Monday, November 4, 2019

The Propensity to Truck, Barter, and Exchange

In his explanation for the wealth of nations, Adam Smith emphasizes “the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another” (Wealth of Nations, Book  I, Chapter II, first paragraph). That propensity is clarified by the Resource-Patterns Model of Life (RPM) which I expound in this blog.

In RPM there are agents which live in an environment which contains resources. These resources are distributed in patterns. Resources exist, that is, in particular places and not in other places. So, if some agents are to live any significant distance away from a life-essential resource then those agents need portions of that resource trucked to them.

Thinking in this way we can see the origin of early trade routes. Assuming that some resources are distributed in far-flung patterns, with the trip being too long for individual agents, then agents which have ability to truck, barter, and exchange may in time discover the advantage of a trade route.We can also see why any number of specialties, and not just trucking, my grow where the complexities of the environment may be mastered better by agents who specialize.

Notice that this relies upon ability moreso than propensity to truck, barter, and exchange. Such ability — when released into an environment with resource patterns — will give rise to environmentally-conforming patterns of trucking and exchange, to economic organizations. Whereas propensity (as named by Smith) — when set free without any regard to environmental resource patterns — may cause misdirection and waste; some agents may carry coal to Newcastle.

I emphasize:
Living Things can grow an organization in an environment where cooperation enables the LTs to harvest more for all in the organization than those LTs could have harvested if acting independently.

This gives a new basis to social science, I believe, since I have not discovered any other writing which builds upon that foundation.

Further reading in RPM:

I was reminded of this famous quote of Adam Smith last week on November 1, when Prof. Roy Cordato led a discussion of James Buchanan’s famous essay “What Should Economists Do?” in the Austrian Economics Forum at North Carolina State University. Prof. Paul Cwik shared in that discussion. I thank these economists.