Thursday, October 4, 2007

Requirements for Information

If people making a buying decision were directly aware of the benefits and costs to other people as a result of supporting a product’s production and distribution, the purists’ idea of competition might be workable. Consumers could then consciously choose to help or hurt others, as well as themselves. In an ideal world, producers would be forced to provide the information needed to do this. Of course if the world was in fact “ideal,” any product that caused harm would be outlawed.

The complexity of cataloging and projecting the impact of a product’s impact over its lifetime (resource extraction, production, use, and disposal or reuse) is more than most producers could handle on their own. Therefore, the effort would need to be distributed among everyone in the society (world), and coordinated in the most efficient way possible by an entity I believe would at least superficially resemble a centralized government. This solution also follows from the fact that there are vast numbers of products and people that would need to be simultaneously considered.

I can’t help but wonder if many of the world’s problems might be traceable to a lack of information sharing among the people of the world, as well as a lack of due diligence in its collection, assurance of accuracy, and interpretation.

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