There's a few books around looking at whether Buddhist principles can be applied to Economics in the pursuit of an ideal Buddhist society.
One that I quite enjoyed is from P.A. Payutto...Buddhist Economics A Middle Way for the Market Place
By Ven. P. A. Payutto http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma2/becono.html
Quite thought provoking and worth a look given the current state of the global economy.
What are your thoughts on the potential influence of Buddhism on economic principles? Do you have any interesting texts of Buddhist Economics to share?
It's just pseudo-Marxism that they're trying to spread through associating it with Buddhism.
I didn't read it all, but to see if it was even worth reading, I decided to first take a look at the "Buddhist" definition of value, as a rough gauge of the coherency of the rest of it. Because value is such a fundamental concept, that if they misunderstand or distort the very meaning of "value," then there's not much basis for the rest of their analysis.
What I was found was, of course, simply Marxism with a Buddhist face:http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma2/becono3.html
In the previous chapter, we discussed the two kinds of desire, chanda and tanha. Given that there are two kinds of desire, it follows that there are two kinds of value, which we might term true value and artificial value. True value is created by chanda. In other words, a commodity's true value is determined by its ability to meet the need for well-being. Conversely, artificial value is created by tanha -- it is a commodity's capacity to satisfy the desire for pleasure.
To assess an object's value, we must ask ourselves which kind of desire -- tanha or chanda -- defines it. Fashionable clothes, jewelry, luxury cars and other status-symbols contain a high degree of artificial value because they cater to people's vanity and desire for pleasure. A luxury car may serve the same function as a cheaper car, but it commands a higher price largely because of its artificial value. Many of the pleasures taken for granted in today's consumer society -- the games, media thrills and untold forms of junk foods available -- are created solely for the purpose of satisfying tanha, have no practical purpose at all and are often downright detrimental to well-being. For the most part, advertising promotes this artificial value. Advertisers stimulate desires by projecting pleasurable images onto the products they sell. They induce us to believe, for example, that whoever can afford a luxury car will stand out from the crowd and be a member of high society, or that by drinking a certain brand of soft drink we will have lots of friends and be happy.
The true value of an object is typically overshadowed by its artificial value. Craving and conceit, and the desire for the fashionable and sensually appealing, cloud any reckoning of the true value of things. How many people, for instance, reflect on the true value or reasons for eating food or wearing clothes?
This is "common sense," to many people, but from an economic standpoint, it's laughable nonsense. Even Classical economics (now old and outdated) criticized the idea of innate value by demonstrating the paradox that water is cheaper than diamonds, even though water is clearly so much more useful.
I'd say that a good 99.99% of economists, whether left-wing or right-wing, Democrat or Republican, would agree that there's no clear distinction between "true value" and "artificial value". As much as a person might think a good or service should be worth a certain price, this individual preference doesn't change the fact that in any market -- even markets under radical Socialist governments -- a service or good will
be valued according to its exchange value. When the government tries to fix prices, this has been empirically demonstrated to be harmful, by several decades of research.
If you really want to examine real economics, I suggest taking a college-level course in it, picking up an Idiot's Guide or Dummy's guide on it, or read the classics, like the Wealth of Nations
by Adam Smith and The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
by J.M. Keynes. The classic texts, though, are really bogged down with academic terminology... For a quick, interesting (but slightly freemarket-biased) introduction to economics, check out Milton Friedman's TV series, Free to Choose
(available to watch here
). John Stossel has also done some good work, although again, he's a bit biased in favor of Libertarianism.