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Toward a Truly Humanistic Economics

January 17, 2018

When I was a pale young graduate student I drifted by a peculiar path into the study of economics, or rather into the study of ways of thinking about economics and describing economic realities and relationships. I didn’t really study those phenomena, I simply studied how to study them, and in particular, how to think about them, leading into ideas about how to measure them.

This led me into many a merry adventure, the stories of which I may tell some day. Most recently, through an intensive immersion in the ideas of Stephen Leacock even as I watch carefully what is going on in the world around me, I have come to the conclusion that the field of economics needs thorough overhaul in its ways of thinking. This is not a new idea. Stephen Leacock had the same one back in the 1930’s.

I have come to believe that economics, properly conceived, is a field of the humanities, quite possibly the most important one. It’s as if the world today has become an extraordinarily complex work of art — verbal, literary, visual, sonorous — that needs to be examined and understood by methods appropriate to its nature. Economics are not rational, although they contain some rational elements, nor are they natural, although they contain elements that science can illuminate. They are human, and thus potentially within the embrace of the humanities.

This work of art is of course not an artifact in the usual sense, however. It is organic. Perhaps the best analogy is a garden. If we could imagine a garden, a work of art, that is at the same time partly wild and partly cultivated, that includes not only all the plants contained therein but all the creatures that live among them and the natural forces at work on them which are also built into the work of art — if we had a rigorous way to think about that work of art then we might have begun to find a way to think about economics. I put no limits on the potential of the human intellect. I think we can do it. But we have to think properly about the job, and not underestimate it, or pretend that by taking on only part of it — inevitably the easy part — and treating it as if it were the whole wonderful creation we can properly understand it.

Stephen Leacock never wrote a book called The Unsolved Riddle of Economics, although he certainly said much on the subject. He did write one called The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice. I think that economics are about the Unsolved Riddle of Individual and Social Justice, the Unsolved Riddle of how to pursue both at the same time and with the same energy, and the myriad sub-riddles all unsolved that constitute the whole.

I have a lot of reading to do, and as I do it I will talk about it here. Thank you for paying attention, and please stay tuned.

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Personal Thoughts for July 1 2017

I run two other blogs besides this one, identified as http://mariposabyconway.wordpress.com/ and https://playstephenleacock.wordpress.com/. The other two are associated with the Stephen Leacock Project, and will evolve as it does. This one is more personal.

I like the idea of celebrating the country, although I will do so today in my own way. When the rain lets up I will take a celebratory walk. The rest of the day I will enjoy my family in a quiet way and attempt to contribute to their enjoyment. That should be enough. Normally, or even obsessively, I avoid crowds. When they gather I will not be there. And as for fireworks, for me they add nothing to the beauties of the silent darkness.

I have been following the comments, both for and against, about our Sesquicentennial. I understand the negativity, although I do not share it. I think that, on balance, Canada’s story is remarkable and well worth celebrating. That there remains much work to be done, and that there are no guarantees about the future unless we work very hard for them and with somewhat more of the enabling virtues than we customarily display, does not for me detract at all. The story remains remarkable, and I will always tell it that way.

I view Canada as a political entity, in the best sense. Our politics are an expression of our community and I am proud of what they have accomplished over the years. Not uncritically proud, of course; that would be stupid. In a country as diverse and multi-point-of-viewed as this one politics are bound to be messy. Maybe that’s as they should be. A man I know likes to say that Nature likes a mess. Maybe Humanity likes a mess too, because mess leaves room for creativity. Too much order stifles the spirit. Canada is a spirited country, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

At some point in the colonial past we stopped being administered and became political, that is, began to generate important decisions out of our own conversations and processes instead of having them generated for us from head office or its appointees. It is difficult to pin-point a date. From the time when two people faced each other on the distant shore some kind of negotiation began, explicit or tacit, and that is always a political act regardless of the context. That process continued between local and authoritative voices throughout the colonial era. At some point, however, the balance of power shifted and the local voices became too strong to deny, regardless of the preferences of the formal authorities and their friends. I would put that point somewhere in the movement towards Responsible Government, and thus in the  1840’s. It became obvious in 1848, first in Nova Scotia, then in the Province of Canada.

