Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wrap Up for January 2018

Continuous connections for knowledge preservation over time, have been far more fragmented than they sometimes appear. Katja Grace provides a good summary "Why everything might have taken so long."

Today's low inflation is not likely to be a symptom of temporary supply side shocks.

Have we reached "peak pharma"?

Robert L. Hetzel, from The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Arnold Kling considers intangible value, in a review of the book "Capitalism Without Capital".

Among the benefits of modular housing, is its ability to expand as owners get "back on their feet"

Healthcare: The U.S. ranks last in access and outcomes.

Hopefully we will soon be able to move to a corridor system.
J.P. Koning explains some rationale for a floor system.

Raj Chetty offers an introductory course in big data

Services as the new steel

Global debt growth since the Great Recession

Some success stories have little to teach us. Don't just focus on the survivors.

James Galbraith isn't impressed with "recovery" since the Great Recession.

Loneliness is also an important reason, why I continue to promote a marketplace for time value.

"Older workers account for all net job growth since 2000."

Healthcare systems will start making their own drugs.

"U.S. debt is driven by health care spending."

Something to consider in marketplaces for time value:
"Collaboration rates overall were high - and highest when the participants were operating in clusters and had the ability to drop a partner in favor of another."
Also, "Cooperation, Clustering, and Assortative Mixing in Dynamic Networks"

How many cognitive tasks do we really want to eliminate?

Josh Hendrickson notes the contributions of Allan Meltzer in a recent post.

"People are more hostile to others in the abstract than when they meet them in person."

"We are going to adapt." (the uncertainty of peak demand)

Tejvan Pettinger defines neoliberalism

Declining economic mobility is a problem for both individuals and regions

"She was confirmed as the first female Fed chair in American history with the lowest-ever support in the Senate."

"The pool of work-ready welfare recipients is small"
Many who receive Medicaid (or Medicare, depending on previous income), partially compensate for ongoing healthcare costs by living in less costly areas. However these areas tend to include relatively longer distances to work access. Out of pocket healthcare costs, especially for those with chronic conditions, often get in the way of discretionary spending that otherwise could keep a car in good repair. Yet another reason I've focused on walkable communities for those willing to consider mutual self employment.

"...policymakers should be trying to understand why many economies (including the overall world economy) have never recovered, remaining depressed."

Hopefully in the near future, we will still be able to stand on the shoulders of giants.

At the very least this is what might be gained from some recent healthcare mergers...

Timothy Taylor highlights research re declining regional convergence

One chart "sums it up"!

"The north magnetic pole is on the run"

"History gives us some reason to hope that creative women and men will, over time, develop fruitful experiments and build new institutions that lead to a reblossoming of excellent higher education worthy of the name, and help revitalize culture and political life."

This house adapts to the fact hurricanes always spin in the same direction

Might AI become a cold war weapon?

the importance of soft skills

Eberstadt summarizes by noting that bringing men back into workplaces will require "action on many different fronts", although he's not ready to write a "how-to manual". In his defense, many successful authors over the years have passed on doing so. Clearly, "how-to manuals" could shed light on potential societal responses. The problem? Writing in this manner is different from simple observation, with the latter's obligatory policy tweaking around the edges in a book's last chapter. Many suggestions are likely to be shot down by one's peers, even if one is in a position to offer such advice. Hence some experts continue to hope that other experts will take the necessary risk on their behalf.

John Cochrane muses on China's nine hour railway station.

This is already shaping up to be an interesting year for disruption in organizational patterns for healthcare Even though none of these developments is any guarantee of lower costs or a broader marketplace, everyone has grown weary beyond belief, of the ways that special interests and Washington have approached healthcare in recent decades. One of the big questions re this latest effort, is the extent that beneficial knowledge spillovers could ultimately be diminished by operating costs. Nevetheless, some are already imagining the possibilities...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Segregation That Could Be Positive

Decades ago, in my working association with marginalized groups which benefited from library literacy programs and related projects, I recall a common refrain which basically went like this: We want the freedom to associate with others who are different from us in some respects. But there are still times when what we appreciate most, are the meaningful connections in our own groups.

There's good reason for such a response. But why does segregation still appear as such a problem? It depends in part on whether segregation is actually imposed from without, especially since today's exclusionary regulations for production and consumption are quite subtle (or convoluted) as compared with the upfront discrimination of the recent past. In times of economic stagnation, there's a stronger perception of zero sum outcomes as well, implying "too little room" for everyone to participate in centralized national redistribution. When the economic pie appears as though already accounted for, more struggles ensue, involving anyone perceived as somehow standing "at the back of the line".

Could group self selection (voluntary decentralized segregation) alleviate this reality? New forms of decentralized community could prove effective, should voluntary groupings gain permission to generate broader marketplace capacity for non tradable sector wealth. Even better, by doing so, voluntary groupings would not have to remain in a dependent position, for the limited resources deriving from centrally managed economies. This matters, since so many of today's institutions representing the middle classes are already in a dependent position, in this exceedingly long single line.

It's worth thinking about the forms of natural segregation that people actually desire, especially since self selected segregation makes it easier for individuals to trust one another enough to engage in productive collaboration and wealth building. Recently, for example, Steve Randy Waldman wrote of segregation as a normal good. Nevertheless: Even though housing segregation sometimes come across as racial in nature, the deeper segregation of our time is actually occurring between income levels and rights of production.

The casual segregation of shared consumption levels, is increasingly a common response for social groupings in multiple respects. One obvious example is variations of consumption patterns which have increased the social divisions of extended families. Today, family get togethers tend to revolve around recreational getaways (rather than family homes), which effectively limits the participation of family members who are deterred by the additional travel costs. This is one instance in which consumption patterns have directly contributed to the loneliness which lower income levels can experience.

Decentralized communities could create new forms of infrastructure which also reinforce shared consumption that need not be completely income driven. This would also alleviate loneliness to a great extent, because lower income levels would gain more local infrastructure which encourages positive means of association.

By focusing on greater economic freedom for lower income levels, I believe that libertarians would ultimately be able to do a better job of preserving greater economic freedom for all citizens of advanced nations. The extensive libertarian focus on economic freedom for high income levels, while it encourages the economic development of emerging nations, has unfortunately backfired for citizens in advanced nations. Yet everyone needs relief from the chaotic effect of extensive dependence on the single, centralized line that is the economic access of the present. Economic inclusion is - more than anything - about the ability of any given society, to find means to expand the production frontier of its general equilibrium potential.

