Opinion: Solutions to Inequality: Quakernomics and Economic Justice

  1. Unemployment
  2. Subsistence wages
  3. Hazards to Health
  4. Harm to the environment

These are the four results of unregulated capitalism according to Mike King in Quakernomics. In his book, which I highly commend, he details the history of Quakers in industry and how they modelled an ethical capitalism which served the community. “Quakernomics is the enthusiastic pursuit of economic activity as a social good.” We can always learn from history. In this blog I will explore what lessons gleaned from the Quakers can be applied to economic and social problems today.

The Quakers valued the entrepreneur, but gave equal value to the workers who brought new ideas to fruition. Equality and the worth of every individual were key. Owners and workers were interdependent.

Quaker qualities which led to business success were hard work; trustworthiness; fair pricing; the avoidance of debt; the oversight of and accountability to the Quaker Meeting; and a concern for maintaining the Quaker reputation. Quakers valued simplicity in daily life and not excess; they reinvested profit; they believed in corporate welfare. Capitalism was not solely about maximising profit. There was a duty to use the surplus made to fulfil their obligation to those who had helped achieve that surplus. Good wages and good working conditions were valued.

Chesham & Amersham, my constituency, has strong Quaker roots. William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was a local boy. Danny Boyle opened the 2012 Olympics with a tribute to the Quaker Abraham Darby, symbolically using a river of molten iron to show the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The Darby family set up schools, built houses and provided sickness insurance for their workers, all entirely voluntarily.

The Cadbury family, using profits from the chocolate business, built Bournville, a model village with housing, schools and facilities for the community (not just their workers). Joseph Rowntree, with money from confectionary, provided his staff with a library, free education, a doctor, dentist and pension fund. He also built a garden village, New Earswick, Yorkshire, and said, “I do not want to establish communities bearing the stamp of charity but rather of rightly ordered and self-governing communities.” Rowntree’s legacy as a social and political reformer is evident in the four trusts which bear the Rowntree name.

These are just some examples of the many good works done out of the Quaker business ethic, “a duty to make the honourable maintenance of the brother in distress a common charge.” This was an acceptance that the owners of a means of production (business) have an ethical obligation to their workers.

How can we make these attributes work in the 21st century? One of the main reasons I entered politics last year was because of economic inequality and the increasing disparity between the wealthy and poor. We need fair trade.  We need a living wage. We need regulation that limits salary differentiation between hospital consultants and cleaners; vice-chairs of corporations and clerical staff; head teachers and learning support assistants; bankers and bank tellers. I’d like to see pay disparity tackled, with legislation that does not allow for the salaries at the top to be more than five times the salaries at the bottom of any pay structure. Furthermore, all third-party government contracts could have the same pay ceiling as the civil service and be required to pay a living wage. Radical?  It will make for a happier, healthier, safer and more equal society.

I would argue for effective government, not big government.  Freedom to start and develop businesses, but in a fair and equal way, regulated so that business serves community and not the other way around.

We need to recognise the unearned contribution the environment makes to business and industry. This is an argument King makes powerfully in Quakernomics. The earth and her resources belong to all of us. The power derived from the harnessing of non-human energies – coal, oil, water, wind, solar and nuclear power – and a portion of the profit generated from that power should be shared between all. The use of non-human energies in wealth creation needs to be part of economic policy.

The Quakers believed that none should trade beyond their ability, and none “stretch beyond their compass” (go into debt or borrow more than they can pay back). These would be good rules for us to live by today. Further ideas on how we can build a more just and sustainable world can be found at Quakernomics blog. And just look at Quaker history…the success of their many businesses shows that their approach works.

* Kirsten Johnson was the PPC for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election. She is a pianist and composer at www.kirstenjohnsonpiano.com.

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44 Comments

  • I think it’s time to start shifting back the moral goalposts for business, reversing the moves under the cultural revolution begun in the 1980s.

