Introducing the Benefax Flows Model

A Generalization of Economics

By Tom Veatch


Everyone wonders what to do. What is important and valuable? What matters? Confused or short term thinkers who think they know what they want, may fool themselves while not knowing how to think about it, failing to think backwards from the consequences. Short term thinking has some value, but not all. To support practical problem solving, this essay offers a comprehensive model of (monetary and non-monetary) value flows at levels of individual, community, and history. I propose a term, Benefax, as a universal value metric which incorporates a variety of types of goodness flows transmitted from or to persons, including not just monetary resources exchanged for value recieved but also gifts, connection, genetic gifts, waste, time, effort, skills, positions of leverage, investments, etc.

Implied but not shown in the graph, the Benefax metric also incorporates triggered or knock-on value flows which one's choices and flows might induce downstream in the recipients or others, so that the total benefax of a decision is the sum across the network of affected tranmissions of flows downstream from that decision. In this way we seek to label, map, and quantify the recursive value flow structure of the world, from the level of the individual to the community, to history. "Benefax" may be translated as, the total of all downstream value flows due to a particular choice. Since the future is unknown, Benefax may be operationalized as its own expected value under some assumptions of ation of total of expected value flow

This "Benefax Flows Model" or BFM supports clear thinking about lives, life choices, and life chances, including the interactions among things like parenting decisions, love itself, as well as gifts, effort, skill development, earnings, and investments, as well as expenditures, which may be seen as wise or unwise based on downstream effects in the model. The BFM helps assign (different kinds of) value to life circumstances and choices.

We start from, and return to, a series of general observations on value flows in economics, including the pure idealism implicit in economics, recognizing the universal negative forces of externalities and the downward emphasis of additive thinking and of multiplicative returns. We confront the significance in human society and in other value chains of the concept of the absorbing barrier taken from the theory of investment. Thus, the model clarifies our thinking as to why the hated 80/20 rule, Pareto, characterizes wealth distribution, due to many factors including the influence of the mere idea of multiplicative returns. The model is presented both graphically and in words. Some of the interactions in the model are enumerated. Consequences of the model for personal and public-policy decision-making are drawn out, and recommendations as well as hope for progress in each domain is expressed and perhaps justified, as you may judge for yourself, which is the point.

A graphical introduction

Consider the Benefax Flows Model graphically.
Genes(1x only) Time In Gifts Connection Skills Rsrcs Earned Purchases Investment Returns  Death Parent Payoff Time Spent Connection Effort Skilled Effort Expense Gifts Investment Outlay

Figure 1. Benefax Flows

The circle represents you, quite empty to start, just a possibility. Over time, flows flow in, flows flow out, and the different types of flows start flowing roughly in the sequence shown. Genes flow in one time, that's called conception, and although there is a continuous flow of nature, we artificially impose a convenient conceptual structure by saying that a unit person, created by that stochastic merger of information, has come into existence at that time, though previously you existed not just in the twinkle in your parents' eyes, but more deeply, in the lifetime aspiration and eternal commitment which they intentionally made real in the form of you.

Genes and death are the only one-time flows; the others arrows are flow types which can occur over and over many times from their start time until their disablement moment. The different flows are somewhat ordered developmentally. So first and for a very long time you are (besides internal developments) simply the passive recipient and beneficiary of gifts upon gifts upon gifts, returning hardly more than the mere knowledge of your existence to your parents. That itself is naturally a great reward to them, for the future is in their eyes, and they see what might be, might become of you, might become, because of you, and all that summed and integrated is in their eyes when they simply see that your existence is real. It's not knowledge of the future, but it's a hope, and statistically it is an expectation, for the expected value of a person is not even just all the goodness that an average person might produce, but the downstream persons that that person might produce, grandchildren and a nation of descendants. After 30 doublings, it's a billion descendants, which might seem unrealistic but looking backward you do have a billion great-greats preceding you only 30 generations back.

Gifts and time come in in huge quantities, think of how many sleepless nights you caused your poor parents who loved you so much that they woke up to feed and comfort your wailing little spitting carcass, to puzzle in a panic and to experiment and try to finally figure out what you might need when they have no idea and you can't even speak to tell them. After a long long long time of that, at some point you surprised everyone and started expending Efforts, and with the unfolding of your genetic gifts combined with the gifts of your environment and no doubt with that quite enjoyable Effort expense on your part, in started coming Skills, from thumbsucking and the pharyngeal peristalsis we call swallowing, in the womb, to grasping and kicking and eventually lifting your head on the white white sheets of your bassinette. That's a continuing flow of Efforts out, and gradually Skills in, and over time a deep hierarchy of skills develops in all those tiny steps. These include not just the mechanical ones of Crawling, Walking, Running, also the linguistic skills of Screaming, Babbling, Word-forming, Word-combining, Grammar-following, that is, Speaking, also the social skills of Negotiating survival and intimacy with your nursemaid: suck but don't bite; chew down hard and you'll hear it; give and get love, food, connection, to the degree you are able and within limits under negotiation, navigating which is the greatest social skill, which you will generalize to all human relationships, and which most will learn most between day one and their weaning. These are flows, flows of different types, but Gifts, Connection, Time spent, Effort, and Skills predominate in the dependent phase of life. Later your skills become remunerable, and combined with the implicit event or arrow of the acquisition of a position of leverage whereby your skilled effort translates to some form and quantity of returns, after that, skilled effort can flow out in in transaction for exchange flows which come in, of Earned Resources. You see the model: flows are one-way events, each is its own form of goodness, each a subtype of Benefax. The total value, impact, or Benefax of a choice that you might make will then be a sum (or a product?) including not just the direct flow corresponding to that action on your part, but the downstream flows which thereby may have been required or inspired to flow from others, some back to you but many onward to third parties, across the discretely triggered steps of Time across the social network of your recursive circle of influence, This is Benefax: the many dimensions of goodness taken out to include their recursive impact in society.

That was a quick TL;DR introduction to the Benefax Flows Model.

This essay will return to the Benefax Flows Model after a detour through certain problems and potentials of Economics, the horrible implications of Pareto and the Absorbing Barrier, the hope offered by an Investment oriented mode of thinking but applied to non-investment flows, and finally back to the BFM to push toward the goal of a formal quantitative model which can be used to evaluate and optimize choices for individuals, communities and history. Are you as excited as I am? I hope so!

Economics as Idealism

Modern history has been an attempt by idealistic improvers to make things better. Where successful, it's called progress, and the people who try to make it happen are called progressives. Since change can also potentially destroy, and since life itself exists in fragile dependency on long history, we also must be careful to hold onto our babies while changing their bathwater. Where successful, it's called survival, and the guardians of that necessary if insufficient past are called conservatives.

Even money and capitalism are idealistic improvements. Money itself was an alloyed but great bit of progress when it was invented. Read Graeber, “Debt: The first 5000 years”. Much later, modern capitalism was also huge progress when it was invented, thanks to the clever Dutch, see wikipedia. Eventually theory caught up, partly.

Classical liberal economics in the person of Adam Smith noticed that -- and I state the true essence -- exchange increases value. If you have A and I have B, and you value B more than A and I value A more than B, then if we exchange A for B, then both us end with more value, from our own perspective, than we started with. If it's easy for you to make a pizza, and it's easy for me to make $20, but I want a pizza and you want $20 then we exchange them and not only is everybody happy but the net value of everything in the world, according to the people in it, has gone up, partly because you and I are happier, partly because a pizza got made that otherwise might not have. That's the pure insight: Exchange increases total public value.

Wow, three words, exchange increases value, explains half of all politics and most of the ideology of business. If every voluntary exchange has this profound, universal, and beneficial characteristic, then the way to make the world a better place is to simply support and enable exchange. Given a few words of encouragement and some getting out of the way — of ourselves and others — economies of skill naturally arise, specialization emerges, efficiency increases, GDP goes up, people get more of what they want more, in exchange for giving in exchange what they don't mind giving up, everybody experiences freedom of choice and everyone finds their own balance. Everything is a win.

