Perspective on ‘A Basic Income for Everyone is Not Affordable’ – Part 3

All of the points I described in this and the previous two posts are reason to consider becoming more flexible about the universality principle within the basic income movement. I understand the experience of feeling like one is...

"Meconomics": ME-Economics

However, in my economy studies I haven’t come across a single word that describes how we live economic decisions and apply ‘market logic’ in our personal lives – so here I am making one up: Meconomics, short for ‘ME-Economics’.

Meconomics: Fear of Missing Out and Opportunity Cost

Have you ever heard someone (or yourself) say the following in relation to a potential partner that they are hesitant to go into a relationship with/commit themselves to, because: “What if he/she is not ‘the one’?” And “What if, as I commit to this person, I miss out on meeting my perfect partner?”

Meconomics: Fear of Missing Out and Opportunity Cost – Part 2

When you’re struggling to decide which shoes to buy and end up choosing one pair over another and you experience a sense of ‘loss’ towards the pair you didn’t buy (your opportunity cost) – who compensates you in monetary terms for that opportunity cost? Do you ask the shopkeeper for a discount as compensation for your opportunity cost, because you could have bought the other pair? You don’t.

Meconomics: I Want my Needs and Need my Wants to be Satisfied

If the dictionary uses the word ‘want’ to clarify the word ‘need’ and uses the word ‘need’ to clarify the word ‘want’ – we can be sure we’re on to something.

23 June 2015

Reality in a Bubble - Meconomics

Here’s a fun topic to explore – BUBBLES!!!

What do you know about blowing bubbles?
1. It’s fun
2. You blow air unto a film of soapy liquid and it starts creating a bubble
3. The more air you blow into it, the bigger the bubble becomes
3. Blow in too much air – and the bubble pops.

Bubbles exist in economics as well – they’re called ‘Speculative Bubbles’.

Here’s a definition from Investopedia (don’t worry if you don’t understand everything):

“A spike in asset values within a particular industry, commodity, or asset class.

A speculative bubble is usually caused by exaggerated expectations of future growth, price appreciation, or other events that could cause an increase in asset values. This drives trading volumes higher, and as more investors rally around the heightened expectation, buyers outnumber sellers, pushing prices beyond what an objective analysis of intrinsic value would suggest.

The bubble is not completed until prices fall back down to normalized levels; this usually involves a period of steep decline in price during which most investors panic and sell out of their investments.”
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/speculativebubble.asp#ixzz3dmyCNpUB

In the simplest terms, what is said here is: Air is put into a bubble and then the bubble bursts. What happens, is that the value of assets is inflated beyond their real value. So – you have an asset, say a house – that has a particular intrinsic value – say 3 million dollars. Through speculation, the price of the house is driven up, for instance from 3 million to 5 million dollars – but the actual value of the house doesn’t change – it’s still only actually worth 3 million dollars. The 2 million that gets added on top is just air – and the bubble bursts when the price decreases at a fast pace from 5 back to 3 million.

You can imagine how these bubbles can create economic disasters – because in the end, economics is about sustaining lives. When you don’t know whether the ground you’re walking on is real or could collapse any moment, you’re working with instability and uncertainty, which at the moment are two words that are embedded in our economic system, partly due to the nature of these speculative bubbles.

To give you an idea of the far-reaching consequences these bubbles can have, just think of the recent financial crisis. Greece was herein the unfortunate ‘posterchild’.  On the 17th of June the Debt Truth Commission, set up to investigate the truth about the Greek debt, presented their preliminary findings to parliament. I suggest you read through the entire article (http://cadtm.org/Summary-of-the-first-day-of-the), but for the purpose of this post, specifically read the following paragraph:

“The scientific coordinator recounted the history of the Greek debt in a way that has not been done by the mainstream medias during the last five years: “We realised that the usual explanations of a disastrous state of public finances were not confirmed”; he said. A strict analysis of the facts and the figures has allowed the commission to look at past events differently. As from the moment that Greece entered the Eurozone private capital rushed into Greece where it earned high yields. Wherever capital converges speculative bubbles are created! We have the figures that prove this happened: between 2001 and 2009 household loans increased sevenfold and small business loans increased fourfold, while State loans only increased by 20%. At end of the 2000s the finances that were suffering were heavily indebted private finances not State finances.”
http://cadtm.org/Summary-of-the-first-day-of-the

Speculative bubbles were right at the center of the on-set of economic instability in Greece – this instability rapidly escalating and spiraling out into these disastrous consequences:

“• –– Vicious circle of recession.The continuous drop in GDP, in 2011 surpassing the historical maximum for the entire postwar period, led to a rapid reduction in domestic demand. Lower production led to dismissals and the loss of thousands of jobs, further amplifying recession.

