Making Group Decisions

If war is the violent resolution of conflict, then peace is not the absence of conflict,
but rather, the ability to resolve conflict without violence.
C.T. Butler

Debate Question:
How do you resolve group conflict without violence?
Choose a side:
Team A) A strong dictatorship leads to a peaceful, unified society, so if a group has a strong leader, then everybody just follows them, and things are easily resolved.
Team B) If there are fair rules made, and everyone knows what the rules are, then you just need a leader to be an arbitrator, and find out who was within the rules, and who wasn’t. This is fair because everyone knows what the rules are, and knows they have to follow them.
Team C) Moderator
Team D) Whoever makes a decision, the decision still has to be accepted by the rest of the group [society, citizens, etc.] So it would work a lot better if everybody participated in making the decision, because then they’d all be satisfied with the resulting decision.

On Conflict and Consensus: a handbook on Formal Consensus decisionmaking

Taipei Discussion of Making Group Decisions

Participants: Jeff, Mary, Clark aka Superman, Maggie, Willie, Fanny, Lynn, Angela

I will pick team d. actually, when I read the teams, I think team a, if the leader makes a wrong decision, it’s bad for everybody. I don’t think team b is good, because I don’t think that the world can be really fair. I think that whoever makes the decision, the more people make the decision, people might accept the decision, so I will stand for team d

I want to choose team d, and I can’t agree with lynn more. I think in this society, we should negotiate something with others. So I think team d is the suitable idea for group decisions.

I think I’m team b. because some decision, if everyone vote, maybe there are too many. If there are a lot of people, millions of them, its hard to ask all of them for simple things. You don't need everyone. So maybe it’s better to have rules, and they ask a leader to form a consensus, and then they have different leaders they vote for. Whoever got the most votes, they will be the one selected , the majority rules.

I also choose team b. if there are some fair rules made, it’s okay. If there’s some unfair rules, then I don’t want team b. we can make everyone satisfied, and we can’t have everyone participate the decision, it will take a lot of time and money.

It’s a time-consuming thing to do.

But we can make the rules, and maybe we can choose one leader to make everyone accept the result.

I choose team b and d, it depends on what kind of issue we concern, and the size of the groups. So for private issues, for when a group people to decide traveling or something else, it’s better to make decision follow the opinion of team b. for the public policies and some strategies in companies, I think it is very hard to make a formal consensus. First one is the definition of the whole people, and the second one is, it is hard to make a solution that satisfies all the people. Because people tend to take their own side. So for public policies and companies, the person who take responsibility make the final decision. Part of important people in this group can make the rule of decision making. So I choose both b and d.

Since we’re talking about formal consensus, I don’t want to talk about team a. it needs lots of discussion, go through some kind of process. So I think team b is better. We’re trying to reach a consensus, in the end we have a solution, but when we coming up this kind of solution, if you follow fair rules, the decision is more strong.

I don’t know which team I will be on, but I just think that if there’s only one person that’s responsible for making decisions, then they might overlook something. also, for team b, there’s no way for everything to be really fair. Sometimes the rule is unfair, or people don’t obey the rules. So I think, everyone has the right to make the proposal, but for the decision making process, like representative democracy, there’s specific people for making the decision. But anyone can propose something. it’s not possible to make a decision which everyone will be satisfied with, and usually people will have their own point of view. So even though there’d be something that would be important to only one person. The pint is not making everyone satisfied, but finding out what’s the best available decision.

So most of you are for representative democracy.

You’re not against it?

We’re not truly in one, though. There’s always these lobby groups, special interest groups who get things done. I think we’re more of an autocracy, but that’s not a good way. It’s hard to find something that’s a good way. I also think a formal consensus is very hard to reach. After all, every person is selfish. We only think from our point of view. Will we think of our next generation. We always think of short-term decision, what saves time, save money. I think I’m always the person who’s skeptical.

Are you against or for representative democracy? I think it’s more efficient. They do the research…

Do they really?

Well, their assistants are. So they just read the materials that their assistants give them. so that’s why they ask dumb questions. But at least there are some people that can do research for them. I think in reality, we just don’t have enough information. But I think the size of the group matters for the

But if everyone who was interested in the process was there, then like 90 percent of your information is there. And if even part of the people come to the process with extra information, then your research is there.

In order to get Taipei people in the process, you’d have to make some sort of rule, that would get people to come in, like 50 percent.

But if people knew that what they decided on would be implemented, that it would be a binding decision, they’d definitely show, and defiantly try to get something done.

What if we made some sort of system where people can vote on what they think is important for the gvt to work on. And the gvt would then make an announcement as to what people were interested in implementing.

That’s an interesting idea, because it’s amore direct link to the gvt, and you wouldn’t have to belong to a political party to get your views heard.

But I think voting for gvt policy issue, not everyone are, they have to have some basic knowledge about it, maybe some people would never know, or never pay attention to it. Or maybe they belong to different social classes, maybe they feel alienated, like they couldn’t vote.

