— (b) Consumption

1 May 2535

(b) Consumption

The question of consumption is similar to that of value. We must distinguish what kind of desire our consumption is intended to satisfy. Is it in order to answer the need for things of true value, or in order to enjoy the pleasures afforded by false value. Consumption may be said to be the consummation of human economic activity, but the meaning ascribed to it by economic theory in the industrial era and that of Buddhist economics is not the same.

Consumption is the alleviation or gratification of desire, that much is agreed. From the perspective of economics, consumption is defined simply as the use of goods and services to satisfy wants. But now let us look at Buddhist economics. It defines right consumption as the use of goods and services to satisfy the desire for true well-being. In other words, it says that consumption must have a goal and a purpose.

Industrial era economics says demand → consumption → satis­faction, and that’s the end of it, there’s no need to know what happens afterwards. In this view consumption can be of anything whatsoever so long as it results in satisfaction. Economics does not consider whether or not human well-being is adversely affected by that consumption. Buddhism agrees with the basic concept of consumption but adds that human well-being must be augmented by the satisfaction of a demand. Consumption must have quality of life as its aim. This is the difference of perspective.

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