Buddhist Economics

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EF Shumacher’s article “Buddhist Economics” draws out some interesting comparisons and contrasts of the configuration of two very different economic systems: Modern (conventional) economics and Buddhist Economics.

Schumacher is a supporter of Buddhist economics and claims that modern economic systems can and should take on this perspective. This short report will attempt to identify why Schumacher thinks modern economic systems are metaphysically blind as well as identify key points supporting this view.

But before we can identify the gap that causes it to be blind, we must determine the difference between the two economic systems is their worldviews. First, there is universal agreement that the fundamental source of wealth for both systems is human labour. But we need to ask ourselves three questions:

1. How is this labour used to generate wealth?

2. What is considered to be “wealth”?

3. What is the intended output of the labour source?

Buddhist Economics supports sustainable development meaning take what you need, use what you take. An example of this in motion is illustrated by the efforts of the government of Bhutan are often considered an expression of Buddhist economics. Along with traditional economic indicators, Bhutan uses 'Gross national happiness' to measure quality of life and non-economic well-being. (Wikipedia). Burma believes that there is no conflict between religious values and economic progress. Spiritual health and material wellbeing are not enemies but NATURAL allies.

There is universal agreement that the fundamental source of wealth for both parties is human labour. To define what wealth is, we must first decipher what the ultimate result desired is from the use of that labour. For Modern Economists it is “goods” whereas for the Buddhist Economist it is “liberation”. That being said, economist may suffer from metaphysical blindness because, as quoted in the Schumacher’s article, they:

1. Assume that theirs is a science of absolute and invariable truths without any presuppositions.

2. Economic laws are as free from metaphysics or values as the law of gravitation

To explain further, if economists assume that their field of work need not abide by metaphysical values, yet their main source of wealth is human labour, then there is a definitely disconnect in that thinking. When humans are a main component of the equation, then due care and attention must be paid to ensure they and their welfare are taken care of in a meaningful manner, especially to them.

To investigate whether there is metaphysical blindness, we should compare and contrast values as it relates to the universal agreed component of human labour as illustrated in the following tables.

| |Modern Economist |Buddhist Economist | |View of Labour / Value of |Modern Economists view labour and work as a necessary |Buddhist Economists views work as serving the purpose of | |Work |evil. For the employer, labour is expenditure and |developing the man and developing his character. As | | |such expenditures need to be minimized but ideally |mentioned in the article, Buddhist Economists believe that | | |zeroed out. |work will bring the following benefits | | | |Enable a man to overcome his egocenteredness and join others| | | |in a common task (build character) | | | |To bring forth goods and services needed for a becoming | |...
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