A THEORY OF PROSPERITY
In a series of articles, exclusive to A Conscious Party, retired college economics instructor, Carl Conrad, will present his ideas about how he thinks we can have a society – and a world – that will move forward toward an economic and political system that will reach for PROSPERITY.
Your questions and comments are encouraged because in a prosperous system, COMMUNICATION is essential, and COOPERATION, FAIRNESS, and SHARING are the keys that will open new vistas for us as a species, and as evolved children of the stars.
An Introduction: What is Prosperity?
Prosperity has been written about, contemplated, and even promised by some over the years as philosophers, writers, politicians, poets, religious leaders and even singers have prophesied its occurrence. But, it is difficult to describe. What is it? Where can we find it? And, how do we know when we have reached it?
Some have described a time of Prosperity as a land of milk and honey. Some see it as political and social equality, or as a time of great affluence and possibilities. Such famous works as Plato’s “Republic”, Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia”, and Francis Bacon’s “The New Atlantis” foretold of idealized societies where Prosperity could be reached if certain rules or guidelines were followed. Economists like Saint-Simon, Robert Owen, and the brilliant Pierre-Joseph Proudhon advocated systems that ranged from a centrally-planned economy headed by an educated elite to anarchy to promote real Prosperity.
Yet, Prosperity is, perhaps, a very INDIVIDUALIZED concept that each of us visualizes in different ways. Some may see it as the absence of strife or toil, others as a land of plenty or harmony. Some see it as an end to pain and suffering, while still others see it as a time of great joy and happiness.
Yet, it seems to me, it is not WORK that is the goal of our efforts as a society, but LEISURE and the benefits it produces. What, in fact, could be a greater goal than to produce an environment in which people are able to choose their own goals? Leisure can provide that kind of opportunity.
Leisure frees people to pursue individual, personal goals. They may seek more time with their families or children, they may do volunteer work or community service. They may travel or join clubs or organizations. Some may even enjoy hobbies, crafts, fitness, athletics, or pursue more education and learning. These are all commendable goals. Some may even waste or fritter away this time, but is that so dreadful? To individualize the use of your time is to maximize the amount of your satisfaction with it. So, if we are able to maximize our leisure, we will then be able to maximize the enjoyment of our time.
This also creates more job opportunities as each individual can work fewer hours. As fewer hours are worked by each individual, more hours are available for others. The creation of more jobs with fewer stresses and less time required for them is possible with the concept of LEI-SURE.
Still, many will quarrel with this idea. They will say that only hard work will produce the things we want and the standard of living that we seek. And, this can be true if we employ ourselves in mindless work, tasks that produce little of value and much of skeptical need. What of mouthwash and rubber noses for clowns? What of banal advertising or the production of goods that can only be consumed by the ultra-rich? Are these the means by which we create jobs for ourselves? Is this the way that we spend our productive hours, and how we use our abundant but precious resources? If so, the human species may be the first to expunge itself through gluttony!
If we were to make our output more individualized, we would have less waste. There would be less produced on speculation or trend, and our output would then be consumed instead of stored, disregarded, or unwanted. Yet, this is the opposite direction of our efforts. We are rapidly replacing the individual with a statistical representation of an abstract or “average” individual, which creates mass production and corporate/institutional dominance. Corporations and institutions promote – and often enforce! – uniformity and consistency. They are, in great measure, the controlling forces of society.
It is only with a resurgence of individual CHOICES that we will create for ourselves more individual OPPORTUNITIES. We need to strive for our individuality because that is the ideal state of things – when individuals make separate and independent decisions about their individual needs and desires. This will give us an internal harmony that will bring about Prosperity; that is, a nation – and even a planet! – in harmony with itself.
The economy can be likened to a broad river running down a mountainside; its course is deter-mined by the slope and undulations of the terrain, the size and shape of obstacles in its path, the river’s volume and many other such factors. We can intervene in the flow, divert it, re-direct it, perhaps even dam it up for a while. Yet, in the end, nature will always prevail be-cause it continues to stay in harmony with itself. Where there are surpluses, nature thrives and expands; where there are shortages, nature contracts and conserves. Nature constantly keeps itself in balance, in harmony with the forces acting upon it.
The economy must also respond to these natural forces, and can only do this in the same way that nature does – at an individual level. There is not someone who tells a fire where to burn or an earthquake where to erupt; those events are determined at the molecular and even quantum level. It is the harmony of BILLIONS OF CHOICES that determines the acts of nature. We may twist or turn it, fill it, remove it, or open it up, but nature will remain in harmony with
these changes and continue its eternal quest for balance and individual – quantum! – satisfaction.
Regardless of what we do, because of the individuality of each decision and response in nature – the harmony of EACH as opposed to an impossible harmony of the WHOLE – nature will continue its course toward a totally self-determining world. Its response is always to the facts and forces as they really are, not to some contrived “ideal”. And nature, as should also the economy – the economy of the world – can only become self-determining when each of its elements is in harmony. When this occurs, each decision shapes and impacts the composition of the whole because the whole is composed of each of its elements.
ALL must be included in this concept – not just the rich or poor, the old or young, the weak or strong, the Christian or Moslem. For Prosperity is an INCLUSIONARY process not an exclusionary one; where there is room for each, there is room for all.
Diversity is the key – in our behavior, interests, and viewpoints. Because the more we allow variety and variation, the more we will satisfy individual concerns. That is the beauty of diversity and freedom – when allowed to exist, it results in INDIVIDUALITY.
What is your conception of what a time of PROSPERITY would be like? Would there be lots of work available to be done at a good wage, or lots of leisure available to enjoy?