clubs, etc. among many other assets. And you can see where, according to that vision at least, the Commons would have to expand enormously. []
# Now, the finer points of Trainer's vision of the ideal economy would probably be very debatable [Ed. e.g. he advocates what he calls, unhelpfully, an "anarchistic" economy], and we could certainly get into that and talk about how much that shares in and does not share with the points that we have raised in our Rethink so far. []
# But the larger point is, that to respect ecological limits, the Commons has to be greatly expanded. But that exacerbates the Tragedy of the Commons. []


--- Are Ideal and Feasible Mutually Incompatible? [zel06]

# AH: Now, if we agree on that, then we have a conflict between the types of economies that are possible, given our sinful state, and the types of economies that would allow everyone to co-exist with each other and with the land. []
# So that is the economies that are now feasible, and those that God, I think, ultimately wants, seem to be mutually incompatible. [] ***
# So it's the difference between the real and the ideal. Now, there are several other reasons why the ideal economy is impractical, given our sinfulness, including the ones that I have listed here. []
# We could get into some of those details too, but overall that's my impression.

[AB: I don't buy that, though I used to do so. Especially in its Augustinian guise. Augustine for example believed that politics has no place in a perfect Creation and was instituted by God solely to ameliorate sin, or the effects of sin. I believe that politics does have a place in a perfect Creation, but has been distorted here. I believe that part of the problem here and now is not just wrong actions, sin, but also wrong mindset, which is what Paul wants transformed, Romans 12:2 - distorted way of understanding reality, false idolatrous presuppositions. Example: rational, self-insterested economic actor. I believe that even sinful beings can work with better presuppositions. e.g. recognise that human economic behaviour is much more than RSEA - which we do actually see here and there. In short, though I agree with AH that our sinfulness will mess things up, I wonder if we need a different perspective on sinfulness. ]

# So, coming off to the side, if, despite my comments so far, the difference between the real and the ideal is still controversial, then maybe a contribution we could make is to argue for a position on that difference. [AB: Maybe one our contributions, USPs?] [] ***
# But in any case, to me, our situation resembles that of Ted Trainer's book. And Ted Trainer says

"The economy of simplicity" (which is what he sees as necessary,) "cannot exist unless there is a very different culture", one in which people understand and accept the new ideas, values and positions explained above" (AH: that is, in previous chapters) "and find the new ways intrinsically attractive and rewarding. The fact that present society is nowhere near such an outlook, and there is a low probability that we would every achieve it, is irrelevant here. The point is that a sustainable and just society, enabling all to live well, in a world of severely limited resources, has to be some kind of simpler way." []

[AB: Note change in culture. Note: "find the new ways intrinsically attractive and rewarding". These require change in society's pistic functioning. ] []

# AH: So, Ted Trainer and this book seems to seek the ideal and not the real. []

# So, maybe I should leave it there. I do have more to say, but I think this could be certainly enough to discuss. So, what's everybody's impressions about that?


--- Commons Can Sometimes Work [zel07]

# CM: Yes. Hello everybody. Thank you for raising the Tragedy of the Commons. Because it is a reality, because clearly there is empirical evidence. []
# But there is also lots of empirical evidence of situations of Commons where it is not a tragedy. [] ***
# And I think in the past, in this discussion thread, you have also referred to the work, not of Garret Hardin, the toC man, but of Elinor Ostrom, the Nobel Prize winner, the remarkable Prize-Winner economist that no economist had heard of when she was given the prise. []
: And her studies have shown that it's an anthropological question. The ToC is not a problem of economics per se; it's a problem of human relationships or the lack thereof. [] ***
# So the goat farmers, or whatever, in the example of over-grazing, are acting as individual agents without a sense of common purpose, community, with the others in their area. In many other cases, people do act with common purpose. So they deliberately limit what they do, or they have a social mechanism for coordination. []
# I mean, game theory says quite a lot about this, that if you have a coordination problem where people don't communicate, and information is not made available properly as to what everybody's ultimate aim is, then you can end up in a sub-optimum destination of the outcomes. Yknow, the Prisoners' Dilemma, where they both get executed. # AH: Yeah. # CM: (That's a simple case; I think you already know that.) [] ***
# So I think we should not focus too strongly on the Tragedy of the Commons as the dominant paradigm. Because I think, actually, there's a point about economics, that it's not a science of discrete individaul agents all maximizing utility. That's the way it's presented, and that's the way free-market theory tends to work, where the only communication is a price signal. But in reality, it exists within society, and then within the ecosystem. (That's the model that we've been looking at.) []
# And, as a result, there are lots of other signals that are beyond just price and utility that determine people's actions. []

[AB: To Dooyeweerd, the economic aspect is post-social, hence depends foundationally on social functioning. Therefore, to cast economic activity as purely individual, or even as exchange between individuals, is fundamentally false and misleading. This explains philosophically the failure of the above thinking, even though there is important insight in it. To do: Add into Rethink.] []

[AB: Our idea that economics is embedded among other spheres, each of which is meaningful in different aspects. Thus, for example, in addition to the economic aspect of resources, we have above the social aspect of coordination, the lingual aspect of communication. And of course, the economic, being post-social, cannot be understood without the social. However, even these are insufficient, because social functioning could be enmity rather than coordination; what makes it coordination, and makes people willing to limit their behaviourm, is the ethical aspect of self-giving. ]



--- Our Approach: Hopeful Realists [zel08]

# CM: So, I do agree that there is an ideal economy that we could start talking about, but then I think we just become preachers of ewchatology. And actually, we just talk about eschatological hope as Christians. [] # And that's not the business that we are in. I think the purpose of this group is to be hopeful realists, perhaps with a different narrative to the hopeful realists of either the sortof Ted Trainer eco-village yknow idea (I have a critique of that I think I'll come to later) or the top-down Bill Gates technocratic sort of rather totalitarian solution, where the coordination [issue] is solved by giving it all to Big Tech and they fix all the problems. [] ***
# We need to find a different way, which may include elements of those, both possibly, but actually includes the idea of the identity of humans created individually but also in community, as Image of God people, where God Himself, Themselves, are community even before Creation. And somehow to map that into our thinking. []
# So ??thank you for?? the presentation. But I think we do need to be realists, but somehow hopeful realists.
# AH: Sure, yeah.

# AH: And I wonder the extent to which that is addressed in the literature? Has anybody talked about what hopeful realism could mean in economics? And how do we bridge that gap? How do we promote Christian values? (Yeah, I see your hand, JC) and how do we promote these things in a realistic way that can make a difference in the short term in this sinful workd? [] ***

# JC: If you were just addressing me on the idea whether I am familiar with the literature on the application, I cannot say that I am extensively familiar. But I do want to give credence to the importance of the Tragedy of the Commons as simply a tool. []
# JC: CM made a very good point on how to be hopeful and not move into the idealistic eschatology, and lose the ability of our effectiveness. []
# But if we are able to narrow down the applicable effective actions within a defined Commons area, and recognise where we can provide validity and efficiency (if we look at the economic aspect from the Dooyeweerd principle where the economic aspect is about efficiencyy and not frugality), we might be able to provide some practical solutions. Just if we can agree on the Commons we want to address. []
# Whether it's AH your idea of one car for the community and defining the extent of the community. []
# So I would recommend practical applications that we do have to have broad examination of what we would define as the common-end solution that we want to pursue. []
# Does that meke sense, AH?

