Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Monday 23 January 2012

Can we run an economy without GREED?

Last week, I went on an excursion with a group called Club Taurino de Mojácar to Roquetas. It transpired that they had approached several restaurants about serving luncheon for about forty people and found many not willing to accept such a booking. Now one may think this would be a good booking for the restaurant; an opportunity to make some money on food and drink at a quiet time of the year. Not so, it seems and it may be down to the Spanish way of understanding life and that it does not come down to profit alone. What benefit does it give you to make a few euros but cost you in stress and staff unhappiness at having to deal with a large number of foreigners. Does life have to be one obsessive pursuit of profit?

In my primitive understanding of the 'Mud Hut Economy', MHE, a profit free economy makes sense if human beings live off the land in a symbiotic relationship, such as that followed by the Aborigines, where only what is needed for life is taken. If each family in a community kills only those animals it needs for food and clothing, collects only the fruit, nuts and herbs they need for a balanced diet, then at the end of the day, each family will be no better or worse off than any other family.
The system goes wrong when a member of the tribe kills more than he and his family can consume and at the end of the day has a surplus of unconsumed food, say. What are the implications?
a. Taking more resources than need be causes an imbalance in the eco-system such as that which befell the Mayans who cut down all the forests. Within five hundred years the civilization fell apart.
b. Excess resources can be sold for other commodities such as new buildings, alternative dietary items, employment of others, creating imbalance between the families. Suddenly they are not all equal.
c. Increased resources of all kinds attracts partners in a 'survival of the fittest'/loyalty to tradition dichotomy, causing unrest amongst the majority and generating amongst other traits, that of jealousy, distrust and hatred.
d. Employment of less successful hunter/gatherers leads to more plundering of resources followed by control of resources and the adoption of power.
This situation is akin to what we have today. A divergence in lifestyle from equality to one in which the greedy assume power to the extent they no longer have to hunt or gather. ie The basic human requirement of directly providing food, shelter etc and the satisfaction that brings is lost.

Can you think of any other consequences of greed in the Mud Hut Economy?

I appreciate that this is all simplistic but I believe it shows us some truths and this principal one of these is that greed, even in the guise of philanthropy or altruism, does motivate innovation and change but probably at the cost of community cohesion.
To return to the start of this article, to actually find, in this day and age, some business people who can say NO to profit, who already earn enough to feed, clothe and shelter their family and want for little extra, I find charming. There must be a better way! Perhaps this points the way.

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