Monday, May 12, 2014

Some Thoughts on "Home Grown" Wealth Generation

How could wealth generation be represented, in communities which are in the process of creating knowledge use systems? That is, what kinds of wealth are possible to imagine, in places where people are actually able to live, given the resource potential of the present? After the "lament" of my last post, it's appropriate to take a more positive approach in this one! However, these concepts are very much "work in progress".

Some who are particularly interested in locally generated wealth, may also want to listen to this weeks' Econtalk which discusses the future potential of strong towns - an interesting podcast which is a timely "add" for thoughts here. However, debates regarding "permanent" town structures (rather than Walmarts with 15 year lifespans for instance) serve as a reminder that flexible building components are especially important now. The marketplace may remain in a phase of experimentation for decades, until new forms of social wealth are reliable enough to engender more permanent community structures for the future. As much as I miss the "glory days" of retail, they're probably not coming back any time soon.

Even though many individuals would consider living and working closer to one another again, the terms on which anyone can realistically do so, are not yet established. While greater population densities can also mean greater wealth, the age of the auto scattered both time preferences and aspirations to the winds. By no means will it be an easy process, to find common economic ground in our time use preferences - even though that needs to happen. How can knowledge use systems overcome the reality of next door neighbors who no longer know each other's names?

New economic pathways can be generated through equal time use. To be sure, major differences in skills capacity is a valid argument. Just the same, organizational capacity can harness skills capacity which otherwise would be missed. This additional input is very much needed, for knowledge use based on merit (and increasingly, privilege) is turning out to be a limited form of wealth generation. As a result, millions around the world are gaining education at this very moment for the limited slots where skills can still be reimbursed through earlier wealth formations.

What's more, merit based knowledge use is difficult to adapt successfully (sustainably) to the degree it is needed in lower density population areas. This can sometimes lead to "brain drain" in developing nations, even if only in the sense of villages which are expected to "sacrifice" prime skill sets for the greater good of more prosperous areas. Whereas when time and education are combined with cooperative endeavor in equal time use, new wealth is possible not just in the cities, but in the villages as well. This could benefit nations regardless of where they presently stand in educational terms. What's more, such efforts might at least address the problems nations experience with groups which remain opposed to Western education.

Equal time access for aggregate knowledge gain, opens the door to immense wealth creation otherwise not possible. It also reopens the door to social elements of economic life which have largely been lost - especially for those not presently engaged in knowledge use work. When people experience social reciprocity in workplace environments, they also gain the ability to provide reciprocity for others in their personal lives. What's more, knowledge work would provide ways to remain engaged as individuals age and become less competitive in physical tasks. Many could remain in knowledge use environments, who otherwise would struggle to maintain physical labor for long stretches of time.

Time use arbitrage provides ways for people to tend to the services they need at all levels. It serves to make taxation unnecessary for what would otherwise represent municipal operational costs, among other benefits at all age levels. This basic income base also makes it possible for local participants to further engage in other aspects of local wealth creation. Why might this be important?

Local investment options in ongoing projects would mean additional income for those who seek it. By aligning additional income with (local) production windfalls and random resources, the time use base has a chance to remain inclusive and meaningful for the entire community. This matters, because the finite nature of time is readily diminished by changes in compensation. Whereas differences in compensation from random resource use are quite relative, in terms of one's ability to thrive. While the value of the shared hourly base may gradually rise, it would need to do so according to positive (i.e. innovative and cost cutting) changes in local resource adaptations, instead of attempts to keep up with rising costs. Income capacity need not become an issue, so long as a local production norm is maintained for basic environment components.

Admittedly, this is one aspect of the community wide system that I'm still trying to frame in the appropriate context. Changes in local land value - on the other hand - would gradually rise according to the worldwide marketplace they remain a part of under any circumstance. In the sense that time scarcity would be considered endogenous to the system, land use values remain exogenous to the system except in terms of how they might be affected by overall coordination.

How to think about basic and interchangeable building components for local living and working environments? These represent building "shares" in both a literal and figurative sense, for all residents to invest in. What's more, innovation in these areas could become every bit as substantial, as innovation in the digital realm of recent decades. Individual participation and investment in local building components, could especially prevent problems with the existing base wage structure.

Once building components are given over to ongoing innovation and the good deflation of productive gain, living quarters will no longer be out of reach for lower incomes. Incremental ownership options would also bring basic living expenses and services access within reach of any income, with little more than a full time commitment in time arbitrage. It is this affordability in living options, that makes it possible for individuals to exchange skills sets on equal terms - thereby generating completely new wealth, in the process.

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