# AH: Sure, yeah. And hopefully, if we develop that more thoroughly and really bring out the important points, then that could provide an outline for some future work. Maybe that could be in Rethink 2. []

[AB: Have incorporated that into Introduction to our approach. ]

# AB: We have got about 7 minutes left on this part if we are going to be strict, so who else would like to comment?
[Ed. More about Real and Ideal below. ]


--- Incremental Change [zel09]

# DW: Thanks. I suppose the thing that occurred to me is about the real and the ideal. I would tend to focus on incremental changes. [] ***
# And I think there have been a lot of incremental changes in our economy over the last 100 years, that I think have improved the life of people. []
# And in many ways, I think some of those have come come out of the Christian vision, actually. I mean, certainly I grew up in the UK, though I currently live in Canada. In Britain, for instance, the NHS. But much more extensive welfare state that existed there at that time, and still does in many ways, was very much inspired by Christian Methodism, which had a lot of influence on the Labour Party. []
# So, I think there are a lot of things we can look at, such as life expentancy has improved considerably, our ability to help people with disabilities, for instance, which I think have improved considerably, though I think we should be helping people a lot more. []
# Those are a few examples of the ways that incremental changes to our economy have changed things. []

# Actually, another example on the pollution front: When I studied Environmental Economics, my professor was ??Barcold Kittrich?? at ??Gwolf?? University. He put together a whole database, showing how local air pollution, the pollution that has quite an impact on people's health, has really reduced considerably over the last 50 years, maybe more even. []
# And so, that's again another thing where I think our economy has improved [life] considerably. []
# [So] I would certainly think there's a lot of value in focusing on incremental change.

# AH: That's a whole topic in itself. So I appreciate that DW. I would love to explore that more. []
# I agree that in many ways we are far ahead of where we were 50 or 100 years ago. And in fact I'm living testament myself to the benefits of modern medicine; I would not be alive without the medication that I currently take daily [redacted]. So, that's just one small example of how that the world is much better than it was. []


--- Two Concerns About Affluent Countries [zel10]

# AH: I do worry, though, about [1] how we are exporting our pollution to Third World countries. And the fact that the UK and the US, many of the gains we have had are at the expense of Nigeria or India or many other developing nations. [] ***
# And also [2] the fact that we have been borrowing from future generations - or maybe even stealing, you could say, because we didn't even ask whether we could take their resources. [] ***
# So, those are two concerns I would have.


--- Alternatives of a Commons [zel11]

# CM: Can I just come back to the car example? I think it's often useful. I have written one or two scenarios on how things happen in the real-life situation. And the idea that each household should have a car, or even more than one. Clearly inefficient and all kinds of negatives about that. We don't even need to review that. []
# But, let me propose three, maybe four, different answers to the need for personal mobility. Which is the actual human need, in order to be able to make medium to longer-range terrestrial journeys, within your state or in longer term within your whole country if it is a big place, like in North America. []

# And maybe three ways of doing that [Ed. which are alternatives to the Commons] []:.

# So, there are alternatives to a pure idea of Commons, where we are all kindof in a village and we agree to not over-farm, or whatever, in the classic model. []
# And some of those are quite aggressively free-market and quite inequitable in their outcomes, because you end up with a monopolizer, a big tech company. []
# And that is often the [proffered] solution to climate change: Big Tech, and you end up with Big Tech companies that make a lot of money that they extract out of everybody else, in order to give them a decent life. just to stay alive in some cases. []

# AB: Thank you everyone for that debate. The [timer] bell rang.
# There were one or two things I could have added. But I think that I won't give them now, but I'll give them in the notes in the transcript, the things I might have added. []
# AH: Well I definitely appreciate the input of everybody here. I [zoom mumble] /
[AB thought that AH wanted AB to give his input now.]
# AB: OK, I'll say very briefly.


--- More on Real and Ideal [zel12]

[Ed. Continues from above. ]

# AB: One was [about] the real and the ideal.
# I am very much aware of the East African Revival in the early mid-20th-century. Uganda, Rwanda, and so on. And also the Welsh revival in 1904. I've mentioned these before, where it did actually change people's / Because people's hearts were changed by the Holy Spirit it made a great difference and overcame things like versions of the Tragedy of the Commons and other things. And so on. []
# And those revivals were real, not just / they were a breaking-through of the ideal, if you like [AB: of how God intended Creation to work]. []
# The fact that we have actually done a lot better: that's partly / We have done a lot better for individuals, like health and so on. But (someone was mentioning the social) / But also of course our personal ecological footprint has increased ini the affluent countries (it's 3 [Earths] in Europe and 5 in the USA, as AH said). The effect of what we do have been amplified by both technology and economics. []
# And now also social media. So, even though things have got better for individuals, there is a real problem. And my /
# The thing I am working on in our Rethink is the importance of the human heart. We need a change of heart and we cannot do it without. A bit like Trainer's "We need a change of culture."

[AB: The most important thing that AB was also going to point out, but for some reason did not, that it is when God works in many human hearts together, as in those revivals, that the ideal can become real. (Defining the ideal as the way God intended Creation to work, which human sin has prevented, but God changes that in Christ and the Holy Spirit.) ] [] ***

# So that's the notes that I was going to add.

# AB: So, is there anything else that anyone is 'bursting' to add to that discussion, or shall we move on? Because I can add to the notes [during transcribing], but you cannot.


--- Which Topics To Carry Forward? [zel13]

# AH: Well, I just wanted to ask about what topics among those are we going to carry forward, and will be addressed in future meetings, probably? [] ***
# Maybe that's too much? Maybe you are just in the state of recording what we have talked about, and that will be thought about in the coming weeks? I don't know. []

[AB: No, we are in the phase of focusing.]

# AB: Do you have a list, AH, of the alternatives? Maybe your screen does that? # AH: Do you mean alternative economies? # AB: No, you said "What topics among those will be carry forward?" So what are the "among those"? - the ideal and real, there's cars, there's various things. Would you like to send a list through of those "among those"? # AH: Sure, I can make a proposal, yes. Of course, that will require discussion. []

# ACTION AH: To send list of 'topics among those'. [] ***
# AH: I will enjoy that because it's near and dear to my heart. # AB: Thank you.


----- Discossion 2. Progress of Rethink [zel14]

# AB: Thank you everyone. Now, we have been working for 8 months on rethinking the Rethink. [Ed. Since 15th RLDG Discussion, on the Rethink Overview, on 2 March 2022.] []
# Starting in March last year, where we discussed the names of different types of economics, yknow, like Embedded Economics, Moral Economics, Responsible Economics, and there were problems with all those names. And [we then discussed each main topic in turn]. []
# (Let me just put the timer on for me, so the bell rings after half an hour.) # What we are doing now, what is coming out now, is a culmination of that work. It is still coming out. But it's ready, I think, to start to bleed out. []
# I sent round a thing [Ed, AB sent round a list of the headings for sections of Version 2, with summary of each section would say, on 30th October 2022. ], but first, I want to ask two questions.

# AB: One is I wanted to get your views of what / Can anyone remember it? I'll try to find it. [AB takes some time to try to find them!]
# CM: Is this your Points-221104 document that you are looking for? # AB: I think it probably is. # CM: Because I have that open. # AB: There was two questions I was thinking of asking. Oh there it is. One was after AH's discussion.


