The project Scarcity, Morality and Public Policy was a three-year intellectual journey into the phenomenon of scarcity that has led us to rediscover it as the third cause of being and a catalyst of change and advancement – The Phenomenon of Scarcity: Being, Man and Society.
We first started on this journey in the pursuit of a better understanding of scarcity as an unfortunate aspect of existence and the precondition of economy. We embraced philosophy, theology, anthropology, psychology, sociology and economics in the first interdisciplinary study and we were astounded to find scarcity as a primary element in the structure of being, as part of a universal formula of change. The world is based not only on form and matter: there is a third element, hidden, invisible, and yet immanent and intrinsic. Being universal, scarcity unfolds under different names – deficiency, deprivation, shortage, imperfection, limitation or insecurity. It is found as both insufficiency and potential imprinted in the order of being and in human nature and manifested in time. Every moment lacks some fulfillment, so scarcity precedes every change – and therefore every human choice. It welcomes human liberty as a space, open to change and never fully completed.
We come to an illuminating insight that scarcity is inherently linked with liberty – that human liberty is embedded in – and inseparable from – the structure of being. That economic thinking and economic action as well as institutions of exchange, profit, money and ownership at the core – are our natural response to the primordial scarcity, that they are grounded and preconditioned in the order of being. We elaborate on this in The Phenomenon of Lack: Being, Man and Community. A Synthesis of an Interdisciplinary Inquiry.
It is our pleasure to invite you to embrace those fascinating findings and to revisit numerous aspects of liberty, morality and economics. We feel both privileged and obliged to share with you our insight that recognizing the true meaning to scarcity may help man overcome insecurity and fear of change and open up to freedom. We dare say that the way in which society perceives scarcity determines the path it takes: the path of liberty and creative effort or the path of redistribution and coercion. While scarcity is a catalyst of action and creativity, human fragility may evoke it as an obstruction and a pretext for rights and pretensions. This drift explains the genesis of social redistribution whereby institutions are construed to “protect” us, or to “relieve” us from scarcity.
Our institutional analysis on labor, money, consumption habits, and social support – Government Against Scarcity: How It Changes Who We Are – confirms that ignorance of the principle of scarcity lies at the heart of social utopias. When governments step in to fight scarcity – in its different forms and manifestations – for us, we are alienated from the order of being, our relationship with the reality and with each other cripples. We offer this paradigm as a test-paper for political fallacies, old and new utopias, as a tool to safeguard human character.
On a personal level, we wish our readers a liberating effect that the recognition of the inevitable imprint of limitation on human nature can bring through reconciliation with personal and external imperfections. Above all, we wish empowerment that the creative stimulus of scarcity bestows on us for personal flourishing and fulfillment.
We give our special thanks to the Sir John Templeton Foundation for generous support for our research.