Well, what is our school system for? We need to use it to educate people as to how our society works.

We also have to do something about our legislators. 4 years, make your dreams come true. There’s something wrong with this system.

I agree with Jeff. In our company, in our society, ,everyone has their own interests. For example, what if Angela was the chairman of this company, but doesn’t make good decision, because she only cares about the stock price. So that’s why mentioned the person who takes responsibility is very important. In our society, some people represent citizens, but they don’t take responsibility. So they vote the decision, not for the whole society, but for the certain people. I think that’s the main problem. Because people who make the decision.

If CEO’s were forced to live downstream of their factories, then the world would be a lot less polluted.

Another think, I attended a conference on the issue of how to make a company runs with less risk. And somebody said, all of us, have responsibility of a company. Even though we are not their employee, we are not their managers, but today if we invest this company, we should use our power to put in more money, or draw back money to do the best decision. So I think maybe nowadays, only I can use is our voting power to push our gvt.

See, I don’t think voting is effective. Because once the guy is in, we have no control over them. That’s why I like Clark’s idea better, where we influence what the gvt does directly, provide them direct input on where to go.

What if we used a prediction market to do what Clark’s proposing? What if people could submit ideas and gamble real money, with the gvt bound to implement the decision with the most bets.

So if you can get a group of people to communicate, then they can make a good decision.

But when ever you make a decision, there’s a price. Decision = cost. When you buy something you have to pay money.

I think maybe, if everyone in a group have a consensus to gain the formal consensus, it’s very important. Then everyone will make an effort to improve the communication system. Then the formal consensus may make the dream come true. That’s right, everything is a trade off. There is still need somebody to be an arbitrator. To negotiate each other. Maybe you said this is more expensive, but I will ask others how to solve the problem, how to reduce the cost. But it need a very good, well performed communication system.

Decision comes with price tag.

But I think what’s kind of decision, or what kind of group .. I think that sometimes situations have to respond very quickly.

Well, like the pirates and the captains.

So, right, the person who makes the decision takes the responsibility. So the group makes the long-term decision. But how do you make the leaders of the department follow?

If they could be removed from power by the collective at the next group meeting, then they’ll be motivated to make the best decisions for the group.

But it depends on the culture of the company.

In the business world, people make suggestions, but the boss make the final decision.

But does the boss always make the right decision? I’ve been in four companies now where the boss has made really bad decisions, even though all the employees were like NOoooooo!

It’s his company, so he can ruin it, it’s his money!

But what about the employees livelihood, and their personal investment and their blood and sweat.

Hsinchu Discussion of Making Group Decisions

Participants: Wilson, Angela

How do you get reluctant members –especially big guys who are only there under duress, and these guys are needed or the group is toothless- to participate as equals, and not have to pander to the big guys. i.e., not everyone is participating in good faith?

How do you get people to participate in a process like this as equals?

If it’s a non-profit, there’s no profit-conflict.

In a brainstorming meeting, this would work very well.

Everyone has to be there more or less as equals, and more or less desire to be there.

What do you mean by group, why ‘conflict in the group;”

I was thinking any group of people, bur in my mind was, the nation of Taiwan, or the nation of the US, how do people live together in a group in peace.

There’s no force in the decision: if my dad says to me, because I said so, then there’s force or violence in that. How do you solve any conflict without resorting to any level of violence. Doing things because someone said so.

29. External Hierarchical Structures
When is there not this problem?

When the board members of a corporation meet in this process.

So how do you get the people with power to lower their power?

How do you give power to the little guys?

Probably this is the biggest question facing humankind.

It’s a sham process.

In Chinese culture, we’ve had so many years of empire, all we know is hierarchy.

Do the right thing, not do the thing

A weird mix of pragmatism and having to follow the forms, and a lack of patience. A shortcut mentality, and a short-term thinking mentality.

I think it’s not the size of the group that matters, but the fact of whether there is a deadline or not if a deadline exists, then consensus is not an appropriate process.

Time deadlines are poisonous to group decision making.

Yes, and leaders use this poison effectively to stay the leader.

So group decision making is not easy.

I would say it’s because we are a. obsessed with time and b. used to leaders.

Also it’s a kind of laziness. “fine, they don’t want to listen to me” = phew, I don’t really have to deal with this.

But I think these are very effective questions for evaluating the process:
47. To judge the process, consider the following: Does the meeting flow smoothly? Is the discussion kept to the point? Does it take too long to make each decision? Does the leadership determine the outcome of the discussion? Are some people overlooked?
48. To judge the quality of the end result, the decision, consider: Are the people making the decision, and all those affected, satisfied with the result? To what degree is the intent of the original proposal accomplished? Are the underlying issues addressed? Is there an appropriate use of resources? Would the group make the same decision again?

The Chinese always say, if we had known earlier, we could have done that.

Taiwan is very seat of the pants, but the US is more about planning.

In Chinese culture we say that to maintain the relationship is the first priority.

So you’ll even buy products you don’t need from a company in order to maintain the relationship so later you can have the product you do need.

So long term relationships instead of long term planning.

So even if your company hasn’t got the technical expertise, If we have a long term relationship, I would still ask you to try to develop the product together.

So this is one reason maybe that Taiwan has such a successful culture of small businesses.

The Birth of a Sustainable Economy in the Moray Firth Region of Scotland

Questions to Ponder:
1. Is there a ‘fundamental clash between the economy and the ecology of the Earth’, as it says in paragraph one?

2. In paragraph 8, it says, “the economy cannot be treated as a 'thing' which can be fixed by economists….The economy is an … interconnected, cultural wholeness, which links to our food, energy, houses, communities, values and our own children, as well as to our businesses and our trading relations.” Do you agree?

3. How can we solve the problem of unemployment, or the problem of unequal wealth?
4. Is this something that can be addressed by the ecological movement, or is it a separate issue?

5. If Taiwan is doing well economically, does it mean that every citizen benefits?
6. If so, do they benefit equally?

7. When corporations don’t act in the interests of society, should they be censured?
8. Are corporations selfish?
9. When do corporations act in the interests of society, and when are they only looking out for themselves?
10. do corporations have a natural right to exist?
11. Should they be threatened with termination if they threaten our existence with pollution and other ills?

12. What is ‘wealth’?

13. What, if any, of the following list do you consider to be a component of wealth?
• money
• a stock portfolio and other investments
• an expensive/large/beautiful house
• a expensive/large/beautiful car
• leisure time
• a good education
• being able to work at a job you like
• fresh and delicious food
• easily available food
• plumbing and a flush toilet
• clean air
• low stress levels
• low noise levels
• low levels of pollution
• an absence of garbage

Debate Question:
What makes a society wealthy?
Choose a side:
Team A) If the economy is going well, the society is wealthy.
Team B) If everyone in the economic system has good quality of life, then the society is wealthy.
Team C) Team C’s job is to exercise critical thinking. Their role is to act as the moderators and clarifiers of the discussion. They must ask hard questions of the other teams. They must point out when similar-soundings statements made in the discussion are actually different. They may play ‘devil’s advocate’, (taking positions opposite that of the speaker in order to get the speaker to more precisely explain their position on the topic).
Team D) If most people in the economy have enough money, then the society is wealthy.
Team E) If everyone in the economy is living in balance with their surrounding ecology, then that society is wealthy.

The Birth of a Sustainable Economy
in the Moray Firth Region of Scotland, 1995 - 2015

Taipei Discussion of Sustainable Economy

Participants: Mary, Clark aka Superman, Fanny, Angela

I like team b and e, but not the others, because they emphasize money. but they also make pollution, which damages how you live, so you can’t really be wealthy.
But the problem is, if you want to develop your economy, it causes pollution.

I choose team b and d, because both money and quality of life are important. But team a only emphasizes money, so I didn’t chose a, and team e is the highest level of requirement for societal wealth, so I only choose the minimum requirement.

You’re setting the bar lower, to make it easier to achieve!

The reason I think money and quality are important. If we only emphasize economic growth, people may live in low quality of life, and the crime rate might rise, and also will create many political problems, that in turn will make negative effect on our economic growth. If at the same time, people have the minimum living standard, there are will be many problem that come up, like, even for people living rural area, they really have a good quality of life, but they don’t have much money to sustain their minimum living standards, so they maybe hostile to wealthy people. So it think both of them are necessary.

Well, I don’t know which team I belong to, but I think to make a society wealthy, people have to be satisfied with what they have. I think the point is that to make people content with what they have and what they can use right now, because I think, with good quality of life, lots of money, good economy, that’s like material stuff, that’s just a material point of view. But we just have to be content.

So you are team W.

But that’s just another point of view, because I think the teams which Angela lists here is from the material side.

Yes, I did do that, thinking it would be easier to talk about material things.

I think we are not the only ones to think about the answer to this question. Also president ma and the minister of the economy are thinking about this. Actually I don’t think from team a to team b can make the people wealthy. But if I need to choose one, I’ll choose team b. for the person, first, they have the money, second, they know how to use the money to make their life better, then they have good quality of life and everyone becomes more wealthy. I totally agree with Willie’s opinion. We need to be satisfied with the things we have. And I want to share some suggestion I read, and a few days ago I bought a magazine. The title of the magazine, if you want to be rich, they have some ways. From the start to the end, there are five steps. Step one is relax. You have to let go of pressure to make money. it won’t be that long. The second suggestion is spend less, for example on necessities. Don’t also go and buy starbucks coffee. The third step is we need to save more money. and the next step is, make more money, and the last step is give more. If we have a tender heart, and help other people, this helps too. So it’s not just focus on the physical items, include your hearth, you can become rich.

But I think there has to be minimum level of income and garbage/shit dispersal

But in Nepal, you don’t need a flush toilet.

Okay, so appropriate for the area you’re in. Nepalese maybe can have no flush toilet, and its still sanitary, since there’s few people and a lot of land. But in Taipei, a flush toilet is essential.

But it’s also what you get used to. Before I used to walk to school and that was fine. But when I got used to a bicycle, I could never go back to walking.

Actually, you can go back when you have a strong reason to go back.

Maybe the best way is to show them that, if we go back to a simpler life, it will not destroy our standard of living.
Because so many people don’t want to change their behavior.

Exactly! I don’t want to give up electricity!

Could you give up air conditioning

I think you shouldn’t have to work when it’s too hot, or should be allowed to wear very cool clothes.

Western workers are more efficient?

Vice president of google has written that he has visited Taiwan and china a lot, and said he found that workers usually have many affairs not related to their work during their working time. But in the US, the habit is to only deal with work things during work.

I don’t know which is better.

Many workers in Taiwan complain about the long work hours in Taiwan, but because those boss have taking this kind of low level of work

How you spend your life is quality of life.

Do you agree with question no. 2?

When we look at how the world bank puts a grade on a country, they will not just talk about economic growth, but also on gvt efficiency, quality of environment, how convenient the city. Take India for instance. Some analysis think if India want to keep growing economically, there are a big problem on their hard infrastructure, their water utility system is not developed. So it’s all the components of society are important.

I the economy cannot be fixed totally be economists. I think we need to fix the economy. I think every behavior in the world, we can regard them as the economy. We buy something, we sell something. I think the economy is everything.

So how does everyone help fix the economy.

Closing statements:
I think economy is complicated, it also means price of oil, price of food etc. I hope the next four years, the gvt can create a good economic environment, and everyone can do the thing they want to do. If I have time, I also want to open a restaurant. That’s my conclusion.

I think from today’s discussion, I think economy’s a kind of, a must know field people have to know during their life. When people think economy, they think money. but it’s also the reflection of our life. The basic principles of our life, even if they are not exchanged through money, it’s also the economy. The ecology and money, as you mentioned here. Economics classes mention the limited resources, and unlimited desire. We don’t have to pay money sometimes, but we pay with our future. That’ why we have to learn the economy, because in Taiwan, people don’t have a sense of the economy, so they see really short-sighted. Kind of irrelevant, just like those farmers growing fruit. If like in summer, the most expensive fruit is guava, next season every one grows guava next season, so then it’s a huge waste, and it gets thrown out or at politicians. It’s what we have to learn, as a common sense, like we learn when we’re really young. It’s not just models and calculations. It’s a sense of it, we have to analyze it economically.

Someone needs to make an MPM system for economics.

I really don’t like doing calculations, because they interfere with my intuition.

And if I have money, I would invest in that course.

I could write, economics for dummies.

Or for gradeschool kids!

I want to second Willie. If people understand economics, it will make the world work better. And my conclusion is that, for the whole society, to achieve the high quality of life, and the sustainable standard of living, is both important. But for our self, everyone should be satisfied with what he has own now if these two parts can be run well, that will make society wealthy. I think today we learn a lot on how to make our dreams come true, from angela's experience, so I think everyone can try to make the first step, to go to change our society.

So I learned a lot today, the class is really fantastic tonight, I learned a lot.

Hsinchu Discussion of Sustainable Economy

Participants: Wilson, Peter W., Kevin, Angela

Interesting to say they are related. The ecology is one problem, and unemployment is another. To say that they are related is really interesting. The article puts a strong relationship between these two issues.

The relate ecology to wealth, and then unemployment. At the face of it, it looks unconnected, but wealth connects it.

The writer is just broaden their observation. Gives some perspective under the social problems, so he broadens the scope.

On working 4 days week:
If I can work one day less in a week, and reduce my salary by 5 % I can agree. Because more and more temp workers, for example, in my company, the temp worker, the ration is over 40%. So I think it’s a trend. In year 2000, we see the many things is heading by an E. email, reform some title. Start with e. but now the trend change to emphasize on the mobile. Everything emphasize mobile, so like pc, now change to notebook. So the same trend may be now, even for the you know manpower, distribution or utilization. It emphasizes your mobility, to work all over the world. So I think the working days change, I don’t know maybe countries could consider the referendum to decide how may working day sin the week is most accepted by all people. But I don’t know how much the contribution will reduction the unemployment rate by reducing the working days.

But the difference is to count the working hour. Think about, then the company need more worker to do your job, it’s not a trend for you mention, the e-society or mobilized working style. You can work anywhere, any times, it reduces working hours at office, but your productivity is not reduced, so you don’t need another worker to do the job for you. It’s a kind of contradiction.

Why does our economy have to grow and grow. Why, if you made the same amount of money last year, you failed?

Labor job is different than knowledge, when you’re making things, the longer you work, the more you make, knowledge workers it’s not that direct a relationship.

Why don’t we count psychological growth? We only count money growth.

We were talking about productivity. We define it as output divided by input. In china and India, their input is very huge, but you cannot say their productivity is high. What I say, is we work more hours a week doesn’t mean our productivity is high. It depends on your measure indicator, like some knowledge worker. You can’t imagine what you achieved to day, it might take some time. You can’t say your productivity is lower.

It’s another question, about how to measure productivity

In our company, the indicator is very clear, we calculate by the total goods sold out value, divided by total labor. So we can evaluate by how much you contribute to company by person.

So its revenue divided by employee.

So if you can achieve a million us dollars per month. If you can achieve this production value with 100 people for example last year you inputted 100 operators, but this year you reduced labor input to 80 operators, but you can achieve the same production value, then you have achieved 20%.

According to my experience of stock investment, normally the finance analysis think the growth momentum is much more important that your growth in EPS earning per share, or some money you earn.

The rate of increase is more important than the money you earned.

It means that some two bit startup is more valuable than IBM? Because the startup has 20% increase and IBM has only 2%? Even if IBM’s capitalization is 200 times the startup?

Team b and E are similar

The difference is, b, you could have 1, 2 and 3 world, but e there’s only one world.

For question b, I need to know what is ‘good quality of life’ and is wealthy, just money, or clean air or what?

I would say, quality is the degree to which you feel satisfied. If you satisfied your lifestyle, you get good quality of life.

So you can choose from questions to ponder 13, so j…

It’s like a criteria.

So we have to decide what makes society wealthy.

I choose team e. because maybe because some disaster earthquake in china, so I think, in the process of our continuous pursuit of economic growth every year, so I think we did cause some damage unintentionally, I need to say. Nobody intended to create all this pollution.

But nobody intended not to, either!!

But I think, every company, if you want to sustain in the global market, you have to do some investment on your product design, or your building your manufacturing process, to reduce the impact to the global environment. It’s also inevitable application of any enterprise to, if they want to survive or pursue the sustainable growth in their business. So I think, if a country is a economic growth add the cost of environmental destruction, I think their society cannot be valued as wealthy. So I think everyone in the earth have to contribute your effort on the environment you live, you work, and also every countries you travel. So I choose team b as a definition of wealthy society.

Actually my choice is same as Wilson. I would choose team b or team e. b is more material life, and team e is more spiritual life. If you change economic system to ecological system, its really more real.

I choose team d, , society is composed of human beings. Everyone live in the society, the relationship is, maybe is appear in the economy, the economic system. The other point is the economic system as this article mentioned, we need a sustainability. The definition Angela gave us of sustainability is ‘keep on existence’. So the economic system needs to keep existing, so it has to be composed of all economic elements to be sustainable. So for economic life, you have to be satisfied. So if everyone feels comfort able to live in society, it means society is wealthy.

I also choose team b, I think, good quality of life is a dream everyone is looking for. But the definition of quality, is balance between you and environment, and between your financial status and you’re mental balance. And it depends on balance between what you do and the impact on nature and the environment. So having this balance is wealth.

May I raise a question, you mentioned a key point of balance. So you do you make sure to keep a balance in society. Some trade off. A lot of trade off mean you make up your decision. So you make the trade off have a lot of factor, so it means you weight things. So you do you make sure you get the balanced situation for every situations.

So you can say how to you measure success, how do you measure growth. You look at philosophy. You look at in terms of how much money you make. If something is financially sound, it can be called successful. Maybe there’s no standard. Just like how do you measure success, it’s different from mine.

Like, what’s a good life quality.

Well, but you can find the principles, what’s the difference between success and failure?

It’s a kind of situation you feel satisfaction.

Like we were talking about yagaiism. What’s a mutually beneficial trade, that’s a kind of balance?

But the problem is the earth is silent.

Not so much, we need to learn how to listen!!

But I think balance should be thought of as dynamic, not static. Maybe your physical condition is getting worse, but you get some psychological satisfaction. But you can’t do this for too long, like Angela said, we get exhausted. So it’s the same situation with the earth and the environment. So we take some resources, at the same time we have to guarantee that something can be recovered.

I think the bottom line of keeping balance, is not doing any bad to either side. Even if we don’t get the same portion…

It’s unbiased to each side.

I think the balance is dynamic on each side.

A dynamic balance is a kind of stability.

Matter is continually transformed, nothing is lost, nothing is gained.

Like the yinyang of taichi.

Another kind of balance is harmony, if you harmonize everything.

Or like the two fish, if one fish moves, the other one has to move.

War is inevitable in a capitalist system. It’s an alternate economy, where you buy things so that things get broken, so that you have to start buying things again. The only reason we haven’t had another one, is that we’ve had china and India as markets to move into. If they weren’t there, we’d need another war.

But wouldn’t you say ecology is a kind of industry, or a kind of economy. Because were talking about green industry, and chief sustainability officer. If consider the economy, and combine the economy and ecology, it’s a kind of business. So do you think some kind of activity related to ecology is business is a good.

I think it depends on the commitment of the company to change.

It can be scientifically quantified, though. We can quantify the balance, and that means we can maintain the ecology, so that means sustainability can be achieved.

Closing statements:
So what is wealth?

Well, money, right.

Well, but money is just relative value, it’s like saying, I have a lot of relative value, so I’m wealth.

Or it’s like a storage for productivity. So saying you have money is like saying you have storage.

And some storage is more stable than others. I have euros!

So, wealth is little like health.

Yeah, but health is a little easier to define, if you’re not sick, you’re healthy, eh?

They’re two sides of the same coin.
I think when you’re seriously ill, you’ll think your health is your wealth.

My colleagues always say, we work over time, then we get the salary rise, then we take the money to see the doctor.

So it’s a kind of balance, because we need doctor.

The Decline of Parenting Skills

Discussion Question:
What’s the best way to learn how to be a parent?

Choose a side:
Team A) If the Government created parenting classes staffed by real experts, that would be the best way.
Team B) People need lots of exposure, especially early exposure, to actual parenting, where they can see how other children are parented.
Team C) Moderator
Team D) Reading good books on parenting theory is the best way to get the best advice.
Team E) Parenting just comes naturally, anyone can be a parent, because they’ve learned from their own parents as they grew up, even if they’re an only child

Hoyden about Town: The Decline of Parenting Skills
ShadowMyth's Multiverse: Group Living
Intentional Communities: Dispelling the Myths

Economic Spirituality

Questions to Ponder:

Agree or Disagree?
1. The basic tool of civilization is the contract.
2. Contracts are voluntary and mutually beneficial.
3. Competition among the most capable leads to the most beneficial trades for everyone, strong and weak.
4. Only freedom—the freedom to achieve, the freedom to trade freely the results of achievement—creates the environment proper to the dignity and spirituality of man.
5. The only dignity, the only spirituality, rests on what a man achieve with his own efforts.
6. All coercion—all force to take from a man his own efforts to achieve—causes spiritual damage and weakens a society.
7. Beggars need to help as well as be helped.

What is coercion?
What kind of actions could be defined as coercive?
When is a choice not really a choice?
e.g.: If your only choice for earning money is to work in a fast-food restaurant for wages that still don’t pay for your basic necessities, can you truly say you’ve chosen that job?

Why do law-abiding and productive human being owe anything to those who neither produce very much nor abide by just laws?
How do you tell if laws are just?

Do we have to take care of handicapped, sick and lazy people with the products of our work?
What philosophical or economic or spiritual justification is there for owing them anything?

Does the world currently exist as an ‘ecology of trade’? Is it a just system?

How does a meritocracy work?
Is a meritocracy the fairest way to run a society?
What role does access to resources play in a meritocracy?

If you could design an economic system, how would it look?
How would people eat?
How would they heat/cool their homes, or cook their food?
How would they do satisfying work?
How would they provide for the other necessities of life?

Debate Question:
Could the imaginary system of Yagaiism work in the real world?

Article Excerpts:
Excerpts 1-5 are from a science fiction short story called “The Beggars of Spain” by Nancy Kress. In this story is a fictitious inventor called Kenzo Yagai, who invented a cheap and limitless source of energy called Y-energy. In the story he also invented a philosophy of economic spirituality, called Yagaiism. People in the story who follow his beliefs are called Yagaiists. These excerpts from the story explain the philosophy of Yagaiism.

