Monday, February 10, 2014

Skills Arbitrage: The Point of Agreement is the Point of Reference

Before they "get away" from me, I want to address some follow up thoughts for a recent skills arbitrage post. The idea of monetary compensation for what remains inadequate services provided through government assistance, needs a bit more clarification. The government component of monetary compensation, would simply be government backing of direct economic coordination on the part of individuals. What's more, people would engage in knowledge and skills use, based on what they can teach themselves with the informal assistance of others and the digital realm. The point of agreement is where those processes are set up to take place, among service providers of all kinds. Instead of "choosing one's boss" as in one guaranteed work plan, the idea would be to match one's desired economic destination with others.

These skills arbitration systems would provide meaningful employment and economic engagement for millions. What's more, they could also bypass special interest networks which skim too much of productive exchange in the present, for lower income levels to be able to access either services or workplaces adequately. Governments could provide regulation free zones (free from special interest limitations, that is) so that renewed negotiations and social arrangements among individuals might begin. New wealth creation would also be possible, for many who have little hope otherwise of participating in present day work environments.

Such systems would not just subsidize labor or provide monetary "life support" in any normal sense. Nor would they be last ditch efforts to hire the unemployed. Instead, skills arbitrage systems could provide services beyond the present U.S. governmental budgetary impasse which eventually threatens education, healthcare and much more. Local coordination could also prevent local services offerings from becoming the zero sum battles of competing interests. How would wide diversity in skills sets be compensated?

The point of agreement is also the main point of reference on a number of levels, for skills arbitrage. What people agree upon individually and in groups for services (in short and ongoing time segments) is also the economic activity which gets recorded. Generally, these ongoing agreements would also be more knowledge based, than one might normally associate with basic income arrangements for the unemployed. In effect, much more than additional consumer demand could be met through such compensation. After all, this exponential amount of added services wealth over time would not be possible, otherwise.

People would guarantee their ongoing "employment", by regular engagement and matching efforts with others through local services calendars. That is, they would ultimately be reimbursed for seeking out how they might tend to the needs others have. What's more, endless discussions about skills mismatches in the marketplace would be over and done with, as skills set possibilities are worked out and negotiated individually. Skills arbitrage would allow people to regain self respect through their own efforts, and dispense with a lot of political b.s. in the process. And oftentimes, rather than random bids for employment in group settings, it is one's personal concerns and connections to ongoing projects that create bids for economic inclusion in a defined sense.

Through skills arbitrage, participants would seek to match their desired economic "destinations" as best as possible with one another. These environments would also allow the two way nature of services which is presently missing in so many settings. While some guaranteed income envisions compensation for these efforts with no match, it's not the same outcome for the economy, let alone one's spirit. Even though not every match would seem "significant" to the outsider or participant, neither do multiple product formulations for that matter. The point is to create a real space where significant transactions can be found and imagined. In the aggregate, multiple points of agreement and reference have the capacity to move people back into productive economic activity - at far more than a basic level.

Skills arbitrage could provide ways to reintroduce knowledge use which is now quickly falling away from monetary compensation in the marketplace. Knowledge use is by no means just a default position for "after the fact" solutions or "before the fact" (of hiring) investments. Knowledge use should be primary through all economic processes. Even so, knowledge use is marginalized in many marketplaces. What's more, much knowledge use infrastructure that contributes to present wealth has fallen away from economic compensation.

A primary component of skills arbitrage is that it would attempt to recreate many services which are presently endangered in today's economy. After all, this is especially the work that people want and need. It presently represents 80 percent of economic activity in the U.S. and without such work, millions of people literally would not know what to do with themselves. To be sure, it is not easy for any government to contemplate handing over the keys of the knowledge realm to its citizens. Nevertheless, economic stability could depend on doing so; at least where it is not possible to successfully provide for populations otherwise.

For in the meantime, governments are turning vital aspects of services and knowledge use into a hollow shell, where "one size fits all" is supposed to work for the snowflake realities of our existence. When healthcare services such as Obamacare are subjected to the tragedy of the commons, people also become less responsive to individual initiative and compassion. Jonathan Finegold recently highlighted this quote from Aristotle:
What is common to the greatest number gets the least amount of care. Men pay most attention to what is their own; they care less for what is common or at any rate they care for it only to the extent to which each is individually concerned. Even when there is no other cause for inattention, men are much more prone to neglect their duty when they think that another is attending to it.
How superfluous do many of us feel? Think of our time use, grasp of knowledge, and actual ability to contribute. All have been treated as superfluous commodities for so long, that many now not only question their own worth, they don't see how it is possible to be responsible for anything that matters. This is the circumstance that must be changed - not just to preserve democracy, but to preserve humanity as we were led to believe it exists. Somehow we knew that governments were able to take away the value of civilizations in the past, we just didn't quite know how they managed to do it. It's not that we don't want government. But government cannot survive if it is not responsive to us, and if it doesn't give us the keys back to our own knowledge domains.

One way to bring coordinated services under community umbrellas successfully is to recognize the value of competing interests. That is, simply refuse to allow "winning" interests to turn the playing field into a zero sum game. Clearly, governments have had plenty of difficulty doing so as of late, thus they could learn much from their own citizens who allow competing economic interests to thrive together. While "co-opetition" has been recognized as a business concept, it is equally applicable in local economies which would be capable of providing "homes" for wide diversity of knowledge use functions that otherwise could not take place.

Monetary compensation of service and knowledge use could clearly go beyond the workplace and resource use limitations of the present. There is simply no need to treat skills and knowledge use as though they were lottery tickets. By approaching knowledge and skill in decentralized and sustainable ways, populations can once again make full use of their actual capacities.

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