Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Caring Economy

From Laurie

This morning I have been putting together the discussion topic for a small group of church members that I have been meeting with monthly for more than 10 years.
My topic relates to a couple of comments I have recently made here, so rather than link to a news article I am providing a link to a blog post by a Budhhist monk: 
Towards a Caring Economy 
My topic for the church group is Altruism based on a book written by Ricard.
My main question is can society become more altruistic in a relatively short time frame - my main concern is for the environment.

29 comments:

John said...

Laurie,
Now I realize that you are obsessed with the "free loading wealthy" folks of the world, however you do realize that self serving people exist in all socioeconomic groups...


"economic regulation must prevent those driven solely by self-interest from taking advantage of the intricacies of the financial system to siphon off a disproportionate amount of resources by comparison with their contribution to the whole."

Individual happiness must have collective results, failing which society is just a predator’s dream.”

"An economy becomes dysfunctional when those who have made a negative contribution to society are those who reap the most reward."

Laurie said...

hey I just posted a link from a monk whose 700 page book on Altruism I have skim reading. The self serving rich people just have a much bigger impact than selfish poor people.

Do you think humanity is on a sustainable path? Becoming more altruistic is needed across the economic spectrum.

John said...

Now are you willing to pursue ALL the people who...

- make a negative contribution to our society

- while receiving resources and rewards

You know my favorite example being those who get the emotional and financial rewards of having more children than they can effectively care for and raise while transferring all those educational, medical, criminal and other expenses on to society.

John said...

Now why again do you think the wealthy have a bigger impact on our society than those in generational academic and financial poverty?

Do you see the Hilton family incurring huge governmental household, school, medical, justice and other expenses?

John said...

Of course I think humanity's current path is fraught with peril. As long as we let the poor, middle class or rich act irresponsibly and transfer the costs to society, we are going to have big problems.

Laurie said...

Perhaps the Hilton family has many large homes filled with stuff, many cars, and a private jet etc. It seems to me this has much greater environmental impact than someone taking the bus to work.

From my one brief link you are totally missing the gist of what this monk is trying to say. Maybe you would get it better if you watched his Ted talk. I am currently skim reading the chapter on voluntary simplicity in the book and considering if I should try to downsize my life more.

John said...

I am willing to try... TED Talk Matthieu Ricard

John said...

BI Worlds Happiest Man

I like this guy, he understands the meaning of Giving to Attain... The question this raises is...

Are the people who are studying him understanding that this is a personal journey where one seeks to grow themselves... Or will they think this means one can attain happiness by forcing others to pay for the "good / altruistic deeds" that one believes in?

Remember one of my favorite quotes. "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." Leo Tolstoy

Laurie said...

He actually has two Ted talks. Here is the one about altruism

Let Altruism be your guide

He does say that altruism will make one happier, so the first one is related as well.

John said...

Laurie,
By the way, thank you for the link. Sorry if I misinterpreted your intent.

My path to happiness started when I did the research and soul searching while creating my G2A Values. I printed them out on an 11 x 17 piece of paper, framed them and put it over my desk a work. Sometimes I need to stop for a little while and consider them...

Good luck finding what you are looking for. The journey is as important as the destination. :-)

jerrye92002 said...

Sorry, he is wrong. The "pursuit of happiness" requires freedom. The more freedom, presumably the more happiness. That will result in some inequality, but look what that has gotten us. Our "poor" are the envy of much of the world. Imagine if all of them were actually producing something in return for the government largess they receive? The US economy would be thriving more than it already is.

And on the flip side, this guy thinks /government/ should make certain that people are paid fairly, share in the wealth, don't earn "too much," etc., but every time government steps on the free market to do these "wonderful" things, freedom is lost. Worse yet, any desire to be generous to one's fellow citizens is removed in favor of "let George do it." The free market, which treats everybody with absolute fairness (given laws about fraud, etc.) gives way to arbitrary "fairness" imposed by government. Have you ever noticed that the youngest children have one absolute moral standard, and are unhappy if treated unfairly? That's what government economic dictates create-- unfairness and unhappiness. We should be trying to create altruism by CURBING government power, rather than allowing it to expand and be corrupted.

And finally, I think you should note that the most altruistic among us are those who are the wealthiest. Look at Maszlow's Hierarchy. Who are the great contributors to charity and the arts? The rich. Who created the great charitable organizations and educational institutions? The rich. When Bill Gates suddenly decided he could never spend his multibillions, did he give it to the government? No, he created a private foundation that has done some very good "charitable" and educational work. Should government have simply imposed a "wealth tax," as some have suggested, who would have done all of that, with anywhere near the degree of "altruism" or efficiency?

jerrye92002 said...

As for your values, I like the simplicity of St. Augustine: "Love God, then do as you please." And I add my Father's penchant for recognizing God's little miracles all around us, what he called "God's little jokes." Even better if you can make them happen.

John said...

"Love God, then do as you please."

Seems like why we ended up with Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Cross Burning KKK, Salem witch trials, LGBT tormenting, etc... A bunch of God loving folks with few other redeeming values...

John said...

Now the reality is that the Monk never asked for Governmental control...

