A call for awareness

Aug 2, 2018 by

On wednesday afternoon an interesting panel discussion took place among Christian Kreiss, Helga Kromp-Kolb and Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, following the lectures they led during the morning. Helga Kromp-Kolb focused on planetary boundaries, Christian Kreiss revolved around financial bubbles and stability while professor von Weizsäcker emphasized on the risks of doctrinaire economics and limits to growth. The panel discussion was an open debate where they covered a wide array of topics. However, each of the speakers´ particular insight was determined by their field of knowledge.

The discussion started on a more general, systemic, theme (i.e. policy recommendations to build an alternative economic system) which yielded to more concrete topics such as education policies, the role of ECB and interest rate determination -a s well as its role in the rise of nationalism – or the necessity of competition as a fundamental value of the economic activity. We did not agree with one of the polemic statements of Christian Kreiss regarding the need of competition between big corporations so that they can provide goods and services in the most effective way possible. We believe that enormous corporations with giant balance sheets are themselves a threat to the stability of the system. The comments of Helga Kromp-Kolb rejecting the adoration of competitiveness and the need to regulate the market in order to prevent power asymmetries, falls in line with our thoughts.

Besides that, it was polemic the point Christian Kreiss made about education reform, specifically the idea that further privatization of education via voucher system. He even proposed an equal voucher amount of 400-500€ regardless of income level that would foster a more diverse mindset among students. Professor Von Weizsäcker clearly pointed out that, where these policies were implemented, they led to higher inequality and a reduction of the quality for the poorest sector of the society which was rendered ineffective in guaranteeing equal access to education. Indeed, far from promoting higher academic diversity they resulted in inversely redistributive policies. We agree that free and public education still represents a cornerstone for equality of opportunities and democracy.

Finally, the moderator did not properly directed the discussion and therefore it did not follow a specific guideline. Perhaps if he had allowed the conversation to flow more freely we would have further enjoyed the debate. Moreover, there was too little time for the Q&A section. In fact, attendants raised very appealing issues which deserved more time for being discussed. Despite all of our criticism, the lecturers made very clever arguments, attracted the attention of the public and set off an intriguing discussion. It definitely was a call for awareness.

Written by: Alberto Gabino Martínez Hernández and Borja Urrea Martínez

Based on the panel discussion by: Christian Kreiss, Helga Kromp-Kolb, E.U. von Weizsäcker