I have long ranted here and elsewhere about the need for the nation to establish a "Big Picture" data base available to everybody in the country, rich or poor.
The exact nature of this "Big Picture" display is yet to be figured out, however. (We have got lots of people who have the hardware and software skills to figure out such a thing, surely, as - with doubtless communication difficulties - guided by some of the right-brained folk who naturally live in a Big Picture world but equally lack the hooks back into the details that the Big Picture presentation would provide for them, too.) It needs to be of a form that has direct ties between the portions of the Big Picture and the specific analytic details associated. Surely we have computers big enough to do this easily, given development of the software to assemble the Big Picture. It would need to be presented to the individual user in a form so as to prevent getting lost and sunk back into the morass of details, so the form of computer presentation would need to have the Big Picture always as an attached lifesaver for the user to hang onto while climbing around through the details for decision making.
Probably the conventional technologies for making presentation charts and graphs of trends of individual parameters would be utilized in some way in such a system. But if exclusively, or even dominantly, driven by the "left-brained" processes of analysis, you can't get there from here, as shown by the fate of the ISSS (International Society of Systems Scientists; formerly GSR, General Systems Research.) Those folks have striven mightily to use the analytical approach to encompass the whole of things. But there is this old problem of not being able to see the forest because the trees are in the way. Maybe women, who by nature of more connections between the two sides of the brain, can do a better job of it; but they typically cannot thereby reach out to the farther reaches of the left or right side brain which is needed for the solving of some kinds of problems - holistic view vs analytical view. Got to get everybody, all men and women, into the game, we are all in this together, like it or not. And the know-it-all analytic folks will need to - somehow - constantly do the handshake with the holistic right-brained seers of the situation, to make such a Big Picture communication display work and available to all in an eminently usable and useful form.
One of the ways to test a model of this hypothetical Big Picture software, would be to see what it would have done for the current situation here in America re housing and foreclosures, apparently now at a plague level; the trillion dollars in questionable home loans merely being part of the greater losses of ruining people's lives, job losses, employee-made products that can't be made or sold, and overall economy taking the hit. Would the software have allowed our citizens to see the effects of following activities that are of the form I have ranted about calling "Pyramid Game using tokens"? The American housing market has been such a game, I have claimed for very many years; prices going up without equivalent home improvements being added first. People got the idea that they could buy a house, live in it for years at no rent and sell it for far more than they paid for it, a free ride with bonus afterwards? The new buyers are the ones that pick up the tab for the good life of the previous owners, but if they too will have a similar "free ride with bonus afterwards," is easy to join in on the game. But the Pyramid Game, even with token item in possession such as a house, is still a Pyramid Game, and the losers are the ones holding the tab at the endgame, which will happen sooner or later, as is the nature of the old Pyramid Game.
The left brained, analytical mode of thinking exclusively, is too easily led down the garden path by those using such enticing terms as "Appreciation of home values." Is it the same old house or not? If there have been home improvements, exactly how much potential utility value have they added to the value of the home, and how accurately is that expressed in dollars of price increase? How much has wear and tear and disintegration with time, lowered the potential utility value of the home, and has this been accurately figured into the price?
In this viewpoint, the endgame of the housing Pyramid Game With Tokens has now started, which is the current thing called a housing market lending foreclosure wave.
What is visible now is that, along with evicted home owners, the lenders are suffering who provided the extra bit of money in loan to all the people who got into the Pyramid Game, money that was "increase in cost" of the homes without any equivalent home improvement having been done. It was money paid for nothing, the Pyramid Game money component of the prices.
So the Big Picture software and access technology would need to have shown people the end result of getting into this game, of home prices increasing without equivalent "value added" home improvements being applied. It was a "scarcity" driven market, and sellers demanding what the market will bear. The country is now beginning to pay for the cost of violating the Big Picture's end result.
Can the country do better next time? Would a Big Picture access for all people, probably via the internet and computers at home and offices, have alerted people to the high risks of this real estate easy money scheme, and not buy into it?
What if housing had not been increasing in price except to correspond with equivalent home improvements that had been made, following a "value added" process?
An example of what happened in the way things were actually done in recent decades, would be where a house sold for $35,000 new 40 years ago, and it has not been improved but latest sold for $900,000. The house is still the same house, with some more layers of paint on the walls outside and more corrosion in the plumbing on the inside. The missing $865,000 was easy money that was spread among the various owners of the house and lenders (and real estate agents too, with their cut) and all prior ones have gotten out of the game with their various portions of the easy free money in their pockets. (As a specific different example, I recall that my own house was sold for $18,000 in 1972 as part of divorce settlement; I happened to be going by the place 4 years later as new people were again moving in, they had paid $110,000 for it, and the place looked the same, even the big mural of Monterey Pines I had left hanging on the living room wall by the door in my despair, was still there; although they had put carpeting on the living room floor, was the only improvement obvious to me. So those owners after me lived there for free for 4 years and made $92,000 as a bonus, while I was paying apartment rent that kept me almost broke. In recent years I learned that the property is now valued at almost $1,500,000, although they have added onto it a bit, and put a new deck on the bridge.) But when the Pyramid Game suddenly ends, unfortunately the current owner loses, and big time, especially if they still owe so much on the "token item" house they cannot finish paying for it and they lose it all, as is happening to so many people now; somebody has to pay. Although everybody else that was in on the easy money game over the years took the same gamble, and they "won." Not getting into this kind of game would have been much smarter, tempting as it was. Can we learn? ( - I doubt it - it is simply too hard to change our ways, I know too well myself - )
A major part of this hypothetical Big Picture would show that the increase of home price for the various owners, required they get higher wages to pay into the house payments, and the higher wages needed to do that forced America to be non-competitive with our product prices as compared to the rest of the world. As such products become unable to be sold, companies have to go out of business, and fewer jobs remain. Without adequate jobs, can't pay for the home.
The effects on the world environment and how it all comes around to their lives, would be another useful function of such a Big Picture access system by all.
In the world of competition, it is likely that such Big Picture presentation would become a tempting thing to be a hoarded resource to those who would want to manipulate money and power schemes.
But this is America, and a powerful and wise America is based on all Americans having a share of the responsibility for the overall country "We the people...." and require the resources for making these decisions including down to their purchasing decisions; be it a home, or a veggie at the grocery.
Just having a little piece of the Big Picture which happens to be in front of their face at the moment, long-term accumulates into a high risk decision matrix, that has once again added up, in a nation full of decision-making, to situations that become a huge problem for all of us. The Big Picture presentation for everybody with internet access, if properly designed and built, would show how it all comes around, giving people the option to find more responsible ways.
Labels: Big Picture, home values, Pyramid Game, software, value added