The development of the nation must be carried out in stages, starting with the laying of a foundation by ensuring that the majority of the people have their basic necessities met through the use of economic means and equipment in accordance with theoretical principles. Once a reasonably firm foundation has been laid, higher levels of economic growth and development should be promoted. If we were to concentrate only on fast economic progress without allowing the plan of operation to harmonise with the conditions of the country and the people, an imbalance in various aspects would arise and may bring about failure in the end, as witnessed by the serious economic crises currently faced by many developed countries. It is important to help people support themselves with adequate means, because those who are gainfully employed and self-supporting are capable of meaningfully contributing towards higher levels of development. As regards the concept of gradual progress with caution and economy, it is to be followed in order to prevent failure and ensure certain and complete success; for if done without caution, it would be hard to expect any benefit.
But in order to attain such effective development, it is necessary to begin with improving the livelihood and well-being of the people, because this constitutes the essential foundation of peace, prosperity and security. If everyone lives well, peace and prosperity are certain to follow. It could be said that development entails war against poverty, especially for the sake of the people’s well-being. In fact, I have often said to such audiences that to be a “tiger” is not important. The important thing for us is to have a self-supporting economy. A self-supporting economy means having enough to survive, and sufficiency economy is a foundation of life and the secure foundation of the country. It’s like a pile sunk underground to support the building. Buildings have to be secured by piles; however, most people can’t see the piles and forget about their importance. Economic development must be done step by step. Once reasonable progress has been achieved, we should then embark on the next steps, by pursuing more advanced levels of economic development. Here, to focus only on rapid economic expansion, without making sure that such a plan is appropriate for our people and for the condition of our country, will inevitably result in various imbalances. Those who favour modern economics may disagree with having to retreat, to watch our expenses and to return to simple business, meaning the use of simple equipment and tools. However, we do need to take a step back in order to move forward.
The application of the sufficiency economy does not necessarily mean full sufficiency, and I may add that full sufficiency is impossible. If a family or even a village wants to employ full sufficiency economy, it would be like returning to the stone age. The word sufficiency has a wider meaning. It does not only mean self-sufficiency but also means to have enough for the individual to live on. Furthermore, if the whole country can subsist, so much the better. Thailand at one time was on the verge of insufficiency. Some individuals had plenty, but some had practically nothing. In the past, there was enough to live on, but today, impoverishment is creeping in. We must, therefore, implement a policy of sufficiency economy so that everyone will have enough to live on. Sufficiency means to lead a reasonably comfortable life, without excess or overindulgence in luxury, but with enough. If all nations hold this concept of moderation, without being extreme or insatiable in one’s desires, the world will be a happier place. If everyone in the nation sets his mind and heart on striving for diligence and perseverance, then greater benefits and happiness will accrue to each person as well as to the society as a whole. Thus, our country will be able to develop and advance further as desired. – Adapted from His
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