Monday, June 30, 2008

Welcome to Trickle-In!

For over ten years I've been doing ongoing independent study in the field of economics and along the way developed an original body of thought that I've aspired to present to the world at some point. I've made several starts at writing a book and most recently have realized that what I need is a more flexible and interactive way to write.

You may be interested in this blog if:
  • The idea of a truly fresh approach to economic theory intrigues you . . .
  • You've know me personally and have some previous contact with my ideas . . .
  • You are worried (isn't everybody?) about the current state of our world, and the huge role that economic behavior plays in the future prospects for humanity . . .
  • You are interested in alternative economic systems such as those proposed by E. F. Schumacher, Hazel Henderson, Herman Daly, and so many others . . .
  • You are interested in "Buddhist Economics" either through the environmental and social justice movement, or through involvement with Buddhism . . .
What I propose to do in this blog is to present short, coherent pieces of writing that more or less stand on their own, but that also add up to a "trickle in" of a more or less complete system of economic thought that I've developed over the years. That's the first implication of the name of the blog. The second meaning of "trickle in" lies deep in a subject matter called Civil Endowment Theory, which in turn is a cornerstone of the body of thought that I've developed.

When introducing these cornerstones I'll identify them as such, and will develop a hypertext glossary for reference. In keeping with the freeform style of the blog medium, I'll feel free to comment on the economic issues of the day . . . but will find a way to distinguish these sorts of observations from a core presentation of the work I've done all these years.

Why Now? Let's just call it "the urgency." The urgency of our times is a most compelling reason and force behind putting my ideas out there for the world at this time. I can't wait around any longer in good conscience. If we really look at the seriousness of the human condition and the human prospect worldwide, none of us should wait. In contemplating the vast poverty, the imbalance of economic power, the looming environmental catastrophes, not to mention more immediate but deeply ominous developments like the current global price spikes for energy and food, it's hard to avoid a deep sense of anxiety and even grief. We could, perhaps, go down the road of hopelessness, avoidance, or selfish cynicism. Or, more positively, we could say "well, at least I recycle and buy organic food. Fine, but the reality is that we as a species have got to do some major things differently in the global macro-economy and we have to find ways to make these changes soon. Many of the needed changes have become clear, and much of the work has been started, but isn't it abundantly clear that the fundamental structure of the global economy is not equal to the task we face? And at the deeper level, isn't it obvious that the working theories behind of our world economy, the "consensus reality" is deficient?

I don't have certainty as to whether my contribution to the discussion will help humanity or not, but I'm ready to do my part. I strongly invite you, the reader, to respond as you see fit.

Sarva Mangalam
May it be auspicious

1 comment:

Jim said...

Hi David!

Here are a couple of my models for petroleum production:

Then buried in here is a rather brusque dismissal:
As we discussed this morning, I see our ideas about money and ownership and debt as all ways to coordinate our activities. Acting in an uncoordinated way, we would go extinct overnight. What makes humanity so powerful is at root language, in particular our use of language to coordinate our actions. Once human culture comes to the stage of agriculture and civilization, the whole coordination problem has exceeded any individual's purview, so these intermediate structures arise like accounting.

One huge factor in coordinating is planning for the future. But we don't really know what's going to be happening in the future. So that is a tricky business, how to plan, & especially to negotiate a team plan, in the face of uncertainty.

Something related to this - it's funny to realize that usury was a crime not very long ago, and is still a crime under Islamic law. How can an economy function without lending at interest?

I think the answer has to do with risk. Suppose I buy a share of your business - I give you X dolloars for Y percent of your business, and now you will pay me back a regular Y percent of your profits, until you buy back that fraction of your business again. How is this different than lending you X and receiving that Y as interest? The different is in how risk is shared or not shared. As business partners, we share the risk. If you don't make any profit, I don't get any dividend. But if I am getting interest, I am still owed the interest whether or not you make a profit.

Anyway, just some thoughts to get the ball rolling!