by Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
Summary: The formation of pockets of dynamic stability in turbulent flow provides an analogy and insights into to the macro & micro economic processes involved in the formation of stable pockets of inequitable wealth distribution in a land of plenty. The economic forces acting inside the flow of an economy (production and consumption) act on the individual person in a manner somewhat akin to the forces acting on a molecule in a stream with various types of stationary obstacles, suspended particles, flow restrictions, channel bends, and merging flows.
The individual has internal psychological characteristics, such as the motivation to avoid pain and pursue pleasure, which is the central driver of all human action. Humans have degrees of freedom of action such as the ability to communicate, think, act/work, feel and move to satisfy emotional and physical needs (e.g. survival, friendship, mating, reproduction, warmth, shelter, hunger, love, peace, etc…). The individual’s external environment includes 1) the economic climate (recession or boom, inflation/deflation or stability), 2) the availability of resources (energy, land, minerals, water, skilled and unskilled labor, sun…), 3) the climate of international relations (open/restricted trade, war, cultural affinity/opposition), 4) the political climate (scandal/corruption, investigations, environmental fear/care, news polarization, stratification of wealth, identity politics, illegal immigration, moral legislation (abortion, homosexuality, divorce, pornography…), and 5) the cultural climate (e.g., unity vs balkanization, spiritual/religious/theologic principles reflected in the law), etc. The internal environment of the individual interacts with his external environment, resulting in a flow where he either contributes and participates with the bulk of society and is rewarded according to the magnitude of his contribution, or he marches to a different drummer and finds himself engaging at cross purposes with those in his world, contributing little, and associating with those who are likewise disaffected.
- (The Phenomenon of Turbulence) Turbulence results when the ratio of the kinetic energy and the viscosity of the fluid rise above a certain value (e.g., at a Reynolds number over 5000). In other words, when the velocity becomes high enough relative to a surface, collisions between the particles in the fluid flow and the surface results in particle velocities perpendicular to the flow. In short, collisions resulting in velocities of particles perpendicular to the fluid flow produce turbulence if the fluid doesn’t damp out that velocity.
The collision of the individual with the larger environment creates a disturbance in the flow of production and consumption. The local conditions of the individual’s environment (local business profitability, marital satisfaction, education, family or personal illness, etc.) interact with the person’s individual capabilities and character to produce a stable flow of wealth if he is able to contribute significantly to the overall welfare of others. If the individual has developed antisocial habits, adopted a self-focused narcissistic perspective, or habitually behaves according to the vast family of traits such as breaking contracts, denigrating his fellow man, using substances that dull the mind and disconnect him from the external and internal reality.
These pockets of poverty can be family, local, regional, national, or worldwide. The point being that forces, internal and external, predictably interact to create stable pockets of wealth inequity that do not reflect the larger economic welfare.
This essay took its inspiration from the article: “The Long Arm of the Second Law”, Scientific American, Oct 2008, pg. 62-68.
Economic, Political, Moral, and Natural Forces as Determinants of Wealth
by: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
In general, wealth accumulation is dependent upon a society.
Thermodynamic theory has now been given mathematical understructure and variable names to describe the formation, persistence, and decay of local pockets of order and disorder. The conventional calculation of entropy only applies to systems at equilibrium, but turbulent systems of moving particles (and economic systems) are neither linear nor in equilibrium.
The concept of entropy is examined for those interested in understanding thermodynamics. Understanding entropy is not necessary for understanding the metaphor of economics. Systems in thermodynamic equilibrium systems are those in a steady state of temperature distribution, and such systems have a well-defined entropy. But, dynamic, non-equilibrium, chaotic, turbulent systems cannot be easily assigned a value for the entropy of the system.
Entropy is defined as the amount of heat in a system divided by its temperature. This rather abstract term has been used more commonly to describe the degree of randomness in a system, but this conception does not capture the real essence of entropy. Entropy, using a strict definition increases each time a new possibility is introduced into a system. For example: the entropy of a system increases each time one of its sub-elements goes through an irreversible process. This happens when the kinetic energy of a single mass collides with a system with many particles, and the directed motion of the single particle is converted into the random/chaotic motion of many masses. In other words, in the state before the collision, the system had only one degree of freedom, the movement of one mass in one direction. After the collision, the target masses were moving in many directions, which means that the degrees of freedom of the system increased, and hence, the entropy of the system increased after the collision.
