Guided by the dictates of the so-called globalization, in the past 25 years a fatal and useless narrowing of our view of man has gained a foothold in many areas. In the wake of a neo-liberal economic theory certain economists subordinated all areas of human life under their notions of economy; and they reduced human feelings, human thoughts and human actions to a cost-benefit scheme. The “homo economicus” of this stamp is summarily denied all social, spiritual and cultural dimensions of human existence. The fundamental contribution of Professor Giovanni Maio (p. 9), who, having studied medicine and philosophy and spent many years doing clinical work and today primarily devotes himself to medical ethics, illustrates how strongly and directly this kind of thinking already affects our lives. His question: “How do the guiding categories of economy change the way we think in medicine?” arises in all other fields accordingly – not least that of economy itself. Maio brings the physician’s humane activity back to the level of human social nature and refers to its original meaning and main objective: the will to help, which is anchored deeply in the human existence and in human life, and without which the human race would never have been able to survive. We must all recommence to be increasingly aware and to publicly discuss that the fact which we often grasp intuitively in our personal environment, namely that it is our human relationships, reciprocity within the family and the circle of our friends, human sympathy and support, which safeguard our lives – that this fact is an anthropological reality. This applies to the areas of education and training as well as to economy itself. With his concept of “service to life”, for example, economic ethicist Peter Ulrich has turned conditions in this area upside down and put them on their feet: economy – as well as money as its lubricant and as well as business finance – has to serve man and the common weal and not the other way round. As Maio also mentions, it would thus be economical in the full sense of the world to deal thriftily with our human, natural and economic resources, for the benefit of all. Giovanni Maio’s remarks encourage us, far beyond the scope of medical practice, to recollect what the basics of human life are and to remember that, as it anchored in the Swiss Federal Constitution, “the strength of a people is measured by the well-being of its weakest members”.
As the adjacent article about the creation of the Swiss National Bank makes it clear once again, our direct democracy provides us with all the means and opportunities to shape our financial and economic life in a way that will take account of this demand.

Erika Vögeli

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