April 27, 2007

A Return to Fiction

For the first time in ages I've been writing a short story. Part of it (the nonfictional parts) will appear on this blog.

Perhaps the beginnings are here: Reading the introduction to the Dhammapada, I kept coming across the notion that acting out of selfishness is somehow wrong. The Buddha, apparently, was a poor economist. Consider Adam Smith:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

Self interest has a social good. Speaking of butchers, the Buddha says,

Do not earn your livelihood at the expense of life or connive at or support those who do harm to other creatures, such as butchers, soldiers and makers of poisons and weapons.

But if we were to cease to patronize butchers (and I think some time soon I will), what would happen to all the animals that are raised for meat? Once they lose their economic value, don't they also lose the interest and care that humans provide them? Wouldn't we see a massacre of remaining stock and an extinction of food on the hoof? And should we shift to raising plants rather than relying on animals for sustenance, won't we further encroach upon the habitats of wild animals?

Oddly, one thing all religious leaders seem to share is a poor grasp of economics and economic consequences. Whether we are talking about Muhammad or Marx, Jesus or Joseph Smith, they are not practical men.

Posted by Ideofact at April 27, 2007 12:38 AM