Only consider how the right of exit has been far less effective for groups with limited income, because they too often lack the internal means to legally generate non tradable sector production and consumption. After all, it is the efforts of society to protect itself from the chaos of the marginalized, even as the marginalized face extensive production restraints, which limits the economic and social freedoms we all desire. Again, the segregation that would be of a positive nature, would allow groups to sort for common values and preferences in working together, so as to build new sources of wealth and prosperity.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Time Value: Reskilling, or Perhaps Reorientation?

Should we focus entirely on reskilling for our (hopeful) inclusion in future workplaces? After all, reskilling implies shedding for good, previous skills investments on our part which are supposedly outdated. Yet many of us have committed extensive resources over the course of a lifetime, for the costs of economic access, with limited results. While lost skills value on our part is sometimes true, perhaps it would be worth our while, to examine more closely, whether the "broken value" of our skills capacity is not always so.

I've questioned "useless" skills consensus, in part because much of what we learn and experience, also provides value for others in contexts beyond our present day workplaces. These informal contexts deserve more of our attention than they've received, thus far. Indeed, I found reason to question the rationale of "useless skill" in the early nineties. Upon losing a valued job, I was told certain work opportunities were "disappearing" and I should consider a career change, yet younger individuals were still being hired in a position I'd recently paid more than a thousand dollars to acquire. While the rationale for that lost job opportunity (automation) could have been understandable, how to explain the fact that individuals younger than myself, were still preparing for essentially the same work?

Granted, these new hires were coming in with more (skill specific) formal education, than what was necessary when I entered office work. Even now, many office responsibilities are still secretarial in nature, but full time secretarial work with benefits is mostly reserved for those with college degrees. That long ago job loss was frustrating, since secretarial work was strongly recommended by my family (and a few bosses as well) for those such as myself who didn't complete college. Fifteen years after my first office work, when so many baby boomers were let go, it was easier for many of us who lost the opportunity cost gamble, to simply restart in a new direction, rather than prolong the frustration by suing for discrimination when our jobs went to younger workers.

As it turned out, the secretarial job loss would not be the only lost investment in economic access. Plus, later investment losses for self employment ventures were much higher. Life experiences such as these, make me question the idea of reskilling as capable of solving future employment needs for all concerned. In particular: When our institutions no longer need the workforce capacity that was once necessary, it's time to reconsider how our mutual commitments with one another, might safely take place well into the future.

Present day firms will continue to discriminate from pools of potential job applicants, simply because it is so easy to do so. There's a lot more of us looking for meaningful economic engagement, than society is presently organized to accommodate. Worse, this circumstance has created false impressions that vast numbers of us aren't "up to speed" or "good enough", for something as incredibly basic in life as economic participation.

Meanwhile, others keep telling the marginalized how we are making the "wrong" human capital investment choices, even as policy makers cross their fingers and insist all citizens will somehow be able to adapt, to today's increasingly concentrated institutional needs. From a recent report by the World Economic Forum:
Economic value creation is increasingly based on the use of ever higher levels of specialized skills and knowledge, creating unprecedented new opportunities for some while threatening to leave behind a significant share of the workforce. In a recent survey of OECD countries, more than one in four adults report a mismatch between their current skills sets and the qualifications required to do their jobs.
One in four? What does the high institutional mismatch suggest, about the ways we are currently going about all this? The report continues:
Even among people formerly working good jobs, disrupting technological and socio-economic forces threaten to swiftly outdate the shelf life of people's skill sets.
At the very least, we observe a wide range of multiple skill sets in our personal lives which we highly value - from the practical to the experiential. But we have inexplicably lost the social and economic context by which we could make them valid, on terms that could be mutually honored. Perhaps all of this is less a matter of reskilling, and more a matter of desperately needed reorientation.

Some economists now argue that if fewer of us go to college, businesses may once again become willing to hire folks without college degrees. If only this were true, but it scarcely seems likely for firms which still offer full time employment with benefits. And this is the kind of work which presently allows people to take responsibility for their lives. Even though the exhaustive costs of reskilling pay off in some instances, many can't reasonably afford to place their bets on this approach. Chances are, the status quo workplace of the near future is only going to need a mere fraction of today's humanity. The rest us would do well, to reorient how we approach mutual employment and economic engagement.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Is Asymmetric Compensation Compatible With Decentralization?

Have we reached growth limits for full asymmetric compensation (institutional pay for specific skill), in today's centralized settings? When centralized economic systems become excessively fragile for any reason, public and private sources for asymmetric compensation can begin to break down. This matters. After all, personal commitments to institutional employment instead of reliance on self employment - many of these scarcely a century earlier - were not made lightly.

Should losses in full time employment "with benefits" continue too long, populations will eventually fall back on simpler means by which to live - regardless of myriads of regulations which suggest doing so is "impossible". Many survival mechanisms include a wide range of symmetrical resource capacity, where reciprocity "settles" exchange at the outset. Self employment is just one way to describe, what over the course of a lifetime becomes an extensive range of personal skills capacity.

When economic activity devolved to decentralized settings in the past, many societal priorities and forms of resource management lost the financial networks which had previously allowed them to shift responsibility for costs into the future. Alas, these losses of economic complexity were hardly voluntary, and they generally included the loss of extensive capacity for knowledge dispersal at a societal level. While these long ago coping mechanisms sometimes brought a greater measure of personal choice, the production options which tended to survive were often crude, especially by comparison with jealously guarded knowledge which too often disappeared with the productive complexity of centralized systems.

Today, decentralized economic options are needed not as some crude form of survival for the working classes, but as means to preserve economic complexity, and prevent modern day centralized economies from remaining excessively fragile. These new forms of community could provide symmetric organization and compensation for skills capacity, which would gradually make up for today's ongoing losses of asymmetric compensation, in the form of full employment with benefits.

Chances are, most of today's asymmetric compensation will mostly remain in the realm of centralized organizational patterns. Since this skills specific employment option has become increasingly limited, some forms of specialization are likely to be approached differently in the near future, as individuals increasingly seek multiple forms of specialization over the course of a lifetime.

Also, formal education should not have to bear excessive blame for this state of affairs. Rather than continue denigrating formal education, why not instead build organizational patterns which make learning an integral part of wealth creation processes. After all, it serves little useful purpose to stigmatize formal education, when societies still have precious few options to human capital investment on these terms.

