Paul Samuelson’s work revolved around the application of the principles of data analysis, the assessment of cost-benefit tradeoffs, and the evaluation of stakeholders’ wants and needs. According to Samuelson, different people need different things at different times and rigid policy does not serve the larger good. As such, the foundation of the Samuelson Mandate is a philosophy of practical and applied governance. It is technocratic and data-driven. Rather than privileging philosophical sacred cows, the Mandate focuses on maintaining a functional balance between the interests of all stakeholders.
There are four key
themes that serve both as pillars of the
Samuelson mandate governance as well as inform the decision making process.
Samuelson was one of the first economists in the field to study the relationship between different types of stakeholders, as well as the stakeholders’ respective utility curves. Under the premise that all actors are looking to maximize something, Samuelson understood that each stakeholder or constituent in a system would define that “something” differently, thus informing their behavior. Recognizing that a diverse set of stakeholders uses a protocol for a diverse set of purposes, the Samuelson Mandate seeks to create a broad-based political and governance consortium friendly to all types of users.
Neoclassical economics had historically viewed every market problem - or “dislocation” - as one that would return to equilibrium over time. Samuelson, who completed his PhD and became an assistant professor in the midst of the Great Depression, saw first hand that this was not always the case. Markets, like the societies they sprang from, could experience prolonged, painful periods of dislocation with no clear solution. Simply put, real world markets do not exist in a vacuum. According to Samuelson, public goods are an essential part of the economic conversation. And, in an economy where there is significant public equity (common goods), private market solutions may not bring the system back to equilibrium. An efficient allocation of resources requires a contribution to public goods. This principle will steer the Samuelson Mandate towards investments in the maintenance and development of communities and protocols.
Samuelson’s work on the Overlapping Generations Model - which sought to take a more long term view on macroeconomic growth - is the basis for the
Multigenerational Framework theme. An effective investment may not justify itself immediately. In fact, the efficiency of an economic system that is making its most productive investments may not be readily apparent as human and social capital may not be immediately productive. In the context of the Samuelson Mandate, the multigenerational framework theme will involve evaluating proposals with an eye to where the protocol is situated in the network lifecycle.
Samuelson ushered in the era of quantitative analysis in economics, pioneering the synthesis between mathematics and economics. A numbers-oriented economist from the very beginning, he sought to apply quantitative analysis and mathematical theorems to different economic phenomena. While careful to root his hypotheses in first principles thinking and humane logic, Samuelson was nevertheless focused on finding mathematical proofs in human realms. Where possible, the Samuelson Mandate will emphasize the role of data and mathematical logic in its decision-making process.