From the linked article:
Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than the Gross National Product (GNP)
I would say that this is key, but it would entail shifting embedded cultural values. That would be difficult and take time, if a method for achieving it were even possible to develop.
We know how to move to a Buddhist economy. What we need is the political will coupled with the skillful means to create meaningful lives based on caring for one another and for the environment. Neuroscientists have shown that helping others makes us happy and has validated that buying more “stuff” does not lead to long-term happiness. Let’s turn off our devices and screens, stop being influenced by celebrities and advertisers, and enjoy our relationships and the world around us.
I can’t speak for Easterners but it seems that Westerners don’t really set out to achieve happiness in their lives. We set out to acquire wealth, status, pleasure, distraction, etc. All very materialistic and lacking in meaning. It’s no surprise that the average life expectancy is decreasing, despite our material wealth. Epidemic obesity and substance addiction, including the new opioid crisis, are symptomatic of unhappy lives, I believe.
It’s quite a boast to say, btw, that “We know how to move a Buddhist economy.” It’s notoriously difficult to move an economy without the profit motive. The major critiques of socialist or communist economies is their tendency to lack efficiency and innovation. That may not be a problem if they don’t compete with capitalist economies, I guess.
Thesis 1: Buddhist economics must take progressive and radical theory seriously, including understanding the contemporary tendency to separate the spheres of politics and economics from “religion” (they must be understood as they are very much overlapping); and understanding the significance of work or labor in all of its forms on the Buddhist path.
Thesis 2: Historical and philosophical materialism—in the work of Marx and anarchists, as well as that found in earlier thinkers in the West and Asia—should be explored by Buddhists in their ethical reflections on labor, production of commodities, and community and relationships.
Thesis 3: E. F. Schumacher’s thesis on the significance of “scale,” of societies becoming ungovernable at too large a size, is crucial to Buddhist economics. Similarly, anarchist critiques of hierarchies and power structures can be coupled with Buddhist organizational ideals.
It’s surprising that someone like Marx underappreciated the role that religion plays in society. Did he have bad experiences as a child? Anyway, the problem with theocracy, which is basically what we’re talking about here, is that it’s necessarily hierarchical in nature and inherently undemocratic. A wise and benevolent autocracy could be ideal, but as we know, power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Thesis 5: The traditional Asian virtue of “propriety” (Li in Chinese), along with other contemporary ideas about our place as individuals in society and in the world, can help us bring together our critique of the current systems as we build new communities and systems based on emerging Buddhist economic ideas.
As long as things like this are based on the principle of pursuing happiness (not the materialistic American Dream) and not some governmental mandate or law that, for instance, prevents critique of the theocratic powers that be.
For a general summation, I do not believe anything like this could work in its combining politics, economics, and religion. If there were some way to build a meaningful system around the principle of achieving happiness and some kind of secular or universal spirituality perhaps. Religion binds groups with common values and goals, and that can be good, but the problem is that in the religious framework there is ALWAYS the ‘other’. The group is always limited and cannot encompass all.