--- Question 1: What would you say are the strong points of our work so far? (5 mins) [zel15]

# AB: And what are the weaknesses? # AB: But lets us get a few ideas from you all, on what are the strong points of the work so far. []

# JC: I have seen the evolution and the increased, I would say, focus, from debate, just learning, analysing a speech, the Reith Lectures, to really trying to understand a shared language, cultural forming, to provide practical solution. # I think we are all still figuring out what it is. But I think we at least have a shared vernacular. We have appropriate rhetoric to understand wherever that solution comes from, that we wish to pursue. We are all in the right mode to pursue that. We are still just kinda sensing and feeling that out. I think that is a big positive, frankly. [] ***
# It is not just esoteric in debate for any one person on this call, for anyone that is part of this group to be right or wrong or prove. We are trying to figure out what we could do with what we are pursuing. So that's been a big positive, I think. I do what to make that a known statement. []

# AB: Thank you very much. Anyone else?

# CM: I think what has impressed me, AB, is two main things. []
# CM: [1] One is the breadth of the scope of the discussiion and investigation. [] ***
# But that you have, you collectively ("y'all" as you say in the US!), you have avoided simply generalising. Yknow, sometimes people speak in / they make a keynote speech about something. And in a way, Carney was a little bit like that: it was very broad, and he introduced a lot of key themes like values, as well as value, and so on, but a lot of it was in generalities. But this group has worked on being, avoiding reductionism, being nonetheless being structured. [] ***

# [2] And the other aspect of that is that the structure, by using Dooyeweerd, who is a very interesting framework, that I was unfamiliar with until now to be quite honest (I am not coming from a generally Reformed background; I am pretty unreformed! [Laughter]; well, I am Anglican basically, Evangelical Anglican, so a kind of bit or Reformation, a bit Catholic, or whatever, but I'm also Baptist - anyway!). That framework (I suppose the word I am looking for is "ontology") is the nature of being, of being human, individually and in society, and Dooyeweerd, the aspects, really provides a great framework for that. [] *** # And actually, that is something that I have never really found anywhere else, in all of the wide-ranging Heterodox Economics, that I sortof grazed over the past few years. I'm not a specialist, but, yknow, Green Economics, Doughnut, all the rest of it, never quite get down to nature of who people really are. [] ***
# And what therefore is the essence of how to create those good relationships, those / that coordination of action, and so on, that is necessary within a finite ecosystem and planet that we have been given. []
# But that we nonetheless have an authority within that. That is where I differentiate myself as a Christian Green and amateur economist, I differentiate myself from the Pagan Greens, for want of a better word. Because they tend to say that we don't have authority, we just have responsibility. [] ***

[AB: If we presuppose a transcendent Divine, then authority and responsibility imply each other. ] []

# CM: So, anyway, that's the two things: [1] ontology and nature of humanity, yknow Christian framing, and the through Dooyeweerd's aspects, and then [2] the breadth of the discussion. []

# AB: Thank you. Any /

# AB: DW, I know you are new to this, but as a new person, you might have some overviews and immediate impressions.
# DW: Yes, thanks for mentioning this, AB. I was just going to say that unfortunately I have come to this rather late, because I would love to have been involved earlier.
# But I have certainly appreciated the discussions we have had; there have been some good discussions, people coming at it from a lot of different places. I think it's very helpful discussion. That's one big thing. [] ***
# And, like CM, you just mentioned, I am really / I mean I was just introduced to Dooyeweerd when I was an undegraduate, so I have been always very interested in him. And I would say that's another very positive part of what we ???. I think it is very helpful actually. []

# AB: OK. AH, do you have any comments on that?
# AH: Well, as I have said via email to you, AB, I am eminently unqualified as an economist. I only took an Economics 101 course in undergraduate years, and there are so many aspects or I should say facets of economics that I have no exposure to. So I don't really feel qualified to comment in that regard. []

[AB: What I find valuable about AH's comments is that he sees economics from the perspective of actual practical ecological action, in which "eco" shared a root with "economics", and, therefore, sees the overall shape of economics' responsibility for environmental crisis, instead of detailed mecahanisms. That can give structure to debates that expresses the way economics is in the real world, on which others can hang detail - as is happening in this discussion, for example with Tragedy of the Commons - so that our discussion is not just a mess of detail. That was in the back of my mind as I asked AH the following. ] []

# AB: But do you have any comments with regard to ecological ald environmental - from that point of view? Do you think that what we are doing is useful environmentally, for example? []
# AH. Well this kindof bleeds over into some of my concerns about the Group ...[Ed. Continues next section]


--- Question 2. Weaknesses of our Discussions and Rethink [zel16]

-- How Original is Our Rethink? [zel17]

# AH: ... concerns about the Group, where I would say I am unsure that we have done anything unique or innovative or adding to the existing literature [Ed. presumably re. AB's asking him about "environmentally"]. []
# And I don't know everybody's background, except that I have the impression that CM has some specialised training even though he calls himself an amateur. He speaks in terms of some of the terminology of economics. So I would much more value his opinion on that. []
# But I / Yknow this relates to a larger concern I have with the WdW, the Dooyeweerdian philosophy of mutually interconnected but also distinct aspects. And I think that can be interpreted in many ways. I experienced this when I was writing my book on Christian perspectives in statistics, where one can interpret those features of Dooyeweerdianism to suite their own preferences and their own background. [Ed. Christian and Humanist Foundations for Statistical Inference, Hartley, 2006]. So, in some ways, I have doubt about the originality of my work in the WdW ... []

# AH: ... and I would say the same about what we have done [here].

[AB: Interesting: a weakness being that how people interpret Dooyeweerd from their own background and preferences. That is always going to be the case - so therefore we ought to admit and discuss it in the Rethink. To do: Possibly in the Conclusion chapter, discuss how our interpretation of Dooyeweerd is influenced by our preferences, background and maybe even desires, and others might not agree. Done, 230125. ]

# Yknow, a lot of people are talking about the need to address more than economics when one talks about economics. So, that's my main concern. [] ***

[AB: That added into Embeddedness chapter, 25 January 2023]

# AH: (Sorry about dropping the gun and talking about concerns rather than just the contributions.)
[Ed. See a counter to that below.]

# AB: That's very helpful - the weaknesses and so on.

[AB: Very helpful. Too seldom do we highlight concerns. It is indeed true for example that there are very many who talk about the need to go beyond economics, or economics to recognise its embeddedness among other spheres. However, one contribution we might make, I think, is that we have the conceptual framework to bring them all together, and we also discuss more deeply and explicitly things like the need to separate out Good from Harm. Added to Rethink, 230125. ] []

# Is there anyone with some ideas of the weaknesses of what we have done?


-- Need to Distinguish Between Economists and Users of Economics [zel18]

# DW: Talking about the weaknesses. Just to say that I may not be as familiar with all of the discussions that we have had. So perhaps bear that in mind in, what I'm saying, is in that context. []

# Dw: But I suppose that one thought that comes to mind is that I think it would be helpful to distinguish a bit more, in what we have written, between / It would be helpful to distinguish, in our thinking, a little bit more, between what economics says as a science and the way that economics is talked about in what you might call educated discussions in the media and other places. [] ***

# And, for instance, one thing that particularly comes to mind is that, in your outline, you talk about human functioning should be the ultimate goal of economics. But I think, to some extent, that idea is already recognised by the economics profession. And when you take courses in economics, the idea is not to reduce / the ultimate goal is seen in economics, not to produce more and more goods / [] ***
# (I mean, that might have been true at the time that Adam Smith or David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus; I mean, they saw it a little bit more in those terms - although, that said, I don't want to be critical of them because they had a much better idea of what economics was about than the people who preceded them, generally.) /

[AB: To do in Rewriting Rethink: Ensure that we present the economists' view as well as that of e.g. politicians and pundits. And discuss to define utility. ] []

[NO joined] # AB: Hi Neal.
# chat: 00:54:20 NO: Sorry I messed up time

# SW: But ??? today, our understanding of economics is / the ultimate goal is what we call utility. [] ***
# Now I know that is a notion that is perhaps under-defined, and a lot more work could maybe go into defining what [utility] is, and the linkages between the different ?communities out there. []
# But it is still; I think it is still ?? recognition that, at the end of the day, producing more goods (or goods and services, even) is not the ultimate goal of economics. The ultimate goal of economics is what is called utility. []


--- Public Goods and Utility [zel19]

# DW: And that can mean private utility, and also the utility we get from public goods. I think that's pretty well understood. The whole idea of public goods, the concept of public goods, was really developed by Paul Samuelson. And the idea that there are some public goods out there, for instance national parks, where, if I consume part of it, if I consume that public good generally I am not preventing you from consuming it at the same time. It is something that we can participate in. Even defence and policing are sortof public goods in many ways, because ... []

[AB: Interesting examples. "defence and policing are public goods in many ways" indicates not so much their ontic status as public goods, but that they have an economy aspect, which enables us to see them validly as goods, resources, even while their main meaningfulness is as something else, e.g. from the juridical aspect. ] []

