231. The Paradox of Surplus

Ani­mals take what’s there is to be had, gorge in years of plenty, die off in famine. Humans, some of them, strive to pro­duce a sur­plus. Curi­ously though the evo­lu­tion­ary devel­op­ment of humans has not pro­gressed well to any con­sen­sus on the busi­ness of man­ag­ing sur­plus. There has been mar­ginal pro­gress in mov­ing from the out­right piracy and theft of sur­plus to some kind of ratio­nal deci­sion mak­ing, (laugh­ably called eco­nom­ics). The mis­al­lo­ca­tion of resources remains extremely pop­u­lar, whether it’s gam­bling away the apart­ment rent, or gam­bling away a nation’s secu­rity in the name of big spend­ing mil­i­tary toys. The big­ger the sur­plus, the more extreme the mis-spend­ing (which is at least one good argu­ment against hav­ing big coun­tries with mega economies). The pru­dent allo­ca­tion of resources, the fam­ily bud­get or the national tax take, earns faint pub­lic praise and rude pri­vate jokes. Hell remains a far more inter­est­ing place than heaven in the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion.

So maybe we can extract some pre­dic­tions (laws?) about the semi-evolved human crea­ture and his habits:

1. The road to hell is paved with plenty.

2. Wherever there is a sur­plus, it will be wasted.

3. A sur­plus of money will be mis­spent.

4. A sur­plus of time ensures ineffiency, even mis­chief (lucky we don’t live forever).

5. A sur­plus of food guar­an­tees glut­tony, at least for the few (even in the pres­ence of star­va­tion by the many).

6. A sur­plus of con­ve­nience is fol­lowed by sloth.

7. A sur­plus of power will be abused.

8. A sur­plus of weapons guar­an­tees war.

9. A sur­plus of gov­ern­ment pre­dicts incom­pe­tence.

10. A sur­plus of resources pre­cedes pol­lu­tion.

11. A sur­plus of reli­gion breeds fanati­cism.

12. A sur­plus of hypocrisy sig­nals a cul­ture of betrayal.

… roll your own pre­dic­tion

It seems that Virtue is the daugh­ter of that odd cou­ple, Scarcity and Hope.

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