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Money matters

How could we change economics so that it better reflects the expectations of a modern pluralist society? The world, in the main, and in the absence of anything better relies on a capitalistic monetary system that is undisciplined, unregulated and intoxicated with greed.

Firstly, I believe a better understanding of why money matters might help. As I see it, we need to eliminate many of the reasons we worship it. Very simply put:

  • “Economics is the study of how people allocate scarce resources for production, distribution, and consumption, both individually and collectively.
  • Two major types of economics are microeconomics, which focuses on the behavior of individual consumers and producers, and macroeconomics, which examine overall economies on a regional, national, or international scale.
  • Economics is especially concerned with efficiency in production and exchange and uses models and assumptions to understand how to create incentives and policies that will maximize efficiency.
  • Economists formulate and publish numerous economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Capitalism, socialism, and communism are types of economic systems.”

It was never intended to be a measure of one’s success, or lack of it. It has never made one person better than another but it has suppressed the advancement of many.

There are those who make money but are never remembered. There are others who do great deeds and are.

At the root of all that is evil is greed. The want of it, the craving for it, the love of it and the power that comes with it.

Economics is not and was never intended to be a capitalist gift for those who happen to support a right-wing political ideology. Nor was it intended to be a means by which the wealthy become wealthier. Nor was it meant to be a means by which politicians could cement their power.

How is it possible for the inherited rich and privileged to understand poverty?

Economics should be a gift used to mould a humane and rounded society committed to kindness and compassion. A system by which the pursuit of success is encouraged while at the same time acknowledging that fairness and equality of opportunity is real in economic terms.

Imagine if you will an Australia where economics has a humane face to it. Where capitalism is controlled by common good regulations.

America may be the most advanced technological nation on earth but its social progress on matters of great moral importance is still fighting its way out of the dark ages when mysticism was rampart.

The root cause of all this ill-conceived thinking is a failure to understand what an economy is.

I believe that the Morrison government thinks that our economy collects taxes and other methods of obtaining money and redistributes it, using a top down methodology.

It is this government’s view that the economy is an entity unto itself – it seems to operate somehow in a separate cloud to the rest of us. Furthermore, it is independent of the world in which we live.

That is until events wrench us back to it. For example, according to this theory, the environment is somehow in conflict with the economy rather than an essential, vital essence of it.

This theory is wrong

The notion that a few privileged individuals can own the vast majority of a country’s wealth and the remainder own little is on any level unsustainable, politically, economically or morally.

Invariably when I read about how successful people are. the measure is always the value of their assets.

For those on the left it has been a depressing year; losing an election that was there for the taking. A disaster no one expected.

Those on the right rejoiced at their unexpected good fortune in the belief that it was the way things should be anyway.

Then along came some blistering fires, a few floods and a pandemic with a recession tagging along. I don’t make light of these matters because they are unlike anything for over a hundred years.

There are mixed views on how well our government has handled all these matters but for the purpose of this piece let’s put that aside and look at the future.

If COVID-19 has given us anything positive it is the opportunity to look at things differently, with fresh eyes and ideas.

With a new budget coming down in just a few weeks would it be too much to hope that our government might aim for a more equitable distribution of the country’s wealth.

I wish to revisit what I wrote almost a year ago:

“Indeed, would it be a little too much to expect – even hope – that this government might show a little more compassion, even love toward the elderly, those who cannot find work, or those who simply need more?

Could the government we elected – headed by a man of faith who confesses that God is love – find it is his heart to do something about the lack of it shown to the asylum seekers left on Manus and Nauru? Don’t leave the heavy work to God all the time.

Will those Ministers who share his faith with him, who also confess love as the central tenant of it, do more for the lost who walk our streets, those who hunger for food and love, or lodgings?

Will those who confess that they walk in the shoes of Jesus and those who don’t, reconsider their decisions involving, climate change, ethics, education, morality, law, medicine, population, infrastructure, water, what we can grow and many other complex issues in the knowledge that the changes they legislate will have a lasting effect on our children and their children?

My fervent hope is that love, kindness and compassion is considered in their deliberations. May your God bless you in this?

I would also hope – as I’m sure you would pray – for far less lying by all politicians given that truth is one of the commandments unto all. That its restoration be hastily elevated to its former standing.

And so, it goes for what we see on our televisions, the demonstrable hatred toward each other that you show in Question Time. Please eliminate it now, urgently.

What I ‘m trying to say here is that a true democracy cannot exist without a love for all the things that it exists for.

Love is a democratic outcome of all the thoughts that humble us. Debate in our place of democracy is not of necessity about winning or taking down one’s opponent. It is an exchange of facts, ideas and principles. Or in its purist form it is simply the art of persuasion

By this I mean that love shames us when we seek to act without principles, but love honours dignity and mutual respect for our opponents.

