Martin Rezny
2 min readApr 24, 2024


Currently, I believe that considering some sort of ideal outcome as the endgame and working out a roadmap to it backwards is exactly the right approach.

The closest contemporary economist to this type of approach (normative economics) is probably Tomáš Sedláček with his Economics of Good and Evil. His main point is that while most economists are obsessed with tweaking math, maybe we should first consider what kinds of good things we want to be produced by the economy, and then build the economy for that.

His example of a good thing to aim for is stability, as opposed to infinite growth, and he often uses psychological analogies to make a point that a healthy economy should behave like a mentally healthy person.

Personally, I believe that building a (mentally) stable system, which is quite doable, is one half of the solution. The other half is choosing some good idea of what a truly prosperous economy should be maximizing or optimizing and then going for it.

There could be multiple good answers to that, actually. A gift economy could be such ideal or optimal end state, but I wouldn't call it "zero value". It would be a "no price" system - price is equated to value only in the currently dominant demand-based economic value system. Which is almost certainly a bad answer to what real value is.

The real question for me is what the real nature is of the value that is being maximized in any kind of ideal endgame economy, of which a gift economy would be one example. It could be a subjective kind of value, which doesn't make it not real, of course, or it could turn out that gift economy would be great at resulting in other valuable outcomes, in terms of meaningful productivity or innovation.

If I were to sum up my current position as some kind of maxim, the best way to reach a maximally prosperous economy is to identify all forms of real value, and then arrange economic relations in such a way so that all the real values trend toward optimal outcomes at the same time.

To give a few examples, if an economic system is destroying the natural environment at an accelerating pace, it doesn't matter what else it's doing, it won't ultimately result in prosperity. If an economic system includes mandatory work, but cannot reward workers for work appropriately, it won't result in prosperity. If an economic system can give people all that they demand, but that includes things that are objectively bad for the people to a point of their self-destruction, no prosperity. And so on.

The main shift in human thinking that I believe is necessary is a shift in the thinking of most economists - a realization there is no single type of value that if you maximize just it, everyone will be maximally well off forever. Balancing of multiple values to find economic synergies between them may be the name of the better game.