Empowering People and Wright's Law

First Principles 3/3

Humans source stuff, refine it into usable products and distribute those to other humans. We call this complex of activities "the economy", and we have been optimising it to become faster, better and further reaching. While we were doing so, we seem to have forgotten why we do "the economy" in the first place: to serve humans, to help humans thrive.

Depending on the relative cost structure between sourcing, refining and distributing, different modes of doing "the economy" are more feasible than others. If, for example, the cost of refinement is significantly higher than the cost of distribution, then it follows that centralising refinement is the best thing to do.

If the distribution cost is significantly higher, it would be much wiser to distribute the refinement process. Factoring externalised cost in the form of exploitation of the planet and the people into the cost of sourcing, refinement and distribution, it becomes a no-brainer to conclude that distributing refinement of the vast majority of the goods we consume is the better option if we care about the long term survival of the species.

Luckily, Wright's Law - the Yin of Moore's Law - comes to the rescue. We are now at a threshold where technological and scientific innovations make it possible and cost-effective to move refinement close to the source and sink of products. This creates a new role for distribution in which distribution refers to the capacity building of local refinement (see graphic below).

This all hinges on "the local". The local can be seen as a group of humans in the wider ranges of interpretation of the Dunbar number living together in a bioregion. Let's call them a community. The paradigmatic shift from distributing goods to distributing refinement capacity moves towards the empowerment of the people who don't have to sell or buy less goods from abstract national or global markets but can instead serve - at least the basic needs - by and for themselves.

This is what we aim for with MOTHERLAND. Our mission is to strengthen local economies. We measure our positive impact by the increase of the local GDP - the GCP, the "Gross Community Product", which measures the level of economic activity which is generated by the community for the community. A high GCP indicates strong resilience against economic, political, social, or ecological disruptions, thereby creating a foundation for community members to thrive.