A Discussion of Political Economics That Needs Some Socialists to Weigh In

https://www.facebook.com/Lea4nn/posts/10202197035511052

LeaAnn Loudmouth Johnson shared Sick Humor‘s photo.
  • You and 22 others like this.
  • Derek Marlow Actually, I find the bottom image a thousand times more aesthetically pleasing.
  • Nicholas Carroll Actually, the above photo was how the people of the 1950s saw the future (aka Disneyland’s “Tomorrowland” or “The Jetsons”).
  • Gandalf’s Beard And the second picture is from the 1980’s; Blade Runner, Terminator, Mad Max etc. The last 30 years of Futurism has been decidedly dystopic.
  • Eric Schechter I don’t regret the flying cars, but the wrong people ended up owning the robots.
  • LeaAnn Loudmouth Johnson The robots should be public-owned.
  • Eric Schechter The robots that are now doing a large part of the work in the factories. The robots that were supposed to give us all lives of leisure.
  • Derek Marlow I’m not sure I’d know what to do with an automated manufacturing unit. I’m certainly not letting it cook me breakfast.
  • Rex Strother Hell – we got a 40 hour work week and we just started watching more television. I’m not sure leisure is what we need.
  • LeaAnn Loudmouth Johnson That’s cuz we don’t have money for anything but cable and a flat screen. If I had money to travel and stuff, I’d do other things besides veg out on the couch.
  • Eric Schechter I wasn’t suggesting that you should actually be the operator of the robot. But here’s how things work:

    People are inventive, and so they gradually think up more efficient ways of doing things. That’s true under any economic system. That means it takes fewer hours of labor to produce the same goods and/or services.

    If our economy made sense, the benefits of that increase in productivity would be shared. That would mean that we’d all have fewer hours of work. We’d be getting paid the same for putting in fewer hours. Half a century ago, some economists were writing books about the question of what we would do with all our leisure time.

    But our economy isn’t that sensible. Instead, we’ve got a few people who own the workplaces, the robots, etc. When they find that they don’t need quite so many hours of labor, they don’t say “okay, you folks can work fewer hours, you’ll now get more paid vacation.” Instead they say “okay, I don’t need so many of you folks.” They lay off some people. The others are kept working, same hours, same pay. The owners increase their own income by the salaries of the people who were laid off. A few people get very rich.

    But actually, with more unemployed competing for fewer jobs, the supply of labor exceeds the demand more and more. The result is conditions for the remaining worker go down. They find themselves working longer hours, for less pay. The owners get still richer.

    This means a lot of people are facing hard times as a result of increased productivity — an irony in itself. But also it means that fewer people have money in their pockets. Fewer people are able to buy non-essential goods and services. So the owners now have fewer customers. They don’t need to produce quite so many goods and services. So now they lay off some more workers. You see where this goes. It’s not good.

    When you carry it to its logical extreme, eventually you’ll have nearly all the work being done by robots which are owned by just a handful of people. Everyone else will be destitute, and there will be no one to buy the goods and services.

    So private ownership of the robots was a bad idea. But it’s the “American free enterprise system.” To get away from it, we will have to wake up a lot of people.

  • LeaAnn Loudmouth Johnson People should wake up to the idea of $$$. Once people are given a little socialism, they cling to it with bloody fingernails.
  • Eric Schechter If more of us had more leisure time, we could find creative things to do with it. Study guitar or Spanish, or take up painting, Or something.
  • LeaAnn Loudmouth Johnson What does Paris Hilton do with her free time? She parties!
  • Gandalf’s Beard I should point out that we also have Surveillance Robots (of all shapes and sizes) and Weaponised “Terminator” Drones. And we now have working models of the flying cars. All they are waiting for is working out the logistics of managing the airspace.
  • Derek Marlow I think that assessment suggests a *really* unrealistically genericized concept of “people”.
  • Rex Strother You can buy a nice guitar for the price of a flat screen TV – gotta buy strings once in a while, but other than – cheap, free, creative entertainment. Which you can share with others.
  • Derek Marlow Yes, but we also have entropy, so sooner or later no matter how sparkly and art deco we make everything, it will still inevitably all fall to sh*t.
  • Eric Schechter Or study science. In your newly-acquired leisure time, discover a cure for cancer. Or, since, they seem to be getting close to that, a cure for diabetes.
  • Derek Marlow Nah. I’ve decided. Gonna be a superhero.
  • Gandalf’s Beard Okay, I just finished Sharing the above picture with my following post. The only thing I forgot to include was Bio-Genetic Engineering. I’ll make up for that when I revise the post and put it in my notes…

    “The first picture is the 1950’s Utopian vision of the Future. The second image reflects the decidedly dystopic turn of Futurism in the late 1970’s up through today. Though, more accurately, some of the earliest depictions of Futurism–such as in the film Metropolis–were the foundation of the Industrial/Cyberpunk art movement. Metropolis accurately predicted the dialectic balance of the Utopian and Dystopian in the “Future.” 

    The Cyberpunk art movement is actually a distinct genre in its own right; a reaction to the more Utopian outlook of Futurism. In the Cyberpunk movement, the dichotomy of Utopia and Dystopia is presented as Class Warfare. 

    The Rich live in their Cloud Cities of Gleaming Spires and Penthouses with hi-tech at their beck and call; or in Gated Communities surrounded by Armed Guards to protect them from the “unwashed masses.” While the Poor and the Workers live in the muck below, and in the crumbling decaying cities which the Rich have left behind (Detroit?). For the poor and the workers, hi-tech is a means of the Wealthy’s control over them. With their hi-tech robots, computers, weapons, propaganda and mind control, cyborgs, and surveillance, the Wealthy reign supreme. 

    The Cyberpunk art movement also accurately predicted that the ideology of Capitalism would prevail; that Corporate Neo-feudal States would overcome the aspirations of Populist Socialist movements and subsume Nation States. The only major author (who most people have heard of) to get that bit wrong was George Orwell; whose vision predicted overarching Monolithic Authoritarian Socialist States (though he was right about so many other things).

    And the fact is, we have turned the page within the last 9 to 10 months; the Future is here. We now live in a Post-Futurist world; Futurism is dead, but the Cyberpunk vision has come to fruition. All of the predictions of the Cyberpunk/Industrial art movement have come to pass. We even have the flying cars which was the last piece of the picture we were waiting for. When they go on the market depends on how long it takes to work out the legal logistics of determining how to divide up and manage the airspace.”

