ICANomics - the economics of you -
  • A Possible Economic Solution?

    When asked, “What have you been doing?” I answer, “Working on a possible solution for our economic problems,” fully expecting the response. “What? You’re wasting your time. You aren’t an economist”– click. OK.

    Being a small informal group of professional R&D engineers, inventors and scientists makes us comfortable approaching complex problems in need of  systematic solutions. Here, is a summary of the challenges we face followed by matched possible solutions. Please let me know what you think about it.

    Going into this, I’m not fully convinced that a real solution is being sought, partially because of the responses I have gotten– or not gotten so far, but here goes. This just may be one of those things that is better  “tried” than accomplished because no one is fully aware of what awaits on the other side.

    So where do we start? With a clean sheet of paper and an open mind. How would you go about solving this problem? There is a solution within you too. The trick is finding it and getting it out. Seeing this may help you do that.

    So, what’s been tried? For the most part, experts typically have looked back at what the great economists of the past had to say. (Yet, today’s challenge mix is different.) We’ve looked at their theories, built complex mathematical models, surveyed everything and everyone, constructed government policies, adjusted interest rates and pumped trillions into the economy. And yet? Could our government’s top-down policies be nearing or at their limits? Could it be time to try something new to augment current efforts? Given that the “study-hard-and-get-a-good-job” days are gone, how about a collective, bottom-up effort from the American people– the other, previously unaddressed factor in the growth equation? Do you think we have it within us to lick this thing together? I do. (Nature tends to be balanced and symmetrical, not top- or one-sided.) What we, as a country, need to do is get on the same page, with our own productive efforts, each doing what we are best at and what we like doing. In other words, each of us working/playing within a common structure toward a common personal goal– making life easier and more fulfilling for us. This is possible.

    Cost? Relatively inexpensive. Far less than a billion (less than 1/85 of a monthly

    Before moving on, a few thoughts to get us warmed up:
    • Einstein said that he preferred imagination to knowledge because knowledge is limited. If we can trust his judgment, let’s     suspend our versions of “reality” temporarily and allow our imaginations to help us.
    • We must free our thinking styles and leave some familiar baggage behind– temporarily.
    • You must know in your deepest mind that solutions are possible. We just need to find them. (In the R&D world, we know that problems we face are highly complex. So, like at Ford Experimental Engineering, we had a saying, “The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.”)
    • Our challenge isn’t purely economic or purely any one category of knowledge. The solutions are multidisciplinary and must be approached as such.
    • Our institutions, the government, the schools, organizations… can’t do it alone. Individually they’re near or at their performance limits. We need carefully focused and coordinated effort based on a comprehensive plan, much as an orchestra needs a score mastered by an able conductor. Random approaches are usually less effective and more costly. As stakeholders we need to step up to help them help us.
    • We as individuals are in search of what we consider “happiness”– that is comfort, love, excitement and security for ourselves and those we love. [This may be seem obvious, but some are unfamiliar with happiness– never having consciously experienced it.]
    • As hard or impossible as it may be, temporarily suspend the importance of lack of money as a deterrent to progress in your own immediate life. (This may really stretch your imagination, but that’s OK. As long as it doesn’t break it.)

    So, with that out of the way, what if you could get paid for doing what you love doing? And the better you did it, the more you’d be paid? Of course your product or service must have economic value to others.

    To be rewarded as described, we must overcome four major challenges: (1) personally experiencing the ups and downs of economic productivity, (2) finding out what we as individuals- you, like doing and are best at, (3) developing economic value in our chosen fields of interest and (4) engineering ways to get paid– how to use our developed value in the economy.

    If it’s so simple, why haven’t we done it already?” Well, it isn’t so simple. This particular solution requires different, non-linear, unconventional thinking in areas where direct proof is scarce. (Some will have problems with this kind of thinking.) But since we know that creativity, theorizing, risk and speculation are related to progress, trial and error methodology is routine to R&D people. So far, there are anecdotal indications that this process is effective but no direct cause and effect scientific evidence.

    But exactly how to proceed? Is there a process, a general step-by-step outline, a method to follow rather than just saying, “we must do better?” We say yes, and here is a summary of ten sequential challenges (desired objectives) followed by ways to overcome those challenges. Another way to see the problem-solution couplet is by saying, “What if we could…”[then read the underlined words.] And then the last segment describes a way to achieve the objective for that activity.

    1. Culturally awaken the economic self within us from age 12 and up: Holding an annual, national game contest, county by county, state by state with thousands to lesser winners and a million dollars grand prize to the best BUX player in the country.

