Thursday, May 21, 2015

Time Value, Marginal Utility and the Hierarchy of Needs

While the Maslow pyramid is more suggestive than representative, it still provides clues regarding individual motivations and aspirations - both at personal levels and in the marketplace as well. Why, then - given the incredible degree of innovation which propelled nations forward in recent centuries - do healthcare and housing place place such extensive (i.e. non innovated) demands on the two bottom sections of the pyramid?

A complex economy suggests real choices along the entirety of the hierarchy of needs - instead of clustering around the base of human expectation. True: with a little effort, middle to upper income levels are still able to pursue higher aspirations. However, it's fair to suggest that economic circumstance have been unnecessarily weighted towards the lower portion of the Maslow pyramid - for all income levels. Often, lower income levels struggle with time and resource management to a degree they have little energy left, to seek out life's higher aspirations.

What's more: the lack of a designated marketplace for time, means that existing time values are either at a premium, or sorely lacking in arbitrage capacity. Too much economic weight on basic needs, skews government redistribution in terms of marginal utility for lower income levels. In particular, the labyrinth of government subsidies for service needs and home mortgages - regardless of income level - distort what marginal utility might have been possible for basic assistance in the first place. When limits are placed on knowledge use, extensive time use asymmetry can develop. In these circumstance, government redistribution can no longer smooth time use management among populations as a whole.

Without adequate representation for time value, general equilibrium also tends to take on a one dimensional aspect. Time coordination adheres to institutional needs, which take precedence over family/social organization and structure. It's easy to forget that before the industrial revolution, individuals often engaged with multiple forms of resource use over the entirety of their lives. When populations were directly involved with production processes, they also remained responsible for time management at an internal level.

Those with higher income levels have some degree of internal time management, when they are able to hire others to carry out responsibilities on their behalf. However, lower income levels are often not able to access these already existing forms of time arbitrage. That means too little time to spare, if one is employed full time yet with limited income. Whereas, too little or no employment, can mean too few available resources for using one's time productively. Either time deprivation or excess time "leisure" has been the result, and neither are suitable for coordinating one's responsibilities - let alone seeking out higher aspirations.

Given this circumstance, what can be done? Severe production restrictions in both housing and healthcare have made it more difficult for lower income levels than is actually necessary, to move beyond the hierarchy of basic needs. At the very least, seeking innovation in building components and services creation would allow lower income individuals to make their income go much further. A marketplace for time, would allow lower income levels to coordinate services with one another which otherwise may not be available to them.

Even though a certain amount of wealth formation can continue as before, economic circumstance have already shifted in some respects. Some communities will need to more accurately reflect the income capacity that has become possible. Ultimately everyone is in the same boat, when it comes to determining how to thrive together. Not every municipality will be able to continue building wealth through exclusive offerings which pit income levels against once another. Even so: by budgeting for more reachable basic goals (the pyramid base) as a group, that leaves more room for local citizens to strive for broader life goals. By embracing both human capital and the value of a time based marketplace, local communities can move towards fuller representation of the hierarchy of needs.

No comments:

Post a Comment