Another example of an entropy-increasing process is friction. At its elemental level, friction is a series of inelastic collisions. An inelastic collision converts kinetic energy to thermal energy – in other words, the coherent, single-direction motion of one large mass is converted into the randomly directed motion of many atoms.
- (Elaboration of the physics of friction: A mass M1 composed of a large number of atoms has a kinetic energy KE1 before it begins to slide on the surface of M2. The irregularities on M1 and M2, high points called asperities, collide as they slide over each other. The collision causes them to deform and reform repeatedly. To the extent that the deformation does not spring back completely and return that energy of deformation to the KE of M1, that energy is retained by the atoms of the lattice of M1 and M2. The retained compression of the lattice atoms and the motion imparted to the atoms of the asperities is transmitted by further micro-collisions to the atoms composing the molecular lattice. Thus, some kinetic energy of M1 is lost to friction, which turns into heat and permanent deformation of the atoms on the surfaces of M1 and M2. Energy is conserved, in that it was converted from kinetic energy to thermal energy. Thermal energy is merely kinetic energy on a micro-scale directed randomly. The original kinetic energy of M1 is transmitted to atoms in the lattice, thereby increasing the average vibratory rate of the atoms in the molecular lattice. Thus, a portion of the KE1 of M1 is dispersed through M1 and M2. The higher random kinetic energy of the atoms of M1 and M2 is perceived as a higher temperature. This random, non-directed energy of the atoms in the molecular lattice means that the system has more degrees of freedom than the single-direction motion of KE1. The strict mathematical definition of entropy is an algorithmic summation of the degrees of freedom of the system. Obviously, when all the atoms of a mass are going in the same direction, there is only a single degree of freedom. But, after the collision, there are many degrees of freedom with every atom having its own direction and its own velocity. Thus, the system went from a low entropy system to a high entropy system through the process (innumerable inelastic collisions) of friction. The concept of entropy is a high-level summary (a single number that reflects the degrees of freedom of a system) of a very complex underlying state. But, in even more complex systems, such as water flowing over a rough surface and past obstacles, the concept of entropy is not sufficiently granular for modeling such complex systems, thus the need for the more recent advances in theory of turbulence and chaos theory.)
Linear systems are defined as changing properties at a constant rate with distance or time. But most real-world systems are non-linear, given the complexity of surfaces and environments, with their associated inelastic collisions, changes in direction, and interactions between the individual atoms composing the stream. For example, consider the case of water molecules in a stream flowing over a rocky river bed and shoreline. The complex surfaces alter the velocity and direction of flow changes in a complex, chaotic, turbulent, non-linear manner.
Most of life is composed of nonlinear interactions between people, objects, concepts, and spirits.
Atoms and molecules behave differently depending upon the state of the system. For example, at high temperature, water changes state from a liquid to gas, and at a low temperature, it changes state from a liquid to a solid. Fundamental to the bulk behavior of water is its dipolar nature due to the 109-degree angle bond between the two hydrogen atoms as they bond to oxygen. The hydrogen loses its electron to the oxygen for a portion of its orbital and ends up with a partial positive charge, and the oxygen becomes partially negative. The polar nature of water causes the hydrogen atoms on water molecules to be attracted to the oxygen of other water molecules. This attraction between water atoms is due to the attraction between the partial positive and partial negative charges of the different portions of the water molecules. This low-energy attraction between water molecules is called a hydrogen bond. Even though this is a low energy bond, the attraction influences the local movement of the water molecules as it is jostled about by Brownian Motion. The macro-effect is seen in its unusually high freezing and boiling point compared to other dipolar atoms.
This example was pursued in detail to illustrate that small forces at the molecular and atomic level affect the behavior of a bulk system. The dynamic interaction with gross macroscopic objects (such as the rocks on the river bed and shore) depends largely on how water molecules interact with each other and with the masses at the surfaces of the stream. Expanding on this concept: the atoms on a water molecule exert different forces depending on their proximity to other molecules and the forces associated with the water’s velocity, purity, and environmental conditions such as pressure and temperature.
