If only I could draw well, I will paint this picture of our existence – a human pyramid shaking and shivering under its own weight, in a pool of billion lives. With every new level, new people are added to the bottom – ‘initiated’ as they say. Those at the top, with so much as a sneeze, can cause a tremor at the base. They at the top suffer from vertigo. Some of them can’t wait to sling their backpacks across their shoulders and head East. While others are proud to have the responsibility of millions of lives in their hands. They launch rockets and conduct air raids to tell us the same. And someone like Bush turns up and does a clown dance for some years before the bottom layers gather enough strength and conviction to shake the pyrimady arse and topple him. Much more than any conceivable number will either want to go up or get out. I think that gives the society the flux.. the fluidity which we experience. And those who sit on the sidelines, analyzing, preparing younger ones for the task ahead – the academia.. how minutely focused their microscopes are. They will fish out the motives and marginal utilities of the louse crawling on the head of the person(1, 10^5, 10^2) (coordinate). Or they will dig out neurons of their fellow specie-men to point to the golden colored region which gives rise to consciousness – that will make them happy. Or better still tighter bounds to minimize error in transmission across murky channels – that is their purpose.
To be sure let us see if there is any such thing as ‘economic behavior’ (for we are quite sure that there are entities called ‘people’.. some may want to disagree.. they may). ‘Behavior’ is a term loosely defined as the way or manner in which we act/react in a given situation. The adjective ‘economic’ tries to classify – to delineate a smaller set of behaviors so to speak, which pertain to how people act/react in matters concerning money. Now this ‘economic behavior’ has a rich and complicated history. We’ve all learnt about barter and gold coins and silver coins and so on. Either referring to direct acquisition of commodities or to attaining means to achieve them, we have here a myriad number of activities in which we have engaged as a specie. But what we’re witnessing probably is the increasingly complicated nature of these activities – where between the commodities I want and the commodities I earn, the distance is continuously increasing.
What if any is the purpose of economics? Not as a field of study but as a part of our lives as ‘homo sapiens’. From the richest to the poorest – human beings can survive on a decent three meals in a day and a shelter – an oft repeated ‘truth’ about our condition. Surely for 50% of us, our economic behavior has very little relevance to the fulfillment of these necessities. And we all know this as a fact. Curiously what keeps us going is our idea about a decent life a decent education for our children (or ourselves) and decent art and decent sports and so on. A man on the street will want to be in a house, the man in a house will want to be in a mansion, the man in a mansion will be ready to emigrate and the man in a mansion on top of the world.. well he would be searching for some sort of truth either in his own power or in the power of some other worldly being. I’m not saying that our greed in insatiable. Its not greed its a fear to be ‘not left behind’. Our whole lives are a game of 3 – ‘past-present-future’, ‘hell-earth-heaven’, ‘worse than us-us-better than us’ and so on. And we would want an upward sloping curve – always going up and up tending to the august elysian heights. Most of us would want to look back and say – hey there, we’ve grown or we’ve become more mature or more rich or more ‘human’. And if not all, we would want to cash in some green in at least one of the scales – others’ or our own invented ones. Why is it that we can’t sit still? Lost in the dialectics between idealism and realism, we’re never sure of our own worth without any reference point. All we can say is that an elephant is surely bigger than the ant and we are somewhere in between. And we would rather be the elephant or the ant.. whichever is judged better by ourselves and/or others. And that is pragmatism for you :).
And the costs are too high if the pyramid topples. The US economy is the case in point.. almost everyone seems to be bailing it out.
Only those who are completely selfish or completely selfless can be ‘saints’. Our inability to be either puts us in ‘it’ – whatever we may believe ‘it is’.
The whole humanity seems to be heading towards a cacophonous orgasm.
PS: The views are completely personal. As always any theory will have certain assumptions and generalizations. Its after all a function of the looking glass or a vantage point we choose. We cannot see the whole of Earth in one go.. (like not by one pair of eyes) and describe it.