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«  AN ECONOMY FOR THE 1% — How privilege and power in the economy drive extreme inequality and how this…
January 21st, 2016
« AN ECONOMY FOR THE 1% — How privilege and power in the economy drive extreme inequality and how this can be stopped »
and a particular aspect of the 'buddhist' economy…


   Oxfam's new report on inequality is linked below (or via www.oxfam.org/en/research/economy-1).
   It is likely to be followed, like virtually every year, by 99% of people burying their heads in the sand and pretending that "I can do nothing, but surely  [some unidentified, generic] 'others' should!"  and later acting on such views (notably by voting not only against the interests of most, but even against their own interests! and notably by consuming in ways that condone the system: complicit silence is all the system needs to perpetuate itself).
   It'd be so great if 50%+ of the population finally voted in agreement with whatever head-nodding they manifest while reading the report! With several key elections in the richest countries coming next year, this could wholesomely reduce much suffering in the world.

   Let's highlight a critical paragraph, for those who wouldn't even follow the link otherwise, while clinging to a classic but fallacious defence of the status quo:
   « Apologists for the status quo claim that concern about inequality is driven by ‘politics of envy’. They often cite the reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty as proof that inequality is not a major problem. But this is to miss the point. As an organization that exists to tackle poverty, Oxfam is unequivocal in welcoming the fantastic progress that has helped to halve the number of people living below the extreme poverty line between 1990 and 2010. Yet had inequality within countries not grown during that period, an extra 200 million people would have escaped poverty. That could have risen to 700 million had poor people benefited more than the rich from economic growth. »
   700 million is no small number…

———
In response to a related question I regularly receive in one form or another:

   No, we don't have to stop capitalism and go toward socialism / communism. And, for 'buddhists', buddhism doesn't intrinsically condemn capitalism, but it should reject a stupid interpretation of capitalism!

   Capitalism isn't the same as condemning people to perpetually wanting more, more, more… Capitalism merely is an economic system to allocate resources efficiently.
   Now, one way to embody such theory is to ask the question « spending the same investment, can I produce more?  That's the classic way to look at it, which seems to 'work'… 'Seems', for as long as you're unaware of the medical, environmental, social, political costs of your investment…
   But another  way to embody capitalism would be to ask the question: « spending less, wasting less, polluting less, can I produce the same? » That's also a way of thinking in terms of efficient use of resources!
   So we don't have to abandon capitalism. We have to stop confusing capitalism with "getting more": capitalism is efficient allocation of resources, via the freedom to switch the investment at any time for a more efficient plan! It neither supposes nor fundamentally aims for "increasing output", but for "increasing efficiency"!

   A 'buddhist' economy —with high value on sharing, on compassion (not letting others suffer for our own little selfish benefit) and overall on ethics— doesn't automatically imply socialism or communism. But it would require to stop ignorance, stupidity and indeed the confusion between capitalism and "more, more, more". The best route towards dāna  is via saving resources, rejecting automatic appropriation, rejecting automatic accumulation, refusing automatic hoarding: resources thus 'freed' from our grasp can then be constructively used by others.
   A "capitalist buddhist economy" appropriates less and less, and embodies restraint (not going for more than we need, in particular when others' needs are not yet met) combined with wise use of resources…


#engagedBuddhism