Symmetric services organization could help to restore meaningful economic roles for the working classes in today's knowledge based economy. Perhaps such options would finally put an end to the patronizing discussions regarding these individuals, as though they are in need of some sort of consolation prize for their arbitrary exclusion. New forms of symmetric resource and time management, could finally give these groups the opportunity to regain their self respect. After all, the best way to preserve knowledge and productive economic complexity for future generations, is to make certain everyone takes part in the process.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Notes on Time Value and Other "Fixed" Scarcities

Regular readers are familiar with my emphasis of time aggregates as a fixed scarcity which is not yet sufficiently taken into account. Earlier in the month, Tyler Cowen listed some examples of theoretical reasoning re fixed factors, and also noted the lack of a fixed factor in a Solow framework.  He adds:
My own view is that the ultimate scarcity in today's system comes from what the political economy of our societies and polities can bear
Arbitrary production constraints on our time, are increasingly at variance with the growth and output levels needed for general equilibrium stability. So long as human capital potential remains left on the sidelines, non tradable sectors will continue to make excessive demands on general equilibrium, which only further displace economic participation at the margins.

If citizens were free to explore their full economic potential, less exponential tradable sector growth would be necessary, to maintain production and consumption levels in today's dominant services sectors. Even though Georgescu-Roegen was concerned about entropy and limits to growth, time value is mostly squandered when citizens have too few meaningful means of economic engagement with others. Greater freedom of economic participation, would allow more inputs to flow into the system as a whole. This matters, given the fact entropy becomes more likely when systems lack sufficient inputs to balance extensive demands on their output.

What of the concerns Henry George held, regarding land as fixed scarcity? Fortunately, land doesn't hold the same relevance as a fixed factor, as it did in the past. However, one reason land appears excessively valued or scarce, is due to the centralized nature of productive agglomeration, whereby important forms of (land correlated) knowledge use are artificially scarce. Productive agglomeration could be greatly expanded, if new patterns for knowledge and mutual coordination were adapted for use in decentralized settings. After all: Via greater possibilities for productive agglomeration, the land which qualifies as meaningful economic access, would become less scarce as well.

The constraints of daily life in the 19th century, likely made it difficult for individuals such as Edward Gibbon Wakefield to imagine the possibility of knowledge dispersal in smaller communities and via the coordination of multiple skill levels. Even though he envisioned humans as the ultimate scarcity, he seemed to dismiss a wide range of human capital potential if it were not also well reimbursed on monetary terms.

Alas, others lack this appreciation as well. Consequently, it is becoming an increasing struggle for groups with widely divergent skills sets to live in close proximity to one another, given today's inflexible divisions of labour which are physically separating the most basic of human functions. Given the understandable desire of individuals to live among others who hold similar values and skill capacity, more groups might eventually resolve this coordination problem by sharing both their higher workplace aspirations and lower valued skill sets. By internally coordinating a full range of skill sets, groups with a similar income range would also share similar levels of responsibility for the local infrastructure and other local amenities they find most desirable.

For that matter, today's digital realm makes it all the more compelling, for societies to begin sharing better integrated skill sets wherever people work and live. In particular, automation poses its own challenges to societal expectations of divisions of labour and specialization, especially since the IQ "losers" often have to settle for work which makes it difficult to meet their personal responsibilities. One reason computer deep learning may be unsettling for professionals, is that the same dismissal these groups tended to assign to "deplorables", is the same dismissal that automation could impose on them, should the arguments of efficiency and rationality be carried even further to "cold" logical conclusions.

Perhaps the main problem for Robert Solow's framework of complete interchangeability, is that we increasingly struggle to substitute the fixed scarcity of time value, for other resource capacity in services dominant economies. Granted, it was once a simpler matter to substitute time value with other factors. Given that tradable sector dominance assigned extensive production roles for time value for so long, perhaps it is understandable, how Solow and many others were convinced this approach was valid.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Price Taking as a Useful Services Production Norm

How could price making processes ultimately lead to disequilibrium? Each supplier or provider expects given levels of general equilibrium resource capacity, yet not all participants have sufficient understanding where (current) aggregate capacity actually stands. Whereas price taking, with sufficient view to the resource capacity currently in use, implies a more sustainable general equilibrium.

Even though the wealth capture of price making does occur in tradable sector activity, these suppliers tend to have greater awareness of a full range of specific resource capacity in play, especially as it pertains to the product in question. Consequently, tradable sector prices are more likely to contribute to broad resource coordination or "best use" for everyone concerned. An added benefit for monetary policy, is how price taking patterns for tradable sector activity include reasonably constant price levels over time. This in turn contributes to their potential as a recognizable production norm, as a useful consideration for monetary representation.

Alas, the random mining of human capital in non tradable sector activity, has led to a different outcome for coordination potential - especially since the latter decades of the twentieth century. And, as the price making of non tradable sector activity came to dominate tradable sector price taking, monetary policy makers responded by capping aggregate monetary representation (inflation targeting) which effectively sets limits for high skill participation, via the asymmetric compensation which today's professionals require.

While the Baumol effect of price making for skilled time product is understandable in some settings, it creates problems elsewhere, when local income conditions lack the additional benefit of global wealth. Increasingly, professionals avoid such settings as well, which often limits pragmatic knowledge use where it is needed most. This disequilibrium of sectoral imbalance, and its exacerbation due to tight monetary policy, has led to what is essentially the equivalent of human capital dumping on a wide scale, not to mention the lost sunk costs of educational investment.

Nevertheless, there remain arguments in favour of non tradable sector price making, particularly given its capacity for spontaneous national coordination of time product. With a little luck, governments could continue to support this form of knowledge use, so long as they recognize that other means of knowledge use generation will become increasingly necessary in the future. At least since the turn of the century, asymmetric compensation has proven insufficient to integrate millions who continue to invest in human capital, with hopes of full economic participation.

It's the economic connections to time and place which make it difficult to determine the full extent of human capacity at a general equilibrium level. Once price making for human capital reaches a certain threshold in a services dominant economy, societies find it more difficult to maintain general equilibrium potential for all citizens. Even though local price making is rational for time based product, the aggregate pricing effect creates a disequilibrium of reduced production and consumption. And as central bankers have become more focused on combating the inflation implications of price making, monetary representation becomes less effective for all economic participants. What can be done?

First, we can make peace, with the fact today's professionals can only coordinate time based product with others up to a point. From here, we can begin the process of recreating time based product, via the price taking means of time arbitrage. Such an approach would make it possible to generate new wealth which builds stable connections for the valuable product of time and place. Best, doing so would establish service generation patterns which more closely follow the stable production norm patterns of tradable sector activity.

