November 6th, 2012: the day we vote on economy… the year of apocalyptic partisanship… the year of promises of new economy…
I usually don’t mess with economics. The last time I spoke on the topic was when I re-phrased the all-too-familiar “It’s economy, stupid!” meme into “It’s psychology, stupid!” in my 2009 Huffington Post blog.
My question is this:
What kind of economy are we trying to build?
The kind of economy where everyone who wants to work can work?
Or the kind of economy that works by itself without the need to work?
Or the kind of economy where work doesn’t feel like work?
These are all very different questions and the answers to these questions range from industrial age pragmatism to utopian fantasies.
But I am looking for something in the middle, for an economy of the Middle Way for the middle class…
Is there such a beast?
Turns out there is and it’s called Buddhist Economics as described (in the 1970s) by E. F. Schumacher in “Small is Beautiful” (a must read!).
A couple of excerpts and a few points.
“There is universal agreement that a fundamental source of wealth is human labor. Now, the modern economists have been brought up to consider “labor” or work as little more than a necessary evil. From the point of view of the employer, [labor] is in any case simply an item of cost, to be reduced to a minimum… say, by automation. From the point of view of the workman, [labor/work] is a “disutility;” to work is to make a sacrifice of one’s leisure and comfort, and wages are a kind of compensation for the sacrifice. Hence the ideal from the point of the employer is to have output without employees, and the ideal from the point of view of the employee is to have income without employment.”
Exactly: that’s what I, as an immigrant to this country, have witnessed over the past 20 years – employers try to get rid of employees and the working public keeps dreaming the American dream of early retirement.
I am a big fan of the television show …