Saturday, January 23, 2021

Economic Integration Could Help Unify Us

After all the post election chaos, finally some relief with a change of command in Washington. Still, I know this respite could be brief, and it hardly signifies a return to normalcy. As things stand, too many budgetary issues are coming to the fore, and recent decades of structural shifts have yet to be addressed. So while Biden is a calming presence (for some of us), he's in charge of a government which is ill prepared to meet the expectations of its citizens. Unfortunately, Biden's hopes for greater unity are mostly wishful thinking - at least for now. 

For that matter - as some noted regarding the heightened inauguration security - this was no peaceful transfer of power in an ordinary sense. It may be that political unity remains out of reach, until societies become more serious about economic integration for all citizens. Importantly, what's at stake in all this, isn't about continuous cycles of additional monetary redistribution. Rather, a broader framing for market orientation is called for - one which would ultimately make less monetary redistribution necessary in the first place. 

How to think about more concise forms of economic integration? For one, such strategies would focus on the economic potential of all human capital, regardless of formal educational levels. Once a wider range of time based mutual assistance becomes horizontally aligned, skilled services would no longer be limited to urban settings and limited budgetary directives. If we can establish applied knowledge networks in communities of all kinds, aggregate time value would become a more dynamic part of our economic destinies. If we truly believe in the power of free markets, then why not give ourselves greater ability to define useful time based consumption, in line with what others hope to provide. 

More viable platforms in human potential, could increase the supply and demand of useful economic time for all citizens. Eventually, the mutual reliance of shared time would lead to greater interdependence, thereby giving people new opportunities to trust one another and become civilized again. 

Only recall how the civil societies of recent centuries, were established through a more complete representation of specific resources. Toward this end, why not make time use potential as economically viable as other forms of commodity wealth. The resource representation which our tradable sectors made possible, led to extensive societal coordination, cohesion and voluntary cooperation. Let's hope that our non tradable sectors can now take a page from these earlier positive examples. Should we refuse to put additional and unnecessary burdens on resources that are already scarce, perhaps we have a chance to reduce the "uncivil wars" of our times.

Monday, January 18, 2021

I've Been Disappointed in Myself. But What Does That Mean?

After the recent storming of our nation's Capitol, I've experienced some regret and dismay, regarding my own meager contributions toward more positive circumstances in the U.S. But I've also wondered: how could societies do a better job of preventing such calamities in the first place? It's one thing to express frustration when governments don't function well, and I believe we should. But attempts to destroy them is altogether another matter. It's certainly something I never expected to witness in my lifetime, here in my own country.  

Yet I've managed to shift from this generalized disappointment, to one more specific in nature. Why haven't I been more effective in the last 7+ years of blogging? Do seemingly lackluster results suggest I quit blogging and just call it a day? In spite of these concerns, I'd like to think the answer is no. While I'm occasionally tempted to disengage from it all, I hope to remain committed, involved, even stubborn if necessary. 

Still, it helps to remember that my main limitations are mostly age related. When I was young, I would hardly have confined myself indoors to write about supply side structural reform potential. I'd like to think that had I been aware of these issues decades earlier, my response would have included traveling across the country, while knocking on doors of those willing to listen to my ideas. At the very least, there's consolation in knowing I'm hardly alone in my age induced limitations. Many such as myself have gleaned practical tidbits of wisdom mostly in retrospect, after long slogs which occasionally included learning about life the hard way.

So how to proceed, given our most recent political impasse? For one, all citizens need a better understanding, how severe structural problems have contributed to our political reality. As a nation, we are increasingly constrained by land (place) and time scarcities which governments and inexplicably, even private citizens have yet to address. Today's fiscal policies in particular have been impacted. Unfortunately, neither Democrats or Republicans support fiscal policies which take existing land and time scarcities into consideration. Since both parties instead promote the most costly market options possible, Washington faces severe limits in its ability to function effectively for our knowledge centered economy. Is it any wonder that - due largely to lack of market integration for all income levels - both parties are now inclined to engage in mutual destruction?

Those of us who have not given up on humanity, will continue to seek means for stronger free markets and organizational systems which work well for all citizens. Granted, it won't always be easy, since there are few clear paths by which either individuals or groups can create positive change. Fortunately, there are individuals who will remain stubborn in their efforts to build a better world. Even though it's not easy for all of us to directly participate, we will stay engaged from the sidelines of our desks, while cheering on those who are willing to stay with the good fight.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Danger is Still Present

Like many, I could scarcely pull myself away from the TV yesterday as events unfolded on Capitol Hill. What a relief afterward, when Democrats and Republicans finally had reason to unite in solidarity, against domestic hatreds which few present had witnessed up close till now. Indeed, the whole episode made me recall the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, since the latter incident opened my eyes to the reality of our cultural struggles. And while I've never protested in the streets, there have still been occasions when I personally felt the burn of cultural hate.

