It is not money the Great Asymmetry accrues,...

...nor energy, nor stuff. The origin of economic wealth begins in opportunities.

The first object made by human hands opened an opportunity for someone else to imagine alternative uses or alternative designs for that object. If those new designs or variations were manifested, then these objects would create further opportunities for new uses and designs. One actualized artifact yielded two or more opportunities for improvement. Two improvements yielded two new opportunities each--now there were four possibilities. Four yielded eight. Thus over time the number of opportunities were compounded. Like the doubling of the lily leaf, one tiny bloom can expand to cover the earth in relatively few generations.

Both life and wealth expand by compounding increase, which gives them an eternal slight advantage over death and loss, so that over time there is constant growth.

Perhaps the most potent physical force on earth is the power of compounded results, whether that is compounded interest, compounded growth, compounded life, or compounded opportunities. The inputs of energy and human time into the economy can only be supplied in an additive function, bit by bit, but over time the output is multiplied to compound upon itself, yielding astounding accumulations.

A steady stream of human attention and thought is applied to inventing new tools, devising new amusements, and creating new wants. But no matter how small and inconsequential, each innovation is a platform for yet other innovations to launch from.



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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK