- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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Today I read two articles about “Home Ownership”. Although, not surprised, but, nonetheless, as a father dreaming of home ownership for my sons and others in their generation, I was greatly troubled by what I was reading. It begs the question:
What kind of world are we living in? What about the dream of young people, to own their own homes, the same way that the current older generation were able to?
This is why I want to share these two different stories of home ownership with you. It is an affront to humanity the way the young people are paying the price for the destruction of the global economy by the older generation. What happened to justice? What happened to the common good?
First, home ownership: A view from the Young People, the 99%
Locked out of the property market
“My generation have always suspected we wouldn't be able to buy a home of our own, but now we're realising we might not be able to rent one either…for most people I know, owning a house will no doubt remain a fantasy. It's something that's become clear over the past few years – that those of us who live in cities, whose jobs are not secure, who are flitting from call centre to job centre and back again throughout our 20s and 30s, whose parents don't have property portfolios, those of us who are single, or still trying to do art or music or something they dreamed of, are unlikely to be able to afford the deposit for a flat. Which would be fine – especially fine when the bath fills with soupy, rust-coloured water, or the smell from the downstairs chicken shop actually stops you in your tracks when you walk through the door even though they promise their filter system meets legal standards – if only renting wasn't significantly more expensive (on average 16%) than buying…
…in fact, it makes me feel like I'm going a bit mad. And it highlights the ever-lurking threat of homelessness – that slow slide over a year from being made redundant, to being priced out of your shared flat, to carrying your rucksack between friends' futons, and then, after a clipped conversation in their little blue kitchen, sitting on a bench at dawn with nowhere to go.”-- Eva Wiseman, London
And Now, home ownership: A view from the 1%
Shacking up in The Shard: The London flats with a sea view... but only on a VERY clear day, and it'll cost you up to £50m
“Situated near the top of a new 1,020ft skyscraper, they are the perfect apartments for high-fliers. Ten properties at The Shard in Central London are expected to fetch between £30 million and £50 million each, and will be the first to offer their owners a view of the sea from the capital – on a clear day, at least. As the most elevated homes in Western Europe, occupants will be able to spot ships in the North Sea 44 miles away, or the grandstand at Ascot racecourse in Berkshire. Even when it is raining, the flats in the £1.5 billion glass spire – which is six times the height of Nelson’s Column – will often poke through the clouds…
…The Shard’s 62,000 sq ft apartments, which have floor-to-ceiling windows to enhance the stunning views, are on floors 53 to 65 of the 72-storey building. Even the lowest flat will have a higher altitude than any residential space ever built in London, while the penthouse will be at 735ft. The exterior of the tower will be completed by July and it is expected to open next year…‘The developers could get whatever they want for them. People are falling over themselves to buy trophy homes like this in London. The capital is benefiting from trouble elsewhere.”…
Locked out of the property market
Shacking up in The Shard: The London flats with a sea view... but only on a VERY clear day and it'll cost you up to £50m
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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“On a stormy Tuesday I am welcomed to my new parish – and realise I have been looking for love in the wrong place”
Reading this article, I feel a great deal of sympathy and empathy with Rev. Giles Fraser. It reminds me of my own plight all those years ago, questioning the foundations of modern economics and the teachings at business schools. Like him, I was ridiculed and ostracised. Like him, I did not know who my friends or foes were anymore. Like him, I, too, remember, how most of my so-called friends and colleagues displayed "too many unconvincing smiles in the street who suddenly wouldn't break step to say hello". But, most joyously, similar to Rev. Fraser, I, too, have had moments of being "Surprised by Joy".
Today, I am most grateful for my new friends and colleagues. Today, I thank God for his blessings for what I do now. Today, I give thanks for seeing the light all those years ago. My only regret is that my so-called colleagues and friends, did not see what I, and some other economists, were seeing and saying. If they had, then maybe, the departments of economics, business schools and most of the economists, would not have been the subject of constant ridicule and the butt of so many jokes, as they are today, and perhaps they would not have been disowned by their students (see below). And perhaps we may have returned the "dismal" science to its former beauty and wisdom. Only if!
Goodbye, St Paul's. Hello, St Mary's
Students of economics revolting against their professor at Harvard
“There is a growing student protest movement against orthodox economics that could change the field as we know it.” On 2nd November 2011 at Harvard University, students of Prof. N. Gregory Mankiw walked out of his class.
“Mankiw is the former head of the Council of Economic Advisers for President George W. Bush and an advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He is also the author of "Principles of Economics," the predominant textbook used in introductory economics classes worldwide. Not surprisingly, he has an extremely traditional, market-oriented view of the discipline.