    No honours for leaders of companies that don’t treat their employees decently. No government contracts either. An approved code of conduct for tax payment, with naming and shaming for companies that choose to flout it.

  • Kirsten johnson 16th Feb '15 - 9:26am

    I agree, RC. Thank you both for supporting the ideas. We need to make change happen. Best, Kirsten

  • I think ethical leadership is increasingly important and the examples of good ones of old are worth recalling and emulating.

  • Kirsten johnson 16th Feb '15 - 9:33am

    Yes, that’s right, Michael, It’s good to be reminded that good, ethical leadership works.

  • Bill le Breton 16th Feb '15 - 9:45am

    I agree with RC.

  • I’ve recently become friendly with a Quaker and was really impressed regarding her ideas regarding social justice. As an agnostic I’m always a little uncomfortable with adopting religious ideas, but there seems to be real merit in the Quakers view of capitalism and how to best tame it for the good of all society, not just the wealthy. I agree with RC’s sentiment too.

    I wish you the very best in the election, you sound like just the sort of person that could help restore some faith in politics!

  • With dubious business practice very topical, now seems a good moment to propose that governments tilt the playing field in favour of ethical and fair practices.

    Let’s hope Kirsten can push Party policy in this direction.

  • Simon McGrath 16th Feb '15 - 10:53am

    ” I’d like to see pay disparity tackled, with legislation that does not allow for the salaries at the top to be more than five times the salaries at the bottom of any pay structure”
    In other words you want to see corporate profits higher and shareholder richer. Why ?

  • Kirsten
    Great article, thank you.
    I also endorse the comment from RC.

    There as just two words in your article that caused me distress. I would have been delighted if your sentence had simply been — “..The earth and her resources belong to all of us. The power derived from the harnessing of non-human energies – coal, oil, water, wind, solar .”.
    Your inclusion of “nuclear power” an energy source that derives from and still serves as a cosmetic cover for a weapons programme, real weapons of mass destruction, seems to sit oddly in an article on the merits of a Quaker approach.
    Until the Chernobyl- Fukushima- Aldermaston- dangers of nuclear have been resolved how can it contribute to a “..happier, healthier, safer and more equal society” ?
    Until the disposal of the waste product of nuclear power stations is a scientific possibility we should not touch this fundamentally flawed technology. After more than 80 years of research science is no nearer to finding a solution to this problem, a problem that grows every week that nuclear power stations continue to add to the world’s stock of radioactive poison.

  • Malcolm Todd 16th Feb '15 - 11:32am

    Simon McGrath
    “In other words you want to see corporate profits higher and shareholder richer. Why ?”

    A wholly unjustified conclusion, unless you believe that it would somehow be impossible to recycle the money saved from high salaries into either investment or raising the salaries of the lowest paid. There are sensible criticisms to be made of the idea of legislating for a maximum 5x differential in pay, but this is not one of them.

  • >In other words you want to see corporate profits higher and shareholder richer. Why ?

    …because you’ve converted the companies into mutuals/co-op’s where the shareholders are the workforce and it’s run for their benefit?

  • Simon McGrath 16th Feb '15 - 11:58am

    @malcolm – why would companies decide to pay higher salaries to lower paid employees rather than more money to shareholders?
    @Chris B – I am all in favour of more mutuals but how are you proposing to turn anything but a small number of firms into mutuals ?

  • Further ideas on how we can build a more just and sustainable world can be found at Quakernomics blog

    Simon McGrath, did you follow this link in Kirsten’s original article? It answers the questions you ask.

  • Kirsten johnson 16th Feb '15 - 12:45pm

    Hi John, yes I agree that nuclear is problematic. There are arguments to be made in favour of the new kind of closed-cycle nuclear reactors which generate power efficiently and recycle the waste by-product, and can also use a lot of the nuclear waste currently being stored. But to develop such reactors requires investment and there is, indeed, the environment to protect from future disasters. As we have so much wind and wave power at our disposal, I’d like to see more wave-generated power personally.

