If we had only one blog post to describe the foundations of the Superset, what would it say? If we were hit by a truck, you could derive most Superset principles from two basic, but extremely important insights.
Insight #1: It’s not about the money, it’s about the value.
Insight #2: You own a lot more and a lot less than you think.
Insight #1 Explained
In our post modern society we often think that something is only valuable if we can put a price on it. To calculate our net worth we add up the monetary value of our assets. Simple. The Superset points out that there are many things of value that are not considered as assets.
For example, as biological creatures we have many needs in common: air, food, water, shelter, and rest. But beyond that we, and our ancestors, also need the ability to secure all of those things. Food doesn’t just land in our laps. Sources of clean water can still be difficult to come by for impoverished countries in Africa. How did our hunter-gatherer forebearers meet these needs? They labored, they traveled, they coordinated their activities by speaking to each other. Each day they needed to be at liberty to choose their vocation. Depending on the season they could be gathering nuts, preparing leather clothing, fishing, or searching for salt. They needed to control their own tools and weapons – their possessions. They needed to learn new ideas and decide what they should do with them.
So what things are of universal value to humans? The following:
Air, food, water, shelter, possessions, labor, speech, thoughts, conscience, and the liberty to travel and choose our vocations.
Appreciating value was not an academic exercise, it was necessary to survival. As the offspring of these survivors we are genetically programmed to protect the value we have and strive for more. Not convinced? Let’s take a quick example:
All else being equal, which would you rather have, $10 or $100?
Why do we all answer that question the same way? Are people greedy? No. Plants are not greedy when they spread out their leafs to capture more sunlight. They are doing what they are programmed to do. What are people programmed to do?
1) Protect the value they have (prefer not to go from $100 down to $10)
2) Increase the value they control (prefer the increased value of $100 over $10)
This says nothing about the desires or intentions of the person wanting the value. The more value you control, the more good you can do, so it’s implication is very limited in saying simply that humans appreciate value.
Insight #2 Explained
We often think that the things we own are the ones with our names on them: bank accounts, the title to a car or house, or a virtual stock certificate.
We’ll first explain that we own a lot less than we think. For example, I think I own my home, but what does that mean?
Ownership: Having the exclusive and strongly protected right to control, transfer, use and capture any gain or loss of value of that which is owned.
Do I control my home if is threatened by fire? No. The fire department can forcefully evacuate me and take control of my property. What if I fail to pay the mortgage or taxes? Then the bank or government can take control of the home and sell it to recuperate the money they are due. So we often don’t own things as completely as we might assume.
What do we own more of? A great many things. We often don’t think of ourselves as owning clean air, but if we breath it, it’s ours. Do you own your own conscience? Can you decide for yourself what is right and wrong and join a non-profit, club, or church as a consequence of your belief? Can you read and write whatever you want? Those things are of tremendous value, and not everyone is so lucky to have them. If you are extremely fortunate, you control the whole enchilada. You decide what you want to study, how you contract your labor, what city you live in, where you want to visit on vacation, etc. etc. You capture the fruits of your labor and have full and unthreatened control over your possessions and money. Such a protected existence is really a marvel given how many people also have an interest in controlling our value. It’s something only the tiniest fraction of humans has ever enjoyed.