  • Eric Schechter Or, hey, let’s share the increased productivity with the whole world, and eliminate poverty. It could be done. The whole notion of scarcity is obsolete. We could all be affluent, were it not for the fact that the people who are currently in control want to stay that way.
  • Derek Marlow So in other words, Salvador Dali had the most accurate vision.
  • Eric Schechter No, William Gibson.
  • Derek Marlow What’s the answer? Yellow squid, because turnips don;t have nipples.
  • Eric Schechter Derek, when you say you’re going to be a superhero, I guess you mean like Batman. I don’t see how leisure time could make you like Superman.
  • Eric Schechter G’s Beard, I agree that cyberpunk has come true. But I don’t see that it has to stay that way.
  • Derek Marlow Really? The whole cyberpunk-holed-up-in-a-bunker with brain implants thing? That’s… um.. okay.
  • Derek Marlow Ask an easterner the same question.
  • Gandalf’s Beard http://www.psfk.com/2012/12/robotic-arm-paralyzed-woman.html

    www.psfk.com

    The device is controlled by a new kind of computer program that translates the natural brain activity used to move our limbs into commands to move the robotic arm.
  • Derek Marlow http://www.washington.edu/…/

    www.washington.edu

    August 27, 2013Researcher controls colleague’s motions in 1st human brain-to-brain interface Doree Armstrong and Michelle Ma News and InformationPosted under: Engineering, News Releases, Research, Science, TechnologyUniversity of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first n…
  • Derek Marlow Just because we can do it doesn;t mean we should.
  • Gandalf’s Beard http://thinktechuk.wordpress.com/

    thinktechuk.wordpress.com

    The UK’s Leading Brain-Computer Interface, Neurofeedback & Brainwave Controlled Gadget Source
  • Eric Schechter Well, the one about the paralyzed woman is good news.
  • Derek Marlow See, I’m thinking a lot of the Negative Utopia stuff is actually more accurate.
  • Eric Schechter Whether technology is used for good or ill depends on who is in control. Unfortunately, the people at the top of a power hierarchy generally are psychopaths.
  • Derek Marlow As long as there is hierarchy, there are psychopaths.
  • Eric Schechter That’s why I’m an anarchist.
  • Derek Marlow Same here.
  • Eric Schechter More specifically, an anarcho-commie, because private property creates hierarchy.
  • Gandalf’s Beard My posts are simply to point out that the technology is available and in use. Yes, we live in the Cyberpunk “Future” now. 2013 is the year it all came true…

    It doesn’t always have to be that way. There is room for a Neo-Futurist movement. But any Utopian vision is a Pipe-Dream. Cyberpunk is a Reality.

  • Eric Schechter Psychologically, I have felt that the “future” arrived in the year 2000. I was born in 1950, and for half a century I always thought of 2000 as “the future.” Then it arrived, and it lasted for a few years. Now I feel post-future. But that’s just describing my own psychological state.
  • Eric Schechter G’s Beard, I’m not convinced. I have a utopian vision. I believe things might get better. I don’t know how, but I think there might be a great awakening. One way it might happen is that the people in control will fail to stop it, will fail to anticipate it, because they cannot imagine anyone wanting something different from the selfishness that the people in control want.
  • Gandalf’s Beard I think a lot of people over the age of 50 feel that way. But technologically the pieces weren’t all in place until this year. 

    Ironically, this fits into the whole “End of the Mayan Calendar” thing…  In a Jungian sense, Dec 21st 2012 was the beginning of The Future; The New Age. But it ain’t all sunshine and kittens.

  • Eric Schechter That’s what happened in the last volume of the Lord of The Rings triology.
  • Gandalf’s Beard The end of the LotR is very telling. Elves and Magic disappeared from Middle Earth, and The Age of Man began.
  • Eric Schechter Sometimes I think that the Mayans really did see it coming, somehow.

    Kurzweil explained, in “The Singularity is Near,” that knowledge is increasing exponentially, because it’s a feedback loop. And he also explained that that fact didn’t depend on computers or any other particular technology. It is a fact of the physical universe, like the law of gravity. It could have been observed by any really astute philosophers, anyone good at making good use of poor data.

    And the Mayans were just such people. If you put aside their calendar and prophecies, and just look at their ordinary astronomy, it was incredibly accurate for people with such poor instruments.

    So maybe they saw a pattern that Kurzweil hasn’t figured out yet, about the way that information would evolve.

  • Gandalf’s Beard There is nothing wrong with having a Utopian Vision, we just can’t let it blind us to Reality. My Idealism is what fuels my Activism, but I harbour no illusions.
  • Eric Schechter Fair enough.
  • Gandalf’s Beard If Kurzweil didn’t figure it out, Terrence McKenna sorta has…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZWgK9ZN5Uo

    We are on the brink of possibilities that will make us literally unrecognizable to ourselves and those possibilities will be realized, not in the next thousa…
  • Charles Brown http://www.amazon.com/…/dp/0819569135

    www.amazon.com

    Science fiction and socialism have always had a close relationship. Many science fiction novelists and filmmakers have used the genre to examine explicit or implicit Marxist concerns. Red Planets is an accessible and lively account, which makes an ideal introduction to anyone interested in the po…
  • Charles Brown http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guest_from_the_Future

    en.wikipedia.org

    Guest from the Future (Russian: Гостья из будущего, Gostya iz budushchego) is a five-part Soviettelevisionminiseries, made at Gorky Film Studio, first aired in 1985. It is based on the novel One Hundred Years Ahead (Сто лет тому вперёд) by Kir Bulychov.
  • Charles Brown Psychologically, I have felt that the “future” arrived in the year 2000. I was born in 1950, and for half a century I always thought of 2000 as “the future.” Then it arrived, and it lasted for a few years. Now I feel post-future. But that’s just describing my own psychological state.///http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_%28song%29

    en.wikipedia.org

    “1999” is a song by Prince, the title track from his 1982 album of the same name. The song is one of Prince’s best-known, and a defining moment in his rise to superstar status.
  • Mark Marek Isn’t that Detroit???
  • Gandalf’s Beard That’s what I said…
  • William Waugh The best answer that would have been achievable, if people had started cooperating based on clear thinking about 1960, would have been neither of the above, but something greener and less crowded.
  • William Waugh Curt Welch, note above discussion about robots and freeing up of human time.
  • Curt Welch Eric Schechter writes: “When you carry it to its logical extreme, eventually you’ll have nearly all the work being done by robots which are owned by just a handful of people. Everyone else will be destitute, and there will be no one to buy the goods and services.”

    Well, not exactly, but yet, I like your ideas.

    The IS someone to buy the goods. It’s the rich. They simply stop making McDonalds for the poor who no longer have money to buy it, and turn their business to making luxury homes, and luxury cars, etc.

    You talk about the problem with robots, but in fact it’s not just robots, it’s all technology. The bigger picture of what has been happening for a long time, is that technology drives inequality. The more technology we add, the more productive the economy becomes, but at the same time, the more inequality we create in society. This is becuase technology amplifies our power to be productive, but it never amplifies it evenly across all of society. Some in society always make better use than others, and reap the most benefits.

    Take sound recording for example. Before we had sound recording, musicians had to perform life to a small audience. One musician working in NY never had to compete with another working in LA. If the one in NY was a lot better, than the one in LA, that was all the better for his audience, but it didn’t affect how much money the piano player in LA was able to take home for his work becuase he had a monopoly on his LA market. But then enter the recording technology, and both musicians can make recording, but since the one is so better than the first, he sells a lot more records, and puts the second musician out of business. The second may only be 10% better than the first, but ends up seeing 10 times as many records, because people don’t need to hear the second best player, when they can hear the best player.

    The one musician becomes a superstar, and makes millions, by taking market share away form all the other musicians around the country, because of the technology.

