Consumption–Projecting and Delivering the Need

HousingThere are four things that must be resolved for consumers when commerce does not require comparing values for exchange.
∙    some protection over panic grabbing of any goods in sight
∙    mechanisms for an easy flow of the distribution of the essential goods and services, including those required for adequate use of our leisure time.
∙    outlets (and resource authorization) for specialty items that do not require extensive distribution.  That is, niche items for which there is not a large-scale demand.
∙    some realistic but selective oversight of waste management

The questions underlying these concerns relate to designing distribution facility for necessary goods and services–(“necessary” includes those feeding leisure time and our wide range of talents)–within the context of continuing disappearance of scarce resources.  The latter is the gun held over everybody’s head.  Population is definitely out-growing resources.

Managing high priority resources used to be called rationing, which has a pejorative sense of prevalent scarcity.  We would prefer the more modern term of accountable resource management, which has its own pejorative: prioritizing resources, which is greatly feared as stifling innovation.  Since the goal of the whole system is to see individuals–in all their differences–thrive, and since the prioritizing is accomplished by individuals representing each of the arenas in the Trades and Professional Associations, this fear is hopefully allayed–though scarcity of resources has to be alarming enough for anyone thoughtfully following current news analyses to stop and listen.

The apparently natural–or at least manipulable–inclination for human beings to consume more and more is an inherent weakness for modern economies.  Designing a commercial system that puts at center stage this rampaging desire–the American Dream–is kind of silly, frankly.  That is, people know, given any thought at all, or when a superfluity of goods is not set before them, that fundamentally, they are not born to indulge in infinite consumption–to service this monstrous market that itself consumes so much of our time and attention.  One knows that these unique minds which we were unique enough to inherit, and the wizardry–in all fields–with which we can expend our intelligence, is not fundamentally gratified by (truly mindless) consumption, though people are born to be active.   One knows that consumption is but an accident of technological prowess.  No one thinks we were “put on this earth,” or simply grew upon this earth to see who could consume the most.

Yet the word rationing, with its overtones of bureaucracy and, the dreaded model socialism, are not considered appropriate.  Yet.

The question defining quality of life has not yet even been put to public discussion.  In fact, quality of life, and the commonly sensed “spiritual” outputs of the mind are relegated to ersatz study called religion and moral philosophy–studies which interest only a very minor portion of our population–though we might mention that Adam Smith himself was a moral philosopher, and had written a mighty tome on these questions before he wrote Wealth of Nations.

Quality of life is now thought incapable of public discussion, because values are not only presumed to be so widely and erratically ranging as to exclude any commonality, but that mighty machine to which we are forcefully committed–(no one ever voted on it) in order to exchange, in order to earn the ability to belong–quid pro quo–has entirely captured the ground of our Being.   Having the common coin has become the sole choice on the table.

Serious consideration of a less driven consumption ranges over much greater issues.   “Living within our means” takes on new meaning, and inevitably commits us to environmental science.  Neither mayhem nor gluttony is desirable.  Some means of calculating not only need, but all the appropriate personal, growth-producing desires–and the conflicts inherent between them–must be considered.  Cognizance of the desirability for restraints–that is, the virtues of a sane life–will can support   commonly valued policy-making.

So in sum: the mechanisms that can greatly simplify the deliverance of what is real and valuable for our sustenance is fairly simple.  Consider these mechanisms for directing our lives, as readily as the remarkable design of interstate highways “directing” our facile transport by automobile, simultaneously, mind, with every other resident simultaneously desiring movement along these very roadways.  Periodic entrances and exits, smartly distanced so as to accommodate traffic densities, smoothly enable our independence and safety.  I cannot imagine who conceived this wondrous simplicity, but it is used world-wide.
[The total number of vehicle miles traveled in 2001 was nearly 2.3 trillion.   In terms of number of trips, people took 411 billion daily trips in 2001, or about 1,500 trips per person in that year . . . The majority of daily trips occurred in personal vehicles (87 percent)  About 38 percent of all trips were personal vehicle trips with a single occupant (driver only) . . . Source: Research and Innovative Technology Administration; Bureau of Transportation Statistics.]