What Responsible Government created, however, was not a country, or even the intention of a country. These colonies — Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Canada East (Lower Canada), Canada West (Upper Canada) — were separate entities, each with its own history and intentions, although the situation in the Province of Canada was more complex. If it was not a country it was, at least in some respects, beginning to behave like one, and had been since 1841.

I think the country of Canada was born, that is, popped out of the egg and started to breathe on its own on September 7, 1864, when those delegates from Maritime Provinces met in Charlottetown to discuss a union and were joined by delegates from Canada with a proposal for a wider one. If you think September 7th is premature, then try October 27th when the subsequent Québec Conference closed, having adopted the Seventy-Two Resolutions that became the British North America Act.

There sit the delegates, and f they are enjoying the contemplation of the fruits of their labour it would be hard to tell from their faces. And not a woman or an indigenous person or a black or brown face among them. I wonder what the Seventy-Two (or more) resolutions would have looked like if they had been there? Something quite different, no doubt. Better, no doubt, although that’s no reason to despise what we have. These men did the best they could with what they had, and that accomplishment is never to be despised.(Photo from Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number C-006350 and under the MIKAN ID number 3623086 through Wikepedia: Quebec Conference 1864.)

QuebecConvention1864.jpg

Therefore: Sorry, all you celebrating folks. The sesquicentennial birthday, if we must have one, was over three years ago. Say October 27, 2014. I, for one, missed it. But I won’t miss the 153rd this Fall. If all goes well, Leslie and I will be in Winnipeg that day. For the reason why, try http://www.voyageurstorytelling.ca

It took another 67 years to sever the umbilical cord completely by means of the Statute of Westminster, or rather, the negotiations that produced it, but that’s another whole raft of stories, all worth telling. (I know that hatchlings from eggs don’t have umbilical cords, of course. A mixed birthing metaphor is appropriate. Call it an umbilical chord: the tune and rhythm matter more than the words.)

And the work continues. The women and indigenous are now at the conference table for sure, along with the more recently arrived peoples from the four corners of the Earth. It’s high time. What Confederation looks like from now on will be something quite different, no doubt. Better, no doubt. Needing improvement, no doubt. That’s Canada. That’s what I celebrate today, and every day. All of it.

Back After the Break: Parties, Tweets, Polls and iPolitics

My last entry here, three months ago, asked: Whither this blog? It might appear, on the surface, to have whithered away entirely, which is only partly true. The blog has been silent, indeed, but I have not. My somewhat sparse political observations have been directed through the comments sections of some stories that caught my attention.

I read those again this morning, and will up-date and post them here when I have time. They talk about some of the issues I specified in my post of January 4th.

The past few days offered three stories that I think are worth passing comment, perhaps more.

The first concerns the Liberal Party’s continuing efforts to turn itself from a political party in the old style to a “movement” in a new one. See http://ipolitics.ca/2016/04/03/trudeau-promotes-wide-open-liberal-party-no-more-membership-privileges/ I take this as an initiative under the general heading of “doing politics differently”.

An anonymous comment suggests the story is “unbalanced”, because it contained no “critical comments” and made “snide remarks” about the Conservatives, who appear to be moving in a contrary direction for what appear to be good reasons. Under the general heading of “doing political journalism differently”, might we ask whether “balance” means that every story must contain both positive and negative comments? If our government, or a party, or politician, does something good, may we not say so? Must we always add a negative comment, in the interest of balance? If we do take that as a standard, then are we not perhaps encouraging a general political culture of carping negativity, and what is the large effect of that?