    Technology creates superstars like this. China has become a superstar in the manufacturing of electronics, and because technology allows them to make products on one side of the world, and ship to the whole world, they have taken over the world market. That only happened, after the invention of the airplane, and telephone, and internet, to allow the business to function internationally and compete with others.

    The fast food restaurants like McDonalds grew into world wide giants and replaced most the local mom and pop restaurants. Technology allowed us to create these world wide business where they never could have worked, when we didn’t have all the communication and transportation to allow it to operate.

    Walmart has become the superstar of low end retail.

    Toyota and Honda have become superstars of the auto industry at least in the US, again, becuase of tech.

    Exxon/Mobil has become a oil and natural gas superstar.

    Google an internet search and on-line service superstar.

    Facebook world wide social media superstar.

    Mark Zuckerberg is worth billions, because of the robots he owns. But the robots are not manufacturing robots, but rather computer servers. His robots allows us to communicate with each other, without any human lifting a finger. Facebook is worth so much, not becuase of what the humans working there are doing, but becuase of the robots that do all the work – the facebook computer servers. The few humans that work that, just design and build the robots, and then let the robots do all the work. Same for google. Google makes about $1 million in sales, for each employee. That’s because the employees aren’t doing the “real” work, their robotic data servers are.

    All technology created, drives inequality in society higher and higher, becuase the wealth created by the machines, is never shared evenly across society. A few always win more, than the rest.

    Inequality was getting really bad about 100 years ago exactly becuase of this. For industrialists of the 19th century emerged, in industries like coal, and oil, and steel, and railroads exactly because of technology growth. In society, we did lots of things to offset that trend of raising inequality. We create anti-trust laws to break up the big industrial giants, and in so doing, forced the wealth to be shared a little more. We forced the industrialists to share more with the workers, by creating new labor regulations to create a 40 hr work week, and require time and a half pay for overtime. We created minimum wage laws. We created progressive income tax systems to force the rich to pay a higher tax rate, and give the not so rich a tax break. We raised taxes, and implemented endless social programs that benefit everyone, from roads, to free schools. We created unemployment insurance. We made unions legal to allow workers to extort a larger share of the profits from the owners.

    All these things were needed, to offset the growing inequality created by technology. And in the 1960’s inequality was very low in the US.

    But as technology grows, inequality keeps growing. So to keep inequality low, we would have to keep adding more and more forms of wealth redistribution – more social programs, more socialism.

    But come the 1970’s. the conservative base in the US started to resent these never ending increases in social programs, and put their foot down, and we started to cut back, instead of adding more as were needed.

    And the result, has been 40 years of rapidly increasing inequality.

    (to be continued)

  • Curt Welch So in the 70’s and 80’s, we switched to Reaganomics in the US, and the belief that to make things better for everyone, we needed to stop taxing the rich so much. The US started to believe the “trickle down” economics was the way to go. That made the rich a lot richer, but didn’t do shit for anyone else.

    If we don’t share the wealth created by the economy, we will get growing inequality. Growing inequality, is destroying the very foundation of our democracy as the rich start to believe they are better than the rest, and use their wealth to “buy” a larger vote in the government. The rich use their financial, and political power, to buy laws as needed, to give them even MORE power – like how they bought the supreme court, and got their court to allow them to invest unlimited amount of money, in their efforts to buy politicians.

    The longer this is allowed to continue, the more dystopian our society becomes. The elite will take over control of the earth (as they are already doing), and put the poor into concentration camps, just like the Europeans did when they took over control of North American from the native Americans.

    But, before that happens, people will revolt and riot and turn to violence. The occupy movement is the peaceful start of it. The mass murders is the “sick” parts of society lashing out at the damage being done by the power shift.

    But the root cause of all this shift of power in society, is technology. Not just robots, but ALL technology.

    The end game, is that machines will replace all humans totally in the work place, and no one will be able to work for a living. The people that own the best machines, will become the superstar industrialists of the 21st century, and everyone else will be homeless. We will end up with a small group of people, Just a few 1000, and their friends and family, that literally own, and control, all of the earths resources. They will be trillionaires, where most other people will just be homeless, and jobless, and own no property. People won’t even be able to farm or hunt, since they own no rights to use any of the land.

    The fix to this is trivially simple in principle. All we have to do, is share more of the wealth to offset the growing inequality.

    But we should not share the wealth as we have been doing, in the form of more government services, or minimum wage laws, or higher taxes for the rich. Those programs keep making the government larger and larger, and we just don’t need that.

    What we need, is to just take money from the rich, and give it to everyone else, just because the rich have too much money.

    The correct way to do this, is by a Basic Income Guarantee for everyone in the entire world. We tax the entire world economy, and instead of using the money to create more government services and programs, we just give the wealth to all the people.

    Of course, doing it at a world level is a pipe dream. We have to start smaller, and then work up to that. So we need to get some nations to implement it first.

    In the US, a Basic Income at the very healthy level of about $1000 a month for every person in the country, could be created just by restructuring all the current welfare and wealth redistribution systems and with some small increases in taxes.

    So everyone gets $10K a year, just for being a good citizen. No work required. They can sit home and watch TV if they want, or they can work, or create art, or do volunteer services, or be a stay at home Parent. That’s about 3 trillion in cash a year, which is about 5% of the US GDP. So a 5% tax rate on the economy would fund it.

    We need it, because if we don’t do, technology will drive inequality, which will literally destroy our society.

    A Basic Income was debated in congress back in the late 60’s, but the nation decided to go the direction of making the rich richer, instead of implementing it. It should have been implemented back in the 60’s. 1200 economics signed a petition telling the congress it was needed back in the 60’s. But the nation didn’t listen.

    The longer we go, without creating a Basic Income Guarantee, the worse the problems in society will become.

    There’s a new documentary about to come out on this subject featuring Robert Reich called Inequality for All. Watch it when it comes out.

    http://robertreich.org/

    Google Basic Income Guarantee and read about it if you do not know about it.

    Check out the facebook pages that cover it, like Basic Income, and Initiative for a Basic Income in Europe.

    And more important, spread the word about it, and talk your friends into making it happen.

    robertreich.org

    ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at…
  • Curt Welch LeaAnn Loudmouth Johnson writes: “The robots should be public-owned.”

    (why does facebook not let me turn LeaAnn’s name into a link???)

    Anyway, it’s not just the robots that are causing the problems. It’s ALL technology, from the wheel, to the level, to printing press, to telephone, to the transistor, to computers, to robots. They all drive inequality higher and higher.

    So we don’t just need to share the ownership of the robots, we need to share the ownership of all tech.

    But, when we own something, two things happen. First, we become responsible for managing the use of that asset. And second, we get to reap the wealth created, by the correct management of the asset.

    We don’t want all the robots of the world MANAGED by all the people. Most people would be very bad managers. They would not make sure the asset was being best used. But what we do want, is to share the wealth produced by the asset, when it’s well managed. And we don’t want inefficient government agencies managing the assets for us. That’s what communism tried, and that didn’t turn out so well for most countries that tried it.

    So, all we really need to share, is the wealth created by the assets, not the ownership or management of the assets themselves. Let the assets be privately owned and managed, but then force the owners to share some of the wealth they produce, with the public. This is the same ideas “public ownership” but works far better because it retains the asset management of standard capitalism.

