Question of The Day January 29, 2013 ~ Abundance

Unto you – What is Abundance?

The meaning of abundance is quite straight forward, meaning enough and more.

When applied to the necessities of human life, to me it means the every person having all they need to live and to self actualise. This means physical necessities of air, water, food, shelter and security; and behavioural necessities of free association, free communication, free access to information, free travel and the freedom to make mistakes (though not freedom from the consequences of those mistakes).

When one looks at our current dominant social paradigm of money, it is a market based valuation system.

Markets are based on the concept of scarcity. One only goes to a market for something one doesn’t have enough of. Markets do not value things that everyone has sufficient of (like air).

Markets can only ever value abundance at zero.

Thus no market based paradigm can (in and of its own internal incentive structures alone) deliver abundance to all. Market paradigms are incentivised to deliver a level of scarcity that optimises the flow of money. They are open systems, and inherently unstable, and prone to massive oscillations, due to internal positive feedbacks.

It seems to me, that real people value abundance of all of the necessities of life.

It seems clear to me that we have the technical capacity to provide that abundance to all.

I seems equally clear to me that there are no incentives to do that in the current market based paradigms of capitalism, money and finance.

Free markets have had a powerful role in limiting the excesses of the corruption that inevitably overtakes all centralised government.

Central government is inherently dangerous to individual freedom. Government can only work with the consent of the governed, and can only be stable with integrity of communication.

An alternative must be proven prior to changing paradigms.

A viable alternative seems to be multiple reliable overlapping trust networks, with all individuals belonging to multiple networks. If individual networks are limited to no more than 300 members, then all members of each network can personally know all other members. Such a series of overlapping networks, can keep cheating under control at all levels, and it does require active participation (and so do markets and political systems).

So even abundant freedom and security seem to be possible.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

In some aspects I agree with you, and not in others.

When it comes to necessities, then abundance is more than an attitude.

A continuous supply of fresh air (oxygen at 20%, the rest mostly nitrogen, with traces of other gasses like CO2, and extremely low levels of pollutants like particulates, ammonia, aromatic compounds, free chlorine or chlorinated hydrocarbons, etc).

An adequate supply of clean fresh water, no salt, low levels of minerals (none toxic) and no toxic organic life forms – a flow of about 1 cubic meter per person per day is usually sufficient.

Adequate healthy food, free of toxins, sufficient to meet the metabolic requirements for calories and for the trace mineral, vitamin, and phyto-nutrient needs; and with sufficient variety to keep us interested in eating.

Adequate access to communication with others, so that we can develop our knowledge base, our conceptual paradigms, our social skills, and stay interested in living and contributing.

Adequate health that we can easily do all of the above without pain, and with free physical movement.

Adequate freedom for all of the above – including freedom to make mistakes, freedom to travel, to explore, freedom to try out new things (we cannot, as a society, allow ourselves to become fearful of the truly novel).

These things are required in abundance by all human beings, if they are to have a reasonable probability of self actualising beyond a very basic level of biological life, and mythic thought patterns.

These things are not simply a matter of attitude, they have physical parameters.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

There is certainly much in what you say.

It is certainly true that many have all they need, and keep on wanting more, because they simply do not appreciate that they have what they need.

And my point still remains, that there are minima, below which it is hard to physically survive and experience the ability to do stuff.

Bodies need fuel or they die.

Bodies need water or they die.

Bodies need to be protected from extremes of heat or cold or they die.

Bodies need protection from things like large hail stones, or debris in strong winds, or they die.

Minds need to have the company and conversation of other people, or most cease to function in a manner that supports survival of the body.

Minds need freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of action, freedom of access to information, if they are to grow and self actualise.

Beyond these minima, all is as you say.

Below these minima, individuals spend so much time focussed on pure survival matters that they have little or no opportunity to grow in intellectual dimensions.

Up until very recently in human history, most had to work to give others the time and tools to do their intellectual exploration and grow. In that reality, the invisible hand of the market served humanity remarkably well.

We are now entering a time when we can use machines to fully automate all of the stages of production and maintenance of all of the systems to produce those essentials, and give all people the freedom to do whatever they responsibly choose. This, to me, is abundance. In this age, markets offer us little or nothing, and are actually powerful incentivised to destroy the abundance, and return to the familiar realm of scarcity that gives money value.

Certainly, most people, having no experience of such a thing, will find it difficult to adapt at first, and we will need to do much to bring people to awareness of possibility, and to help them to break their old self destructive habits of thought and action.

And certainly, too much, or too little of any thing is toxic. All things have optimal concentrations (a middle path if you will). Too much water is as toxic as too little (as in your ungrateful sod example), same with oxygen – above 2 atmospheres partial pressure it causes irreversible changes to the haemoglobin in our blood, and it cannot release the oxygen to the tissues where it is need, so we asphyxiate internally in the midst of plenty. So with almost all things.

So yes – above the minimum and below the maximum, abundance is very much a state of mind; and my intention is simply to guarantee that all have at least the minimum.

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) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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