By analogy, people are different in their affinities and repulsions and react differently to other people based on the inner forces that drive them to act, repel them from interacting, drive unusual effectiveness, and cause significant weakness.
Thus in general, each molecule will have a different reactivity associated with its type/weight, shape, charge distribution (and its associated affinities and repulsions to other molecular shapes and their charges). This fundamental force of attraction is in turn modified by its local environmental conditions, which causes the bulk behavior of the molecule to change. For example, a higher temperature molecule will have greater velocity, and thus will get closer to other atoms and molecules before being repelled by the like charges of the electron clouds. Closer proximity may allow the molecules to temporarily bind and resist the process of dissociation, causing water to have an abnormally high boiling point. The force-distance relationship will also change in the presence of contaminants, causing the bulk material properties to change. Interaction with large external forces, such as colliding with a rock in the stream, will redirect the water’s downstream energy, causing turbulence and a stable micro-environment. On its surface, turbulence does not appear to be a stable environment, but if we view “turbulence” as a state, and the water stays in that state, then the local condition has created a stable local condition. The particulars of that state will be produced by the combination of the micro-forces of the molecular interaction (hydrogen bonds) and the macro-forces of the environment (water colliding with rock).
By analogy, note how the characteristics of an individual interact with family, city, corporate, governmental, international forces and create the turbulent sensation of being out of control.
At lower flow rates, the disturbed local states’ stability and order depend more upon subtle forces (water flow rate, rock size, rock roughness, water temperature and purity, etc.). The system will come to turbulent stability as it forms a turbulent local microenvironment of the stream water. These local pockets of order are not equilibrium, nor linear, but they are a type of stability in the midst of a turbulent, and high energy system.
Individuals face multitudes of factors that exert force upon their lives. The greater the force, the more turbulent, chaotic, and unpredictable will be the local environment. There will be limits to the chaos, and there are elements of predictability, but the linear predictive cause and effect nature of the system will be limited.
- In systems exhibiting turbulent flow (e.g., chaotic, non-laminar flow, in a liquid), patterns of “order” form. Turbulence is any pattern of “order” (i.e., the relationship between the velocity of molecules is chaotic rather than laminar in relation to the boundary conditions of the system). Turbulence is based upon inelastic collisions between objects which increase entropy. Turbulence is caused by collisions vigorous enough to produce a rebound which projects the individual elements (e.g., molecules) out of a stream’s laminar flow (roughly parallel particle velocity). The order formed in turbulence may be difficult to identify as ordered. But, when “order” is defined as any pattern other than total randomness, we realize that even the most complex motion is “ordered”. The “order” of a turbulent flow arises because of the collisions with walls, barriers, and other fluid-particles. The pattern of this “order” is not easily identified as a repeating pattern or a volume of disturbance that holds a particular shape. And, the chaotic “order” cannot be currently predicted using numeric or algorithmic methods to predict the volume, location, and periodicity of stable areas of turbulence. Still, even though complex, when a sufficiently high-velocity stream strikes an obstacle to flow, quasi-stable volumes of turbulence will form in response to that collision. When particles strike obstacles, regions of dynamic stability form, that are “ordered” in some way. These areas of rebound may look like swirls, ripples, or zones of stasis. The volume of the chaotic “order” may migrate over a volume and repeat that pattern, change shapes, or move unpredictably within a volume and set of behaviors. Zones of correlation are identifiable as stable domains of organization that arise from random collisions with the environment and mutual interactions between the particles.
The same is true of people when their lives collide with (are influenced by) large external forces, such as war, recession, off-shoring of industry, health-care costs, advertising campaigns for addictive substances, changes in technology that obsolete skills and labor, etc. In response to these forces, some populations of people will be disproportionately affected. These groups of affected individuals form a domain within the larger population. They may form a colony where their life continues with little change, but other areas will suffer huge impacts and large stable turbulent variations in function and routine form.
For example, when the economy goes into recession, hygiene and sleep may be unchanged, but marital stress and discord may be elevated.
