This issue of Working Notes is devoted to three articles which explore different possibilities in the increasingly urgent search for a type of economic development that is balanced, sustainable and just.
In the second of two articles on the theme, ‘A New Economic Paradigm?’, Gerry O’Hanlon SJ turns to some of the practical proposals now being put forward in regard to the direction and shape of future economic development. He looks at the key proposals of a number of Irish reports and also, in some detail, at a report from the London-based NEF (New Economics Foundation). The title of the NEF report – The Great Transition – and the headings of its seven core themes (for example, ‘The Great Redistribution’; ‘The Great Localisation’; ‘The Great Reskilling’) reflect the type of radical changes which the NEF considers necessary to effectively regulate markets, reform financial systems, ensure environmental sustainability, and address inequalities within and between countries.
The consequences of the type of change envisaged would be far-reaching – not the least being that it would involve a significant fall in GDP as it is now measured. But ‘real value’ would in fact grow, argues NEF – its vision of a future characterised by ‘prosperity without growth’ reflecting the optimism implicit in the subtitle of its report: ‘A Tale of How it Turned out Right’.
Returning to a theme touched on in the first article in the series, Gerry O’Hanlon says that implementing proposals for a radical shift in the approach to economic development will require a marked change in cultural and political attitudes. It will, he suggests, ‘require deep reserves of meaning to face into the prospect of a more frugal, but also more just and sustainable, future’. He points out that Christianity is one such reservoir of meaning and that it could be ‘a powerful source of inspiration’ in the challenge that lies ahead –‘a source, which through committed Christians, can be of great service to the body politic’. ... Read more
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