• –– Unemployment had already more than doubled within the first three years of austerity and reached 25.4 percent in August 2012. More than half of the population between 15–24 years old is unemployed (57 percent; Eurostat 2012), while thousands of jobs have been lost under conditions of insufficient social protection. Given the continuation of the crisis, the new unemployed become the chronic unemployed.

• –– Rapid labor deterioration, as shown by the increase of precarious and uninsured work, insecurity, degrading payments, weakening of labour rights, and deregulation of labour agreements.

• –– Strangling of the lower middle class, traditionally consisting of small and medium sized enterprises. A great number of such enterprises (family-owned or not) were unable to survive declining consumption, lack of liquidity, and emergency taxes. More than 65,000 of them closed down in 2010 alone, resulting in a “clearance” of such enterprises and disaffecting the people dependent on them.

• –– Migration of younger, highly educated people has risen (“brain drain”), while those studying and living abroad are discouraged to return to Greece, and those who previously would have stayed, are now leaving.

• –– Homelessness increased by 25 percent from 2009 to 2011. Along with the pre-crisis and “hidden” immigrant homelessness, a generation of “neohomeless” now exists who include those with medium or higher educational backgrounds who previously belonged to the social middle.

• –– Suicides hit record levels, increasing by 25 percent from 2009 to 2010 and by an additional 40 percent from 2010 to 2011.

• –– Deterioration of public health evidenced by reduced access to health care services and an increase of 52 percent in HIV infections from 2010 to 2011. Drug prevention centers and psychiatric clinics have closed down due to budget cuts.

To this, one could also add a worrying political impact – that a country with a traditionally weak far right now has one of the largest organised Neo-nazi movements in Europe. In the 2015 legislative elections the ‘Golden Dawn’ secured third place in the popular vote.”
http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-greek-economic-crisis-the-social-impacts-of-austerity-debunking-the-myths/5431010

So – perhaps economic bubbles are not as fun as the bubbles you blow as a child. But what about the bubbles we blow in our daily lives – what do economic bubbles have to show us about the human condition? That’s what I’ll explore in posts to come. After all – the economic system is a human creation – created in our image and likeness.

16 June 2015

The Humpty-Dumpty Effect - Meconomics

This post is a continuation to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied
Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living
Meconomics: Do you Spend your Money Objectively or Subjectively?
Meconomics: Can you Buy Happiness?


In the previous post we started looking at why and how it is that we can experience certain wants as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’, where we looked at the role of expectations:

“Realistic expectations of fulfilling a want stand in direct relation to the actual properties and functions of your want. If you like the taste of coffee, then you will enjoy drinking that cup of coffee and coffee has the characteristic and property of keeping you awake and more focused for a little while – those expectations stand in direct relation to your want, which is coffee. Acceptance however, is not directly related to a smartphone – it’s not within its power to give that to you. When you buy a smartphone, what you will get is a smartphone – acceptance is not really part of the package.

It is when we have such unrealistic expectations of fulfilling a particular want – that the experience of ‘want’ can be experienced as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’.”

There’s many things we feel we are lacking, not on a physical level, but on a… let’s call it ‘beingness-level’ – be it acceptance, freedom, passion, intimacy, happiness, etc. Those are things we cannot buy and that we cannot even get from something or someone else – they cannot be ‘acquired’ or ‘given to us’. They are things we have to give to ourselves and that we inherently feel ‘should already be part of ourselves’. So, when we feel we are lacking them, it’s like we’re not complete as a being, as a person. If you add to that a shiny new smartphone that you wrongfully believe will give you, for instance, ‘acceptance’ – you have the perfect recipe for a very strong urge and desire to go out and get that smartphone.