A non-equilibrium state exists when a set of particles is divided into isolated subsets, and those subsets are altered in state from the bulk or average state. Subsets may form because of the interruptions of communication (breaking of bonds) with the larger body.
Particle subsets form due to forces converging to compress a system of particles. This results in local bonding and forming a region of stable self-interaction. And, given that the bulk medium is dynamic, such as in flowing water, the system has particles leaving, and coming into the stable turbulent region at the same rate. Any accumulation or depletion of the state is only temporary.
This corresponds to life experience where one problem is solved, and another arises; it does not appear that progress is being made because the same large external force is disturbing the routine, resulting in a never-ending struggle to maintain a constant output or production.
These turbulent volumes remain stable as long as the dynamics of the system remain constant (e.g. an eddy in a stream forms and remains within its parameters of chaotic variation as long as the water flows at a particular rate, pressures, temperature, purity, etc.). But, no flow, and no system of turbulence will endure forever. Regardless of the system’s stability at constant flow conditions, the system will eventually change because the source flow will change. No source is infinite in its capacity, everything exhausts its supply eventually. Dynamic systems such as streams and turbulent eddies depend upon a source and a gradient of concentration. Thus, the universe, the ultimate source of all energy and concentration, began with the highest source concentration of mass and energy at the Moment before the Big Bang. In any portion of the universe, the energy gradient that allows for turbulent chaotic systems to exist, the source will exhaust, and the turbulent systems dependent upon its flow will cease. Energy does not generate and flow eternally from the same source in the physical world. Thus, every local microenvironment will eventually lose its stability and form new states of order or disorder.
While, no dynamic system can maintain bulk stability forever, an intelligent system with a survival instinct and detection systems, and mobility, can seek new existent energy-gradient systems, such as stars, to maintain the energy flow environment required to maintain life.
The same is true in the life of the suffering human. For example, his life may become chaotic due to the forces of government, economy, and nature. The one refuge a man can always take is the fact that the circumstances and forces operating in life will eventually change. The misery may change from one form to another, but life will not maintain eternal stability in one form.
This thermodynamic concept has applicability to economics and human drama because the market is composed of billions of people-particles. Each person acts with his own set of rules of action and reaction in the marketplace of consumption and production of goods and services. Each people-particle acts according to his own inner ruleset of action and reaction as dictated by his aversion and affinities, needs, will, and ability.
Economics is defined by the bulk behavior-flow of production and consumption. The limits and characteristics of the economic flow are determined by the nature of the constituent people-particles. The individuals of any productive system may be of high potential, but with enough force can be overwhelmed and rendered ineffective.
A local environment, such as a company, city, state, nation, or world can be overwhelmed by outside forces and fall into dysfunctional low productivity. The subprime mortgage crisis, in combination with the high oil prices, has delivered a blow the world economy.
The convergence of these two forces delivered a large force to the normal flow of the economic system. The raising prime rate pushed up interest rates for mortgages, putting people who were marginally qualified for home ownership, and financed by ARMs, close to the edge. When oil prices rose, that extra expenditure put a number of mortgages in default, making the Mortgage Backed Securities go into default when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s credit rating dropped. Such a sequence of economic facts and forces creates a change in the flow of compensation, consumption, and production. The size of the force, in this case, was so large that the entire world economy was thrown into turbulence, with some points of the system maintaining stability. Again, the point being that various forces can bring instability to various parts of an economic system.
Other strong forces that disturb the invisible hand of the market are monopoly, corruption, legislation, and taxes. These forces distort the normal flow of production and consumption by introducing cost disincentives that influence the behavior of the individual in protecting his self-interest.
In a system with good communication and a Godly sense of service, education in right principles, and leadership in the promotion of right principles of living, the concentrations of local stable poverty could be dispersed. With sufficiently strong intervention, coaching, training and support, virtually all poverty could be eliminated. With such intervention, the pockets of poverty could be raised to the average levels of prosperity.
Leadership introduces forces that produce open and properly compensated knowledge transfer. Corruption (e.g. bribes, dishonest measures, theft, slander, perjury, revealing secrets) reaps its appropriate consequences, such as deficient quality and quantity of goods and services, and the breakdown of affinity and trust among men. Leadership confronts and motivates sloth receives no support other than education in a skill that produces a return on the investment.
