Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Have Growing Team, Won't Use It" Produces "Have Group Fiat, Won't Use It"

Commentary by Roger Erickson

And people ridiculed William Vickrey! He was nearly the only sane one, for decades! Along with Warren Mosler, and JK Galbraith, and Lerner, and Kalecki, etc, etc - not to mention Marriner Eccles. These are all people who knew that economic policy was too important to be left to the economists - orthodox economists who flat out ignore real operations on the ground ... in their own training, education and ideological practice.

What went wrong? What are we still doing wrong?

Logic and awareness of operational reality is clearly never our main impediment. Some people in every aggregate always know what the group needs to attend to. Rather, our #1 problem seems to be stubbornness in refusing to listen to all of ourselves, refusing to acknowledge inter-dependencies outside our personal specialty, and - if we are forced to acknowledge them - calling them irrelevant "externalities" instead.

Can that hurdle be overcome? Of course it can. Homo Sapiens has been meeting and exceeding that task for ~200K years! It just takes preparation, training and constant practice - on a scale larger than anything we've done before. Yet that's what humans do. In fact, it's all we've ever done. Why stop now?  We need everyone to participate in calling everyone's attention to things they actively do NOT want to know, if left in isolation. Our chief hurdle is, at heart, a social recruitment task. Learning to organize on a larger scale, every year, every generation. The only alternative is suicide, and we've supposedly made that illegal. :(

How do we recruit and convince enough of ourselves to maintain an adequate rate of re-sampling the full - and always enlarging - spectrum of changing contexts, so as to maintain awareness of emerging options?

Many historical precedents are available for your evaluation. To avoid prejudicing further discussion any further, I'll mention only two, .
  Keep everyone busy exploring all options. (full employment)
  Provide everyone time to analyze & communicate, not just work. (30 hour work week?)

Our issue is not just "Have Group Fiat, Won't Use It." More accurately, that flaw flows from failure to address a deeper need: "Have Growing Team, Won't Use It."

Here's an example of transitioning from initial statement to a recruiting message.

“The great increase in longevity has produced a surge in the desire to accumulate assets for retirement. It has outpaced the ability of the private sector to produce assets, so we need a larger government debt.” - William Vickrey

Unfortunately, even Vickrey neglects the simple semantics that trip up Jane and Joe Sixpack, and slow their recruitment (~150 million in the USA alone!, and another 150 million students in training - there's no time to waste). He's stuck on initial statement in non-portable jargon.

However, if you replace the above with something like the text below, you have a potentially portable message, that ~150 million adults might follow. PLEASE! Feel free to suggest 1001 different ways to get everyone from 4th graders on down to economists to understand this dynamic systems issue. Whatever rephrasing you suggest, WE'LL NEED THEM ALL! Tomorrow. No, make that TODAY!! By COB. Certainly before COE (collapse of economy).

“The great increase in average lifespan has - initially - produced a surge in the desire of distributed individuals to accumulate personal assets for personal retirement. However, distributed hoarding is not what social species excel at. 
Consequently, the initial, personal desire to ramp up distributed hoarding of static assets has outpaced the ability of distributed populations to both produce and hoard enough static assets.  

It is, however, quite simple - through accumulation of the dynamic asset of teamwork - for a growing population to meet and exceed all the emerging needs of a growing population of children, adults and elderly alike. It's the return on coordination that counts the most. That return is the only thing that exceeds all mounting costs, including the cost of coordination. 

To grow as a nation, we therefore need steadily increasing public investment - aka, "fiat," simply DENOMINATED as fiat currency numerals - to meet the steadily increasing demand for adequate personal income throughout a growing population executing increasingly more, better, faster and leaner economic transactions.
Calling that public investment in ourselves, our children & our later descendants a purely virtual "debt" to ourselves is not just broken semantics, it is useless and counterproductive sophistry."

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