Most of the time we take our desires for granted – “I feel I want it, therefore I want it”, lol – when actually, it’s not, for instance, the smartphone you really want, but the smartphone is representing ‘acceptance’ to you. So – on a conscious level, all you’ll feel and be aware of, is a strong urge to get that smartphone, where you probably don’t really understand why the urge is so strong and maybe you will give yourself reasons by summing up the specs and telling yourself how good of a phone it is, but the underlying reason is missed. You might even try to tell yourself you don’t need the smartphone, and give yourself all the rational reasons why you should and can wait – but damn, that urge is still there – it just doesn’t go away – and what’s more, it’s building!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but when positive energetic experiences, like desire, are very strong and keep building and are not ‘moving out’ – it can become quite uncomfortable. There are sayings like ‘I love you so much it hurts’ – well it’s kind of like that. No matter if the original experience was ‘positive’ – like desire or love – if it just keeps building inside you and you don’t know how to give it direction – it becomes uncomfortable, sometimes even feels like emotional ‘torture’. And it’s there that the want will start feeling like a need – because pain and discomfort is how needs make themselves known.

In the end – the reason why we can mistake a want for a need is because we’re not really aware of ourselves and we accept any impulse or experience at face value. Somehow we don’t know or forget that we actually have the ability to look at a want and go: okay, what are my expectations here? Are they realistic? If they are not realistic, we can look at what it is we expect to ‘gain’ from our purchase (say freedom, acceptance, etc) that we should actually be giving to ourselves – then how do I give that to myself? How do I create that in my life? Once you see how this works, and start applying this reasoning – you’ll see you can direct your wants and your inner experiences quite easily. So long as you ‘remain in the dark’, you’re powerless and at the mercy of what your experiences dictate and you can become quite a dysfunctional human being. Take the example of addictions, what are they but an extreme form of the confusion between wants and needs?

I started this series to investigate the cornerstone of economic theory: the economic problem of satisfying ‘unlimited wants and needs’ in a world with limited resources. To determine whose wants and needs will be satisfied, purchasing power is used as the criterion. I zoomed in on the fact that ‘wants and needs’ are treated as one concept with the same characteristics, when actually needs are limited and so we could at least start with satisfying everyone’s needs and then afterwards design a system that determines whose wants will be satisfied. Since the concepts ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ are used in such a sloppy way in economic theory, I wondered if the same is true on a personal level – applying the principle ‘as above, so below’.

So what is the conclusion? Lol – I think it’s clear those two little words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ can create quite a bit of havoc in our personal life if the distinction isn’t clear and we don’t look further than the tip of our nose. It’s no wonder we have failed to eradicate poverty so far. And yet, maybe that is all that is required – or at least it is a start – to clearly define the words ‘want’ and ‘need’ for yourself and begin to approach ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ appropriately in your own life. It is one way to start taking responsibility for the ineptitude with which we’ve been attempting to confront global economic problems. If we can address wants and needs effectively in our own life, then we can do the same on a large scale – first making sure everyone’s needs are met and then we can start looking at how to satisfy desires.

A political and economic proposal was designed with this purpose in mind – the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal by the Equal Life Foundation. Please share and create awareness on this proposal, because it simply is not acceptable that millions suffer just because two words are not clearly defined in our dictionary.

04 June 2015

Meconomics: Can you Buy Happiness?

This post is a continuation to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied
Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living 
Meconomics: Do you Spend your Money Objectively or Subjectively?
 


I ended off my previous post with the following:

“So – we have looked at how wants can in a moment override a need – where we identified subjective experiences and time as important players – but we can look a bit further and ask: why does it sometimes feel like we ‘NEEEED’ the things that we ACTUALLY don’t need. Objectively speaking – they are wants, things you can go without – and yet, you can experience a sense of ‘urgency’ and ‘must have’ and ‘I need it’ towards that which you want. Now wants really start messing with your sense of priority, lol. It’s one thing to be clear on the fact that what you are enticed by in a moment is not something you truly need, but you want to indulge yourself anyway – it’s another to feel like you actually NEED it when you don’t.”

Let’s do an exercise: search for one of those moments in your memory – a moment where: you felt that you absolutely NEEDED to have something, where, if you look back at it now, you didn’t ACTUALLY really need it, but you wanted it so bad that it FELT like you needed it. Now zoom in to the actual experience of need and ask yourself the following: were you experiencing physical discomfort? Were you deprived of something on a physical level, which needed replenishing to ensure you remain functional in your body? Were you in physical danger?

