Thursday, January 15, 2009

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors

Matthew 6:12 (King James Version):

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Continuing my preoccupation with describing or understanding Resilient Communities in the last two blog entries, I'm thinking about Matthew 6:12 as an economic behavior of a society. The "forgiving of debts" would certainly help endure shocks to the economic system, such as the one America is experiencing since the last days of 2008.

Going back a few months to a conversation my wife and I were having, she sort of condemned a valuation of humans on an economic rationale. I was promoting some sort of race, creed, and color blind meritocracy; assuming I was taking a progressive high road when she said such schemes have failed in the form of heartless States who used citizens like firewood.

I crept away from that conversation with my secular technical meritocracy ideology seriously countered by her politically liberal theology.

But now I'm back, co-opting some of the ideas in poverty/welfare focused theology. Now I see it as a no-brainer for an economic system to have special modalities to save those who fall through the cracks of prosperity. Think of this non-merit welfare focus as a dimension in the meritocracy.

The key is for pro-meritocracy players to guide the welfare program. Please kill that word "welfare", I am not talking about welfare as previously done in the USA. Replace with the word "resilience" , not to merely sneak in an old idea via stealth, but to show the true goal of the mode -resilience.

I'm not saying anything very bright here. Just pointing out that for a system to absorb shocks of loss, or endure a period of starvation, some sort of extra and exceptional modality has to be carried out. I am not advocating a tragedy of the commons, I'm advocating a resilient technical meritocracy.

1 comment:

The Serpent Lord said...

I think your wife is being unfair to meritocratic states. Meritocracy might be used as a justification for objectifying people (often where the merit itself is not objective, like a racist imperial system.)

But meritocracy is also a part of every society that makes people feel wanted, like the work they do is important, encouraging them to work for the benefit of others. Whether you are working for status in an organization or profit in a business, the feedback is utilitarian but the meaning you create from it is deeper and more human.

And since money is a feedback system, it does us no good to permanently lose people in negative feedback loops (stuck in debt), or lose control of people in positive feedback loops (they keep making more money even if they make poor choices.) The human sense of indignation is backed up by steel reinforced concrete utility problem.

And yes, please let's stop saying and thinking the word "welfare" because the word no longer refers to everyone working for the welfare of everyone else but only government largesse toward a minority of the poor.

Here I think Hugo Chavez has adopted an idea (although he did not invent it) that points us in the right direction: Paying homemakers. Let's find a way to take care of every good citizen, but let's call it a reward they've earned for the useful things they do.