This morning, we had a breakfast between the Global Leaders for Tomorrow, Social Entrepreneurs and Religious Leaders. I got a great table with a broad range of people from developing nations, religious leaders, economists, and entrepreneurs.

We started out the discussion talking about the nature of money. We talked about how greed and the idea that more money means more happiness is compulsive behavior and the notion that more money makes you more happy may hold true in developing nations, but is not necessarily true in developed nations. We talked about how this notion of more money means more happiness may be contributing to some of the problems in society. One representative of a global financial organization talked about how similar to the "poverty line", maybe there should be a "greed line". An economist pointed out that there was a book written about economy as a religion where the author asserted that pollution should be moved to developing nations because poor people were worth less in a purely economic model. Obviously, this is not right, and we asked the religious leaders to address some of the issues such as caring, giving and happiness.

Religions are memories of history, rich with ritual and values. They need to create a double language, one for internal dialog and another to share ideas with others. One point I made was that many religions were designed for environments where people were still struggling to survive and the focus was on rituals and believes for such an environment. Many religions focused keeping people alive rather than providing them with a primary religious experience. For environments where the struggle to survive is not as big of an issue, it might be that religions need to help support people more with things such as their obsessions and ethics.

It was noted that people who live in developing nations still needed money and that it was important. However, it was pointed out that many of the economic values have a detrimental effect on developing nations such as promoting crime. It was also noted that many churches in developing nations focus on promotion economic values. (Join the church, get rich.) The notion of sharing and sacrifice which are very important values that religions promote are often subverted to raise money for the churches.

David Green of Project Impact in India talked about how he performs cataract surgery in India. He provides 1/3 of the procedures for free, 1/3 for a low cost and 1/3 for a high price. The rich pay the high price for first class service, but the basic operation is the same. He is able to subsidize the operation for the poor and still make money. He is so successful that instead of paying $300 for the lenses, he was able to create a manufacturing operation and lower the cost to $4 a lens and has become the second largest manufacturer in the world. He provided this as an example of a good economic model can provide a great deal of good.

25 Comments

Interesting breakfast discussion Joi.

The challenge of money is that it is socially tied the separation of selves from the community. Money is then loved or hated. Polarizing the view create a tension around money. This space between money worship and money demonizing helps keep us apart.

Money is really just the flow in the systems created by the societies we've evolved from our human drive to constantly push the edge of the future.
The social systems created are limited by there thought process when created and tend to naturally protect themselves from evolutionary change.

Money, just like blogs and everything else is destined to evolve. The evolution seems to be largely about how we think about money and how we apply it to all our relationships. If money is about perception then can we evolve perception?

What are some deeper solutions beyond a "greed line"?

It's great you included religion in this discussion. If religion is memories of history (I agree with this statement) then how do we apply memories of history to an evolving world? ...and can religion evolve beyond the promotion of non evolved (not sharing) economic values to help bring people and ideas together?

David Green's project sounds interesting. Ode magazine is doing a similar price structure with their magazine subscriptions. Some would call this unfair but I find it an interesting model, and if done with WE integrity and values has real potential.

Regarding the comment. "We talked about how greed and the idea that more money means more happiness is compulsive behavior and the notion that more money makes you more happy may hold true in developing nations, but is not necessarily true in developed nations." Reminds me of a concept I read(I forget the book where I got this but can certainly look it up if anyone is interested). The book explained that happiness only grew in a more or less direct proportion to wealth up to a certain point of comfort and that after that point the ratio decreased. Then, at a higher point of wealth, happiness actually decreased with increased wealth.

In developing countries you have a large percentage of the population whose happiness would be raised by increasing their wealth, while in countries such as the USA, many people are already to the point where increased wealth would not necessarily increase their level of happiness and in some cases may actually lower it.

With this in mind the problem becomes, how do we minimize the number of people in developing countries who are willing to forgo moral/ethical values for increased wealth and, in cases where an increase in wealth would not increase (or may decrease) happiness, convince those people of that fact.

Regarding the fellow in India, I have to say it still amazes me that more buisinesses have not adopted models that are more socially/ecologically sustainable. Which seems connected to the wealth/happiness issue.

In the US, college tuition aid is made available based on "need", by some objective measure. The instructive difference between this and the cataract surgery project is that prospective students, or their parents, attempt to game the system for various reasons so that the student can qualify for the aid even though the family would not be found "needy" based on the metric. The most common tactic is to emancipate the student from the family. The students or their families don't accept the system's methods or goals. If the cataract doctor is not finding this phenomenon in his work in India, it would probably be because the public accept his need-evaluating criteria and the goal of his system.

Interesting story about the doctor, Joichi...

In fixing a price, there is a spectrum between one low price and an auction, where each pays the maximum they value the good at.

In your example, the guy is practicing a bit of price discrimination, but not to the point of an auction. Many view this as inequitable and anti-competetive, or counter to consumers' interests, and try to fight it. To me though, it's unclear when the benefits outweigh the detriments, especially since sometimes it avoids what economists call dead-weight loss, or unrealized potential benefits.

With respect to the idea that money is happiness, I think economics teaches us more that 'happiness is money', when you think about it. The concept of surplus is basically like happiness, or 'utils'... This can be turned into money easily, but it's a lot harder to turn money into happiness... ;)

I am a recent UCLA Econ Grad, studying International Relations and working in business. I also lived in Japan, how do I get involved in this type of discussion/event?

Any info would be appreciated.

This message is for Jeff Toolan. I am a Toolan from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner with international interests and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff Toolan. I am a Toolan from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner with international interests and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff Toolan. I am a Toolan from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner with international interests and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff Toolan. I am a Toolan from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner with international interests and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff Toolan. I am a Toolan from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner with international interests and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff Toolan. I am a Toolan from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner with international interests and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff Toolan. I am a Toolan from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner with international interests and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff Toolan. I am a Toolan from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner with international interests and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff Toolan. I am a Toolan from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner with international interests and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff Toolan. I am a Toolan from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner with international interests and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff. I am a Toolan and am from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff. I am a Toolan and am from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff. I am a Toolan and am from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff. I am a Toolan and am from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff. I am a Toolan and am from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff. I am a Toolan and am from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff. I am a Toolan and am from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

This message is for Jeff. I am a Toolan and am from Massachusetts. I find your topic of study interesting and would like to find out more about your interests and the experiences that inspired your post. I am also a developing business owner and would enjoy meeting another business minded Toolan.

Sincerely,

Joe

Joe,

My email is toojef@aol.com...I am now located in LA. Shoot me an email and we can talk.

Take Care,

JEFF T.

Joe,

My email is toojef@aol.com...I am now located in LA. Shoot me an email and we can talk.

Take Care,

JEFF T.

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