Time arbitrage would eventually allow a rebalancing of services generation to take place. Since time value in relation to itself does not generate inflation, services generation on these terms would eventually make it simpler for monetary policy to fully represent all economic actors, as central bankers (finally) become less inclined to continue their irrational fight against sectoral imbalance. Even though there will always be a certain degree of non tradable sector inflation via professional price making, other citizens have a more sustainable option for knowledge use, via the price taking of a services production norm.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Musings on "Free Market" Healthcare

Even though it's difficult to imagine today, healthcare in the U.S. prior to the twentieth century, once resembled a free market for the use of one's skills. Before extensive formal educational requirements were put in place, rural areas were still more likely to have practitioners as well.

Much has changed. In a post for the Mises Institute, "Do We Have a Free-Market Medical System"? Hunter Lewis notes that for some observers, profit based healthcare "should be outlawed", while others are upset that healthcare is "socialized". How to think about this? He writes:
So what do we have? I think the most apt description would be "crony capitalist" medicine, one in which powerful special interests conspire with government officials to create legally mandated monopolies, with the specific goal of thwarting free market competition...There are many honest and dedicated medical professionals sincerely devoted to the healing arts. But they are trapped in a system that can more accurately be described as a crony capitalist nightmare.
Granted, while healthcare in the U.S. is hardly the result of a vast conspiracy theory, crony capitalist medicine does describe a relative default position, for knowledge use protectionism. This approach has undermined legislation time and again, which possibly could have made the system more accessible and efficient.

Nevertheless, physicians have lost some of their hard won autonomy in recent decades. The added healthcare value they worked diligently to create, is now shared by hospitals, insurance and pharmaceutical companies. However, at a macroeconomic level, a symbolic focus on physicians remains relevant, for their earlier twentieth century successes have shifted the relative value of other human capital representation downward somewhat, in general equilibrium.

How so? Physicians increasingly expressed a preference for a customer base which was only partially representative of general equilibrium. In other words, they increasingly catered to clientele who were the most advantageous to serve. Through a focus on wealthier patients, physicians were ultimately able to raise the status of healthcare to that a respectable profession, on a par with other highly skilled professions.

For physicians in the U.S. healthcare is still largely a free market, in the sense that many physicians remain free to choose both their patients and the services they wish to provide. The problem of course is that this circumstance is one sided, since too many rights to the use of practical knowledge are now limited. Consequently, here's where any semblance of a free market for healthcare starts to break down, for citizens lack means to pursue healthcare options outside the services of today's physicians. Production rights need to be restored so that citizens can once again improve their lot through their own efforts, which is all the more important when they lack the monetary means to reimburse skills which require high levels of investment and sacrifice.

Again, physician discrimination for the use of one's scarce time, is understandable. That's a form of discrimination which - given the scarce reality of our time - all of us have little choice but to employ. Just the same, we need to extend that freedom of our time preferences both ways. In particular, it would be cruel for the physician to discriminate, if he or she does so in ways that deny others the ability to help themselves, especially when no one else can reasonably be expected to come to their aid. First, let's do no more harm. Why not think twice, before we needlessly tie the hands of those who otherwise might discover not only means to help themselves, but also others as well.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Will We Heed Adam Smith's Warning?

How so? After all, his warnings regarding arbitrary government limits to trade with other countries, are still taken to heart by many economists. Indeed, Adam Smith's anti-mercantilist arguments from "The Wealth of Nations" are perpetually relevant.

Nevertheless, Smith had other equally important concerns about economic dynamism. In particular, his emphasis on the dangers of spending in excess of ongoing wealth generation, is often either dismissed or approached in an altogether incomplete framing. Since many of these debt and austerity related discussions tend to be ideologically, financially or mathematically oriented, the underlying nature of real economy wealth creation versus wealth capture or redistribution, has yet to be fully taken into account. If only more dialogue could be devoted to a close reexamination of real economy wealth creation, given the recent historical context of service sector dominance!

Perhaps Adam Smith's warning re continuous progressive wealth origination wasn't taken seriously, since it wasn't as crucially relevant during centuries of tradable sector growth and dominance. Plus, Smith's framing of "irresponsible" individuals who were inclined to spend in excess of what they contributed to the marketplace, has long since shifted to institutions in which "irresponsibility" isn't quite the relevant issue.

Rather, time based product as organized by non tradable sector institutions, has displaced much of the individually provided time based product still largely supported by wealthy individuals in Smith's time. This institutionally supported time based product, continues to rely on price making (for administration) within the monetary circulation of general equilibrium, because it never seemed necessary before, to organize via the price taking patterns which immediate reciprocal capacity makes possible. Only recall that a marketplace for time value, would allow for the immediate (time "debt") reciprocity and wealth generation of price taking.

Meanwhile, even though both policy makers and citizens are concerned about the possibility of shifting too much debt responsibility into the future, no one has yet envisioned structural means to avoid this problem. Yet not doing so means the problem gradually worsens. Too many national institutions can eventually become fragile, if all of them extensively compete for an equilibrium dependent set of available resources, during periods of economic stagnation.

Also, in Adam Smith's time, he could hardly have imagined, how financial tools would eventually change the structure of economic activity beyond recognition. Alas, these financial tools also reduced the economic "inconveniences" that came with "just in time" wealth creating reciprocity, by replacing them with the institutional conveniences - if occasionally uncertainties - of future responsibility.

Smith didn't need to think about how time based services generation might be reorganized so as to generate wealth, since centuries would pass before indirect services compensation would place excessive demands on original wealth. Smith's primary concern in this regard was simpler in nature. One might think of it as a request for societies engaging in wealth creation, not to squander too much of their participation in activities which could potentially reverse the forward path of progress.

At some point that rationale was lost, yet there were understandable reasons as to why. One only wonders how Adam Smith might have felt about the proliferation of financial product in our time. Much of today's services dominance was also made possible due to financial product innovation. Valuable though much of this process became for twentieth century growth and dynamism, increasingly it poses new problems, as societies struggle over which groups "should" even be allowed to benefit from institutions participating in high skill and time based services.

Heeding Smith's warning is not about imposing austerity, even though some have confused it as such. We need to step well beyond the economic theoretical circumstance of Smith's lifetime, to envision a reciprocal mechanism which also functions as a wealth creating mechanism for present day knowledge. Yet it's not enough to accomplish this part of the task and consider the job done, because the macroeconomic context for doing so, is every bit as important. Without a sufficient macroeconomic understanding for time centered wealth, chances are too many arguments for mercantilism would still hold sway, for policy makers and citizens alike.

Adam Smith's warning has even more relevance in today's economic circumstance, as nations shift away from wealth creation dialogue, towards the cultural dialogue of who "deserves" redistribution. While some moral arguments are certainly worth having, I do not believe that moral arguments which pit one group against another for government benefits, serve any productive purpose. It's time to concentrate instead on new forms of wealth creation, so that talk of nationalism might ultimately fade into the background. Fortunately, we have the ability to pick up wealth creation dialogue where Adam Smith left off, in this historical moment of service sector dominance.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Does Perfect Price Discrimination Affect General Equilibrium?

And is perfect price discrimination more of a problem for institutions which rely on time based product, given the growing scarcity of time aggregates in relation to other resource capacity?

Price discrimination incentives for the context of this post, include the extensive requirements of human capital investment for physicians in the U.S. In particular, twentieth century physicians were careful to preserve a direct negotiation position with patients and customers. After all, if they had not done so, other institutions would have quickly stepped in to impose "greater efficiency", which would have translated into quick losses for their personal time management. Such losses would have been even more difficult to bear, given the costs of access for their production rights.

However, physicians preserved direct negotiation in an environment of growing general equilibrium division between (a full range of) time aggregate value and global wealth value. The effects of price discrimination for time based product become more pronounced, as total wealth continues to expand in relation to the full range of aggregate time value. In this organizational setting, healthcare gradually becomes limited to higher income levels. Possibly the only reasonable way to address this general equilibrium coordination problem, is to generate local settings where time value can be negotiated without the (presently necessary) total correlation of aggregate monetary wealth.

From Economics Online:
First-degree price discrimination, alternately known as perfect price discrimination, occurs when a firm charges a different price for every unit consumed. The firm is able to charge the maximum possible price for each unit which enables the firm to capture all available consumer surplus for itself. In practice, first-degree discrimination is rare.
Is first-degree discrimination actually rare? After all, U.S. hospitals appear to be organized so as to encourage this practice, even as physicians are sometimes inclined to make amends with more benign institutional norms. Nick Rowe also has concerns about the practice of perfect price discrimination. He writes:
I have always thought, and taught, that Perfect Price Discrimination leads to an effective allocation of resources. I now think that is wrong. It only seems to work if we use partial equilibrium reasoning, for a single monopolist, that practices PPD...It doesn't work in general equilibrium. 
Ultimately, if everyone took the route of perfect price discrimination:
If you make the rich pay more, because they are willing to pay more, nobody will do any work to produce anything. 
One of Nick Rowe's commenters sent him a paper which appeared to reflect Rowe's concerns, "Is Perfect Price Discrimination Really Efficient?: Welfare and Existence in General Equilibrium*" Even though the math made it difficult for him to understand (and of course impossible for me), there were still some pertinent aspects of the paper which seem useful to highlight, here. In the abstract the authors noted an inefficient equilibrium, yet
we validate partial equilibrium intuition by showing (1) that equilibria are efficient provided that the monopoly goods are costly...However, we find that Pareto optima are sometimes incompatible with surplus maximization, even when transfer payments are used.
Indeed, the requirement of education more extensive than other countries, rationalizes the high cost of this monopoly good in the U.S. Nevertheless, the lack of "Pareto optima" for transfer payments, in this instance, also translates into the fact that no government can give additional healthcare time to patients and consumers, which physicians don't already have at their disposal.

This also explains why there's no such thing as "surplus maximization" for sought-after time based product, especially given the fact technology is used (thus far) to change the product into something which is not necessarily time based at its core. What's more, as technology increasingly augments the income and leisure of high skill providers, the result is one example of Nick's observation that people could eventually lose their incentive to work.

Still, the above explanation is a production perspective. How might one think about broad decision making re consumption, in a labor force participation context? One example is employer provided healthcare, which was advantageous at the outset because it allowed insurance markets to seek consumers (workers) who - in relation to total population - were relatively healthy. U.S. healthcare was initially offered to those who didn't find healthcare consumption particularly necessary in many instances. Unfortunately however, as employees age, they are in greater need of the healthcare benefit. Which in turn encourages employers to fire older workers. The shared employee responsibility for healthcare - given its costs - encourages age discrimination, as employees become more expensive.

For the worker, a process can be set into motion after losing full time healthcare with benefits, which eventually leads to a premature exit of the formal workplace. As we age, our employment offers tend to be less likely to include full health coverage. In particular: once workers experience health setbacks which may include bankruptcy, there's a growing awareness of excess risk for remaining employed in work which takes an additional toll on health. And this may be the only work on offer in many locations, especially without a college degree. Once older workers face health risks which could prove more substantial than their personal resources, it may actually be less risky - odd though this sounds - to stay out of the formal workplace, so as to preserve one's health as best as possible.  In short, healthcare price discrimination, even though it is supported by partial equilibrium validation, doubtless contributes to reductions in labour force participation which have yet to be fully understood.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Notes on National Debt and Long Term Growth

A recent post from Tejvan Pettinger, suggests an opportunity to review a few issues I've highlighted re national debt. His post also served as a response to a reader's question:
What is the impact of persistent national debt on economic growth?
His reader's concern is all the more important, as not only are U.S. debt levels approaching those of the 1940's, but U.S. national debt as a portion of GDP, is now in fifth place among large countries. Granted, while those earlier debt levels were readily brought down, much has changed since then. And I'm hardly alone, in suspecting that national debt reduction has ceased to be a simple matter. Today, far too much economic activity is dominated by sectors which rely on wealth capture, rather than wealth generation.

Specifically, national debt has occasionally proven simpler to manage in the past, whenever tradable sector activity in particular either experienced productivity gains, or tradable sector dynamism was regained after bouts of recession or depression. And today's non tradable sector dominance lacks these aspects of growth potential, because much of it either stabilizes output without growth, or purposely limits output at the outset.

Might the wealth capture of non tradable sectors, also have presented unique problems for growth, early in the twentieth century - especially prior to the Great Depression? (Had I been earlier in life to economic studies, this is one area I'd be pursuing in earnest right now.) Nevertheless: Even though the future dominance of non tradable sector activity was already beginning to take shape in mid twentieth century, not until the seventies, did these sectors begin to pose the current crowding out problems which now affect long term growth. Equally important, is that governments continue to hope for additional growth, so as to have means by which to reduce today's high debt levels.