Obviously we don’t care for seemingly objective news media who simply become propagandists for the government or any side of the political debate. One could hardly accuse iPolitics of being that, especially given Michael Harris’s column yesterday, blasting current policy on some parts of the Plethora of Middle Eastern Questions. See http://ipolitics.ca/2016/04/03/dions-blunders-undermine-trudeaus-claims-that-canada-is-back-on-international-stage/

I think I would interpret the first target of Harris’s rage—Global Affairs Minister Stephane Dion’s tweet—somewhat differently. Presumably the minister was under some pressure from somewhere to make that kind of statement. Can any form of ministerial statement be more trivial than a tweet? If M. Dion had wanted his opinion to be taken seriously, he would have used a more serious mode of expression. A tweet is an insignificant verbal gesture. The medium is the message.

As for the rest of Harris’s column, I think it states one side of a couple of questions well enough, and is fair comment. I would suggest, however, that the Plethora of M.E.Q.’s constitutes one of the most complex and difficult of conundrums that our or any government has to face, both morally and practically, and that actions put in place by the previous government, wrong-headed though they may have been in some respects, cannot brusquely be set aside without consequences. Was it Bismarck who said, of some foreign policy issue, that only two people ever understood it: he himself, who had forgotten it, and a professor, who went mad thinking about it? Thinking about the Middle East these days could definitely become fodder for madness. These are the murkiest of waters, and when we try to see through them, or comment on policy, we should treat them accordingly.

My third issue concerns another recent iPolitics story, coming out of the EKOS polling firm. I am referring to http://ipolitics.ca/2016/04/03/trudeaus-nuclear-honeymoon-now-fading-ekos-et/. The story itself, by Elizabeth Thompson, seems fair enough, but the headline is terrible, because it reflects one of the two polls reported—concerning the “direction Trudeau is taking Canada”—and not the other—concerning how people would vote at present. And the whole “direction” question respondents were asked, with the method used (a “high definition interactive response poll of 2,019 respondents”) must make this one of the most useless polls ever taken. What kind of statistical nonsense is that?

Ms. Thompson assures us that the poll is “considered accurate within 2.2 percentage points (I love the specious precision!) 19 times out of twenty”! Well folks, I will put my statistical credentials up against hers any day, whatever hers may be, and I don’t consider this stupid poll accurate within the maximum possible number of percentage points even once, nor worthy of any comment except instant dismissal. And as for the regional comparisons, yikes!

Surely if we want to see politics “done differently” we should ask our polling companies to get on board, and stop obfuscating the conversation by glib and careless work. A little training for the iPolitics headline writers wouldn’t hurt either.

I think iPolitics does a good job within a few percentage points most of the time, and I appreciate their work. But the quest for “politics done differently” must include them, and all journalists. There, am I being balanced?

Thoughts on the Morning of Election Day: End of this phase of my blog: Excelsior!

Monday, October 19: Election Day

Well folks, here’s hoping: a minority parliament, with all parties prepared to try to make it work. I do not expect them to give up their differences of opinion. I expect them to negotiate in good faith, and not to exploit the situation for partisan advantage.

The business of the country must get done, and expeditiously. We have tried a series of short-term near-dictatorships, to that end. And now look at the mess we are in. Let’s try something different.

For too long we have allowed our legislators and governors, at all levels, to manipulate the political system for their own partisan advantage. Let them use it for our advantage, for a change. And if they cannot agree on where that advantage lies, then let them negotiate, issue by issue, in good faith, and with an understanding that they must come to an agreement (which is not the same thing as agreeing) with whatever urgency the situation requires.

In other words, a Parliament of Creative Negotiators, not a hung parliament.

Professor Pam Palmater of Ryerson University participated yesterday in a panel discussion on CBC Radio, and said a wise thing. She said that October 19th is not nearly as important as October 20th. That’s when the work begins.

On Election Day, I wish to repeat two ideas that appeared earlier in this blog:

First, that we will be governed by the mind-set of the people with the power, and not by any catalogue of details they may have spoken or published during the campaign. The latter are clues to the mind-set, but not definitive. By “mind-set” I mean something wider than “values”, although values are important.

