Have you Ever been Swept Off Your Feet?

In both cases – whether the bubble was inflated with positive or negative energy – the participants in the bubble are being swept away further and further away from actual physical reality and start to see everything either ‘extremely negatively’ or ‘extremely positively’ – neither experience is grounded in reality – because the physical is neither positive or negative – it just is what it is.

And Then You Crash – Meconomics

In this little series, we’ve been investigating the phenomenon of inflation, how we in our daily lives participate in ‘inflating our reality’ and so, how we are on a personal level participating in the same principles/dynamics that we see playing out on a bigger scale when it comes to inflation, speculative bubbles and financial market crashes.

Welcoming New Life with Living Income Guaranteed

Comfort, security and nurturing are all things we wish are present when a baby comes into this world. Yet, these conditions are not a reality for many babies, as parents themselves like these things in their lives. In Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa, 3 to 5 babies are…

Humanity Washed Ashore

This was an excerpt of just one of the stories about the boy. Over the last few days, dozens have been written and published on various major news sites. What is more striking than the content of the posts, is the comments that are left on these articles. What is humanity’s response to such images, to such news?

Voting Fun – What does it Feel Like to Have a Say?

Now – before such increased direct political participation is a reality – let’s do a little test to see what it feels like. So – here are some mock-questions where you’re asked to give your input. Imagine that this relates to your direct reality (eg. your town) – and your answer has a weight that influences the outcome of the decision. Of course, in reality…

25 February 2015

Meconomics: Fear of Missing Out and Opportunity Cost

When you study economics, you get introduced to a concept called ‘opportunity cost’. The definition of ‘opportunity cost’ is:

“The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.”

For instance: “The opportunity cost of going to college is the money you would have earned if you worked instead.”

So – say that if you are choosing between two pairs of shoes in a shop – the opportunity cost of buying the one pair is the other pair of shoes that you did not buy but could have bought instead. This concept comes up very often in economics, where it is said that opportunity cost is what sets accounting apart from economics – because in economics, the opportunity cost is included in the cost of, for instance, running a business or making an investment.

Now – I had never considered the concept of opportunity costs within daily decision making. It was only once I had become familiar with the concept in my economics studies that I noticed how we actually include opportunity cost within decision making in our every day lives. Let’s look at some examples, starting with going back to the shoes.

Say that there are two pairs of shoes that each look really appealing – where you actually don’t want to choose between the two and if you had the money – you’d buy them both – but you don’t have enough for both, you only have enough for one pair. So – you have to choose – because in the end you reckon it’s better to come out with one nice pair of shoes than with none at all. So, you make up your mind and buy one pair – and, you know, these shoes are comfortable and nice looking, so you’re quite satisfied with your purchase. BUT – in the back of your mind – there is that other pair of shoes – the ones you didn’t buy and there’s this sense of being unsettled, because – what if you didn’t buy the ‘right shoes’? What if you would have ended up being happier or more satisfied with the other pair – now you’ll never know. That experience of feeling unsettled or uncertain, like a bad taste that kind of spoils your satisfaction with the shoes you bought – that is the opportunity cost of buying the shoes you have.

And it’s interesting – because you went in with no new shoes – and you came out with a new pair of shoes – but somehow it feels like you also ‘lost something’ – as though you had to ‘give up’ the other pair of shoes, because they ‘could have potentially been yours’. What we don’t realize is that: they were never actually ours. Rationally speaking, we couldn’t have lost them, because we never owned them. So – where does that sense of loss come from?

If you slow yourself down when deciding to buy shoes – you’ll notice that something plays a significant role in that department and that is: Imagination. As you decide on which shoes to buy – you’re imagining wearing them/owning them. You imagine wearing them to specific events, you imagine what others will say about the shoes while wearing them, you imagine how they will fit with your clothes and outfits. So – within your imagination, you ‘act as though’ the shoes ARE YOURS ALREADY. Then, when you step out of your imagination and have to now, in physical reality, decide which shoes to buy, it feels like you have to ‘give up one pair’ – because even though it was only in your imagination that the shoes were yours, you created in those fleeting moments of imagination/projection an actual emotional relationship of ownership with both pairs of shoes.

Let’s look at another example:

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?” Without going into a discussion about whether ‘the one’ or ‘a perfect partner’ or ‘a soulmate’ exists – if you look at the logic that is used in these instances: it revolves around opportunity cost – the fear of ‘missing out’ on all the things you can’t do because you’re committing to one option. In looking at these statements – it’s interesting to see that there is again a component of imagination – because, you only concretely have one potential partner in front of you – one real live person – but in your imagination there exists so many other ‘potential options’ or ‘one specific other perfect person’ that you might not have met yet. And – instead of making a decision about the one real live person standing in front of us and deciding whether or not to be in a relationship with them or commit to them – we allow ‘imaginary people’ to enter into the equation. And many times a relationship opportunity is passed up on, because of that notion of ‘what if he/she is not the one’ or ‘what if a better opportunity comes along and I miss it?’

There are many more examples, here are some common phrases that refer to opportunity cost:

“You can’t have it both ways”
“I could have done something else with my time, you know”
“I invested so much effort in this project and for what?”

In having defined the concept of opportunity cost and had a look at how we use this concept in daily decision making, we will continue in the next blog by looking at the consequences of this logic in our economy.

Other blogs in this series:
"Meconomics": ME-Economics

17 February 2015

"Meconomics": ME-Economics

I’m sure everyone or most have heard of the words microeconomics and macroeconomics – where microeconomics looks at single factors/products/services and the effects of individual decisions (for instance what happens when I increase the price of the product I’m selling) and macroeconomics works with aggregates, looking at entire markets or the economy as a whole (what happens if the price of oil increases in the economy). 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’.

Sure – we can say ‘what you’re looking at is psychology – not economics!’ And yes – I am looking at psychology – but I’m looking at economics in the same extent as I am at psychology. Here is an example of how our Educational system enjoys fragmenting reality – breaking it up into bits and pieces so it can neatly fit in a particular box – and, apparently, what fits in the Psychology-box does not fit in the Economics-box. It’s mind-boggling to consider that economists may have never had any psychology course at all – that’s like a doctor not being trained as a nutritionist! (Oh wait, that’s the norm... case in point!)

If you take a moment to consider you’ll agree that psychology should be at the basis of our education – because everything we do, we do as a human being; How can we understand politics if we don’t understand human behavior? How can we understand economics if we don’t investigate our inner relationships with giving and receiving? How can we understand the function of the body if we don’t take account of the effect the mind has on it? How can we understand law if we don’t understand the law of our being? In other words: How can we understand the world if we don’t understand ourselves?

So – Meconomics will be a series of blogs investigating how we are maintaining the status quo of the economy on a micro and macro level through applying/living out the same logic, the same reasoning, the same models in every day life, whether it pertains to decision making, relationships, community living, self-image, socializing, parenting, siblings and so on and so forth.

If you have any ideas for topics to include in this series, feel free to leave a comment so I can dedicate a blog to it as part of the series. Let’s cover new ground, new ways of looking at economics, new ways of looking at ourselves – so we can become aware of how we are in fact, through the principle ‘as above, so below’ creating the rules of the game that determines human life on Earth in so many ways.

01 February 2015

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

This blog-post is a continuation to the posts
Top Economist says: "Universal Basic Income is Not Affordable"
Perspective on ‘A Basic Income for Everyone is Not Affordable’ – Part1
Perspective on ‘A Basic Income for Everyone is Not Affordable’ – Part 2
Read them first for context.

In my previous post I shared my concerns over utilizing income taxes to fund a universal basic income by looking at what social dynamics would be created as well as a possible punitive effective on unemployment.

In this post I’d like to look at particular taxes that have been suggested for funding a basic income.

When looking at ‘where to get large sums of money’ – we’ll almost instinctively turn our gaze towards the ‘rich’ in society. “They have lots of money and surely they don’t need it.” Herein I would refer to Hollande’s super tax in France – where the plan was to tax the rich at a 75% rate. Facing resistance and protest from the wealthy in society, the tax was quickly watered down until it quietly died altogether. Yes – in theory, the rich have money that could be allocated towards a basic income, but that doesn’t mean you’ll ‘get it’ – the money currently is not yours, it’s theirs, obtained according to current and past laws and agreements. Regardless of whether they are a minority among voters – their position in society enables them to impact the national economy and influence public opinion through other means. In other words, if they don’t agree with the tax policies, you are unlikely to get them passed. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is not under discussion – it’s what we have collectively created and it is not something we can simply sidestep or ignore when looking for practical ways to implement a basic income.

Another suggestion to create revenue from tax is to tax luxury products. Herein I consider the same point of what message it would send – is it ‘wrong’ to buy luxury products? Must there be an additional price paid for luxury products? I for one have no issue with luxury and I think most would enjoy to live a life that can afford luxury – I see it as worthwhile to make life more comfortable and enjoyable for everyone. The aspect that is concerning about luxury products at the moment is within conspicuous consumption, planned redundancy and planned obsolescence. These are issues that can be tackled otherwise, for instance by setting higher production standards and ensuring demand-based production.

Using pollution taxes to aid in funding a basic income is in my view not a solution. On the one hand, if the pollution tax is ineffective, loopholes will be found to avoid paying the tax as is happening today and pollution will not effectively be reduced. Then pollution taxes become a license to pollute and we are in fact requiring companies and individuals to be willing to pollute and ‘pay the license’ to assist in funding the basic income. On the other hand, if the pollution tax is effective in that it is an actual deterrent for pollution – then we would see a gradual decline in pollution and less and less tax revenue from pollution tax, so then it would not be a sustainable revenue stream.

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 compromising in one’s ideals – I have been there. If you scan over the topics of this very blog, you will see that we started with investigating an Equal Money System, then stepped away from that idealism towards an Equal Money Capitalism system and then further ‘downgraded’ (if you want to see it that way) towards a Living Income Guaranteed solution. I indeed felt like I was compromising on ideals and was ‘downgrading’ my promotion of solutions – but what I didn’t consider was space-time practicality. It is easy to conceptualize a new world, a new system and we tend to forget that we have to work with what is here as what we have already created. So, I am willing to take our current reality into consideration and work with what is here, because it is pointless trying to force a solution that most resist at this stage. I have found it assisting to keep the goal in mind: which is to secure human rights and herein the freedom for individuals to start determining what kind of world they would like to live in, for themselves and for everyone else. So, I have let go of trying to force an ideal outcome on the world, considering that in that very act I would be stating that people don’t know what is good for them. I would rather work with what is here and see what adjustments can be made within the current framework that would remove the need for a survival-mode and instead open up the space for each one to ask themselves who they would like to be, what they would like to be a part of and what world they want to contribute in creating.