# ... because I get benefit from it does not prevent you from getting benefit from it at the same time. []

[AB: In xnr2, in which aspect is simultaneous benefit? Or is the idea of zero sum merely an artifact of money-misguided thinking in economics? Done. ]

# So, I guess that my general point is: I understand what people are saying. I understand that in educated discussions we talk about economic growth as though GDP is the only thing that matters, and that more and more GDP is the most important thing in the world. And that is misleading to some extent - although, that said, it is a proxy for the fact that, generally, if GDP is going up, that does enable us as a society to do much more than we would have been able to do otherwise. But it does have negative effects as well. # AB: I have actually put that into the new version [of the Rethink] []

[AB: Add that into GDP: "a proxy for the fact that, generally, if GDP is going up, that does enable us as a society to do much more than we would have been able to do otherwise. But it does have negative effects as well." Done. ]

# DW: I will just pull it together and say, I think that it would be helpful to distinguish more between what economics says as a profession, which is kindof more insightful than a lot of educated discussion about economics in the media, and things like that. I think those are two different worlds. []
# And some things are talked about, particularly economic growth, in educated discussion, which are only really proxies for what is that economists would argue is the truth, is fact. []
# AB: Thank you. Do you have / # AB: It sounds like that is an issue has been written about already. Someone somewhere has probably written books on, yknow, how all these media and politicians and so on, do not really understand what we [economists] are really about. Do you know of any? Because it would be good to quote them. # DW: I cannot think of anything any right off the top of my head. []
# DW: I would like to go and look at that.
# I picked up that book the other day by Mark Carney, called Value; is that based on the Reith Lectures? # AB: Yeah it is. # DW: I would like to go back to look at that book again. I found that quite interesting, actually. Maybe he discusses that kind of thing in there. But I cannot think of anything else off the top of my head. But I will go and look at that book and see if I can find out more.
# ACTION DW: To revisit Carney's Value(s) book and see if he can find any discussion about the difference in viewpoint and assumption about the role of economics among media / politicians and economists. []

[AB: For Chapter 4, on the mandate of economics. State and discuss more clearly the difference in view between economists and politicians / pundits about the meaning and role / mandate of economics. Note: It is a matter of pistic functioning: belief about its meaningfulness. ]



--- More Strengths and Weaknesses [zel20]

# AB: NO, welcome.
# NO: Just wanna apologise for / [for lateness]. # AB: Apology accepted. We have 10 minutes left, and I have still got to do my presentation. But it's important to get your views (because you can read my presentation any time).
# AB: But, very briefly, NO, the questions have been: What are the strong points in what we have done, and what are the weak points in what we have done? Are you in a position to enumerate some of those? Or actually would you like to put some in an email to me? []
# NO: I'll do both.

# NO: Just briefly, I like the rewrite and the reorganistaion. I think that it is going to facilitate the readability and the communication of some of the points. So I even re-read a little bit on what you wrote on 4.2 etc. and I think that flows a lot better. []
# The issue that / so I think those are positives.
# And I think the idea of trying to broaden out this topic of economics, which DW was just referring to, is actually again a very strong point.

# And sometimes, even though it is being said, when other voices say it, then that is affirming to the conversation. So I think that is fine as well. [See above on originality.] [] ***

# NO: A couple of the weaker points, or the point I am little concerned about, are the topics of labour and value, and the idea of usage. There was a section in the earlier outline that I saw, which was 5-8 and 6-2, the two functions of labour etc. My concern is that it is making a too narrow focus on what's involved in the grand economic activity, because it involves capital, it involves labour and it involves exchange, which is something that is the biggest area of problem in my opinion. [] ***
# Anyways, those are a couple of my brief concerns.

[AB: To do: Ensure that we redo the labour and use part. Need to ask NO what exactly the problem is. ]

# Also I'm not a fan of Trickle Down economics. Haven't read the articles yet. But I don't think it's / again, not having a definition to understand where they are coming from, I am not sure that it is not a valid economic stimulus or approach. []

[Ed. Not quite clear from the recording whether NO said "is" or "isn't" a valid economic approach. The difference rather changes the meaning! ]

# AB: Thank you very much. That is very helpful. It gives us some things / What I'll do is I'm going to use what you said, and a few other things, similar, strong and weak points, to kindof give a tone to the thing. Especially in the Introduction and Conclusion and so on. And bear it in mind. Because it is so easy for me to write, even when I'm trying to be wide, and overlook things. So thank you [all] very much. [AB: Most of all above has been put in 25 January 2023.] []


----- Towards Version 2 Rethink of Economics [zel21]

# AB: What I want to do now is, I'd like to present / I'm going to bring up a screen. [Ed. AB shared screen. Also humorous interjection from AH.] I did send this through in pdf.
# This is my presentation and I think it takes less than 10 minutes [Ed. Actually 16 minutes!].

# AB: What I found was that, what we did before was sometimes not very well argued. I think it was an assemblage of fresh ideas and some old ideas, or a new slants on new ideas from a Dooyeweerdian or / sorry, new slants on existing ideas from a Dooyeweerdian or Christian perspective. And there were various other problems with it. Various of you had brought up things that they thought ought to be included or discussed. And also other things have come in [AB: e.g. from the news or literature], and so on. I have been working since March on trying to think how to rethink it. So, to rethink the Rethink. []
# And I've got a number of chapters.
[Ed. getting the size right so people could see it on screen]
[Ed. The screen showed chapters and their contents bulleted.]


--- Structure of Version 2: Overview of Intended Chapters [zel22]

# AH: It's clear for me. Maybe you could zoom out just a little bit, AB.

-- Introductory Chapters, 1-3 [zel23]

# AB: So, Chapter 1, Introduction. And there is various things of the Introduction; I won't go into that. But I end up actually mentioning Dooyeweerdian philosophy and Christian perspective can make a contribution. I mean, the Introduction is usually the last thing to write. []

[AB: The previous version had been criticised for taking an academic approach of first developing the problem before revealing the solution; we need to set out our contribution, and 'solution' right from the start.]

# Chapter 2 is an Overview of Recent Thinkers and Ideas, and is more-or-less the same as section 2 of the current one, although it will need to be rewritten, shortened, tidied up, etc. []

# Chapter 3 is the Conceptual Framework. Which is both Dooyeweerd and a Christian perspective. [In current version] And those were after the discussion [of what we want to aim for in economics]; now I'm bringing them here. []
# So, little 'n' in left hand side [against each item] means this is new, or something different. []
# I brought them here so we can use them in our discussion, rather than present a discussion and then try to use them. So, Dooyeweerd's philosophy from section 4 [in current version], Christian values from section 7, and the repentance, salvation and hope in Christ from section 7, and the proper role of Christian perspective. []

# But one of the things that I think is going to be slightly new is that Christian values are probably going to come into the discussion as insight alongside others whereas the Christian message, of "We ought to do this" normative message and the message of [repentance, salvation and] hope, I'm not sure where it will come in, but ii's normative but both of those are going to be made explicit throughout. []
# Often the way I've chosen to do it is to say "Brackets: Those from a Christian perspective will see bla-bla-bla. Close brackets." So it does not / it is very explicit, but it does not require someone to actually hold a Christian faith to benefit from this [but open-minded people from other faiths and secular people could at least understand the relevance of a Christian perspective]. Just as it does not require someone to hold a Christian faith to benefit from magnetism as a force. Because, I don't know if you know, but magnetism as a force was thought up by Michael Faraday, because of his Christian faith. But that's another story. []

[Ed. For Faraday, see Russell CA. (Ed. O. Gingerich). 2000. Michael Faraday: Physics and Faith (Oxford Portraits in Science Series). Oxford University Press, ]

# [???? zoom mumble]
# AB: So, let's go to the topics. Five topics.


-- Chapter 4, What Is Economics All About? [zel24]

# [Chapter 4] Instead of "Embeddedness" [as in current version, section 3.1], "What is Economics All About?"
# Now, one thing I've done / One of the problems in the old one was that it was not very well / The topics were not very well geared to [or grounded in] Dooyeweerd explicitly. And these five topics are more geared more to Dooyeweerd's philosophy, and Christian ideas. [] ***
# So, the idea that Creation is Good, Humanity has a role, and economics is part of the Creation is based on our Christian perspective. And the idea of the human 'heart' as very important. []
# Dooyeweerd is: This Topic 1, "What is Economics All About?" is about the coherence of meaning in Creation. i.e. ?? if you like, economics should be embedded, and it's about the economic aspect. []
# In the old one there is a mention of Overall Good, but I don't think it is ever really properly defined or discussed. So there is a new subsection on Overall Good. I think CA particularly wanted [or suggested] that.
# The next one is Mandate for Economics: What should economics try to achieve. That is new, and it is discussed. And one of you gave comments that I think will feed into this, thank you very much. []
# Embeddedness or embraciveness (we discussed the term) was already there in section 3.1, and Dooyeweerd's version of it in section 5.1, that's there but rewritten. []
# Attitude was there before, but I think it is now better argued. []
# Economic Growth is a new topic. It was mentioned by /

# [Timer bell rang.]
# AB: That's the end of my half hour, folks. [Ed. But it seems much less than half an hour on the recording!] Shall I continue? # AH: Yes. # AB: I think I will.
# But anyone who needs to leave may do so, and apologies that we have overrun a little bit.
# chat: 01:10:52 AH: no apologies needed. however, i should depart now. thx for good discussion, everybody

# Economic Growth: Both CM and NO suggested that it ought to be explicitly discussed because it is being discussed by many others, like Kate Raworth and Bob Goudzwaard, and so on. And so we should not just mention it all the way through [AB: which is what I had done in the previous version] but we should actually discuss it. So there is a section on that. [AB: This is in Chapter 4 because some presuppose the aim of economics to be economic growth. With most recent thinkers, we severely criticise this, but we do not just reject economic growth altogether. Instead, we reveal the modicum of valid insight in the idea.] []
# There is a section on Reductionism. That might go earlier, but that is ?? from the old one. []
# Then RG distinguished between economics as an aspect, as a sphere of human society, as a science, and so on. And I think that does need to go in. I am not sure what to say there yet. []
# But there is "What is Economics All About?" [AB: later retitled probably as the "Meaningfulness, Mandate and Mindset of Economics".]


-- Chapter 5, Value [zel25]

# Next Topic [Chapter 5] is on Value. Now, there was a section of value and values before, but it is based explicitly on [the idea that] Creation is Good. Therefore has value. And, from Dooyeweerd, Creation is diverse, this Goodness is diverse, Value is diverse. []
# The problem of course is the narrow view of value, and we will draw on Carney for that, but with a little bit more. []
# [Section on] What is Value? Mazzucato and Carney both try and discuss what is value, different ideas of what is value, and so I have put that in. And then review the historical ideas, and then say, "To us, value is linked to aspects."
# "The value of unpaid activity" I have made into a new section. There was some discussion of it before, but I think it is one of our USPs (unique selling points, if you like), that we know how to deal / we have an idea how to deal with unpaid activity, and bring that into economics, and it is one of our strong points. []
# And then there are several sections on Assessing Value, which were there before, and qualitative and quantitative. I have put qualitative before quantitative this time, rather than the other way round, and I'm going to show examples with diagrams on how to do that. And it's better argued. []
# And then there is that / one thing that came up was the difference between / CM made this distinction between labour value and use value, between production value and use value. And CA and others talked about specialisms in the economy, as though specialisms are assumed. And there is the idea of primitive economies, and all these kind of things. []
# And, because the Bible does not actually make specialism normative, non-specialism is still valid, and I think we have to deal with that. And I am suggesting that we can affirm specialisms and the difference between labour and use value, but understand what they are in terms of aspects and their contribution to Overall Good. []
# By the way, everything revolves around the idea of Overall Good. I keep on mentioning that. "Contribution to Overall Good" - that's the mandate of economics. But, the mandate for economics: every aspect, every sphere, contributes to Overall Good in its own way, and economics, its contribution is via resource and frugality. (There is is some discussion of whether it is efficiency, but not here, not today.) []
# Then there is section on GDP, which was mentioned, alluded to, and now it is discussed as a separate topic, and one on Externalities, which is just been moved from another thing. []


-- Chapter 6, Economic Activity as Human Functioning [zel26]

# AB: Topic 3, Chapter 6, is Economic Activity As Human Functioning.
# That is new. The idea of bringing in explicitly about human functioning. This is [partly] because, for Dooyeweerd, multi-aspectual functioning and time are important topics. So, philosophically, we have had Createdness, we have the diversity of Creation and meaning, and now we've got functioning in that. []
# So, now, the idea of economic activity is now defined, maybe not very well, but as opposed to just mentioned [as it was before] [].
# Then labour and use as functions: what is going on in labouring and using. []
# And unpaid activity: see what is going on, seeing it as functioning. []
# Attitudes: what's going on with attitudes? It is functioning, it's not just a property that we have. []
# And then a new ideas of poverty, which were there before, but inequalities has been mentioned. And that's a major issue, so we need to say something about it. []
# So, that's Human Functioning. And there may be things coming in there as I write it.


-- Chapter 7, Good, Harmful, Useless Economic Activity [zel27]

# Chapter 7, the Good, Harmful and Useless [economic activity]. That has been a strong point in our Rethink almost from the start. But it's a bit clearer. []
# From the Christian point of view, there is the idea of Good and Sin. And one of you said, "Well, Christian Greens have got a different view from Pagan Greens." []
# And I think we allow the idea of sin. And I find the idea of sin is unpopular in the field of economics. It is there implicitly. For example, Kate Raworth: We must not go above the ecological ceiling, it is a sin, if you like, to go above the ecological ceiling. I don't use the word "sin" very much, I use the word "harm" and "harmful" and there is also idolatry [AB: and also the word "dysfunction" for actual functioning likely to cause harm, which is a repercussion]. [].
# And in Dooyeweerd, parallel to that, is the idea of the normativity of the aspects, which gives us a way of tackling good and harm, and [the harm of] absolutizing the aspects. []

[AB: Raworth's ecological ceiling is a harmful repercussion of our sinful functioning; we clarify the difference between dysfunction and harm. ]

# The problem is that Harmful and Useless are conflated with Good, especially in GDP. []
# Differentiating Harm from Good is discussed, more or less as it is in the old one. []
# Understanding the Useless, often in terms of absolutizing an aspect, and so on, using a lot of what is already there. []
# And a new section is Enriching GDP using those ideas. []


-- Chapter 8. Entities [zel28]

# AB: And then, finally, the final topic [Chapter 8, on entities].
# This is based on Dooyeweerd's philosophy. There was a criticism by somebody that we did not talk about Dooyeweerd's theory of entities, and I think that is worth doing. And so I thought, Yes OK we need to talk about entities. And there is subject entities and object entities. []
# Stakeholders is something we have not really talked about yet, and I think possibly / I don't know whether we have discussed that or not, but maybe we need to. []
# Levels and their integration, things like macroeconomics, microeconomics, the individual, the household, the company, the nation and humanity as a whole. If you like, are maybe seen as entities that are subjects, and therefore bear responsibility. []

# Objects. Well, money is an object, and we need to understand what money is, from this point of view. []
# And that leads us into being able to tackle various issues. And Trickle Down is one that was mentioned before, Thrift Paradox is another. Somebody last night, one of our members who does not usually come, suggested we tackle debt, And there may be others. []
# But they are almost "Here is how we would tackle these things, to bring fresh insight into them, and help overcome ..." For example, Trickle Down is "either for or against; is it Good or is it Bad?" That is a whether question, and we are asking a why question. And what question and how question and get underneath the for-and-against. []

# AB: So, there is a summary of what I think the new Rethink is about.


--- The Way Ahead to Version 2 [zel29]

# AB: So I would like your comments. It is a bit much to take in, but if you can / I'll come back to the proposed /
# Ah, While on the proposed way ahead, I may as well just mention this. I'm thinking that, if you are happy, I continue to write this stuff up, like I have written chapters 4 and 5 in draft form, then everyone criticises, not just discusses, but actually says "This is wrong1 This needs a new slant." Like someone said, we are conflating what economists say, with what the media says. Things like that. Then I incorporate these. []
# So, what I would like to hear from you, if I can somehow get back to zoom, and stop screen sharing. OK, if you want the screen back up again, I can bring it back up. But what I would value now is your / some initial comments of that entire waterfall of information.


