What is economics?
At its essence economics is the study of choices as suggested by The Library of Economics and Liberty and broadly it is equated to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services (See Wikipedia on Economics).
Known as the “Dismall science” by Robert Carlisle who defined economics as; how society uses its scarce resources (taken from the Dictionary at The Economist)
The common association with the science of economics point it to the management of scarce resources. This is the perspective from which it is normally looked at reflected by society, more on this shortly.
The Self-Actualised Approach to Economics or Joy Economics or Enabling Resourcefulness
To Self-Actualise is to exist emotionally in the emotional levels of Peace, Love and Joy, creating and fulfilling our highest desires and intentions in peace and harmony with all others, the environment and within ourselves.
All emotions equate to a perspective, from a perspective, form perceptions, that result in actions or behaviours. So if you are happy then life appears brighter, lighter and easier. Happy exuberance from others is infectious. Others in your presence influence your environment and make being happier easier when all are happy. A happy perspective results in happier perceptions and behaviours/actions like laughter and joking around, choices made about what you do become coloured by this. It is worth noting and emphasising that your perceptions of a situation are your understandings or reality, to say it again, your perceptions equals your reality.
Conversely, if you are frightened, everything seems darker, more looming, your movements become more tentative. If others around you are the same this influences you towards that fear, which many succumb to unless they are clear in their heads that it is not necessary. The perspective of fear results in perceptions of fear and behaviour/actions like stopping spending, hording, us and them mentality and more.
Scarcity is a fear-based mentality. Through the current interpretation of economics, I have observed that this is the perspective used to look at choices. This is reflected by the fact that the official study of economics uses the word “scarce”, and the thinking in the field by and large reflects that approach, as do the countries and businesses that utilise the models from this field.
Fear is an emotion that propels one away from something. Fight or flight would encompass this, then there is depression, which is like curl up into a ball to minimise damage. Perceptions made from this perspective can be seen by how countries manage their economies.
To me the entire focus of economics from the top level by its perspective is not enabling for the societies that simply wish to find a way to uniformly bring happiness into society. This does not occur now.
Hence, I believe that starting from the top of this science a more enabling perspective should be introduced, to gain a better outcome for all. In this vain I would re-define what economics is and put it into Self-Actualising terms.
A Self-Actualised definition of Economics would be the study and practical application of the best and highest desires towards all in society and their environment.
If one begins to look at economics from this love based perspective and utilise the Tools of Creation, targeting Joy and Love as emotional outcomes for all concerned in any choices, desires and actions that permeate through society a different outcome will likely be realised.
An Overview of the Tools of Creation – Thoughts, Communications and Actions
What is meant by the Tools of Creation are the use of “Thoughts”, “Communications” and “Actions”, the process by which we construct or create our reality. As a society or individual focused on Self-Actualisation whatever thoughts or desires or choices or decisions you make they should bring joy to all impacted by those thoughts.
The “Communications” are everything that pertain to the master “thought” and they should reflect the Joy or potential Joy the Thought brings or could result in. Once you have analysed that all the communications could or do bring the intended joy towards the Master “Thought” then you act, which could be a behaviour or action.
All “actions” must be measured as to whether they are ones that are loving actions to all involved now or as the ultimate outcome. When applying the Tools of Creation you make sure they are Practical in their application, that you are Aware of all the considerations and that Responsibility is taken throughout for the best outcome.
Let’s begin the dissection
Materialism vs Joy
Materialism is popularly defined as a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values (of innate or core feelings and beliefs). (See Oxford Dictionary) Or the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as the belief that money, possessions, and comfort are the most important things to obtain in life.
By popular definition Economics focuses on production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. This focuses on things and having. Countries are steered by this type of economics; it is also indiscriminate.
I observe that, businesses and countries are focused continuously on growth. So, more production, more distribution and more consumption. The question is, to what purpose?
