It’s been a bizzy week. This repeat from ten years ago deals with a topic that has become a central issue in People’s Economics – fairness. This first treatment of the topic wasn’t very helpful. But it’s an interesting starting point.
Fairness is an important concept in this thing we call Civilization. If we all lived as hunters and gatherers on the grasslands, we wouldn’t have a lot of interaction with large groups of people. The inevitable disputes that arise could be settled by a simple code or the intervention of an elder.
If you ask any entrepreneur or innovator what is the most important resource to get a new project off the ground, they’ll probably tell you it’s getting the right people. Making something new and making a good buck off of it requires talent, the skills which pay the bills. Have the right team in place and the money will follow.
This is a big part of what is meant by People’s Economics, or the economy of people. What often limits us in a technology driven world is the techne, the skills necessary to make something happen.
That’s where People’s Economics is today. Help prove the point by donating to a GoFundMe project dedicated to getting the book People’s Economics written by the end of the summer!
The suffix -ism is one of those handy things inherited from the versatile Greek language. The original usage was the creation of an active noun from a verb, such as baptism or criticism. It makes an action into a thing, allowing it to become a subject or object.
More recently, this suffix has taken on the use of defining a philosophy, often a political practice. It is a way of taking a series of beliefs or practices and putting them into a box which can be delivered as one unique practice. Far from making an active subject, in practical terms it becomes most useful as a way of preventing any action at all.
The great -isms of political economics are Socialism and Capitalism. The boxes these words describe were fixed long ago and remain rigid. Yet they retain their power to an opposing tribe and thus remain in use. It’s long past time to dump the -isms, useful as this linguistic construction once was.
This post from 2015 addresses just how far away from decency we have strayed by considering money, not people, as the core of the economy.
What is money? Your answer may depend a lot on how much of it you have. Ultimately, the main purpose of money is convenience. A system of barter works pretty well when two people have things each other need – someone with chickens meets up with someone else who recently slaughtered their pig and both have bacon and eggs. But if you can also exchange those eggs for money you can save it up to buy something different or bigger.
As we’ve concluded before, Adam Smith was right – money is a matter of belief. Whether it’s gold, Euros, or Canadian Tire Money it’s worth whatever you believe it is worth. Our own US Dollar is backed by the “Full faith and credit of the US Government”, which is scary if you think about it.
But money is more than convenience and faith – it’s what it takes to make things happen. And that’s worth thinking about some more.
Economics is nothing more nor less than the study of the primary way in which people connect with society and get on with their lives.
In everyday life, you may interact with a few people – family, colleagues, and friends. But through the process of eating and paying the mortgage you interact, at some distance, with hundreds more. Because this interaction is entirely through something called “money,” a way of keeping score, it’s very tempting to look at it entirely through numbers. The dizzying details of tens of millions of exchanges every day makes a top-view in bulk the most desired method of analyzing how things are going.
Yet this process has proven wrong over and over again. The failure of economics, particularly macro-economics, is the primary reason why the only true study of an economy has to be a People’s Economics.
Summer re-run season has me terribly bizzy. This is a repeat from eight years ago which informs the basis of People’s Economics.
The art and skill needed to put knowledge to practical use is more than just what technology is really about – it’s generally seen an increasing share of our economy. The term “Knowledge Economy” comes from Peter Drucker in his 1966 book, “The Age of Discontinuity”. It includes this:
“In a knowledge economy where skill is based on knowledge, and where technology and economy are likely to change fast . . . the only meaningful job security is the capacity to learn fast.”
True enough, since a lot of knowledge applied as an art went to revolutionizing economics itself since that time. But as many of us have learned, the ability to think fast means nothing without the right connections.
It’s an old cliché. “Missing the forest for the trees” has little meaning by itself, but calls up a deeper cultural conversation. This kind of “conventional wisdom” is worth exploring in a world full of a lot of detail but little useful, objective truth.