You’ll see that the answers to those questions are ‘no’ – because the apparent ‘need’ was not experienced on a physical level – it was instead experienced on an ENERGETIC/ EMOTIONAL level – where we feel we are being emotionally tortured so long as we don’t go and buy whatever it is we’ve now fixated on wanting to get. If those are not actual, physical, genuine needs, then what are they?

Here we need to actually look at different types of wants or desires. And more specifically – how realistic our expectations are of fulfilling these wants and desires. See – you can want to have a cup of coffee, because you expect that for a moment you’ll really enjoy drinking that coffee and it might assist you being more focused and awake for a short period of time – and when actually having that coffee – that’s exactly what you’re experiencing and what happens. That would be a want with realistic expectations. A want with unrealistic expectations, would be for instance if you want to buy the newest smart-phone because you think your friends will accept you if you keep up with the latest tech trends. What you actually want here, or expect to gain – is acceptance – that is the underlying want you are looking to fulfil. Now smartphones can increasingly do very impressive stuff – but giving you acceptance in yourself and your life is a huge and unrealistic responsibility to place on any phone. Realistic expectations of fulfilling a want stand in direct relation to the actual properties and functions of your want. If you like the taste of coffee, then you will enjoy drinking that cup of coffee and coffee has the characteristic and property of keeping you awake and more focused for a little while – those expectations stand in direct relation to your want, which is coffee. Acceptance however, is not directly related to a smartphone – it’s not within its power to give that to you. When you buy a smartphone, what you will get is a smartphone – acceptance is not part of the package.

It is when we have such unrealistic expectations of fulfilling a particular want – that the experience of ‘want’ can be experienced as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’. And this is known by the marketing industry and is deliberately used within advertising strategies. I watched a series the other day where one of the characters, who was a car salesman said: “I don’t sell cars, I sell freedom”. As an exercise for yourself, you can look at advertisement and try to see what unrealistic expectation they are trying to create within their viewers – and as a fun challenge within that: try to see how many products apparently will give you passionate sex, lol – advertisements of all kinds of products, from soft drinks, to cars, to perfumes – implicitly play on the desire and urge for sex to sell their products for them. 

So what is it about those wants where we have unrealistic expectations, that we would experience them as a ‘need’?

I’ll continue exploring this topic in my next post.

30 May 2015

Meconomics: Do you Spend your Money Objectively or Subjectively?

This post is a continuation to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied
Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living

In my previous post I started looking at how wants and needs are confused in our daily living. Needs would be the things you cannot go without and so, common sensically, they would be your priority when deciding what to spend your money on. Wants are things you can go without, but you would prefer not to. Often we lose sight of this distinction – where we will forget about or compromise on our needs to fulfil a want. Then we looked at the following:

“Most of the time, we don’t feel needs or are even aware of our needs, it is only when we lack our basic needs that we suddenly start being affected by them, first on a physical level – and if we see we can’t satisfy our needs, we’ll go into anxiety, stress and survival-mode. But when our needs are being met – they are ‘silent’ and go unnoticed, we feel they don’t really ‘add’ anything to our lives, because we have taken them for granted as just being a part of our daily living.

Desires on the other hand – do give us an energetic thrill or rush. We feel better thinking about our desires and fulfilling/satisfying them, we look forward to fulfilling them, they occupy our minds and lead us to daydreaming, they make us feel hopeful that we/our lives will be better once we satisfy them.”

We’ve been hardwired to lean towards positive experiences, so with the insight that we’ve given wants a positive connotation and needs a negative or neutral connotation – it is easy to see how we can experience wants as an overriding factor on a subjective level. Objectively – we can all quite easily understand that needs come before wants and that satisfying wants is secondary to satisfying needs – but on a subjective level – the level where energetic experiences, emotions and feelings determine what we value and think is important – the opposite is true: wants are more interesting, because they ‘give us’ more pleasant experiences than needs.

