A Reflection from the Young Economists Think Tank

Every episode of the online dialogues between visionary economists, organized as part of the Consultation, starts off with a personal reflection by one or more members of the Consultation's Think Tank of Young Economists. This is the reflection of Elisa Terragno Bogliaccini & Sam de Muijnck at the start of the dialogue on 'What Really Matters in Markets' (21 September).

 Many genius scientists, like Albert Einstein, combined science with spirituality. Sometimes it’s possible to understand the essence of a phenomenon by looking to the deeper spiritual layer of it. Krishnamurti, an Indian spiritual leader, knew this as well.

Not only these individuals, but quantum physics as well teaches us that there is a direct link between our physical perceivable reality and human consciousness. Thus, our current societal model is an effect of the collective consciousness. A paradigm shift within ourselves, will therefore lead to a different society. This interaction is very hopeful, since based on these findings nothing is fixed and everything can be changed.

If I observe the current global society, I´m seeing a fragmented level of awareness. Humans are perceiving themselves as a self-contained entity, without realizing that there is an interconnected link between them and everything around them. This type of ego-centrism is a breeding ground for concepts such as competition, war, profit maximization, and the idea ‘if everyone thinks about themselves, there will be thought about everyone’.

A board game of monopoly

Next to this perception of independence within and between people, there is a broken connection between human beings and planet earth as well. Our planet is currently being treated as a production unit, because we see it as an option to fulfill our needs.

Unfortunately, we are not able to cope with the effects. The vitality of our planet is declining; the biodiversity is vanishing, the quality of our soils declines, the nutritional value of our food is lowering, and there is environmental pollution. Due to this type of destructive behavior, we will destroy ourselves.

Additionally, humanity is sailing a slowly sinking ship named ‘the financial system’ and the only thing we try now is to repair the holes. It’s clearly not working. We are playing a board game of monopoly whereby inequality is rising and wealth and power concentrates. Capital creates more capital, but for most of the people their labor force is only a means to survive. The balance between ‘earning’ and ‘getting’ is lost. This reality is further disturbed by a tax system, whereby labor is taxed more heavily than wealth and due to national differences capital automatically searches for places with the lowest taxes.

Our problem-solving ability

Within this financial system our monetary system is crucial. Although there is a negative interest rate and an abundance of money you can speak of scarcity. Namely, money accumulated at a small group of people, while the majority of citizens, states, and companies have to cope with unsustainable levels of debt. Newly created money mainly stays within the financial sector instead of a distribution to places where it is actually needed. Because of this, the financial sector is becoming more dominant, and the real economy serves the financial sector. In an ideal world, it has to be the other way around. However, money is currently limiting our problem-solving ability because real problems are not being solved due to a lack of a fictional thing, called money, while the real things, like materials and people are there.

To change systems, I believe we must start with fundamental changes in ourselves. One of the co-founders of Sustainable Finance Lab, Klaas van Egmond, argues that we’re currently focused on material things and the ego. To change that, we have to find a balance between the material and spiritual spectrum and the individual and collective spectrum. In order to make this happen, let’s start by realizing that we’re part of a bigger picture and due to this synergy, we can evolve. Consequently, we can pass through a positive transition where we work together, via a global cooperation instead of working against each other, via competition.

The current zeitgeist

Some centuries ago, humanity appeared to be capable of modifying our moral compass in favor of all. For example, we abolished slavery and child labor. Even though this was economically speaking unfavorable for some, it was a positive development for many.

In the more recent history you can also see a fundamental paradigm shift. Last April, the chief editor of the Financial Times wrote that we must speak openly about the redistribution of wealth, basic income, wealth taxes, and more security in the labor market. These are signals which fits the current zeitgeist, because most of us just see that the current system is failing and there is need for something else.

It’s time to reset our moral compass again, in order to create a global societal model which benefits all living things instead of some of us.

I’d like to close this introduction statement with the meaning of something which connects us all; namely ‘the Universe’. Freely translated it means ‘all turns into one’. My name is Jim Richard Surie, working for Sustainable Finance Lab. Thank you all for your attention.

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