In 1996, our late founder Terry Hallman pitched his concept of a people-centered form of economics…
Jeff Mowatt
11

Hi Jeff, thanks for this, I’m glad to learn about this — I looked at your slides. I’m 100% with you on putting people at the center, of course, and I agree that the myopic focus on numbers is a problem. The numbers are measures of how some narratives are performing in one or another way, may it be GDP, profit, employment, health or something else. Just looking at the numbers means focusing on fiddling the knobs to optimize the machine. When the narrative is dysfunctional, tuning it won’t help. For example, if we would change “job” from meaning “employment” to “the consumer’s service for earning a living” it still describes correctly what “job” means but it’s reframed, a new narrative applies (labor market is now a service market where the worker is the customer) and the numbers we use today for everything “job” are irrelevant (they aren’t helping us much, anyway). I think numbers are still essential, though. If we organize ourselves with common narratives that people find meaningful, the numbers will be meaningful, too. I am suggesting that family and friends must not only be accounted for in economics, but also seen as meaning and purpose, while dealing with things — objects and ideas — provide the means. Today, economists say “it’s essential that people have family and friends because it drives the economy” — they don’t have a mathematical language for saying anything else. I am proposing a simple mathematical add-on to economics which enables them to say “it’s essential that people earn an income so that they can care for family and friends”. So I’m embracing numbers here, but I’m introducing a new dimension of economics for I-Thou where trade and exchange aren’t permitted. As soon as you start trading friendship it stops being “thou” and becomes “it”, for example trading love and intimacy (Thou-type words) it becomes “prostitution” (It-type word). Present economics can’t do that, which is why everything it touches becomes an “it”. I’m saying we can do better. It’s one of the ideas my notion of a people-centered economy builds on

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