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74 Supply Pipe
Disclaimer: This is not economics; this is human thought. I am a
thoughtful person, and the principles expressed here are my
personal tools for understanding my life and surroundings.
Economists are probably dismayed by my
every sentence, thinking “Why doesn't this fool apply the
established methods of our profession? We worked this out long
ago.” Apparently, I am not content with solutions worked out thus
far. Working to fulfill the moral goals that I have set, I am
expressing my values, not theoretical elegance.
Foundation – real wealth, FISH
Article 27 identified Humans’ Needs as the Fundamental
Ingredients Sustaining Humans (FISH).
They are more specific than the Four Freedoms
of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which are freedom of
speech and worship, freedom from want and fear. Comparable
enumerations are found in the eight
Millennium Development Goals for 2015 (approved in 2000) and
the seventeen Sustainable
Development Goals for 2030 (approved in 2016).
Daily we use our primary tools of
progress in an economy that includes a free market. I ended
article 23 declaring “I do not have a job; I have a
rare privilege. I spend my day in reverent awe that
industry, commerce and human intelligence have combined to
produce this miracle for expressing my human emotions.” Our
worldwide family is richly blessed by methods of working together
(social contract) that we have already put into effect.
The FISH address consumption and
production, the inseparable needs of life. (Yes, we have a
fundamental need to see ourselves as productive!) Their
relationship introduced in
article 36 is developed in
article 37 discussing economic adjustments following
localized losses. The micro level is creating or losing one job
or one house. Fortunately, there is a macro level that oversees
the aggregate perspective, the collections of all houses and all
jobs. This applies to all FISH: the human family realizes
inescapable consumption needs and possesses sufficient production
ability. We are happy to the extent that we keep the sides in
balance, which we can do at the macro level.
The above introduction has meaning if we
realize that wealth is not a number. Having a large bank
account does not by itself sustain life. Wealth must be directed
toward consumption and production. There must be human action to
apply it to the Humans’ Needs. For example, a farmer must
cultivate crops so there is a useful substance for money to buy.
It is the goods and services, not money, that directly satisfy
physical and mental needs. One hopes that money is not exchanged
for things that satisfy nothing.
Tools – money, savings, debt
While money is not real wealth in the
sense of sustaining life, it is a useful tool for trading the
goods and services that do. There is another artificial tool that
has developed for the smoothing out discussed in
article 37. Accumulated savings and debt are instances
of paper-trail tools for making commerce practical. As money is
an instrument of exchange, savings and debt are instruments of
exchange over time. The aggregate perspective above not
only studies immediate consumption and production, it also views
the flow. Stockpiling and substituting can be used to
bridge the tight spots. The current pandemic makes clear the need
for this kind of adjustment in the face of disruptions.
Paying current expenses with savings or
debt is an unsustainable cash flow problem. Paying for increased
productivity with savings, debt, or labor is expenditure that
leads to real wealth increase. Investment returns wealth by
increasing capacity, not by creating money.
Genuine stewardship (happiness) is
assuring adequate production for a desirable level of consumption
without injection of artificial needs. The first concern of
public policy (social engagement) is applying real wealth to
meeting universally the fundamental Humans’ Needs.
(Gross Domestic Product) has
been suggested as a measure of economic health. A high number is
used to show that needs are being met by robust exchange of
article 56 showed that GDP does not measure real
wealth. Having more prisons, war, and natural disasters is not an
indication of increased economic well-being. Meeting Humans’
Needs is a perpetual process not measured adequately by money.
Meaning lies rather in the less well defined standard of
quality of life.
Consider a simple evidence of economic
complexity. My basic training is that I can stretch out my supply
by consuming less. Normally, cutting out frivolous expenses
assures sufficiency for the necessities. I am quite faithful to
this imperative. My frugality works to the disadvantage of some
people. I almost never eat food prepared outside my home and not
by me. I almost never travel. I have discontinued concert and
play attendance. I use numerous free software applications, the
starter versions of programs for which bigger companies pay
While I love people in the hospitality
and entertainment industries, among others, I cannot afford to
indulge in their services. This makes it appear that frugal
prudence slows down the economy. To that I say “bravo!” Once we
have produced enough food and housing, we can slow down. Much of
society has reached a frenetic pace that leads to
overconsumption, waste accumulation, and environmental
degradation. Humanity is depleting its own base.
So what about these wonderful people I do
not employ? The question has great significance to someone who
has been a piano tuner for more than 50 years. I am classified as
“entertainment industry” although my work is a vital need, not an
optional want, of my customers. Now that agriculture does not
require the whole population as a work force to feed the whole
population, we need to be creative about what the rest of us do
without fueling the consumption frenzy. A free market without
direction has not yet developed the distribution of the Humans’
Needs that keeps all the intermediate tasks meaningful. There are
still people trying outlandish, unproductive gimmicks for getting
Consider junk food that does not nourish,
cosmetics that do not beautify, planned obsolescence, non-durable
trinkets, etc. These divert money away from durable projects, and
people away from productive pursuits. Enticing people to spend
for little or no value is a short-term antisocial cheat that
detracts from real wealth and quality of life.
Even among genuine services, it is
challenging to pay any attention to incidental life enrichments
like piano tuning in the presence of people who lack food and
housing. My sense of values is corrupt if I put my own income
ahead of their most basic needs. Investors practice the same
corruption if they accept profit distributions at the expense of
laborers and the natural environment on which we all depend. To
be human is to be guided by far higher orders.
Pursuit of progress
Mankind is not hopeless.
Article 56 encouraged my goals for mankind. The review in
today’s article is a launching pad for related specific studies.
Recent articles have requested your feedback. By now this plea is
serious. Some of you are trained to address today’s concerns. The
discussion needs your input.
The FISH provide a pre-structure.
They identify what we need to cover first: shared sufficiency for
our human family. The next structure might correlate people with
processes. I can start that by suggesting a few connections that
remediate the issues of throw-away people.
article 72 I encouraged new cosmological thinking. In this
article I rephrase the call to action: Do not dismiss the
higher orders simply because we have not realized them yet.
Do not limit society to what we presently imagine.
Remember, we are building a new world.
- There are people on “handicapped” status who receive financial
support without engaging in supervised activity. They lack the
benefit of formal employment. If they are not talented
entrepreneurs, that deprives society of the skills they do have,
and, more personally, deprives them of significant fulfillment
they could achieve. For example, someone with mobility issues or
injured limbs works from home or a sheltered environment by
telephone, voice-activated equipment, or prosthetic appliances.
Hours, assignments, and setting are customized to optimize
- Learning disabled people are trained to specific manual garbage
sorting tasks suited to their mental and physical abilities—jobs
not considered practicable in the competitive market. They are
financed by assistance funds that institutions are already
paying. They provide occupational benefit to needy individuals
and useful service to the community.
- Japan achieved recognition in senior care for encouraging people
to retire into low-stress positions in schools. On their pension
incomes, retirees were available to monitor playgrounds, provide
encouragement to individual students, and assist teachers in
simple ways. The pensioners and the community were better off
when this became a societal norm.
- Part of the computer industry laid off workers who had been
trained in Cobol while applying for work permits for
foreign-educated graduates to fill positions in modern computer
technology. Prudent planning would have assured perpetual
in-service upgrading and retraining of the existing work force
for the mutual benefit of the individual programmers and the
In the comments below, please enter at
least one project that would enable otherwise discarded workers
to accomplish something not yet achieved. Elaborate if you
Being For Others Blog copyright © 2020 Kent Busse
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