Friday, June 24, 2016

One Day Perhaps, Common Sense at the Margins

Why not common sense in the center, where it seemingly belongs? There's too many preexisting obligations all around - some of which have been a long time in the making. Governments and special interests alike, sacrificed political centers in ways that don't readily allow populist reactions such as Brexit to get at the root of the problem. Some noted in the Brexit aftermath that citizens wanted greater national autonomy, but for "the wrong reasons". What might that mean, for would be leaders who are anxious to make their countries "great again"?

Consider how governments became more involved in the economy, while constructing fiscal transmission processes via fiat money in the twentieth century. Where once the issues of fiscal revenue and redistribution were simple, they grew in complexity, as locally generated wealth transitioned to more specific and often, disparately held sources. When agriculture was still a primary wealth source for many populations, wealth creation meant understandable loops of production and consumption which - despite their simplicity - were also internally complete. In a sense, this local wealth "trickled up" to additional wealth generation. Even though these earlier patterns scarcely resemble today's non tradable sectors, they nonetheless served as a base from which tradable sector formation was able to grow and evolve.

In Adam Smith's time, governments expected to rely on the wealth generating capacity of their own citizens, regardless of world events. Might similar reasoning have factored in to Brexit votes? After all, a nation's economy supposedly represents its own citizens. Or does it? Again, Adam Smith:
But though a particular merchant, with abundance of goods in his warehouse, may sometimes be ruined by not being able to sell them in time, a nation or country is not liable to the same accident. The whole capital of a merchant frequently consists in perishable goods destined for purchasing money. But it is a very small part of the annual produce of the land and labor of a country, which can ever be destined for purchasing gold and silver from their neighbors. The far greater part is circulated and consumed among themselves; and even of the surplus which is sent abroad, the greatest part is generally destined for the purchase of other foreign goods. 
Doubtless, Brexit is a strongly held desire to rely on internal sovereignty. Look more closely for locally generated wealth in the present, however, and in some respects, a redundant phrase may apply: "There's no there, there." Indeed, the meritocratic and asymmetric compensation which nations have come to rely on, is based not on the circulation of locally held wealth, but that which more closely resembles the general equilibrium conditions of tradable sectors the world over. Meanwhile, central bankers mistakenly attempt to control the economic value of their nation's non tradable sectors, instead of supporting domestic aggregate spending capacity and the monetary representation of their own citizens.

Despite the benefits of applied skills preferences, total reliance on meritocratic structure, means too many citizens inadvertently become economic liabilities, in aggregate. When governments lose access to internally and symmetrically generated wealth, they rely excessively on externally defined sources of wealth generation. In other words, the very wealth of globalization, which governments and nations are increasingly inclined to react against. Still, the problem for nations is not that globalization was somehow "wrong". The problem was that nations allowed their non tradable sectors to completely rely on the gains of globalization, instead of finding means to generate new sources of economic access and wealth at local levels.

As more nations (and occasionally, states) consider secession, they need to take a much look closer at the structural circumstance which created their primary problems in the first place. The ability to generate reliable economic value (safe assets) closer to home is in doubt, since knowledge use is not only closely held, but dependent on the fruits of globalization even now. At the very least, it would be possible to rebuild and preserve applied knowledge for broader use, at the margins via alternate equilibrium.

The problem is not meritocratic constructs per se, but that they are the only pathways nations presently have, which are fully capable of providing much needed economic value. One can only hope that the winds of political uncertainty will not threaten to unwind the fiat monetary systems which for now are still capable of rewarding meritocratic structure. In the meantime, national revenues remain mostly dependent on the same global constructs, which governments sometimes wish to disavow.

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