Sunday, December 30, 2012

Competition and Cooperation Pt. 2

Cooperation in economics is often over looked despite being fundamental to the very concept of commerce. After all, trading goods and services in a way that eventually lead to a common currency requires that actors in the system cooperate from the very start. However this is not the prevailing view of economic systems currently. Everyone is focused on hostile mergers of corporations, or predatory lending practices, or coercive marketing and debt encumbered slavery. Yet none of these systems are the intended purpose of cooperative commerce.

One of the most fundamental aspects of currency, is tacit agreement. I agree that this otherwise worthless piece of paper is worth a bundle of carrots. If it was suspect, no one in their right mind would trade their carrots for a scrap of paper that has already been filled with print. The value of the bill is agreed upon by everyone, every time they allow it to be used. This requires cooperation on a massive scale, between billions of people every day. If one out of every five farmers in the world were to decide tomorrow that paper was no longer worth the carrots, the whole system would collapse in days.

Cooperation is important and over looked in other economic systems as well. An employee is agreeing to exchange a commodity for currency, their time for wages. Again this requires tacit agreement and cooperation. Labor struggles are characterized by a loss of cooperation. When a group of employees decide they are not collectively being treated fairly and strike, the act of non-cooperation is the weapon they wield.

The stock market represent a cooperative agreement as well. The system currently has been perverted so it no longer even resembles its intended purpose, but it was designed so that private sector innovation could be financed and implemented. Today it has degenerated into nothing more than a complex series of  systems for harvesting profit from disfranchisement. (I would LOVE for some one to explain to me how I am wrong on this one.)

Marketing also used to be based on cooperation. The system started out on the basis of informing people of a good or service being offered. It was implicit that both actors, the merchant and the consumer, were in cooperation. Both needed one another. Then the system skewed sharply towards competitive focus and the tacit agreement of the consumer was no longer valued. This can been seen today as people coerce a disfranchised "market" of consumers to buy $0.14 worth of gold for $9.95 through televised advertising. "Buyer beware" is the banner of crude competitive influence.

By focusing economic policy towards protecting competition instead of encouraging cooperation, we have created  society based on waste, dishonesty, and avarice. Some times I wonder just how far we could have gotten by now as a species, if we realized that by working together, we can accomplish more than we ever will competing with one another.

As always, I encourage your comments and criticisms, and will never edit or omit anything.

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