--- Comments [zel30]

# DW: That's really great, AB. I really like the way you focus on USPs, unique selling points. I think that is very helpful. []

[Ed. Had a discussion of USPs on 6th April 2022, --- Ways in Which Our Rethink is Unique

# DW: Just a few quick comments.
# One is on "What is Economics": I wonder if you mentioned (I was not part of these discussions) the original definition of Lionel Robbins, going back to the 1920s or 30s: "Economics is the relationship between ends and limited ???meaningful- alternative??? uses." [Ed. ] [] ***

[AB: Could not make out those words, so looked up Robbins' actual definition: "the science which studies human behaviour as a reltionship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses" Robbins, 1935, p. 16. I found others, and critiques of Robbins, etc. and entering those into the What is Economics chapter. ]

# Actually, at the end of the day, that is very similar to what Dooyeweerd says. I find what Dooyeweerd says a little bit misleading, but if you read all the different places you talk about economics, it very clearly means the same thing at the end of the day. I think it would be worth mentioning the Lionel Robbins definition. [] ***

[AB: Dooyeweerd, NC, II, 66 "Another example of the analogical modal use of a scientific term is supplied by the word 'economy'. Its foundational (non-analogical) scientific meaning is the sparing or frugal mode of administering scarce goods, implying an alternative choice of their destination with regard to the satisfaction of different human needs. The adjectives 'sparing' and 'frugal' do not have the limited sense of the economical term 'saving' (said of money for instance). They are only the correlatives of 'scarce' and refer to our awareness that an excessive or wasteful satisfaction of a particular need at the expense of other more urgent needs is uneconomical1." It seems that Dooyeweerd accepted Robbins' view without question, despite its flaws. To do: So, in the Rethink, we must question and broaden Dooyeweerd's view, while respecting it. Being done.] []

# AB: OK. Thank you very much.


--- Monopolies [zel31]

# DW: And the second thing is (again I was not part of these discussions) but when we are talking about economic harms and perhaps we are even talking about sin, I wonder whether it would be helpful to talk about monopoly in there, because monopoly is a form of harm in economics. []
# And, interestingly, a lot of the people / if you look at the people around the globe, well today, a lot of the most richest people today, a lot of them got rich through owning monopolies. Not necessarily through innovation or anything helpful to the world like that. []
# Monopoly is I think a real problem in the modern world and would be what would fit into a ??conflict/complex/?? economic activity. []

# JC: DW, that is a really good point. Peter Peel talks about our last few decades of growth has been just through globalization, which has typically done through monopolies, which are able to expand even through marketing investment or trnasportation and logistics investment; it's done through monopolies. []
# And where the absence of innovation, and real innovation index is hurting our overall economic growth. []
# That's a really good point.

# NO: /
# DW: I've got a very good book. I'll send it to you, AB. Quite a recent book, which talks about this. Monopolies are actually very harmful to innovation in many ways. Because they don't want the markets that they control to be disrupted in any way by innovators. I think you can see that in a lot of fields. []
# ACTION DW: To send [details of, link to?] the book on monopolies to AB, for circulation the the group. []

[AB: To do: Discuss innovation in r6-fun and monopolies in r7-ghu, and examine the roots of each, why good/bad, what makes each possible. and e.g. what kinds of dysfunction encourage monopolies, including econ, pistic, eth, jur, ling-mkting, etc. ]

# NO: I absolutely agree with that. And you could include oligarchy alongside monopoly. Because that is just simply a cabal doing the same thing. []

# Just as a point of reference for innovation, I don't know it you are familiar with the work of Clayton Christenson, the recently deceased Harvard professor who wrote about Disrupting and Innovation. And his point was that that occurs at the edge of utilization =of technology, which is why we want to promote the smaller businesses, and the people who are solving those problems. And the larger conglomerates tend to buy up those patents and restrict the future developments. So I absolutely agree with DW on that point. []

# CM: I would third that (it's already been seconded, yeah, if not fourth! [laughter]). So I think we are all in agreement. []
# The question is not just monopoly or oligopoly or oligarchies and cartels and that as a phenomenon. But it's how you then address that in terms of thinking about, not necessarily / well, the realistic better economics, that we are talking about / We are not talking about ideals (I'm going to try and drop that word) but [how we address monopoly in] the better economics. []
# One of you referenced Mazzucato. Of course, her solution to the lack of innovation due to the monopoly tendency of capitalism is the intervention of the State, So that's one model. []
# The other model I think is where Peter Peel and some of those other guys are, because they are the disrupters, they want maximum liberal economies, with minimum State intervention. []

[AB: Interesting: both left and right dislike monopolies and have solutions. We need to understand monopoly more deeply. ]

# But Mazzucato's argument is of course based on the fact that, even in the US, you have this big influence of State research, producing spin-offs or things that can be acquired by commercial ventures to take them forward, in a venture capital way. []
# So, there is clearly different solutions to that, even though they are recognising the problem as an existing issue. []
# Because efficiency / Innovation is a way of achieving improving efficiency, which gives more positive functioning based on the same quantity of resources, essentially; that's the same basic principle. []

# NO: I think that is a great point. It is interesting, but it seems to be a bit of a balancing act. Because the advantage of a large corporation in a capitalist environment, is that it can invest very deeply in R&D while the garage innovator cannot. # CM: The skunk-works innovator, if you know that phrase. # NO: So that there is a balance here that. []

# AB: What was that phrase, CM, "skunk works"? # CM: I forget, was it General Electric? One of the big American corporations / # JC: Boeing. # CM: had this site where they came up with crazy new products, and they were given an huge budget, which was only small in relation to a multi-billion corporation. But still they came with all kinds of weird and wonderful products, some of which were just bizarre and ridiculous, but every so often one of them was really good. And that then got into the mainstream. # JC: ??? # CM: And that then became solution to that problem. # AB: What was that, JC, what was the name? # JC: Boeing, I'm pretty sure. # CM: Oh yeah, I knew it was somebody I had done business with; I couldn't remember which one. []


--- Green Ecovillage Utopianism [zel32]

# CM: But there was another point I was going to make. I suppose, the whole framing of that, both the Mazzucato State-led development solution and the big-corp solution but with the skunk works, or the liberal free-market, the libertarian disruptor, new innovator, the old-companies-die [solution], all those models, are all in a sense large scale capitalist models to one degree or another. Even Mazzucato's model is a State-led capitalist model. []

# I just contrast that partly because he had to leave. AH's piece. I have not really done more than just skim from this guy Trainer, Ted Trainer: That is an absolutely opposite model, isn't it. He is talking about localism, villages, things that are very different scale. And it's not a technocratic solution at all. []
# NO: Exactly, exactly. It's a nice writeup of all the things that I wish I could see. And all of the bad things about capitalism, without mentioning any of the benefits, from a guy sitting there, very comfortably living off the capitalist ??firms??clothes??, kicking grandmother to the kerb, and blah, blah, blah. []

[AB: That is exactly the differentiation, the opposition, I encountered in the Green Movement when I entered it in the 1980s. ]

