Fixing a Broken World
For the past year, I have been having these thoughts a lot:
- Why the world is the way it is?
- Why it still functions despite all the challenges of corruption, wars, income and racial inequality, nepotism, etc?
Yes, oftentimes things break and chaos ensues but eventually it too subsides, clarity takes over and peace prevails.
- How everyone just fits in their role?
- How does everything just works as part of this machine to make the whole world work?
Learning from Adam Smith
Labour was the first price, the original purchase — money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally
— Adam Smith, author of Wealth of Nations
Everything boils down to simple economics.
Things like Division of Labour, where by People choose to specialize in one or two particular skill sets while they give little to no thought about other skills or areas of work.
Eventually, people become masters of their craft and improve output for their stakeholders. Everyone just fits in.
A Waiter doesn’t need to have great cooking skills like a Chef to get his paycheck OR A Software Developer doesn’t need to know ‘How a building is constructed’ to do his/her best work.
A World built by Courageous and Smart people
Truth be told the whole Economic and Social system built by humans is truly ingenious.
I’m still amazed by how many disasters have been prevented by People who came before us just because they saw the worst of times and built Institutions / Systems that could help prevent such disasters from happening in future.
A few months ago, we had a few Banks failing due to bank runs including First Republic Bank, Signature Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, etc including the collapse of Swiss Giant Credit Suisse in March 2023, which eventually got bought by Swiss rival UBS.
While reading about Bank Runs a few things stayed with me,
- Every bank is vulnerable to a run if enough people ask for their money on the same day.
- Systems, Institutions & Processes play a much deeper role by Protecting, Helping & Guiding the world today.
Learning from Roosevelt (32nd US President)
Franklin D. Roosevelt who took over Presidency in America at the depth of the Great Depression faced unprecedented challenges.
During his time, America was facing an unemployment rate of over 25 percent! With more than 12 million Americans out of work.
In his inaugural speech on 4th March 1933 as President he famously said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.
He is credited with implementing major programs and legislation which still exist today including:
1. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), analogous to SEBI in India.
2. National Labor Relations Act of 1935.
3. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), similar to DICGC in India.
4. Social Security, etc.
Remember these institutions still exist today and they have prevented a many such disasters from affecting the global financial & social system.
Imagine if FDR didn’t become president and if he didn’t help create the FDIC, many more people would have lost their money and such bank runs would have had a contagion effect on other banks leading to their collapse. Scary right?
The World needs Creators / Fixers, not Destroyers
All this reminds me of an incident that happened in my 10th grade. It was a Social Science class and one of the students in the back was playing with bits of paper which he tore from his notebook.
The teacher saw him and with a deep sense of empathy tried to encourage him to ‘Build Something rather than Destroying things’.
It was a bit amusing to me at first but with a bit of thought I realized what she wanted to convey:
‘Destroying is easy, anyone can do it.’
‘Building something is hard — it takes a lot time, effort and brain power.’
Ingenuity to me is about building, and creating something valuable that lasts lifetimes.
Respect the past but Build for the future
One thing I’ve realized after a lot of thinking is that you should always respect founders because they ultimately built things that make your life easier.
Most times we fail to understand their upbringing, the resources & technology limitation at their time, the environment around them while making those decisions, etc. and hence it’s better to not be the judge, jury and executioner for everything concerning them.
They didn’t create stuff for themselves, they created it for the future generation to enjoy. They created things so that the people in the future don’t suffer the way they did.
I’ve massive respect for founders of nations, startups, and companies because most of them will never be able to enjoy the fruits of what they created.
The job we have as the present generation is to accept their faults, mistakes as they are and try to built on their foundations, fixing what can be fixed and improving what can be improved.
Criticizing, Complaining and Debating about their mistakes like they do in 24/7 news media channels is for losers who seldom do anything in life.
This world is changing fast, it is still difficult for me to process that year 2010 was 13 years ago!
With a day Job, School, or College work, time will fly by faster than you think. You truly don’t have a lot of time to work on every problem in the world today.
So be a little kind to yourself, learn to enjoy life, and fix what is in front of you. It is like what my Chemistry teacher used to say:
You don’t always commit a Big Mistake, what you do is commit a small mistake that ends up becoming Big.
It’s the little problems you ignore that end up becoming the bigger problems later on.
Remember that all the things around you were built by people no smarter than you, those who sacrificed a lot so that you get to live the way you do.
A nation is born Stoic, and dies Epicurean. — Will Durant