PFSD – An applied Austrian afterthought

This is build on my post about Post financial stress disorder.

The brilliant economist Roger Garrison of Auburn U once told an anecdote to me (it might not have been his creation, my notes delude me on this subject). When asked how Hayek and Friedman differed in their respective approach to dealing with the Great Depression the following story serves as an illustration: Imaging a great big green monster showed up in Louisiana and started a rampage of destruction. Both economists are send to investigate. Friedman starts by examining how much is destroyed, how fast is it destroyed, when is it destroyed, was it eaten by the monster or trembled by it’s great feet? Etc… Hayek on the other hand, tries to solve why the big green monster appeared in the first place and if we can learn from this so not to have it reappear again.  

This short story tells of one of the main lessons of the Austrian Business Cycle Theory; that the period of unsustainable growth fuelled by overspending and loans is actually just as big a part of the business cycle as the resulting downturn. So what does that tell us about avoiding PFSD in the future for your origination?

Honestly I am not sure yet. We still have a lot to learn, but what I believe to be important is to set clear goals and not care about much else. When selling you time as an employee the least you can ask for is knowing what you are expected to deliver and do.

That sometimes takes a backseat in times of growth and prosperity. Instead you just hire and hire. Then when the financial stress sets in you are stuck with no real knowledge of what the right performance are and who is contributing to it, so you just fire and fire (in many cases based on seniority, so essentially trying to get back to the pre-spend days). That leaves all employees and subsequently the organization as a whole, with a traumatic feeling of loss.  So use you time now to set up systems that tells and reward the right behavior.

The last mortal generation

I was driving across Denmark a couple of weeks ago listening to talk radio, and for once I was mind blown by what I heard. It turns out the Professor and MD Moustapha Kassem of Odense Universitets Hospital has discovered the – miRNA 138 molcule that determines cell growth for bones. The potential application and implication of this research is mindboggling. Truly mindboggling!

What does the research means: Well, it means that 1) you would be able to grow exact replicates of bone and organs for transplantation 2) It means that potentially aging can be stopped… That is immortality people! From what I’ve seen and read about technology development it might even down the road mean regenerative powers! Just like superheroes.

While these applications might not be tomorrow it can very well be within our current living memory that we will de facto see real life immortality, and potentially even as a default for all humans. As a result space travel might be possible… I mean who cares that it takes 300 years to go to some other galaxy when you are not ageing… I sure wouldn’t mind going if I had enough books with me.

It also means that every material good can become available to everybody. Sure the millionaire might be able to buy a Ferrari today, and the beggar might have to save for 150 years, but again, it does not matter if we are all gonna live forever. Wow!

For many this will raise interesting societal questions of allocations, laws, and so fort. That is not why I almost drove off the road when I heard it. I was struck by the thought that I, or my potential children, might very well be the last generation who are going to die. Wow! That sure is responsibility! Because as much as I love progress –and I do an awful lot – I cannot ignore the fact that our pursuit of progress have cost us our foundations for decent behavior. Traditions have in a globalized world been revealed as nothing more than local habits. Morals have become relative to most as the historic or religious foundations for ethical-systems has come under pressure or directly crippled. So if you, dear reader, belong to the last generation of mortals; what kind of moral world will you want to leave the next, and last, generation?

I am reminded of Augustine of Hippo’s City of God book in which he talks about humanities push towards a world where the true pursuit of humanity is dedication to truth and wisdom. And honestly speaking, what would be the reason not to if you had all the time in the world? Most of your daily cares do in fact come from, when you really think about it, the fact that you are going to die one day. In fact it might very well pave the way for Nietzsche’s übermench concept in which the purpose of humanity is to form a basis for the right behavior without a foundation found in otherworldly arguments (i.e. religion) and resisting the temptation of nihilism.

I might very well be in the last mortal generation, but it makes me very pleased to spend my limited time on this planet trying with to help form that new basis of decent behavior.