Economics Must Recognize Externalities

Except when it doesn't. Because there are externalities. Externalities are where a transaction isn't just between two parties but also has an impact external to the transacting parties, like, on other parties, like the general public or the environment or the future or the victim of a transacted abuse. Consider for example a slave sold by a seller to a buyer, where the net increase in value to buyer and seller as a result of the exchange exists on the back of an infinite decrease in value to the slave. Let’s be straight: Transactional externalities are shit. The curse is appropriate. Externalities are outrageous, including when you can’t even see them.

Externalities are socialism for the capitalists. The costs of a transaction are socialized onto the public, the environment, the future, while the benefits of the transaction are privatized to the transactants. Socialize the costs, privatize the profits. It's an upside down world.

My first ever college class, Monday 8am, was Econ 1, taught by Professor Gurley, a Marxian economist. I admit I wondered if that made him the devil, but he seemed a mild-mannered fellow and never seemed to say anything controversial. But looking back, he made sure we learned about externalities. Do economics classes usually teach about externalities? It sure seems like they don't, because money people, capitalists and their sycophant well-paid defenders in the media space seem to just harangue on endlessly about how socialism (of profits only) is bad and we need to just unleash the market to do anything right. As money people they surely took Econ 1, yet they seem to have never heard of externalities. One might therefore blame the Econ 1 curriculum, or more likely, the self-interest or the willingness of this class of people to shit on everyone else, or to enable that, by falsely praising an alloyed good as an unalloyed good. The alloy is good mixed with bad. Lots of good there, but let's not be ignorant of, or deny, the bad.

Ignorance and denial do not change reality, and they do not do away with externalities. Externalities exist. Externalities are a problem. And free markets, to avoid shitting on the world of the public, the environment, the future, and the potential victims of abuses, must eternally be watched and regulated so that externalities are caught, captured, stopped, repaired, as the case may be. They might be prevented entirely (by outlawing slavery, for example) or taxed (so that polluters' cleanups can be paid for), or regulated (by government agencies not yet captured by the targets of regulation), or made subject to legal liability whether criminal or civil. Etc. Just as sociopaths by their nature will eternally find new ways to make money by screwing others, in the same way those who might cause externalities must eternally be watched for and stopped.

That's why we have big regulatory government, and class action lawsuits, and a growing library of laws theoretically in the public interest, because the externalities are innumerable and technical and in the weeds and are continually popping up and being discovered by both the transactors who benefit and those who are burdened by, and bear the cost of, those transactions -- with neither choice or remuneration.

That's like US Economics Theory up to 1979. So far so good.

Mean Thoughts

But there's more. I have an essay on three kinds of mean; let's discuss the first two. Most folks think using addition, but rich folks think using multiplication. If you are most folks, you figure you'll go make some money, that'll ADD to your wallet, then you'll go spend some money, that'll SUBTRACT from your wallet, and you add all the ins and outs and you get a TOTAL, you think you did well or poorly based on your COUNT. This is additive, "arithmetic mean" type thinking, and your baseline is ZERO because of course there will be income and of course there will be expenses, and you just want to not be negative, to not be in the red, bleeding, but to be in the black, safe. Even zero is okay, because you're at least not bleeding; you've covered your expenses, you're surviving in the additive model.

But if you are money-wise, a.k.a. rich folks, if you figure you'll go make your money make money, that will MULTIPLY your investment by some number hopefully greater than 1.0. If it's a great investment and you get 20%, it MULTIPLIES your investment by 1.2. Your conceptual baseline is 1.0 or 100%, it doesn't matter what the amount is, that's your total net worth, and you are trying to make it go up by a percentage meaning MULTIPLY by 1.XX where XX is the percent increase, like 1.50 is a 50% increase. It quite sucks if it goes down, so that's why you're careful, but it really Really REALLY sucks if it goes to zero. Zero is not your acceptable baseline result, it is the end, it is death, is what we call the absorbing barrier.

