Prosperity debate 20.10.11

As the euro wobbles and personal and national debts mount around the world, we took a moment approaching Diwali to debate prosperity. Which involved into a debate around prosperity and scarcity – the yin and yang of creativity and progress according to the group.

Here are some highlights of what they said (statements in italics are verbatim, those in bold were supported by at least 70%):

Prosperity is a broad concept

  • My definition of prosperity is much broader than when I was in my 20s. The sun is shining, I am learning new things

Also mentioned: freedom,. education, family, sharing, mentors, work hard play hard. Seen by some as a privilege, a luxury for some people in some countries, not broadly available to all.

Prosperity is desirable and allows progress / evolution

  • Your kids are learning a lot of things that you had no chance to… (thanks to increased prosperity)
  • if all my energy goes into finding the next meal, when is the moment of brilliance going to emerge?

Prosperity also comes with risks

  • risk: smugness, complacency, stagnation
  • Risk to forget about the less fortunate

Though a smaller group disagreed with this view

  • At systemic level I disagree about complacency …. there is always a push from the bottom …. if you get complacent you stop growing …. others will ….

Prosperity and Scarcity

  • Scarcity creates some urgency in solving problems. So a good driver. But I think it leads us to focus on the basics so no good for human evolution
  • I like the occasional bit of scarcity eg a 2 hour power cut, a day when the shops are closed. It leaves me joyful when it is over
  • Plenty of budget makes us unimaginative, plenty of time makes me lazy
  • At the begining, need / scarcity motivates change, creativity …. then without a bit of prosperity you get stuck

Prosperity can be nurtured

The greatest levels of agreement were around ways to encourage prosperity

    • Continue to give freedom to women
    • Invest in clean and cheap energy (we are not there yet!)
    • Teach prosperity in schools (an inclusive view of prosperity which includes social capital, beauty, creativity, caring as well as financial security)
    • Continue to reduce trade barriers (e.g. CAP policy in Europe, fran subsidies in the US)
    • Continue to try to remove dictators …. (e.g. good news today about Gaddafi!)
    • Continue to educate all people
    • Nobody needs more than ten years living expenses. So increase your prosperity by sharing your wealth (or skills)


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