Second, when systems are failing, the supervisors of the system have to take some responsibility for its failure. True, the participants are responsible too, in this instance, quite significant responsibility. But if our political system has been failing, then we have to take our share of the responsibility, and the media on which we rely for our information have to take theirs. And taking responsibility means doing the work to make that effective.

And that, for us, the people, means ceaseless agitation: writing to our MP’s, MPP’s-MLA’s-MNA’s, municipal counsellors, and our news media, telling them what we think and what we want them to do. It means being engaged, being involved, and being prepared to invest the time and effort necessary.

The recent election campaign has made me resolve to do that better than I have in the past. Tomorrow the work begins.

Anything I write to politicians and journalists will appear also on this blog.

All the best to all my readers, and many thanks for your interest.

From Four Make One: The Muddle Party Platform

Thursday, October 15th

One of my correspondents, a dear friend and colleague, referred the other day to the current election as “epic”. I will examine that proposition in a minute, but first I must report on my excursions into the Platforms (or rather the Platform documents) of the four parties running in this constituency: Conservative, Green, Liberal, and NDP.

First, a few technicalities. I am reading all of these in PDF form, on my desktop. I also have them in text form, for more detailed textual analysis, if required. If Marshall McLuhan is correct, that “the medium is the message”, then that is my medium. The following table gives a few statistics, to set the stage.

Untitled

The first thing I noticed is that none of them, even the Conservatives with their exceptionally talented typographers, has figured out that a PDF is a computer-screen document, and that computer screens are oriented landscape, not portrait. Tablets can be either, of course, but anybody reading one of these things on a tablet had better have good light, and good eyes. Wow! The bigger the screen, the better. The second thing is that they are all full of good stuff, and if you put them all together, with all their differences and contradictions, eliminated a few silly ideas put in there for the delectation of the various “bases”, and edited out the rotten prose and jargon, you would have a really good Muddle Party Platform.

In other words, we shouldn’t have to choose only one of these platforms, but rather have the best of them all together. And isn’t that what Parliament is supposed to be about? These documents cry out for an evenly balanced parliament of minorities, in which everything has to be negotiated. In the realm of political ideas, survival of the fittest sounds like a good principle to me. Who says that the best government for us will come from some kind of “winner”? I think that government by an unfettered “winner” is good primarily for the winner. If these Platforms are anything to go by, we lose a lot of really good stuff, under that system.

I like what happens when you put all four of the “first words” together, in a slightly different order:

VISION :: GROWTH :: BUILDING :: PROTECTION

Vision, for what guides us; Growth (of all kinds, not only economic), for what we want; Building, for how we achieve it; Protection, against threats to what we value. Of course, the whole thing is more complicated, but these are first words, not whole text. Put together, I think they make a good statement.

I think it highly likely that what we will get, when the tumult and the shouting die, is a government that actually provides some form of feasible muddle of all these ideas. The alternative to muddle is ideology, and we have had enough of that. Muddle is good. Muddle is stability. Muddle is democracy.

If the polls are anything like correct, it appears we may even get a beautifully muddled parliament. What a gift! Go for it, electors of the land!

But can an election producing such a result be “epic”, in any sense? The campaign, on the contrary, has been rather a squalid affair, for the most part, in its pandering to prejudice; simplistic messages; puerile rhetoric; obsession with the leaders none of whom, except for Elizabeth May, is a terribly interesting person — the other three sleek, cowering, timorous mouseketeers (in their ideas, not their personalities) are not epic figures by any stretch; schoolyard taunting; petty manipulation of appearances; etc.