At the very least in Washington, yesterday ended with second thoughts all around regarding the Electoral College challenge. For now, stability has returned and streets were quiet this morning. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief, right? 

If only it were possible to know for certain. As John Ashmore notes,

It's easy to claim this is the work of a lunatic fringe, but that ignores two crucial points.

He further elaborates that while Trump's actions and words encouraged the insurrection, the president was hardly alone in doing so. Unfortunately, others in the "highest echelons" have supported Trump's fantasies as well. Ashmore continues:

...this mob does represent a vibrant, virulent strain of American political opinion. Just look at surveys that show one in five voters there supporting the storming of the capitol - a figure that rises to 45% among Republicans.

Part of what prompted this post, are some of the relevant flags. Over Christmas for example, a few folks here finally replaced their Trump flags with American flags. Nevertheless, as the above CapX article states:

If anyone thinks these people are 'patriots', just remember that they replaced the American flag on the Capitol with a Trump one.

Given the media's propensity to highlight the outlandish, I'm surprised that an obscene F*&# Biden flag, (mentioned in my previous post) did not get more attention. I caught a brief glance of it as someone in the crowd carried it through the Capitol. And a local sheriff who had just been elected as a congressman, even tried to calm the rioters down at one point. He must have been quite startled - as someone who openly backed Trump and his efforts to remain in office - to witness firsthand the effect Trump actually had on certain 'patriots'. What else might set them off in the days ahead? 

Suffice to say that people like me don't always feel safe in this country. When I was younger, I used to imagine moving to a state or area where fewer domestic threats existed, but finally realized this is an imaginary notion. So other than the minuscule efforts of this blog, when it comes to cultural struggles, right now I can do little more than pray for peace, the safety of our next president, and for positive change. Perhaps after this close encounter with the hatred of some protesters, politicians of all stripes might finally be less tempted to play with fire, just to gain temporary political advantages.

In the meantime, given an unexpected peace between Democrats and Republicans this morning, I wondered about the possibility of improved moods on the part of nearby neighbors. So I stepped out on the front porch and furtively glanced next door. Nope, the obscene flag is still there. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Ten Ways This Blog Differs From the Norm

If my blog lacks normalcy when it comes to economic issues, in all fairness, I'm not sure what "normal" even is. But what, exactly, makes it different? Over the past month I've reflected on that question, and have since come up with some explanations. Perhaps it would be a good idea also, to put a lightly edited version of this post on the blog sidebar.

1) In the blog's early years, I gradually developed a real economy or supply side approach to economic issues. Doing so seemed important, for while market deficiencies aren't readily amended by demand based policy options, there's too little direct focus on market deficiencies which so often result in inappropriate demand based policy. If societies were more open to innovative supply side strategies which could improve market access and participation, there would ultimately be less budgetary gridlock, and fewer inappropriate fiscal policies. Such innovation is especially needed now, since fiscal options in general are much more limited than they were, even a half century ago.

2) There are positives in supply side intentionality which are often missed. When market platforms do not accurately reflect production and consumption potential for a wide range of income levels, governments tend to step into the fray. However, this can lead to additional losses in personal and social freedoms, especially when governments quickly intervene where markets are not responsive or proactive. On the other hand, when usable platforms are designed which create opportunities for all income levels, these options are generally more benign and beneficial than governmental policy responses.

3) One thing about me which is relatively normal: A rural middle class perspective which gradually transitioned to a lower middle class reality in later years. Nevertheless, my lower middle class outlook doesn't always make sense online, where societal issues are generally debated by individuals in higher income brackets. Despite the fact a good portion of my working years were in urban environments, by my fifties, I lacked the level of income necessary to remain urban in many U.S. locales. 

Plus, the social media of intellectual dialogue is dominated by college graduates. My perspective can be off putting to someone who doesn't imagine economic integration in a knowledge based economy, as feasible for people with limited incomes or formal education. So not only am I out of step with neighbors such as those who recently put up obscene flags spelling out F*&# Biden, but also successful city people who dismiss me as another dimwit ne'er do well. For these reasons and of course others (including safety precautions), I'm careful about advertising my beliefs and ideas where people happen to see me in public. It's just better not to antagonize others, especially since I seldom know who is actively offended by my actions and ideas. In other words, as a blogger, these considerations help explain why I don't really have a public persona.