# CM: And if I could add another point, AB, in relation to that. This sort of green ecovillage utopianism - and I'm not entirely negative about that /# NO: Yeah, yeah. # CM: because I'm much in favour of localism and other things, and the whole issue of global trade and so on is very much open to questioning and critique. [] # But on the other hand. / I don't know if you, AB, were involved with the Green Christian conference in the UK, the in-person one in particular, I pressed the question to two of the speakers in two of the sessions, "What do we do about the millions, not to say billions, of people who live in cities?" They cannot go back and live in villages. That was the way they were in China before they were dragged out of poverty by economic development. Now, maybe the West, we've gone / we've overshot, that's our big problem, the three-times Earth, the five-times Earth problem. But a lot of people in the middle developed world have come out of poverty, but they have done that by tremendous urbanisation. Which has created its own problems. [] ***
# You cannot just dismantle that, unless you have massive population death, basically. Yknow literally, termination. []
# AB: And did you get an answer? # CM: Not really, no. One of them, the guy was not there to answer, the guy called Paul Kingsnorth, who was the first keynote speaker. Talking about "Raging against the Machine" with a capital-M. []
# CM: That was one viewpoint, I can respect that, but I don't think it is actually a realist's view, it's a utopian view. [] [Ed. Compare with Real v. Ideal. ]

[AB: Here are three things I might have said had I contributed to the discussion. One of the problems is that we have a distorted, monetized view of how we define poverty, which ignored the real value and joy of unpaid activity, especially in rural life. So CM's "But on the other hand" might not be as stark as he is presenting here. I see some element of that underlying the green ecovillage utopiian idea. Bhutan's Gross Happiness Index might perhaps try to bring such valuable aspects in, because much of its population is rural. ] []

[AB: Some people who live in cities seem to have a village mindset, but they do not get into the news or the media. For example, the district of Freemantle in Southampton, UK, has a village feel. People just get on with the business of living their lives. ] []

[AB: A Jewish perspective might see the original rural-with-local-cities as the ideal, and the Cain-built city as an evil to be avoided. Cainian cities would seem to focus on competition for reputation and for publicity, domination, with false sociality that leaves people still lonely. A Christian perspective would refer to the city of the New Jerusalem, with its ever-open doors, as God's ultimate plan. This is being discussed, but one inference from this is that cityness is not in itself an evil, but something inherent in the way Creation is able to work, but that the purpose for which peoples build cities and what people expect of them (pistic functioning) is the differentiating factor. Cain built city to try to overcome God's blessing on him of being a wanderer; the New Jerusalem is a centre of godly justice and rule. This requires thinking out, especially in our Rethink in a section on Urbanisation. ] []

[AB: To do: Have a section in Rethink on Urbanisation and Village in which we include the three above, taking both 'sides' into account. Any good rethink of economics needs to understand all aspects of this, and wherein lie is evil and harm on one hand and its Creation potential for Good on the other. And then to apply that to the current situation in which urbanisation is both harmful and dominant, understandably stimulating Kingsnorth's 'rage against the machine' etc. ] []


# chat: 01:28:39 JC: my apologies, Lockheed Martin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skunk_Works
# CM: (Oh, it's Lockheed [not Boeing? See earlier]). That's right. It's the people I didn't do business with.

# chat: 01:29:09 JC: And I also have to leave. Thank you for all of your comments, insight to everyone and to your wonderful facilitation and leadership, AB.
# chat: 01:29:19 JC: God bless all of you. Pray you have peace this weekend.


  • ----- Communicating our Rethink [zel33]
  • # CM: Can I just change the subject slightly, AB?

    --- Purpose of our Rethink [zel34]

    # CM: A much bigger, more general question: What is the purpose of the output of all of this discussion, and your splendid writing? So, we have talked about the way things are communicated, but who are they going to be communicated to? What are the intended / The USPs are the USPs towards what customer, as it were? [] ***
    # AB: Very good point. I was hoping no-one would ask that! But / [laughter]
    # That question has been asked before, several times, notably by JC and NO, and also by me. And I have been trying to think. And it's a question that we need to really find an answer to. []
    # What I had in mind, initially, was: I think we need several versions of this. "What is the purpose of the output of this discusison?" I think / []
    # I suppose I see it as a bit like a Mark Carney book on value(s), or Mazzucato book on the value of things, or even Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. It is a new Adam Smith Wealth of Nations (Yknow, our heads are getting bigger and bigger, right!) Obviously, it is not going to be quite like that, but it sortof trying to set things out. That's what I'm trying to focus on at the moment. [] ***


    --- Who Could Use This Material? [zel35]

    # But then, things come out of it.

    # So, really it is a multiple answer. []

    # CM: That's fine. And I can see therefore that what you are going to have is a sortof a basic body of material whixh will then be redacted, condensed, summarised or adapted in Various ways, and where the actual presentation of those / that thinking will be modified for different audiences. The form of it will be different. Both its length and potentially its depth, yeah - though the essence of it should always be there, of course. # AB: Thank you very much for expressing it that way. That is very helpful. [] ***


    --- Getting Rethink into Public Arena [zel36]

    # CM: I would love to get it into media. []
    # Because I am increasingly mad at the media in the UK, the way they are trivialising the whole question, and failing to challenge a lot of the facile assumptions and oversimplifications and downright untruths that get repeated by politicians of all colours almost. (Apart from maybe Green ones? - anyway, but I am biased!). []

    [AB: As a Green activist myself, I would even include Green thinkers and politicians! In my view, we 'greenies' often fail to take accound of the realities of the economic aspect of reality, about which 'conventional' economics might offer valuable insights. ] []

    # AB: I very much would like to do that. And I don't know how to do it. Do you have any /
    # CM: The media people themselves, the economics correspondents - there's four or five of them in the BBC, covering different aspects of the Economy. And the chief one / []
    # AB: Do you have any links? # CM: I have a few media links, but not very good ones these days. But I can try and pick something up.
    # AB: It would be great; let us work on that. I think that is an action. If you are willing to put some thoughts together / I have actually sent things off to various people, but we have had no response. []
    # I want to get to Mark Carney and say "Look, this is what you have generated" kind of thing. # CM: Yes, why not? []

    [AB: At the time I sent a few things off, giving a link to our Rethink, I now wish I had not done so, because that first version was not very good. ]


    --- Going to Bishops [zel37]

    # CM: And equally, at least in the UK, we have this funny position. We could get a bishop or two on side. I mean, it sounds weird, but because they are official public figures / # NO: Exactly! # CM: Bishop for the environment, there is the Bishop of Norwich, in England, who is the lead bishop among the 42 of the bishops or whatever we have, half of whom sit in the House of Lords. Yknow, he is the lead bishop for the environment. I mean, if he can be persuaded to stand up and say something, and give a little press thing about it. []
    # And then, one of us, you or me or whoever, AB, who are sortof standing behind and can actually help the journalist then to produce some more in-depth piece,l rather than just a sound-bite from a bishop. ??That could?? keep me deeply involved. []
    # AB: CM, if you are willing to actually / Everyone's busy, but if you are willing to help on this that would be great, because I think it comes across better if X promotes the work of Y rather than Y promoting their own work. []
    # CM: Well, I am very involved with the Church of England Environment Programme, at a local level. But I know the local dioscesan person, who is responsible, very well. We meet quite often, actually, in an informal group. And then also I personally know the national officer for the Church of England; this is a lay person, a woman who is the officer for the ??environment??. The Church is trying to become carbon-neutral and all those sort of things. So, there is an angle there. [] ***

    [AB: To do: Sounds we need to have a version of the Rethink applied specifically to environmental issues. Maybe have that as a worked example in Version 2, as a penultimate chapter? Being done: AB sketched out a chapter 230124. ] [] ***

    # AB: So, could I put down an action for you, CM, to think about some of this and actually make some proposals, in a week or two?
    # CM: Two might be feasible, yeah. # AB: OK. It can be a month if you like. But I know that if it is more than a month, it tends to get swamped by all sorts of other things. # CM: Give me a deadline of the end of November, and I'll try to beat it by a week.
    # ACTION CM: To think about going to media, etc. by end of november. []


    --- Possible Journals and Publication Vehicles [zel38]

    # AB: NO?
    # NO: So I think that what CM is saying is spot-on. I will also put together a list of journals and publications, some electronic, some not, that might be interested in this material. # AB: Great! # NO: So I will / []
    # NO: Because, again on a Christian side, there are some vehicles - again they may be more conservative-oriented. But they will probably be inteested in hearing these viewpoints. []
    # So I will kindof start building a list on that. []
    # ACTION NO: To compile a list of possible publication vehicles. [AB: Done; and most seem relevant.]

