Monday, June 4, 2012

Taking the Path Less Traveled

Every aggregate faces a fork in the road, every day. One path leads to tactics as usual and an increasing Output Gap, the other leads to painstaking assembly of novel staging, linking & sequencing of current & emerging tactics.

The 1st path accelerates gridlock and demise - and hinders progress. The 2nd leads to organization on a greater scale, by tuning our increasingly complex economic engine.

The recent temper trantrums within the overall Functional Finance community over trivial aspects of full capacity utilization are a good example. Since people ultimately drive all potential capacity and potential output, full utilization in some form or another was historically practiced in most human settings, as well in all other species. Of course that needn't precisely fit current definitions of "100% employment" involving everyone formally covered in an hourly or salaried employment contract.

No matter what methods our 50 states and 5000+ counties settle on today, there will always be even better ways tomorrow. That's why diversity is always needed, and why the diversions published by Rodger Mitchell seem so distracting.

One general way to express full capacity utilization is to call for a publicly guaranteed job, commonly called a JG.   Rodger's minimal divergence from this concept is a minimum revenue distribution by the currency issuer, not just with states but with citizens.

Call it what you will.  Arguing over the details at this particular time - when no version of Functional Finance is represented in policy - is divisive, and therefore wasteful politics that only delays actual exploration of aggregate options.

The only rational thing to do is to SHAPE situations, not argue over the slight differences in advised course settings, especially since both proposed course settings differ so much from our current one.

The optimal path to getting somewhere is rarely the presumed most direct path. The important thing is to focus on the goal, not the direction of the first step.

If we argue overmuch about the direction of the first step, the primary result is that we inhibit people from taking any step at all.

The concept of "shaping," from psychology, is to elicit whatever activity is most easily initiated, and to then gradually re-shape or redirect the behavioral momentum to arrive at the goal, while conserving adaptive-momentum.

In practice, it's far more productive to conserve any existing adaptive-momentum than it is to inhibit & preclude all momentum not deemed to be perfectly aligned with the one & only path presumed by hubris.  "Focus on the goal and don't constrain tactics" has proven to be good advice, from Gylippus to Patton.

What do all members of the tiny - but finally growing - Functional Finance community all share?  Perhaps the goal of shrinking the USA's incredible Output Gap?   Given that, why divisively argue over tactical details?  Why not focus on promoting more people to a shared goal?  Once recruited to a consensus goal, 312 million people don't need to be micromanaged.

1 comment:

Tom Hickey said...

Are we going to be cats hunting alone, or dogs hunting in a pack?

Or is that Libertarianism v. Socialism?