More production requires more resources, that could be scarce. More production and distribution means jobs. Jobs mean pay and pay pays for consumption of goods and services. And this is a cycle that compounds itself to become ingrained.
This materialism all becomes indiscriminate because it creates an unfocused mess in the emotional lives of the people that exist in these economies. Material things are supposed to make you happy, but everyone knows this is not true, but we all act as if it is.
Materialism focuses on obtaining things as the main outcome.
For a self-actualising society the primary outcome of any desire will be deliberately joy to all concerned. Ironically, things are supposed to bring joy, but the thinking is muddled.
Economics does not set a positive emotional outcome for all to attain in what it is trying to deliver.
It must do that if it is to be useful and practical as a science in society. What it does often focus on is scarcity. Scarcity is pervasive through society, it has not enabled society so far to elevate the default emotional levels of being to Joy, Love or Peace.
This means that it has not assisted all in becoming happier, let alone, have more love or fulfilment, which are innate drives within us. It is not setup to do this.
Business & Markets towards Highest Desires
To understand the meaning of business and markets see the definitions below:
Business is “the activity of buying and selling goods and services.” (See Cambridge Dictionary) It is about “creating a customer” and has two functions, to “innovate and market” as identified by Peter Drucker.
In our society, Business and Markets primarily serve a materialistic outcome. The output production of products and supply of services functions as the key measurement that currently defines success at a national level through a country’s performance using GDP as the ultimate measuring stick.
Where as businesses, and this is reflected by most corporates, set out for sales growth, increased market share and profit as the main outcomes. Company reports that are perceived as good normally reflect solid continual sales growth. Decent increasing profits and dividends for shareholders (the owners).
It would seem good.
But is perpetual growth possible or healthy? Is the focus on increasing profits or dividends the best approach? What does it communicate to the employees that have to deliver and the customers that are served?
For a self-actualising society one would aim for “Realising Highest Desires”, namely Joy, Love and Peace for all concerned. For businesses that serve the commercial aspect of society, they innovate and market products and services that bring Joy to all, the clients, the staff, the owners and the environment. Ensuring all stakeholders are accounted for. And the outcomes or actions like the products or services could be measured as loving outcomes or actions.
So the final metric here may be summed up as “how much happiness is created”, obviously the more the better.
This would make you question many products or services. In fact this type of thinking would refocus business in its entirety.
Richard D Wolff (economist) states that markets validate and reinforce the distribution of income in a society. Across the earth it is well known that there is a top 2% that control and possess most of the money, the other 98% broadly supplying or serve the top 2%.
Not only is there a large focus on materialism, but there is a large and growing disparity between the haves and the have nots, which must be a fine balance to tread to avoid disagreement.
So rather than markets designed to serve materialism at the expence of others and the environment, serve Highest Desires, namely whatever produces joy, love or peace. Eventually markets could transform into a family affair, “I desire and I help” rather than the materialistic perspective “demand and supply” things as an end.
The Currency of Materialism vs Joy as Currency
The currency of Materialism has effectively become slave labour. The majority of society caught up in the treadmill that creates more production and distribution creating jobs. Jobs mean pay and pay pays for consumption of goods and services. Jobs is working for or purchasing from predominantly the top 2%.
Money is an exchange of value. Currently it is valued as“I owe yous” to exchange effectively labour wages for products and services. This is also how economists currently measure a countries wealth, using GDP per Capita, essentially GDP is the sum total value of goods and services over a given period of time for a country. Per capita breaks this figure down to an amount per person within a country and reflects the average income (loosely).
To focus on becoming Self-Actualised, you would want to equate what you are purchasing to helping you determine whether it provides a decent option to do this. As a you would be aiming for the emotional outcome of Joy, why not simply equate it to how much joy it is likely to bring. Then money really would buy you happiness as it should.