So – the problem doesn’t seem to be our rational understanding of needs and wants – but rather that our subjective experiences can in a moment cloud what is most important. A person can for instance make a budget plan, intending to have sufficient funds set aside to pay off bills throughout the month in consideration and understanding of the importance of doing so and the consequences of not doing so – and yet, can in a moment indulge in an enticing want, that ends up compromising the person's available funds at the end of the month. Because in that one moment – when the desire is experienced – the decision is influenced by the subjective experience that comes with fulfilling a want – objective rationality is denounced in the name of a feeling. Some might be able to relate to such moments more than others, as it will depend on your own relationship to your feelings and emotions  - to what extent you place value in them / to what extend you include momentary experiences in decision making.

Here we can also highlight another dimension that plays a role in deciding what to spend your money on – which is: time. Objectively – we know that if we don’t plan ahead to ensure we have enough funds to cover our needs – be it certain or uncertain ones (for instance, having savings for unexpected medical emergencies) – we will come to a point in time where we will not have enough and be in trouble. Yet – subjectively – short-term gratification can override long-term satisfaction – where we will be willing to ‘risk’ not having enough funds later on, to be able to indulge in a satisfying a want in the present moment. This often goes hand in hand with an idea that there is ‘time’ to figure things out and find another solution for the problem we are about to create later down the line – and also, unfortunately, often goes hand in hand with regret when we get to that later moment and realize: we got something we desired in that moment, but didn’t actually have alternatives/magical solutions to sort out/generate other funds to cover the need.

So – we have looked at how wants can in a moment override a need – where we identified subjective experiences and time as important players – but we can look a bit further and ask: why does it sometimes feel like we ‘NEEEED’ the things that we ACTUALLY don’t need. Objectively speaking – they are wants, things you can go without – and yet, you can experience a sense of ‘urgency’ and ‘must have’ and ‘I need it’ towards that which you want. Now wants really start messing with your sense of priority, lol. It’s one thing to be clear on the fact that what you are enticed by in a moment is not something you truly need, but you want to indulge yourself anyway – it’s another to feel like you actually NEED it when you don’t.

Let’s look at that dimension more closely in the next post.

20 May 2015

Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living

This blogpost is a continuous to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied

To gain context on 'Meconomics', read and watch:

"Meconomics": ME-Economics
[83] Introducing Meconomics

In my previous blog I wrote about the word ‘wants’ and the word ‘needs’ and how, in economic theory, the two words started merging together into ‘wants&needs’ – treating both words as though they have the same properties and characteristics – as well as how this new merged term was then used as a justification for ineffective distribution processes in our capitalistic economic model wherein some people’s needs are not being satisfied, whereas others can satisfy virtually all their wants and desires.

In this post we’re going to apply the principle ‘as above, so below’ – keeping in mind that the economic model is a human creation – built in the image and likeness of its creator – it is worthwhile finding out where within ourselves we confuse the terms ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ in our daily living.

Have you ever been in a situation where, you realize you need to pay a water or electricity bill, but realize you’re out of funds, because you bought something in the last few weeks that you really wanted, and kind of forgot to keep money aside for these essential expenses?

Or have you ever been in a situation where you learned about a new product or gadget, like a new playstation, iphone, cooking utensil – you name it – where you just couldn’t get it out of your mind and felt you ‘had to get it’ and would feel kind of restless until the moment you bought it?

Or have you ever postponed studying for an exam, and a few days before the exam date, suddenly realized you spent most of your time on entertainment, going out with friends, watching movies or partying?

How does that happen? How come we don’t prioritize our needs over our wants?

That is actually something you can answer for yourself, have a look:

How often do you get excited over the idea that you will continue to have electricity in your house?
How often are you exhilarated by merely thinking about eating your sandwich in the cafeteria during your lunch break?
How many of your days are filled thinking about the new plain dark blue socks you’re going to buy because most of your current ones are worn out – where you enter a daydream and feel so absolutely excited and fulfilled imagining buying those new socks?

For most of us – that doesn’t really happen. For most of us – our needs are ‘boring’. Fulfilling our needs forms part of the basic support that we have and give ourselves, but they don’t give us a ‘thrill’, they don’t make us ‘ecstatic’, they don’t even get us excited. A need is not something you ‘feel’ on an energetic level – they don’t make themselves known through a rush. Rather – a need will make itself known through physical discomfort: hunger shows you a need for food, painful feet shows you a need for new shoes, the discomfort of taking showers in ice cold water shows us the need to pay our electricity bill. Needs make themselves known through ‘negative’ physical experiences.

