The first part of last week’s introductory Blog showed that the presence of the 3 essential resources (food, water, and shelter) establishes Harmony and Order in our life. To secure  Harmony and Order and to avoid, resist, or push back the pains associated with Disharmony and Chaos, expanding essential resources becomes an essential part of preserving life. Until such time when tech advancement replaces either the essential resources or eliminates people’s reliance on those resources, harmony and order can only be secured by stockpiling. For example, think of a world, where through technology we are able to reengineer our own metabolism to either digest food within days instead of hours or completely stop our need for certain or any organic nutrients. Sounds too absurd? Maybe.

Yet there is a lot of actual work that is being done in this space, some even predicting than in 15 years we may see the first applications of that nature - check out Inventor and Futurist Ray Kurzweil’s (also a Director of Engineering at Google) book named Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever.

Now back to Now world. Truth 1: All 3 essential resources (food, water, and shelter) are scarce for EVERYBODY.

For those in Western Societies the suggestion of food and water scarcity may sound implausible - and rightfully so. We can open up our faucets at any time and expect water to run. However, lets ask ourselves - when was the last time we did not pay for our water and it still ran, or that we did not purchase our food and we had a refrigerator full?! Now compare that to something that is actually not scarce and rather abundant (at least for now) and free - the oxygen that we consume. We wake up in the morning and walk outside to take a fresh air without ever being concerned of its absence (though the exhaust pipes on many automated products may eventually make this harder, but that’s a conversation for another time).

Availability of something for always a cost is an evidence of its scarcity. The many multi-billion dollar companies such as the Nestlé and Dole Food are a by-product of our need for scarce resources.

The question to us is not whether the essential resources are scarce but rather if they are accessible:

  1. Scarce and Accessible (for most in developed countries)
  2. Scarce and Elusive (for most in developing countries)

Truth 2: Access to resources is a key differentiator for our actions.

If the resources are scarce but accessible:

  1. I can take it if I can create it or
  2. I can take it at any time I get myself within the reach of a reciprocal exchange

If the resources are scarce but elusive:

  1. I can take it if I can create it or
  2. I can take it at any time I get myself within the reach of a reciprocal exchange  AND have access to essential resources

The ‘and’ part is of important consequence. The uncertainty that elusiveness generates plays a major role on the  human psyche. Think about a college setting where you had to complete your homework and your exams with excellence, but never knew whether there will be anyone to grade your work. After a few tries, you would either completely stop or become demotivated to put up real effort since there is no assurance of a reward for what you’ve spent countless hours and overnight efforts to complete.

The value of your efforts and work diminishes since its reciprocal value becomes unpredictable. This relationship is critical. If you are not sure what your rewards are, you cannot be sure about the efforts that you will put forward. For instance, if you are employed, but you are not sure what the pay is or if you will get paid every time, your efforts and productivity will diminish and even stop if the pay is not in line with your expectations or did not come through a number of times. The clarity of rewards is an important driver for our actions.

Time to time we come across people or societies that seem to have all the ingredients in place to produce the best effort, but they don’t. We are quick to question their actions without properly assessing their efforts and rewards link. I will speak about those efforts a bit more in my next blog...