Jerry, thanks so much for this post. I have been wondering how we've
ended up with a world view that is based on scarcity, zero-sums, and
individualistic competition -- to the exclusion of other concepts,
ideas, and existence proofs for other ways of being in the world.
And although I have trouble practicing it, my experience with being generous, and acting from abundance rather than scarcity, most often pays off. The "pay if forward" idea really can work.
And you're right that our personal time is scarce. But as humans we have an enormous reserve of time. Oil, however, is one resource we are running out of. I think that you are on to something very valuable here: we basically are in the state we're in because we (as a society, and world of societies) have created these concepts of scarcity, GDP, market value, work-aholism, and then we live them out. We know the end state of this kind of society. It will not yield a comely existence for people.
There are other models of mercantile exchange that have existed in the world than the one we live right now. (Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation, describes a well-known society studied by the anthropologist Malinowski.)
And I believe that we need to find (build, create, ...) some new models to live and work by, rather than pushing scarcity and consumption.
Sorry I don't have answers, but thanks very much for the comments.
Jerry Michalski wrote:
While moderating an afternoon panel at <http://www.blogonevent.com/> BlogOn
last Friday, <http://www.technorati.com/> Technorati's
<http://www.sifry.com/alerts/> Dave Sifry made a passing comment that got me
a little stirred up. I can't quote him verbatim, but he stated roughly that
in business, there's no value without scarcity. I couldn't help myself and
shouted a "no!" as I gave him a thumbs-down. (The quick-witted
<http://www.wen-xin.net/> Kevin Wen captured the
<http://owen.typepad.com/photos/moblog/image_29_1.jpg> moment on his
phonecam.) We had a brief back-and-forth during the session.
It drives me nuts that scarcity is seen as such a fundamental requirement
for creating a business. Sure, there are plenty of businesses built around
scarce resources, and sure, Dave's time and my time are scarce, but that's
no proof that businesses can't cruise along profitably creating voluntary
loyalty by knowing their customers better, never betraying them, always
being available and fixing problems, responding more quickly than others....
you get the picture. But go to business school and what they teach you is
how to create artificial scarcity. That's the kind of thinking that got us
into the present mess.
Perhaps more importantly, if you don't think from the point of view of
abundance, you're going to miss a ton of interesting new business ideas that
are emerging now. These businesses may not be IPO-track businesses (sorry,
VCs), but they can be vital, profitable enterprises.
BTW, Dave and I hugged and made up later. Dave will be a special blog
analyst for CNN at this week's Democratic Convention. His brother Micah will
be there, too, blogging away for his <http://www.iraqwarreader.com/> Iraq
War Reader and <http://www.personaldemocracy.com/> Personal Democracy (a
follow-on from the conference I helped Andrew Rasiej organize recently in
NYC). To see who's blogging from the convention, visit
<http://www.conventionbloggers.com/> Convention Bloggers.
posted by Jerry Michalski at 2:03 <http://www.sociate.com/blog/archives/2004_07_01_archive.html#10907951786639 2142> PM