Money While Sleeping

On Tuesday, the Funch-man continued the thread we’ve been building about how we might release individual productivity from the constraints of capital that not only funds productive energy but, well, capitalizes on it. Capital, of course, is enthralled with receiving money while sleeping. It’s useful to remember that the Latin root of Capital means head. Apparently, being in charge of the resources is more interesting than deploying money to do something useful. It’s too bad the capitalists don’t just give us good head. (Hey. It was there.)

This isn’t an anti-capitalist rant, despite appearances. Everybody is enthralled with money-while-sleeping. Each age works to remove its most prominent scarcity and, having succeeded and therefore become irrelevant, holds on with its skeletal grip until the tendons dissolve, like Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The lack of capital in a society is an overarching problem that seems impossible to resolve, so it rightly captures a society’s imagination until it is solved. It is our current religion. The problem then becomes one of prying away the death grip of the previously indispensable technocrats and their clergy.

Perspective Here’s an illustration of what a blessing it is to have abundant capital: Hernando de Soto has written eloquently on the subject of hidden capital in the so-called third world countries, in The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else and The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World. Aside from the remarkable coincidence of his name, it turns out that the current de Soto is a Peruvian economist whose foundation is discovering and cataloguing the trillions of dollars of undocumented capital lying around in the so-called third world countries that don’t have the infrastructure to identify it, document it, mortgage it and build an economy based upon it. In fact, their capital is illegal. (“The more people the ILD researchers talked to in the shantytowns and rural byways of Peru, the more they realized that it was not so much that the poor were breaking the law as that the law was breaking them.”)

Resourceful people in the so-called third world countries want homes and businesses like we all do. Since it takes a decade or so to wrest a business license or an unencumbered building lot from the bureaucracy, people just invest in their businesses and homes anyway, and not bad ones. But they are squatters and their capital is undocumented so it’s not real, right? No wonder these are “poor” countries. What would America look like if you subtracted the housing stock and small business from the resource base?

A virtue of de Soto’s important work is that it suggests how important and difficult it is to create the capital that we now enjoy in abundance. It’s hard to realize that we are standing on the shoulders of giants when the grasping descendants of those grasping giants can’t see the universal benefits of the universal abundance that’s the obvious next phase after the age of capital rationing we’re now leaving.

So here’s what Freeman says:

The real thing that would make a difference would be the information about how to organize people and resources efficiently and effectively, without needing investment capital and without needing managers. I.e. the knowledge of how to bring the elements into synergy, without requiring the one guy with all the money to be in charge.

I’d suggest that the knowledge of how to bring the elements into synergy must be instantiated into the edges of the system, specifically as a web application. “Capitalism” may connote to some a massive conspiracy of the haves vs. the have nots, but in fact, it’s just the process of alert people observing each others’ techniques and applying them to emerging opportunities. It’s a lot like viewing the source of a web page or mimicking an open source data architecture. It may not seem to be an edge-based system, but that was the genius of capitalism – spreading resources to the edges instead of leaving it in the state treasury.

We need a system that instantly rewards productivity because it is biased to move money from a confident buyer to a proven seller who is capitalized to respond immediately, as no corporation can. We need to leverage the existing capital stock that’s within 6 feet of you as you read this: broadband, a CPU, a reasonable chair and a world of ideas, techniques, possibilities and your wealth of experience.

Gift Withholding Tax

Above all, you, I and every other blogger and bloggee needs to put our gifts in front of each other, as Flemming suggested in Free Economy. What is the cost to society when we withhold what we might freely provide to others? It’s the general tax on our habit of withholding our gifts from each other. What protocols are required that would motivate us to lighten up, loosen up and share our talents as freely as do the open source folks?

For starters, we need to register with each other in a kind of economic blogroll. The blogroll I imagine would describe each of our skills and invite us to deploy them freely for others’ benefit, but with the understanding that, if found satisfactory, there’d be a reasonable payment made. The blogonomics I imagine would also cause each of us to publish our transaction details as readily as we already publish our discoveries, opinions and recommendations.

If blogs are conversations and markets are conversations, aren’t blogs markets? If so, we just need to enhance and standardize those little contribution icons we’re starting to see on some web logs.

Hell, we could even give the new Blogonomy a catchy name. How about “Xpertweb“?

1:54:25 PM    

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