Saturday, April 11, 2009

Economic Stimulus


“(British Prime Minister Gordon) Brown also says the 20 countries at the summit will enact common policies to crack down on tax havens, regulate hedge funds, and rebuild trust in the financial system to ‘prevent a crisis such as this from happening again.’” (AP, 2009.04.02)

World leaders met recently in London as part of the Group of 20 Summit to combat the global financial crisis. Countries from around the world, with varying and sometimes competing interests, came together to form a consensus on the proper action needed to be taken. U.S. President Obama and Great Britain’s leader, Gordon Brown, both admitted that the measures agreed upon wouldn’t guarantee a reversal in the current economic situation, but they did say that their proposed policies would be successful in preventing a future slowdown. However, Brown did say that the policies enacted would prevent future crises of the current magnitude from happening.

Now these summits are all well and good. The leaders have very good intentions. They are all trying to do something to help the struggling people in their countries. Sometimes just knowing that somebody is trying to help can make a difference. However, like most meetings that involve group think, very little policy of substance is produced. Leaders become more interested in crafting any sort of policy that all parties will agree on, versus actually coming up with something that will be effective. As the saying goes, “Consensus is the absence of leadership.”

According to Vedic philosophy, such meetings over economic policy are unnecessary. The great sages of India were highly advanced in knowledge because they received it directly through the chain of disciplic succession. The original Veda, knowledge of the Absolute, was passed down from God Himself at the beginning of creation. This knowledge was later divided in various categories by God’s literary incarnation, Shrila Vyasadeva. The Vedas contain knowledge on all subjects of importance. The great sages all learned this knowledge directly from their teachers and without the need for group meetings and position papers. True knowledge comes to us by linking our consciousness with that of the Supreme. Lord Krishna has expanded Himself separately into each and every one of us through His Paramatma, or Supersoul feature. By dovetailing our activities with Krishna through the process of devotional service, we connect with the Paramatma, and then true knowledge is revealed to us.

According to the Mahabharata, considered the fifth Veda, economic success comes through cow protection and through low taxation. Cows are considered the ultimate sign of wealth since one can live off of the milk produced from them. Possessing a large bank balance may be nice, but paper currency and other commodities can devalue very quickly, as we’ve seen the past few months. A cow represents a tangible value since it can provide so many food preparations simply from the milk that it freely offers. Therefore the food problem is solved. Low taxation is important, because if taxes are too high, then producers will not have any incentive to create wealth.

The proposed plans from the G-20 are in direct contradiction to this. They don’t address the mass slaughter of cows that goes on today, nor do they tackle the issues of high taxes and regulation. Instead, they focus on taking more money from producers and giving to non-producers. Such policies are destined to fail.

In the end, whatever plan of action is enacted, the ups and downs of the economy can never be completely prevented. Just as birth, old age, disease, and death are guaranteed for the spirit soul in the material world, happiness and distress are also guaranteed. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, tells us that we should be tolerant of these fluctuations.

“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)

So this eagerness of the politicians to act is unnecessary. Compromising and forging consensus will never solve any problem. All it does is pad the egos of the participant. “We have done something. We have solved the problem. Never fear, we were able to get along. There will be no more suffering.” These are the statements of our leaders. The true fact of the matter is that the government is mostly to blame for this crisis due to its encouragement of banks to give mortgages to unqualified borrowers. Now they are trying to fix the problem they never should have caused to begin with. They would be better suited leaving the economy alone and instead focus on making policy directed at filling the spiritual void in society. For if we engage ourselves in devotional service by chanting the holy names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”, then no economic crisis will ever affect us.

Related Reading:

Bhagavad Gita As It Is with Bonus DVD



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