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The PIC - Connections

Page 1

There was a time when everything ran at a slower pace. One year was essentially the same as the one that preceded it. Indeed, whole decades and even generations of families could rely on the sameness of existence over the years. Sons followed fathers in the family business. Daughters followed mothers into wedlock and motherhood. Custom and tradition persisted through ages.

Even though individual circumstances at the micro scale showed variations that made life different from generation to generation, on the larger scale, most everything remained the same. Change occurred on millennial and centurial basis. Horses, mules and oxen pulled plows for dozens of generations. That was the only way to plow a field. The endurance of a man and his sons limited the number of acres of crop that could be farmed each year. Distance was measured in days of ride on the back of a horse, in a wagon or a carriage. Men built or bought wagons that had a high probability of use by a grand or great grand son in their time. For the vast majority of offspring, there was only the prospects of replicating their parental roles, maybe next door, or maybe in the next village or hamlet. Only extremely talented or extremely lucky young people could make the transition into a urban environment where university might be their future.

In the centuries before the advent of steam power, the flow of change was exceedingly slow. The principles of self-sufficiency and family-centric industry formed the basis of wealth and prosperity. For example, clothing was something that could be made in the home. Furniture and work implements, made in the barn workshop. Trade between craftsmen and tradesmen involved the direct exchange of one quantity of labor for what was viewed as an equal quantity of another's labor. "I'll trade you a plow for a horse. You need a plow and I need a horse." Quantities of crops were exchanged for cabinetry and furnishings. The operative concept here is that the exchange took place locally, with immediacy and in real time. There was some temporal adjustments characterized by "I need a horse, that you have, to plow my fields to plant and harvest. I can only pay you after the harvest." Although that arrangement constituted credit and debt payment, it was incidental to the trade, not a part of the trade in and of itself.

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