  • Kirsten johnson 16th Feb '15 - 12:50pm

    Hi Simon, Malcolm, Chris and others, yes, I realise suggesting a 1:5 pay ratio is provocative, but I think differences in salary need to be tackled. Yes, I’d like to see more mutuals and/or more investment of profits in the community/work force benefits. But I mainly wanted to get people discussing this, because after talking to a lot of people on the doorstep I’m hearing that the basic unfairness of salary differentiation is a very sore point to a lot of voters.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Feb '15 - 12:59pm

    Dear Kirsten and LDV, I believe this article is currently far left and shouldn’t have been published. We may as well give up if we are going to start pitching far left positions.

    RC seems to be saying we should go back to the 70s, surely there is a middle way without agreeing to Thatcher’s and sometimes even Blair’s niavety?

    The rest of the comments, besides Simon McGrath’s, seem to see no danger with being a far left party. And by the way, if the 5 x pay cap needs to be brought in, not only will it destroy the Premier League and plenty of other businesses in the UK, but we’ll also have to ditch ministerial salaries.

    Kirsten, as a parliamentary candidate for the Lib Dems you should be pitching something closer to the party’s present position.

    Best regards

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th Feb '15 - 1:18pm

    Kirsten – Thank you for introducing (many of) us to this excellent Quaker ideal.

    I agree with everyone apart from Simon McGrath who seems to miss the point completely – that a) ‘Bosses’ ability to award themselves silly money would be significantly curtained and b) if the company was profitable then the rewards would be much more likely to be shared equitably within the company.

    As we all know more equal societies do not only offer their citizens improved economic outcomes but those of health, contentment, improved mental health, longevity and several other measures of well being.

    For the consideration of the politically confused I add:

    “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a FAIR, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, EQUALITY and COMMUNITY, and in which no one shall be enslaved by POVERTY, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, DIGNITY AND WELL BEING of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. … … We will foster a STRONG AND SUSTAINABLE economy which encourages the necessary WEALTH CREATING processes, develops and uses the SKILLS OF THE PEOPLE and works to the BENEFIT OF ALL, with a JUST DISTRIBUTION of the rewards of success. … … We want to see democracy, participation and the CO-OPERATIVE PRINCIPLE in industry and commerce within a competitive environment in which the state allows the market to operate freely where possible but intervenes where necessary. … … but that THE MARKET ALONE DOES NOT DISTRIBUTE WEALTH OR INCOME FAIRLY. We support the WIDEST POSSIBLE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH and promote the rights of all citizens …”

    Nothing about the Liberal Democrats supporting a system where people know their place and are grateful for their lot once their betters have creamed off unjustifiably high salaries and bonuses.

    Kirsten, you might consider the 1:5 pay ratio provocative but nothing like as provocative as the direction salaries and society have been heading in recent years!

    This should have been on the front page of our manifesto!

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th Feb '15 - 1:23pm

    Kirsten johnson16th Feb ’15 – 12:50pm

    “but I mainly wanted to get people discussing this, because after talking to a lot of people on the doorstep I’m hearing that the basic unfairness of salary differentiation is a very sore point to a lot of voters.”

    I agree Kirsten. This would be a highly desirable ‘common ground’ policy with the vast majority of the electorate and should be natural Lib Dem territory.

  • Simon McGrath 16th Feb '15 - 1:55pm

    @Kirsten – so do you think that Wayne Rooney should be paid less and the shareholders of Man U more ?

  • Simon McGrath 16th Feb '15 - 1:56pm

    @Stephen ” b) if the company was profitable then the rewards would be much more likely to be shared equitably within the company.”
    On what evidence do you base that ? Can you give some examples please

  • James Doyle 16th Feb '15 - 2:04pm

    Could the Quakers force their views on them. If you didn’t subscribe to their collectivism would you be put in jail? I think the answers to both questions are no. You would just be banished form the Quaker community.

