Since today is my birthday, I thought it would be a wonderful present to myself to launch my website. For the past twenty-five years I’ve been curious about the fact that the mixture of capitalist economics and an open democratic political system produces more cooperative outcomes than the doomsayers would have you think. I am here to debunk the suggested paradox that the individualistic society of John Wayne and Ayn Rand couldn’t possibly do anything good for the greater good.
There is plenty of proof all around us of the US’s ability to tackle pubic objectives. The EPA turns 50 this year and can report success in fulfilling its mandate as ‘from 1970 to 2019, U.S. criteria air pollutants decreased by 77% thanks to federal, state and local efforts while the economy grew 285%.’ Over the same time period the CDC reports that deaths from coronary heart disease has decreased by 54%. In addition to a cleaner environment and improved public health, confidence in the US higher education system could be measured by the fact that it hosts (until recently) of nearly 50% of students studying abroad.
Proof of failure to understand the mechanisms which produce the efficient production of public goods, is also all around us. Any inner-city neighborhood will reveal a failure to educate impoverished children. The US standings in cooperative endeavors such as in the case of biomedical research has also started to slip. And many US cities are well past maintaining infrastructure, as in the case of the subways in NY City. The one thing that is clear is that even though these systems are about creating value, their behavior is at odds with the traditional economic system of production and exchange.
This site addresses the mechanics of value creation in the pursuit of pubic goods. It does not debate the foibles of human nature, or determine what is moral, or account for the unpredictability of mother nature. Think of a mill with a big wooden wheel. The stream pushes the buckets, to spin the wheel which moves the gears that grind the wheat into flour. What I describe is the timbers, and the buckets and the motion of the wheels. What I don’t address is the fluctuations of the seasons or whether a dam is blocking the flow upstream.
There is a reliable consistent mechanism which prompts and supports collective behavior, and it is steadfastly apart of our capitalistic system. The glaring success of the industrial revolution has blinded us to it. Our attention and analysis were captured since before the turn of the last century, much in the same way that we are dazzled by starlets on the red carpet or sports players achieving breathtaking records. The work of cooperation is slow and pedantic, not shimmery, immediate and full of flash.
If all economic life was represented on a Rubik’s Cube what I call traditional economics, that which has been sliced and diced for over a century now, would be one face of the cube. Traditional economic models solve for a uniform color on but one side. Meanwhile the five other sides representing the economics of public health, of education, of public safety, and so on, are often left in a colorful menagerie. The solutions I look for are the ones that solve for the entire cube.
If you’ve solved the cube you probably started with one side and noted, when attempting to bring the second side into consistent form, that you messed up the first. At this point you realize that you need an understanding of how to coordinate two mechanisms to work simultaneously to solve the whole puzzle. This blending is the keystone to understanding my theory: that individuals, in the pursuit of values through resources and labor, act simultaneously as individual agents as well as group members. And these spheres of private and public activity are governed by different mechanical structures.
The success of this blog will depend on my ability to set every day, mundane staples of our lives on an important stage; to make their story in some way entertaining; to make you take another look at what you take for granted. In order to guide you through their story, I’ve created categories to frameup the attributes of the various components. You’ll find them in the menu right below the header.
My theory describes the architecture of cooperative activity, but my goal is to show how value is created and where it is retained by groups of people. By identifying and measuring value, even in bulky gradients, efficiencies will be realized in the use of labor and resources. By enabling greater transparency individuals and groups can understand their choices. This will allow people greater liberty, in applying their various talents, in pursuit of the life they wish to live.
Please feel free to join the conversation! I welcome respectful engagement and know it will advance and refine the ideas around this structure.
With kind regards,