A supply without demand
It is curious to watch the “needs” of the different actors of current Western society we live in. Younger people want everything to be given to them, because they are young. Older people ask to be spoiled at all, because they are elderly. The middle-aged people want everything to be as they intend because they’re at their golden age, and it’s the moment to receive high returns on everything they do.
A portuguese poet called António Aleixo wrote a famous quote saying the following: “For a lie to be safe and achieve depth it has to bring something true underneath.” I agree with it and I am in favor of part of what I wrote in the previous paragraph.Young people should be given opportunities and amenities because they are at the beginning of their lives. They don’t have have much experience yet and lack resources, so general society consents to facilitate them. Reality of older people varies greatly. Unfortunately we can not say that all of them enjoy broad prosperity, but perhaps as a reward for it and due to the effort made during all life, they deserve respect from the rest of society. Middle-aged people, who I guess that are a significant part of Western society’s working population, are not as coddled as the other two groups because they are expected to be the ones who coddle.
The difference between the two preceding paragraphs is like the most basic law of any market: on one hand there is demand and on the other there is supply. In the first paragraph I referred to what people want to receive (demand) and in the second I mentioned what society traditionally gives them (supply).
In a traditional market, and at the absence of an invisible hand, the balance between demand and supply would be found naturally through price adjustment. In this case, I think it is impossible because the demand mentioned before is a fictitious one and supply, which is very real, is disappearing. How so?
Consider then the following reasoning: The aforementioned consents have always been given freely and willingly to each of these groups because the other members of society understand the conditions that each group faces. Opening exceptions and giving opportunities to the younger and older has been a gracious act over the years and a consequence of the respect felt for them. As effect of this supply’s existence, both target groups became accommodated to it in such a way that they complain when not getting what they always received. That’s why I say that this is a fictitious demand. It shouldn’t exist, but given the decrease of supply, it became evident.
But let’s abandon metaphorical concepts and put the attention on the factual concepts: it’s not possible to provide as many opportunities as before to younger people and there is no longer much respect and granted benefits to the elderly. Many of the reasons supporting these attitude changes can be linked to the economic climate, but I believe there is an even bigger factor weighting in this equation: Society is becoming more selfish. I do not intend this statement to be understood as a criticism or a compliment, but simply as an observation.
I believe there is some correlation between the existence of principles aimed at supporting these two groups and prosperity of the whole society. I am sorry for the fact that this conclusion lacks scientific basis, I hope I can study it in the future. If we focus only on benefits given to young people, the existence of this benevolent act of all regarding a particular group can be compared with the existence of bees on our planet. In our daily life we are not aware of the existence of bees unless someone is bitten by one. However, although living so unnoticed among us, bees are responsible for the pollination of many plants and their fruiting. If an instant all the bees disappeared, several fruit and vegetable industries would suffer disastrously.
By creating opportunities for the younger generations, society guarantees that:
If the younger generations are not given opportunities, they arrive to the marketplace in frank disadvantage. They may have much knowledge (and that’s an opportunity that was given) but have no wisdom (experience) or resources.
I am not advocating that young people should complain for more opportunities, I advocate that all the others recognize the importance of giving opportunities to younger people.
There is a famous question applied to entrepreneurs: Are they born or made? In a perfect and ideal world entrepreneurs are born but in our world many entrepreneurs are made by the absence of an alternative. The level of efficiency of the western economy allows that most most of it’s people live comfortably with only part of the population being active. This may seem a pleasant scenario but it is not due to a very simple principle: those who don’t work do not have income and therefore can not consume or survive in the efficient economy. At first glance there are three ways of resolving this problem: 1) The masonic way of reducing population, 2) Reducing the level of economic efficiency, 3) undertake new activities or replicate existing ones in new urban areas. The first option is immoral, the second is uncomfortable, so I think that the best is the third one. This third option begins having an obstacle even before being implemented: urban planning does not cooperate. The equilibrium of an economy should occur primarily at the local level so that housing, trade and production are geographically close. This would happen with the founding of new cities or growth of the existing ones through well-designed neighborhoods. Instead, what we can observe is the growth of existing cities through single purpose neighborhoods: residential, commercial or industrial. But this same third option is the one that the younger generations have to appeal to in order to generate income due to the lack of employment options in the efficient economy. Here is the answer to the previous question: Many entrepreneurs are made!
It is exactly at this point that I think society has forgotten the principle of having to help the younger generations. For a member of a new generation to venture new activities, he needs a basic factor that his generation lacks: material resources. When discounts are given to young people so they can travel, attend cultural events or purchase a new computer the most basic principle behind this approach is as follows: do not cease to grow and gain knowledge because of having less available resources. Unfortunately, this principle doesn’t seem so evident when the aim is that young people endeavor entrepreneurial activities. I’m not saying that there is no support to young entrepreneurs. I’m saying that it is not an attitude deeply rooted in our culture, unlike others that actively use this principle. I can think of two examples: the Amish communities in the United States and Canada and the Jewish communities that can be found all over the world. The example of the Amish can be identified in the movie “Witness” (1985 with Harrison Ford). When a young couple becomes independent, the whole community comes together to build the farming facilities of the new family. The Jewish example is associated with the concept of loan. A member of a Jewish community having available resources is morally obliged to borrow money and transfer resources to another member needing them to start-up. This loan is also subject to a principle: it shouldn’t be a high amount, so that it can be returned within a maximum period of seven years. This is an attitude that requires integrity of both parties since that at the end of those seven years the debt shall be forgiven but at the same time the person who made the loan is morally obligated to return it within the stipulated time. In fact, the principle exemplified in both cases has the same origin and it is stated in Chapter 15 of the Book of Deuteronomy.
I find three interesting aspects of this principle on entrepreneurship. The first is that the communities have taken the need to materially help the following generations as a paradigm. The second is that members of the younger generation are responsible for obtaining the best yield from the opportunity given to them. Finally, the activities do not necessarily have to be totally disruptive to the activities already known but innovative enough to be profitable. This happens because it replicates the local equilibrium in a new location and generates growth.
It is curious to think of the loan as a basic form of supporting entrepreneurship. Currently the loan is the last resource to which an entrepreneur can appeal because he has no guarantees. A completely reverse perspective is the attitude of many entrepreneurs starting a company looking for grants, as if the State was the entity responsible for supporting all activities.
There are more appropriate funding sources such as Business Angels and Venture Capital Funds. The truth is that there are few agents with this profile and therefore can only fund the more ambitious and promising projects. So how can all the other business projects, which although not being exuberantly ambitious are solid in risk mitigating, be financed?
I’m afraid to say that the ones who have the capacity to finance such ventures are the individuals from previous generations. Not wanting to be pessimistic, I dare to mention that many of these people are hard to convince. It seems to me that stubbornness tends to gain dominion with age accumulation and our society’s culture has selfishness also in an increasing trend.
Facing the growing indignation status that general population is living my question is this: Will society just complain or also want to respond?
I proclaim: Youngsters, endeavor! Ones not so young, invest in young people!
Dreaming does not pay tax. I dream and work for it. After all, what are dreams for if not to come true?