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Economics as heating system

Imagine the economy as a central heating system. Take a resource input, convert it into a moveable, usable thing – heat- and circulate the heat round the house. You get a comfortable house to live in.

The resource input to the heating system is fuel, or a solar collector, or other energy source. In the economy, the resource inputs are natural materials, energy, effort, whatever.

The heating system has a flow of hot water, or electricity, or hot air. The economy has a flow of resources and a flow-able exchangeable resource: money.

Growth in the size of the economy means getting a bigger system: a bigger boiler, bigger radiators, solar panels. Big house, big system, usually. But growth in itself isn’t necessarily something to aim for, not in a heating system anyway. A bigger system can run less efficiently than an appropriately sized one, for instance.

Then we have plumbing. Heating won’t keep your house warm in all the rooms if any of the pipes are blocked. Blocks in the economic flows are just as bad, cutting off heat/comfort to some parts of the population, with all the consequences and discomfort of inequality that that causes.

Efficiency in the system means making the best use of the available resource inputs and still providing enough comfort to all the places in the home where it’s needed. In our economy, this means more or less the same. Different political ideologies have different ideas about what is ”enough” comfort.

Running your heating on renewable sources is a good move. Running your economy on the same would also be a great idea.

How do you see the economy?

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