The conflict comes when we separate ethics and economic progress and when we equate the latter with happiness: Desmond Tutu and Bettina Gronblom

by Julia Evans on April 4, 2012

From: Camels can pass through a needle’s eye: by Desmond Tutu and Bettina Gronblom: Financial Times: April 4th 2012: available here

[] added: The conflict comes when we separate ethics and economic progress [or progress in the forms of treating those in distress] and when we equate [or measure] the latter with happiness.

Reason for posting this:

If you separate ethics from treatments of distressed human subjects and equate the disappearance of symptoms with happiness (measured to Government-supported standard) then treatments get held within a perverse power relationship, driven top-down, and regulated by the Government with advice from those who wish to protect their jobs.  This is removed from an understanding of ‘how we should behave to one another’

The following is quoted from the article.

My comments are in [] square brackets.

For millennia there has been a debate about whether there is a conflict between making a profit and faith. Is it, for instance, moral to charge interest rates or is lending exploitation of the poor? To put it more simply, can you be wealthy and spiritual at the same time or do you have to lead a life of austerity to be spiritual?

… Demonstrators [outside St Paul’s Cathedral, London] may have quietened down, but the core issues have not been solved.

… The conflict comes when we separate ethics and economic progress and when we equate the latter with happiness.  [as above]

To be clear, capitalism per se is not at fault. The most appealing thing about capitalist theory is the freedom for the individual. But as Milton Friedman wrote, while we are free to choose, we should not be free to deprive others of their freedom.

… What matters is that we understand how we should behave to one another: namely, following the Golden Rule, that we should treat others as we would have others treat us. … Shareholder responsibility is not only to make profits. How they are made also matters.

We now know, through various studies, that while gross domestic product has increased in the west in recent decades, happiness has not. We cannot worship money and our self-interest alone – it leaves us with a hunger that can never be satisfied by acquiring more goods.  [These arguments are applicable to the Government’s evaluation of different treatments – see NICE here – & the Government’s evaluation of the success of a treatment]

… What is important is finding the balance between greed and having enough, [see posts on limits – never mentioned in the Government’s procedures] and defining what a joyful life means to us.

We all have the potential to feel that “more money is never enough”, particularly when we see vast banking bonuses. But how much do we really need, and what really makes us happy? [Limits again?] …

We cannot tax ourselves out of this and hope that this will solve the problem because we are not addressing the root cause of the behaviour. We are in self-denial because we are treating the symptoms, not healing the patient. [As in the Government’s approaches to the treatment of Mental Health & Wellbeing]

The writers are the former archbishop of Cape Town and the chief executive of Not Just for Profit.