When Godly character is instilled in the perpetrators, manipulators, cheats, cons, criminals, and sloths, the largest internal source of social distortion is eliminated. The monopolistic distortion of the market is eliminated when people are willing to play fair, and take personal accountability for the actions and moral judgments of the corporation.
In a transparent system, the important pieces of the economic engine coordinate with each other. Finance, energy, transportation, communication, and regulation, etc are applied morally, moderated, and appropriate throughout the system. When people care about raising the quality of life of those caught in locally depressed states, the inhomogeneous domains of the economy eventually smooth out. Every individual should be trained to produce at optimum, consume modestly, and receive appropriate compensation.
When individuals are separated into isolated environments that create or reinforce fears, anger, and sorrow they can develop stable suboptimal behavior far from normal, optimal, and moderate. Rehabilitation should include the development of proper behaviors, desires, activity, and will, so as to bring the stable dysfunctional individual into the group norm.
The forces of perversion and destruction produce suboptimal conditions of economic flow, political organization, and restriction of freedom. Changing a local system after it has established a dysfunctional stability requires penetrating that system with an organizing energy. Energy can be injected as education in life and trade skills while withdrawing support for dysfunction. The heart must be changed to effect such a change, so integral to training must be tutelage in the Word of God, accountability and consequences, both reward and punishment for following the way of Right thought, speech, and actions.
Monopolies, governmental corruption (bribes), dynastic ownership, societal ignorance, worship of false gods and idolatry all produce stable systems where a few profits while many suffer. To overthrow the conditions that allow the continuation of these suboptimal economic eddies, the system must be disturbed. Prayer, forgiveness, love, and Righteousness are the foundations of any proactive action. Having clearly identified the pathological disturbing forces in a family, business, corporation, judiciary, legislature, administration, we may then choose the best strategy for interceding in eliminating the disturbing forces. Many common tools have been used including counseling, personal meetings, expert testimony, peaceful public demonstrations, letters to the editor, lawsuits, boycotts, strikes, and media campaigns. Each of these may have their place, but most important, it must be guided by a sense of propriety and service, rather than revenge. Once the perverting social/economic/political force is eliminated, the Godly patterns of conduct may reemerge and bring the larger system to a greater state of health, relationship, and productivity.
When the bulk system is decaying, the natural sequences of pain require confronting all the players in the system, both leaders and followers. When large systems are in states of extreme inequity of wealth distribution, such as corporate executives versus workers; dictator versus the serf and peasant class; an intervention must break the habitual stability of the inequity. Revolution is one way, but education, public education through the media and passive resistance can also produce change. There is a time for force, but all other options should be exhausted. When people will not participate in the immorality of a nation, corporation, or family, the system has lost its power. The best revolution is led by God and overthrows the false gods in men’s hearts.
The capitalistic system of commerce lends itself well to a natural gradient of proper compensation for production. The reward of work should be related to production in rough parity. If an executive makes millions, we must be sure that his compensation is not being used as a Faustian bargain, which gives him the courage to sell his soul in various ways. Again, the compensation across the entire economic system should be roughly commensurate with production, and all market advantage should be motivated by service, rather than simply profitable. Since the prurient and avaricious drives of men can be used to appeal and make profits, each entrepreneur, executive, and the worker should take the fruit of his production personally, and say “no” to giving life to the immoral and unGodly.
There should be no a fixed maximum compensation for a man’s service, rather, there should be a market-based relationship between compensation and production, and the market should be fairly open to movement by allowing the disgruntled to relocate to a competitor. Such mobility should be executed on the individual business level, rather than forced by administrative law.
When the wages have become inequitable, the employee should intervene and advocate for fairness. Ideally, such clear communication may be the only force necessary to disturb the system and bring equitability to the individual system. The same standard should be applied to the other systems of life, including family, boss, employees, corporation, and government. When we hold Godly standards, speak our truth with love, expect to be heard, and relentlessly advocate for Righteousness, the disturbing forces of the system will eventually crumble, and goodness will rule.