And will the results be epic, if the same spirit pervades our 42nd Parliament? Alas, not likely. Political, social, and economic life will go on pretty much as before, with perhaps some new faces and a little adjustment at the margins, of almost no significance to the great issues that a gnawing away at our foundations: degradation of the places we live and need for life (a much larger phenomenon that just climate change, important as that is); the tribalization of society (predicted 50 years ago by Marshall McLuhan); the erosion of economic civilization by obsessive consumerism and financial speculation; degradation of the common wealth; etc. And these things will go on happening, not because our leaders and political systems are deficient, but because we, collectively, cannot summon up the sense and the will to tell them to shape up, reform their methods of discourse, and look after our true interests instead of their own.

Elizabeth May and the Greens, despite the turgid verbosity of their Platform, come the closest to understanding and advocating for the kind of radical changes we so desperately need. Does this mean people will vote for them? If we are lucky, they will in a few constituencies.

We are fortunate here in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. We have three candidates we can honestly vote FOR, which is more than I can say for their parties, taken individually. Our current (Conservative) MP is arguably an unworthy representative; our most vital imperative locally is to vote against him. I think the “strategic vote” (bad term—it’s not strategic at all, but tactical in a negative way) is going to go Liberal.

I have reached the point where I really don’t care who wins, as long as they win with a minority. Because then they will have to sit down and negotiate a government for us, instead of imposing one on us. And we can influence the negotiation, by speaking up while they jaw. But that process, however healthy, is not likely to address the huge issues. For example, I suppose we might dream of a better short-term climate change policy coming from it, but that benefit would be only marginal. Addressing climate change itself is an entirely different matter, so much beyond the control of the Government of Canada by itself, as to make its policy almost totally irrelevant. The problem of climate change lies much deeper, not in the way our governments act but in the way our people live, and the huge forces that win power and profit from encouraging them to go on living that way. That whole story is epic all right, if a tale of unmitigated gloom can be epic.

A story of the people actually fighting against those forces and electing governments who would take up arms against them, would be epic indeed, and I would like to see it. But I don’t see much hope that it will start soon, and it’s certainly not being fought for in this election, at any level.

Still, I am full of hope, for a muddled minority government doing the best that it can in an imperfect system, country and world, with much interesting conversation along the way.

Speaking of muddle, I am wondering about a phrase that caught my eye as I skimmed through the Conservative document, referring to Canada’s “fragile economy”. I thought these guys had been in office for nine years. Could we not expect them to have done something in that time to make our economy less fragile? Perhaps had they done that, their party could have made their first word something positive. I know something about economics, and I think the Conservatives’ ideas on that subject are not muddled, but belong in the silly bin.

Toward an Ideology of Balance. Or Is It Muddle?

Saturday, September 19th

It’s bad enough stereotyping others, but when we start stereotyping ourselves we are in real trouble. When our politicians, our representatives, the people who work for us, the people to whom we delegate the responsibility of our government, start stereotyping us, then we must not let them get away with it. We pay taxes, but we are not merely taxpayers. We consume, but we are not merely consumers. We have a complex identity, and we need politicians who want to govern us accordingly. But where can we find them, in any party?

I thought the whole campaign got a bit surreal this past week, with all the chatter about “the economy”, and the Prime Minister’s musings about “old stock Canadians”, and the rest. I wondered, first of all, why the Conservatives would want us to talk about “the economy” at all? They have been in power for ten years, and if people are “feeling vulnerable” about “the economy”, and for good reason, then how can they have the nerve to brag about their competence? They assure us that the problems lie in circumstances beyond our borders, that they did the best they could, better than anyone else could have done. Balderdash! If they can’t control the economy when bad things happen, how can they claim to be in charge when good things happen? Of course they would claim it, but on what grounds?

The reality, of course, is that the  Government of Canada does not “manage the economy” in any except the most marginal sense, and that its “leadership” in present circumstances is ambiguous to say the least: fiscal austerity combined with monetary stimulus. I don’t need to write about that, however, because Neil Macdonald of the CBC already has:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-economy-debate-central-bank-1.323292

I mention it only because some Conservative was trying to tell us that the issues in this election are “the economy” and “leadership”. If I were a Conservative strategist I would suggest that the less said about those issues, the better.

