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I = S - M

The modern way of thinking about economics has been I = M - S Where I is the I as in me, M is what is 'mine' and S is what ...


In a small village in Rajasthan, India, a colleague is taken ill and rushed to the local hospital. There he finds that the hospital is bare, that there isn't even a single thermometer. 

Krista puts it in a way that enlightens us. She says, "The reason we have a hospital with no thermometer is that it is impossible to steal a hospital."

Stealing is at the heart of the situation. However it is not stealing as commonly understood.

Resources are so very limited worldwide that any resource stumbled upon is immediately procured for use in one's family and immediate community. It may be hard for us in the West, with all our many material comforts, to imagine thermometers disappearing from hospitals but this is the reality in most of the world. 

The reason why there are no thermometers in this hospital in rural Rajasthan is because there are too many in the West. There is every conceivable kind of this device, using unbelievably sophisticated technology, in every hospital and home and office in the West, even though all they do is tell temperature. 

Furthermore, resources have interchangeable uses and the broader reason why there are no thermometers in this hospital in rural Rajasthan is that we in the West sit upon a pile of largely useless stuff, that we call our possessions. Every single thing we own has diverted resources away from thermometers that may be made and stocked in the hospital in rural Rajasthan.

A child is lying neglected in a hospital right now in rural India, and Bangladesh, and Pakistan, and all over the poor world because we are stealing resources away from her and the fulfillment of her needs.  

The economy of use argues for the keeping of only such resources as we use and creatively distributing what we don't use. Each of us can live this way. If we do, I am sure that soon, very soon, there will be thermometers in that hospital in rural Rajasthan. 

Isn't it time for us in the West to own up to our theft? To stop stealing thermometers from rural areas of the poor countries?

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