Monday, October 31, 2016

"You didn't build that!"

The best way to lie is to mostly tell the truth. Consider, 'the pencil':

Lie #1. It's existence is too improbable for any one person to comprehend.

Lie #2. No single person could make a pencil.

Lie #3. Without a connection to everything in the universe a pencil couldn't exist (using absurdity to make my point. This is the title argument.)

Lie #3A "Ancestors of the pencil."

The most insidious is... There is no mastermind and economics adjusts the mix. Insidious because it is absolutely true, but said in a way to support the lies.

Economics is all about alternatives. Listening to 'the pencil' we are strongly encouraged to believe that only a very narrow range of alternatives exist, otherwise the pencil couldn't exist.

Let's get rid of the ancestors argument first. Everything does have ancestors, but they aren't any fixed set of things. Whatever they are or aren't has no direct impact on building or not building a pencil.

You do need the materials and tools to build a pencil, but none of these things must come from the far reaches of the world. They only come from the far reaches of the world because economies of scale make it so. If we can grow wood locally and were suddenly cut off from the cheaper wood from remote parts would we stop making pencils or use the wood we have? The same is true of all other materials. So much for the implication that the pencil requires a world economy.

RE: #2. Why not? Single craftsman make complicated things all the time. How is a pencil any different? Again it's about alternatives. It may make sense for many people to specialize in making elements of a pencil, but that is not a requirement. If those specialists are not available it doesn't mean you can't build a pencil. You may certainly lower the price of pencils over time but that's true of everything.

RE #1. A fabrication to support this house of cards argument. A single person could completely understand all the elements required to produce a pencil. Just because they normally don't need to does not make it unfathomable (which is why they throw in the entire universe as ancestors to make their false point. It's like Zeno's paradox. You can't build anything because the universe is unfathomable and you can never beat a turtle with a head start.)

Economics will always adjust the mix. That's why we have pens.

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