Love softens hearts that want outrage, violence, bossing, bullying and sometimes love cannot be spoken, only shown

There is such a widespread disillusionment with how politics is practiced in our country that people feel powerless. That their vote means very little and they are not participants in our democracy.

The absence of love from one to the other eventually insinuates its way into society and partakes in its decay.”

We are all in this together.

My thought for the day

“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages … It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom or our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” (Robert Kennedy, 1968).



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  1. Nic Fri

    I would like to add a definition of Money and the reason for it. Money serves as a medium of exchange, a unit of accounting, and a store of value. It has come about due to the “indivisibility of goods” eg: How many chickens is a cow worth? In USA, India? So money is a means to make those judgements. Further, money is an “accepted” value by the players in the market for goods AND for MONEY. And the latter is where it all falls apart due to greed. The pursuit of money for the sake of money, can make one successful in money measured terms (store of value to command more goods). BUT that does not make the lives of all people on Earth any better. Often the pursuit on money leaves out the pollution, social, and harm costs, right out of the equation. Money should be just a tool. The sooner we stop the trading in money the better. No more Tax Havens. No Futures Markets. Stop trading in money. The health and wellbeing of Society should be the aim.

  2. Keitha Granville

    Oh dear JL, would that they could hear you.

    I am not a follower of religion or faith but St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is a perennial favorite about the importance of LOVE in all things, and should be a mantra for any who profess to be Christian. Similarly the words of Desiderata give us all excellent tenets by which to live decently. A compulsory text for all should also be Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten ….

    Play fair
    Clean up your own mess
    Say sorry

    That’s what I want – decency, basic humanity. What happened to that?

  3. Yes Minister

    The idea is good in theory, unfortunately it does not adequately acknowledge the inherent corruption of homo sapiens. St Paul was 100% correct with ‘the LOVE of money (ie the avarice we see with almost every CEO, captain of industry, politician and lawyer ) is the root of all evil’

    In order to re-jig our attitude to money, we’d first need to ensure that bottom-feeding bloodsucking parasitic scum like Rupert Murdoch were not permitted to inflict their crap on anyone.

    There are no words in the english language sufficient to express my unbridled contempt for Murdoch and his ilk. His type were responsible for unleashing neo-liberalism on the world, a philosophy that needs to be recognized as satanically evil and its advocates / practitioners / followers exterminated with the absolutely maximum infliction of pain imaginable.

  4. Steve Davis

    John, I wrote an article years ago for Voice magazine that raised many of the points you raise here.

    But I also pointed out that your definition of economics, the sane and responsible definition, has been abandoned by the managerial class. Economics, reflecting their innate insecurity, is now the study of scarcity.

    I concluded the piece with this;

    “By redefining economics as the study of scarcity, it immediately becomes the study of the maximisation of economic security, a search for the unattainable, for an illusion, for a wild imaginary ideal more closely aligned to insanity than reality. That insanity is clearly seen in the foundation articles of liberalism; that competition will bring benefits to all and that free market democracy is so far above criticism that it must and will be imposed by force on those who resist it.
    Such thinking has obvious major flaws, but one perhaps a little less obvious is that we do not gain security by making the lives of others more dangerous or more difficult, quite the opposite. Yet that is what occurs when economics is the study of scarcity; for to put it in its crudest terms, economics then becomes the creed of “get what you can while you can” in other words, how to maximise your enemies.
    Now if we do not gain security by making the lives of others more dangerous and difficult then the corollary of that is that we can gain security by making the lives of others less dangerous and difficult, in short, by cooperation. A realistic and productive view of economics therefore, is that it should be the study of the maximisation of the benefits of cooperative behaviour and of the structures that facilitate such behaviour.”

    I hope that satisfies your opening question.

  5. Win Jeavons

    In 1992 I wrote for our local paper ” we need something I call SHOES , a Society for the Humanisation Of Economic Systems. ” T his was when privatisarion was beginning, and , being mathematically inclined , I saw then that privatising simply meamt adding a layer of extra cost – profit- while reducing accountability..
    So now we are waking up?
    The economy is a subset of the environment, it exists within it . If you damage the set, is it not inevitable that the subset will suffer?
    No matter what happens now, I cannot imagine that we will return to the days of sleepwalking we were doing pre covid. China and the US are now excellent models of what we should be running from, screaming!

  6. Kronomex

    As long as we have political parties, not that I was going to mention the LNP, who more than willing to sell their “souls” to the highest bidders then we will be stuck with the current corrupt systems of governance and economics that almost always favour the big end of town and 1%.

    That only changes when election time rolls around and then it’s time to appeal to the little people with words, promises, words, promises, and words, which will inevitably be shelved and/or forgotten if they are elected. Little people don’t make donations and if they do they are of little consequence when compared to the overflowing beneficence of the big wallet people.