The students who walked out of Mankiw's class explained their reasoning in an open letter printed in the Harvard Political Review. It began with this declaration: "Today, we are walking out of your class, Economics 10, in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course. We are deeply concerned about the way that this bias affects students, the University, and our greater society.
They went on to explain that instead of presenting a broad introduction to economics, Mankiw's teaching was narrowly focused, did not offer alternative approaches to orthodox economic models and ultimately was complicit in perpetuating systemic global inequality…
These students are frustrated by a field that they believe could provide so much to society but instead is mired in outmoded thinking. Today's economics is dominated by ideas, like the efficient market hypothesis, making such sweeping generalizations that they render human beings practically unrecognizable”…
Not their father’s economics: Students seeking real-world answers are questioning long-held tenets
Economists--you say you want a revolution?
For a more comprehensive reading see:
Economics and Economists Engulfed By Crises: What Do We Tell the Students?
Small is Beautiful: The Wisdom of E.F. Schumacher
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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UN Resolution 65/309. Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development
I am very happy to note that on Monday 2nd April 2012, the United Nations implemented Resolution 65/309, which had been adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in July 2011, placing “happiness” on the global agenda.
The Resolution notes that:
“Bearing in mind the purposes and principles of the United Nations, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, which include the promotion of the economic advancement and social progress of all peoples,
Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal,
Cognizant that happiness as a universal goal and aspiration embodies the spirit of the Millennium Development Goals,
Recognizing that the gross domestic product indicator by nature was not designed to and does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people in a country,
Conscious that unsustainable patterns of production and consumption can impede sustainable development, and recognizing the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and well-being for all peoples,”…
Resolution 65/309 then empowered the Kingdom of Bhutan-who has adopted the “The Gross National Happiness” as opposed to “Gross National Product” to measure the success or failure of its economic policies- to convene a high-level meeting on happiness as part of 66th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
As mentioned above, I was very happy to note this. But you might ask why? The answer is that for the past number of years, I have been campaigning for the teaching of “Happiness, Well-being and Contentment” at our universities world-wide. With this in mind, it is worth recalling a passage from what I had written awhile back:
“Helping to produce happy and contended students, ready to face the real world when they graduate should be the highest priority of any committed academic and university. I have been saying this for the last many years and more , but only in the past couple of years have I begun to realise this isn't just an airy-fairy aspiration, but one can in fact learn happiness in classes…I believe that our education in universities is fundamentally ill-balanced. Of course exams matter greatly - they are the passport to an individual's future work and career. A university which fails to let every student achieve the best grades and results of which their students are capable of is failing to do its job properly. But education is far more than this. It is far more than grades and percentages here and there…As a university lecturer with many years of experience, I have seen far too many tortured and unhappy students who have achieved very high grades. If they can achieve these grades while leading balanced lives, taking part in a wide variety of activities which will develop different facets of their character, and if they blossom as happy and contented human beings, then all is well and good. But as any teacher will know, this isn't always the case with high achievers. Neither is it with high achievers in life. These driven people see their lives flash by in fast living and fast cars, and most fail to realise they are missing the point of life. Is it more important to be highly “successful”, or to be a respected colleague and a valued friend, and a loving parent whose children grow up in a secure environment in which they know they are valued and treasured? I have had to learn the hard way myself, the answers are obvious. Hence the need to teach happiness at schools and universities”…
A plea with all concerned citizens:
We should all seek to identify and bring forward the main Ancient concepts of happiness and their relation to morality, ethics, education, business, economics, politics, finance, management, media and environment, amongst others. The guiding theoretical principle of this undertaking is to clarify and characterize the essential constituents of the concept of happiness as these are reflected in the ancient writings and debates, and to consider their enduring validity within the context of the study of socio-economic well-being and happiness, both at individual and societal levels. At the same time—as politicians, governments and economists and others seek to identify the key components of happiness and how to measure it as an essential dimension of economic policies and planning behaviour— we should examine whether these ancient concepts may facilitate and provide workable platforms for developing a view, or views, on the nature of well-being and happiness that are viable today. We can go a long way towards achieving these goals, if we can begin to seriously consider teaching “Happiness, Well-being and Contentment” at our universities.
Resolution 65/309. Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development
Why Happiness Should be Taught at Our Universities?
The Common Good Happiness Project: A Spiritual Quest for the Good Life
WORLD HAPPINESS REPORT
Edited by John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs