Our World In the 2020s Has To Address This Issue.
Let’s take a little look back at the things we have been taught about Economics.
OMG…you just switched off and thought ‘boring…I’m not interested’ but here’s why you should be and why I’ve made it easy to understand.
Firstly, and quite astonishingly economics calls itself a science. It is one of the many social sciences that isn’t really a science. Secondly, economists cannot agree on the definition of ‘Economics’ or indeed why it isn’t a science in its present form. But it should be a science…so please, bear with me.
Economics is a belief. It is a guess at what we might need and how we all pay for it. (Or will we?) Maybe we don’t need to pay for it. Maybe this ‘brave new [AI] world’ will provide abundantly for us and ask nothing in return…maybe, just maybe, we are on the threshold of a utopian lifestyle revolution and, well, just maybe, it was how it was supposed to be…all along…can you imagine what would have happened if…
Please read on…
One of my oldest and dearest friends invited me for breakfast the other day. This person has worked hard all of their life. They have taken risks. They pay their dues and they support many good works and charities. They’ve made a small fortune through their hard work and tenacity. They have played by the rules and contributed massively to society. I admire this person very much and I trust them.
We had a great time. We caught up with tales about our family and friends. We talked about life and love. We pretty much have the same beliefs apart from one or two fundamental issues around work. They maintain that work is essential. It is necessary. It is good for the soul. It is what is expected of us. It is good and wholesome. It is honourable. It is the answer to poverty. People just need to go out and work hard if they want to get on in life. “If I can do it”, they said, “anyone can”. They were resolute that work = happiness.
Now I really don’t want to diminish what they have achieved or their aspiration for others to achieve what they have…starting from scratch and being kind on the way up. I deeply admire them and love them.
So Why Don’t We Agree?
But the concept of work is a modern phenomenon. It came about because of greed. It happened because humans became a means to an end. It spawned the construct of master and slaves. It became most corrupt when people were made to work in order to create wealth for those that didn’t work. It blended the notion that doing work was subordinated in favour of telling others to do work. Somehow, telling people to work became more rewarding than doing the work. Economics is about the management of grossly disproportionate inputs and outputs.
Modern economics came about when we stopped using our gross domestic product to support people and instead, we were made to feel that it was more important to use people to support and serve the money that was being made from our gross domestic product.
It was power that saw the opportunity to be powerful and this power came from a subtle invention that money became a just reward for our toil and could be used to buy the things that others toiled to produce. Profit was made and it filtered up to the powerful.
Where Did It All Go Wrong?
It starts with the word of God. Wait…bear with me (again). There’s a reason it starts with God. Virtually all of our moral constructs, our beliefs and values all started with God…or at least they started with what the church says about God. This doesn’t require that you believe in God, just that you understand where your beliefs came from. They got passed down. They asked us to do the right thing…or else.
So, God says (in the bible) that the first man (Adam) broke the covenant with God and as a result, all men were sent to toil the land with their hands (there’s no mention of getting others to toil with their hands on your behalf). The problem we are facing, more and more, is we are being updated and uprooted by robots and AI. They can work 24/7, they make the right decisions each time, every time and they have far better emotional intelligence.
I know, I hear ya…how can a machine have better emotional intelligence than a human? Well. it’s because they make the right decision each time and every time…humans don’t.
So How Do We Fix It?
Economics is an art form bounded by the science of finality. There is no infinity in economics, there is simply managing the effective use of resources and aligning our expectations downwards towards sustainability. So the glaringly obvious answer to our existential conundrum is that we should work less, live off life’s abundant provision and consume way less than we are doing right now. Interestingly, this is also mentioned in the Bible.
According to Benjamin Davis
“Economics is the science that studies how scarce resources are allocated to meet competing and unlimited wants and how human beings satisfy their material wants and needs.”
According to Bradely R. Schiller
“Economics is the study of how best to allocate scarce resources among competing uses.“
According to Jackson and Mclver
“Economics is concerned with the efficient use of limited productive resources for the purpose of attaining the maximum satisfaction of our material wants.”
Two of them claim that it is the study of allocating resources and one claims that it is their practical application. One definition I have seen that sees economics as a PLAN > DO > CHECK > ACT cycle of actions and analysis, is the one put forward by Investopedia. As the name suggests, their slant is towards trade and the investment and allocation of resources. This, I believe, is how we focus our attention on economic ‘output’.
So What Is Economics Again?
“Economics is a social science concerned with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. It studies how individuals, businesses, governments, and nations make choices about how to allocate resources. Economics focuses on the actions of human beings, based on assumptions that humans act with rational behaviour, seeking the most optimal level of benefit or utility. The building blocks of economics are the studies of labour and trade. Since there are many possible applications of human labour and many different ways to acquire resources, it is the task of economics to determine which methods yield the best results.” ***
Nah…not in my book (or God’s)…Economics is a system whereby money is used to serve humans rather than expecting humans to be used to serve money…
*** Investopedia – Guide To Economics – Terms
Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash