Empathy Economics

It’s a question that is constantly on my mind. How can the people making the decisions which affect so many people every hope to empathise with them all? As humans we are evolved to be able to handle social groups of 100-150 people. This is a phenomenon known as Dunbar’s number which looks at the size of primate brains to predict their social group size. This means that in larger groups, our ability to empathise and see the other members as human is SIGNIFICANTLY diminished. So, when we’re considering the people running the show – who are they surrounded with? More people like themselves. They constantly fraternize and bond with other rich people, business owners, influential tycoons and corporate leaders. If their allocation of people is filled up by this kind of class, how can they ever hope to adequately govern and manage the lives of people who DON’T fit in this social class? This is why it’s so reassuring to read about Senator John Madigan criticising the budget for lacking ‘logic, heart, vision, transparency and hope.’ It’s an admirable list, and precisely the qualities people are going to be needing when the economy could be facing even tougher times. I’d just like to see people of more humble, humanitarian bents running things and making these all important decisions. Is it too much to ask?

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