Pettinger writes:
In summary, there is no obvious link between national (public sector) debt and levels of economic growth.
This observation likely holds for long periods of time in which tradable sector wealth remains in a dominant general equilibrium position, especially as large portions of public debt tend to be oriented towards real economy or supply side outcomes, during a nation's formative periods. However, the recent rise of redistribution and non tradable sector dominance, has not truly had the chance to be reflected in national statistics (so far as I am aware) as a correlation point, other than our most recent sectoral shift episode. In other words, this could be a first representation for the U.S., which illustrates wealth capture in relation to earlier growth gains where extensive wealth serves as point of origin.

He continues:
However, some free-market economists argue that above certain levels very high national debt can curtail economic growth because there is crowding out of the more efficient private sector.
Indeed, this sentiment has inspired countless essays and posts on inefficient governments as contrast with the "efficient" private sector. Unfortunately, private sector inefficiencies are now a major part of the problem re economic dynamism, particularly in terms of addressing long term debt reductions. In all likelihood this accounts for skepticism on the part of some economists, that substantial growth will result from recent Washington tax cuts.

What's at stake in this dilemma? The crowding out of potential growth, which is especially needed as a source of revenue to address high national debt levels, is hardly just a matter of expecting government to "get out of the way". And likewise, we can't expect some participants in the private sector to get out of their own way by changing their stripes.

It is in part for these reasons, that I've suggested time arbitrage as a point of new wealth origin, which could also address the long term crowding out effects of non tradable sector activity. Time arbitrage could function as a private sector wealth creation option, which need not impose the private sector austerity of artificial supply side limits. Even though it's difficult to make progress towards renewed growth in the captured wealth of general equilibrium conditions, it's still possible to generate new wealth at the margins, thereby reducing long term debt.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Why Do Nations (Still) Prefer Export Led Growth?

Indeed, after all these years, and particularly during periods of economic stagnation. Is there a basic psychological element to "Make (fill in the blank) great again", which is somehow being missed? While arguments against mercantilism are just as valid as they've ever been, there's a problem: we've scarcely advanced the goalposts for public understanding which matter most in these arguments, since Adam Smith discussed this issue at length, centuries earlier.

Meanwhile, as policy makers and special interests continue to place more barriers in the way of economic participation, the wealth capture of our non tradable sectors has become so complex that it boggles the mind. How is it possible for anyone to realistically reverse the damage? Sure, while exports-as-growth sounds "crazy" to economists and others who pay close attention, not everyone has time to pay close attention. For those who don't, policy makers recognize that export led growth as "solution", probably sounds reasonable to many who lack an instinctive feel for the stakes involved. And since it's only becoming more difficult to publicly discuss what's at stake, populists of the left and right find it easier to engage citizens in wishful thinking.

Even though I remain convinced that globalization and free trade are key to future prosperity, unfortunately I can understand why many have doubts. Especially since too many sectors have reduced long term growth prospects, by making excess demands on wealth generation for too long. The wishful thinking that populists tend to encourage, often serves as excuses with moral overtones, so as to not think too long and hard about the matter.

Certainly I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to wishful thinking, for I'm old enough to remember a time not so long ago, when small salaries could still (mostly) take care of basic wants and needs. Many of us harbor some path in our minds by which "getting there from here" could be possible, once again. However, there's one way in which I part company with many populists, for it's neither possible or desirable, to return to a simpler past through some imagined reversal of events. Too much wealth would be destroyed in the process.

That past is gone. We need instead to envision the possibility of new places and means for wealth generation, rather than pining for "glory" days past. If we can rebuild prosperity on new terms, economists will no longer need to spend their days - for instance - trying so hard to "prove" in the public's mind that export led growth is an irrational concept. If we are willing to take part in the building of a more dynamic economy (instead of waiting for someone else to do it), export led growth could simply be shown as unnecessary. Ultimately, many citizens may be reluctant to let go of the idea of export led growth, no matter how much economists try to make it so, until they can have greater confidence in their ability to navigate the course of their own working lives.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Educational Supply Chains: A Decentralized Role for AI

First, consider the potential for learning processes as self supporting supply chains, which in turn allow educational investments to directly disperse wealth and knowledge. Why education as a supply chain for growth? Since today's institutions mostly "random mine" skills and knowledge, the benefits of human capital are somewhat lacking in growth statistics. In "The Importance of Education and Skill Development for Economic Growth in the Information Era", Charles Hulten argues that the BLS assigns a "relatively small role to education", which he (understandably) believes is insufficient. How might we create a better organizational platform for human capital, in which education becomes a stronger component of economic dynamism?

Presently, as institutions randomly mine the investments of human capital, many aspects of knowledge use have to "wait in line" for tradable sector wealth origin - even to the extent that advanced economy workers "wait" for resource origin flows from emerging economies. Granted, these original wealth sources are supplemented via the monetary flows of physical assets (housing) and a wide array of debt backed instruments. Nevertheless, too much non tradable sector activity remains on the negative side of the ledger, in terms of a general equilibrium growth base. Possibly the non tradable sector activity of new housing (not its loan activity), is the major non tradable sector contributor, to the positive side of the wealth creation ledger.

Meanwhile, too much educational investment in general, has come up short in terms of providing directly to economic dynamism. Another way to think about this: When labour and human capital serve primarily as residuals (for both primary and secondary market activity), the potential for a knowledge continuum is broken or at least disrupted, at numerous junctures. Is it possible to provide stronger connection points - even a recognizable supply side chain - for knowledge use in general?

One way to approach this problem, is via the use of coordinated time arbitrage in knowledge use systems. Time arbitrage as a single price commodity unit, would allow individuals and groups to immediately cancel time debt, as it occurs in daily activity. Individuals would also be able to "buy" time insurance from others in the event they can't work, via voluntary service hours. This approach would allow purposeful matched time (and its accompanying knowledge use) to function as an ongoing continuum. Personal time value, along with skill and knowledge, would function as a supply chain model, making human capital a central component of growth and wealth creation.

Among the reasons people fear artificial intelligence, is the fact that human capital - despite its importance -  is still organizationally structured as a production residual. Whenever individuals need to specify their time as containing higher monetarily value than that of others, their time use becomes dependent on general equilibrium system flows. In other words, the costs of skills differentiation will frequently remove any first mover position for knowledge use we might hold, since one must enter their knowledge and skill into organizational processes which are also aligned to "wait" for the total compensation of the system.