"The concept of the “economic human”, Homo economicus, appeared at the end of the nineteenth century as a critical response to John Stuart Mill’s writings[2] on political economics. This involves a theoretical representation of the relationships between humans, identifying them as selfish agents capable of making rational choices that optimize their chances of satisfying their own preferences and promoting their own interests.[3]

This conception of economics is at once simplistic and erroneous. As the Nobel laureate and Harvard professor Amartya Sen writes:

“Taking universal selfishness as read may well be delusional, but to turn it into a standard for rationality is utterly absurd.” [4]

Any theory of economics that excludes altruism is fundamentally incomplete and diminished. Most of all it is at odds with reality, and as such is bound to fail. Essentially the complex mathematical models created by neoclassical economists to try to explain human behaviors are based on presuppositions that are for the most part false, since the majority of people are not entirely selfish.

Emotions, motivations, and value systems undeniably influence economic decision-making. Since this is the case, it is best for these emotions to be positive and their motivations to be altruistic. Why not then introduce the voice of care into the economy, instead of satisfying ourselves with the voice of reason, a necessary but insufficient voice on which economists place too much importance?"

John said...

There can be many ways to reward giving in a society. Our tax deductible charitable giving benefit is one of them.

jerrye92002 said...

Really? Is it altruism to seek a tax deduction? To give to others only for personal gain?

jerrye92002 said...

Point being that if you love God first, then "what you please" will be what pleases Him. But of course we make mistakes. And having government tell us "who we are" and what "our values" are, misses the mark completely.

John said...

If you have a better way to nudge the selfish towards giving than the tax deduction... Please provide guidance...

Otherwise history shows that God will use government to accomplish his/her goals.

Laurie said...

Thanks for taking the time to read my links and comment on my topic If there is any more interest in this topic I have one more link.

The path from personal transformation to societal change

It is a big topic (700 pages in book form) for me the main point of it is for 7 billion people to learn to live in a more sustainable way. I think the path were on now is not a good one for humans or the environment.

John said...

I think Matthieu is happy because he does funny drugs... To deny the reality of the 7 Deadly Sins is very naive. I guess I will never make it as a Buddhist Monk.

John said...

If you really want to save the Earth and improve the situation for the humans on it... What we really need to do is stop the population explosion.

Just imagine the mess if we do not flatten that curve.

Here is a in depth study of the topic.

John said...

For easy ref
7 Deadly Sins and their Opposing Virtues

Lust / Chastity
Gluttony / Temperance
Greed / Charity
Sloth / Diligence
Wrath / Patience
Envy / Kindness
Pride / Humility

So how do think our society and world is doing regarding moving to the right?

jerrye92002 said...

"If you have a better way to nudge the selfish towards giving than the tax deduction... Please provide guidance..."

Easy. Get them to church, or at least into non-profit charitable work. As much as I regret saying it, if government gave a refundable tax CREDIT for such things, you would see even more charity, but it would still, unfortunately, not be altruistic. And government would prefer doing it-- inefficiently and for the wrong reasons. First step, therefore, is to get government OUT of the "charity" business.

"Otherwise history shows that God will use government to accomplish his/her goals."

In that case I suggest we learn to abhor such governments. I cannot say that Allah has altruistic goals. Or for that matter, the "government" of the Papacy, or the early Christians under Constantine. Or the godless Communists who claim the State as God.

jerrye92002 said...

And by the same "we need sustainable economies" and "population control" logic, trying to "prevent Climate Change" is the exactly backwards way of doing it. First of all, there is nothing altruistic about denying Third World developing nations the cheap electric power they need to improve their living conditions. And more practically, economically developed nations have slower population growth and use resources more efficiently, ASSUMING they have the economic freedom to do so.

We have a saying in church, that you "cannot feed the soul until you feed the belly." Wealthier people can afford to be altruistic; the poor cannot. Make more people wealthier.

John said...

Jerry,
"Make more people wealthier." Now you are starting to sound like a Liberal... The reality is that personal and communal knowledge, responsibility, effort, self discipline, etc lead to slower population growth rates and economic development.

And remember that people do not need to believe in God for him/her to use them to accomplish good deeds... Maybe God did get tired of selfish people hoarding their money instead of giving to and caring for their poor neighbors. Democracies are an example of collective free will, we choose as a society.

John said...

Per some feedback from Laurie...

For easy ref
7 Deadly Sins and their Opposing Virtues

Lust / Chastity
Gluttony / Temperance
Greed / Charity
Sloth / Diligence
Wrath / Patience
Envy / Kindness
Pride / Humility

So how do think our society and world is doing regarding moving away from sin and towards virtue?

jerrye92002 said...

"Democracies are an example of collective free will, we choose as a society."

"Democracy can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury."

jerrye92002 said...

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." - H.L. Mencken

How are we doing? We haven't had a world war in over 70 years. The world's poor are doing better almost universally. The climate is warming and improving lives and the extra CO2 is greening the Earth, meaning more food. And more CO2 means plants need less water, so....

Missions and charities and non-profit arts and education associations are everywhere you look. I think those people inclined to altruistic behavior are finding expression, while those oppressed politically, economically, religiously are still struggling to be free to do so.

jerrye92002 said...

""Make more people wealthier." Now you are starting to sound like a Liberal..."

Ah, I see the problem; I misspoke. It should be "ALLOW (and/or Help) people to become wealthier." IOW, get government out of the way. Two of my most admired efforts are the "microloan" projects-- giving individuals in third world countries loans less than $1000 to start a business-- and the [forgot the name] organization that builds and gifts third-world-friendly machines, such as a pedal-powered peanut sheller, which enables a huge benefit in the local economy.