Economic Multipliers (36)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

A paver can be a positive or a negative economic multiplier.


What would someone do with a paver (or rock) in your community?

I put up a photo (OPEN) of an ordinary approximately 5.5 pound paver. In my neighborhood, pavers are many times used to widen concrete driveways (usually to accommodate trailers which are used for doing work). They are also used to edge flower beds. In the downtown area, you can find them used as decorative edging for sidewalks.

The paver featured was recently used to clean dirt off the roots of some ‘runaway’ plants I was clearing from a small flower bed (VERY small … my gardening skills are lacking so I do small ‘test’ projects). I wanted to dig out as many roots as possible before I planted something else.

I don’t have many pavers but I’ve also used them for weights to anchor bags and tarps in windy, rainy weather. When not in use, they can be stacked decoratively outside.

I could have loosened the soil by beating the roots against a rock (some of those are around too) but a paver has a smooth surface. I can easily roll the roots along the top if that works better to extract the soil and sometimes it does. Pavement would also work but then I’d have to clean the dirt off the pavement.

Why do I tell you these things?

Too often unfortunately I see riots (civil unrest) and civil wars on the news. I have never been in a riot or a civil war nor do I ‘seek’ that kind of excitement. In a riot or a civil war, a paver or rock might be used to damage property.

When I see people damaging property, I think … How unfortunate that that community or that nation is going to get (and is choosing to get) poorer.

People who create and build believe that their talents, their work, their effort, their money, their resources, their ideas, etc. should be ‘spent’ in communities and nations which value it. They usually want to leave places where they believe they cannot create and retain wealth.

Historically, one of the reasons the United States has attracted so many talented scientists, engineers, doctors and other professionals from other countries is because this nation has valued ‘builders.’ People from all walks of life have come to this country just for the opportunity to walk down streets where pavers and stones are used to build things.

They’ve come to this country to build their businesses in communities where they know they won’t have stones thrown through their windows. They’ve come to this country to attend Memorial Day parades celebrating individuals who showed up in their original home countries hoping they could help create the same kind of ‘peace’ for other people that is most often found in the United States.

I watched a movie recently (Ajami) which featured WHY it is so difficult for communities and nations that are in trouble to get beyond it. Although fiction, it is an intricately woven tale of how people’s perceptions affect how they make decisions (usually their perceptions drive them to make decisions that do not reflect the future that they say they want). The movie also is the writer and producer’s commentary on how culture defines the options the citizens of any country have: What if a ‘community judge’ gave your FAMILY a ‘sentence’ … not just the individual in your family who had done something wrong … and through no fault of your own, you were ‘sentenced’ to a lifetime of a life that made no sense based on who YOU are? Most likely, most of the wealth that you could have and would have wanted to create over the course of your life would never be created. Now that’s impoverishing (for both you and your nation).

The United States is not immune to destroying its own wealth. As a citizen, I believe our nation does it all the time in a multitude of ways (a topic for another day but since there is so much data on the Civil War (the mid 1800’s), that’s a good way to review how economically devastating wars are and how long it can take to rebuild afterward (it took the United States decades and even today, some people still seek reparations)).

When I see a country like Libya engage in a civil war and other nations engage in civil ‘unrest,’ I know how economically devastating the actions will be to the citizens of their country. I also know that if people live in countries where basic rights are ‘missing,’ the ‘builders’ cannot or will not want to build.

I have no quick and easy solutions. I know that the difficult longterm solutions can only come from the ‘attitudes’ that the leaders, educators and citizens of any nation bring along with them when they show up at the table.

A few years back I read an insightful paper on solar cooker design written by a Libyan scientist (see P.S.). At the time I thought: Libya must be getting its act together. If the concepts in this paper are applied by ordinary citizens of Libya (who do not have to be as smart as he is or understand as much or have learned as much because he already set up a basic design (many other functional basic designs are also available)), their country is going to become wealthier.

And, if they can learn how to build upon the concepts even further, they’ll know how they can start creating a stronger base of wealth for their citizens. (From my perspective, the greatest solar value in a country like Libya initially lies in ‘enhanced’ (see P.S. (2)) solar distillation of water BUT I also believe the individuals of any country have a better handle on what their value creating needs are than I do.)

Understanding how to use the resources around you that cost little or nothing but, if used well, help create wealth, is the ‘easiest’ way to start any building process.

Today, I hope the individual who wrote the paper on solar cooker design is still alive: You never want to lose ‘builders’ – anywhere.


A note: A ‘metaphor’ is a symbolic way of saying something: There are many ways to throw stones through people’s windows (lives) without doing it directly. Sometimes people who would join with their neighbor to fight against another country (or community) like to fight so much that when their battle is ended elsewhere, they look to their side (their neighbor) and start a battle there. When they are fighting, I guarantee that they are NOT creating wealth.

A paver or stone that’s a positive economic multiplier is a tribute to ‘peace:'

May all that are used in the future be used to build communities and nations.


P.S. A new design for an economical, highly efficient, conical solar cooker by Emam Sharaf, Renewable Energy 27 (2002). (Note: On a topic like this, excellent papers are being written ALL over the world … the access and application are still lacking because (1) the sun does not shine 24 hours a day, (2) even the best designs function only optimally if they are ‘adjusted’ as the sun moves across the sky and that requires some monitoring and (3) as slow cookers, they make a lot of sense if energy is lacking but in many parts of the world, other things make more sense (except in emergencies which means it’s good to know how to build them, use them and have some around).

As an example, in a hot and fairly sunny summer but cold and fairly overcast winter climate, using a slow cooker powered by stored (i.e. batteries which provide electrical energy) solar, wind or water energy makes more sense for renewables and offers the greatest flexibility. If you live in an area with a good electrical grid and as a bonus, a power company that partially offers renewable energy, it usually makes the most sense to buy power and use it wisely. Likewise, a person who does not know how to protect their eyes properly should never use a solar cooker anyway. You gain nothing if your citizens go prematurely blind (cataracts, etc.).

'Builders’ believe that you invest in infrastructure that makes life easier and helps you build more. ‘Economists’ believe you should get the greatest return for the money you spend. ‘Engineers’ and ‘scientists’ are constantly searching for new and easier ways to get things done. ‘Social scientists’ try to figure out why we destroy so much along the way when there would be so much more for everyone if we just took the time to use what we already know. Many people in the world are ALL of these things: Consider yourself lucky if you have a lot of them in your community and nation. Become one yourself.

P.S. (2) ‘Enhanced’ solar distillation incorporates designs which focus on generating additional condensate (the distilled water) at night. Perhaps I should call this ‘radiative’ distillation but I won’t because it wouldn’t work without the solar component.