For Scientists

© 1998-2004 Philip Hyde, PO Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA

There are many scientific metaphors for this timesizing® economic design project. The chief metaphor is provided by Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions." Many people have realized the need for such a revolution in economic thinking - Jevons, Marx, Keynes, Galbraith come to mind, not to mention Joan Robinson (in her "Economic Philosophy" {1962}, she paints economics as a branch of theology used by the power elite as a control device). All failed to identify the key issue; that is, the resolution of the tension inherent in the evolutionary need for adaptibility based on harmonious diversity (i.e., unification vs. diversification, concentration vs. diffusion, centripetation vs. centrifugation) through a continuously refining definition of "fair share per person per time unit" and a progressive mapping of that definition onto more general dimensions beyond time, i.e., money (income, wealth & credit) and power (credibility, celebrity...).

Economics has always been more concerned with metalanguage than message. William Petty started this bias in the late 1600s with a tour de force in statistics, picked up by W. Edwards Deming on Japan's behalf in the late 1940s and 50s. Les economistes of the mid 1700s had their prototype input-output table. Smith in 1776 had his encyclopedic anecdotes, Malthus his contrast between geometric and arithmetic progressions, David Ricardo his organizing focus (on a side issue, rents), John Stuart Mill on organization itself. The neo-classicists got a major piece of the puzzle without ever focusing on it - they got a scienced-up way of talking about surfeit without ever focusing on labor surfeit on one side or wealth surfeit on the other. And Keynes and the Democrats (and finally the Republicans too) got another piece but clumsily - they got government involvement in the economy - but too much, too dumb. They were basically "Marx for the Genteel."

Kuhn makes much of geocentric and heliocentric astronomy. We might now pick up the geological revolution in plate tectonics, or the biological revolution in prokaryotic origin of the eukaryotic cell. But let's think of what economics needs now in terms of the fractal revolution.

I've just seen "Colours of Infinity" - a British moving picture (hence the Canadian spelling of colors) on public TV about Benoit Mandelbrot and his M(andelbrot) Set, the most famous fractal in fractal geometry, or "fractals" for short. Fractals are a geometry of shapes which are equally rough at all scales. They give geometers a way to describe in simple terms much more complex shapes and have many important applications, e.g. in data compression and fuzzy photo clarification.

There are two aspects of fractals that particularly relate to the economic approach that underlies timesizing and that may be called fractal economics. One is the escape from one step to perfection thinking. It's always gonna be fuzzy, in our case due to the one constant in human evolution - constantly rising expectations.

The other is the idea that a simple formula can account for, or in our case, facilitate, extreme variety and variability. This has immense implications in economics, because it solves two huge problems: how can we proceed on a stable sustainable basis in the sense that we keep the population united as one species instead of subspeciating into workers and drones +/- puppeteers, or Eloi and Morlocks, etc.

And the related problem is, how can government government most effectively govern a burgeoningly complicated nation, when the level of complexity is doubling almost every day. Fractals have a control "in the center" - a simple formula which generates/accounts for huge "mutually non-interfering" (Bucky Fuller) variety. (By the way, I suspect that Fuller's Synergetics is going to turn out to be a parallel fractal geometry, or possibly a fractal algebra or trig.) Is there a simple control "in the center" of the socioeconomy that can facilitate balance by engaging market forces to take care of the details? A rough-edged balance perhaps, but satisfactory at the current level of general human expectations, i.e., "up to current standards." Because one of our big developing problems in poltico-economic design is the fact that we have constituencies of differing and clashing sensitivity levels.

Timesizing's underlying "fractal economics" provides an "H Set" - a simple set of regulations, a formula, for balancing an indefinite series of dimensions of human competition and value. The economic part proper is a three-set, the politico economic adds one for a four set, and the socio-economic adds another for a five set. This five set can balance the employment (and skills to that level) dimension. Then it can be detached from its employment specific references and applied to the first (from today) of the monetary dimensions, income (inflowing money per person per time unit). Then it can be detached and applied to the second (probably outgo or debt payments), then the third (liability? = accumulated debt, real and/or potential), the fourth, wealth (stored/standing money per person), fifth, credit (accumulated financial power), and so on into the (to us) vaguer dimensions (reputation, name....) of "personhood" in the modern age. For that is what we are doing - we are defining "person" here for governing purposes, gradually and potentially unendingly.

And in the process, we are defining, on an incrementally refining basis, the key issue in economics which none of the great economists have yet focused on but which writers like Chesterton and Orwell have focused on, "fair share," - share per person per time unit.