4) I generally seek out elements from classical economic thought, not only because they are more readily available, but because they provide a good foundation for additional theoretical framing. In similar spirit, I defend the validity of GDP measure and market monetarist (monetary) thought, as both help in understanding potential gains in productivity and long term growth. Many institutions continue to serve valid and utilitarian purposes. However, our non tradable sectors need extensive organizational augmentation in both skills use potential and ownership strategies. Fortunately, many aspects of tradable sector activity remain as useful as ever. In particular - given the nature of tradable sector wealth origins and remaining capacity to support non tradable sector prosperity - it can be counterproductive to claim capitalism has failed.

5) Since many recognize time as our most important resource, it's surprising there have not been more calls to make time a valid economic unit in its own right. Doing so would provide much needed context for economic time use in experiential, practical, and other workplace settings. With time as a valid economic unit, societies could help solve the problem of limited capacity to reward highly valued skills via terms of full monetary compensation. Even though our time commitments and availability will always be scarce, we should not be burdened, by the artificial scarcities which are presently putting modern knowledge based economies in jeopardy. 

6) Many now envision innovation and progress as something to further expand horizons for the already successful. However, this is a very shortsighted approach. Only consider for instance how the most meaningful progress over the millennia, has benefited citizens from all walks of life. 

While there are various interpretations of progress, I believe the one which matters most, takes into account the time constraints people face in meeting the most basic elements of their lives. Said another way, when innovation reduces time requirements for one's most basic needs, production gains in the form of progress have been realized. The problem in this regard is that extensive price making in non tradable sectors has substantially reduced the time many people have to enjoy their lives. Too many non tradable sector institutions have saddled citizens with financial burdens beyond what is necessary, thereby reducing already scarce time for other life options and challenges. No measure of productivity is really complete if it doesn't take aggregate time obligations into account for meeting non discretionary consumption. A productivity measure is needed which can strip away hedonism and signalling, to determine a base of actual necessity - one not further expanded by extensive regulations. With such a base, we would once again be able to determine both progressions and regressions in total factor productivity. 

7) One underlying theme in my work has been a constant source of motivation, perhaps in part because it has received so little attention elsewhere. Even though I've found a few references to sectoral effects over the years, I am astonished more work hasn't been done in this area. After all, shifts between tradable and non tradable sectors affect people's lives in many ways. These structural shifts greatly impact economic outcomes, particularly in terms of aggregate demand and supply. 

Unfortunately, a general lack of understanding and consideration about sectoral effects, now poses more problems than in previous decades. For instance, price making in non tradable sectors has led to quickly expanding national budgets, with consequential equilibrium imbalance which impacts a wide range of governmental goals and political alignments. Modern day economies are extremely reliant on knowledge, and they need a more direct and reciprocal approach for time based services generation. Otherwise, many nations will eventually struggle with excessive dependence on monetary redistribution for applied knowledge.

8)  My first explorations online began in 2009, and I quickly realized my inclinations toward libertarianism would be different from the norm. For instance, I preferred a utilitarian approach, but it was clear neither governments or free market advocates were focusing on means to promote the greatest good for the greatest number. However I eventually realized doing so was not a straightforward process, since achieving the greatest good for the greatest number is mostly feasible through local and decentralized means. This is one reason it is so important to understand monetary flows between tradable and non tradable sector activity, so that internal reciprocity reduces the budgetary constraints which lead to fragile politics.

Libertarianism has found limited success in part due to its lack of emphasis on free markets which benefit all income levels. I hope more future libertarians will advocate for free markets which improve the lives of all citizens, instead of mostly catering to the interests of the best and brightest. 

9) Nevertheless, my concerns for those who have been left behind, tend to take different forms from those of the political left. A lifetime of personal experience and observation has convinced me that markets could be devised which offer better production and consumption options for citizens, than governments have been able to provide. In particular, governments face more constraints when it comes to local economic circumstance, especially given their desire to appease those who hold excessive power. 

And while my concerns about class issues might seem old fashioned at first glance, today's class issues are a world apart from those in an era of industrial dominance. What depresses me most is identity politics and its associated cultural battles. Since many on the right now eagerly engage in cultural struggles as well, a much needed focus on structural realignment, has been all but forgotten. If this weren't enough, some on the right dismiss my reasoning because I believe everyone deserves meaningful roles in knowledge based economies. Restructuring toward this end should be our focus - not contributing to more social fallout by fighting over who should be deemed "worthy" of the limited slots in today's most prominent workplaces.

