It so happens that two news reports out today neatly show the difference between dead-hand conventional economic measures and something that would do more to reflect people’s real lives and the performance of conventional politicians in trying to improve those lives.
This may seem like dry abstract stuff but it’s the raw material of most people’s assumptions about politicians and their performance in office or potential to perform – so pretty much critical to all things.
Exhibit A – the conventional stuff courtesy of The Guardian:
Exhibit B – the NEF think tank’s imagined alternatives, thanks to Common Weal
The NEF’s ideas are a good start though only a precursor to the more radical, fundamental changes required in thinking and acting when it comes to our economies. That would mean debunking the myths of economic growth and replacing them with planet-healthy alternatives.
Jeremy Corbyn Photograph: Rex Shutterstock
Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty wrote an insightful piece about Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership victory today, adding his usual depth to current events.
It prompted me to chip into the comments thread.
Great work – I invariably finish reading Aditya Chakrabortty’s pieces with a broader, deeper perspective than when I began – I’m grateful for that.
What interests me in addition to the above is the extent to which the debate about economic degrowth can get some much-needed traction.
It’s encouraging that Jeremy Corbyn has already included references to the terrible state of the global environment in his speeches, before and since winning the Labour leadership. His is also very good at joining the dots between issues that are usually treated in silos, bereft of any connection to their causes or consequences.
Will he and his entourage be open enough to make the link between our societies’ political obsession with economic growth and the state of our planet?
Degrowth has become a major preoccupation of mine, drawing together many different elements of our societal dysfunction. Part of my exploration has involved talking and exchanging emails with a social ecological economics professor – Professor Clive Spash – looking for a way to promote the issue of degrowth more effectlvely.
This is an area I intend to report more about, linking it together with Fraudcast News-style thoughts about retooling our failed democracies with the help of revitalised media.
University economics departments around the world are failing their students by ignoring the real-world effects of their discipline, among them rolling financial crises and environmental destruction, according to Professor Clive Spash.
“It’s basically a failure, we’re training economists who don’t understand the real economy,” said Spash, Chair of Public Policy and Governance at WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
Despite recent efforts by some students to overhaul the way their courses are taught, incumbent thinking reigns on.
“The students have got to take direct action. They’ve got to make sure that the faculties, the economics departments, really understand that they are failing them. They are failing them in their education. They’re teaching them mathematical formalistic models that have no bearing on the real economy.”
Among the problems are ideas that unconstrained markets might remedy growing inequality or that economic growth and people buying more stuff could somehow bring about a recovery.
“If you want to really learn about economics maybe don’t go to an economics department, go somewhere else,” Spash said.