The Case for Future

One of fundamental question on how to live is “what do we really need?”. There might be a lot of alternatives to answer this particular question, so let’s make thing more specific. What is external thing that we really need to continue our life, and without those kind of external thing, we would probably have an unpleasant, uncomfortable, inconvenience, disturbance or could possibly die.

At face value, I propose three things, and will narrow it down to only two things (one thing that I added and only one thing from those previous three).

The 3 are: food (including water), housing/shelter, and clothing.

When you have shelter, whether you own a house, rent a building, sleep in your friend’s apartment, the need of such place to stay safe from the wild environment has fulfilled. It is one-stop-solution and it would sustain by itself until it gets worn out. Same reasoning goes to clothing, but with some twist (especially to most woman this day), if you look at how they dressed, it looks like that they don’t really need it, or do they? The clothes don’t serve its main purpose anymore. Anyway, instead of talking too much about those, let just remove two of them from the equation and add one new thing: energy, my personal taste on answering what thing do we really need. And by energy, I simply mean some resource that further will be used for electricity, heating and transportation. But wait, what about the need of access to internet? Read this to get the picture.

A random walk on energy has been discussed here. Although the discussion went to transportation, there is key take away there: zero sum of game [1]. And that, my friend, is the underlying fact that further, with the combination of human’s secret sauce: greed, will create problem and disaster not only to mankind living in this planet, but also to all of other living creature here and the earth itself.

So, we end up with food, water and energy. What do they have in common? The hint: “when I have it, then you can’t have it too”. I am not saying that when I have an apple to eat, then you can’t eat an apple, you can of course. But, remember that is NOT the same apple that goes into my stomach. It is a different apple, and you have to get it from somewhere else. We can call things like this to be “rivalrous”. Here is the reading that you would find very interesting. Or, is it something we can approach using scarcity concept? Maybe. Yet, the conclusion is clear enough: food, water and energy are rivalrous items.

Based on [2], the answer to big question on why some countries get rich and others don’t, the quest to search for origin of power, prosperity, and poverty; -a fail of nation is caused by their institutions with perpetuating closed loop interaction between economy and politics, 2 important things of those many subjects that are ultimately powered, engineered and created by human. So, if we assume that the theory is working, then why every nation is not making the institution that will bring prosperity? Human’s greed at its finest. Someone with power within the chosen institution could become worse off when they are promoting incentive for growth or simply when creative destruction emerges. Human have tendency to loss aversion [3], especially when we are at “gain” domain. We don’t want to lose our power, our position, our wealth, our opportunity, etc. Meanwhile, we do love to maintain the status quo, especially at gain domain. We are also basically a self-seeking individual who love to pursue something that would only benefits the self. Okay, that sounds not pretty good, but then what is the implication?

Do we have any institution, in any kind of form that has power over our basic needs that have been mentioned? Any entity that controls energy, water or food for us? I believe the answer is yes, because we do need them. We do need something (someone) to take care of these rivalrous items since (sometime) most of us can’t afford to do so. What do we really care about actually is how these things would finally be delivered to us from those entities. And yes, most of the time, we make “sacrifice” to get it (buy the product or pay the service for granted). We are willing to lose this time, neglecting one of our instinct as human since we need these things so badly to sustain our life. If you think about it a bit deeper along with some of human’s nature have been discussed, what a source of power such institution/entity would have. They could be a savior or maybe a murder to you, aren’t they? It just solely depends on what will be the chosen institution. Since these institutions are basically a collection of people, then it means that our life in future will depend on those people and if they are corrupted, we are done.

Vision towards the future where everything that we ultimately need, such energy, water and food can be fulfilled in such sustainable fashion will be hard to become reality, especially when a society (or nation) governed by greedy institution that works at their best. As Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it” emphasizes that unless we could create a sustainable future by ourselves, it would be always remained as a fantasy. How to make it as reality, then? That’s the question that everyone should ask themselves.

[1] “Predatory Thinking”, Dave Trott

[2] “Why Nation Fail”, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

[3] “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman

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