  7. wam

    Good to get a giggle again after the cool pool(although the build up is early).
    Your first sentence and Kennedy’s words in the days of trump provided it,
    Loved your theme because in one sense, especially for those not in Australia;s pluralism, money doesn’t matter, im their economy of life. Notice the signs in fast food courts – basics cards accepted?
    As for democracy:
    a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
    The only part of our democracy that is not adversarial is the preference system where we have the responsibility to rank the candidates. The only part of our democracy that is not democratic is compulsory voting. Together our democracy is as close to majority rule as possible. When will we cut these ties to democracy???
    Notice you cunningly snuck truth in somewhere. There is an opportunity for reform in coming out of the crisis but unless labor gets aggressive none of their (our) values will be considered and whatever pops into the IPA ideologues or implanted in minds like joyce or kelly
    Or worse, for me but not you, chistiianity replacing secular government and influencing preselection.

  8. Alc

    The sole purpose of economic forecasting is to lend some credence to astrology.

  9. DrakeN

    “If COVID-19 has given us anything positive it is the opportunity to look at things differently, with fresh eyes and ideas.
    The opportunity was always there, – the will to change not so.

    Re the quote from JFK – one of the many reasons for his assassination.
    Likewise his brother Robert.
    Defying established wealth and priviledge and disputing their claims and methods is always a dangerous activity.

  10. Matters Not

    Yes the opportunity is always there for an individual (and perhaps even a collective other) to look at things differently but where is the structural mechanism(s) designed to materialize the result of those deliberations? Yes we can howl at the moon, wave banners, chant slogans, pen letters, disrupt traffic, smash windows and even self-immolate at the extreme but where, in a democratic society, are the means that facilitate the desired, legitimate aims and goals?

    Yes, I know – we can vote every three years or so (but usually that’s on a distraction). Until then … pop a few more Carisoprodol tablets so as to get through. It’s called a representative democracy. And it works for some..

  11. DrakeN

    “It’s called a representative democracy.”

    A misnomer by any other name would still be as malodorous… (sorry, Bill.)

  12. Matters Not

    Steve Davis as I understand it that while: Economics is a broad discipline that identifies historical trends, interpret today’s headlines, and make predictions about the coming years etc it’s fundamentally about the concept of scarcity broadly defined to include shortage, paucity, wants, needs, insufficiency, under-supply etc. and having identified what is scarce scholars then move on to study the efficient, effective, distribution of same. It’s a disciple concerned with the IS not the ought.

    Seems to me that, economists don’t make overt recommendations about how scarcity should be addressed by stressing the moral aspects of distribution because that’s not central to the discipline. No – that’s in the realm of politics – the exercise of power.

    While I might argue that it’s not possible to be above ought questions in the pursuit of distribution, surely there’s the study of political economy that caters for that. What I can’t understand is the argument that we should NOT study scarcity. And do so under the heading of ‘economics’. Isn’t it a bit like studying religion without mentioning ‘God’? ‘Farming’ without mentioning ‘growing’?

  13. andy56

    I think the whole system is based on assumptions that dont hold water.

    “Economics is especially concerned with efficiency in production and exchange and uses models and assumptions to understand how to create incentives and policies that will maximize efficiency.”

    It assumes a stable, never changing equilibrium. Competition drives down prices and technology accelerates competition. In effect what we have is a spiral down. Notice how salary increases have stalled? When the item you produce has zero unit cost but $25/hr human cost, efficiency will target the human cost.

    ““Economics is the study of how people allocate scarce resources for production, distribution, and consumption, both individually and collectively.”

    It assumes again. Scarce resources? People allocate? We have been consuming as if there is no end. People dont allocate. Profits allocate. If burning down the amazon is more profitable, thats what it will do. Causing climate change is profitable, why stop?

    And above all, economics is void of moral regulation. It assumes people dont make moral choices by default. It assumes we all behave the same and are greedy to the core. ASSUMPTION ASSUMPTIONS ASSUMPTIONS.

    I suggest we fall back to engineering principles and economics will look after itself. We want an outcome, we plan for it. Do it properly without making assumptions about human behaviour. Am i the only one who can see the problems? Or am i the only cult member here?

  14. Matters Not

    andy56 re:

    It assumes a stable, never changing equilibrium.

    Presumably the pronoun ‘it’ which you cite refers to the employment/application of economic concepts, economic modelling etc. And if that’s the case, then there’s no assumption of a stable, never changing equilibrium. Indeed it’s the complete opposite. If it involves economic modelling etc then it involves instability, and change almost by definition. In part, at least, it involves the measurement of change, movement, effects etc when particular variables are manipulated.

    There’s much more that might be challenged in what you say but that will do for now.

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