Science, Industry, and Economy

Science did it. In less than a century science: took us from discovery of vaccines and antibiotics to eradication of smallpox; from the first heavier than air flight to a rocket to the moon; from invention of the lightbulb to smartphones and the world wide web; from the discovery of the structure of DNA to sequencing genomes; from food shortages to food abundance; from discovery of radio waves to geosynchronous satellites.

Industry did it. In less than a century industry: mass produced lightbulbs, pencils, paper, cars, radios, TV, computers, vaccines, and virtually everything else imaginable; made air travel accessible to nearly everyone; developed multiple ways to clean and deliver mass quantities of water and store, process, and ship food; made communication nearly instant, cheap, and reliable.

Science and industry did their part. Imagine an alien in a little ship orbiting the Earth watching all of this unfold. Imagine a kindergartener learning about what science and industry have recently done. How do you explain to the alien or the child why all the ills that science and industry created technological solutions for (hunger, poverty, preventable diseases, etc.) still exist?

The answer invariably is: economy. “We can’t afford it!” How can this be?

Making a lightbulb—tungsten, florescent, LED— requires that we work with what exists in the universe, the raw elements, and combine them in a fashion agreeable to the rules of the universe. Efficiently mass producing lightbulbs requires that we develop techniques to work with materials, energy, and processes on a large scale. Both science and industry experience real constraints placed on them by the rules of the universe and reality of the available resources here on Earth.

Economics, however, is less constrained. It is a human construct, a delusion, a fantasy that exists in our own minds. Human delusions can be good. The shapes=letters=words=concepts you’re reading now only work in the light of the delusional aspect of our minds. Borders and laws are delusions as well, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. There are some real “economic” constraints. Not everyone can have all the water they want to fill pools and water lawns in the Desert Southwest of the United States. That constraint is placed on us by external forces (nature if you will). But everyone there could have one reliable car, adequate housing, health care, education, and appropriate nutrition. In fact, everyone on Earth could have have that. The reason they don’t is because the constraints created by our own delusions = economics.

Science and industry work, “economy” has failed. It is time for us to come up with a better economic system.

 

 

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