10) Some have emphasized the nature of a circular economy in recent centuries. Why not take a closer look at this reality, to understand how we might better manage originating or primary wealth flows. When we recognize the majority of time based services as essentially secondary markets in this framework, we come to understand how fragile these secondary markets actually are. Even though their importance is paramount, they lack the solid foundation for the economic dynamism we now need, to expand the horizons of knowledge. Fortunately, if we are willing to try, we could eventually align time value to create a stronger foundation for originating wealth - one which expands the potential of both useful and desirable services generation.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

What We Can Do, What We Can't Do

New years are a good time to reflect on life's possibilities, especially when it comes to societal progress. Nevertheless, how do we distinguish between realistic potential, versus what is essentially wishful thinking? For example, even though the world needs a lot more mutual respect and civility, desired outcomes such as these cannot be coerced. 

And while Adam Smith and many others celebrated the free markets which so contributed to civility in recent centuries, much of this fortuitous societal coordination takes place in tradable sector activity. Still, it's not unreasonable to ask: Could our non tradable sector markets also contribute to greater civility? How might they gain their own newfound freedoms? In particular, is it feasible for the resource of our scarce time, to garner more economic and societal value in the near future? Or will vital markets for time value, remain outside our realm of direct influence?

In the twentieth century, housing and time based services were regulated in ways which reduced the degree of autonomy and control individuals held over their own destinies - particularly those with substantial income limits. If millions were to regain control via new production and consumption potential, how much civility might we all regain in the process? At the very least, we still benefit from the civility which goes hand in hand with high levels of tradable sector resource coordination. And while we will never put a stop to what's bad in the world, we could still create more good, by allowing symmetrical (hence reciprocal) coordination of time via market tested means. Time arbitrage is one entry to this realm of possibility. It is a broad spectrum approach for improving personal autonomy and self worth, with potential to bring new hope to people from all walks of life.

With additional economic value for mutually coordinated time, millions more citizens would derive a greater sense of self worth. Consider one important reason why this matters. So much in the world which is unfortunate and destructive, includes the reality of poorly defined self worth. How can we expect people to be trustworthy or unfailingly good to others, when their time use potential lacks sufficient economic value to build a normal life? Granted, not everyone would personally benefit from stronger markets for time value. Just the same, millions more would finally learn to effectively negotiate with others for their wants and needs. I believe that gaining the chance to do so, would result in fortuitous circumstance whereby people are more inclined to be kind and civil. 

Even though the passing years have given me cause to excessively dwell on what can't be done, I still believe we are not helpless to act in positive ways. Clearly, we have reason to do so, when the evening news also dwells on what we seemingly cannot remedy. While there will always be instances when no one can decipher personal motivations for violence and hatred, there will still be positive ways to respond. Sure, some market efforts are going to fail, sometimes even miserably. But I continue to believe that viable and carefully representative market platforms are the best means we have, to build a better, more inclusive future. Plus, as Ricardo Hausmann recently noted in "The Missing Link in Economic Development":

If someone is not doing something that we as a society value it might be because they can't, not because they don't want to. This weakness in economics has far-reaching implications for our understanding of economic growth and development, which is fundamentally about the social accumulation of productive capabilities.

Markets should not be so willing to devolve, into a twisted rational of what societies supposedly can't do. When they become rigid and inflexible, does anyone really wonder why capitalism gets disparaged? Why not work to ensure greater freedom for our vital domestic markets, so they might better contribute to human civility and hope for the future? Why not 2021 as the perfect place to begin? Lets turn our non tradable sectors into realms where we regain hope for what we can do as a society, instead of remaining hopelessly divided over what we can't do.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Wrap Up for December 2020

"Although cities are often categorized as lonely places, city dwellers are actually more likely to have a neighborhood spot than those living in other types of communities." 

Will we keep turning politically inward?

The 911 emergency medical system has been sorely tested by the pandemic.

Optimism and pessimism are generally warranted. Still, those who can't imagine a better world ultimately lose their motivation.

However, originating tiny house communities will need a new approach which includes innovative infrastructure, before older communities are likely to consider tiny homes as viable alternatives.

Thomas Sowell on writing (2001): "The manuscript of Basic Economics sat around for about a decade." (HT Timothy Taylor

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Post Highlights from 2020

Here are some reflections on posts from 2020. This has been a year which - for many readers - is thankfully almost behind us! I wish everyone the best for 2021.

