Resources as Nouns — A Choice of Scarcity or Abundance

The noun is the thing that is here-now that you experience.  At the things-noun level, a resource is real when you can touch it.  You can see water, bread, a dress, people, and products.  You use the resources that you have of land, people, and money to do things.  These are the factors of production of economics.  These resources are nouns, because they exist here and now.  You can count them.  You can use them now for an activity.  The more you have, the better off you are, because you have more options for what you can do.  Success comes from how much you have.

As you filter out time from the verb, the noun of the relationship to self, other, and group is what you can do now, right here, which is called the factor of production of labor in economics.  A “factor of production” is the economic term for the resources used to produce goods and services.[1]  Labor is the amount of doing that can get done in a specified period.  It is what is left after you filter out potential and development from the self, other, and group.[2]

The noun form of the relationship to nature, the process of manifestation, that which is available in this moment, is referred to as land, in its raw, natural form or nature elaborated into something else.  It is nature devoid of the infinite potential of light, and the manifestation of interdependent flows over time.  Land is the second economic factor of production.

The noun form of the flow of spirit, the source of creativity, is what economists call capital, the third factor of production.  Capital is the noun residual of the verb inflows and outflows resulting from the creative acts, which are in themselves manifestations of the infinite potential of light.[3]  Another way of seeing this is that people make investments in the future value they see in light-possibility creativity, using currencies to exchange among the flows of creativity in the form of resources, ending up with a positive, net result of more flow in than out of currency, which is capital available for future investment in creativity.

[1] The leading economics textbook by Harvard professor Mankiw defines factors of production as “the inputs used to produce goods and services” (Mankiw, 2008, p. 394).  An interesting predecessor to this neo-classical term comes from James Maitland in the early 1800’s, who called them “sources of wealth” (c.f., Roncaglia, 2006, p. 167).  Nobel laureate Samuelson suggests that “Land—or, more generally, natural resources—represents the gift of nature to our productive processes…Labor consists of the human time spent in production…Capital resources form the durable goods of an economy, produced in order to produce yet other goods” (Samuelson & Nordhaus, 1995, p. 8).

[2] In his now-classic text on the histories of great economic thinkers, in its seventh edition, economist Robert L. Heilbroner reminds us of the evolution of the very question of land, labor, and capital.  “The Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation – indeed the whole world until the sixteenth or seventeenth century – could not envision the market system for the thoroughly sound reason that Land, Labor, and Capital – the basic agents of production which the market system allocates – did not yet exist.  Land, labor, and capital in the sense of soil, human beings, and tools are of course coexistent with society itself.  But the idea of abstract land or abstract labor did not immediately suggest itself to the human mind any more than did the idea of abstract energy or matter.  Land, labor, and capital as “agents” of production, as impersonal, dehumanized economic entities, are as much modern conceptions as the calculus.  Indeed, they are not much older.  Take, for example, land.  As late as the fourteenth or fifteenth century there was no such thing as land in the sense of freely salable, rent-producing property.  There were lands, of course – estates, manors, and principalities – but these were emphatically not real estate to be bought and sold as occasion warranted…The same lack of salability was true for labor.  When we talk of the labor market today, we mean the great network of job-seeking in which individuals sell their services to the highest bidder.  There simply was no such network in the precapitalist world.  There was a vast hodgepodge of serfs, apprentices, and journeymen who labored, but most of the labor never entered a market to be bought and sold…Or take capital.  Certainly capital existed in the precapitalist world, in the sense of private wealth.  But although the funds existed, there was no impetus to put them to new and aggressive use.  Instead of risk and change, the motto was “Safety first.” (R. L. Heilbroner, 1999, pp. 27-28).

[3] Economists Heilbroner and Thurow ask, “How were the factors of production put to use prior to the market system? …There were no factors of production before capitalism.  Of course, human labor, nature’s gifts of land and natural resources, and the artifacts of society have always existed.  But labor, land, and capital were not commodities for sale.  Labor was performed as part of the social duties of serfs or slaves, who were not paid for doing their work.  Indeed, the serf paid fees to his lord for the use of the lord’s equipment, and never expected to be remunerated when he turned over a portion of his crop as the lord’s due.  So, too, land was regarded as the basis for military power or civil administration, just as a county or state is regarded today – not as real estate to be bought and sold.  And capital was thought of as treasure or as the necessary equipment of an artisan, not as an abstract sum of wealth with a market value.  The idea of liquid, fluid capital would have been as strange in medieval life as would be the thought today of stocks and bonds as heirlooms never to be sold” (R. Heilbroner & Thurow, 1994, p. 15).

8 thoughts on “Resources as Nouns — A Choice of Scarcity or Abundance

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