Economic Fairness and Economic Spirituality

Life is not a free ride. Many would say life is not fair. Some will say life is not worth the experience. Some might wish that life would stand still. No matter one’s opinion about life, all of us are in the same lifeboat – a lifeboat whose keel is economics.

Lest the mariner becomes too philosophical, this post ponders two phenomena in life: the ability of fairness to sustain an economy and the ability of spirituality to survive in the economic world. “Fairness” is the act of making decisions with the intent of everyone having an equal share. “Spirituality” is awareness that all creation is of the same source, that existence is a shared phenomenon. This shared trait exists whether one is a theist or one is aware that all matter is related.

The word “pleonexia” is an old Greek word that means “a desire to have more than one’s share.” It appears that pleonexia is inherent in the human creature. Pleonexia is a two-headed beast. The first head is called self-interest; the second head is called unification. Self-interest represents selfishness, arrogance, deliberate unfairness, and disregard for others. On the other head, unification, it represents the need to survive, create, be secure, and experience achievement. Fairness is a balancing act between the two heads. When a person ceases to be concerned about unification, that is, a concern that there is unity and fairness among all parties, fairness must force the person to rebalance their pleonexia.

Given the definition laid out in the last paragraph, self-interest is a symptom of the state of affairs in the United States today. The word “United” no longer applies to the Union. An outspoken advocate of this idea is Joseph Stigler, who takes to task the one percent of the population that has more than its share and has no interest in unification. Stigler published a synopsis of his book ‘The Price of Inequality’ in the May 2012 edition of Vanity Fair. Visit the following website:

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/05/joseph-stiglitz-the-price-on-inequality

Please read the article because it presents material quite relevant to this post.

How can fairness force a retreat from self-interest to a balance of self-interest in behalf of unity? Stigler suggests that sustained self-interest leads to economic failure. In this scenario everyone loses. Stigler suggests redistribution of excess through taxation. Increasing taxes certainly gives clout to fairness. Mentioning taxes obviously involves the government as a major factor for maintaining fairness. The plight of the citizen dealing with all the governments in the United States has been a lament of other posts and will not be pursued. One need only say the Government is not interested in fairness.

It is sensible that a democratic government plays the role of arbiter in many areas of the economy. The government must look after the supply-demand (GDP) relationship; the government must look after the affect of international economics; the government must balance the wealth of the nation to the benefit of all citizens. It is a fact that fairness has no force to balance the economy without the cooperation of government. Efforts of charitable nonprofit organizations to adjust fairness will never be robust enough to change the self-interest culture.

However, the government can only do so much. Like Hollywood movies, the government reflects culture. The citizenry – all the citizenry including the one percent – must have a culture that is empathetic about the commonality not only of all people but all things. Lacking this empathy, as the United States culture does today, fairness has no substance. Fairness is more than tweaking economic regulations. The government needs a citizenry that has spirituality. Without spirituality, it is difficult to care about education, global warming, those that are in financial need, equal rights under law, and it is impossible to have a sense of unity as a nation.

The American citizen, rich and poor, is too sophisticated to simply be greedy or simply be unmotivated. There must be a balance between the two heads – one does not work without the other. Pleonexia must be balanced.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

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