Most of the time, we don’t feel needs or are even aware of our needs, it is only when we lack our basic needs that we suddenly start being affected by them, first on a physical level – and if we see we can’t satisfy our needs, we’ll go into anxiety, stress and survival-mode. But when our needs are being met – they are ‘silent’ and go unnoticed, we feel they don’t really ‘add’ anything to our lives, because we have taken them for granted as just being a part of our daily living.

Desires on the other hand – do give us an energetic thrill or rush. We feel better thinking about our desires and fulfilling/satisfying them, we look forward to fulfilling them, they occupy our minds and lead us to daydreaming, they make us feel hopeful that we/our lives will be better once we satisfy them.

I’ll continue opening up this point in my next post – stay tuned…

12 May 2015

Meconomics: I Want my Needs and Need my Wants to be Satisfied

The economic problem – the corner stone of economic theory – is defined as the satisfaction of unlimited wants and needs in a world with finite/limited physical resources. This implies that not all wants and needs can be satisfied, so the questions economic models attempt to answer are: How is it decided which wants and needs will be satisfied? How is it decided whose wants and needs will be satisfied? In our world today – the answer is: “those who can pay for the satisfaction of their wants and needs will see them satisfied, those who can’t pay for it – well, sorry, we have to draw the line somewhere”.

As I was reading about the economic problem for the first time – I found it fascinating that they used the words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ in the same way and treated them as one term – like this: ‘wants&needs’ – lol. The difference between wants and needs was briefly explained, but then both words were thrown under the ‘wants&needs’ banner – as though ‘needs’ carry the same characteristics as ‘wants’ and ‘wants’ carry the same characteristics as ‘needs’. When you approach the economic problem by reading the words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ as ‘wants&needs’ - then the world as it is today might make sense to you – then the economic problem might actually be a justification for the desolation and lack in which millions live. Perhaps that is how economists want us to read the words, so that we won’t hold them accountable for not yet having come up with a better solution.

‘Wants’ and ‘needs’, however, are two very different things. ‘Needs’ are things you NEED – that you cannot go without or you will be physically and emotionally compromised. ‘Wants’ are things you WANT – they go beyond what you ‘need’ – you can go without, but you would like or prefer to experience them or have them in your life. It is true to say that if you tally up all the individual wants of all the people on the planet – you will end up with ‘unlimited wants’. The same is not true for needs, however – there are certain things no human being can go without – say food, water, shelter, social interaction, medical support – where this is the same for every single person by virtue of them being ‘a human’ – and where for some, dependent on personal situations and circumstances, the list is expanded to include a few other things as well.

Considering that needs are limited – we may actually be able to satisfy the needs of all the human beings on the planet – and it is known that we can. So – instead of trying to work with ‘wants&needs’ where the task seems impossible and full of ‘sorry’s, we have to draw the line somewhere’ – we could start with the part that IS possible – satisfying everyone’s needs – and only then design an additional system or model that draws lines for ‘wants’. Our current model is one where some are able to satisfy all their needs and most of their wants, while others are not supported in their basic needs – which, you have to admit, is quite an insane situation. Part of why this is allowed is due to… ‘wants&needs’.

Now – this blog is part of my ‘Meconomics’ series – so you can already guess where I am taking this discussion next… For this situation to be as it is – with so few raising their voice and spurring into action to change the status quo – I started wondering how the same point exists within ourselves. The same point, meaning: do we in fact have a clear understanding of the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ inside ourselves and do we approach ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ appropriately in our own personal lives?

True story: Earlier as I was writing this blog and came to the section of clarifying the words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ – I first took the easy route of simply looking up the words in the dictionary and copy/pasting the definitions in my blog. But! I couldn’t use those definitions, because they would have perpetuated the confusion between the words rather than clarifying the difference between them. Have a look:







If the dictionary uses the word ‘want’ to clarify the word ‘need’ and uses the word ‘need’ to clarify the word ‘want’ – we can be sure we’re on to something. Does this mean that wants simply imply needs and that needs imply wants – because the dictionary says so? No. Remember, dictionaries will reflect our own language usage – so if the word ‘want’ has been used over time to indicate a ‘need’ – then it becomes an ‘accepted use of the word’ and is reflected in the dictionary as such. In the same way, the word ‘need’ has been used to describe ‘wants’ – and so it has become ‘normal’. What the dictionary then shows is how we have confused the meanings of the words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ for ourselves and started using the terms as synonyms.

