Buckminster Fuller’s philosophy has had a big impact on me. Like Viktor Frankl, Fuller discarded the prevailing wisdom of his day (scarcity in the case of Fuller, existential angst in the case of Frankl) and presented an answer so rational and human that we wonder why we didn’t see it ourselves.
Fuller basically proved that scarcity is a sham; a point which is increasingly less controversial. But despite the dripping excesses of western technological culture, we see that people give up their freedom by squandering future-coded time and money, and then spend most of their lives doing things they don’t want to do. And people all around the world still struggle with subsistence.
Why is this?
While the concept of personal property implies a degree of exclusivity, I’ve always felt that free market economics was compatible, and even conducive to synergistics. When two parties enter into a voluntary exchange, both parties benefit (otherwise the exchange would never happen voluntarily). In essence, any exchange creates a net increase in human happiness, ?out of thin air?. So encouraging more such connections should raise overall human utility.
But people in free markets don’t get a pass. An autoworker might spend more on his vacation that the average Indonesian makes in a lifetime, but when his income takes a hit due to layoffs, he may experience more strain in his health and relationships than that same Indonesian who is still making far less.
This is, in part, why I have such a problem with the idea that ?positive interest rates are explained by time preference?. The theory presumes that consumption patterns have something to do with necessity; and therefore, scarcity. But in reality, people’s consumption patterns are about as related to necessity as stock price was to earnings during the bubble days. The theory also depends on the idea that people are motivated to maximize consumption over a period of time; something which seems backward to me (time is the high order bit, not consumption).
On the other hand, if you claim that positive interest rates are a symptom of human’s nature to squander future time and money unwisely (i.e. ?time preference? is a code-word for ?poor judgment?), I might agree. But this, too, is incompatible with Synergistics. If scarcity is dead and getting deader, it shouldn’t matter how much you eat or when. And even in systems where scarcity is a reality, improved education and changes to the commercial regulations would theoretically encourage stable collective burn rate and buffer.
Ultimately, I come to the conclusion that the economists really don’t have a clue, and this theory is just some convenient handwaving used to keep bigger theories consistent.
But then again, I’m not an economist. Zimran Ahmed has corrected my broken thinking before, and today he takes on Peter Drucker‘s ?4 economies?. It’s eye-opening, although I wonder about the assertion that U.S. economy is only 10% import/export and most of that with Canada and Mexico. That is just shocking to me; I know it is not true for Microsoft or many other Fortune 500.