    So now you wish gov’t use “enforce” Quaker ideals on all? Not a good idea. I think free will is a better idea.

  • Kirsten johnson 16th Feb '15 - 2:49pm

    I think football clubs should invest more of their profits in the community. This could be in providing sports facilities (not just for football, but for other less well-funded sports) and by encouraging sport amongst young people in sponsoring local clubs, training local coaches, working in local schools, etc. I’m sure some of this is already happening (I hope) but a lot more could be done. And keeping in mind the Quaker model, investment in community could also mean housing, health and social care, libraries, etc. How about a hospice funded by a football club?

    There is a lovely example in Quakernomics about James Reckitt of Reckitt and Sons. This company made millions in starch and boot polish, and invested in their community through housing, hospitals, libraries, an orphan’s home, etc. What is noteworthy is that workers also benefitted from the company’s profits, receiving sums “in proportion to the annual dividend on the ordinary shares.” Sir Reckitt also had enough left over to buy a very nice art collection.
    Clearly his business model worked, generating company profit for shareholders, the workers and the community.

    This is not leftist. It is a middle ground. We need to tackle rampant capitalism. Mike King advocates capitalism, but one in which profit for shareholders is not the sole raison d’être. Surely generating profit in a healthy way, and then investing that profit back into the company, its workers and the community should be the way forward?

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th Feb '15 - 3:12pm

    Simon McGrath16th Feb ’15 – 1:56pm

    Er .. the implication of the Quaker Law.

    I actually wrote, “that a) ‘Bosses’ ability to award themselves silly money would be significantly curtained and b) if the company was profitable then the rewards would be much more likely to be shared equitably within the company.”

    I appear to have been knobled by a spell checker but I meant curtailed!

    Simon, are you telling me that boards would simply reduce their own salaries and pass on the additional profits to the shareholders or to themselves as shareholders … oh yes your are saying that aren’t you. 🙁

    Would it not be a more likely outcome that over a period of years there would be a closing of the excessive gap that now exists or that if they did attempt to pocket it, (which I believe they would), then we would enforce share ownership and hence profit sharing?

    Obviously SME’s would probably need a greater emphasis on investment rather than higher pay but this is an excellent starting point to right some of the wrongs arising from the last 35 year of unfettered, pig trough, neo-Con economics.

    And while on that topic, can you explain to me why it is highly desireable for say bankers and bosses to benefit from the rewards of their efforts (I am feeling generous today) and be so motivated to achieve more but that the very same rules can not apply to ordinary workers?

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th Feb '15 - 3:15pm

    @ John Tilley
    “Until the disposal of the waste product of nuclear power stations is a scientific possibility we should not touch this fundamentally flawed technology. After more than 80 years of research science is no nearer to finding a solution to this problem, a problem that grows every week that nuclear power stations continue to add to the world’s stock of radioactive poison.”

    Yes, but apart from these and other environmental problems, well, and many economic issues it is a fantastic technology. With all the benefits, I can’t think why more people don’t want them built on their own doorsteps.

  • Denis Mollison 16th Feb '15 - 3:17pm

    “Eddie Sammon 16th Feb ’15 – 12:59pm
    Dear Kirsten and LDV, I believe this article is currently far left and shouldn’t have been published. We may as well give up if we are going to start pitching far left positions.”

    I’m interested in your use of the word “currently”. If you mean that Thatcher and Blair and their followers have dragged UK politics so far to the right that Kirsten’s middle-of-the-road ethical stance is regarded today as “far right”, then it’s high time we started dragging them back. As another commenter observed, quakernomics fits well with the preamble of our constitution.

    On the substantive point of “1:5”, which has clearly been a red rag to some bulls here. It’s the direction of travel that’s important, with FTSE CEO salaries having reached levels around 100 times their average worker’s pay. That pay is set in a spiral of committees of the overpaid recommending each other’s salaries. A good start would be to enforce remuneration committees with a cross-section of the low and the high paid.

    Footballers are another ball park – it is reasonable to take some account of their short careers.
    [Though why TV rights drive their salaries through the stratosphere bewilders me: viewers would be better getting out and kicking a ball around with their friends, children or grandchildren. ]

  • John Broggio 16th Feb '15 - 3:33pm

    What some seem to be missing is that the 1:5 ratio would apply within each company/organisation not across all of society. So a minister (around 2x MPs) would not need any changes in pay following the introduction of such a law; footballers may not be so lucky!

  • The proposal, as I see it, is that the government and other publicly funded bodies would be obliged to cohere to ethical guidelines and that the government in awarding contracts etc would give preferential consideration to businesses that follow the guidelines.

    I see nothing here that JS Mill would have disapproved of and nothing ‘far left’. The idea is that Governments seek not to unwittingly cause harm by rewarding exploitative employers. This is not state control but it is state influence; it all seems very Liberal to me.

  • Eddie Sammon 16th Feb '15 - 5:19pm

    Kirsten, thanks for engaging with my points.

    Denis, I use the word “currently” because I believe in adapting with the times. People’s opinions and emotions are facts that we need to deal with and navigate around. If we make a mistake it can lead to widespread anger and real harm, never mind philosophical disagreements. This is why the public’s opinion should be respected and it is not always “pandering”, as people like to call it. Of course we should also argue for what we personally believe in.

    Thanks

  • I think there is a goon intention behind this but a lot of confusion in what these will mean.

    To raise up some historical ideal (particularly trying to legislate as is suggested) makes for certain unintended consequences. The current corporatist system is not working but we have to be careful to come up with solution that will actually make things better not just have a nice romantic ring to them.

    “The power derived from the harnessing of non-human energies – coal, oil, water, wind, solar and nuclear power – and a portion of the profit generated from that power should be shared between all.”

    The extraction industries pay for extraction rights and taxes (in the case of the north sea so high that future investment is threatened). Do you think that this is not “profit generated from that power should be shared between all”?

    As for a demand for profit from renewables, currently these are subsidised as they are not profitable. But if they were I wouldn’t see it as fair to pick out (for example) Solar as if my neighbour has solar cells and sells them to the market (reducing the price for all of us) they have not stopped me having solar cells as well if I want them. Some things are that they are naturally occurring public goods so why should someone be charged for utilizing a non-rival good?

    There are items that make a lot of sense to “tax” as you suggest (LVT), but I think this is missing the point.

    In relation to the pay question, this is a far larger topic. A couple of quick points though:
    – Credit to you for recognising that disparity of income is more of a factor than the current obsession of disparity of wealth which is often used in a misleading way. However many people object to the excessively high pay of certain company senior managers but this often is a result of is businesses that are far larger than they ever were in the past. People often ignore what the factors are driving this larger and larger pressure (often for the benefit of senior management and at the expense even of investors). These factors include government actions and tax systems that help justify this pressure. In short your conclusion is trying to treat a symptom not a cause, which tends to be a recipe for negative unintended consequences.

    – The focus on salary multiples totally ignores the time factor, Simon McGrath’s example of Sports stars is an extreme example but you get examples of employees who find themselves in short supply and are able to demand very high wages for their skills for a short period, I would not consider restricting these people’s ability to earn very well for a short period (often in relation to choosing to take a risk training in an area not popular when they started, or to remain in an area when others moved to fields that had more constant work levels).

    There are certainly groups of workers (and whole industries) who manage to extract uneconomical portions of value but often it is government who are (I hope unintentionally) maintaining that position. I’m not convinced this romantic view of the history of particular businesses in history will address that problem.

  • David Allen 16th Feb '15 - 6:17pm

    Psi, I do hope there isn’t a goon intention behind this….

