It wasn't always this way. However, today's limits to growth are all the more threatening, because much of the game of life is now based on formal economic precepts, right down to whether people gain from personal interaction with others. Resource management - in most respects - has become based on how it fits into the broader economy. Consequently, what people do - and how they go about it - is defined on economic terms to such a degree, that they find themselves at an almost complete loss, otherwise. Which is why it is so important to make certain in the near future, that productive economic complexity is not just an option for higher income levels, but for people of all income levels.
While some still question the validity of connection between economies and human nature, others - such as Adam Smith - stressed the positive social effects, of what was a new economic reality which was just getting started. Indeed, some are still willing to explain how economic life contributes to humanity, in that it makes far more freedom and choice possible. Why then, aren't more people willing to point out, how this process also works in reverse, when societies give up on long term growth potential?
I'm concerned, when conservatives, progressives and libertarians alike, question the importance of valid economic expression for everyone, through the course of their lifetime. Digital screens - in spite of the value they hold - are no substitute for honest to goodness interaction with others on a daily basis. Yet presently, there is a dearth of valid economic templates by which to do so. Which means there are not enough honourable ways for people to live and be, in the real world.
Mostly this post serves to make a simple point. Consider the growing unease and public reaction, against those who have limited means, whoever they may be, across the world. The example I want to provide is admittedly a bit stark, in that it illustrates more polarization than I am normally comfortable writing about, for which I apologize in advance. Indeed, I'd previously talked myself out of this illustration more than once, but it will become clear to the reader shortly, why I decided to use it. Fortunately I've been able to gradually move away from overtly emotional posts, given the fact the world is awash in emotion which is not always helpful.
First, imagine living in close proximity to a valuable mineral mine. This mine is also a somewhat random component, of what are broader economic choices and existing options. Hence some locals directly benefit from the mine (via employment or ownership), with little negative economic impact on those who don't. In other words, the random nature of the mineral (in terms of an ongoing consumption base), does not directly affect the production or consumption options of other local participants. Groups can "capture" and manage the wealth of many forms of tradable sector activity, without undue negative effects on the potential economic value which other participants continue to hold, in relation to equilibrium wealth constructs. Indeed, the random nature and lack of consumer "necessity" for tradable goods, tends to make selective group management a desirable aspect of this form of economic activity.
Now, imagine that the aforementioned mine, is instead one of knowledge use, for what also happens to be a basic component of human need. In non tradable sector activity, wealth capture thus far has worked differently from what occurs in tradable sectors, because non tradable sector representatives have massive incentive to capture wealth via limits to production. Unfortunately - carried too far - this process of knowledge use limits (capture) can eventually undermine broader general equilibrium conditions. How so?
When total aggregate value for a basic knowledge use component - in this case, healthcare - is claimed (hence defined) by a specific group, the basic knowledge use construct will eventually diminish total wealth capacity at general equilibrium level, as secondary market formation (which today's healthcare is part of) overrides the allotted space for primary market formation. Further: since the product in question is something everyone needs at various times in their life, the result is diminished economic capacity in terms of both production and consumption of all resource capacity not directly related to healthcare. Artificial limitations for basic non tradable sector resource sets, result in real limitations across the board. The result is less economic potential. But, again, how would this make anyone "less human"?
The artificial scarcities of non tradable sector activity are more closely associated with zero sum scenarios than people realize. Extreme public opinions are more likely to be voiced, when the demands of non tradable sector activity become too harsh for general equilibrium conditions. For instance: when basic healthcare is subject to artificial scarcity, the problems experienced by lower income levels, spill over into all income levels (plague, etc). Which is why some would prefer that the actual numbers of lower income levels be limited, where and however possible. Yet the fact of artificial scarcity at the outset of general equilibrium conditions, is mostly missed, as people become increasingly threatened by whoever appears to already be "less human" in some capacity.
Even though alt-right is louder in their complaints against those of limited means (in the present), the public position of the left has nonetheless been more counter response, than substance. And by no means are conservatives alone in assuming that anyone of limited means should also have limited responsibility. Some conservatives would rather that poor people not have children, at all, and some would just feel better if these people were in prison so that no one would have to worry about them. Does this mean that progressives think differently?
In recent years I've noticed a social media meme that suggests otherwise. Poor people should not have the responsibility of animals, I've been told, particularly since they cannot afford the vet bills. In other words, connect the dots: Now people expect that some should go through the entirety of their adult lives without real connections to children or animals, in large part because it's difficult to pay the bills that have been imposed by the artificial scarcities of knowledge use. Are we expected to do absolutely nothing of consequence or meaning in our lives, are we expected to have no responsibilities if we are of limited means? Indeed, what if one at least has the possibility of unconditional love from children and animals, when there is little "love" to be had from those with substantial economic connections? How is a person who has too few production rights in the marketplace, expected to live?
Recently I had to say goodbye, to a cat which lived with me for seventeen years. We shared a lot of time together through thick and thin. Chances are, my days of adopting animals are now done, I'm old and at this point I need to be happy with her memory. However, in recent years, social media has provided too many numerous examples of the discomfort some feel, when people of limited means choose to take care of animals. Here, at least, I have to ask: how else do you expect those of us with limited means to remain fully human? What level of responsibility do you feel we might rightfully assume in this world, which supposedly is not "too much"?
If people of limited means could gain a value in use educational framework which includes basic healing, perhaps some of today's social exclusion would be diminished. We would not ask these new production rights on terms that take from the resources which today's healthcare already requires, but in ways which generate new wealth. More than anything, we need an economic reality that allows everyone to be more fully human, if only so that social media will stop this incessant reasoning how such and such group has no business existing in the world. Okay, this post was a bit over the top, and I'm anxious to get back to "regularly scheduled programming". Still, I believe my feline friend would have appreciated these thoughts, and I will miss her greatly. It never mattered to her, if I didn't have a lot of money. I think she would have liked that I argued for poor people to have a chance to love animals too. That's the least I could do for her.
Apologies are also in order for any healthcare workers I may have upset, who have been concerned about present day marketplace limits for knowledge use all along. How many of you have wanted to heal others, took care of the necessary education and commitments of in order to do so, only to discover that you could scarcely - if at all - provide healing where it was most needed. With a little luck, you will finally gain the ability (with government and society's blessing) to teach those of limited means, to generate alternative settings in which a less strictly defined marketplace becomes possible for these groups. Not only would such a reality bring more hope to the lives of those who can't participate in today's healthcare systems, but also help to relieve long term government budget problems, as well.
Update: The love of a soldier and her dog