The worst possible system
Another idea that’s been brewing as part of Mythquake.
Map out the stereotype life-cycle, as the time baseline of a graph: from teenager, to first leaving home, to getting together with a partner, having kids, kids start to go to school, and so on, all the way to retirement and death.
Now map out two curves onto that graph: the likely resource needs at each point, and the likely personal resource availability at the same point, in a possession-economy (i.e. money-economy, barter-economy etc). Add in a few special incidents, like illness or accident, and map the needs and availability there too.
What you’ll see is that whenever you least need resources, they’re most likely to be available. And even more so, whenever you most need resources, they’re least likely to be available.
In other words, it’s an almost perfect mismatch. Not merely a poor system, then, but the worst we could possibly devise. And yet we think of it as ‘normal’…
So to cope with the fact that the basic, fundamental, underlying concept simply doesn’t work, we have to construct a huge superstructure of banks, savings, loans, pensions, insurance, superannuation and god-knows-what, to try to time-shift the resources from where they’re not really needed to where they really are. But that huge superstructure comes at a huge cost: a huge cost, in every possible sense.
And yet we could remove the need for that entire, ungainly, inefficient, insanely expensive superstructure with just one phrase: “what do you need?”
Kind of scary, really.