The poverty of satisfaction

Robert F Kennedy

Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 Presidential Campaign speech against the proliferation of consumption “If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us. We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America. And this is one of the great tasks … Read more

Systemic solutions

Systemic solutions

In systems, problems can propagate and generate new, unforeseen problems. Fortunately, systemic solutions can also propagate and generate new solutions. Our existing economic systems are unfair, unhealthy and unsustainable. These problems are ingrained in the system and cannot be ‘tweaked out’. To borrow an idea from Buckminster Fuller, instead of trying to fix a problematic … Read more

The break-even motive

Steady state economy, Break-even

The profit motive leads to economic growth, whereas a steady-state economy will be built on the foundations of a break-even motive. The overarching purpose of the economy should be the well-being of all people and the sustainability of the environment. However, the continuing focus on economic growth leads to the degradation of the environment and … Read more

Survive mindset or Thrive mindset

In a letter to Rachel Carson, Thomas Merton discussed one of the fundamental ills of modern society, namely heedless technological progress. Merton’s argument makes a compelling case that this type of progress derives from what I would call a survive-at-any-cost mindset. In order to progress our humanity, we need to change to a much wiser … Read more

The Benefits of Sustainability

Planet first > People second > Production thirds – the benefits of sustainability

There are many diverse benefits of sustainability. Sustainability maintains the health and biocapacity of the environment. Sustainability supports the well-being of individuals and communities. Sustainability promotes a better economy where there is little waste and pollution, fewer emissions, more jobs, and a better distribution of wealth. Getting the priorities right It is important to consider … Read more

Bad advertising, Good advertising

The 2015 “Are You Beach Body Ready?” campaign highlights the depths bad advertising will plunge to. The UK banned the campaign (but not the US!) for it’s callous body-shaming method. In advertising there are two fundamental methods: advertising that informs and advertising that persuades. In the early days, advertising was informative and the majority of advertising is … Read more

The paradox of choice

Barry Schwartz who wrote The Paradox of Choice believes that in affluent societies too much choice is detrimental to well-being. When there are a plethora of choices, whether it is beer, jeans, cellphones, salad dressing or mutual funds, people are much less satisfied with the choices they make. That’s if they actually make a choice, … Read more

Extrinsic vs intrinsic

There is a deep divide between what our economy provides and what makes people well. Our economy is focussed on providing extrinsic rewards when people are more genuinely motivated and rewarded by intrinsic satisfactions. If you go to university to learn and fulfil yourself, these are intrinsic benefits. If you go to university to get … Read more

It’s time to vote

The election in New Zealand is a week away. Who are you going to vote for? It is hard for many people to choose because the choices are so underwhelming. There is not enough real substance in any of the rhetoric and there is negligible vision for positive, systemic change. Instead there is too much muddling, niggling … Read more