    To share the wealth produced by all the tech of country, we just use a tax. There are lots of different ways to tax the economy, from taxes on corporate profits, to taxes on personal income, to a nation wide sales tax (VAT).

    But if we produce a set of taxes that adds up to 5% of the GDP, and distribute that to the public, we have created the same conceptual effect, as if 5% of the entire economy, was “publicly owned”. That is 5% of all the wealth, created by all the assets and all the technology of the nation, is in effect “public property” and shared with everyone.

    So if we create a Basic Income Guarantee for the US, based on taxes that add up to 5% of the GDP, we have made 5% of the economy, “public” in effect, while keeping all assets privately owned, and managed. The owners of the assets, keep the rest of the profit for themselves for their reward for managing it.

    So a Basic Income Guarantee, is really the same ideas as “the robots should be publicly owned” except far better.

  • Curt Welch The INSTANT a good Basic Income Guarantee is created, society will be utopian compared to the crap we have today. That picture of the future in the top of the graphic, is what society will actually become. The INSTANT the Basic Income Guarantee is created.

    It will instantly, end all poverty in the country. It will end all involuntary homelessness.

    Crime will be slashed, because much crime is committed by people who have been trapped into a life of poverty and helplessness. No one will be trapped, when everyone has a Basic Income Guarantee large enough to live on. In addition, anyone convicted or a crime, will likely lose part of their Basic Income – at least if they go to jail. This threat of losing the income, is a very strong motivation for not committing a crime.

    Paranoia in society will be greatly reduced. In our current society, everyone is fighting against everyone else for access to jobs and income. We can’t “trust” anyone, who we think may take our job from us. If we lose our job, we can lose our home, our car, an our ability to feed ourselves. There’s a huge threat, associated with not having a job, which creates great paranoia across large amounts of the society, and introduces large levels of stress all across society.

    Most violence in society is family on family, and the number one stressors for the violence, is money. When a husband and wife, are getting $20K a year, without working, it greatly reduces the stress and will greatly reduce the violence.

    Many people get trapped in a bad relationship, because of money. A wife can’t leave, because she has no job skills, and needs to put up with an abusive husband for the money. With a Basic Income, anyone can walk away from a bad relationship. So society will have far fewer bad relationships in the works creating more problems for the rest of society, and for children raised in those situations. All gone, once we implement the Basic Income.

    Many people get stick in shit jobs, where they are constantly abused by the boss. Some places get so bad, that we find sexual abuse taking place. But workers put up with that, because they must work, if they want food to eat. A Basic Income, allows people to walk away from bad jobs, which forces the employers to either clean up their act, and create a fun and safe workplace, with good wages, or else they won’t be able to attract any workers.

    A lot of people hate their work, and they show it in the quality of service they provide. No longer, will anyone have to hate their work. If they can’t find a job they like, they simply don’t have to work at all. With a Basic Income, we don’t need so many crappy government regulations to force employers to be “nice” to their workers. Workers will just walk way from the work if they feel the job is unsafe or doesn’t pay enough. The Basic Income gives the people to power to walk away, and that gives them the ultimate leverage against any employer.

    Minimum wage is a form of socialistic welfare, which is needed if we don’t have a basic income, but it has the bad side effect of of preventing business from offering low wages jobs and this puts pressure on unemployment. It kills jobs. Some people would be happy to work for $1 an hour at some jobs, just becuase the opportunity to work at some companies is that important to them. If they had a Basic Income, they could take that fun jobs they always wanted, and work for almost nothing. Want to work at Google, but can’t get your foot in the door? What if they could hire 1000’s of people for $1 an hour, to empty trash, and hold doors open, and help move furniture, or whatever, just because Google cold afford them at that rate. It would be ways to for people to get in the business, and learn. Lots of business would hire a lot more workers, if they didn’t have to pay minimum wage, and benefits for every worker.

    This means unemployment drops to near zero. There will be lots of jobs, for anyone that wants to work. But anyone willing to live a low cost life, can do that, without working.

    Lots of people that want to create art, can no do so. People that want to create things like free software, can do that full time. No need for a “day job” to support them.

    The people that DO want to work, will be better paid, becuase there is more profit to be shared with those that work.

    Right now, society clusters in the big cities becuase that’s where the money is. If you want to work, you have to live near a big city.

    With a Basic Income, no one has to live near a big city. The small “home towns” will return to society. With a growing small home town, where everyone has an income stream, small business will spring up to serve their needs. And the people in the small towns then can get jobs in their small business, and keep the money in the small town.

    Tired of living in a one room apartment in a big society, with a Basic Income, people can live in the country with lots of land for cheap. People will stop packing together into big cities and once again, spread out all across the nation.

    Commuting will be greatly reduced because no longer will the big cities be so crowded with people desperate for a “job”. There will still be big cities, but they won’t be as big as they are now since so many will opt for going back to the small town country environments.

    The advantages of a Basic Income just go on and on and on. It should have been started in the 60’s, and we would be living in a utopia today if we had. But we didn’t, so we have this dystopian existence full of stress and poverty, mixed with absurd wealth for the elites, that doesn’t need to exist.

    To end it, all that has to happen, is that the people need to stand up and demand it be done. Tell your elected officials to do it, and do it today. Vote out any official which fights against it.

    But the people, especially the conservatives, are unable to grasp how important this is. So we don’t have it. yet. And that pissies me off to no end.

  • Thomas Drewing I agree with you a thousand percent Curt. I had no idea you were a capitalist! Seriously though, consumer choice, and a truly free market, with the choices vested in the people who consume them, will tap into the distributed intelligence of our society, in a way that’s never been seen before.
  • Eric Schechter Curt, thank you, that was well said. That’s what Charles Eisenstein calls a “social dividend” in his book SACRED ECONOMICS, which is available free at the link below. I don’t see it as a final answer (I think we want to end up at a gift economy), but I do see the social dividend as an excellent transition.

    http://sacred-economics.com/

    sacred-economics.com

    “I consider Charles Eisenstein one of the up-and-coming great minds of our time. Rarely have I met a person who combines such philosophical and spiritual depth with such practical insights into the cultural and institutional origins of the potentially terminal dysfunctions of modern society – and th…
  • Eric Schechter Thomas, I shudder in terror whenever I see anyone advocating a “free market” or a “truly free market.” It’s an oxymoron, and all attempts to make it come true are disastrous. Here are some of the disastrous side effects:

    (a) Markets favor whoever is in a better bargaining position, and so they create inequality. Thus they concentrate wealth and power into few hands, and that results in corruption. In the board game of “Monopoly,” even if no one cheats, all the players but one end up destitute. Most of us can see this all around us today. But libertarians cannot, because they keep their heads in the clouds, with their beautiful theories of “free markets.”

    (b) Market fundamentalists claim that markets reward the industrious and punish the lazy. But in truth, markets reward the few who control the markets, and screw everyone else. And markets do nothing to help our hard-working cousins who have had a run of bad luck. Are those people somehow less deserving?

    (c) If we do not share things, we see our lives as separate — i.e., you keep your things in your house, and I keep my things in my house, and we each believe that we do not need to be concerned about someone else’s well being. That leads to apathy and sociopathy.

