Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ms. & Mr. Electorate, Tear Down this Navel Blockade!

Commentary by Roger Erickson

102 Years On, Still Shocked by the Dirt in Our Blatantly Obvious Navels.

We now have ~315 million people in the USA, essentially sitting in the evolutionary road, watching strutting buffoons discuss whether we are an "outie"-culture, or an "innie"-culture. For Pete's sake! How about more action, and less pondering of navel theory?

Do we need more or even better economics? How about LESS - or even no field of economics at all? How should we approach this question? Instead of more data, let's start with context.

For example. In 1911, we had the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed over 100 American women, and led to formation of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

In 2013, Canadians as well as Americans are "shocked" to hear that over 700 women garment workers died when an entire, 8 story sweathouse collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Where's the ILGWU now? No one could have possibly predicted this? Certainly not our entire collection of Nobel Prize winning - or even Harvard tenured - economists! Was our perception of both human rights and our own context outsourced along with the sweat? There's a real question lurking behind these events. In the process of over-pondering economics, have we delegated exploration of our real options to wonks with no relevant imagination whatsoever? It's not just that none of us are as smart as all of us, none of us has as much imagination as all of us!

What's changed in 102 years? Have the atrocities just moved from a local garment district to one far enough away to be out of sight and out of mind?

One perspective on all of this is that we've been going sideways for a long time, and have gotten bogged down in endlessly discussing economic data about HOW we are doing necessary but not sufficient things, rather than keeping our eyes on the prize of NEW OUTCOMES that we would like to achieve - and are perfectly capable of achieving. How about No National Options Left Unexplored?

In the process, we could do our experiments on the 1%, rather than on the 99%. If it were up to me personally to be in charge if managing national risk and uncertainty, I could imagine different risks worth taking. Say, audacious experiments like closing down Wall St. and the Fed altogether, refunding NASA etc 10-fold, gutting FICA and personal income taxes, increasing many tariffs, requiring universal broadband 10x faster than Korea's, and holding yearly competitions on "US Outcomes Worth Creating (not Bombing)." Why not shoot even higher? A Google in every state, and 2 Apples in every garage. Make it our national motto? How about no goal left unachieved? Then we really could have no child left behind, but that would occur as an unquestioned given, completely incidental to our audacious goals, rather than as something micromanaged to form over function.

Yet here we sit. Supposedly shocked. Instead of breakneck exploration of our options, we have "distinguished" economists discussing the Failure of Macroeconomics and Monetary Policy, and saying that we need a "theory of credit." Auuuuuuugh!!! Why not LESS theory of economics? Not more! Take my Keynes ... please! Give me my Marriner Eccles back! Less book, more do.

Why not just follow the emerging operations, like we've done for 200,000 years? Bumblebees don't have a theory of wing flapping. No system has ever evolved by knowledge or theory alone. Only by realtime discovery & SELECTION. Theory, by definition, follows rather than leads - and clarifies where we've been, NOT where we can go, or where we are going. If we had any predictive power, we wouldn't NEED to discover or do anything. We could just theorize.

Evolution occurs by massively parallel trial and error. Too much economic theory - navel gazing - is part of the latter. Emerging operations are the trials that explore our constantly expanding options.

More operations, less waiting on theory. Ms. & Mr. Electorate, tear down this Navel Blockade! Just quit listening. And go back to work.

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