    2. Enable each individual to experience economics from a personally visceral point of view: Once the importance of an academic understanding is reduced to a practical hands-on level, experiential and observational learning can take place through the interactive competitive play of the game.

    3. Enable each individual to experience value assessment, creation and development in an uncertain, competitive economic environment: A natural (subliminal?) derivation of playing the game. (Unconscious learning)

    4. Have each individual experience and fully understand the process of independent productivity and its related material and emotional rewards: A natural derivation of playing the game. (Unconscious learning)

    5. Enable each individual to understand him- or herself; personality, strengths, traits, talents, preferences and life’s-vision: By using newly developed, multidimensional, post-AI technology with user responses to self-organize ones’ individual efforts to performing within ones’ productive sweet spot. (“Right-brain”-productivity linking.)

    6. Facilitate each to experience and understand each others’ material and psychological needs: By using a combination of the game’s interactive play experience and online supporting information customized for the user.

    7. Facilitate individuals to develop their own maps and plans to their uniquely chosen life visions: Using data gathered and analyzed from #5 as input for a customized algorithm that will output written, specific guidelines and a graphic of sequential objectives to be overcome to reach ones’ stated professional objectives.

    8. Enable individuals understand the functional elements of basic concepts such as money, value, supply-demand, and the structure of the economic system: Using BUX interactive play experiences as experienced examples, concept revealing graphics and clear but minimum explanations to show users how and where they fit in the economic big picture.

    9. Facilitate individuals to see the resources available to them and how they can control them to achieve their chosen objective: Demonstrating, explaining and giving examples of specific resource use, customized to their value-enhancing, productive needs.

    10. Generate specific options for introduction of ones’ value contribution into the economy: utilizing technology to match value supply to value demand through numerous channels, from customized value aggregation among individuals to matching aggregated value to investment capital, to a technology-upgraded labor market.

    You have just seen a sequential list of specific challenges and ways to overcome them. And of course the execution of these activities is personal and differs from individual to individual. One’s progress will undoubtedly depend on the ways these challenges are approached and overcome. But regardless of the approach-style, this process, once established, will react and offer support customized to the needs of each individual.

    Currently held ideas of top-down/ government-only solutions, some traditional processes and methods, jobs and the job market, education, business profits, human intelligence, individual productive value, and human performance may be called on to change a little, but these concepts are evolving and changing anyway. For example, on the surface, poverty, jobs, infrastructure improvement, health care, education, housing, nutrition and economic growth may seem like discrete economic-related problems, and they are, but more than that, they are everyone’s problems– reaching into every segment of our lives. That is perhaps the most pressing reason why we must be collectively involved in our own coherent, bottom-up, comprehensive solution.

    A self-sustaining, for-profit company in partnership with the government with “individual prosperity and a better life, and national economic growth” as its product targeted to those seeking such a product provide the structural supply-demand metaphor for its business model. Start-up could be done with a core group of 10-20 focused, committed cooperative R&D-minded specialists with a similar vision. Employment could grow to about 1000. At the core of this entity would be a giga-scaled web site providing career and lifestyle support to individuals (as requested) through their minimal cost subscription  accounts. (Minimal account fees reinforce the notion that value costs.) This individual support entity will, in addition to structuring dream-fulfilling, productive lives from age 12 and up,  offer products and services including those from a comprehensive list of certified third party contributors.

    This sequential challenge-response array breaks the cycle of complexity into meaningful, attackable discrete problems, each with their own handles and imaginable solutions. Also the fact that they are numbered reduces chaos, vagueness and misunderstanding. The intended purpose is to awaken a productive attitude and stimulate constructive action in the culture. This action is intended to augment current top-down efforts and spark a fresh, new national conversation and action that is practical and culturally inclusive and free of arcane, insider jargon.

    In a recent London meeting of 250 of the world’s richest– controlling about one-third of total global investments, they posed the question to themselves: “How can we share the coming economic growth with others?” A possible answer could be, “They must earn it.” But how else can we earn it unless we have increased value to exchange for it? This brings us to where we could be at the end of overcoming our tenth challenge, having increased our own personal economic value by putting resources together in ways that are more valuable to others.

    Dreams, fantasies, imagination, ideas (and mistakes) followed by coherent, real action. That could mean real personal economic progress and more happiness– and collectively, more innovation and real economic growth bringing with it an increased standard of living and quality of life.

    What do you think about this proposed solution direction?