Questions pertain to the first four chapters, which form part I of the book. Pick one or two that resonate with you, or come up with your own questions and ideas.

Take your time to study these chapters. A short summary of each will be posted the next weeks.

From the study guide:

CHAPTER 1 “Looking Upstream,” spells out what it means to treat causes rather than symptoms and why restructuring the economy’s most powerful institutions is essential.

CHAPTER 2 “Modern Alchemists and the Sport of Moneymaking,” looks at the reality behind Wall Street’s illusions and the variety of its methods for making money without the exertion of creating anything of real value in return.

CHAPTER 3“A Real-Market Alternative,” contrasts the Wall Street and Main Street economies and puts to rest the fallacy that the only alternative to rule by Wall Street capitalists is rule by communist bureaucrats.

CHAPTER 4“More Than Tinkering at the Margins,” spells out why the “adjustment at the margins” approach favored by establishment interests cannot stabilize the economy, reduce economic inequality, or prevent environmental collapse.

Sample questions: 

1.  What did you fi nd particularly compelling or provocative about these chapters of Agenda?

2.  What is the difference between treating the symptoms and addressing the root causes?

How can root causes be addressed while in the midst of the crisis?  

3.  What effects of the ongoing economic crisis have you observed in your community – for local government, businesses, schools, etc.? 

4.  What is the relationship between the environmental and social crises/issues making the      headlines today and the economic system?

5.  How have the credit, mortgage, and/or investment crises touched you and your circle of      friends and family? How have your personal decisions and approaches to finances, debt, and consumption changed?  

6.  When and how was your definition and experience of “capitalism” formed, and how has it      changed, if at all, since the beginning of the economic collapse in 2008? 

7.  Table 3.1 (Page 51 of Agenda) contrasts the differences between Wall Street capitalism and a Main Street market economy.  What, if anything, is appealing about the Wall Street approach and what would be difficult to let go?  What is most appealing  about Main Street markets?  To which elements would you give highest priority for major transformation? 

8.  In what ways do you directly or indirectly rely on Wall Street?  In what ways do these      connections create contradictions in your value system?  What can you do to reduce your      dependence on Wall Street? 

9.  How do you respond to the position that regulation of the free market is an infringement on      individual liberty?

10. How should the “public interest” or the “common good” get factored into decisions regarding financial/market policies and regulations?

11. Besides GDP, what indicators or indices are used in the mainstream media to portray the       “health” or strength of the economy?  What alternative measurements would reflect the true health of people and the planet?

Views: 277

Replies to This Discussion

@Michael: "You speak of a right thing as if there is an objective reality, yet one man's right is another's wrong".

That kind of reasoning can get quickly out of hand. It betrays a post-modern position. Extreme post-modernism negates itself, because if "everything is just an opinion", then, post-modernism is just an opinion too. 

No, I proceed from the pov of universal principles, like social justice, equal rights, etc. It is not just that a small elite enriches itself over the dead bodies of the poor. It is immoral, plain and simple. I could cite many examples of immoral behavior of states and its politicians and citizens, but just look around you.

"The rest of the people I leave to you"

Do you have a family? Do you not realize that we have a duty to care not only for self but for others as well? That is called a civilization.  What kind of philosophy are you adhering to? You sound like the lonely hermit who does not feel the need to contribute anything of love and kindness to this world. I am almost sure that that is not your intention?

Martin, I so understand (or claim to, which may be my arrogance) where you are pointing, and your questions regarding my expression (and which I so appreciate, btw, as I do like when others ask for clarification, as each person uses terms differently) which I see was framed in the 'negative.' Framed in the positive, what I expressed above might read, 'I see there is a worldwide discussion going on, and always has been.' Though I don't sense you'll agree wi that any more than my negative framing, my expression is not moved my agreement seeking. I don't know anything about 'post modernism,' other than maybe art, so I'll take your word on it; in fact, what another sees in my expression is, until I express again (what may be called clarifying), and a new reality is then seen by the observer. I think Jung called this an interject, this moving picture we have of each other, as we label and seek to grasp what the other person is, which keeps changing as new info comes in, and, if attached, each time we think, 'this is the real him,' or 'this is the real world.'

I do understand how my expression comes off as non compassionate. Two groups have these two phrases as their declarations: "I am responsible" and "Let it begin with me." Both expressions say the same thing in different words. One can read these as selfish expressions, but this is not their intent. The first group is called AA, the second, Al-Anon. Both seek to serve others, and there are two approaches: one is to try to remind oneself to be kind and loving (I sometimes call this the Golden
Rule approach - I have no problem w this approach by the way; my language rarely shows this approach, however, as I saw this way for 41 years, and I now see differently; not better in the least, just differently). The second approach can be said to be a result, or flow, or effortlessness, than moves one, naturally, into service for others - or moves one naturally to what one is attracted to (let's call this positive) and naturally moves one away from what repels one (let's call this negative).

