- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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Voters in France and Greece delivered a harsh judgement on their ruling parties in elections on Sunday 6 May, ousting President Nicolas Sarkozy from power in France and severely punishing the two leading parties in Greece.
These electoral successes, backed by the collapse of the Dutch government, rejection of the coalition government’s austerity policies in the UK’s local elections, and continuing and deepening protests in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and mayhem elsewhere, notably, Greece, tilts the balance of the European debate sharply away from austerity; cruelty to the 99%.
President Hollande has a rare opportunity to reshape the political and the socio-economic landscape not only in France, but in Europe too. The right has failed economically as its austerity measures continue to keep much of Europe's economy bumping along the bottom. Hollande must win. We must wish him good luck.
A word of caution and hope:
I hope and pray that President Hollande will keep his words and promises. In Britain, very similar to what happened in France yesterday, we, the people, by a huge majority voted for change and hope, electing a Labour government in May 1997. After many dark and hopeless years of Thatcherism, the people voted for hope, honesty, integrity, equality and ethics. In short, the electorate voted for a new domestic and foreign policy, guided by high moral compass.
However, in return, Messrs Blair and Brown cheated us, destroying our hope and dreams. This is why I dream that monsieur Hollande will not become a Sarkozy with glasses, as Blair and Brown became Thatcher in trousers! Of course, many believe that the same is also true across the Atlantic when comparing Mr Obama to Mr. Bush.
French president François Hollande promises 'a new start' for Europe
Those Revolting Europeans
If President Hollande is serious about offering democratic Socialism as a true alternative to neo-liberalism and feral capitalism, then, he must remain true to his words.
The People Have Spoken: Europe is calling for an Alternative Economic Model-- A Reflection
The world today is facing a multitude of crises in politics, economics, finance, banking, energy, food, environment, education, and more, resulting in much uncertainty, fear and anxiety. There is no doubt we should see these crises, as well as others, such as terrorism, wars and xenophobia, as a wakeup call to action, to see things as they are. Moreover, the rapid and unsustainable rise in consumerism and materialism devoid of human and spiritual values, has seriously destroyed the fabric of society, and has catastrophically weakened the ethical, moral and spiritual dimensions of our communities. In short, the world is facing a crisis of values, ideas, and vision.
Complex world problems and intricate global issues require the coming together of multiple areas of expertise, experience, perspectives and insight. We must recognise that the civilisations of the world are entwined together in a global economic system which is incapable of functioning for the common good of humanity, other species, and this planet which is our home. Now is the time to begin a dialogue amongst civilisations, ideas, visions, disciplines and peoples on how to construct a new economic system and a new economics better designed to meet these ends.
It is clear that serious reflection is in order. To stand back and not question what has happened and why would be to compound failure with failure: failure of vision and failure of responsibility.
A sustainable and prosperous global economy needs to be grounded in the common good. Building a fair society and protecting the environment must accompany profit as goals for business. The failure of markets, institutions and morality during the current financial crisis has shown that the emergence of global capitalism brings with it a new set of risks which call for an ethical, moral and spiritual framework.
In the spirit of reflection and dialogue, seeking alternative possible solutions, perhaps the best is to begin by asking some of the “biggest” questions:
Which paths should be recommended to shift the current destructive global political-economic order from one of unrestrained economic growth, profit maximisation and cost minimisation, leading to ecological degradation, and social inequity to one that preserves and enhances social and ecological well-being, as well as human happiness, contentment, and well-being? Which ethical/spiritual sources should be considered in economic/business ethics and economic behaviour? How can we integrate these into economic theories and decisions? How can we deal with individual or institutionalized greed and self-absorption? What should be the role of universities in building an integrity-based model of business education? What are the requirements of a virtuous economy? How can we overcome poverty and scarcity with limited natural resources? What is the role of the next generation of business leaders? How should the training of young executives be directed? How should it supply insights into the nature of globalisation from diverse economic, technological, and spiritual perspectives? How should such education build support relationships among the participants that will lead to a deeper appreciation of the ethical aspects of business and finance; leading toward action for the common good within their chosen careers? In short, how can the intended outcome develop insight, commitment, and moral capacity in the participants to serve as leaders in the world community, working toward the global common good?
In all, we need to focus more sharply on the multifaceted insights and assets offered by the different perspectives and points of view. This is how we may implement a new agenda for a new economics, business and economic system which functions for the common good of humanity and the earth.
- 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