EXPERT WITNESS: Sufficient affluence/sustainable economy: Economics for everyone (episode three)

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By John F. Sase, Ph.D.
Gerard J. Senick, general editor
Julie G. Sase, copy editor
William A. Gross, researcher

"All archetypes have 'shadow' manifestations as well as positive aspects. The shadow has power precisely because it remains in the dark; we tend to deny its presence in us because we consider it unacceptable. Only when we face and acknowledge the shadow's presence can we neutralize its potential negative impact on us."

-Caroline Myss, American author and medical intuitive, www.myss.com

Prologue

We exist as a nation of laws. We are states, counties, cities, towns, and townships of laws. As human beings, someday we will pass along, but we hope that our laws will continue to exist if protected and nurtured by future generations.

When we contemplate the tasks of building or redeveloping a sustainable economy in our urban environment and beyond, we turn our thoughts to the talents, skills, and knowledge needed to accomplish the work from a human base and perspective. In Episode One of this series, we began our discussion of the redevelopment of Southeast Michigan by outlining the development of the region and by presenting an introduction to local history. In Episode Two, we recounted the growth of Detroit and Southeast Michigan since the Seventeenth Century. In that episode, we explored the concept of Urbanization in Search of Sufficient Affluence in a Sustainable Economy from the Age of Fur-Trapping, Lumbering, and Railroad Production, when Detroit emerged as an inland global-trade port.

In Episode Three, we continue our series with a high-altitude appraisal, one that heralds a Vision for the Future of Detroit and Southeast Michigan. However, before embarking on our Vision Quest, we need to prepare ourselves. We will present four archetypes from the Jungian tradition in this episode. This tradition comes from the work of Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), an influential Twentieth-Century Swiss Psychiatrist/Psychologist.

He developed the concept of archetypes as universal archaic patterns and images that emerge from the collective unconscious. By working through Jung's archetypes, we hopefully will raise our consciousness both individually and collectively to a higher level, one that allows a solid vision to emerge.

Our Vision Quest

We need to develop a collective vision for the future of Detroit, its suburban ring, and other areas of Southeast Michigan. This region cannot sustain itself economically if the City of Detroit flounders, any more than the City can sustain itself if the suburban and ex-urban rings fall to a similar state. Furthermore, the fate of Metropolitan Detroit would falter if the nearby urban area of Ann Arbor and the many small towns in this region decline. The region functions as one single economic unit.

A vision for the future represents more than a dream. Future vision implies that a goal exists and that we can attain and maintain it. Succinctly, most of us desire to achieve a sufficient level of affluence. In order to accomplish this task, we need to develop a sustainable economy as a fundamental part of our vision.

The barriers that impede our path in the development of a workable vision emerge in the form of negative influences or personal demons. Therefore, we will address these obstacles as four universal Jungian archetypes: The Child, the Victim, the Saboteur, and the Prostitute (we will define these four archetypes later in this episode). Philosophers remind us that we have carried these archetypes since the dawn of humanity. They continue to plague each of us in our struggle to achieve our visions and goals.

In respect to developing a new urban vision, we need to recognize that mayors, city councils, and teams of administrators serve in the attainment of common goals. Though some constituents tend to regard these officials as saviors, prophets, or demi-gods, their job descriptions require that they focus their attention and energies upon developing and maintaining infrastructure, providing public services, and finding ways and means to pay for these expenditures and investments. We hope that all officials will participate in the development of our larger overall vision.

Though government officials may speak about job creation (especially around election time), governmental bodies rarely create jobs other than those needed for maintaining public infrastructure and services. Anything else falls beyond the primary directive. On occasion, specific infrastructure investments, such as highways, public buildings, and dams, are developed through the formation of temporary work projects, such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Depression of the 1930s. However, most often the tasks of job creation fall to the private sector. Individuals create firms to earn a profit by producing and selling goods and services. In most cases, such firms hire teams of workers to handle production, sales, and various staff services. Ergo, private-sector businesses create most jobs that increase overall employment.

Furthermore, the greater the value that employees of companies can add to the process, the greater the share of revenue exists for which they may bargain, both individually and collectively. However, justifiable shares in the forms of wages, salaries, and profits depend upon the amounts of incremental (i.e., marginal) output of goods or services that owners and employees contribute to overall production.

Animal Spirits

In order to understand the fundamental economics beneath the behavior of the archetypes mentioned in the preceding section, we need to turn to the emerging field of Behavioral Economics. In 2013, Professor Robert J. Shiller of Yale University co-won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. In the presentation of this award, the Nobel Committee described Shiller as a founder of the field of Behavioral Finance through his innovations, which come from the incorporation of Psychology into the field of Economics. This new approach to economic thought has led to a pioneering analysis of speculative bubbles in the stock- and real-estate markets.

In his book "Irrational Exuberance" (Princeton University Press, 2000), Shiller explains how psychological/spiritual states affect the stock market as part of what economists refer to as the Efficient-Market Hypothesis (EMH). This hypothesis posits that investors consistently cannot achieve returns that exceed average market-returns with just the information that is available at the time of the investment. Shiller suggests that this hypothesis constitutes a half-truth: It remains difficult for investors to earn large amounts of money rapidly; even smart investors can lose money for years before realizing a profit. However, Shiller notes that the EMH goes wrong when one assumes the futility of attempting to beat the market, or, that governments should guide economic policy under the assumption that market bubbles do not exist.