So two years I started seeing things 'differently,' and what I 'feel' is that I've never been more of service to self, family, and those whom God/Self sets before me, or whom He sets me before. But since it feels so effortless, I find it almost unnatural to speak of these days in the terms of work, or effort, or 'shoulds' (as in 'things should be otherwise.'). My way's not the way, it's a way. My sight's not the sight, it's just my sight.

So what I attempted to convey in my artsy way (Robinson Jeffers had reviews like your comments above, I believe, as many heard a hermit in whct I now here an expression of celebration for all things in his poetry), was that this being, whom I call Michael, is serving others. Now 'Martin' has every right to say 'Michael is not serving others enough,' or 'Michael should be serving others this way, not that way,' or 'you call that service?!" etc. Every right. And I have every right to receive, gratefully, these expressions, integrate them, and be moved accordingly. The movement of 'Michael' then may or may not be in accord with 'Martin.' "To thine own self be true" is another way express what I expressed, and Shakespear's character here was not encouraging lack of service, but genuiness of self, which, almost by magic, or confidence, etc propels one to serve others, to serve the world. The root of serve is 'to hear,' as in to be receptive to others, to be open to others, to allow an other to express fully. And by receiving an other, I am propelled to serve, as I then see what St. Francis expressed re Understanding others.

So when I say I leave the other people to you, I did not mean literally, I am hands off. "Yoda speak" is what my wife calls my language sometimes, and so this is my failing in communication. My language, will, I hope, grow more efficient, as my understanding of others grows. Less provocative. I help others. I find I less often do for an other what an other can do for oneself now. If this is selfish, than it is selfish. The retirement community I serve has a mission statement that reads " help seniors live with dignity, independence, and the assurance of needed physical, spiritual, and medical care." This guides my life, as does the more Taoist expression, 'not-doing,' but I realize the latter can often be read as non compassionate. I need to 'read my audience.'

In Bhagavad Gita, Krisna wakes up Arjuna. Why does Krisna nit seize the day and wake up the entire battlefield full of warriors? Wat was Krisna thinking? Why does Krisna not make world peace? And my answer to that is 'I am responsible.' or 'Let it begin with me."

I feared people, and things. Now I enjoy people, and things.
I isolated from people. Now I engage with and serve people, and things.
My service will, however, differ from your service. I'm out of the race, you see, and I'm no longer keeping a head count of comparing my service with others. My dharma is my own. I welcome my chance to service this world. I have no explanation for the joy I now feel daily, or for the things I am moved to do which used to terrify me, or why I have not had a bad day in two years, or the people I now attract to me or to whom i am now attracted (who often love me in spite of my Yoda speak), except to say
that 'I am alive.'

Michael, I now see where you are coming from. Authenticity indeed is key here. This is connected to the freedom aspect that Schumacher felt to be a central theme in his work. Schumacher, BTW, was deeply influenced by Gandhi in many respects: non-violence, work, economy of scale, to mention a few. If we allow ourselves to be free within, then opportunities  will be naturally seen for service and expressing one's potential. We may feel this "flow" that you talk about - and also joy of life.

A brief reaction to Anand. This is such a vast topic. In the end about every act is political in nature, when we understand politics as having to do with society in all its aspects.

I doubt that many people are aware of alternatives to the current capitalistic system. How many people realize that a market economy does not need to be capitalistic, for example? David Korten goes into that in his book.

Fritz Schumacher  says: 

"There appear to be three major choices for a society in which economic
affairs necessarily absorb major attention - the choice between private
ownership of the means of production and alternatively, various types of
public or collectivised ownership; the choice between a market economy and
various arrangements of 'planning'; and the choice between 'freedom' and
'totalitarianism'. Needless to say, with regard to each of these three pairs of
opposites there will always in reality be some degree of mixture - because
they are to some extent complementariness rather than opposites - but the
mixture will show a preponderance on the one side or on the other."

 He then mentions eight (2x2x2) models for society and economy in his "Small is beautiful" book, proceeding from the aspect of freedom versus totalitarianism as main factor. Essential food for thought, yet how many people reflect on the potential of alternative economic models, like local money systems? Not enough, IMO. That's why much more discussion and reflection is needed.

"What it is that stops us from doing something which we know is the right thing to do yet will not do?"

Humans are creatures of habit and copy-cats. If there are enough role models who lead the way, they will follow. More likely will be that we will be forced into reconsidering our pattern of expenses (and way of life) by rising oil and food prices. Peak cheap oil seems to have occurred already and higher costs of living are daily reality. Necessity is the mother of invention. So, reaching the limits of our growth-addicted system will necessitate change. Hopefully, it will be peaceful rather than accompanied by resource wars..


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