Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why Do Fixed and Random Designations Matter?

While there are plenty of ways to think about such a question, I'll take a somewhat entrepreneurial angle in this post. Whereas those with steady paychecks often choose to approach life in predictable capacities, the entrepreneur or business owner - on the other hand - wrestles with hard to quantify resources and product formations. Or, the entrepreneur seeks to arbitrage a positive result from random circumstance and environmental conditions. If some businesses use governments to rig for fixed certainties, that tends to leave even more random outcomes for others.

All of which can leave the entrepreneur's outcome along the extremes of the spectrum, in terms of income potential. These are the kinds of gambles that not just anyone wants to make, for understandable reasons. Hence there is not much appetite for real gambles in the present, even as the status quo continues to falter. Substantial innovation in the system itself just feels like playing with fire, in part because of the people who have already completely fallen out of the game itself. It's one thing to speak of those who gamble and win, and altogether another - those who gamble and lose. What are really the circumstances which cause them to lose? This is not an easy question to consider.

And yet, at many historical points, exposure to random economic elements has not been quite so harsh. Progress unfortunately includes the process of rigging certain elements in someone's favor. Indeed, people build upon earlier gains with gambles on multiple resource elements for extended periods of time. Are the falls from progress inevitable, when too many "certainties" have already been fixed in someone's favor? Democracy - even if it is not specified as such (how deep was the fall?) - is far more likely when there is still plenty of leeway as to resource use options. If democracy doesn't particularly appear linked with inequality, perhaps that has some bearing on the matter.

Some farmers still expect to manage unknowns much as entrepreneurs would, at least the smaller versions of farmer which (U.S.) government doesn't have adequate reason to help. It's easy to forget that entrepreneurs are just the most recent version, of those recognized for taking various elements of the landscape and rearranging them in new and unique ways - at least when they have a chance to do so. In a sense, when the entrepreneur has a guaranteed position, the original motivation for challenge disappears, and is replaced by the same desire for certainty that anyone with a steady paycheck desires.

It's odd, that when we do learn to manage time by our own expectations, how hard it can be afterward to turn around and conform to the time expectations of others. Indeed - once experienced - the freedom of optimal time management can be worth so much, that an individual will do whatever they can to preserve it. Even so, some are unwittingly thrust into that "do or die" environment, after years of relying on dependable checks and benefits: not an easy transition.

How can it be worth so much to create new patterns with random resources, which often leaves one with a life of few benefits and possibly no more vacations? It's not easy to explain. But when we gain the chance to experience life this way, often we don't really miss the former consumer weekends or vacations anymore. When we match our time use with our metabolisms and our challenges with our work environments, we aren't looking at the clock. We may not even be thinking about the clock, because the best time of the day is when we are dealing with the challenges themselves. I'll never forget how completely different the weekends felt, when I was working for a steady paycheck, versus taking the ultimate chance on my own skills capacities.

I won't lie. When the bills aren't easy to pay, or when one is faced with moving from fixed to random designations for the first time, it can be like staring into the abyss. It's not hard to associate my earlier fears with the fears so many have in the present, when they are repeatedly told how they need to move away from the idea of steady paychecks, to selling one's abilities on a regular basis. After all, no one has set up a marketplace yet where it's really possible to do, collectively. I've known plenty who have chafed at authority. Even so, they knew the dangers involved, re taking a chance on making the ultimate decisions, themselves. They were well aware of the hardships that came with the gamble, in spite of the positive aspects of managing one's destiny.

For this reason - among others - society attempts to "fix" as many economic elements, as possible. Certainty is a desirable commodity, even if it means sacrificing some degree of freedom. For one thing, even though slogging through said fixed elements can leave us feeling crazy at times, it sure makes consumerism a lot more fun. That's the point! By Jove, if one is going to continue tolerating the "nutty" workplaces or whatever rigged elements exist, the bigger and better the consumer rewards for doing so.

And for a long time, those consumer rewards for boring yet non scary workweeks, continued the fixed environments which generated ever more sameness and stability. Even as the process starts to break down, governments hold fast to that earlier dream - even when some consumers can no longer play the previous supporting roles for them. Governments "hold tight" as they give up on consumer spending capacity, by affixing their sights on as much random resource potential as possible. Meanwhile, citizens just hope their governments can hold it together.

But even governments have to stare into the face of the abyss eventually. Goodbye "boring", hello "interesting times". How to keep up the pretense of prosperity and educational reward, if there is nothing fixed or certain anymore about a college degree for the good life? After such a long run of fixed elements and fixed paychecks, it's hard to imagine life with many unknowns - even when the knowns are already MIA. Hence too much faith now in already existing buildings and asset formations, as if somehow they can fill in for continued vision and collective focus. But accounting tables are no substitute, for the vision and energy which represents product in motion.

How to consider the whole picture, rather than fighting battles on dozens of fronts at once? Think of how the entrepreneur has often been celebrated, for seemingly being able to divine what society could use at a given moment. What was it about those collective environments which gave entrepreneurs the chance to do so? What was it about environments that gave people a chance to live, whether or not paychecks "seemed" substantial? These are the parts of our lives which have been lost. Sure, it was tempting to rig as many economic elements as possible, when profitable certainties and salaries could result. But doing so has created patterns which now leave societies like deer in the headlights. And deer cannot just stand in the road indefinitely.

Once again, the public has a role which could assist entrepreneurs and much needed innovation as well. Domestic summits could begin the process of envisioning new economic environments, which would be less rigid than they are in the present. After all, it helps to remember that the entrepreneur could be any one of us. Thus, by helping the entrepreneur, we would in effect be helping ourselves. How might we face larger uncertainties head on, so that smaller uncertainties can find means for coordination? If we can do so, those who take chances on our behalf would not have to always end up at the far reaches of the income spectrum. No discussion about inequality is complete, if too few consider inequality of economic access.

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