The Cold Economic Equation

Economy has you all bummed out?


Click on my comment to get some idea of what I’m talking about, and how you might answer this seemingly simple question.


One Response to “The Cold Economic Equation”

  1. allbummedout Says:

    Let me tell you why I’m all bummed out.

    I’m a 50-something professional who was wiped out by the recession. I don’t trust the system to support me in retirement after it wiped out my investments and even the value of my home. It’s like an episode of the sci-fi 1980’s remake of The Outer Limits called “The Cold Equation” about a stowaway aboard an intergalactic ship.

    If I recall, the crew discovers added mass of unknown origin aboard the ship that Einstein and Newtonian physics calculate will result in the ship not reaching its destination. They search the ship and discover a young stowaway. In desperation they jettison all unnecessary cargo through the airlock, which consisted of sparse instrumentation. Humans were the primary weight consideration (the ship manufactured from super-light futuristic alloys of negligible mass). Since the crew each has a function, sacrificing one of them to save this attractive and likeable young lady will result in not having a sufficient crew to arrive at the destination in another solar system. In the end, they have no choice but to jettison her through the airlock. There is a tearful ending as the ship’s pilot stares at her in the airlock, tears streaming down her face, an expression of resignation to her fate. With the sound of a rush of air she is gone.

    The mortifying realization hit me that Earth is a large mass with finite resources. The economy’s ability to support intelligent life on this mass is based on a cold equation. There is only so many acres of planetary land surface for constructing housing, only a finite amount of organic resources for food. Everything down to calculating the seats on Earth’s aircraft fleet times the number of flights per day, week, month and year, amount of fuel processed, cubic miles of airspace limiting the number of aircraft at any given time… these cold equations determine the scope of life on Earth.

    Everybody cannot be rich, or nobody would be rich. The economy is a machine consisting of manufacturing, transportation, services and so forth. The economy’s continued operation is predicated on people who are not rich. Like calculations that would predict the weather precisely if quantum computing existed, there is a calculation for the number of rich people that this planet can support.

    Sometimes I think that I’m all bummed out over reality. The economic collapse of the past two years, from real estate to the spiraling deficit, is a reality check of epic proportions. Indeed, it is the sum of a cold equation.

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