  • Little Jackie Paper 16th Feb '15 - 8:43pm

    Eddie Sammon – Nothing at all loony left here. It is very far from theoretical in fact.

    Switzerland flirted with a 12:1 ratio – http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/14/swiss-divide-1-12-executive-pay-referendum. They imposed some very stringent controls on pay in any case – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_executive_pay_referendum,_2013

    We desperately need a Thomas Minder in the UK.

    The rest of the article is, regrettably, a load of hopey-changey nonsense. But the pay stuff may yet be a coming issue.

  • Margaret t paine 16th Feb '15 - 8:46pm

    Human nature will prevail, greed will permeate the tranquil “quakerstate” . To claim an authentic state of social cohesiveness and acceptance, every person would have the mindset of service above self and community above service. All would be contributors and only the invalid and those with mental/physical disabilities would be exempt. The agreed goal of “All needs will be met” can only be successful if all citizens put community above self. The mindset of the Quakers was nothing less than perfection and spiritual in kind. The entitlement mentality would not allow for such cohesiveness, because the vast majority of those using entitlement programs are for self above service and believe the government must provide. The mentality alone negates the Quaker mindset, thus rendering it obsolete.
    not the mindset of the

  • Kirsten johnson 16th Feb '15 - 9:21pm

    I started my first business when I was 13. I figured out I could make more money teaching piano than babysitting, so I wrote my cv and posted it through all the letterboxes in the neighbourhood, undercutting the local piano teacher, and by the end of the month had a full piano studio.
    I embrace capitalism and the opportunities it offers entrepreneurs and business. I am just calling for ethical capitalism. Thank you all for the many ideas, both pro and con, which will be food for thought as I continue to mull this over.
    Re socialism, I researched Albanian piano music for my doctoral dissertation. Under Enver Hoxha’s Stalinist regime, classical musicians were limited in the compositions they could study and perform, and composers were limited in the music they could compose. All musicians were fed, housed and given instruments and time to rehearse/compose, but they were restricted in their artistic endeavours by the state. My research made real to me how much I value freedom. I do not wish a state where government controls and dictates. Rather one which enables, protects and supports. I believe an ethical capitalism is the way forward. Clever taxation to encourage good behaviours is one way forward; government contracts requiring certain business practices is another. In the present climate, enforcing tax law and continuing to close tax loopholes – we Liberal Democrats have closed 40 loopholes while in Government – is a must.

  • Eddie Sammon 17th Feb '15 - 2:38am

    Dear Kirsten, I don’t doubt your pro enterprise credentials and think you have the potential to be an excellent MP. I am just trying to help. 😀

    Best of luck

  • David,

    Quite right that should have said good.

    I have no way of knowing if the intentions here would have been shared by Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers or Harry Secombe.

  • @Simon McGrath – well that’s easy, how do you get business to do anything? You make it tax efficient to do so, and you make anything else less profitable, then, just as now, the accountants will specific the optimal structure and the directors will make it so. By doing that you’d make the individuals wealthier, get rid of the fatcat shareholders and completely change corporate culture and accountability. At the moment, any small business owner will recognise this situation as being the reason they formed a limited company and adopted the associated tax practices.

    The structures in capitalism are mainly arbitrary, there’s no reason I can see to think that more egalitarian structures couldn’t produce a better result for more people. The tone of your questions infers that you think this facet of our economy/society immutable, but I deem that a most blinkered view of capitalism, and one that must ultimately fail because at the moment is there’s little corporate raison d’être. It’s hard to motivate workers with the promise of richer shareholders, and it’s this slightly surreal concept that we expect to drive our current model. What Kirsten’s suggesting seems more plausible than what we currently have.

