From The Big Fix: Wright’s Law

See here my introduction to the new book for citizens, The Big Fix: 7 Practical Steps to Save Our Planet.

The first chapter, the first big lesson for us, is to understand what economists call the learning curve of a new technology. Theodore P. Wright was an architectural engineer with an inquisitive mind. Everyone knew that costs decrease as production increases but he wanted to know if there was a pattern that could predict it. The principle is rooted in economy of scale.

Wright eventually found that as production doubles, the cost of labor decreases by 20 percent. Production becomes more efficient as workers find better ways to do things and technology is improved. This formula is Wright’s Law.

In a graph of the production and cost of making the Model T Ford, Wright observed something else: as demand by the public grew, cost of production decreased and thus the price to the consumer. One drives the other.

When you plot the production by cost, you are measuring another principle that the business world knows well for any new product: the learning curve. The company and workers learn more efficient ways of making something further driving down the price.

An important idea is that the reverse is also true: if a new technology is left to linger, i.e. production is slow due to lack of demand, then the cost of production will not decrease and the potential will die.

It is not time that drives the learning curve, it is the amount of production.

Citizens can drive the learning curve for renewable energy to reduce humanity’s footprint on the Earth. We are not passive bystanders waiting for businesses and government to figure out how to make cheap EVs: we have to drive it with demand for it. And, the IRA funding will be available to you and your family or business to do just that! Go here to learn about the tax and price incentives available to all of us on January 1, 2023 and for the subsequent decade!

A book of rare beauty

About a decade ago I put together seven book reviews of a group of novels with related themes. Seven Stories was never published except on this blog.

The book that inspired me to begin this project is The Loon Feather, Iola Fuller, published in 1940. Here is the pdf of that synopsis. The author shares a great love of the land and the original people. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings reviewed it as a book “of the rarest beauty”.

I believe the authors in the Seven Stories collection bring readers a certain kind of wisdom we sorely need now. Start with The Loon Feather located on Mackinac Island in the Great Lakes.

Photo by Susan Feathers, Blue Ridge Mts.

To gamble well, study God

Update: In a discussion about the making of the film Lincoln, Doris Kearns Godwin, Tony Kushner, and Steven Spielberg identify their favorite scenes in the movie, Steven talks about the ability to accept a great idea from the “other side”: this illustrates the point of this post!

God rolls the dice, shuffles the deck for endless possibilities, knowing not how anyone of us creatures of Earth may respond – ignore, expire, excel. But, rolling and dealing endless possibilities is the key to God’s success.

Trees know this for through God each tree grows thousands of seeds in all shapes and configurations but in the end it releases them to the wind, to hitch a ride on the fur of a passing creature or fall into the fast moving stream nearby. Will a seed find rich soil? Will it be nourished to survive? Will it fall upon concrete? Or be gobbled up, later to be excreted with a wrapping of fertilizer?

With all the possibilities, each with its potential outcomes, some seedlings will grow. And, IF there is enough sunlight and just the right amount of moisture and warmth, it will grow into a mighty tree and someday throw its own possibilities into the winds of the future.

The Creator exerts patience and rationality: a kind of detachment that allows all possibilities to emerge.

That’s where we come in. Will we respond or ignore an opportunity, or more often, doubt ourselves? God observes. We might get another “hand” or not. I think the Creator must love the folks who take a chance knowing they might fail. Because that’s what the Gambler must do: keep rolling the dice, keep open all the possibilities for a winning hand! Indeed, all great things require it.

Therefore, let us consider all the possibilities rather than spend our time criticizing ideas, even despising the source of them; let us work broadly and earnestly to solve our common problems: climate change, war, peaceful relations. etc. by keeping many ideas and strategies in play.

What if together we just might play a winning hand?