If you live a middle class life in the United States, you see people throw away a LOT of things ... things that people who have less would love to have.

The pages I'm writing are on economic multipliers but you may have noticed (if you've ever read one) that this doesn't sound like an economics textbook. I think economics textbooks should TELL you these things:

Wheels are economic multipliers.

Today I picked up a wagon that someone had put out curbside. It was filled with water and leafy debris because it had been left outside. I brought it home, emptied it out and scrubbed out the inside a bit.

The prior owners of the wagon take very good care of their things. Several years ago, when their very active boys were younger, I watched them put this wagon together in the front yard and watched it get heavily used for several years.

I suspect the wagon was left outside (and from my perspective am sorry that it ever was) because they have limited storage and for them, the wagon broke.

As I brought it home, listening to its noises, I suspect the bearings might be bad on one of the wheels.

I don't know if the tires hold air anymore. I will have to check.

The paint on the interior has come off in chunks (due to the water which was sitting inside) and the interior has just started to rust (unfortunately it hadn't been tipped upside down).

This wagon, in many parts of the world — even with it's faults — would be coveted. It still rolls and makes work easier.

A couple years ago, I took a handle from a broken golf cart, some braces from an old toilet seat (one of those that raises the height — just so you know, I had to clean it beforehand — yuck!), some old training wheels from a bicycle (great for height), a broken pastry cutter (tacked to the bottom on the side opposite the wheels — it's rounded bladed doesn't hook on grass, it's sturdy when the cart is being loaded and it hadn't been sent to metal recycling yet — it was in the bin) and some scrap pieces of wood and built a cart that is quite sturdy and can easily roll across grass, gravel and not-to-deep ruts.

(Photo of Cart: (OPEN)Note: if you do take something apart like an old toilet seat, bake it in the sun several days. Ultraviolet light is nature's sanitizer. This engineering type saw heavy duty braces that still had a protective coating on them that were worth $2-3 a piece (not all were still good) and had salvaged them several months prior to even thinking about building this cart).

I occasionally like puttering to see what's possible and practical. I also like to identify things we shouldn't be throwing away (handles, wheels, braces, etc.) which can create economic multipliers.

Obviously it's possible (with money) to go to a store and buy a cart that can roll across rough surfaces.

But my point is: Wheels are economic multipliers. A lot of people in the world don't have access to these things and can't afford these things. When we throw away things that other people can't afford to buy — things which would help them create wealth — we destroy economic multipliers.

I gave the cart with the training wheels to an elderly relative. It is still in use.

The wagon initially got cleaned up on the inside and is now upside down (although still outside – I don't like leaving things outside because in wetter climates, anything that is not stainless steel, aluminum, copper or brass tends to rust).

These are my next steps:

    • Fill the tires and see if they hold air.

    • Insert a nut and bolt into one of the side rails (it's missing one).

    • Scrape the bottom interior of the wagon and see if it's worthwhile to add a coat of paint (to just that).

    • Paint the bottom interior if it seems worthwhile. If not, line it with paper bags and newspaper (you want something that dries and does not easily trap moisture) and find some out-of-the weather storage.

    • Take the 'bum' wheel off and see if there is any way to resolve the 'noise' issue: once again, I think I'm dealing with some bad bearings).

    • While I'm assessing the wheel, see if any of the wheel bearings need grease.

    • Find someone who can use it.

I'll keep you posted (this isn't on my high priority list). Even if I do no repair at all, even if I do not pump up the tires, this wagon is still usable for light loads.

From my perspective, if you really want people across the world to get wealthier (POSITIVE economic multipliers), put them on wheels.

Not just any wheels though — quality wheels. Set quality standards for axles and wheels (it doesn't count if things easily break – those are NEGATIVE economic multipliers) and put people on really good wheels.

And, if you see a set of really good wheels (the ones on the wagon I picked up still need to be fully assessed although clearly they put in several years of 'good work'), try to make sure they don't get thrown away.

Fully functional and because of wheel design, this wagon once hauled multiple young kids and their gear all over the place.

The wagon may have looked pretty ragged to the family who had already used it for years. But for someone else, that wagon might make THEIR life a LOT easier.

Wagon pictures ... (OPEN) ...

Economic Multipliers (4)

Do you know what these are?

I'm STILL not going to tell you BUT ...

I'm sure you now know they help CREATE wealth in systems.

I live a middle class life. I may not be wealthier or as wealthy as most of my neighbors but a middle class life in the Unites States means that I am wealthier than almost everyone else who lives in the world.