Followup to Abundance post

New book by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler — Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think

In response to a critical post by “Logic”

Hi Logic

Quite the contrary.

Monetary value and human value are clearly two different things.
Certainly humans make monetary valuation choices.
One simple way to conceptualise it is to think of the distinction as money being human value multiplied by scarcity.
Oxygen provides a sort of limiting case (always useful to clarify a demonstration). Oxygen has great human value – if someone puts plastic-wrap over your face, or puts your head under water, that value becomes very obvious very quick. Yet oxygen is so abundant that there is no scarcity, and thus most people would be very reluctant to pay for the air they breath.

Thus there is no inbuilt economic incentive to maintain that abundance. We create laws against air pollution in an attempt to make up for that systemic failure.

Your logic about creation of abundance works only to a point.
Money incentivises people to produce so long as they can make a profit.
There is zero monetary incentive to make anything as abundant as oxygen.
So the distinction here appears to be about the various possible meanings of “abundance”.
Your definition seems to stop at the point that people can make a profit, whereas mine stops at the point that all human need is satisfied. The difference is significant if one is near the bottom of the income scale (though insignificant to those near the top).

The cost of medical care is something I have had some recent experience of. 4 years ago I had a melanoma on my temple. 2 years ago it metastasised, and although surgeons removed most of the left side of my neck and face, and all the lymph nodes they could find, it had spread deeper and more widely, and was in my liver, and in other tissue. At that point I was told by the medical establishment that there was nothing known to medical science that could alter the probability of my survival, which was given as 50% chance of living 5 months and a 2% chance of making 2 years.
I did a lot of research myself, and adopted a set of low cost strategies, mainly around diet, and am still here, and according to my last set of scans, tumour free. All my oncologist was allowed to say was “whatever you are doing, keep on doing it”.
If he recommends what I did to anyone else, he faces sanction and dismissal.
That is the system that the monetary incentive structure has created.

I am, by training a biochemist and ecologist, with a good grounding in mathematics (statistics and probability) and 40 years of developing computer software – so I have the skill base to do my own evaluation of published data. Few have that. Way over 90% of what is on the internet is factually incorrect – merely unsubstantiated opinion. So it takes a bit of sorting through.

I have published all of my medical history, and all of what I did, and why, on my blog-site for others to evaluate.

My chair makes few demands of me.
The facts of my biological origin make many demands of me – I need to have food, shelter, water. My enquiring mind demands access to communication and information and transportation.
These things are not yet free.
To get them I must currently engage in economic activity.
It is technically and conceptually possible to create systems that delivered those things in such abundance that they are free – yet there is no systemic incentive within our current political and economic system to do so (in fact there are substantial incentives to prevent it happening).

Understanding that does require making some clear distinctions – like the first distinction above – between economic value and human value.

I am optimistic that the future may be at least as powerful and secure as I think possible – and I have quite a powerful ability to envisage possibilities.

[followed by]

It is not as simple as you state.
If we were simply talking about money as a tool to empower the matching of goods and services, then your logic would be mostly accurate.
That is not our reality.
We now have systems that are designed purely around money – independent of any goods and services.
It is in these systems that we have systemic issues.
Now that people are able to pursue money, in and of itself, independent of any good or service, there is a massive incentive to optimise the production of money (in and of itself, as independent as possible from goods or services).
Thus we see the production of laws which may have rhetoric around them speaking of “public good” aspects, but when you look closely at there systemic effects, it is about providing barriers that protect profits.

This is a systemic issue.

It is easy to see how we have gotten into this situation.
Small and medium producers have seen that the regulations imposed by government are a barrier to them doing sensible business, so when politicians talk about removing regulation those voters identify the regulations that are a problem to them. What tends to happen in reality is that when regulations are removed, it is regulations that had inhibited the accumulation of money, and regulations that promote money (mostly on a short term horizon).

The financial incentive to make things more plentiful only extends to the limit of profitability.
Many people have little ability to make money, therefore little money to spend, therefore a great many unmet needs.

Life is easy for me – I make an hourly rate that is ten time the average for my town – so I am one of the fortunate few.

In this town there are many people who want to work, who cannot find paid employment. Most of the jobs that are here are very low paying (because of the excess of labour over jobs).

There is no financial incentive to meet the needs of most of these people, because most of them have little or no money – they are surviving, just.

The incentives for those who employ labour is to keep the pool of unemployed at a level that keeps wages low, thus seemingly reducing costs and increasing profit – except that if the trend takes off, then demand dies, and we enter recession.

There are a great many issues with money.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s