Dr Christoph Schumacher: Professor of Innovation and Economics, Massey University Auckland, posits the question from his recent exceptionally well attended public lecture.
"I saw this professorial lecture as a chance to say what Ive really wanted to say for years, that our current economic mantra is always about growth, but continuous economic growth is not environmentally sustainable, and it is not making us happy.
"Should we be aiming for continual economic growth within a finite environment?"
In other words, are we New Zealanders becoming more happier and less stressed with our current economic system of unrelenting economic growth that consumes resources and pollutes our planet?
Theres not a single country (other than possibly Bhutan) on this planet that doesnt have economic growth as one of its key targets. But we have to stop and ask ourselves why?
'The drive for greater growth and productivity is depleting our resources without satisfying our material desires. He has linked current GDP growth with various happiness surveys and found the more we grow our national wealth, the less happy we become.'
This interview covers areas of where innovation needs to be encouraged with more readily available financial resources, tax incentives (and disincentives) as well as better planning and know how.
Also, the perceived leadership especially from the higher echelons of Government needing to language far more of the basic attributes of community and what we are leaving for our children's future.
For example, NZers are working longer and harder than we were 6 years ago but in Germany there are laws keeping work to 35 to 37 hours a week, and yet their profitability is better and according to Christoph, a German worker works about 400 hours a year less than NZ. That equals 50 days, and as Germany is doing economically very well, where is NZ putting its focus and what is it that we want to grow?'
Is over arching media, a big intrusive programming machine, telling us to buy this, think that, go there, try these, making NZers spend beyond their means? Like; Buying Now, to Save? And New Zealanders are right at the top of that list – our credit card debt is one of the highest in the OECD.
We are being manipulated by TV, yet in Northern Europe there are laws outlawing certain types of TV advertising in front of children of a certain age.
Subjects this interview covers, our Government instead of being servants of the people, are pushing other agendas? Being business friendly at the expense of the environment, and sustainability, not encouraging organics, a cleaner and greener country and that the TPPA the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is not being looked at or even acknowledged within the academic arena?
Christophs favourite quote comes from British ecological economist Tim Jackson: "Our problem is we are persuaded to buy things we dont need, with money we don't have, to make impressions that wont last, on people we dont care about." Thats it in a nutshell.
An interesting insight to how universities in NZ are positioning themselves in the narrative of commerce and community and how humans should live in these very rapidly changing of times. Especially, with increasing corporate dominance of our country and what this may mean for our common future.
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Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'