In a more recent book written with George J. Akerlof, "Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism" (Princeton University Press, 2009), the two authors use the term "Animal Spirits" as popularized by the English Economist John Maynard Keynes. He used this concept to describe the psychological motivations that help to explain why human beings do not behave as postulated by Classical Economics, which expects us to act in a rational and unemotional manner. The authors explain that there are five Animal Spirits: Confidence, Desire for Fairness, Corruption and Bad Faith, the Tendency to Ignore the Effects of Inflation, and the Importance of Stories in Determining Behavior.

Shiller and Akerlof promote our need to understand how human emotions influence economic decision-making. They argue that economists tend to downplay the importance of emotional factors because human emotions remain difficult to model and to quantify. In contrast, the authors assert that we can answer many profound economic questions once we understand and allow for the effects that our spiritual and emotional drives have on our economic decision-making. In turn, this approach allows us to develop a clearer vision of the past, present, and future.

Vision

We use the term "vision" as the ability to gain great perception about the future through the development of stated aims and objectives. This approach to the matter appears more apparent in the polymath writings of the Nineteenth Century. Many of us know the American writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) as the founder of the Transcendentalist Movement. He told us, "People only see what they are prepared to see." Nevertheless, Emerson reminds us of the necessity of pragmatic vision.

Upon reading Emerson's essay "Nature" (1836), English philosopher Thomas Carlyle remarked that vision therein forms the ground plan and foundation on which one may build "whatsoever of great and true has been given you to build." In respect to "vision," Emerson and others throughout the ages remind us that we must find peace with nature and the world around us before we can discover a pragmatic vision within ourselves. Therefore, we need to develop a common vision of what we desire as our future for ourselves and for succeeding generations before we develop a more sustainable economy for Detroit and surrounding environs.

As suggested by Shiller and Akerlof, we must understand and come to grips with our emotions and with the "Animal Spirits" within. These personal characteristics either will help or hinder us on our quest. The authors remind us that we need to understand the role that our corresponding emotions play because they influence our economic decision-making. We seek to identify and to measure the correlation between our emotions and our economic behavior. In so doing, we delineate and define our emotional variables as archetypes. This effort allows us to move one step closer to modeling, qualifying, and quantifying them as economic determinants.

In recent decades, polymaths from many converging fields have studied the inner angels and demons that move us forward or hold us back. These studies continue in the work of current scholars. One of the most notable is Caroline Myss, the writer and lecturer who gave us our opening quote. Myss explains Jungian archetypes in modern, accessible terms. In her book "Archetypes: Who Are You?" (Hay House, 2013), Myss approaches these angels and demons in terms of traditional archetypes familiar through the prose, poetry, and plays of many cultures. In brief, archetypes constitute universal patterns of behavior that we can discover and that help us to understand ourselves and our place in the world. In our current discussion, which focuses on the development of a long-term vision for Southeast Michigan, working through our dominant archetypes may help us to discover a pragmatic vision.

Myss describes the seventy Jungian archetypes in detail. However, she iterates that each of us has a dozen dominant archetypes at play within ourselves at any given time. Myss states that we share four basic ones-the Child, the Victim, the Saboteur, and the Prostitute. She collectively defines them as the universal Archetypes of Survival. As with most of the other sixty-six, these four archetypes display both the positive and negative elements that affect us.

Archetypes of Survival

In order to leave our discussion satisfied, let us explore the relationship among the four principle Archetypes of Survival, our economic decision-making, and our goal of developing a vision for future growth. The Herculean task of re-inventing our economy requires that we achieve a level of sufficient affluence for all. It follows that this achievement depends upon the creation and maintenance of a sustainable economy-Sufficient Affluence/Sustainable Economy. Therefore, to reach this goal, we need to conceive of satisfactory levels of affluence by consensus and to express our conception clearly through compilation and editing. We should not expect this organic process to develop rapidly.

"Ac-Cent-Tcu-Ate the Positive / Eliminate the Negative / Don't Mess with Mr. In-Between"

-Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen, "Ac-Cent-Tcu-Ate the Positive" (Capitol Records, 1944)

In assimilating the four Archetypes into our quest for urban survival, each participant may need to maximize the positive influences while minimizing the negative ones. Therefore, let us provide basic definitions and discussion of the four. Survival deeply involves the interaction of the Child, the Victim, the Saboteur, and the Prostitute. Each of these four characterizes overlapping issues, fears, and vulnerabilities that we must confront and overcome in order to attain our goals. In doing so, these four archetypes represent spiritual and material strengths that serve as allies as well as representing weaknesses that we must overcome. As neutral guardians, the archetypes will help to preserve our integrity by blocking any bargaining away of our strengths in the name of survival. However, if we allow ourselves to make choices unconsciously in response to challenges, we may act defensively and fearfully and not grow or learn in the process. The greater our consciousness remains, the more likely that our choices will be positive. Now, let us define each of the four archetypes individually.

