Sunday, December 7, 2008

Why citizens need to express their opinion (and maintain hope)

Painting by Aafke Steenhuis
Everyone who is in a position to do so, should get involved with thinking and discussing ways to solve the current international financial crisis. “Don’t leave it to the economists!” warned Robert Triffin when I interviewed him more than twenty years ago in Louvain-la-Neuve. “Just as Clemenceau once said that war is much too serious a thing to be left to the generals, I think the economy is far too serious a thing to be left to the economists.”

Talking to friends and people I meet I notice disbelief and distrust that “normal citizens” can contribute to addressing the financial and “real” economic turmoil. Others, who write critically about the crisis in articles and blogs, seem to be absorbed by anger and a feeling of powerlessness and describe as gloomy a picture as possible – without hope.

We will not get a more stable, just and democratic system if citizens around the world keep feeling powerless. We better increase their (our) empowerment by imagining alternatives. The policymakers need democratic guidance; they need our views. Even though they might have some good ideas as to how to solve the crisis, we still need much more democracy in economic policymaking.

To keep things simple, I see three levels at which citizens can contribute. First, at the level of daily conversations with friends and others – stimulate each other to increase your knowledge and express your opinion. Second, at the level of public opinion – contribute to public debates in meetings and in media (including blogs). Third, at the level of discussions among economists – explore strategies that are broader and/or more in-depth than mainstream opinion among colleagues, and dare to be non-confirmist.

Citizens around the world, awake, and don’t feel powerless. Ask around, read, be informed and express your opinion.


Pedro M. Martínez said...

Un Director de 60 años, un científico que vive en Amsterdam.
Y además Tauro y del Año zodiacal Rata
Decididamente las cosas no son como eran.

bathmate said...
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