Exactly. Trade increases cooperation, which adds tremendous value to human life.
Going to go big here:
Trade has intrinsic worth. If both parties benefit from the trade, or both perceive themselves to have benefitted, trade's purpose has been accomplished. It's not about the things that are exchanged, but the people doing the exchanging. People enjoy trading.
Trading is fun. It makes you feel good when you make a "good" trade. What I mean by this is a trade in which you know you have benefitted and so has the other person. Or at least you know you didn't try to rip them off, which I think is an awful feeling that I'd never want. Why is that? I don't know. I don't really question it.
Trading ties directly into game theory concepts of cooperating and defecting. And it's been shown that in game theory when you have multiple interactions with the same party, the best outcome is reached for both parties (or any number of parties in a system) when most people behave well most of the time. Thus trade encourages good, cooperative behavior, which leads to all kinds of good results. Like the prevention of war. Or limiting war.
If the thought experiment you run were true, it wouldn't just be true that we wouldn't need trade. We wouldn't have any need for each other. If everyone were identical and had the same skills and the same needs, what would there be to talk about? What to do? How would we organize? We'd be Ricks in the Council world, wondering why the hell we're the Rick who has to stand in the assembly line instead of "Cool Rick".
Trade helps us find a place in society. Because we all have different gifts, we can all contribute in novel ways, and feel that emotion of contribution. Without that feeling, we go towards dysphoria, towards feeling that things aren't real, or ought not be real.
So trade is "for" getting people to organize into societies of cooperating individuals each doing things that they are suited for so that they don't have to do the things they aren't suited for. So that they feel better, and want to keep building the society rather than rejecting society (dysphoria) and splintering off to make their own tribe.
Hello, new to the community, so please forgive / correct me if I'm making obvious missteps here.
I think you're viewing this the wrong way, evidenced by the fact that you have actually asked two separate but related questions. First, is there scientific evidence for benefits of meditation? And then second, are there good reasons for a typical reader to invest time and effort into practice?
The first question is asking for scientific evidence, and you seem like you've set a pretty high bar here. This leads me to believe that you've pretty much decided that meditation is fraudulent and want to be convinced otherwise. I don't think this will happen. Because you're starting from a point of doubt, you're always going to be fighting a really uphill journey with meditation. Not that skepticism is bad, but when you sit for a meditation session and just spend 20 minutes thinking "this is horseshit" - you're not going to make progress.
The evidence for meditation comes out of meditation. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Luckily, meditation is not asking for much. There's no "lower bound" of the practice: many meditators say a difference can be made with just 1 minute a day. Unless you think you are so optimized that you can't waste 1 minute of your day - you can run your own n=1 experiment and find your own results. It's actually about inquiry, so you shouldn't have trouble. Meditation is about noticing your own thoughts and recognizing them as thoughts. This brings me to your second question.
Are there benefits for the typical reader? I'd argue yes. Being able to recognize your thoughts as thoughts is an important skill for responding to your life in an effective way. Otherwise we get stuck in patterned and cyclic thinking, or waste time rehashing old mistakes endlessly, or worrying about things we can't control.
For me this is self-evident.