Monday, September 14, 2015

Small Scale Plans and "Imaginings"

One doesn't often hear, about potential new beginnings for local economies. It's the changes at national levels which capture the public's attention - hence that of policy makers as well. As a result, it's not uncommon to find institutions such as the Fed grappling with unemployment issues, given a lack of counterparts anywhere in the real economy for this responsibility.

However there's a problem, with the idea that solutions for the marginalized should be sought at national levels. Those who lack economic access, are partly in their position because of the ways access has already been limited, in what is mostly a government defined equilibrium. Economic access needs to be redefined on what would be unique sets of local terms. The best way to do so, is to work through means which are part of the real economy.

In other words, small scale plans and "imaginings" are needed at local levels. What if such an approach also provides outlets for the "wish lists" which represent libertarian leanings? Indeed, this post was prompted by a recent set of preferences from Scott Sumner - most of which I am in agreement with, and some which I would take further than his suggestions - such as healthcare and education.

Fortunately it's not necessary to impose libertarian "wish lists" on entire countries - even if the libertarian desire for free markets isn't sufficiently met. For that matter, such preferences would hardly represent freedom if they were in fact imposed on millions of people. What if small groupings of individuals could encourage economic diversity, instead?

Even though these communities would follow their nation's constitution and remain open to national and international tradable goods, they would start anew in terms of services formation, social security needs and corporate holdings which can tend to public needs without taxation. Why might nations find this a desirable option? For one, these citizens would no longer represent national burdens in terms of services provision, subsidies or entitlements. Local educational efforts would more closely align with local marketplace options. Knowledge use communities could "grow" the services marketplace, which governments now struggle to provide.

I'll at least touch on a few areas of agreement with Scott Sumner's post. One of the more important issues for anyone working in an environment of equal time use, is that of societal options in terms of signed agreements for lawsuit avoidance. Why so? Lawsuits particularly take advantage of asymmetries in income and wages, and also corporate profits. In knowledge use systems, time use and coordination is symmetric. Further, local holdings would also be local common investments - another factor which would greatly reduce the logic of lawsuits.

Another important issue for any knowledge use community is a broad understanding of what eminent domain would be intended to accomplish. Scott's example of infrastructure in contrast to condos, serves as a reminder how eminent domain has increasingly been used to break promises and societal trust. How to think about infrastructure for knowledge use systems?

Most important, is the implicit promise to create sufficient public and work space for citizens at the outset. Infrastructure would not be used to divide citizens, but to make certain there is room for their participation in economic life. This translates into two domains: the organization of local time aggregates, and abundant planned capacity for economic exchange on flexible terms. One of the main problems for many cities is that when individuals do not have access to local work, they also do not have the resources to set up business locations and do not have the zoning which would allow them to do so at home.

Therefore, infrastructure holds a particularly important role for local corporations, because it is not just a matter of leaving a certain amount of space for local commercial and non profit activity, but rather multi purpose areas which encompass both - for individuals and groups. This would have bearing on the kinds of infrastructure designs which are ultimately adopted. What's more, those with sufficient living space would also have the option of additional home capacity for both business and services formation.

There are always means by which to encourage needed growth, even if it isn't possible to do so through large scale plans. Many experiments can be tried at local levels, for wealth creation which doesn't require loans or regulatory thickets to carry out. With a little luck, in a few years it could be possible to set the wheels into motion.

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