Sunday, August 16, 2009
Ken Myers once described an economy as a set of relationships, all the purchasing actions thought of as a single entity. While I agree with Ken Myers assessment that an economy is a set of relationships, I also see there are different sorts of economies. Subsistence farming, fishing, open source software production, much volunteer work, homemaking and do it yourself (DIY) home repair are generally not measured in our economy. All of these can have a significant economic impact on the persons receiving the benefit. In some ways, when we try to assist the poor, we tend to focus on helping them in the measured economy rather than the unmeasured economy. When we look at why people choose to run a business, we often think of the salary, benefits, and other measured economic benefits. But a person may choose to continue a business because of family tradition or personal power and prestige. I talked with a man recently who purposely did not chose to introduce business processes into his business because he felt like it would distract him from the joy he receives by the intrinsic value he felt he had in simply meeting his client's needs. It was not the monetary value that he was primarily interested in, but it was a necessity for him to make a profit in order to continue his business. The thing money is important in economic life, but I am wondering how one could better use the unmeasured parts of one's economy. Can the poor be better served by improving their measured or unmeasured economic standing?