Millionaires, Billionaires, and soon we will have Trillionaires.
Some believe that we already do.
Have you ever heard of the Rothchild family?
Some think they’re so wealthy that they hide their wealth.
Some think they have amassed, over centuries, a hideous amount of wealth.
It could be folklore, but some sources point to the Rothchild family even making loans to Napolean.
Often I wonder if Nicky Hilton Rothchild, married into the family in 2015 even knows the family’s real wealth.
I’m guessing no.
Economies have always worked for some, but not so well for others.
We can look to civilizations centuries ago that experienced incredible wealth inequality.
It is not new.
It’s just a thing that economies do or is it just a thing that we do to ourselves.
The greatest human accomplishment ever has been successfully imitating nature.
The phone, internet, and electricity.
If you think about it, all of these systems mimic our circulatory system or brain neural network.
What’s worse, they are not half as sophisticated.
Ok, what about the engine?
That’s too easy, everything in nature is an engine.
We are engines, and if we don’t add gasoline, for us it’s food, we don’t go.
We are not as advanced as we think we are.
In reality, we are kind of just hacks.
Modern economies are missing a natural element, this is why they are failing.
I don’t want to make this sound more accessible than it is.
What we have to overcome is our own human nature, that is not an easy task.
It’s like me putting forth an idea about how to end a war.
It may be the most excellent idea ever, but it must be something that people can actually do.
War is hard, I will stay away from that one, but economies?
That is something we can tackle, or at least give it a shot.
Nature, we know that’s where our most significant achievements lie, all we have to do is plagiarize a little.
Let’s look at the human body, rhizomatous plants, and small business to gain some insight.
Our circulatory system and its cooperation is what we seek from our modern economy.
We have millions of people who want jobs, who want to own businesses, and who need financial security.
They are not getting these things from our current economy, but why?
Do we have a lot of small businesses?
Yes, there is over 20 million small business here in the US alone.
I believe that number should be 100 million or more, however.
This large number of small businesses requires a considerable number of employees, and they need large amounts of inputs to run those businesses.
In a perfect world, this environment creates a massive network of small businesses that serves other small businesses.
Small enterprises are less likely to deploy technologies that eliminate large numbers of jobs.
That tech tends to be prohibitively expensive, and the moderate growth rate of a small to medium-sized business does not allow for these technologies.
Additionally, these small businesses are more often private companies.
This is important because profitability and growth follow a more natural curve due to lack of pressure from shareholders.
Cutting employees is good for shareholders, new tech that destroys jobs, also good.
Growing to a size where you can eliminate other smaller businesses is also good for large companies.
Growth through acquisitions, or creating market pressures that cause other small businesses to leave the market or close, all of these things are seen as useful to large companies.
Spending massive sums on stock buybacks to reward stockholders, vs. employee bonus programs, improved wages, and services.
These tactics are not only seen as necessary, but they have become business as usual.
Without making this into a botany lesson, let us look at plants and how they make their “economy” work.
If you have ever pulled a dandelion out of the ground, maybe you noticed the root.
Dandelions have what’s called a taproot.
It grows all by itself, a real loner.
It sucks up all the nutrients that it can get for itself.
It selfishly raises its head to the sun hoping to grow taller than all of the other plants in the garden.
Dandelions don’t care about anything but themselves, they are not good team players.
Maybe you are one of those unlucky souls who has planted bamboo in their backyard.
What a big mistake.
Bamboo is a team player.
We know what a team can do, and bamboo can grow more in a single day than almost any other plant, in the world, up to 35″ per day.
WOW, and I know why!
Bamboo, in some varieties, grows with what are called rhizomes.
Rhizomes grow shallow in the soil, unlike the taproot akin to a little miner.
Find a bamboo shoot, now look mere inches away, and you will see another, and then another, and another.
Their growth is prolific.
If the roots of the bamboo were people, they would be holding hands, and they would never let go.
Every single drop of energy produced from the light is shared.
Every drop of moisture that falls upon the soil, it is shared.
It is natures shared economy, and it works like a charm.
The moment a tap root became a part of the rhizome system, it would throw its entire ecosystem out of balance.
The whole health of the system is based on sharing.
Inequality within this system would lead to a ripple of death for the plant.
Is the plant a socialist?
I don’t know, that is crazy, the plant is all about survival.
Not getting ahead, not growing taller than the sprout near you, just surviving.
If one plant grows taller than another, it is only because it received a little more light or moisture than the others did.
Even then the disparity between that plant and the others would be quite insignificant.
What about the circulatory system in the human body, what makes it work?
I’m not a doctor, but one thing I know makes it work is the sheer number of actors.
The circulatory system is vast.
60,000 miles or more of arteries, capillaries, and veins.
The “economy” of our circulatory system works well because it is enormous.
If there were no large cap companies at all, how many small businesses would that create?
Of course, Amazon is enormously profitable, but how many more jobs, small businesses, and subsequently distributed economic activity would be the result if they did not exist.
The thought is staggering.
Imagine if your aorta the largest artery in the body started buying up veins.
Please forgive me for this utterly ridiculous analogy, I know, I’m sorry.
So, your aorta is buying up veins and deciding its too much work to run all of these veins.
So your aorta starts shutting some down.
You die, stupid.
Maybe your aorta becomes powerful and wealthy from controlling all of the blood flow, but it is killing itself in the meantime, and the “economy” of the body is dying a slow painful death as well.
No matter how much we may want to, deleting arties, and veins, is a death sentence.
Imagine the ridiculousness of trying to streamline our human body functions.
I don’t think that would be a successful undertaking.
Yes, we can tinker with the economy, but only to an extent.
By creating companies that are so large, it is similar to deleting arteries.
That is the foundation, you must build on top of the foundation.
You don’t get to become powerful and wealthy by cannibalizing the foundation.
If you were a starving mouse living in a house of cheese, it might not be brilliant for you to start eating in the basement?
Rhizomes teach us that without a sharing economy some plants will grow very large, at the expense of other plants.
The problem with this lies in the root system.
Even if a single plant grows very large, that plant is still connected to the same root system.
Disparaging the rest of the roots so that a single plant can become very large only destroys the whole root system in the process.
In time the plant will die because it cannot survive without the other plants supporting the root system.
Though it may grow unusually tall before it does expire.
The circulatory system is no different.
Without even blood flow to the “economy,” it dies.
One may be able to live in a gated community,(or Amputate a leg), but eventually, you run out places to hide(or areas to cut off).
Similar to the destruction of the root system, in this example, the damage is done to the body.
Attempting to control the flow of blood in the body, or the air, light, and water of the plant all end in extinction.
What’s wrong with our economies is expressed in both of these examples.
Small businesses are and have been for decades consolidated into larger entities.
Many of these entities are publicly traded, all use technology to destroy jobs, and all of them are driven solely by profitability.
They are actually bound by the law as corporations to maximize profits.
I know, look it up, it’s crazy.
But with that in mind think, if this was you aorta buying up veins and killing you in the process.
The aorta would be literally bound by the law to kill you.
The court does not tell them to protect the body or protect the economy.
It directs them to maximize profit, a huge problem in itself.
Centralized power is dangerous.
In politics, in business, and even in the family or the church.
It just doesn’t work.
If we want economies to work, then we have to stop kidding ourselves about the centralization of power.
Truthfully I think it is too late to do anything about it.
I don’t even know why I am writing this.
I guess I just want to be able to point, and say here, look, this is where you f***** up.
Aaron L. Carroll
Photo by kazuend