57A Vane Attempt

"Don't Need a Weatherman To Tell Which Way the Wind Blows" 

A Series of Innocuous Blogs for Vainglorious Edification.

Markets and Human Evolution
May 6, 2009

A healthy market economy centers around one simple idea - a healthy, bustling village square.  Here the community producers - call them farmers - arrive regularly to sell their wares.  One sells tomatoes, another apples, and another yellow corn.  But the village square would be a lesser place were it to allow only two yellow corn farmers.  If, one day a new farmer arrived with something called “butter and sugar,” a white and yellow corn hybrid - and he were not allowed to sell at the market - the public would miss out.

The continuous evolution of market entries is the major benefit of a market system to a community.  New ideas, products, services need be encouraged to find a place in the village square.  If established vendors are threatened by newcomers, and shut them out of the market - the public suffers.  Not only the local public, but the entire citizenry suffers.  Because the evolution of new ideas is interrupted, and the benefit to a few market monopolies comes at a loss to the community. 

This is where oversight and regulation becomes necessary.  To halt non-competitive practice.  To establish anti-trust actions.  And to encourage the uninhibited entry of new ideas into the marketplace.  Were it not for non-competitive practices, it is very likely that we would have electrified automobile transportation thirty or more years ago.  The technology was available - but the industry of automakers and oil companies essentially colluded to keep the internal combustion engine the power train of choice.  There was simply too much money potentially “lost” by the establishment energy industry.  “Lost” appears in quotes because monies moved from one product to another are not really lost.  More correctly they are re-directed to a different, often better product that wins approval from the community. 

It is likely that this same barrier to innovation has held back the evolution of many technologies in many areas.  The result is the balancing function of a healthy market gives way to an unbalanced, monopolistic market favoring a select few.  Innovation stalls, technology stalls, and human evolution is set back tens or hundreds of years. 

This simple analogy becomes much more complicated when there are competing political systems.  Where there is cultural and economic difference there is often antagonism and distrust;  East West, Christian Muslim, Catholic Protestant, etc.  Each side of an antagonistic relationship seeks to undermine the other.  Or prevent the other from obtaining balance of power-changing technology.  To this end, innovation, market and civil welfare takes a back seat to power politics - often expressed as the interests of national security.  The problems are large.  If a rogue state is allowed to build nuclear weapons - it can ostensibly hold the entire world for ransom.  This is the terrorist scenario most often heard today.

But if an entire civilization could benefit from some new and wonderful innovation, e.g. a definitive cure for cancer, should it not be distributed?  Or would the loss of a significant restraint on population growth cause even more problems?  And then, where do the ethics of restraint fall?  Must the cultures with more knowledge (by education) dominate those with less knowledge?  Is there a one-lifeboat syndrome - where there is only so much room on a planet for sustainable life?

Disruptive technologies are a real and growing difficulty on Earth.  It is likely that there are presently far more disruptive technologies held in abeyance than viable plans to introduce them.  And so we are at a difficult transition stage.  If we are to introduce truly paradigm shifting technologies - how will that shift the balance of political power?  And to maintain said powers, will political actors be forced into conflict against perceived enemies?  Are there ways to introduce certain technologies without letting the whole “cat” out of the bag?  Can we build limits to the efficacy of innovation?   Such are the real problems we face today.  Not just problems; real headaches.  In need of high level thought and consideration. 

Pressures on the planet Earth are increasing all the time.  These are not just internal pressures - but pressures from without.  In meeting these challenges the political, moral and social leaders on the planet need help.  They need experience.  And they need it to come without an agenda of its own.  That is, the people leading the planet need good people who have only the best interests of the planet in mind.  We are fairly certain such people exist.  It is beneficent to help them help us.  In this we seek not only the practical ideas of considerate people - but the care and attendance of powers greater than ourselves.  In as much as men have a divine right to free will and knowledge and self-direction, they have an obligation to recognize the largess of divinity.  In this simple, rewarding practice we take refuge, comfort, and illuminated solace.