In my next blog I will continue exploring how the ‘merging’ of the words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ as ‘wants&needs’ affects and influences us on a personal level so that we can get a better understanding of the world as it exists today within the principle 'as above, so below'.

02 April 2015

Meconomics: Fear of Missing Out and Opportunity Cost – Part 2

This blog-post is a continuation to:
"Meconomics": ME-Economics
Meconomics: Fear of Missing Out and Opportunity Cost



Read the above posts first for context.

In the previous post I had a look at the concept of opportunity cost and how we ‘make use’ of this concept in our language and daily living, or in other words – how the concept of opportunity cost is embedded in our psychological make-up and how it plays a role specifically when we make decisions. We saw that opportunity cost involves a dimension of a sense of ownership towards ‘the road not taken’ – where it then feels that we are ‘losing’ that option when we choose something else. We also looked at the role imagination plays within the creation of this sense of ownership.

So now, let’s have a look at an example of opportunity cost in economics and then take our understanding of the psychological origin of the concept – as how it exists within ourselves – to re-assess the ‘place’ of opportunity cost in economic situations.

Let’s take the example of interest:

“Interest is compensation to the lender, for a) risk of principal loss, called credit risk; and b) forgoing other investments that could have been made with the loaned asset. These forgone investments are known as the opportunity cost. Instead of the lender using the assets directly, they are advanced to the borrower. The borrower then enjoys the benefit of using the assets ahead of the effort required to pay for them, while the lender enjoys the benefit of the fee paid by the borrower for the privilege. In economics, interest is considered the price of credit.”

So, part of why you pay interest on a loan is to compensate the lender for the opportunity cost they incur by borrowing you the funds. The lender’s opportunity cost stems from the idea that he/she could have invested the funds and would have made a profit through investments. When reading this information for the first time it might intuitively sound like ‘it makes sense’ – because as we have seen in the previous post, we can all relate to the experience of opportunity cost. But does it really make sense?

When you’re struggling to decide which shoes to buy and end up choosing one pair over another and you experience a sense of ‘loss’ towards the pair you didn’t buy (your opportunity cost) – who compensates you in monetary terms for that opportunity cost? Do you ask the shopkeeper for a discount as compensation for your opportunity cost, because you could have bought the other pair? You don’t. And in this example we see that it clearly wouldn’t make sense to either.

We understand that when buying something and we have to decide between two options where only one can be taken – that making a decision involves letting go of the other one – it’s simply part of the nature of decision making. Even though we for a moment imagined owning both pairs, we do ‘come back to reality’ so to speak and see that we can only own one and that the other ones are not ours and stay at the shop.

So – why is it any different with lending money? A lender might imagine making a profitable investment on the one hand and lending the money on the other hand. But when it is time to decide – the road not taken is simply that: the road not taken. Once the lender decides to lend the money, it means he didn’t decide to make an investment and so that means he doesn’t get to make a profit either. That was the decision made and the lender could simply take responsibility for their decisions instead of ‘making a financial claim’ to the profits they could have made. Because remember – it’s not because the lender ‘could have made a profit by investing’ that the lender would have. What if, had the lender not borrowed the funds, he instead used the funds to make a really bad investment and lost all his money? That would be equally possible. Should a borrower then be paid a fee of gratitude because the loan potentially prevented the lender from losing his money through a bad investment? Lol – that somehow doesn’t happen.

So – we can ask ourselves why it is okay for a lender to make a ‘real claim’ (meaning: it is expressed in monetary terms, that means someone pays it, that means it has actual consequences on their purchasing power and living arrangements) on a cost that is based in imagination – but in other situations we can’t? Another way to place that question is: why do we allow it? Why have we never questioned it? Is it because we secretly WOULD LIKE TO be compensated for our imaginary losses? Because we secretly WOULD LIKE TO have it both ways without taking responsibility for our decisions?

It opens up even more questions as we look at: how could we do it differently? What other lending and borrowing models could we create? What would be their foundation? Or will we simply keep it as it is and allow such a significant point to be founded on a ‘glitch’ of our own logic?

This topic was also discussed in a Google Hangout – so for more information – check out: