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Mother Pelican
A Journal of Sustainable Human Development

Vol. 7, No. 12, December 2011
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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The World Is Revolting
Against the Neo-liberal Economic and Business Model:
A Call to Action


Kamran Mofid
Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative
18 November 2011


REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION


The world is riveting toward a possible turning point and we hope that you are able to stand with us in this call to action.

We, the undersigned, have co-authored the document noted below. We are now writing to seek your endorsement. Please if you wish to support our statement and are willing to stand in solidarity with us, then, by return of this email, add your name and affiliation to the signatories. As the current global crises have clearly shown, the whole world is waking up to the value of co-creation and the harnessing of knowledge from diverse sources, disciplines, experience and expertise. We plan to publicise this document widely and forward it to many relevant national and international agencies and bodies tasked with formulating new policies for a new type of world economy.

Kamran Mofid PhD, Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (UK)

Jamshid Damooei PhD, Co-director, Centre for Leadership and Values, School of Management, California Lutheran University

Steve Szeghi PhD, Dept of Economics, Wilmington College, Ohio, USA

The World Is Revolting Against the neo-liberal Economic and Business Model: A Call to Action

Hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, employed and unemployed, black and white, men and women, have come together in a continuing and lasting global unity, partaking in a dialogue of civilisations and peoples in consideration for the common good. This global movement has risen in a thousand cities, in 82 countries on six continents, from Zuccotti Park in New York to Oakland, California; Wall Street to St. Paul’s in London; Frankfurt to Madrid, Rome to Athens, Chicago to Philadelphia, Sydney to Brisbane and more, rejecting neo-liberalism and its prevailing economic and business models, demanding a better, kinder and more humane world. The crises of ecological devastation and glaring social and economic inequality are pushing the planet to the brink of catastrophe.

Across the globe there is an unquestioning, deeply justified sense that governments have capitulated to big business and big finance at the expense of the people. Both centralised states and free markets are separated and divorced from society, and society in turn is thus subjugated by a global market-state, dominated by corporate elites.

The line between corporate power and responsible government has steadily blurred, undermining our democracies and our economy, as well as our way of life. Politicians take money from corporations for their campaigns, make policies that reward them when in office, and then take high-paid jobs with them after they leave. This, in a nutshell, is corruption, plain and simple.

The collusion between big business and politicians, in the eyes of the people, generates a system that privatises profit, nationalises losses and socialises risk. From the very outset, the global economic turmoil was merely a symptom of a much larger moral, spiritual and ethical crisis. In short, the world is facing a crisis of values.

Time is Now for Radical Change: What is to be done?

At a time during the American Revolution, when things looked very dire and impossible, Tom Paine wrote:

“These are the times that try men’s soul’s. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and women. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. . . ”

As many round the world are saying loud and clear, “This is another of those times. Our souls are being tried. This is our opportunity to stand firm, to show our perseverance and fortitude. This is a time our children and grandchildren will sing about. Their ballads will praise us for bringing them the world we all deserve.”

Thus, it is time to question the functionality of the existing economic system that has created a massive and widening gap between a few super rich and the many in abject poverty. We need to examine the soundness of extracting growing profit from a highly leveraged and unsustainable real sector in the face of massive numbers of disenfranchised people who are deprived of a potentially prosperous economic life. We need to question the ability of mother earth to support the extravagance of our blind and ignorant consumerism. We also need to put self interest in perspective, and balance it with concern for the common good and for other species and the earth.

We should recall the wisdom of Adam Smith, “father of modern economics”, who was a great moral philosopher first and foremost. In 1759, sixteen years before his famous Wealth of Nations, he published The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which explored the self-interested nature of man and his ability nevertheless to make moral decisions based on factors other than selfishness. In The Wealth of Nations, Smith laid the early groundwork for economic analysis, but he embedded it in a broader discussion of social justice and the role of government. Today we mainly know only of his analogy of the ‘invisible hand’ and refer to him as defending free markets; whilst ignoring his insight that the pursuit of wealth should not take precedence over social and moral obligations.

We are taught that the free market as a ‘way of life’ appealed to Adam Smith but not that he thought the morality of the market could not be a substitute for the morality for society at large. He neither envisioned nor prescribed a capitalist society, but rather a ‘capitalist economy within society, a society held together by communities of non-capitalist and non-market morality’. As it has been noted, morality for Smith included neighbourly love, an obligation to practice justice, a norm of financial support for the government ‘in proportion to [one’s] revenue’, and a tendency in human nature to derive pleasure from the good fortune and happiness of other people.

Building a new economics system will demand challenging and novel ways of thinking, perspectives that encompass the broad swath of human experience and wisdom, from the natural sciences and all the social sciences, to the philosophical and spiritual values of the world’s major religions and of indigenous peoples as well. The task before us is a daunting one, and wisdom in how to proceed will come from a multiple of sources, and must embrace the panorama of cultural and disciplinary perspectives. Practical steps are of the essence and we therefore propose some for you to consider. We also ask for your suggestions in expanding this list of practical steps, so that we can begin a dialogue on where we go from here in building a better world for ourselves and for future generations.

A few practical steps

1, the right to a meaningful job and a minimum income to all individuals, guaranteed by society and/or government, and a “Special Fair Deal” for youth employment& job creation

2, a tax on financial transactions

3, access by the poor to credit markets

4, limits on executive pay in financial firms

5, taxing capital gains and dividends at the same rate as wages and salaries

6, elimination of too big to fail

7, massive use of usury free lending to provide basic human needs, and expand the quality of human life in ways that are environmentally friendly

8, a resurgence of financial regulations to reduce moral hazard, adverse selection, and to improve the flow of information to consumers

9, increased investment in green technology, with a serious global commitment to dramatically reduce carbon emissions, preserve habitat for endangered species, and to price goods and services with environmental costs in mind

10, an increase in funds for education at all levels, with education as a right

11, the grounding of Business and Economics education in social, moral, and ethical values and principles

12, a dramatic reduction in global military budgets

13, creation of an International Fund for Peace, recognizing that true peace must spring from the access of all to the means of life and the ability to be fully functioning members of the global community

14, the strengthening of multilateral global institutions and structures, the development of new ones, and the gradual elimination of the right of veto by major countries at the UN

We call upon you to support this “Call to Action” by adding your name, affiliation and the country of residence, and any suggestions for additional practical steps to the end of this message and send it back to Kamran Mofid. Please forward this message to your friends and network. We suspect that you are as concerned as we are with these alarming trends in environmental destruction and growing inequality yet are finding encouragement in the chorus of voices rising against the existing financial and economic system. Please join us.

In anticipation of your support and endorsement, please kindly return your email to: Kamran Mofid at k.mofid@gcgi.info


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