    (d) Every market transaction has externalized costs — i.e., costs borne neither by buyer nor by seller, but by some unconsulted third party. These costs are enormous — poverty, war, and ecocide.

    (e) Power corrupts. And the corrupted want more power, and so they use their power accordingly. The wealthy buy government. Libertarians blame our problems on “big government,” but they really ought to look at who owns that government. There is no way to avoid that through regulation — not even through a constitutional amendment. Being far wealthier than most other people gives one great influence, and that is a fact of life which can no more be repealed than the law of gravity. If you create a constitutional amendment or some other regulation to prohibit one kind of influence, then wealth will find some other method of influence, or wealth will buy off the people who are in charge of enforcing the regulation. The idea that you can continue to have a class of plutocrats, but keep them out of power, is absurd. Thus, if the market ever was “free,” it won’t stay that way. The only way to avoid rule by the wealthy class is to not have a wealthy class. And since markets concentrate wealth, you can only do that by ending markets. In other words, if you want democracy, you’ll have to learn to share everything.

  • William Waugh Curt Welch, the reason you can’t highlight LeaAnn Loudmouth Johnson‘s name, is that the two of you aren’t good enough buddies of each other’s!
  • Curt Welch Yeah Thomas Drewing, that’s what’s so great about a Basic Income. It’s the correct way to do socialism becuase it allows all the power of capitalism to be unleashed and it allows for a greatly reduced government, while at the same time, creating a fair society for the support of humans. Most of the government intrusion into the economy is there to “help” the people. But if you just give the people money, they don’t need the government to help them so much, they can take care of themselves just fine.

    The problem blocking this is our centuries old mentality that everyone must “work hard” in order for society to function at its peak. When some people can produce value 100,000x more than others for every hour they work, there’s just no point in expecting those that can’t produce that value, to waste their time working to prove they have a right to eat. They aren’t doing society much good at all, by working and we are doing great harm, forcing so many into a slave labor live style so they can eat, not to mention, all we block from eating.

    Only about 50% of the population is working in a “real” paid job now, and if we reduce that to 25%, there will be little to no change in GDP, because those that have the talents and skills and knowledge and opportunity to produce great wealth, will still do so. But we have to get the country past the old ideas that everyone must work and that’s going to take some time.

  • Curt Welch But I can highlight Eric Schechter‘s name just fine, and we aren’t “buddies” either? It must be connected with some security setting that LeaAnn has set I guess.
  • William Waugh Curt Welch, the trouble with long writings on FB is that they sort of get buried after a time. You should copy and paste all you wrote above into a blog on wordpress.com or similar service. Then when this kind of discussion comes up, you could cite what you have already written. Also, link back to here, and a reader can dig up what seems buried (I don’t know for how long).
  • William Waugh So Basic Income is consistent with Purple Wage? As you have been using the term in other writings, Curt Welch, I thought it was more a minimum wage with a guarantee that there’s enough of it to actually live on. But from your discussion here, I gather that it’s really the same as Purple Wagehttp://wp.me/p23U97-24

  • Curt Welch Yes Eric Schechter,, it’s known by many names. Thomas Paine called in a Citizens Dividend in his 1797 publication.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen’s_dividend

    In that form, it’s a Basic Income funded as a tax on natural resources, like land. The state of Alaska has been doing this since the 80’s with their Alaska Permanent fund which pays every resident of the state about $1000 year based on state controlled oil reserves.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Permanent_Fund

    the most common name used around the world however seems to be Basic Income these days. It’s tracked on facebook with the #basicincome hash tag.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

    “A basic income (also called basic income guarantee, unconditional basic income, universal basic income or citizen’s income)”

    The Social Dividend is a bit different:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_dividend

    It’s a Basic Income funded by the the distribution of profits from public owned enterprises. So to do it that way, the government would have to take over the ownership, and management of various industries and businesses. And odds are, if they do that, the business in fact won’t make much profit (the bureaucrats will pay themselves all the profits as a salary).

    It’s called a Basic Income, no matter how it’s funded, but for different funding options, it has a few different names like your Social Dividend, or Thomas Paine’s Citizen’s Dividend, or Alaska’s Permanent fund.

    This week (Sep 15 to Sep 22) Happens to be is the 6th annual “International Week of the Basic Income”

    https://www.facebook.com/events/611125135574436/

    There have been a lot of events in Europe this week pushing the idea.

    The idea has a very long history, but has been making serious in-roads into mainstream thinking lately due to world economic problems. Understanding and acceptance of the idea however seems to be running at below 10% of the population currently. We need to get that up above 50%. 

    There’s a good history of it going back to the 16th century in this faq:

    http://www.basicincome.org/bien/aboutbasicincome.html

    en.wikipedia.org

    Citizen’s dividend or social dividend is a proposed state policy based upon the principle that the natural world is the common property of all persons (see Georgism). It is proposed that all citizens receive regular payments (dividends) from revenue raised by the state through leasing or selling nat…
  • Curt Welch Yes, Jack it does get buried. So I just keep writing it again while I have people’s attention. There’s lots and lots of information about the ideas of Basic Income all over the net.

    I should however put some of my stuff into my blog.

  • Curt Welch Yes Jack, it’s the same as a purple wage as I understand “purple wage”. It’s an Unconditional Basic Income. That is, money everyone gets, with no strings attached. No need to work. No need for drug testing. No need to pay it back in your life time. It’s just a fixed payment everyone gets for life to do anything they want with it.

    Though, it might be reduced for minors, or be taken away for felony charges and a few exceptions like that, otherwise, for “good citizens” it’s just “free money” (so to say).

    There’s also ideas being pushed of a negative income tax, which has very similar effect, but is calculated on odd ways based on income reported. The end result however is that people get money from the IRS if their income is too low, instead of having to pay the IRS. But it requires filing taxes and might require having some income to start with (don’t know the details). The only reason people push the idea is because they believe it’s easier for some parts of the population to swallow instead of a blatant “free hand out” which is what the Basic Income is seen as.

    The current Earned Income Tax Credit is in fact a form of Basic Income in the US already. It’s just very small and needs to be much larger.

  • Eric Schechter I found one minor thing to complain against, in the “purple wage” blog, but I think most of you will agree with me about it. That essay explicitly says that what should be taxed is materials — i.e., their possession, or use, or whatever. But worded that way, it would give an exemption to information.

    For instance, Google does own computers, and those are material objects with some value, but that value is a very tiny portion of Google’s worth. Most of Google’s value is in the information stored in those computers — both the raw data, and the software that the Google company has devised for processing that data. Those are both wealth of an enormous size.

    Wealth is power, and power is wealth. When it becomes concentrated in the hands of the few, we have problems. How can you devise laws that prevent the rise of a behemoth like Google? I’m not sure. For months I’ve been saying that we must end private property (by cultural change, more than by law), but it gets tricky when we try to describe in what sense Google’s control over information is “property.” I have a little bit of privacy (and would have more, but for the NSA), and I think privacy is a nice idea — so I want some control over information about me — but then that information becomes my private property, and so I’m no longer advocating the abolition of private property. In summary, I don’t have this all figured out.