The Child

Our determination to remain young and healthy in mind, body, and spirit relies upon the positive energy of the Child Archetype. However, the Shadow Child may manifest itself as the inability to grow in our awareness of Behavioral Economics as applied to urban settings and to take on the responsible life of an adult. This negative pole may result in an extreme dependency on the individuals who assume the responsibility for one's physical and emotional security or on the institutions that assume this responsibility. These providers of security that manifest themselves include spouses or partners, extended family, friends, or government.

As with many of the archetypes, the core issue of the Child Archetype balances upon the scales of dependency and responsibility. This balance leads to our need for and perception of safety, nurturing, loyalty, and belonging along with wounds, abandonment, dependency, and innocence. Furthermore, this learned balance leads us to know when to take responsibility or when to maintain a healthy dependency. It also leads us to know when to take opposition to a group or when to embrace a community and its rules. In summary, the tendencies of light and shadow characterize this quality.

The Victim

The positive traits of this archetype emerge as a warning sign of danger that serves to protect us from being victimized. Also, the positive impulses emerge to alert us to our potential for victimizing others for our gain. In contrast, the shadow side of the Victim may encourage us to play the role of a victim at times for rewards in the form of pity or sympathy. Our passivity or carelessness may victimize us ultimately. In this shadow form, the Victim tells us that others always take advantage of us and that what happens to us is never our fault.

This archetype presents itself as a bit of a trickster: we may fail to recognize these inappropriate emotions in both ourselves and others. Life is not meant to victimize us. Rather, we are meant to learn how to handle challenges and to outrun our fears. Therefore, we need to develop a clarity of insight that will help us to create a larger pragmatic vision. However, this necessity demands that we learn both the nature and the intensity of the Victim within ourselves.

The Saboteur

The Saboteur Archetype reflects low self-esteem. It is composed of the fears and related issues that cause us to make choices that block our self-empowerment and success. We may begin a new relationship and then destroy it because we imagine a painful outcome. Similarly, we may start a working relationship with another person and find ourselves in a power struggle with that person, having fallen into a recurring destructive pattern.

As an ally, the Saboteur calls attention to the dangers of being sabotaged or of sabotaging ourselves. With the Saboteur as our ally, we can save ourselves the grief that comes from making redundant mistakes. However, if we fail to harness the negative side of this archetype, the shadow Saboteur will manifest itself as self-destructive behavior or as a desire to undermine the visions and optimistic plans of others.

The Prostitute

The Prostitute Archetype revolves around the emotions related to integrity. Specifically, it relates to the sale of our integrity or spirit out of our fears of being able to maintain our physical and financial survival. As a result, this archetype activates the emotions that are related unconsciously both to seduction and to control. Within this state, we can sell our power to others or buy control over another person.

Like the other three Archetypes of Survival, the Archetype of Prostitution is universal. We should understand that the selling-out of our talents, ideas, morals, and ethics for financial gain is counterproductive. The core lesson related to this strongly negative archetype revolves around our need for rediscovery and the refinement of integrity, self-esteem, and self-respect.

Finis

As Jung states, archetypes emerge from the collective consciousness of our human society. Therefore, as individual citizens of Detroit and Southeast Michigan, we need to evaluate our relationship with these archetypes. In this evaluation, we must determine where the light and shadows play upon our individual and collective characters. Once we have discerned our status and that of our urbanized region, we can let a pragmatic vision of its future manifest itself. Ideally, a "new" region will emerge as something more than a functional entity. Through the redevelopment of our economic base in harmony with the whole of public and private sectors, we will achieve a higher level of greatness as human beings and as Southeast Michiganders.

Hopefully, this brief introduction to the world of spirit and emotion that is embodied in archetypes has helped us to grow in awareness of Behavioral Economics:  most of the work on our Vision Quest lies in the preparation for it. Analogously, humanity and a living city are musical instruments. As with an improperly tuned guitar, we can expect the result to sound dissonant. Therefore, we must apply our understanding of archetypes and Animal Spirits to economic decisions involving redevelopment and regrowth throughout Southeast Michigan. We must come to understand our emotional drives, which we may model through a set of archetypes as we direct them to successful urban redevelopment. Through the understanding of ourselves and our environment through archetypes, we can create a strong, vibrant vision of the future.
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Dr. John F. Sase teaches Economics at Wayne State University and has practiced Forensic and Investigative Economics for twenty years. He earned a combined M.A. in Economics and an MBA at the University of Detroit, followed by a Ph.D. in Economics from Wayne State University. He is a graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School (www.saseassociates.com, drjohn@saseassociates.com).

Gerard J. Senick is a freelance writer, editor, and musician. He earned his degree in English at the University of Detroit and was a supervisory editor at Gale Research Company (now Cengage) for over twenty years. Currently, he edits books for publication (www.senick-editing.com).

Julie G. Sase is a copyeditor, parent coach, and empath. She earned her degree in English at Marygrove College and her graduate certificate in Parent Coaching from Seattle Pacific University. Ms. Sase coaches clients, writes articles, and edits copy (royaloakparentcoaching.com).