A Quaker Perspective on Economics

Is our economic system blocking the kingdom of God that Quakers seek to build? How do we even begin to address that? It’s a question Pamela Haines has thought a lot about.

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Jon Watts

Jon Watts launched and directed the QuakerSpeak project for its first 6 seasons. Keep up to date with Jon’s work at his website.

12 thoughts on “A Quaker Perspective on Economics

  1. There is so much wrong with this video I don’t even know where to begin. There are lots of things wrong with our economy, and lots of things that go against our Quaker faith, and none of them have to do with markets and all of them have to do with the state using its power and violence to interfere with it.

    Corporate welfare is a good first example, but there are many more.

    1. We need to find deeper, more relevant, and contemporary analysis of our societies and governments than what is given to us in popular political discourse. “Market vs. State” discourse may have made sense a hundred or two hundred years ago, but societies and capitalism have radically changed. Same with notions of “limited government” from the 1700’s, which is now simple used to justify the extension of the privatization of the State through the semi-Feudal Corporate-State bureaucratic systems that are in place globally now. On top of it within the context of rapid technological growth and serve environmental degradation, our society as it exists cannot be explained or even adequately critiqued in the discourse of even a generation ago. We need a radical reinventing and re-imaging of all of what we thought made sense with past economic logic.

  2. I do agree with what she is saying here, and I think she says it well.
    My frustration with this, and with so many critiques of our current system is that – yes, we delineate what is wrong, but we don’t seem to have any vision of what an ethical system would look like. That’s the hard question, but it needs addressing. Where are we going? What models are there for what an ethical, sustainable, egalitarian economic system might look like?

    My view is that the models are out there. I would encourage people to look at Rojava, Syria, the Zapatista communities in Chiapas (Mexico), the Mondragón cooperatives in Spain, the worker cooperative network in Argentina, the vision of Jackson, MS and Marinaleda, Spain, and the New Economic Coalition in the US.

    Not only is it helpful to have something to work towards, because it shows that a better system is possible. But also, it gives us a place to start now, today. We can do more of this because it is already being done and it is working.

  3. So nicely spoken, thank you Pamela…
    Can’t help but think about what I heard, as a kid, all those many years.
    “Don’t let Money become your God”
    Truthfully, I’m seeing that happen and it is troubling.

    Love & Light
    Jules from Northwood, Ohio

  4. Economics or the study of production, consumption, or transfer of wealth can in capitalism become a worship of mammon or against the Spirit of Life. Some in life, do reach a point of fame, like Ghandi, King Jr, Mandela, and Mother Teresa by reaching well beyond the fields of economics, in life with and for others. SPICES (Simple, Peace, Integrity, Commmunity, Equality, Stewardship) provides a solid base for a world of souls reaching beyond the worship of wealth and thereby helping others in their lives. For those individuals, religions, governments, and organizations seeking fame and/or fortune, in the capitalistic system, SPICES can be very difficult to follow and live by.

  5. My take is that this is spot on with what’s going on in the world today economically! Small group of people at the top who are only there for themselves. Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth are the 7 deadly sins. The majority of the ‘people’ who drive the economy of the world today all suffer from at least 5 of these. Scary but true. Economy as we know it is not going to be sustainable as the world cannot keep producing at the rate it has too today so something has to give and something has to change! May it begin to right the many wrongs,

  6. It is bad enough that our economic system is driven by narcissism and consumption.

    Worst of all is that our current economic system is wholly dependent upon maintaining and increasing the levels of poverty to support it.

    Last of all is the problem of the oil companies and war industry maintaining a clutch hold upon our economy.

    We already know the answers, we just are unable to effectively act upon them.

  7. This is the first post that has come close to asking questions similar to those of Henry George, 19th c. economist. I learned about him in the ’90’s in NYC at the Henry George School. There were Quakers from NJ who were taught Georgist ideas at home from their parents !! HG was from Pa. also, I think Harrisburg. Certainly has applications today.

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