Moyers & Company Ask Clair Brown, “How Would Buddha Organize Our Cutthroat Modern Economy?”

“In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 photo, a Buddha statue is silhouetted by the sun on the hill of Phmon Baseth, outskirt of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.” Photo by Heng Sinith for the Associated Press.

A few weeks ago, I brought you news about a sophomore seminar being offered this term at UC-Berkeley that is called “Buddhist Economics.” Now, Bill Moyers’ program Moyers & Company have a new interview with the professor, Clair Brown, in which they ask “How Would Buddha Organize Our Cutthroat Modern Economy?” Here’s a snippet:

What would Buddha say about workplace conditions and labor relations? Would a Buddhist economy require a corporate model that’s different from the hierarchical one in which most of us in the United States work?

Brown: I think that the main thing that you need to embrace is “right livelihood,” which is one of the cornerstones of Buddhist economics. That’s basically how you make a living and how you produce goods and services. And the number one rule there is that you harm no one. Now, that’s a pretty big order. That means that you have really strong enforcement of labor standards, not only at home, but abroad because of imports, and you would not allow companies or workers to harm each other or to be harmed. And so right livelihood is a very powerful mandate in Buddhist economics. And as some of my students said, “Wow, it sounds like it’d be impossible to do this. We just do so much harm all the time in our economy.” And it is a challenge. It’s a really big challenge, but that’s one of the things we need to think about: When am I harming others, and what can I do differently?

Read the whole thing here.

As I said before, some aspects of the course and ideas here sound really interesting, and I can imagine that others might inspire questions and/or quibbles. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments…


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