(i) Economist Alan Kirman tells a good joke about economists’ obsession with efficiency.
“There were three people playing golf; a priest, a psychoanalyst, and an economist. The guy in front was playing extremely slowly although he had a caddy to help him. So these guys get very upset and they start to shout and say “Come on, can we play through please! You can’t waste all of our afternoon!” They sent the priest up to find out what was going on and he came back absolutely crestfallen and said “You know why that poor guy is playing so slowly? It’s because he’s blind. I’m so upset because every Sunday I’m preaching to people to be nice to others.” He turns to his psychoanalyst friend and say’s “Joe, what do you think?” Joe says “I have these guys on my couch every week. I’m trying to help them live with this problem and here I am screaming at this guy. It’s horrible!” Then they turn to the economist and say “Fred, what do you think?” Fred says “I think that this situation is totally inefficient. This guy should play at night!”
Alan Kirman tells this joke in a very informative discussion with David Sloan Wilson of the Evolution Institute about the origins of laissez-faire economics, covering Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ to the recent ’greed is good’ creed so popular amongst neoliberal economists, politicians, financiers and business leaders.
(ii) I’m currently reading David Sloan Wilson’s book “Does Altruism Exist?” which I thoroughly recommend. The book looks at altruism from an evolutionary perspective and teases out the implications for different aspects of life including economics. I hope to post a review of the book soon.
(iii) The London Buddhist Centre magazine “The London Buddhist” has two recent articles relating to different themes from The Buddha On Wall Street.
Posted on 30th March, 2015 Sagaramati writes about community and war (as well as about James Hillman, the Buddha and Nietzsche!).
It’s a fascinating read from someone who once served on a nuclear submarine.
And posted on 19th November, 2014 Manjusiha writes about neoliberalism and inequality with particular reference to Tower Hamlets, the local authority in which the London Buddhist Centre is situated. Manjusiha draws on the lessons that can be learned from the activism of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, the Indian and Buddhist spiritual revolutionary who fought hard against the inequality experienced by the Dalit community (the so-called ‘Untouchable’ community). Dr. Ambedkar is one of the Buddhist Voices featured in The Buddha On Wall Street.
Manjusiha’s article is especially relevant as the British General Election approaches.