Because if your investment capital is zero, then you can't multiply your way out of zero. You can have a 100million percent investment opportunity and putting in all your capital of zero the result you get is still zero. So instead you have to go back to work and spend your time to make money and as we think we must, do ADDITIVE thinking keeping your expenses(-) below your income(+) until your savings (-E+I) eventually ADD up to something you can start maybe once again in a lifetime to invest again. And there are no guarantees that anyone wants to hire you, or that you have the discipline to keep your expenses down, or that your income will be enough, and even if all that is given, it'll take probably years and years of your short precious life to get back in the saddle again thinking about investments that will MULTIPLY your capital. Going to zero is really like death, in a way.

The Absorbing Barrier from Two Perspectives

Well that's all nice introductory material, now you know how people might tend to think at different ends of the wealth spectrum, but my point is far beyond this. We have a world where folks tend to bump along the absorbing barrier, at zero, and the Pareto 80/20 rule puts most people there at the bottom, which is not just a struggle that each one individually suffers with, but a world design option which might imaginably be improved upon. At least we should think about it. How does the existence of an absorbing barrier influence the way we should think about free market capitalism? I think it might.

If it happens to land them at or closer to Zero, no big deal, they can get some work tomorrow and keep on going. Did you ever wonder how that walking disaster zone of a family member ever survived all their bad decisions? This is the answer. This is it! Bankrupt, repossessed, delicensed, even deported, whatever, there is always another day and the sun shines equally on, and the earth uncomplainingly supports, every sinner as much as every saint. There is always tomorrow. Well, until there isn't. But the point is, with arithmetic-mean thinking, with -Expenses+Income as your focus of attention, with Zero as your baseline, must-achieve, neutral expectation, then falling into zero is no big deal, it's just the cost of surviving in a hand-to-mouth working world. This is how we think.

On the other hand, the rich folks, with multiplicative, geometric-mean type thinking, with percent increase or decrease as their focus of attention, with One (100%) as the baseline neutral expectation, for them, falling into zero is the inconceiveable disaster; it is the death event which removes them from the living-investor class; it is to be avoided at all costs. If you think about it graphically where the geometric mean is charted on a log scale, remember the log of zero is negative infinity: that's the effect of a zero return event for these folks. It's actually inconceivable. In a way they have forgotten that they are human beings who can get up in the morning and get to work. But in a way they are right, because they have died as investors, and it could be a long road back to the living.

The upshot is going to be, you are already rich, and you are already making choices that have multiplicative effects, in all kinds of value flows including but not limited to investments, and choosing wisely is going to turn out to mean, thinking about multiplicative returns downstream from any given choice, your choice. It’s just a change in mindset, and you will suddenly be wise and practical and soon rich and benevolent. But let’s elaborate on the potential downsides just a tiny bit longer, and contemplate what we may hope to avoid.

Free Market Transactions with an Absorbing Barrier

For folks near the absorbing barrier, with additive/arithmetic valuation in their heads, a free market transaction is just a certain cost, subtracted from their wallet. They are not necessarily freaking out, hitting zero is actually relatively okay from their perspective. But:

The greater vulnerability and potential for destruction, the short absolute distance to zero, the often worse quality of decision-making, and the downward bias of returns all drag those at the bottom toward zero, if they can even stay off the cliff they are constantly being pulled toward it. This is the power that produces Pareto.

With the vulnerability of poor folks, the damage from a destructive transaction could be much greater. All transactions have a much higher risk for the poor than the rich. A recoverable bump for someone with an emergency fund might be completely devastating for someone without. With a daily burn rate close to the daily earn rate, and no capital investments multiplying in the background to extend resource security or enable impactful future choices, the poor are stuck close to that absorbing barrier by something akin to a magnetic force: stronger when nearer.

In a circulating public market of poorer and richer folks, these asymmetries will knock more and more folks onto the absorbing barrier of Zero Resources. These asymmetries operate gradually -- and asymmetrically downward also -- to stratify and restratify folks down toward less even when zero doesn’t happen. Encountering a 50% loss, they now have a much harder recovery path than just 50%. There are some few tiny upward moving vortices composed of the lucky, hardworking and/or well-positioned, and financially wise (meaning, thinking with multiplication not addition), those ones who avoid all the dangerous known and unknown missteps and who find the narrow and sometimes inscrutable ways on the path to financial security: yes, some. But generally the rich get richer multiplying their investments, the poor get poorer subtracting their expenses, and the middle class is very much on edge and trending downward.

