Yeah. The ultimate limits are put on a system by matter and energy, the realistic limits by information, and the practical limits by social codes. Engineers build the car, finance types figure out how to convert your 9-to-5 job to access to that car so the system can keep running, and you buy the car to impress the neighbors.
That is the most impressively concise description of a complex system that I’ve seen in a long time. I dub thee EW’s Syncretism, and this proverb shall be taught even unto the seventh generation if in fact any of us end up procreating.
And now our first application of the new economics. It’s okay to feel a little aroused, that’s totally normal.
What the industrial revolution did is boost the matter and energy signal via technology, which early capitalism (information layer) more or less preserved, which was then gobbled up by a social system geared toward raising survival value (people who grew up dirt poor on a farm).
The memories and remnants of this age explain why capitalism is seen as a form of traditionalism in the West even though it’s relatively recent. Hence also why it is on the far right end of the Overton window at present, and possibly on its way out. It’s not like anyone has any practical experience with free markets- in most neighborhoods it is strictly illegal to operate a lemonade stand, kids escape prosecution because it’s seen as a traditional cultural rite of sorts. (Every now and then a cop will enforce the written law and get pilloried for it. Cute kids are a protected class, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It just indicates bad legislation.)
All of this makes more sense if we think of predisposition to anxiety as something you can pass on genetically. This becomes maladaptive if the conditions that originally caused the anxiety are suddenly lifted, as in a long-term resource glut. There will probably be a followup second law to account for the fact that naturally anxious people go completely bonkers in the absence of good environmental reasons to have anxiety problems. They invent reasons to feel fear and this causes all sorts of problems.
It bears mentioning that this predisposition to invent reasons to be afraid goes much deeper than conscious thought (see: hypnopompic hallucinations), and we do it as a consequence of the way our perceptual faculties are built. We can’t stop doing it simply by training or by trying really hard, we can only recognize when it’s happening and account for it.
And now a bit of politics, followed by some preaching.
All of this so that someone can be at the top of the pyramid and look down.
Well it’s not like they misled anyone about it. People always want a king, even when God Almighty tells them it’s a stupid idea. 1 Samuel 8 contains everything you need to know about government in a few paragraphs.
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.”
6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
1 Samuel 8 (NIV)
This is already too long, but I’d recommend the rest of this post for more applications.