Our talk on the topic of E.F. Schumacher’s “Buddhist Economics” lead to so many possible paths of further study.
One idea is the relationship to the nuclear family — one member at home, one at work — and its importance in the role of raising children into adulthood. The equal rights movement for women was talked in terms of what may have been a distortion of purpose, one which lead to not one, but both parents working, and a child at home alone, or in best cases, at home with a nanny who can be afforded thanks to a second income.
Schumacher suggests that the “very start of Buddhist economic planning would be a planning for full employment” yet points out that “employment of women in offices or factories would be considered a sign of serious economic failure.”
His point, while dated in terms of our social concepts of equality, still have a very valid point. There is a role for ‘home body’ whether it is man or woman, and this role is of significant importance, perhaps even more important than the role of bringing in a salary, because it deals with the raising of another human being, and the nurturing and support of a family. This role has been deleted from our society as something of importance, and it has been made so explicitly because it is not ‘monetized’ by the economic system.
The answer is not likely to monetize or find our how much a ‘housewife’ is worth, but to take the job of raising a family completely out of the frame work of economics. It is a priceless job. It is a fundamental cornerstone of the human condition.
And so it has very unfortunately been systematically destroyed by a system which sees ‘value’ in a very black and white way. There is no color in the capitalist system as it stands today, and color is the essence of life, and there is no way to properly calculate it, to shove it into a formulaic spreadsheet… capitalism should never be a system which is central to the importance of human life, human development, or human happiness, because these concepts can not be calculated, nor does it help us to try and calculate them.
What is clear, I think, is that economic system — whether a form of capitalism or something entirely else — needs to look at humanity and ecology for guidance on how it can support things such as equality, human happiness, creativity, and ecological sustainability. It should, however, never be seen at the center of these.