“Anybody who thinks we can have infinite growth on a finite planet is either a madman, or an economist” Kenneth Boulding (Quaker economist).
Steve Mandel is another Quaker economist. He returns to Othona to shed some light on issues many of us worry about but are aware we know little of.
The Global Footprint Network calculates that already the population of the world uses about 50% more resources than is sustainable. In Britain we use 3 times the resources that are our share. Yet almost all our politicians only talk of how to get the economy growing again (which inevitably means using more resources).
The emphasis is all on increasing efficiency (which in practice only means reducing cost) regardless of the impact on the quality of life of workers and consumers.
The language of our politicians is that of scarcity, not of abundance. Anything that might be called a spiritual value is considered irrelevant.
Gross inequality, which now approaches levels last seen in the nineteenth century, seems built into the way the system operates. The result is that poverty, even amongst those in work, is growing – even as the Gross Domestic Product, a measure used by many to assess growth, rises.
Economic theory as taught in universities does indeed assume that infinite growth is possible. But is there another way?
This workshop will examine how unsustainability is built into our economic theory and into the way we run our financial sector. We will explore whether this is inevitable. What changes would be needed to run our economy in a truly sustainable way? Could we have an economy in which spiritual values could take their place?
Steve is one of a group of Quakers who have developed a series of pamphlets, starting with 'Principles for a New Economy in which Quaker values can flourish'. We shall look at these and discuss the extent to which they offer any hope and how we might apply them.