  • Kirsten

    “Clever taxation to encourage good behaviours is one way forward”

    I would suggest the opposite, the development of the 17000 pages of UK tax code is trying to be too clever by half.
    Too many attempts to push people in a way that politicians and nosey busybodies (particularly the likes of the media) have deemed politically acceptable.
    Added to the dishonest approach of treasury officials and politicians who have designed a system of corporate taxation where they want to take a small looking slice of the same money several times rather than honestly state the rate they want to take and take it once. The north sea oil firms are paying 86%, but paid through small slices taken over and over.
    Starting from a point to wanting tax to be “clever” is a dangerous place. There are times when taxes have a need for complexity (then cross border flows are involved to avoid arbitrage) but simplicity of intent and transparency of rates would be an important part of any improvement.

    The description of the I dislike the term “loopholes” when we discuss tax avoidance as it suggests that they were not intentional by the treasury when it wrote the code. The reality is that we have spent a significant amount of time to create gaps in the tax code which allows politicians to “pick winners.” We moved away from subsidies after the 1970s as the damage was evident and the ability of politicians and officials to spot the “winners” was obviously a joke. Instead the last Labour government tried to reinstate it using tax law instead, salami slicing 40 schemes is not sufficient a significant rework is needed in the short terms to give a lot more simplicity and transparency but then a longer term plan to rework it in to a very simple system that sets the underlying incentives in the right direction.

  • Kirsten johnson 17th Feb '15 - 10:55am

    Psi – I agree that what is needed is “a longer term plan to rework it [tax law] in to a very simple system that sets the underlying incentives in the right direction.” By clever I did not mean complicated. I rather meant insightful and well-thought out. Some of the cleverest people I know can put truth in very simple terms.

  • Like so many others here I agree with RC (first comment).

    Eddie Sammon – “Dear Kirsten and LDV, I believe this article is currently far left and shouldn’t have been published. We may as well give up if we are going to start pitching far left positions.”

    Being “far left” isn’t doing Syriza any harm politically speaking. I gather recent opinion polls put their support at close to 50%, up strongly since the election and quite a contrast to the meagre support for neoliberalism. To be fair Syriza’s economic policy isn’t really far left although it suits some to demonise it as such. Varoufakis is a Keynesian who recognises that austerity has failed as it ALWAYS does – not just in Greece but throughout much of Europe.

  • SIMON BANKS 18th Feb '15 - 8:58am

    We appear to have a proposition before us that anything that offends Eddie Sammon shouldn’t be published. Responsible capitalism, it appears, is far left.

    As a Quaker, I’d like to add a supportive comment and a reservation. The Quaker attitude to economic activity was based on some beliefs that are profoundly Liberal and did contribute to the development of British Liberalism – that all people are of equal worth and capable of enlightenment; that individual self-realisation requires co-operation and empowered communities; and that we are custodians, not owners, of natural resources.

    But the Quaker industrialists could also be paternalistic in deciding what was good for their workers. I know of several settlements built by such Quakers that featured no pub at a time when that was very unusual – and Quakers themselves have never as a movement been teetotal.

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Feb '15 - 11:33am

    Simon, it was just my opinion that was all. I can understand those that disagree.

    Regards

  • Malcolm Bell 5th Nov '16 - 12:00pm

    As a Friend in manufacturing industry I was excited by Mike King’s term “Quakernomics’. I have spent most of my career trying to practise the Quaker principles that are so “self evident” to me and I have proved them viable in so many ways in making factory turn rounds.

    Mike King left me greatly disappointed in the end because he offerred no plans, policies, methods or manifesto for action. He did touch on one of my favourite ides: that economics is fundamentally about creating an “ecology”; an environment for healthy social prosperity for all with a lomg term prospect. Having introduced the idea he lost the plot of what that might mean and just generally tailed off.

    The concept, vision and rigorous understanding of economics as ecology is exactly what the old Quakers, and many of us contemporary Quakers, worked to achieve. We need “Quakernomics 2” to explain what that means and how we can achieve it.

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    @ David Allen, Anyone listening to what Ed Davey has said, should have no doubts that Steve Bell is absolutely on the money. The Liberal...