    # NO: The other point I would make is that as far as engaging with the media goes, yknow that ??tender??conset/concept?? is that you ??mean?? you can send stuff to editors amd journalists. And they get tons of stuff, and you know they are just going to blow it off. But when you get somebody from business, finance, economics, the church, who will / [about] who can say "We have sent this article to X Y Z, and he has responded," now the press says "Oh well, now we should print something about that." So, kind of indirectly influence. [] ***

    [AB: Important tactic/ strategy: To get experts etc. in various fields to respond, and then that response itself can be a press story. ] []

    [AB: I had conversation with CA later 9 November 2022, which will contribute to this discussion. She made the point that when we write for parliament or e.g. The Conversation, we cannot write all the technical details of economics; we have to make it accessible. Yet be economically literate. Mark Carney is a good example of accessible writing yet economically literate. She suggested that we compile a list of areas where there is greed. ] []

    # ACTION AB,CA: Compile list of areas where there is greed. []

    # CM: [began something] DW, go ahead.
    # DW: There do seem to be more journals out there that might be interested in, maybe not the whole of what we are doing, but if we could just slice some bits out of it and make it into an article - something like that. [] ***
    # I came across something recently, I think it's called / I'll send this round in an email afterwards / I think it's called the Journal of Economics,Theology and Religion. # NO: / # DW: They has some interesting stuff there by a guy who is talking about Abraham Kuyper, who I assume that people are familiar with. And this guy was writing an article about Abraham Kuyper and his views on economics. It is sortof like an online journal; it might be quite open to some of what / the ways we are kindof thinking, if we could maybe put something together that was appropriate. []
    # ACTION DW: Send round the article or its details, and also other journals in which we might publish. []

    # CM: Isn't that the Dutch people, isn't that the same origin? I think that is the Kuyperian people, yeah. # DW?: [Ed. From this point it was difficult to distingush who was speaking, so I have omitted speaker-attributions to end of paragraph.] Do you mean the Journal of Economics and Theology? Yeah. I don't know, I only just saw it recently. At least, the author you are referring to, the paper you are referring to, I think, is a Dutch guy. I think I may have read that paper myself; I did not remember the journal name. Yeah. He's the guy who is a philosopher in the Free University in Amsterdam. He is a philosopher by training, he's written a number of interesting / a lot of very interesting stuff, actually. He has done a lot of interesting ???. But one of the journals he got it published in was this new online journal. Or at least it looked probably new to me. []

    [Ed. Hengstmengel, J. 2021. The amateur economist: Abraham Kuyper and economics. Journal of Economics, Theology and Religion, 1(2), 137-58.




    --- Engaging With Various Christian Perspectives [zel39]

    # NO: I have access to a lot of the Catholic
    network, which have a variety of thinkers, that there are journals like DW's talking about. []

    [Ed. J-ETR above seems to publish Catholic as well as Reformational views. ]

    # CM: That also would be very interesting, because there is a distinct overlap / I know it's weird because it's Reformed and Catholic [Ed. Traditionally sworn enemies!]. And the guys in the middle are the ones who are the problem. They just assume, yknow, that liberal free-market economics is kinda natural. The Reformed people say "No, we are going to take a different view of this, a more fundamental view, and the Catholics equally come with the idea of Catholic social teaching and the Papal encyclicals over the last century or more now. And there is an interesting marriage of minds (is that the right expression?) between people whose theology, even their soteriology, might well be quite different in some things. I mean, we all believe in Christ and His eternally valuable universal sacrifice and so on. But how that gets implemented in practice, obviously there are theological and church practice differences of quite significance. But, actually, in terms of social teaching, I think there is a lot more unity there, in some ways. []
    # I have just been / I'm not done with it yet: There is an interesting book about Catholic social teaching come out in the UK by a professor, who really reviews the whole history of the Papal encyclicals. It's called, Towards a Politics of Communion. I forget the name of the author. Heywood or something like that. She is a professor at the University of Leeds, in the UK. []

    # CM: But I was just going to second NO's point about engaging with engaging with the conservative churches. I mean, I am saying Anglican, because Anglican of course is a broad church in the UK. And the environmental people generally are not so much from the conservative wing, although quite a lot of evangelicals are very into the environment as well. []
    # The "free evangangelical" churches in UK, although they are relatively small numbers-wise, is also I think omportant to address. Because a number of them have people who speak from a conservative theological position into public issues. And they tend generally to take the human individual, free will, sin, redemption model (which of course is the classic Reformed model) but tend not to / they do not do with it what has been done in this discussion. Let's put it that way. They don't take it to be / []
    # AB: That is where I come from, ysee. # CM: Yes, I thought it was, actually AB. I hope I have not trodden on your toes. # AB: No, not at all, because I / It's one of my heart burdens, is that it is the, if you like, conservative Evangelicals and the Pentecostals and the Charismatics need to be brought on board. And, so I have been working on a theology, for quite / for several decades. But I am not very good at getting out and / []

    [AB: The theology is evangelical in stance, and yet has all this at its centre, not periphery, as the very Heart and Plan of God. See A New View in Theology and Practice. ] []



    ----- Ending [zel40]

    # AB: Folks, it is / Wow / We have gone an hour and three quarters I think, which is than I was anticipating - though I know these things go on a bit.
    # Thank you for your contributions. They have been extremely valuable. And I think / I'm just wondering whether there is anything else that we want to say. Anything else that anyone is burning to say?
    # NO: Well, I just want to thank you AB again for all the writing which I cannot possibly do (wish I could; wasn't where ??was trained??). I would be very interested to see how this flows with the new sections and the rearrangement and everything. # AB: Thank you very much. []
    # NO: I think the comments [cough] by everybody here so far today have been helpful from my point of view. []
    # AB: Thanks. I feel honoured to be among you all. Because what we've got, we've got people from left and right leaning. And my deep vision is that we transcend that. I think we do so for, so thank you very much. []
    # CM: I'd like to think that I'm upward-leaning rather than left-leaning. # AB: Yeah, that's fine. # CM: A bit of virtue signalling there, OK! [laughter] []
    # I second NO's comment about our thanks to you for all the effort and the admin of this and the just producing the words. Because I find that painful. []
    # AB: I find it difficult to write, but I feel that God has called me to do this. And God enables me, even though I can only work on it about three hours a day. I suppose I am always thinking about it, and so on. I think something's going to come out of it. []

    # DW: And I would just 'third' that as well. Thank you very much AB. For pulling this all together, and all the writing that you do.
    # By the way, I was actually just looking at the Dooyeweerd Pages. I think, AB, that you put a lot of that together. # AB: Yeah, I did. # DW: I just want to say how helpful that was. I was just looking at the stuff about analogies and anticipations and retrocipations in Dooyeweerd and / very helpful indeed; thanks. # AB: OK, good, thank you. []
    # AB: I mean, that's something that needs rewriting and rethinking and so on. It began in 1997 or something, the Dooyeweerd Pages. But it's a resource. []

    # CM: Closed in prayer, with thanks and committal to God.

    # AB: Shall we have another discussion in a month's time. # various: Yes. []
    # AB: Goodbye.
    [AB copied and pasted the chats into a file.]