Economy for the common good with Christian Felber

Aug 4, 2017 by

by Olesya Kopchak and Michaela Vincek

On the fifth day of the AEMS Summer School, we heard the lecture from Christian Felber who shared his thoughts on the structure of the economy and the importance of the common good. He stated that we should understand that economics stems from philosophy, as well as take into consideration that the economy is embedded in the global ecosystem.

As an instrument and a tool for human society, the economy should be at our service, while at the same time it should respect the biophysical-limits of the Earth as well as the democratic rules of the society. The economy should not be trying to impose its own rules.

Further, Felber mentioned the crises of meaning and crises of values. The conclusion from this was that money itself is not a problem, but that the problem lies within intangible meaning and the way we absorb and relocate our thoughts. If we consider the economy to be a highly participatory process where all actors of society can take part, we should implement alternatives within already existing institutions anchored in societies. Unfortunately, currently none of the alternatives have been implemented successfully yet, although the majority of the population in different European countries supports the idea.

Another problem in our system is that non-ethical goods are cheaper and therefore have a comparative advantage over the ethical ones. From an economic point of view, this cannot be changed. From the social point, it can be by using some legal incentives like lower tax rates and lower interest rates for a bank loan.

Olesya: During the lecture, we conducted a survey to decide what the highest permissible salary per person should be. Christian Felber then shared with us that with all the groups where he has done this survey including ours, the majority of people always answer salaries should not exceed the minimum one more than 10 times. My personal point of view is that there should not be any limits to profit. Everyone can agree we cannot limit somebody’s knowledge as well as the effort that person is making to achieve his/her goals or to fulfill dreams. So how can we limit the honored equivalent to those efforts? The problem lies not in the amount of money somebody earns, but in the way person receives it. This explains why we always came back during the lecture to the “crisis of values”.

Michaela: Christian Felber gave us a different view about our present system after pointing out where it currently stands. Through putting his focus on the common good, he talked a lot about the democratic composition of this system and that we should consider universal values such as solidarity and sustainability, rather than focusing only on money. My view changed after his lecture; I cannot say that I agree with everything said, but I agree that it is important to look at our world from another angle and to realize that every change and every alternative starts from the periphery of society.