To summarize, in this world, the idea of a free-market transaction that universally benefits the world is actually hogwash. It's not unalloyed good. It is an alloyed good: a mix of good and bad.

Transactions definitely benefit the world IF there are no externalities, and IF there is no asymmetry of positional leverage or knowledge or quality-decision-making or negotiating abilities, and IF there is no destructive consequence for resource-constrained transactors, and IF it doesn't end up pushing the poorer party closer to Zero, and IF the poor side isn't forced into the transaction by any form of desperation, whether because having to eat, they must buy food, or in the style of the bandit who offers the choice, your money or your life. If and If and If and If and If, then it's Definitely Good.

This is quite true because there is a golden nugget of goodness in there and we can’t become stupidly pessimistic and forget it. So what is the essence of our problem here? I say besides externalities it is the absorbing barrier, and the arithmetic event of falling to zero, understood through the perspective of the geometrically accumulating, that is, exponentially growing outcome differences in the real world, which changes the free-market idyllic transaction into the real-world pit of vipers.

Model Desiderata

We are about to come up with our model. So let's consider, what exactly are the economic and other flows of the world that result in Pareto, at the detailed level of lifetime incomes and expenses, incomes of resources and benefits and expenses in the various currencies of time and attention or effort as well as monetizeable resources.

At the same time let's not forget the point of this. My point is, what is a new-and-better theory of progress? Progress means, making the world better. How can we make the world better? Let's do the AI thing and maximize a statistical function of a big data set with an appropriately complex model able to accept the flows of all the valuable resources that do flow. What data? What function? What maximization? What model? Here are some bits of the picture:

To pull out a platonic essence here, let's say, economics has as its domain the transaction, the instantaneous, value-balanced, monetarily-measured, two-way, flow event; whereas in contrast the Benefax Flow Model has as its domain the value flow, which in general is one way, not necessarily instantaneous, nor balanced. Benefax or value flow modelling generalizes economics itself to recognize and include gifts not excluding biological gifts, waste, learning and skill acquisition, time as resource, expenditure, and inter-flow lag, and the multiple currencies of time, connection, attention, financial currencies, and finally the recursive impacts of flows begetting downstream flows thereby increasing benefax or value.

I want a model in which multiplicative effects are explicit and visible not just in the investment aspect of economic activity but in all areas of value flows in which knock-on flows can occur. In investment, yesterday's investment goes up by today's percent increase, which then repeats tomorrow by tomorrow's percent increase in a multiplicative accumulation. If flows not transactions are considered, then any type of flow can and does influence downstream flows by triggering a second flow which triggers a third flow etc., and even if the magnitude of the later ones drop off, they still magnify the total impact of the first flow. These may be accounted for as multiplicatively accumulating, and thus investment-minded thinking can apply to non-investment flows. This lets us consider the value of choices in a more objective and global way. For example, a decision to create a certain flow may be preferred if it is more expected to trigger a cascade of downstream flows, and even more so if that cascade is an increasing one, like a nuclear chain reaction gone critical. A gift that keeps on giving is a better gift, and one that gives more and more with each flow generation is even better. This seems clearer in a flow model than a transactional model, although a transaction chain might be made to account for the same events, if all flows are monetized.

Flow Model

Consider some kind of Markov-inspired (but not Markovian) hydraulic flow simulator model, evolving over the typical lifetime. (See Figure 1.)

In this Benefax Flows model, the circles are all a single person, let's say, you, evolving over your lifetime. The arrows represent categories of flows into you or out from you. Each arrow is a type of flow, a category, a sort of benefactive lexicon or event sequence, a kind or class of goodness that you might give or get, whether in the thing given or the act of giving, whether to or from someone or noone at all (as in Waste, presently included in Gifts).