So long as an excessive amount of labour remains in either secondary markets or residual production positioning, even professional groups end up in defensive positions, arguing for humans to remain "embedded in the loop". Calls for continued management via human judgement, have a more emotional element than the technical maintenance which AI will (more naturally) require, in the form of human assistance. In all of this: Since human capital is still organized as peripheral or "as needed", high and low skill levels are becoming default positions - even though average skill is more representative of human populations in general. Consequently, average intelligence would likely be an important characteristic, for the time based and educational supply chains of the future.

It is the central role of our time in knowledge based supply chains, that makes it possible for deep learning AI to assist us - meaning not inevitably the other way around. How so? For instance: One of the primary advantages of time based services in desirable regions, has been their ability to replicate specific and desirable skill sets - think brain surgery as an example. The deep learning of AI makes it possible to disperse specific skill replication functions as well, so that many skills sets can eventually be applied in environments which otherwise may lack "cutting edge" human skills capacity.

Decentralized services generation would mean an altogether different approach for deep learning AI is possible: One that includes helping locals assist one another with important service functions, especially during their primary educational years. It's the wealth generating capacity of equal time coordination, which allows these groups to make their dependency break with general equilibrium monetary flows for time use. By decentralizing service capacity, each group can build a continuum for progress which holds a reasonable chance of permanence, insofar as time use functions are recorded and preserved.

In knowledge use systems, humans would often seek the assistance of deep learning AI. However, this approach accentuates personal autonomy, and is quite different from that of human assistance for technology as part of a centralized system. Time arbitrage can allow for greater dispersal of knowledge use. It's the use of knowledge - not just its acquisition as investment - which drives economic dynamism and moves society forward.

When human capital functions primarily as a production residual, there's good reason to be concerned about educational investment roles, once general equilibrium capacity becomes constrained. Yet it is precisely the ability to build time based local wealth, which could allow human capital to fully function as a central part of knowledge based processes. When purposeful time serves as an economic core, deep learning AI - important though it is - would often provide a supportive role for the experiential product that people wish to share on more personal terms.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Some General Equilibrium Issues for Small Incomes

A couple of recent posts, papers and articles remind me of the general equilibrium problem which lower income levels face. Housing as a "set aside" store of wealth which inhibits liquidity and velocity, is of course one of the more obvious issues. Further, general equilibrium distribution or redistribution no longer responds well (efficiently) to resource dictates - no matter the source or purpose. Let's briefly consider both.

For instance, there's Scott Sumner's suggestion to make peace with "unaffordable housing". While this approach is far from perfect, it remains the logical way to increase output via general equilibrium means. Recall that general equilibrium can only coordinate aggregate wealth in a complete context of full resource capacity, yet aggregate time value does not yet contribute to general equilibrium capacity in a wealth origination context. Meanwhile, new traditional construction is a leading edge of wealth generation, insofar as it serves as a repository for the higher income levels of skills compensation.

Nevertheless, the output which could bring more of the marketplace within reach of lower income levels, has proven difficult to imagine in ways that are agreeable to all concerned. Possibly the best way to supplement this unfortunate general equilibrium result, is to create new forms of productive agglomeration which would thrive in scattered and decentralized settings. Such an approach would reduce the global extremes of skill and income coordination, which now inhibit the framing of services generation for low income groups. A defined equilibrium for services and broad ownership of building components, would make it possible for lower income levels to expand the marketplace definition (hence output) of non tradable sector activity.

Otherwise: Without options such as these, many citizens with small incomes, will struggle to maintain sufficient levels of personal responsibility and social engagement in today's society. This reality holds not only locally, but across international contexts and cultures as well. After all, much of today's recognized economic time value aligns with global wealth capacity, hence no longer exists in relation to other time value in aggregate.

And so long as societies rely on the prosperity of human capital which lacks any internal coordination point for time aggregates, human capital can't be allocated as efficiently as other forms of capital. One could even think of a marketplace for time value, as a framework in which human capital experiences efficiency gains that place time use capital on a par with financial capital. So long as aggregate time value only exists in relation to total or global resource capacity, traditional housing and service generation will continue to present problems for lower income levels.

Land contributes the largest general equilibrium coordination of value, in terms of productive agglomeration for knowledge use, as today's most important wealth source. Wherever productive agglomeration is clearly evident, housing valuations begin to align with the same land valuations which are correlated with the aggregate values of global resources. In "Land is Underrated as a Source of Wealth", Noah Smith cites a recent Vox study and emphasizes at the outset:
In the long run, housing does about as well as stocks. It's also a major driver of inequality.
Alas, his reasoning is another way of describing how extensive land value is closely associated with certain forms of human capital valuation, even as other vital aspects of human capital have little formal economic definition in general equilibrium dynamics.

Also note that land isn't easy to tax so as to make a tangible difference for redistribution, in terms of inequality. How do we know? There's a recent, even somewhat odd example which just occurred. Rather than completely remove the mortgage interest deduction, policy makers opted to cap mortgage deductions instead. The result is that higher income levels will consequently still be taxed for - yes - land which holds the highest values in terms of economic access and value. Given renewed arguments for land taxation as redistribution to address inequality, there's too many complex general equilibrium dynamics at play, for policy makers to claim taxation sources for the "right" reasons - however those reasons are perceived.

General equilibrium settings have proven notoriously difficult, for any redistribution which purportedly addresses inequality. I believe it would be helpful to distinguish housing, land and time based service generation as defined equilibrium components, so as to reduce exposure to global extremes in skill and compensation which are not readily amenable to redistribution. It's worth a try this time to allow people to help themselves, since policy makers and other elite have bungled the process of doing so in their stead.

How so? When societies attempt to "help" lower income levels from what they often perceive as a never ending supply of wealth, they become tempted to serve up portions out of that general equilibrium pot with major helpings for themselves. Timothy Taylor provides some beautiful examples how this unfortunate reality plays out, in "When Invoking Poverty and Necessity is a Ruse". His post is absolutely spot on and deserves to be read in its entirety.

Ultimately, no one can "force" affordability in the wealth dynamics of general equilibrium. And today's major issue in terms of general equilibrium values, are the constraints of productive agglomeration. This is where the vast majority of today's wealth is contained, yet the primary sources of knowledge use are still limited at the core. That - in turn - impacts the housing output and land values which are perceived as "well suited" for economic access.