The value of money is arbitrary it is simply a set of beliefs that we hold towards it. So why not measure value by the predicted joy it could bring, you could create a scale based on the amount of Joy emotionally it could bring. So money would in this case definitely bring you happiness.
The Psychology of Scarcity vs Plenty
Not enough or scarcity is pervasive through humanities cultures, it pops up in every part of society and is perpetuated, within the way governments are run, businesses, education and daily life. It is a feeling and a perspective and strong set of perceptions. The way to think about it is to ask the following of everything and anything. Is this thought or behaviour or action motivated by “not enough”?
Innately within all human beings would be to desire more happiness through life, love and to gain fulfillment. A Psychology of Scarcity is not enabling of this, unless one is able to utilise it to elevate oneself from fear. Focusing your outward life, in other words your actions and behaviours focused on materialism as reflected by society this cannot work.
Scarcity thinking is pervasive.
“Turn off the lights before you go out.”
This is “not enough” what at its core? Perhaps, scarce resources to pay for it. So, not enough money, not enough money which is supposed to equal happiness. “Not enough” happiness or lack of joy.
“Every penny counts.”
Every penny counts because resources must be limited. Money is supposed to make you happy, that is like not enough happiness to go round, particularly if the primary focus is materialism or having that.
The insurance industry
Insurance companies quote that you are ultimately buying peace of mind, essentially because others do not fully practice the concept of “love thy neighbour”. Add in a fear based perpective, “what if I lose this?” What is “this?”. Perhaps this equates to not enough happiness, not enough life or love. Your car for example or household possessions they enable you “supposedly” to live your life, if you didn’t have them your happiness would be set back or lost.
Taxation is taxing a very negative thought and felt by probably most people who are taxed. Yet government is supposed to enable society function smoothly and progress, so theoretically it is supposed to be of benefit to all. To feel taxed about something implies it is taking away what you have and what you have is “not enough”, from the individuals perpective. Yet government still needs to help and as society does not feel it has enough, and individuals will not voluntarily share part of their income to invest in a better society one that enables more happiness, the government uses its powers to take.
Ecomomics by enlarge deals in terms of scarcity, unless you look at Buddhist Economics, which is moving in the right direction towards happiness and has many similarities to what I propose as Self-Actualisation. Scarcity mixed with materialism is a cycle that leads not to happiness as a primary outcome to all.
Look at the term “the management of scarce resources”, scarce is “not enough”. Look at GDP and GDP per Capita as metrics to measure success, that governments and investment firms use. Gross Domestic Produce is the sum value of all goods and services generated by a country of a given period of time. The per Capita breaks this down to an individual, rudimentarily equating to income. This income is for spending on things, goods and services produced. This measurment does not take into account happiness, it focuses on material gain. You get what you focus on and GDP growth is used to lead countries and their economies, the businesses, the education.
Economics is applied to society, society is made up of individuals, individuals feel. Jealousy, is fear based pointing to lack or loss of love, because there is “not enough”, it also encroaches on loss of happiness and as actions certainly don’t result in joy to all if any. Perhaps as an alternative one could use Envy, I desire this to strive for more happiness and or love.
“Not enough” will equate to either or combination of both, “not enough happiness” or “not enough love”.
Scarcity is a perspective a way to look at things, predominantly it asks the question, “how can I spare or reduce the amount of “such and such” I will lose?”
Plenty or abundance is a different perspective, where as scarcity freezes or restricts, plenty opens up, most importantly it opens up creativity. Abundance plus creativity equal resourcefulness. Joy economics is Resourcefulness. Resourcefulness is practical.
If you have a limited supply of something, firstly is it necessary and secondly how can it be substituted? Always steer towards Self-Actualising as the end goal, using the Tools of Creation targeting Joy in all desires and loving actions as a result.
This only applies if you want to be happier through your existence, have more love and be fulfilled. If you just want things, then that is your choice.
To better understand this article please have a look at the following related articles in this blog:
(see what Self-Actualisation is here or how to do it)