Economy


“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” ― Heraclitus

With great change, the likes of which the world is and has been experiencing, comes great nostalgia for what was. It can be a sense of loss enough to trigger the grieving process – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The grief is evident on a social scale. We see it in the rise of nationalism, isolationism and authoritarianism across countries, in the resistance to immigration and integration.

It’s too bad that change has come so quickly that many haven’t had the chance to catch their breath, to build the necessary resilience. I am more than hopeful that the change occurring is making us better. Younger generations sense this. Older generations want what was, and cannot fathom a world, that they seem also resistant to accept, they helped create.

To those who work with change, this is all standard protocol. Those who work in change management consistently struggle to bestow leaders with the understanding that bringing people along matters, and in this our national leadership, across the board, has failed. Yet, in the observation that the change has happened on a scale and at a speed never before encountered, how can anyone be to blame?

No. We must all take up our share of the responsibility for making the transition, or at least stay out of the way of those prepared to do so.

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No question, a business must maintain a profit to remain in business.  I question, however, the concept that making a profit is the purpose of business.  For me, the purpose of business is to serve its community, both internally – those who serve the purpose of the business – and externally –  whether local, national or global.   The sustainability of a business is dependent upon whether it continues to serve a purpose to that community.

In my own work experience, I have witnessed businesses lose balance and topple because they lose sight of their purpose, favoring investors (or the proverbial shareholder) over the internal and/or external community (otherwise known as stakeholders).  Likewise, I have seen businesses prosper because they keep sight of all stakeholders even in the face of investor scrutiny.

In this discussion hosted by American Public Media and the BBC – http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/marketplace-live/marketplace-live-what-difference-four-years-does-not-make – two themes arise:  1) We must return to living within our means and 2) the financial industry must return to a purpose of stewardship.  How have we lost the sense in too many cases that business be the steward of purpose and expertise, be  trusted advisers, in our communities?  And, how do we find that purpose once again?

I will admit upfront that I am by no means any kind of fiscal wizard, nor do I wish to be.  I will also qualify that for me science is the quantifiable analysis of God’s creation.  And, finally, I can only speak from that of which I am aware, so welcome more information.  That said…

I have continuously questioned economic growth.  I am primarily a feeler, in Meyers-Briggs terms, and it has never felt right to me that an economy should continually grow.  Oh, it feels better, for sure, than an economy in recession, but it seems to me the “feel goodness” of a growing economy has perhaps become a social addiction and one that has caused us to create economic bubbles to feign continued growth?

Beyond my feelings, I look to nature and science for information on the matter, and here are some thoughts based on current awareness.

1) Matter that continually grows, eventually destroys.  Ivy, bacteria, cancer cells come to mind.  David Suzuki speaks to this in his book: The Legacy: An Elder’s Vision for Our Sustainable Future on which I heard him interviewed recently.  Fascinating.

2) Has anyone noticed that as we grow the economy so do we grow our fiscal debt? I should also confess that I do not see economy as part of or based in nature but a human construct subject to laws of nature.  So, conceivably, what we’ve created we can adapt or even undo, assuming we put our collective minds to it.  And when we do, I propose doing so in a way that does not undermine society nor disrespect laws of nature.  Since it has taken us at least decades if not a century to reach this point, is it wise to think we can fix it in the near term without detrimental side effects?

3) How far exactly can we stretch a rubber band before it breaks or snaps back?  Are we perhaps in the throes of an economic breaking point or  snap back?  Are we prepared to release it gently or will we continue to let it smack us?

4) I wonder, did the concept of the Tao come about from centuries of a collective people witnessing the ebb and flow of life and living?

These are the thoughts that pass through my mind on the matter of fiscal responsibility, and as mentioned, not my area of expertise.  Given this, I am open and willing to becoming more informed by welcoming alternative perspectives.

Respectfully,
~ Jacqueline