Fortunately, it's possible to greatly expand the output of productive agglomeration, via defined equilibrium settings. After all, arbitrary limits for productive agglomeration bear the greatest responsibility, for today's extremes in terms of land use valuations and housing options. And just as Scott Sumner emphasized, increased output is the best way to make a marketplace more accessible to all.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Can Political Extremism be Reversed?

Might there be a common thread that illuminates similarities between the nationalist extremism of the early twentieth century, and what has appeared more recently? Thus far, many observers remain confident that today's forms of political extremism should remain - at the very least - manageable. But what if this confidence doesn't hold?

Perhaps there's an underlying rationale regarding our present approach to wealth generation versus wealth distribution, which exacerbates political divisions. Even though some supply side advocates are quick to highlight government dependencies, there's too much dependency for already existing revenue, on the part of private interests as well. And both dependencies are now responsible for structural imbalances. Yet rather than challenge excess claims on wealth in relation to new sources of wealth generation, central bankers - in part due to their excessive financial interests - have unfortunately responded with lower levels of monetary representation, particularly since the Great Recession.

Still, many remain unconvinced that those earlier monetary losses matter. These individuals often believe that monetary representation is presently too "easy". Worse, without an adequate understanding of the role a nominal level serves (as a symbol of total and ongoing economic participation), some can be swayed by monetary historical contexts such as hyperinflation, which have no bearing on present circumstance in today's advanced economies.

In all of this: Despite recent economic gains, structural imbalance means long run growth is still compromised to an extent that the marginalized - more than ever - tend to be perceived as a societal burden. And history has shown that if wealth creation is stymied for too long, populations often begin to add more prosperous citizens to their list of perceived burdens. Perhaps the fact so many populations feel threatened - in spite of apparent prosperity - should serve as a call to include all human capital as sources of wealth generation. This, instead of imagining "inclusive economies" as mostly further redistribution from what is already stretched too thin, in the collective imagination of many a taxpayer.

When monetary policy stays relatively tight for long periods, that could be part of the common thread which leads to extremism. After all, more demands continue to be made on monetary representation by all concerned, than central bankers are willing to accommodate, or entrenched interests are inclined to account for. And even though tight money vastly contributed to the Great Depression, it's hardly a simple matter to trace wealth creation in relation to wealth capture for that earlier period. Oddly, similar problems for quantification still exist today, since neither governments or private interests fully account for the ways in which human capital is used at a mere fraction of its full potential.

So why bring up (yet again) tight monetary conditions and lackluster dynamism, if little can be done? Because resignation to structural issues such as this, may worsen nationalistic impulses in the near future. Fortunately, we still have the ability to craft a supply side response which could eventually cut through much of today's divisiveness and excessive blame.

Only remember how long it took over the course of the Great Depression, before the marginalized of the South finally gained economic access, via Washington's commitments to physical infrastructure. How much twentieth century prosperity in the U.S. stemmed from what was essentially an invitation for the marginalized to finally participate, after what had been decades of economic isolation after the Civil War? Recently, while gathering together a near century of immediate and extended family pictures, I was fascinated how that invitation to prosperity played out in those images over the course of the twentieth century, in terms of wealth gains and family outcomes.

Today, much of the infrastructure for potential participation is already in place. Yet oddly, an extended invitation to the full use of knowledge in every community, seems to be the hardest part. But think about who - and what - has become marginalized this time: Cities, towns and rural areas which have little access to the globalized economy of the present.

Hence the new call to wealth creation, needs to take a different form. It now means allowing those who have been left behind, to gain the chance to make full use of their human capital investments and and aspirations. Today, an invitation to take part in knowledge based wealth creation, is the only form of inclusive economy which matters. It is the only one that has any validity, in a time of stretched government budgets. There's even a chance that a broader invitation to wealth creation, could be the best means we have, to lessen political extremism.

Monday, January 1, 2018

What is the Real Issue for Work Expectations?

Does our present day work ethic feel as though a matter of societal coercion, necessity, or possibly even both? In an article for Aeon, "If work dominated your every moment would life be worth living?", Andrew Taggert writes:
Imagine that work had taken over the world. It would be the centre around which the rest of life turned. Then all else would come to be subservient to work. Then slowly, almost imperceptibly, anything else - the games once played, the songs hitherto sung, the loves fulfilled, the festivals celebrated - would come to resemble and ultimately become work. And then there would come a time, itself largely unobserved, when the many worlds that had once existed before work would vanish completely from the cultural record, having fallen into oblivion.
And how, in this world of total work, would people think and sound and act? Everywhere they looked, they would see the pre-employed, employed, post-employed, underemployed and unemployed, and there would be no one uncounted in this census. Everywhere they would love and laud work...An ethos of hard work would be championed as the only means by which success is to be achieved.
This is quite a burdensome interpretation of work! Especially for those of us who - in part because we came into this world lacking in "social graces" - experience work as freeing and meaningful. Yet, as Miles Kimball recently wrote: would be a great advance in human happiness if we can figure out how to make the experience of work more like dressing and keeping the Garden of Eden than eking out survival from thorny ground by the sweat of our brows.
Indeed. In a time of great tradable sector abundance, one would think the economic results might have been somewhat closer to a Garden of Eden outcome. But instead, societies have inadvertently created their own "thorny ground", via the wealth capture of today's non tradable sector institutions. How much of our excessive work mentality, is simply a response to claims on our time, via the arbitrary expectations (better known as "quality product") in the social designs of our housing, education and healthcare?

Fortunately, we can think differently about these vital products in the future, through the local equilibrium recognition of non tradable sector design. Such an approach would make it possible for us to discover the levels of work we are mentally and physiologically equipped for - especially that which is other oriented - without the excessive sacrifice of our scarce time. When we have the ability to seek out steady and "doable" levels of mutual responsibility, it becomes easier to preserve sufficient time in life for our own personal challenges as well.

Locally designed settings for non tradable sector product, would allow groups to better align common resource use, so that participants can discover similarly oriented patterns of work and play. Individuals would finally be able to set aside time for the public goods they find most important. By creating a broad range of infrastructure concepts, much of today's all or nothing framing of personal responsibility, could finally be put to rest.

Chances are, most people are not inclined to be workaholics, simply because this is what society seems to "expect". Rather, many have ended up as workaholics because there appeared to be "no choice", given today's additional non discretionary costs. With a little luck, those expectations might be reduced, so that all of us can once again seek the levels of work and mutual responsibility that are reasonably within reach.