Economics for Real People

The Note for November 2013


Major policy decisions are often made without a lot of insight into what the direct impact on real people will be. That is largely because ideological rigidity is hard to break out of, and the perception that abstraction allows for greater efficiency in the crafting of policy. When policy makers focus too much on ideological preferences, their thinking tends to become more abstract, dogmatic and magical, ignoring observable facts affecting how people live. This then makes it much more comfortable to equate an initiative’s similarity to their thinking with automatic success and its dissimilarity from their thinking with guaranteed failure or even “evil”.

But most people live in a world where ideology is all but irrelevant. What matters is what is within reach, and also what is not. Allegiance to ideological prejudice tends to undermine the intellectual honesty of any analysis. Economics is transactional human ecology; resources, systems, intentions and collaborations, work together or against each other to build or erode a base of sustainable thriving. If there is not enough food, people get hungry; if there are hungry people, other priorities tend to lose influence; if hunger replaces harmony as an organizing principle, civil society can break down and economic valuations become too volatile to be useful. We forget: the economic principles, assumptions and data we depend on and reference can only have meaning if they tell us something about how people actually live.

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The Retrofit Design Revolution

It is fair to say most people do not fully understand that the full-spectrum transition to a consumer-centered clean energy economy will not eliminate or replace all pre-existing technologies. The tested and/or cherished old-form designs that work their way into the full-spectrum sustainable clean energy economy will be those that most readily allow us to deploy significant technical efficiency upgrades.

Early electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid drive technologies have taught us that clean, electric or hybrid means small, lightweight and delicate. But the USS Makin Island, a hybrid-drive warship, and the Tesla Model S, a powerful all-electric luxury sedan rated by Consumer Reports as the best car ever tested, have shown us this is not the case.

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Time Warner Demands to be Broken Up

Time Warner Cable has been threatening to, and has now dropped CBS and Showtime from its roster of networks. Under current policy, Time Warner customers cannot even BUY access to CBS programming. This is a direct assault on the United States Constitution and the rights of viewers throughout its operating landscape.

Time Warner Cable, and other cable providers, operate like monopolies, using a hybrid infrastructure—some built by government, much build by others and some built new by themselves—to capture the wealth of their customers. While they are part of the “press” system, broadly, they are hardware managers, not content providers.

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The Standard is Mutual Thriving

The Note, from – May 2013

What we believe turns out to be a major contributing factor for whether we can achieve the optimal outcome that is the most reasoned and resonant extension of our principles. Accomplishment is not simply a story of good fortune or of hard-work; success is not victory in a mortal struggle between opposite forces… achievement in any true sense is thriving, and thriving that resists the ravages of time, error and disinterest, is about confluence.

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Fare Hikes Hurt People; We Can Do Better

There is a fundamental pillar of economic truth that the administration of the City of New York seems unable to comprehend: ordinary people, actual citizens, the people who make the city what it is, require increased mobility in order to take advantage of a wider range of economic opportunities. When you surround people with higher fees on all fronts, you impede their freedom of movement, and that is never an insignificant policy failure.

To a man whose combined accounts add up to an estimated $25 billion, a jump in price from $104 to $112 for a monthly fare card may not seem like a big deal, but then he would not be privy to the conversation of a hard-working woman who devotes more than full time caring for someone else’s kids, raising them, saying she will have to visit her own family less and buy less economical passes that cost less per purchase. She will be paying at least 7.69% more for a fare card that is integral to her way of life and her personal independence, most likely more as she goes about buying lower priced but higher cost passes, and that is for a system that already consumes hours of her time every day.

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Today, at 10:30 am, New York time, and the HotSpring Network’s NOW Labz project launched a week of discussions on the status of women’s rights, timed to coincide with the UN’s 57th annual Commission on the Status of Women conference. Today’s topic was education, and a panel of three women discussed the topic in connection with family life, political life, economic opportunity and the socio-cultural dynamics that either perpetuate or might help overcome the ongoing global pandemic of violence against women.

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Microlending to Create Spaces for Civil Society

In order to create spaces that provide for a local culture of inventive thriving, in order to have that built-in civil society that gives people the feeling that they are at home in the world and have a nested structure of ongoing potential around them, we need to let resources flow to those who want to build those spaces and who have the right ideas. The notion that one must be part of a large institution, or connected to one, or have the backing of officialdom, undermines the process of spontaneous upheaval around which public spaces, towns and culture grow.

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NOW Labz CSW 2013

The NOW Labz project is a collaboration between the HotSpring Network,, and partners, aimed at bringing thoughtful people together to brainstorm solutions to big problems. will be hosting a NOW Labz series of cyberdialogues, timed to coincide with the Commission on the Status of Women, to discuss women’s rights, gender rights, childhood equality and how to build a more genuinely democratic, more resilient global future.

The sessions will be held at 10:30, through 11:30 am EST.

For more information, please visit the permalink for this event series:

NOW Labz: Laboratories of Non-ordinary Workflow


The NOW Labz project (laboratories of human imagination that cultivate and thrive because of non-ordinary workflow) aims to enact the HotSpring Network‘s mission focus on “hunting the paradigm shift” and building a more humane future, through pervasive cosmology altering change that empowers human beings and makes their communities more resilient. NOW Labz will coordinate with other HotSpring projects, like FreeClearNYC, and Futurismo Verde, in hopes of giving voice to stakeholders.
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