Production, Distribution, and Consumption: A View from the Body

Suppose, for a moment, that it is true that all social institutions resemble the body of a human being. Is this not a good standard to achieve consensus and collaboration? Suppose a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, a communist, and a capitalist were to get together and discuss how they could collaborate to form a prosperous society. Isn’t the human body a good standard to bring about consensus and collaboration?

people dancingIf each one of those individual starts out by quoting an authoritative book, can they reach consensus? Quoting from books will lead nowhere—or rather, it will lead to conflict. Is this not what we have in the world today? With their authoritative book on the left hand and the rifle on the right hand, people from different ideologies are engaged in wars all over the world. Ideologies are a hopeless path to achieve peace and understanding.

Suppose, instead, that people accept the human body as the standard of truth. Then, everything changes. Now we have a common ground, a common understanding, a common source of wisdom and truth.

If we take the human body as the standard of truth, then we have a common base, we have a common standard. Now we can talk, we can discuss, we can come to some conclusion. If a question appears, we can go to the same source (the body) and look for an answer. If a problem develops, the body will give us a solution.

Let us apply this to the economy, for example. Let us examine the three basic functions of economic activity, namely, production, distribution, and consumption.

Production, Distribution, and Consumption: a View from the Human Body

What does the human body tell us about production, distribution, and consumption?  Very simply, the stomach produces; the heart distributes; and brain consumes. In other words, the stomach is in charge of production; the heart is in charge of distribution; and the brain is in charge of consumption.

To see how this works in society, take a look at the way a democratic government works in terms of production, distribution, and consumption.

  1. First, the people product wealth (the stomach).
  2. Next, the Legislative power of government establishes laws that distributes the wealth created by the people. The judiciary enforces those laws. As a result, the wealth of the nation gets distributed among the population. This includes salary contracts, labor laws, and taxation laws. So, the country’s constitution and the laws passed in the legislature—together with the judiciary branch of government and law enforcement agencies—these are the heart of the nation. These laws make sure that people have their due salaries, contracts are observed, and taxes are paid.
  3. Finally, there is consumption at the government level. Consumption is the job of the executive branch of the government. The executive branch receives all that money and goes to work to consume it.

There are laws and judges to make sure the federal government spends the money according to the will of people expressed through the legislative. At the same time, the president of the executive branch has lots of room to maneuver. The executive power will have a chance to show its wisdom in using all that money to safeguard the nation, keep the peace, and create conditions for prosperity. How much money? Almost four trillion dollars. But you can see right away that distribution is the key to a lot that takes place.

The Heart: Distribution Is the Key

If you consider production, distribution, and consumption, you can see right away that the function of “distribution” is crucial. In the United States, for example, there is no doubt that the country is producing enough wealth. The people are working; the people are producing. There is no question.

In fact, the gross domestic product of the United States is over 17 trillion dollars (Source: The World Bank). So, how come there is so much poverty and suffering? The problem is distribution—in other words, the problem is the heart. If we want a more harmonious and satisfied society, we must have better distribution.

The Family as an Economic Unit

In the family, we have a stomach (the husband, the creative power), a heart (the wife, the nurturing power), and a brain (the children representing the left and the right sides of the brain). The husband produces; the wife distributes; and the children consume. Children will have very competing demands on the parents–and a lot will depend on the mother to keep them peaceful and satisfied. If production is sufficient; if distribution is wise and loving; and if consumption is moderate, then the family is happy and prosperous. You can see that the delicate balance of the family is maintained by the heart–which is the mother, the distributive power in the family. With wisdom and love, the mother keeps a peaceful family, with all members happy. These are difficult tasks; only the heart can accomplish these tasks well.

Those of you who are mothers know exactly what I am talking about. Being a wife and a mother is a delicate balance of competing needs for scarce resources. If we see a happy family, we can be sure that the mom in that family is loving and wise. That is a family with a good heart.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
October 31, 2015

Photo Credits:
People Dancing. Author:teo_ladodicivideo; Source: http://bit.ly/1Wn8L6T; Creative Commons License:Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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