I don’t believe those are the issues at all. I think the issues are Social Justice, Public Investment, and Democratic Governance, the over-issue in all these fields being Balance. On these issues the Government of Canada can indeed, if it chooses, exercise much power.

I have always believed that when someone is accused of persistently doing a bad job, then their supervisors or bosses must, by definition, also be doing a bad job. And who is the supervisor, the boss, of the Government of Canada? It’s not the Official Opposition, and it’s not “the media”. It’s us. I think, therefore, that we are left to confront the possibility that our governments are, indeed, an accurate reflection of our collective selves, confusion and all, that in some real sense our democracy does work, that our governments, over-all, do what we want them to do, or at least what we will allow them to do.

“I must find out where my people want to go so that I can lead them there.” Some French president said that, I forget which one, if I ever knew. Since that over-simplification of the politician’s task is clearly impossible, such being the diversity of destinations articulated by us people and the cacophony of our articulations, then I think we have to craft another set of expectations for these servants of ours.

Personally, I like ideology, as a way out of this problem. I respect the fact that Mr. Harper, and the Conservatives, have an ideology, and are now prepared to be frank about it. Of course, he and they were not frank, not at all, before they came to power, but now, after ten years, we know what it is, and can say whether we like it, and want to continue with it.

I hope it is obvious that I do not like it. Fervently, may October 19th bring it to an end. I am an “old stock Canadian”, and I would like to find a political ideology that somehow combined, to the extent possible, the best features of the politicians of my youth and maturation: Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Leslie Frost, John Robarts, Peter Lougheed. I was out of Ontario for the Bill Davis years; I liked what I heard about him, as I did about Saskatchewan’s Tommy Douglas and Allan Blakeney, and Manitoba’s Ed Schreyer. Remember, I said the best features.

I suspect that makes me, deep down, a “progressive conservative”, in the technical, not the party sense, probably slightly more progressive than conservative, although both strands are important. I dream of Social Justice, but am comfortable with a society that evolves in that direction and does not attempt any Great Leap Forward.

I would enjoy hearing a party leader who cultivated an ideology of Balance, with a progressive tilt. I don’t think Mr. Harper is doing that, to say the least, although some Progressive Conservatives have in the past. The idea is not foreign to Canadian conservatism. I think Elizabeth May is doing it, or trying very hard, although a strong leader of a weak party is not really the person of the hour. I think Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Trudeau are groping for such an ideology, but not doing a particularly good job. I find them confusing. But these are confusing times, and confusing may be an honest response to the political task we have assigned them. Better a prime minister of good will, muddled though he may appear at times, than some kind of pocket Il Duce, of any persuasion.

In fact, muddled may be as good as it gets. Muddled may be what we truly want. Maybe “Balance” is too technical, too cold. Maybe “Muddled” is more human. Maybe Muddled Are Us. The Muddle Party! Who wants the honour?

Introducing and Probing Œkonorg

Wednesday, August 26th

I keep reminding myself that the purpose of this blog, for the time being, is not to answer every “unsolved riddle” that I can find (the phrase is Stephen Leacock’s) but simply to advise myself, and anybody else who wants to listen, on how to vote on October 19th. I am coming at the question from various directions, having defined my political goal as the pursuit of Social Justice (using the term in its wide, Leacockian sense), my tools as Reason and Imagination, and my determination to embrace the complexities as well as I can and to use what skill I may have to render them as intelligible as my purpose requires.

Much verbiage has been required to bring this discourse to the place attained so far, with more to come. Blogging is a form of thinking out loud and working things out as you go along. For me, it’s a good medium.

