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News Link • Economy - Economics USA

The View from the Bottom of the Pyramid

The critical factor is not so much available money, as adaptability. Although money represents unmade choices, and is therefore an advantage in one way, the ready availability of money has also made many people soft, and prone to take the path of least resistance. This has often lulled them into a false sense of security. Some people know how to be poor and others do not. Better yet, some know how to be both poor and happy. For some, poverty would be merely a frustration, and for others an insurmountable obstacle. The Future Belongs to the Adaptable, not necessarily to the currently wealthy. Wealthy people are too often dependent on a functioning system - a system they have learned well how to navigate and function within, but a system that is extremely brittle in its economic efficiency. Without that all-encompassing life-support system, they may not be able to function at all. During the Soviet collapse, the former pillars of community (most often middle-aged men) frequently drank themselves to death because they could not adapt to a new reality. The wealthy may have deliberately chosen to buy themselves out of the need for 'messy' human entanglements and interdependencies in favour of maximizing autonomy, but this can be an acute vulnerability in hard times. Community matters far more than money. No man is an island, and pooling resources can do a lot to help a group of people get through a bottle-neck, even if none of them is wealthy. Time, skills, creativity and emotional support are at least as important to share as money in building a mutual support system. Doing so can greatly reduce the dependence on money to the benefit of all involved, given that money will be very scarce. Pooling resources across the generations can be particularly important, and represents the way the vast majority of humanity already lives, where top-down services and other external supports have never been available. Extended family is a tried-and-tested, and very robust, structure.

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