Thursday, October 13, 2016

Notes on Services Capacity and Coordination Difficulties

As more individuals gradually became employed by today's institutions, time based services also became associated with meritocratic reasoning for monetary compensation. Even though merit based compensation seems imminently reasonable, it is nonetheless a coordination dilemma, for time based services as a whole.

So long as the majority of economic activity consisted of tradable sector formation, mutual coordination for group activities - whether economic or not - was more clear cut, for all concerned. In these settings, individuals with higher incomes were most likely to account for time based services on economic terms, and this group - at least in the U.S. - was the first to pay taxes for what were once minimal government contributions to knowledge based endeavor. Today, most income levels bear responsibility for taxation, at least in terms of government assisted coordination of time based services. Even though (non economic) family coordination provides partial remedies, by no means is this the cultural option it once was, in the U.S.

Earlier patterns of cultural, or non economic coordination, were gradually disrupted, as secondary markets for time based services supplanted primary market activity in developed nations. In many instances today, if either high and low skill activities can't take place on economic terms, often they don't happen. However, this dramatic shift in group forms of time use, places undue strain on monetary flows that were designed in environments where money had only gradually came to represent the majority of coordinated activity. Many important monetary valuations for time based services were already designated in terms of general equilibrium demand, long before secondary market activity began to take precedence over primary market activity.

Even though meritocratic arguments (for limits on supply of knowledge based skill) seemed reasonable at the outset, it has become difficult to expand time based activity of any skill level to the extent of societal expectation, on general equilibrium terms. When time based services are organized as secondary market activity, they can't contribute to output gains in the same capacity as has been possible for tradable sector activity.

Consequently, when secondary markets make further demands within a partial equilibrium construct, the earlier monetary values they were able to command (particularly on high income level terms), no longer correspond well with low incomes and in some circumstance, middle class incomes. Still, economies continue to be structured, as though time based services can be apportioned for the consumption patterns of all income levels.

Consider the dilemma of day care workers, whose incomes are particularly difficult to coordinate with other time based service sets. Meritocratic arguments for more pay (in the form of higher skilled workers for "better" child outcomes) can also be contrast with a historical reality in which a majority of the population tended to young children on non economic terms. Service coordination for young children is all the more difficult, when both parents need to work, for more calendar time is required for this service than just about any other, except for K-12 education. And should daycare workers gain the higher wages that help to pay their bills, life becomes easier for them, even as overall possibilities for time based coordination on economic terms become further diminished.

Meritocracy arguments can distort general equilibrium in unexpected ways. A prime example of course is physician necessity for the practice of medicine in the 20th century. Much as societies tended to childcare on non economic terms, so too lower income levels had a long history of what is now referred to as alternative healthcare. Once professional medicine ruled out many alternative options, it also reduced an entire supply side structure of healthcare possibilities. Yet governments and citizens alike assumed that physicians would be able to tend to the needs of all income levels. This was never possible, given the fact professional medicine already had a built in investment structure, that was made possible by the high income levels which contributed to this form of healthcare from its earliest beginnings.

Time based services examples such as this, help to explain why lower income levels need options such as time arbitrage, for important time based services. Even though hard choices would occasionally have to be made, when individuals coordinate time on an equal basis, at least it immediately becomes easier to understand the supply and demand issues at stake, given existing time scarcities. By looking closer at time scarcities in group context, groups are better able to construct environments in which individuals become better able to take conflicting sets of preferences into consideration. There would be a lot of stumbling about in the dark to find more opportune means for services coordination. But understanding the true scarcity of time use potential, is a good start.

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