So each arrow or flow category represents a whole stream of events. It is a hydraulic model in the sense that the arrow represents a valve turning on, thereby enabling that type of flow, so that now and hereafter there can be flows in that pipe. Not knowing the secrets of each mind, we can perhaps model an arrow as a random process characterized by evolving and dependent probability distribution(s) that minimize the overall unpredictability of the times and magnitudes of succeeding events. The evolution of the probability distribution of a given flow is typically dependent on the balance sheet of previous accumulated flows; some cannot begin until some logical prerequisites are met (Skills < Work) and cannot continue after some logical constraints have applied (Everything < Death < Nothing).

Thus the sequence of arrows suggests the sequence in which new types of flows are enabled, and which then may occur repeatedly throughout a lifetime (excepting genes, which arrive only once). The mystery (to stymied parents) is, What prerequisites would turn on the spigot of Effort; the answer is to trust the natural efflorescence of self-evolving Consciousness with its dopamine-rewarded achievement orientation system of ambition and aspiration and and get out of the way.

It's a rather developmental ordering. Once the Person passes from left to right, each new arrow now can generate events any time after activation through to the end. Thus this graphical representation's sequence of arrows only roughly describes the dependencies of one event upon others. Another way to draw it would be as an animation, a sort of octopus popping out new arms as independence and capacities develop.

Implicit within each circle is your momentary balance sheet representing the accumulation of received benefax of each of the different types that have come in so far, also accounting for those that have gone out. (Not all outflows reduce the balance, such as Connection: Giving more love doesn't reduce the love in your balance sheet.)

Also not shown graphically, but of the essence, each flow has its particular characteristics, such as scale, frequency, magnitude; its time-domain event probability distribution (e.g., Poisson with a particular frequency and magnitude), and its parameterized dependencies on accumulations of other flows. Expenditure and gift probabilities go up briefly after a lottery win, for example. Expense prioritization is implicit in the Expenses arrow.

Figure 2. Benefax Flows, with times

Start with an empty circle representing your potentiality as a person. (In this sense we are all created equal.) Into it comes genetic capabilities both shared and unique. Into it (as a resource) comes time, out from it (as an expenditure) goes time. In comes gifted startup investment (parental and non-parental food, shelter, love and support, school support & training, everything you get without deserving it, but just because (of the virtue and investments of others in the past)), out goes focussed effort. After effort accumulates, in comes skill (which can include human skills like negotiation and diplomacy as well as more instrumental skills like the mechanic's trade etc.). Then out can go skilled effort, in can come money income or in-kind income scaled by leverage including the aforementioned skill and negotiated/earned position. Out goes money for in-kind benefits or investments; in comes life-support resources like food and water, and social-class-level-associated baseline resources like a teenager's iPhone nowadays, social-climbing resources like a job interview suit, Maslow hierarchy support resources like everything up to yoga or church attendance, self-destructive resources like drugs or mere wastedness. In comes investment principal returns and interest income; out can go time and other resources wasted, or gifted or spent in improving or reducing one's own or others' lifetime benefax.

To those who object that most of these flows are unquantifiable, I say, go have a look at Fuzzy Logic, whereby qualitative factors may be made as precisely quantitative as you like. Just as for example unpaid domestic labor can be quantified by comparison with paid domestic labor and thus by cost or use-value or impact parental gifts can be assigned value whether denominated in money or in other imaginable foundational nonmonetary currencies such as time or effort or even model-internal Benefax units, your imagined problems are, I hope, a challenge not a difficulty.

This hydraulic time-evolving model includes interrupted and crossing flows and flows with mutual amplification.

Interrupted flows: You're good for nothing but parental pleasure for many years. You may or may not expend any or much focussed effort (though it is natural in our learning and intellectually active species to focus our efforts to some degree; we somehow naturally occupy the zone of proximal development and barring interference from self or others we act energetically there) at any stage of the process (interruption having consequences; without effort you may not accumulate much skill, with knock-on effects dramatically reducing your potential flows of skilled work, therefore of future expenditures, gifts, and investments etc.). You might have a hiatus, or take vacations or retire, thus interrupting some flows. Crime interrupts. Early death interrupts. War interrupts — at scale.

