What is


"Flourishing is not about being in a certain position – it’s about movement with purpose, connectivity, and resilience. Flourishing is active, dynamic, economically secure, but not hierarchical. Flourishing also implies a certain type of self-aware agency that recognizes value in the ups and downs of life, supported by enough economic strength to enable agency...

The goal of flourishing for all both emerges from and promotes cooperative, healthy, and sustainable human traits – the limiting trait when flourishing is the economic and social metric is no longer greed but mutual respect and cooperation... Human dignity - grounded in the inherent autonomy and privacy of all people - is the merit that grounds our right to advance and to flourish. Inalienable dignity is inalienable merit and is marked by respect for our autonomy.

This merit grounds each Canadian's right to flourish: we’re not lobbying to replace a merit-based system of compensation with a non-merit-based system of hand-outs; rather, we aim to replace a non-merit-based system of hand-outs to a lucky few with a merit-based system of respect for the inherent autonomy (dignity) of all."


From Flourishing in Canada: How to Be Capable of Living the Good Life (forthcoming)

Photo: Elizabeth Neill, at Bayfront Park, Hamilton Ontario.


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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Both Canada and Sweden reduced government spending in the 1990s and ended up with much better economies. But they were lucky enough to have their crises when other economies were booming. The Clinton-era boom allowed Canada to come sailing out of its crises.  As they say, timing is everything.
2. PIIGS = Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain
3. “GDP Growth.” The World Bank, 2013.
4. “Unemployment Rate.” The World Bank, 2013.
5. “Young People Aged 18-24 Not in Employment and Not in Any Education and Training, by Sex and Nuts 2 Regions (from 2000 Onwards) – Neet Rates.” Eurostat, 2013.
6. Well, there is this a priori assumption in orthodox economics, arising originally from Smith’s invisible hand and codified in mathematical proofs developed by Walras, Arrow, and Debreu among others. But we take nothing for granted, and whether concept 2 is correct is an empirical question.
7. “Developments suggest that short-term fiscal multipliers may have been larger than expected at the time of fiscal planning… Research reported in previous issues of the WEO finds that fiscal multipliers have been close to 1 in a world in which many countries adjust together; the analysis here suggest that markers may recently have been larger than 1…” International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook, October 2012. Accessed on February 17, 2014. Fiscal Multipliers.
8. Page 41 of the report has the relevant analysis (Fiscal Multiplier
9. Patrick M. Liedtke, “From Bismarck’s Pension Trap to the New Silver Workers of Tomorrow: Reflections on the German Pension Problem,” European Papers on the New Welfare, February 2006, German Pension Problem.
10. Deborah Moggach, quoted by Caroline Davies, “Sex, Drugs, Music and a Pension: Why 1948 was the Luckiest Year to be Born,” The Guardian, November 6, 2009, Accessed on November 03, 2013. Sex, Drugs, Music and a Pension]. Accessed October 5, 2020.
11. Indeed, there is a raging debate about what returns pension plans can assume. If, as CALPERS does, you assume 7.75% annual return, all is fine. If it’s 5%, then disaster.
12. Readers may recall the attempt to privatize Social Security under President George Bush.
13. Recent academic articles have highlighted, for example, the under-performance of hedge funds as an asset class versus the market. Given that one pays 2 + 20 for the hedge fund and a few basis points for an index fund, this is pretty clearly a case where value is destroyed.
14. Edesess, Michael. “Why Hedge Funds Destroy Investor Wealth.” Hedge Funds Destroy Wealth. Accessed September 5, 2020.
15. Professor Hendry is one of the UK’s most distinguished macro-economists, based at Nuffield College, Oxford University.
16. “Social Security History.” Social Security, Social Security.
17. See the chart at Trading Economics: Eurozone Surpluses. Accessed July 28, 2020.
18. Learning the Facts About Learning: BBC News. Accessed July 20, 2020.
19. See Marilyn Price-Mitchell, “8 Pathways to Every Student’s Success,” at Edutopia, January 7, 2015: 8 Pathways: Edutopia. Accessed July 20, 2020.
20. We would note here, as elsewhere, that resilience is a capability that comes both from within and from one’s social context; although there are insurmountable obstacles to personal resilience for some, it is the responsibility of a nation that supports human dignity to provide the net of resilience that catches even the most vulnerable in this regard.
21. We address this at greater length in the book, forthcoming. But, overall, we acknowledge that there is a wide variety of preferences that are conducive to flourishing. So while there are some obvious preferences that should be discouraged (or illegal, as some are), some others must be deemed a matter of acceptable choice. The acceptability of the malleability of preferences for defining flourishing necessitates that we begin to think of flourishing in complex terms that go beyond meeting a list of fundamental needs and desires to defining a state of mind and the ways it can be achieved in humans.
22. From Andrew Nevin’s doctoral thesis, “A Philosophical Critique of Utility Theory.”
23. Elizabeth Neill, Rites of Privacy and the Privacy Trade: On the Limits if Protection for the Self. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001: p. 120.