Excerpt 1
: from Beaker’s Dozen, “The Beggars of Spain” by Nancy Kress
Kenzo Yagai was coming to the United states to lecture. The title of his talk, which he would give in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, with a repeat in Washington as a special address to Congress was “The Further Political Implications of Inexpensive Power. Leisha Camden, eleven year old, was going to have a private introduction after the Chicago talk, arranged by her father.
She had studied the theory of cold fusion at school, and her global studies teacher had traced the changes in the world resulting from Yagai’s patented, low-cost applications of what had, until him, been unworkable theory: the rising prosperity of the Third World; the death throes of the old communistic systems; the decline of the oil states; the renewed economic power of the United States. Her study group had written a news script, filmed with the school’s professional-quality equipment, abut how a 1985 American family lived with expensive energy costs and a belief in tax-supported help, while a 2019 family lived with cheap energy and a belief in the contact as the basis of civilization. Parts of her own research puzzled Leisha.
“Japan thinks Kenzo Yagai was a traitor to his own country,” she said to Daddy at supper.
“No,” Camden said, “some Japanese think that. Watch out for generalizations, Leisha. Yagai patented and licensed Y-energy in the United States because here there were at least the dying embers of individual enterprise. Because of his invention, our entire country has slowly swung back toward an individual meritocracy, and Japan has slowly been forced to follow.”
“Your father held that belief all along,” Susan said. “Eat your peas, Leisha.”
Leisha ate her peas. Susan and Daddy had only been married less than a year; it still felt a little strange to have her there. But nice. Daddy said Susan was a valuable addition to their household: intelligent, motivated, and cheerful. Like Leisha herself.
“Remember, Leisha,” Camden said, “a man’s worth to society and to himself doesn’t rest on what he thinks other people should do or be or feel, but on himself. On what he can actually do, and do well. People trade what they do well, and everyone benefits. The basic tool of civilization is the contract. Contracts are voluntary and mutually beneficial. As opposed to coercion, which is wrong.”
“The strong have no right to take anything from the weak by force,” Susan said. “Alice, eat your peas, too, honey.”
“Nor the weak to take anything by force from the strong,” Camden said. “That’s the basis of what you’ll hear Kenzo Yagai discuss tonight, Leisha.”
Alice said, “I don’t like peas.”
Camden said, “Your body does. They’re good for you.”
Alice smiled. “My body doesn’t have a contract with the peas.”
Camden said, a little impatiently, “Yes, it does. Your body benefits from them. Now eat.”
Alice’s smile vanished. Leisha looked down at her plate. Suddenly she saw a way out. “No, Daddy look—Alice’s body benefits, but the peas don’t! it’s not a mutually beneficial consideration, so there’s no contract! Alice is right!”
At the lecture, Leisha noticed that she really liked something about Yagai, something that took her a while to name. “Daddy," she whispered in the half-darkness of the auditorium, “he’s a joyful man!”
Daddy hugged her in the darkness of the lecture hall.
Yagai spoke about spirituality and economics. “A man’s spirituality, which is only his dignity as a man, rests on his own efforts. Dignity and worth are not automatically conferred by aristocratic birth, we have only to look at history to see that. Dignity and worth are not automatically conferred by inherited wealth. A great heir may be a thief, a wastrel, cruel, an exploiter, a person who leaves the world much poorer than he found it. Nor are dignity and worth automatically conferred by existence itself. A mass murderer exists, but is of negative worth to society and posses no dignity in his lust to kill.
“No, the only dignity, the only spirituality, rests on what a man achieve with his own efforts. To rob a man of the chance to achieve and to trade what he achieves with others, is to rob him of his spiritual dignity as a man. This is why communism has failed in our time. All coercion—all force to take from a man his own efforts to achieve—causes spiritual damage and weakens a society. Conscription, theft, fraud, violence, welfare, lack of legislative representation—all rob a man of his chance to chose, to achieve on his own, to trace the results of his achievement with others. Coercion is a cheat. It produces nothing new. Only freedom—the freedom to achieve, the freedom to trade freely the results of achievement—creates the environment proper to the dignity and spirituality of man.”

Excerpt 2: from Beaker’s Dozen, “The Beggars of Spain” by Nancy Kress
“If we achieve better than most other people, and if we trade with others when it’s mutually beneficial, making no distinction whether between the strong and weak—what obligation do we have to those so weak they don’t have anything to trade with us? We’re already going to give more than we get, do we have to do it when we get nothing at all? Do we have to take care of their deformed and handicapped and sick and lazy and shiftless with the products of our work?”
“Do the others have to?”
“Kenzo Yagai would say no.”
“He would say they would receive the benefits of contractual trade even if they aren’t direct parties to the contract. The whole world is better-fed and healthier because of Y-energy.”

Excerpt 3: from Beaker’s Dozen, “The Beggars of Spain” by Nancy Kress
“You believe that competition among the most capable leads to the most beneficial trades for everyone, strong and weak.”

Excerpt 4: from Beaker’s Dozen, “The Beggars of Spain” by Nancy Kress
“You’re a Yagaiist—what do you believe in?” Tony demanded.
Leisha took a breath. “I believe in voluntary trade that is mutually beneficial. That spiritual dignity comes from supporting one’s life through one’s own efforts. And from trading the results of those efforts in mutual cooperation through the society. The symbol of this is the contract. And we need each other for the fullest, most beneficial trade.”
“Fine. Now, what about the beggars in Spain?”
“The what?”
“You walk down a street in a poor country like Spain and you see a beggar. Do you give him a dollar?”
“Why? He’s trading nothing with you. He has nothing to trade. “
“I know. Out of kindness. Compassion.”
“You see six beggars. Do you give them all a dollar?”
“You would. You see a hundred beggars and you haven’t got Leisha Camden’s money. Do you give them each a dollar?”
“Why not?”
Leisha reached for patience. “Too draining on my own resources. My life has first claim on the resources I earn.”
Tony grinned. “What if you walk down that street in Spain and a hundred beggars each want a dollar and you say no and they have nothing to trade you but they’re so rotten with anger about what you have that they knock you down and grab it and then beat you out of sheer envy and despair?”
Leisha didn’t answer.
“Are you going to say that’s not a human scenario, Leisha? That it never happens?”
“It happens,” Leisha said evenly, “But not all that often.”
“Bullshit. Read more history. Read more newspapers. But the point is: What do you owe the beggars then? What does a good Yagaiist who believes in mutually beneficial contracts do with people who have nothing to trade and can only take? What do we owe the grasping and nonproductive needy?”
“What I said originally. Kindness. Compassion.”
“Even if they don’t trade it back? Why?”
“Because…” She stopped.
“Why? Why do law-abiding and productive human being owe anything to those who neither produce very much nor abide by just laws? What philosophical or economic or spiritual justification is there for owing them anything? Be as honest as I know you are.”
The question gaped beneath her, but she didn’t try to evade it. “I don’t know. I just know we do.”

Excerpt 5: from Beaker’s Dozen, “The Beggars of Spain” by Nancy Kress
As she drove, she talked in her head to all of them. To Kenzo Yagai she said, Trade isn’t always linear. You missed that. If Stewart gives me something, and I give Stella something, and ten years from now Stella is a different person because of that and is able to give something to someone else as yet unknown—it’s an ecology. An ecology of trade, yes, each niche needed, even if they’re not contractually bound. Does a horse need a fish? Yes.
To Tony she said, Yes, there are beggars in Spain who trade nothing, give nothing, do nothing. But there are more than beggars in Spain. Withdraw from the beggars, you withdraw from the whole damn country. And you withdraw from the possibility of the ecology of help. Beggars need to help as well as be helped.

Excerpt 6:
Meritocracy is a system of government or other organization based on demonstrated ability (merit) and talent rather than by wealth, family connections (nepotism), class privilege, cronyism, popularity (as in democracy) or other historical determinants of social position and political power.

Excerpt 7:
[Meritocracy] is very widely used, even more so in the United States than in Britain. It is usually employed in the sense in which Mr. Blair seems from his speeches to have meant it — a social system which allows people to achieve success proportionate to their talents and abilities, as opposed to one in which social class or wealth is the controlling factor.
But this, as recent counterblasts have made clear, is not what the word was coined to mean. Michael Young invented it in 1958 in his book, The Rise of the Meritocracy. He pointed out in an article in the Guardian last month that he had intended a prophetic satire on what might happen if we placed gaining formal educational qualifications over all other considerations. This, he had argued, would lead to the permanent rejection of anybody who was unable to jump through the educational hoops, including many otherwise able working-class men and women. It would also result in the rise of a new exclusive social class as discriminatory as the older ones. So the word as he used it was not a positive one, but deeply negative in its implications for the future of society.

Excerpt 8:
In our book The Meritocracy Myth we challenge the validity of these commonly held assertions, by arguing that there is a gap between how people think the system works and how the system actually does work. We refer to this gap as “the meritocracy myth,” or the myth that the system distributes resources—especially wealth and income—according to the merit of individuals. We challenge this assertion in two ways. First, we suggest that while merit does indeed affect who ends up with what, the impact of merit on economic outcomes is vastly overestimated by the ideology of the American Dream. Second, we identify a variety of nonmerit factors that suppress, neutralize, or even negate the effects of merit and create barriers to individual mobility.

Excerpt 9:
Working hard is often seen in this context as part of the merit formula. Heads nod in acknowledgment whenever hard work is mentioned in conjunction with economic success. … In fact, those who work the most hours and expend the most effort (at least physically) are often the most poorly paid in society [yet], the really big money in America comes not from working at all but from owning, which requires no expenditure of effort, either physical or mental. In short, working hard is not in and of itself directly related to the amount of income and wealth that individuals have.

Excerpt 10:
According to the culture of poverty argument, people are poor because of deviant or pathological values that are then passed on from one generation to the next, creating a “vicious cycle of poverty.” According to this perspective, poor people are viewed as anti-work, anti-family, anti-school, and anti-success. … Instead of having “deviant” or “pathological” values, the evidence suggests that poor people adjust their ambitions and outlooks according to realistic assessments of their more limited life chances.

Excerpt 11:
Playing by the rules, however, probably works to suppress prospects for economic success since those who play by the rules are more restricted in their opportunities to attain wealth and income than those who choose to ignore the rules.


Questions to Ponder:

1. What is accepting responsibility?
2. How can failing to accept responsibility result in negative consequences?
3. What do people believe who have not accepted responsibility?
4. What terms are used to describe those who have not accepted responsibility?
5. What behavior traits need to be developed in order to accept responsibility?
6. What are the steps in accepting responsibility?

7. What is our responsibility to society? To family, to friends, to ourselves?

8. What is the cost of cheap goods?
9. Pollution from manufacturing?
10. Does measuring the economy in money discount many of the real costs?

11. If people are born as a random event, does that mean they have no responsibility to the world?
12. Are caring and responsibility the same thing?
13. Can a person not be a part of the world?

14. What is the intersection between self-interest and responsibility?

Debate Question:
To what extent are we responsible to/for other people 
[family, friends, strangers, other countries, all of humanity]?

Choose a side:
Team A) We are responsible to/for family and friends.
Team B) We are responsible to/for no one but ourselves.
Team C) Moderator
Team D) We are responsible to/for the entire world.
Team E) [make your own position on who we are responsible to/for]

Articles: Responsibility
Eject! Eject! Eject!: Responsibility
Wikipedia: Enlightened Self-Interest
Wikipedia: Social Responsibility
Wikipedia: Corporate Social Responsibility
Wikipedia: Accountability