Archives for posts with tag: The Common Good

As Steve Beauchampé writes in the Birmingham Press and Political Concern, generations of an elite have ruled this nation (with a few intermissions) for as long as anyone can remember, due to a rigged electoral system.

Their dual achievements:

  • comfortable tax arrangements for the few, a political/corporate nexus which ensures highly paid and nominal duties for all in the inner circle
  • vast military expenditure bestowed on the arms industry, as rising numbers of the population survive in relative poverty, wait in hospital corridors, receive a sub-standard education and depend on handouts to eke out their existence.

Direction of travel

Beauchampé:(The) economy is increasingly kept afloat by the economic support of China . . . The modern high-rise residential blocks that have sprung up throughout the capital may give the impression of a modern, flourishing economy, but look closely and you will see that many are all but empty, whilst homelessness and a reliance on subsistence level housing grows . . . “He notes that surveillance is at an historic high with spy cameras, and even microphones installed in many public places -describing the state’s ability to track the population and follow their activities and conversations as ‘frightening’. . .

The elite stranglehold could be broken

OB’s editor agrees with many that electoral reform is a priority for beneficial change – but even under the rigged ‘first past the post’ system, if the weary mass of people (Brenda of Bristol)  saw the true situation they would vote for the candidate with a credible track record who would be most likely to work for the common good.

 

 

 

 

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michael wilkes 3Like Hall Green’s alderman and economist Professor Michael Wilkes and Northfield’s Dr Dick Rodgers, historian Mark Mazower expresses the need – in the FT – for a notion of the common good to be restored.

Wilkes advocates a new discipline, socionomics, to replace the desiccated, manipulated, disloyal, extractive and highly unequal economy that has been allowed, and – by some administrations – encouraged.

dick rodgers 3Rodgers set up The Common Good party founded on the hope and belief that: “Tomorrow we’ll be happier, living and working for each others good and for the good of the world, that is, for “The Common Good”.

Mazower, a British professor of history based at Columbia University, reflects on Syriza’s victory in a country where youth unemployment is above 50%, an entire generation being ‘consigned to the scrap heap’ and where the common good is being sacrificed through forced sell-offs of state-owned lands as well as businesses, with the prospect of ecological destruction as a result.

Urban Britain also has a disturbing level of youth unemployment and has sold its state-run utilities for a pittance to foreign companies.

Wilkes acknowledges that the social and moral education needed to produce a citizenry of good intent that will make the socioeconomic system work properly and sustain it for future generations, and winding back globalisation will take longer and will involve more people and organisations and other countries.

He advocates certain steps that could be taken immediately:

  • the restoration of equitable and redistributive taxation,
  • the introduction of living wages,
  • the plugging of many loopholes for tax avoidance,
  • the undertaking of thorough corporate reform
  • and the recreation of an active, interventionist and self confident public sector.

He concludes: “These measures would represent leadership in its finest form. This, and the promotion of the concept of stewardship in place of the present self serving forms of ‘leadership”.

mark mazowerMazower says in typically understated fashion that if finance is to serve Europe rather than run it, a notion of the common good needs to be restored.

The alternative is an increasingly fractious continent.

In Birmingham, Britain, Greece and Europe as a whole, the Wilkes, Rodgers, Mazower ‘moral vision’ could and should be restored and reactivated.

Lunar Society header

At the Lunar Society AGM in July Waheed Saleem was elected as Chairman and Michael Wilkes as vice Chairman.

waheed saleem2In the Birmingham Post this week Waheed Saleem set out three themes to be addressed during his tenure, one being to start a debate on developing our thinking on poverty and social exclusion.

He said that this has become the major issue affecting our society, with people in our towns and cities living on a day to day basis, making decisions on either feeding their children or paying their bills.

michael wilkesAs Michael Wilkes wrote earlier this year: “The true worth of an economy is found not in measures of monetary worth or league tables, but in the achievement of a broader wellbeing and the underpinning social and moral values”.

The Post – as yet only in the hard copy – reports that 58% of the delegates at the Grant Thornton meeting cited the skills shortage as the largest of their problems.

It would be a milestone for the city if the new brooms at the Lunar Society could emphasise to the city’s politicians and businessmen that no number of apprenticeships or training courses will solve this problem.

It has to be addressed from birth; by the age of ten, the destiny of the child living in poverty is mapped. If the emphasis is not placed on these years businessmen will continue to solve the skills problem by importing people from other countries.

A huge expansion of a Rolls Royce version of the Sure Start community outreach and input would be a good move.

Those who ask if we can afford to do this will be asked if we can afford not to do it.

We end with the words of Michael Wilkes:

Wholehearted determination and patience are required but at least the journey this time would be away from the state that we’re now in and towards the common good. This, rather than our decades long journey away from it . . . The good society is attainable and our people deserve no less.

Outside the governing class, the viperous sections of the press and the self-serving commercial elite, I believe that the willingness to work for the common good existsMichael Wilkes*:

michael wilkesGood governance is desperately needed – as is evident every day. Active and positive engagement is a necessary virtue, aiding and abetting the achievement of common goals, with government setting aside timidity and doctrine, releasing itself from nefarious influences providing its political funding and involving itself proactively in the process of building a wider and lasting prosperity.

Prosperity is by no means an ignoble goal, but it is important to bear in mind that affluence is a condition and not a value. The true worth of an economy is found not in measures of monetary worth or league tables, but in the achievement of a broader wellbeing and the underpinning social and moral values.

At the individual level, in contrast to this exploited, deceived and litigious age when good people are made fearful for their future and that of their families, a virtuous economy, a citizenry of good intent with commonly held moral values, and the concept of stewardship will make possible the creation of a good society well rid of the damaging negative qualities so frequently to the fore. 

The re-establishment of respect in commercial life and a desire to seek the common good – in other words to behave virtuously – where not already extant, should become second nature at individual and institutional levels. This is the basis of the virtuous economy and the enhancement of the common good.

All of this could be done if the commitment was there. Outside the governing class, the viperous sections of the press and the self-serving commercial elite, I believe that the willingness exists.

An economy is not an abstract entity to be revered – rather it is what we choose to make it. The common good can be enhanced with or without economic growth – if we decide to do so. Perspectives can be changed, commerce can be reformed, industry reestablished, government can be engaged, exemplar institutions with a public service ethos can be created and moral re-education can be undertaken.

Wholehearted determination and patience are required but at least the journey this time would be away from the state that we’re now in and towards the common good. This, rather than our decades long journey away from it, and the likelihood under current divisive, austere and sterile mindsets of ‘bumping along the bottom’ for another two or more decades. The good society is attainable and our people deserve no less.

*Michael Wilkes’ background: academia (professor of business investment and management), local government councillor, currently working on the Birmingham Tolkien Strategy/Tolkein Heritage):

Discuss the desirability of democratic creation, ownership and deployment of money

 

OB dick meetings 2