Saturday, November 6, 2021

Are You Of The Body?

Blair Fix gets me. The topics he writes about I have been thinking about for a decade. Thank goodness he is a lot more patient writer than I am.

Take this essay. I'm pulling up a chart in it, labelled figure 4.

Let's unpack this chart. The curves shown are total income for the years 1970(red) and 2007(blue), when income inequality was respectively at a minimum and a maximum. You will notice the horizontal axis is measured logrithmically in powers of ten, simply so that the very rich can be included. A linear measured axis would have the richest way, way, way off the chart to the extreme right. The chart also uses a median income rather than average income as an average income would be heavily skewed to the right, again due to a relatively few but extremely wealthy individuals. The vertcal axis measures relative density of the US population, such that the entire curve adds up to 1. In other words, if I select an individual and their income at random, the vertical number represents their share of same income individuals within the general population. (How common that individual is).

Note that on the left hand side, there is a cohort which barely existed in 1970 termed creeping poverty. Working poor who are earning less than 1% of the median income. This cohort fortunatetly is small compared to the rest of the population, and can only be explained by the elimination of the safety net and the erosion of social welfare programs from Q2 1972 onwards. 

On the right, extreme wealth, we have another cohort that did not exist in 1970 enjoying incomes in the millions or billions compared to your average thousandaire. The individuals themselves could not possibly earn such amounts on their own and so we have a case where their monies make more monies than they do. 

It feels like, if you are not thinking of humanity as a superporganism, a superhive, or a network of monkey hives, then you are wasting your time for explanation as to how and why things are. This is all really simple animal spirit. Emergent behavior and score a big one for the connectionists.

If I may, Kurrman's Scale Invariant Behavior. Example: when you get into a car or truck, you cease being a pedestrian monkey and turn into a large lumbering kind of dumb big animal. Membership in organization also augments as surely as bionic limbs would, but at a cost of similar numbers displaying similar behaviors. 

Humans are composed of trillions of cells, the brain itself some 86 billion neurons. Ants and bees comprise quadrillions of individuals on Earth. I doubt that neurons or insects are all that aware of the collective being they comprise. Not all humans do but they are much more aware of the augmentation of being a larger thing. Funny thing is how that collective behavior by supposedly intelligent and perceptive individuals is not all that different from smaller collectives. Curious, mysterious things, large or small, but things nonetheless. As organizations get bigger, they look similar to smaller analogs, as if there were isotopes of hives. Self-similar. Fractal.

Consider, in this essay we talked about humanity collectively as things, mechas, monsters, kaiju. And I would argue that mechagodzillas always end up with some despotic pea brain at the helm. Oh, brilliant, sure, but now bound to being a kaiju as best she or he can. Still just a little bug in the pilot seat. 

The formula used by Blair Fix is dimensions (in this case height) scale to the cube root of the mass. Take the cube root of (number of employees) times average height of a human in metric gets you your Godzilla sized thing.

The US Federal government is about 5 million strong, which, do the formula, cube root of 5 million is about 170. Average human is 1.65 meters, so 280 meters tall, or about 3/4 the size of the Empire State building. The analogy though doesn.t really apply all that well. Facebook, now Meta, with about 60,000 employees would be a mere 44 meters tall. a 145 foot tall mecha. Impressive but still, Facebook is worth one trillion dollars.

A better metric might be net worth of an organization, measured against median household net worth (to normalize and fit the extremely rich and powerful within the presentation of this silly exercise). Median household net work is currently around $128,000. One trillion divided by 128 thousand is 7,812,500. Using the cube root formula with one individual defined as a household gives us a creature 192 meters tall. That sounds more like it. Picture Mark Zuckerberg piloting a 624 foot tall mechagodzilla. Sounds about right.

The US federal government, with a net worth of around 128 trillion ends up being a 827 meter tall mechagodzilla. 2,687 feet tall and that sounds about right. Question, could all the corporate kaiju dogpile on the US of A federal kaiju? Why yes. Yes, they could, like rats on a monkey. But you forget the states and municipalities, which, as a union, has a shit ton more money than the US government. Regardless, this is all who would win Herman Munster or the Wolfman?

Let's go the other way. Take the USA, where each individual is a cell in a body. How big and sophisicated is this multicellular whole? The body? 330 million cells is like a silverfish or a cockroach. I'm guessing maybe 700-800,000 people are the brain of this cockroach, so the 5,000,000 cell brain is larger than it needs to be.

If you look at the behavior of the USA from 1789 on, it looks like a cockroach. A scuttling bug among other scuttling bugs. Or fish. Or big ass metazoans. Point being, As Above So Below, with exceptions.

Anyway, Blair Fix is an enemy of neo-liberalism. The enemy of my enemy is not my friend. But he's not my enemy.

1 comment:

  1. Median income in the 1970 USA was $9870/year. @007 median income was $50,233. 1970 median income adjusted for 2007 dollars is $52,743 so yes, you proles and precariots, you are earning less.