Two Tragedies: 3rd Runway at Heathrow, and dinosaur sale in Paris

Nothing illuminates the distinction between unassailable short term commercial logic and long term lunacy more clearly than these two examples, but the first is serious. Entrepreneurs must assume that economic growth will happen if they are to do anything, and however short lived, whoever fails to capitalize on an opportunity merely cedes it to someone else. So there will almost certainly be another runway at Heathrow. – a classic example of  the Tragedy of the Commons, wherby the strategies to maximize growh become madness as limits approach.

But the climate denial lobby, like the smoking lobby before it, has successfully muddied recognition of the potential threat of greenhouse gases to the ecosphere, the only place where life can exist. At least with smoking it only affected several million voluntary victims. This one might saw off the branch we are all sitting on, entrepreneurs included.

Readers of my weblog, specifically my Book Résumé, will know that a so-called primitive tribe, certainly with only primitive technology, and little wealth by our standards, managed to develop a culture in which every individual had an identity of interest in dealing with ecological limits. Their society had not even developed the use of money.

The  universal Basic (Citizens’) Income (UBI) is a monetary version of their  strategy.

The UBI will not automatically lead to an ecological consensus, but something which guarantees security to everybody most certainly is a prerequisite for such a development. I have to stress this because apart from this blog, the growing support for a UBI completely misses this crucial aspect.

The sale of a dinosaur skeleton in Paris does not have the same potentially serious consequences, but it is an example of the same general underlying attitude. It is taken for granted that anything and everything is on the market. That is part and parcel of a growth economy. But if a scientist wishes to test some hypothesis using this skeleton, does the owner have the right to charge for access? If so, what is the going rate, bearing in mind that he paid $2.3million for it?

The answer to such deplorable idiocy also deals with the numerous perceived obstacles to a UBI, which a tribe in New Guinea implemented without difficulty: a change of mind set. By all means  give potential entrepreneurs, or artists, or authors, or anyone with a new idea  the chance to develop it. I do not even mind if those lucky in the lottery of resources (including abilities) do better than others. But not regardless. Not at the expense of the wider community, where co-operation, not competition should be the norm. Actually this is chicken and egg. As I have pointed out above, once the UBI principle is widely understood, the necessary change of mind set will seem surprisingly natural.


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