Considering the total benefax of any action, huge negatives come from what we properly think of as immoral actions (is this the very definition?), but also from mere self-defeating thoughts. Fortunately the latter can be reversed by the mere possibility of admiration, or by a wise encouraging word. Therefore let us exemplify and encourage realistic admiration and humble sharing of wisdom. All this value is made explicit in the Benefax Model.

Crossing flows: You surely benefit from others' expending resources for you in the early phase of life and perhaps intermittently later in needy phases. You may expend resoures to benefit others in their times of need, early or late; whether as gifts, or even by directing your purchases through them.

Amplifying flows: Without a flow out of you of focussed effort, also without some threshold of genetic capability such as two hands or two feet or a brain or a tongue, you may or may not accumulate much or any skill. If you do develop some skill it was probably because your focussed effort was focussed by dopamine, you loved what you were exploring with curiosity and that was the path of self-improvement, and so now you probably have something fun to focus your efforts on and so you'll do that more and that will develop your skill further. The more skill you have the more your focussed efforts might produce money or in-kind income. So effort and skill are mutually amplifying. As another example, bank accounts accumulate both from parental/non-parental gifts or imaginable UBI payments as well as from pay for skilled effort over time; money can amplify investments, gifts, expenses, and also refocus time spent. These effects are defined on the Benefax Flows graph as changes in the random processes based on accumulations of past flows.

A major amplifier is investment multiplication, where more leads to more, except of course if it leads to zero then any amount leads equally to zero.

Flow Model Based Definitions

Important concepts can be defined, measured, modelled, contextualized, perhaps better understood, and perhaps optimized on the benefax flow model. These include: bankruptcy; resource security; ambition itself, and the value of a life.

What is bankruptcy in BFM? Three things: Principal loss at t7. Death at t9. Savings = Earned resources - transactable resources becomes balanced at zero.

Additively, we define Savings = Earned resources - transactable resources; and, Bankruptcy is Savings = 0. BFM prefers multiplicative summary, that is, NOT the sum of values above or below zero, but the PRODUCT of values above or below 100%. Because even when financially utterly bankrupt one still holds Benefax accounts of an enormous accumulated history of gifts received, skills acquired, relationships built; a history of predecessors of whom you remain the blessed hope to eternity, no matter how low you may go, if only you don’t waste it all in unnecessary early death. Each action you now choose can still have a multiplying effect, not only expanding yourself by building on your capacities exponentially into the future, but also by knock-on effects where your goodness enables and triggers others’ goodness in a network-structured expanding circle of benefactive influence. Just, no matter what, don’t by destroying yourself multiply by zero, which on the log scale subtracts infinity (log(0)=-\inf), by discounting in ignorance the enormous value you still and always represent, even now: please, never destroy yourself!

What does resource security look like in BFM? It means "enough for now". Transactable Resources on hand, i.e., TR = t1 gifts + t3 earnings - t4 expenses at all times in the period under discussion should leave sufficient t4 transactable resources to postpone death and downward spiralling. The accounts at t3, t4, t5 enable continuance. Expressed in C code, with RS the resource security function, and TR the current value of transactable resources, and min the partly-subjective threshold value of TR to constitute "enough for now":

RS(t) = (TR>min?1:0)
This level of required minimum expense is partly socially defined, involving the maintenance requirements of the social identity of the person in their society and their expectations, partly aspirational, and also partly Maslowian, reflecting a universal hierarchy of needs.

What is ambition in BFM? Ambition is motivation linked to achieved conditions, to reality; aspiration is motivation linked to self. Folks differ in the nature of their ambition or aspiration. In the BFM, a person might reasonably specialize in one flow type or another, or some balance or combination of them, as their particularly motivating kind of ambition -- excepting that passive gift receipt (as an independent adult) would seem to reflect not ambition but lack of ambition. Let's take each one in turn.

Copyright © 2000 - 2022 Thomas C. Veatch. All rights reserved.
Created December 13, 2022