An enthusiastic audience came out to hear former Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons present the Quaker Lecture, a lecture to the Annual Meeting of Quakers which is being hosted by local Quaker groups around the country.  Jeanette Fitzsimons was born in Dunedin, and even once appeared on the cover of the Outlook, the old Presbyterian magazine.

Her lecture was available as a booklet for $5.  I decided that making notes and reporting them here would fit into the spirit of the lecture.  No doubt a copy can be obtained through the Quaker Website.

Continued growth is not sustainable.  The earth is full.  Wednesday 21 August marked World Overshoot Day for 2013.  That means  we have used up the resources that the world supplies for 2013.  Any further resources we use we borrow from the future.  And I haven’t started on my Christmas shopping yet!

The Club of Rome predicted that an end to growth leading to a collapse of society back in 1971.  We have delayed it, but the prediction is on track.  How do we manage a post-growth economy?  How do we manage ourselves living in Ecotopia?  How do we create a sustainable well-being when growth has not made us happier people?

Sustainable growth is not possible based on interest-bearing debt.  Economic culture is having to change its language.

The richest economy cannot provide decent healthcare for all its citizens.  Let’s not go down that path.

  • Less stuff and more time.
  • Less work but shared equally.
  • Less travel and strengthen local communities.

As an aside Fitzsimons noted she had needed to buy a new charger for her laptop.  A packaged charger cost her $160; an unpackaged charger cost her $90.  We are paying $70 difference for a box and plastic wrapping we are going to throw away!

Working hours would have to reduce and be separated from income.

If there is no growth debt is stealing from future generations.

Banks must be restricted to loaning only what is deposited.  Currently mortgages are funded out of imaginary currency.

Our cultural values and sense of identity hold back a sustainable economy: I shop therefore I am.  Emotions guide our logic.  Once you have food, shelter, means of transport and secured education for the next generation what more do you need?  Margaret Thatcher worked out that once you change the heart and soul of the nation then economic change will follow.  It’s time to back off her vision of the future.

How do society’s values change?

  • Take back advertising money.  I understand it’s not taxed.
  • Change the conversation to talk about quality of life: let’s talk about the arts, sports, our low crime rate, public health, the environment.  A lot of these things we do well.

Economists are starting to get it.  A generation are waking up to a power shift.  We are the 99% and the 1% control half our nation’s wealth.  It’s time to put a check on corporate greed and corruption.  The answers are not in technology, the answers are in our minds and in our thinking.