Supposin': What If?

My research for the Cultural Economics writing project has forced me to do a lot of focused thinking. In the last thirty weekly postings I have tried to faithfully present the principles of traditional economics.

Together, we have thought about enterprise, production of goods and services, the concept of money, and who controls the money system. We have investigated banking and its fractional reserve system, and the Federal Reserve System with its control of the money supply. We have discovered the cause of inflation and how we monetize the Federal Debt. We have even looked at the cycles of business recessions and the phenomenon of serious economic depressions. Following our discussions about Keynesian economics, we continued by studying the trilogy of scarcity, choice, and cost and the tragedy of zero sum economic thinking.

I am very eager to get into discussing the idea of how every occurrence of major transformation in this old world takes place at the intersection of culture and economics. We will be taking a look at the ideas of land, labor, capital, and the entrepreneur in relationship to traditions, institutions, families, and individuals. That is at the very heart of cultural economics. But wait a minute. Before we go there, I feel compelled to take a bit of a bird walk to share some things I have been seriously considering lately. And I would like to discuss some of them before we move on.

You will notice at the bottom of all my recent postings it says Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics. I have been able to freely share concepts and traditions with my reader-friends, fully realizing that some of the issues will never make it into the new book. They may simply add to the collection of paragraphs that end up on the floor of the editing room. But being able to send up trial balloons of ideas into the atmosphere of reason and discussion is pretty stimulating.

C.S. Lewis used to walk about ten miles a day while he was teaching at Oxford University. He used that time to contemplate, dream, and imagine. Suppose there were a world like Narnia.

Suppose it had animals in it. Suppose God wanted to redeem that world as he has ours. Then suppose he had his Son take on an earthly form such as a lion and enter this other world as He did ours.

C.S. Lewis used to refer to his mental “what if” propositions as Supposals. For example, using animals like a lion that would talk, and a witch, and kids entering into another world through the doors of a wardrobe, would be a Supposal. 

Lately, I have been doing some Supposin’ of my own. As a worldwide observer, I can see how the traditional views of the cultures, economies, and behaviors of the present inhabitants of earth have set into motion some very sad consequences. In our previous discussion we talked about how the unquestioning acceptance of thescarcity, choice, and cost trilogy has promoted the expectation of absolute insufficiency, lack, and scarcity of everything. In my opinion, that acceptance has led to fallacious conclusions regarding reality.

Supposin’ . . . what if? What if that premise of insufficiency, lack, and scarcity was not factual or true? What if it was wrong- headed thinking? How would that affect our lives and the lives of our friends? How would that affect our communities and nations? How would that influence the phenomenon of poverty in the world? What if we changed our very paradigm and based our economic model on the concept ofabundance and not shortage?

Supposin’ that instead of spending all our time choosing between alternatives that presume our resources to be either hopelessly limited or gone, we would use our intelligence, creativity, and energy inventing and discovering the world of abundance.

Europeans began using a black shiny rock called coal as energy to cook their food, warm their houses, and produce steam after Marco Polo brought a sample back with him from China. When I was a small boy, my mom used to read me the story about young John D. Rockefeller and how he went to his neighboring state of Pennsylvania in order to check out a new industrial discovery that was called oil. While inspecting a field where the oil had surfaced and had formed a sticky black pond, it was necessary for John and his partner to cross a rickety wooden plank bridge. Half way across, the plank broke and John plummeted into the oily slush below. Covered from head to foot, he scrambled to solid ground. “I see,” said John’s partner, “that you have plunged into this oil business head over heels.” John D. Rockefeller not only established an oil refinery near there, but went on to discover and invent uses for oil, and eventually became president of the Standard Oil Company and, at that time, the wealthiest man in the world.

Who said you could burn coal in the first place? Who said you could use oil as energy? Who knows what great discovery or invention is just around the corner that could change our world as we know it today? Only one thing is known for certain: if we so completely buy into the notion of shortage, depletion, and zero sum behavior, so that we fail to pursue the universe of possibility and opportunity, then we will by default become the ultimate losers.

I am looking forward to sharing in the next few weekly postings some ideas about shortage vs. abundance. I would welcome your ideas and insights, and you can help me by contacting me at Who can tell, perhaps all of those paragraphs may not end up on the floor of the editing room after all.

Next Week: Supposin’ a world of abundance

(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics) 

© Dr. James W. Jackson  

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