Growth is fine if everyone grows together, but turns malignant when hyper-concentrated
The age of the trickle-down and the bootstrapping economy has been the defining story of the last generation. In the times after the war, rebuilding and true growth was possible at extraordinary rates. It was the capstone to the industrial revolution that kickstarted prosperity and the population boom. It was around the late 1800s and early 1900s when the population truly went exponential along with everything else. Homes, cars, cities, food, shipments, technology, travel. Everything really, including wealth. With more people, there was a need for more jobs, more productivity, and more wealth concentration. What used to feed a business went from tens or hundreds of thousands of people to suddenly millions, especially when globalism brought trade all over the world. With the internet that number was able to hit the billions.
These numbers are staggeringly high, yet it pales in comparison to the even higher market caps and personal wealth. Trillions of dollars floating around on the stock markets rivaling the GDP of entire nations and even continents. Companies like Facebook/Meta peaked at roughly 3 billion users which is more than China and India combined. Such a level of power concentration has never been achieved in our history, and it might signal a new kind of normal from here on out. But for the first time since their conception Facebook’s daily users started to drop, and along with their market value. With growing influence in China and their own tech revolution and competing virtual spaces, this, too, may be a sign of things to come.
I like to think of the human machinery we call the world economy to be something akin to the human body. At conception, there is nothing but a single cell. Soon it starts to duplicate, splitting into two, then four, then eight. This exponential growth quickly forms into a little embryo. Anatomically speaking, it creates what is a basic human shape. There’s a head, a tail, a tube that will become the spinal cord, an early brain, and the heart starts to beat around 18 days. This is the beginning of the body economy. The little unborn person is taking in nutrients to grow and to form all of its vital parts over time until they have all the basic structures they need when they’re born. For…