In my most recent post I was prepared to go along with the Campaign, as it has presented itself to my view so far, by reducing the List of Issues to three. If a decision falls out from that analysis, well and good. If not, then I will keep plugging away until it does. Come to think of it, calling them “Issues” is bad terminology, because it implies contention. I’ll call them “matters”, that is, things that matter:

The Unsolved Riddle of the Œkonomy

The Unsolved Riddle of Security

The Performance of Government

Today I intend to explore the political side of economics as the matter that I think it ought to be, and not what is being talked about, i.e. “The Economy”, whatever that is. And my principal difficulty with the economic discussion so far, is that I do not think that “The Economy” is anything more than a facile and self-serving fiction derived from superficial impressions based on a handful of short-term marginal indicators of almost no value in understanding what the heck is going on and what can be done about it. I am prepared to believe that economies exist, but not “The Economy”. Out with it. And out with the ideas of anyone who talks in that simple-minded way, who are legion in both politics and journalism.

I have long thought that we should stop talking about “The Environment”, whatever that is, and talk about Nature, in order to bring it to life. I am now proposing that we should stop talking about “The Economy”, and talk about a being I will call “Œkonorg”, a metaphor, like “Nature”, for a huge, complex, inter-related organism with a mind of its own who surrounds us at every turn and whose health and future are vitally important to us. It is customary to make Nature female, despite its obvious bisexuality. I propose that Œkonorg should be male, with the same caveat.

I hold the following truths to be self-evident, and reserve the right to be suspicious of anyone who does not, suspicious of both their motives and their understanding:

  1. That Œkonorg is a huge, complex, inter-related organism with a mind of its own who surrounds us at every turn and whose health and future are vitally important to us.
  2. That Œkonorg Canada as a smallish part of Œkonorg World, a part more influenced by than influential to the larger creature. Corollary: Any Canadian politician’s economic “Plan” (or even “Action Plan”) is worth exactly nothing. Zero. Naught. Zilch. Squat. Zippo. And other expressions of nullity more or less rude.
  3. Any actual or aspiriing government’s claims to be able to “manage” Œkonorg are expressions of hubris, that is, the kind of prideful arrogance that brings down disaster on itself and its dependents. Our governments may react to the twitchings of Œkonorg, but they do not manage the beast. He does what he will do and there is no doing anything about it, at least causally. We can, however, mitigate his effects, and therein lies much opportunity for reasonable, imaginative and humane endeavour.
  4. The magic, which is real, lying potent in the reality, is that we can motivate Œkonorg to change depending on the nature of our mitigation. If we mitigate viciously, then Œkonorg becomes more vicious. If we mitigate humanely, then Œkonorg becomes more humane. Œkonorg is not a creature of natural organicity, but of human; its energy comes not from the Sun, and not from God, but from people making decisions and doing things: producing, serving, consuming, sharing, competing, communicating with one another, living together, enjoying the present, learning from the past, dreaming of the future, saving, investing, building.
  5. No government can manage Œkonorg. To say they can is foolish talk. Furthermore, no cabal of banks, corporations and their client authorities and agents can take control of him without our permission. With our votes, and our decisions about producing and consuming, we can mitigate the vice and brutality out of him, at least significantly if not totally. What we need in our economic policy, is help to do that. The decisions that we make and the things that we do, that ultimately shape Œkonorg and determine his nature, are both individual and collective at various levels and sizes. That is part of the complexity of the beast. Our national government is simply our largest domestic collective, acting on our behalf. Or at least, so we always trust, rightly or wrongly, possibly both.

So let us stop, and stop our client political parties, pretending that they are going to “manage the economy” and ask them instead what they are going to do to help us mitigate the brutal and vicious tendencies of Œkonorg and to enrich his humane ones. And let’s be specific about what those are. And let’s recognize that keeping the beast healthy is a necessary part of the task. And let’s be specific about what that means, in all its complexity. It means much more than “growth”, whatever that is.

Balance, Complexity, Generosity, Compassion, Knowledge, and Intelligence, employed with Imagination. Where will they take us? Where will they take Œkonorg?

Œkonorg deserves a lot more conversation. So do the other matters. In fact they are all related. I will circle through them, therefore, in as many iterations as I can manage before October 19th.