The Reservoir… A Kind of Economic History -Mike Schaefer


rivervillage

"River, Village and Church" Etevé, Felix Raoul (French) 1902 - 1965 (click for info)

In days of old a river ran by our villages. It yielded the essentials needed to survive. We eventually learned how the river flowed and how to survive even when it slowed to a trickle, or when it rose beyond its banks to encroach on the plains.  We had no clue as to how to control it. It wasn’t always easy but we got by, we survived.

As time passed, our understanding of the river and our habitat grew.  We moved. We settled down. We farmed, built homes, and communities.  We flourished, ever sustained by a “river of life.” But what the river gave, it could also take away.  We survived catastrophic events and learned from the river, adapting steadily.  We multiplied.

The land was vast. As our numbers grew, we sought to extend the river’s reach to regions once considered uninhabitable.  We dug ditches and built canals. We learned more about construction, and built levees to protect our farms, towns, cities, families and commerce.  Thus feeling safer, we built even more permanent structures.

Water fueled growth and sustained life.  It was essential.  We needed even more control to ensure a steady supply.  We devised dams to collect water in reservoirs when it was plentiful, then drew from the reservoir when there was otherwise too little water available to sustain us.

Energy flows like a river, and within its banks can be found great wealth.  We saw how this “banking” worked and created great dams to add to our energy stores throughout our history as a nation.  The river of energy ebbed and flowed but when we realized that we could save some of it and put it away in a reservoir,  we became incredibly strong and created a field of study, we can call “flow-nomics.”

We kept adding to our reserves.  We had so much that we gave much of it away, to help other villages during a time of low flow, and over time built up a network of reservoirs to make life better for future generations.  All the while, we continued to learn how to better regulate the flow of our energy, how to preserve it more effectively and how to transfer excess capacity from one village to another.  This was called macro-flow-nomics. We began to see how this technology could improve all kinds of villages around the world.

We also understood there were dangers in having a reservoir that holds too much in reserve. We put safeguards in place so if the dam fails, everything downstream won’t be wiped out and we’ll only lose minimal reserves.

Keep in mind, this reservoir itself was built using the collective energy of all those preceded us–who often worked selflessly, with an eye toward the future.  They received far less energy in exchange for their labors than the energy they invested.  Structural improvements through innovation also maximized the strength and efficiency of the reservoir network as well as the use of its contents.

Over the past couple decades, America has consolidated and drained its reservoirs – living day-to-day, ignoring the future, depleting resources at an unprecedented rate. As a result, our “reserves” are at a level unseen since the early days of the system.  How did this happen?

It’s in part because our perceived need grew, overpowering our extensive domestic supplies. To supplement them, we tapped into reservoirs far, far away.  Why didn’t we seem to notice this?

All that most people see is the downstream side of the dam, where the water pours out.  As long as it flows, we have little concern.  But those who have ventured to the other side of the dam are alarmed at what they see.

Mammoth tankers and massive pipes bring in water from far away, and they can’t keep up.  As the water level drops, the inner walls of the reservoir, like cave art, reveal a different time… one when millions upon millions of hours worked by countless unselfish ancestors allowed an accumulation of a massive supply.

Safe for so long, it’s now nearly gone.  Not only have we failed to channel energy into expanding/improving the reservoir, we’ve failed to maintain it. The reservoir leaches and the dam leaks as our actual supply falls well short of perceived assets.

Ideas abound about how to easily fill up the reservoir…or about how to easily access a prime water spot.  But water is captured through “sweat equity.”  It must come from real work, real labor and real strength.

It comes from our bodies.  The energy of our ancestors is trapped in bloated bodies that can’t seem to muster enough energy to replenish the reservoir.

As we’ve drawn down the reservoir, we’ve trusted our leaders to monitor and maintain it.  They tell us things we wish were true: things like, “You really don’t need to expend a lot of energy, there’s plenty here for you and always will be.” “Don’t worry about the reservoir. It may look low, but – it’s complicated…you just don’t understand. We’re in control. We know how to make your water work for you.  Worse come to worst, we know how to create more. Let us fill up the pools and vats in our secret locations – because at this juncture, the ones who need it most are those who know how to make more. Trust us to replenish the reservoir.  After all, we’re good people who have your best interest in mind.”

But, what do you get from people who “make water”?

No “magic pill” will fill the reservoir. And soon those who have been hauling so much water in will want to be paid back. We who emptied the reservoir will soon die off and our children will inherit the debt, along with the responsibility to restore and manage the reservoir.  But will there be any water left?

Think back to the time when a simple stream served our needs. We survived, adjusting to the season. How much adjustment can we make at this time?  Is it possible to not be consumed with fear and embrace courage; not be concerned with comfort but with progress; not near-sighted, but clear-sighted; not focused on the benefits of today but on those of seven generations hence?

Remember when the water belonged to everyone and greed was something we controlled and not the other way around?

If the dam is disintegrating why are trying to patch it?

It’s time to do the work, to refashion new banks to channel the energy toward tomorrow.

What keeps us from doing this?  And how much is still in reserve at secret locations?

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This entry was posted in Belonging, Economy, Guest Blogger, History, Human Behavior, National, Philosophy, World and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Reservoir… A Kind of Economic History -Mike Schaefer

  1. Pingback: “What is Money?” By Mike Schaefer « New World Odor

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