Even though artificial intelligence can improve aggregate output in non tradable sectors, tradable sector activity includes AI exponential effects as direct wealth sources. This particularly matters since we've long relied on the monetary redistribution of exponential output, to create jobs as societal permission. Since production efficiencies are translating into relatively less tradable sector work (and its associated exponential output revenue), we need a more direct wealth creation approach for time based product, to ensure that non tradable sector services retain societal permissions as well. After all, some of our most meaningful and challenging work lies in these areas. Artificial intelligence could also be utilized (via societal permission) to augment symmetric time value for all individuals in services generation.

Once the pandemic finally recedes, will we still be grappling with economic stagnation? For instance, some argue that a decades long slowdown actually indicates economic success. Even if such assertions are valid, problems remain - especially in terms of inequality. After all, millions continue to hope for a stronger growth trajectory which increases their own chances of active participation in the economy. In the meantime, too many non tradable sector market options are not responsive, to the reality of lower income levels. Since production reform is still needed in non tradable sectors, it could be counterproductive to rely on the idea of a fully grown economy as capable of supporting economic stability.

Millions were already trying to find ways to live more affordably, before the additional burdens of pandemic circumstance. Since non tradable sector options for lower income levels were already limited to begin with, governments face additional struggles in assisting citizens who need help the most. If real innovation had been made possible for low cost housing, financial burdens would not be so severe, now. Chances are, more societal upsets such as pandemic could occur again, sooner rather than later. Before that happens, let's ensure that more low cost living options become available.

Ask members of small rural communities about their most pressing circumstance, for what is often a two part response: Securing reliable housing and maintaining a full range of local services. Likewise, these are also important issues for left behind urban communities. In short, many areas in the U.S. would benefit from a more innovative approach to building/infrastructure manufacture and time based services. Local citizens need to be directly involved with these processes as well. The recent pandemic especially highlights a need for local healthcare coordination which reduces dependence on scarce hospital beds during public emergencies. Mutual assistance in educational efforts could go a long way towards alleviating this problem.

Fiat monetary policy has been largely responsible for the transition to a knowledge based economy, in recent decades. However, even though many nations got off to a good start with this approach, a stronger real economy methodology is needed to support monetary policy. In part due to extensive price making in time based services, the present services dominant general equilibrium lacks inclusive levels of economic participation, ownership and growth potential. More opportunities for economic integration and knowledge use are needed, for millions of citizens who still seek means for productive engagement with others. 

When we think of budgetary needs for infrastructure, how do we frame system wide efficiencies? One reason this is an important issue, is that today's infrastructure does not fully meet the needs of many individuals and communities. Some systems trade offs are sub optimal since their designs don't reflect the resource capacity of lower income levels. How might a wide range of infrastructure more closely respond to what people can actually contribute? Just the process of answering this question, could go a long way to reduce a wide range of negative externalities, which societies all too often think they "must" live with.

Experiential time value between individuals is subjective. Even so, economic time needs to be understand in terms which are sufficiently concrete to measure in relation to shifts in long term productivity. Without such a perspective, there is a societal tendency to either accentuate or downplay activities with important economic ramifications. And presently, many time based services are considered intangible, in that much of their organizational structure is contrary to the resource reciprocity of tradable sector production. Due to their intangible nature, both practical and so called "impractical" forms of time based activity are being called into question. Ultimately, economic time value needs to be more reciprocal and immediate in nature, so as to better contribute to future productivity gains.

If more markets could readily serve all income levels, citizens would not need to constantly call on their governments to come to the rescue. We have lacked the economic freedom to create markets which could tend to basic needs for lower income levels. Such markets, if they existed, would not need to be constantly questioned in terms of efficacy and worth. However, should societies elect to create forms of basic income in the near future, why not support non tradable sector production reform, so that basic income recipients might build respectful lives for themselves. 

Before the pandemic, there were already pressing structural issues which had long been neglected. For instance, political polarization has been in part due to artificial scarcities. Yet despite the artificial scarcities of professionalized time, the time we have to fulfill our societal obligations is truly scarce. How might we do a better job of improving economic time value for all citizens? Should we elect to do so, the time we all have to get things done, would go much further than is the case today. And once we become more confident in the ability of our time to accomplish what is necessary, perhaps more of us will also become more inclined to live and let live.

When it comes to services and the need for greater productivity, there's a paradox. How to create greater efficiency in services (for continued prosperity), when we wish for more personal attention (time) from others than they can provide? Wouldn't productivity gains translate into even less time availability? Alas, so long as services are funded by other sources of wealth, yes. However, we do have ways to work around this long term problem. By matching our economic time directly with others, we could create direct forms of wealth via symmetrical alignment. Local transformations in educational patterns, could go a long way to make this process possible.