The Timesizing Wire
© 1999 Phil Hyde, Timesizing® Assocs., Box 622 Cambridge MA 02140, USA (617) 623-8080


Clue 2

Let's start from the ecological imperative of "limits to growth," as indicated in the whole Club of Rome discussion in the last 3 decades, starting with the "Limits to Growth" book by MIT's Limits to Growth team in the System Dynamics Dept. of the Sloan School in 1971 (Donella Meadows et al.).

If we need, for our own long-term survival, to master growth rather than continue to let it be the master of us, how do we do that?

We master whatever it is that's driving growth.

Well, what's driving growth? (Note the "Ask the obvious question - accept the obvious answer" methodology here.)

Envy.  People seeing what somebody else has and wanting it - and tending to get it.  "Keeping up with the Jones's."

But what is the prerequisite for envy?

Models of more, specifically 25% More, i.e., an unlimited continuum of income levels at any level of which 25% more is the center of American quantitative motivation.  If these models didn't exist after any specific level, envy wouldn't exist above that level.  "At each income level, as H. F. Clark found, Americans want just about 25% more (but of course this "just a bit more" continues to operate once it is obtained)." (Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure, 1968, p. 190.)  Much more than 25% is hopeless and much less is boring, but 25% More is generally just about right to envy, aspire to and work toward.

How do we remove the models of more?

By setting a cap on wealth.*

But there are many kinds of wealth, positive and negative, flowing and standing.

Start with the simplest = positive, flowing wealth, i.e., income (per person per time unit).

But people are never going to sit still and let reformers tamper with their wallets.  Is there some dimension that we can start with that's easier?

Well, how about work?  At least if you take work away from somebody to give to somebody else, you are giving the first person back something valuable = free time.  (And maybe if we're canny, we can tie skills in with our work-based solution.)

So the "how do we get from here to there" in the area of ecologally necessary "limits to growth" lies in the direction of setting a limit on work, alias employment (per person per time unit).

It begins to look as if Juliet Schor in her 1992 book "The Overworked American" might have stumbled onto something.

It begins to look as if Sen. Hugo Black in his Thirty Hour Work Week bill that he pushed through the U.S. Senate on April 6, 1933 really stumbled onto something.


* Is there any way to make it less stifling than setting an absolute universal cap on it?  (Note the effort to observe "minimal necessary departure from status quo at each point.")

How about designing the cap as a conversion or gear-shift mechanism, such that growth can continue but in a safer arena?


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