Economic Multipliers (22)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

Lack of information and/or knowledge is a lack of an economic multiplier.


I was lucky enough to live in Maine in an empty condo on the beach one winter (I was the only tenant. During the summer, the compact and furnished one bedroom unit could be rented out for just a few days for what I paid all month for it during the winter) … I didn’t even know that seemingly ‘abandoned’ (in the winter time) towns existed in the United States until then.

But that isn’t why I was lucky. I was lucky because the property manager just happened to mention that the building was ‘specially’ designed. All the living quarters were one and two floors off the ground and the steps up to them were made of concrete and metal in a very ‘open’ design. The ground floor was an enclosed parking garage with laundry facilities and beachside, there were ‘shuttered for the winter’ shops.

He noted that although the area hadn’t recently had a hurricane, the building was designed to withstand one in a very unique way. If the waves blasted up the beach and hit the structure hard enough, the walls on the ground floor were designed to collapse in to allow any flood waters to flow through. The pilings that provided the main support for the building had been driven deep (and with this design, although I can no longer remember and did not count, were probably round and as few in number as possible).

In less than 15 minutes, he changed how I looked at the world.

After that conversation, I made a mental note that should a hurricane (or exceptionally high waves) ever be forecast for the area, I needed to take my car out of the garage and park it on higher ground.

Time has a way of ‘changing things.’ I don’t know who manages the building today (or even if it still exists). New managers or owners may not know about the building’s unique design features (I don’t recall ever seeing them posted anywhere). For all I know, someone could have ‘strengthened’ the beachfront walls for business purposes in a way so they would never collapse in during a hurricane (a rare event in Maine). Someone might have rebuilt the steps in a way where water could no longer rush through and over them. If they did and a hurricane ever occurs, it’s more likely that the building itself would collapse.

I tell you this because there is SO much I still don’t know and lack of information and/or knowledge is a lack of an economic multiplier.

I’m pretty ‘movie illiterate’ but when I watched the movie the Titanic, it occurred to me that almost all of the individuals on the ship could have been saved if they had known EXACTLY what to do and had done it IMMEDIATELY. (I did NOT believe that a woman who was exposed long-term to freezing water could have survived (the movie)).

Life many times offers up RARE circumstances. The night the Titanic (the real ship) hit the iceberg, the weather was cold but the sea was calm. They lacked enough lifeboats (and couldn’t have known that rescue was less than a day away) but on that night, the ONLY thing they needed to do was get as many people as possible OFF and AWAY from the ship and keep them warm and dry. (Oh, and bring the radio AND food and water if time … I THINK barrels of water would have floated).

The ship was full of people who had LOTs of warm clothes and blankets, full of barrels of everything imaginable that just needed to be emptied and recorked / resealed to use for flotation devices and full of flat surfaces like table tops and headboards from beds. It was a ship: rope to lash things together would have been in ample supply.

Lifeboats could have transported people down to the water’s surface to be loaded onto makeshift raft after raft after raft.

BUT, the KEY is: they needed to IMMEDIATELY know what to do because they had a LOT of resources and almost no time.

People’s lives are a lot like that sometimes.

I don’t watch much ‘visual’ news because I believe it has an overemphasis on negative events. For the most part, I believe almost everyone in the world is getting up every day and truly doing the best they can. (I might start watching it more, though, if they feature more kids who study their hearts out just to get average grades … because the person who does their best at something even if it seems hard to them is going to amaze the world in some unique way when they are an adult (in their job or with their family or in their community).

There’s a point here … my lack of information and/or knowledge.

As an example, when I see flooding on television, I do not yet know the following things (mainly because I lack the time to calculate everything … I usually don’t need to know ‘really tough’ to figure out answers … although understanding the concept of buoyancy is pretty critical for these):

  • If I had to abandon my house due to flooding but had an inflatable twin (or full or … ) mattress, how much weight could I put on it so it floated with 3 inches of freeboard? Ironically, I’d want to put a uninflatable mattress on it if it could support it.

  • How much weight will 10 empty lashed together laundry bottles support? And, if I attached bunches of them to the bottom of a bed, could I keep it above water? Do I have any other sealed bottle items that could support weight? If so, how much weight and how would I attach them so they’d create a ‘raft’ with freeboard?

  • If I store any electronic gear in a plastic bag in a house that floods but put it high enough so it doesn’t get wet, what’s the best way to close the bag so dampness can’t get in?

  • Can a kitchen table support a sleeper sofa? If it could and I’m the only one around to get it onto the table, could I?

  • If you stick table legs in 4 big pots, will they collectively act like a boat if the water rises and make the table float? How much could the table weigh if I wanted it to float? Would the pots tip sideways if they started to float?

  • Why don’t I keep sealed bottles and cans low and dry goods and cardboard and paper items high?

  • What’s easily washable and what’s not?

  • What things get ruined if they get damp and moldy in case I can’t come back to the house immediately? How many plastic bags would I need to ‘contain’ those items?

  • What is made of particle board (wood survives water a LOT better), cloth, paper, cardboard, etc. and can it be raised or modified to ‘float?'

  • What items will the sun (ultraviolet light) take the smell and the mold out of if they get ‘swamped?'

  • Is it safe to go into a flooded basement (or flooded anything) to turn off the electricity? If it is, what precautions should I take anyway?

I really need a ‘disaster’ Wikipedia for all the things I need answers to: You would not believe how many disasters I see on TV … and of course, as a problem solver, I think that I should always know IMMEDIATELY and EXACTLY what to do.

Fortunately I do not have to worry about major flooding or hurricanes at this exact moment in time but many people in the world do.

Imagine if the greater percentage of the problem solving that kids did in schools focused on helping keep their families and their communities out of trouble and creating wealth.

Imagine if the solutions to the problems and the ideas for wealth creation were readily available and always being ‘enhanced’ in some way.

The Internet has given all of us an extraordinary capacity to change the world around us for the better … IF we learn how to use it well …