a world of poverty

I first became aware of economics in a high school course and was 
fascinated by its pretense at being a science. One interesting economic 
study I read was a paper about the basis for pricing petroleum. The 
conclusion was that the cost of the product had almost no bearing on the 
price. Price is determined by what the market will bear. This is 
probably true of just about everything that gets sold.

None of us is really important, only self-important. Most horses are 
worth a few hundred dollars as dog food, but the shares in Seattle Slew 
put his value at a hundred million dollars. They used to tell me the 
chemicals that make us up could be bought for a few bucks, but other 
prices are used in deciding how much it is OK to spend to save a life.

Bean counting dictates many social decisions. I am convinced that the 
notion of cost/benefit analyses is akin to the idea that tea leaves or 
chicken entrails can reveal the future.

My favorite economic principles came from an international banker and 
Buckminster Fuller. The former explained the function of money: you have 
a thousand dollars and put it in a bank; now you have a thousand and the 
bank has a thousand; the bank lends a thousand to a manufacturer; now 
you have a thousand, the bank has a thousand, and the manufacturer has a 
thousand; the manufacturer pays his workers and suppliers most of the 
thousand; now you have... That thousand soon becomes several and that's 
a good picture of how this great invention, money, works.

Bucky Fuller sought the true source of our wealth and since we are all 
variations of starlight our most significant natural resource is 
sunlight. Our creative activity consists entirely of making order of the 
chaotic bombardment by photons that is our sole continuance.

Our ancestors were occupied with carrying water from the stream to the 
village. None of us any longer carries water up the hill except the 
bottled water delivery person. The invention of the pump made water 
carriers obsolete.

We all live off pump royalties. That is why we are able to sit around 
reading these words, or in my case writing them on a $2500 laptop 
computer that I got for $99 because fashions have changed. We are so 
inundated with idle time that we contrive exclusivities to seek 
privilege when we are surrounded by a surplus of plenty.

There is a compulsive concern about "work" and "jobs" among people who 
neither till nor toil. We utilize less than one trillionth of the energy 
reaching us from the sun and bicker about somebody else not pulling his 
share, which now seems to mean having a "job" such as calling people on 
the telephone urging them to change the letterhead on the invoice they 
get for their use of the communication system.

The processing of sunlight is like the rituals of the Potlatch tribe who 
regularly burned blankets and canoes because they were too rich. Many of 
the fruits harvested in our ritual shopping wind up in yard sales, on 
the "as-is" table in the basement of the Good Will Store, or being 
gleaned from the flow of garbage destined for the land fills that will 
become archaeology digs for our great-grandchildrens' 

The shopping cart ladies on the street have tools and artifacts that 
would have been prized by kings of a few centuries past, yet we speak of 
abject poverty in the case of people who can't afford a new television 
set. We are in fact almost all idle rich.