It would be good if our apprehension of goods and services flowed as smoothly.
An equally simple system of distribution can be envisioned using current information systems technology of 2013.  Please note again–as it is difficult for readers to take this in, and I hear repeatedly:  but how will people pay for what they receive?  There is no exchange system at the heart of this system.  The system is keyed to simple participation in production or service.

Contributing some portion of one’s weekly time to a priority industry or service is the sole entré to the system, and that is the critical point.  If a worker loses his job because his employer is not able to fulfill his contract with a bank, neither the employee’s house nor his food supply is at risk.  Should an employee himself break a work contract, he may find his food card credits are not recognized by stores, and he must seek food through group homes, but his need to eat is not denied.

Likewise, if a resident does not maintain his home such that a real estate broker cannot transfer its title to another working resident, he may receive some number of debits against his title until he comes into compliance with local zoning regulations, or worse, if refusing cooperation with maintenance standards, eventually find his title to his home has been withdrawn.  In this instance, he would find residence in a group home until such time as he is employed again and stable enough to maintain his own lifestyle, appropriate to generic, local standards.  Thus:

∙    For large items requiring complex systems to aggregate, a personal (or family) credit card will make accessible quantities meeting the standards Trade analysts provide every five years.  These items would include food, in addition to  household appliances, climate control mechanisms, and the commonly used transportation vehicles.  (Housing would not be handled through this credit system, as it is presumed people will choose to change their dwellings with greater frequency than this allocative mechanism could facilitate.)

What is this Grey0012

∙    In the matter of food, physicians will assess each person,  annually, per height, age and life condition (e.g., pregnant, sports competitor, etc) for caloric needs and grams of protein. This will gauge both the food supply and distribution required, as well as individuls’ health requirements.  Individual cards (or family cards, when families are young) will be credit with these quantities, which gives people the whole range of food available from which to choose.  Provide distribution centers (stores) with the bar coding and readers to debit the cards as people collect foods of their choice.  The cards would as readily debited by similar technology at schools, cafeterias, residential institutions, and restaurants, which would have access to materials through their own credit cards, geared to the demographics banks are using to license them.

What is this Grey0011

∙    All other goods–clothing, household decoration, entertainments–would be limited by retail shelf-space per demographic area.  Leisure activities and supplies would be allocated similarly to the niche markets defined below.
∙    Develop niche markets where specialties that are not broadly disseminated–(piano tuners, artists, performance centers, etc.)–but licensed by retail percentage per geographic region. In these categories, goods and services exchange entirely unmonitored and are literally “free” by our standards today.

Perks that are presumed available to all residents working some minimum number of hours per week (20 hrs/wk is conceivable, as Harvard social scientist Juliet Schor  reports in her The Over-worked American),  will be set as minimum work contributions to man the system:
∙    home ownership (and workplace accommodations), made available when individuals formally enter work-force–(summer jobs for teens not applicable).  sized by individual and family size, determined by Trade Association standards, including guidelines made by social scientists regarding mental health and adaptability.
∙    home maintenance responsibility
∙    wide choice of materials for individual decor management.  (This is a major source of pleasure to most home-owners, and their ability to access materials will be limited only by supply.  Supply will be governed by simple behavioral methods at the retail end of the bench; such as specifying the retail shelf-space per region (whether county or voting district.  The goal would be to have sufficient retailers supplying regional households with as much choice as resources permit, without duplication and waste.)

All activities, whether production or consumption are subject to waste monitoring, with standards set by the Industrial Council and the information supplied by Sanitation
Specialists, certified by their own Trade Association in conjunction with Environmental scientists.

These mechanisms are a rough sketch of the thinking evolving from a systems approach.  The specialists involved at the Industrial Congress will refine them, with shifts accommodating conflicts with similarly construed systems approaches, to meet substantive general needs–whether physical or psychological.


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