  • William Waugh Eric Schechter, the data that Google holds in secret do not prevent me from eating. But if Google takes up ground water, that competes with the means of providing me food. That’s why I advocate in my blog entry for a toll on raw materials, and not on information or data.
  • Eric Schechter William, I think that in saying that, perhaps you are taking for granted a freedom of information — you are not imagining the consequences of a control of information. Already we are in a state where most people have very little idea what is really going on. But if that goes further — if we end up not knowing at all what is going on — then we will be enslaved without even knowing it. Our lives will be difficult without our having any understanding of why they are difficult. Harriet Tubman (one of the leaders in the “Underground Railroad” that worked to help escaped slaves before the Civil War) said “I would have been able to free a thousand more slaves if I could only convince them that they were slaves.”

    Indeed, it is my opinion that that has already happened to most of our society. Most people do not understand the meaning of the phrase “wage-slave.” Most people in our society believe that capitalism and the so-called “free market” are just and fair, and that the “hard times” we are presently experiencing are simply a matter of “bad luck” or “a downturn in the market,” something that can’t be helped, like the weather. I wish more of them would stop and ask themselves, with productivity steadily RISING, why the f**k should we be experiencing HARD TIMES??? What they don’t know IS hurting them. In fact, it is starving quite a few of them.

    http://TheRootProblem.org

    leftymathprof.wordpress.com

    (Read the essay, or watch the 36 minute video version here in this little box, or on its Youtube page, or full-screen.) PART A: THE CULTURE OF SEPARATENESS We need a revolution, and soon, and it mu…
  • William Waugh Eric Schechter, there should be privacy laws and government transparency and so on. Any number of laws and regulations and principles would be appropriate to address the potential problems of secrecy being used for data it should not be applied to or in situations where the public would be hoodwinked and controlled. But I think all that is different from the economic flows. I don’t think there should be a tax on thought, even if the thought is augmented with tools outside the human body.
  • Eric Schechter William, I don’t think that progressive taxation is enough to solve the real problems in how economics affects politics. As long as someone has a concentration of power, we have problems. And concentrations of wealth and power arise from market mechanisms, no matter how they are taxed. The only way to avoid rule by the wealthy class is to end private property altogether.
  • Curt Welch Eric Schechter writes on http://leftymathprof.wordpress.com/the-root-problem/

    “Our basic nature — which is really empathic and cooperative — has been swamped by a culture of separateness, cynicism, and competition.”

    Well, actually Eric, I think people have different types of brains, as is reflected in the many different personality types. I think the basic nature of a liberal, is consistent with your statement, but the basic nature of a conservative is not. Conservatives and liberals tend to have different personalities, and their personalities are their true basic nature.

    Both liberals and conservatives can by understood to be empathetic and cooperative, but ONLY within limited circles. The difference between us, is how wide our circles are.

    We empathise, with those who we sense are like us. But some of us, have brains that like to look at the big picture, and which tends to focus on the features that make us similar, while others, like to look at the little picture, by focusing on the things that make us different. Conservatives tend to be little picture thinkers, and liberals tend to be big picture thinkers.

    Conservatives tend to have what I think of as a “high contest” brain, and liberals have a “low contrast” brain. Conservatives tend to be people that like to see everything as black and white. Liberals see the world as full of gray areas.

    When we look at various people and animals that are different from us, a black and white thinker, will see people as either “same” or “different”. Once they become “too different”, they don’t just look like a “little different’, they look “not the same at all”. So if you are a White Christian Conservative, a black person looks “not human”, a Muslim become “a terrorist”.

    Our empathy tracks with our ability to see others as “the same” as us. The more they are the same, the more natural empathy we have. A black and white thinker will have lots of empathy for someone they see as “the same” (family), but then their empathy drops to near zero quickly, when their brain switches to the “not the same” mode.

    But for those of us that see the world as full of grey areas, other humans are all different, but yet, they are all “human” to us. Our perception of “sameness” extends much further and as such, our empathy extends much further. Not only to we see those of a different race as “much the same” to us, we are well known for having empathy with animals, and even trees (tree huggers) becuase we don’t have this black and white thinking pattern that comes with the conservative brain.

    Conservatives have very strong empathy and cooperation within their circle of “sameness”. They are very pro family, and pro community, and pro country. But once you step outside of their circle of “sameness” by having the wrong skin color, or admitting to being a “liberal” for example, and they no longer see you as human. Their empathy drops to near zero as their black and white brain switches from on to off. You become someone to compete against, instead of cooperate with.

    Conservative politics is full of the actions that alienate and block those they see as “not the same” from participating. They do things to prevent democrats from voting, because to a conservative a democrat is not “the same”, they aren’t even worthy of being considered an “American”. To a conservative, a liberal is anti-american.

    To liberals, conservatives are Americans, and deserve as much protection under the constitution as other liberals get. Liberals don’t enact rules, to try and block conservatives from voting for example. Our net of “sameness” extends much further.

    So Eric, so my point here, is that you seem to be trying to argue we are all liberals at heart, and it’s just this social trend of private property that has turned so many people into conservatives.

    I don’t buy that. It think it’s genetics. We humans have lots of different types of brains. I think this issue I call “contrast” is just one of the generic parameters of how brain’s work, with some people having a higher contrast perception system (black and white), and others having lower contrast (all gray areas) with people spread all over this spectrum. But those on one end, tend to lean towards conservatism, and those on the other, tend to lean towards liberalism.

    So, I would argue the true root problem here is not private property, but instead, genetics of how human brains work.

    To make the world better, we can’t change the genetics of the conservatives and make them liberal. We must find social systems, that both types can live with.

    leftymathprof.wordpress.com

    (Read the essay, or watch the 36 minute video version here in this little box, or on its Youtube page, or full-screen.) PART A: THE CULTURE OF SEPARATENESS We need a revolution, and soon, and it mu…
  • Curt Welch Eric Schechter, I’m going to have to read the http://sacred-economics.com/ book you suggested and read more of your blog to get a deeper understanding of what you are th inking. I’ve got the book on my phone to read now… We are certainly bothered by many of the same things happening in society.

    sacred-economics.com

    “I consider Charles Eisenstein one of the up-and-coming great minds of our time. Rarely have I met a person who combines such philosophical and spiritual depth with such practical insights into the cultural and institutional origins of the potentially terminal dysfunctions of modern society – and th…
  • Eric Schechter Curt, your description of “high contrast” versus “low contrast” is very insightful. I don’t know whether it’s genetic (as you say), or merely cultural, but in either case I may have been too glib when I said that empathy is “our basic nature.” I need to give that some more thought.
  • Curt Welch Yeah Eric, it’s very hard to ferret out that line between nature and nurture. I’m sure part of these personality questions is genetic, but it’s very hard to know how much. It is interesting however to see how deeply ingrained the idea of private property is to most people – certainly conservatives. They just act as if it’s rule of nature as strong and as obvious as gravity instead of understanding it’s only a manmade convention. It’s just that black and white thinking at work.
  • Curt Welch On the issue of trying to get rid of private property, we have the problem of asset management. That’s the whole tragedy of the commons problem that shows the problems of shared ownership. With the specific example of the commons, it was the idea a town could leave a common park area that anyone could use to graze their livestock on. As long as there was an abundance of land, and not that many livestock, this approach worked. But as the population grew, they would reach a point where the commons became over-grazed which killed the grass, making it no good for anyone to use. The limited resource needed to be managed, so as to produce the most good for everyone. It was just a question of who got to use it, but the more important question, of keeping it from being over grazed, so that the same land, could produce a maximum amount of food for the animals every year. The secondary question would be, once well managed, who’s animal should get to use it, and how much of the resource should be given to which livestock?

    When we have limited resources, we always have the question of allocation and use. If the goal is to maximize human utlity – human happiness for the entire group, how do we make sure every limited resource is being used to its fullest, and being used in a way that does the most good? That is the thing that free market capitalism is so good at doing. It’s a distributed optimization system that used money as the control signal for the optimization of the allocation and use, of all scarce resources. And “scarce” in this sense, only means an resource that is not effectively infinite in supply. It means as long as all the major resources are part of the free market, and the managers of each resource are acting so as to maximise their profit, then the system will automatically, self optimize towards a very efficient use of all the resources. It’s not perfect, due to a lack of perfect information and time, but it’s a good system.

    The are two things however that are very bad about the free market.

  • Eric Schechter Heck, private property is deeply ingrained in me too, and I’m about as far to the left as they come. I’m advocating communism, not based on personal experience, but just based on what seems logical to me about our emotional makeup. We’ve been immersed in private property for 10,000 years.
  • Curt Welch The first very bad things about the free market, is that it only optimizes around the parameters given to it. And the most important “input” parameter, is consumer spending. It optimizes the use of all resources, based on what people choose to spend their money on, and on how much they are willing to spend, on each item. And that’s actually good. But what’s bad, is that to be fair, we must allow every member of society equal “input” into the economy – everyone must have the exact same “vote” – that is, the exact same amount to spend every money. If we could do that, then we would have the best of all worlds. That is, we would have total consumer equality in the economy, and the entire economy would then be optimizing the use of all goods and services in the ways that made everyone as happy as possible. But we don’t do that. We let some people accumulate, and consume, large amounts of wealth. They then get a much larger “vote” on how all the assets get used, so the entire economy ends up serving the needs of only the few, instead of the needs of all. And the most classic and obvious failures, is that some people are forced to go without the very basics of life, like food and shelter, while others are worth billions. The economy could easily produce food and shelter and health care for everyone, and still have trillions left over for luxury stuff, but it doesn’t, because not everyone get an equal “vote” on what the economy will produce.

    The reason everyone doesn’t get an equal vote, is not a fault of the free market alone. It’s a fault of how we choose to USE this wonderful optimization engine. Free trade causes those that are best at trading to gain control of the assets. The better they are, the most assets they can gain control over. This is good, for the operation of the economy, becuase it means the best managers, are doing the most management of the assets. You want the best manage to manage as much as they can if you want to optimization engine to function as efficiently as it can. And, since good management doesn’t happen by chance, it happens by effort, we must motivate the people for their effort. We must reward them with higher pay. If we don’t reward them correctly, we will end up with bad management and a weak economic optimization engine. And that would not be good for anyone if it got too weak.

    But, we can compromise, and limit how much someone gets “paid” for being a good manager, just by taxing all personal income and corporate profits, and then distributing that to everyone as their tokens for “input” to the optimization engine. The tax rates can be set to anything we choose. At a 100% tax rate, we would have total socialism, and people would get 0, for their asset management work. This would fail, because people would not bother to manage any resources for the economy if they got pad just as much without doing. The economic engine would sputter and mostly die out. But if we set the tax rate at 50%, the half the income would be shared by everyone, and the other half would be used to pay the people willing to spend their time managing assets for the common good (work). We can set the rate to whatever produces what feels like a reasonable balance between creating a society based on human equality, while at the same time, rewarding those who donated their time to help manage the limited assets of the wold.

    Now in time, maybe only 40 years away, no humans will be able to do this management work anymore. We will have machines that will do it all much better than any human ever could. But the machines won’t need to be paid in money. So at that point, we can create a 100% tax so that everyone is getting the exact same income to spend and we will have a true society based on equality. So everyone has a fixed income to spend, and can spend it any way they want. The money to spend represents their “share” of all the limited resources and assets of the economy.

    There’s no end in sight for making our resources unlimited. We have finite land, finite time, finite energy sources, finite amounts of oil, coal, gas. Finite amount of shore property. Finite amount of mountain property. Finite amounts of trees that can be grown on the earth every month. Finite amount of space on the island of Manhattan. The world is full of limited resources that must be allocated for use by all the people, and a free market economy is the best known tool for doing that allocation. Even when the super smart machines take it over, they will still be optimizing the allocation of resources using free market capitalism algorithms using consumer spending patterns as their input to the systems.

    The second big problem of capitalism, is that it HIDES the side effects of consumer spending from the consumer. Our spending choice is based only the finished good. If we “like” an iPhone, and like the price compared to other spending options, we buy it. But if buying that iPhone made the economic machine, change the environment and destroy all life on the planet 50 years in the future, we won’t like that. But since the box didn’t come with a warning label “warning, buy this will destroy all life on the planet in 50 years, we don’t make our buying decision based on that side effect.

    So, in addition to fixing the problem of equality by making sure everyone one gets a fair share of “voting rights” in the economy (a Basic Income), we also must watch out for hidden side effects, and make sure we give inputs to the economic optimization engine to punish any bad side effects. We want the system to optimize around the bad side effects, and when we identify them, we must simply add fines as needed for any bad actions, or for the really bad – like killing some people help lower prices for others (make it illegal for the system – infinite fee).

    I’ve not seen any other suggesting as to how to manage resources that seems workable – but I’ll have to read up on these ideas of a “gift economy” and others to see if I missed something…..

  • Eric Schechter Garrett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” got the facts exactly WRONG. The village commons in Britain and Europe worked just fine — the villagers did a fine job of informal self-regulation. The commons only failed when the enclosure laws privatized them. Elinor Ostrum won a Nobel prize in economics for explaining how regulating the commons works. Her work was the basis of a textbook that is now available free online:

    http://sustainingthecommons.asu.edu/

    sustainingthecommons.asu.edu

    Creative CommonsPosted on September 19, 2013 by Marco Janssen — No Comments ↓The Creative Commons supports the sharing of digital creative media by providing legal and technical resources and infrastructure. The organization supports all kinds of digital media, including images, pictures, music, vid…
  • Eric Schechter That the market optimizes toward efficiency is far from true. It’s one of the myths of the market, perpetuated by market fundamentalists.

    One of the inefficiencies comes from externalized costs, i.e., costs borne neither by the buyer nor by the seller, but by some third party who is not consulted in arranging the market transaction. Such costs are not measured, and thus are not among the parameters for which the market optimizes. Conventional economics textbooks gloss over externalities as though they were minor things, but in fact they are enormous. War, poverty, and ecocide are externalities.

  • Eric Schechter And the word “efficient” is itself misleading. We must ask, efficient toward what goals? For instance, Hitler’s gas chambers were very efficient at killing people. What is our economy efficient at?
  • Eric Schechter And trying to motivate people with money is a mistake. It is based on an assumption that most people do not even question, but it happens to be an erroneous assumption. Sociological experiments have found that people are not very much motivated by money. They are far better motivated by being useful, being appreciated, or doing something interesting.
  • Eric Schechter “a free market economy is the best known tool for doing that allocation” — that’s what the market fundamentalists tell us, but I’m not convinced of it. I think that people caring about other people is more reliable in the long run, and perhaps even in the short run.
  • Curt Welch ““Market prices efficiently allocate goods and services to their best use.” – False. “Best” for what purposes? “Efficient” toward what goals?”

    Best as evaluated by THE CONSUMERS based on the votes per their spending. The largest problem we have with capitalism today is inequality, which means consumers are not getting equal voting rights to control the economy. Large portions of the population in fact get NO VOTE AT ALL, becuase they don’t have a single penny to spend. If someone gets no vote, then they have no say in say in what the massive 15 trillion powers of the US economy get used for. A poor neighborhood gets very little “voting rights” in the economy, so they don’t get a Walmart built near them, they don’t get good roads, they don’t get good police protection, they don’t get good schools.

    It’s not the fault of capitalism that this is happen, it’s the fact that we choose to block people from voting in the economy, by not giving them voting rights (dollars). If we gave everyone equal dollars to vote with, most the problems of capitalism would vanish.

    We don’t give people votes, because of an age old belief in the labor theory of value. We have this social misperception that the only way value can be _created_ is by human labor, and that if someone wants dollars to “vote with”, they should create them by using their labor. And if they choose not to do so, they deserve no right to “vote” in the economy. This has never been true, land has always had massive intrinsic value for a society build on agriculture, as well as many other resources, but 200 years ago, human labor was so valuable, that we could almost pretend the labor theory of value was true and not end up with too much inequality. But the more technology we create, the more value we find being created by the technology and non-human assets, than by humans. So the value a human ends up controlling, has far more to do with what technology he owns, than what he does with his hands. Where once it was a question of who owned the land, now it’s a question of who owns the land, the rail roads, the oil wells, the steel mills, the construction equipment, the computers, the software, the patents, the robotic factories, etc.

    When human labor was the key assets for producing value, anyone born, owning a human to control, was “rich”. Since we each are given the right to “own” and “use” our own body (once we outlawed slavery), every human was in effect given a “free gift” just for being a healthy human that could sell their body into the economy.

    But the more tech we build, the less a human body is worth. With every new invention, the owners of the invention, steals a little bit of that wealth people used to be born with. And this drives inequality a bit higher.

    Creating wealth, is slowly by steadily changing from a process of using your hand to create things of value (what we used to call work), to rent seeking. That is, finding ways to own something of value, that produces income for the owner.

    When working with our hands was how wealth was created, work was far more fair. Anyone that wanted to go out and hunt, could do so. One person hunting, didn’t prevent another one from hunting. Anyone that wanted to plant crops and farm, could do so. There was plenty of land, so no one planting crops really prevented another one from doing the same. And once everyone created value with their own hands, trading only helped increase the value of the wealth by moving it to where it would do the most good. In a society where anyone could work that wanted to, just by doing the work, (go out hunting), there was not as much competition – work was a choice and people controlled how wealthy they were by their choice to work or not work.

    But now, when probably more like 99% of the wealth is created by assets owned by people, rent seeking has become the name of the game. We compete against each other for the control of natural resources, like oil, or water or just land. We compete against each other for the right to own, and lease land. We compete against each other for the right to own a technology, like a patent. Monsanto competes for the right to rent seek on all crops in the world. Companies rent seek on their market share. Wages and salaries paid to workers are mostly a function of how good the worker is at improving the business rent seeking. CEOs make tons of money, because they are a key player in how well the company is rent seeking. Most rank and file workers, have very little to do with improving the companies rent seeking, and as such, are paid very little. It’s not the people that work behind the counter at McDonalds that has allowed them to capture the share of the food industry. It’s all the work done back at corporate to set up all the technology that is built into each McDonald’s store, from the building, to the food recipes, to the contracts with suppliers, to the restaurant equipment. It’s all those innovations that goes into creating the technology of a McDonald’s store, that gives it income potential, not the work done by the rank and file counter workers and cooks. So very little money flows to those actually doing “real” work with their hands.

    This shift from work based, to rent seeking based income has been so slow, that it’s hardly noticed. But the end result, is that we live in a society that is full of rent seeking competition, instead of cooperative working side by side as it once was. And the end result is not only a society full of distrust between people, but one of massive inequality which keeps growing larger.

    To return society to one of cooperation, instead of so much competition, all we need to do, is re-equalize the “vote” by redistributing income to bring inequality down to fair levels and even more important, to give everyone a fair “base” vote in what the economy is doing – where currently, many get no vote at all.

  • Curt Welch “And trying to motivate people with money is a mistake. “

    Nonsense. You are 100% right that people are strongly motivated by social status, which for the most part is hard to buy with money (money can’t buy you love), but that doesn’t negate the fact that people are easily and very nicely motivated by money. You can make a person do almost anything by giving them money. For the most part, it’s only a question of how much money you have to give them before they will do it and how desperate they are for the money.

    There is nothing wrong with using social status as a motivation to work. All the free software, and many other good things in the world has been created by that. But you CAN NOT run an economy on social status. It fails to allocate the use of limited resources correctly. Are you suggesting we allocate land and oil and food and housing based on who has the most views on a youTUbe video? Or who has the largest download count on a song they wrote and recorded? Or by popular vote? That would create more inequality than we already have, not less.

    When everyone gets a fair share of the economic wealth, without having to “work”, then lots of people will be free to donate their time and effort to creating whatever is “fun” for them, and share it with the world for free. Create creativity will be unleashed shared freely.

    But, the entire economy could never work on that. There are lots of shit jobs that people just don’t want to do, like cleaning out sewers, or emptying trash, or killing pigs, or managing a herd of idiots, or most construction work, or delivering mail, or packages, or risking life an limb to catch alaskan crab, that just won’t get done, if everyone was free to do only what they wanted to do. “social status” of offering to do a shit job in return for a giant “thank you” from the crowd, will not be enough “pay” to get all the work done that needs to get done. In fact, I would argue that MOST work done today, would not get done, if there was no pay for it. When people only do what they want to do, lots of work that no one wants to do, but needs to have done, just won’t get done.

    Now some of that work done today is just not needed, so society will do just fine if no one does it. We don’t need to eat crabs if no one is willing to risk their life for $50K a year of income. But others, do need to get done, like keeping the sewer system working, or dealing with the trash, or having someone manage the police department, and the police instead of letting anyone that wants to walk around with a gun call themselves “the police”. And for these, as long as don’t yet have machines to do it all for us, has to be done by a person, that will need to get paid for them to do it.

    But, we don’t need to pay anyone 3 Billion dollars for creating a great new internet company, when we are still faced with people not having enough economic power to buy themselves food.

  • Curt Welch “I think that people caring about other people is more reliable in the long run, and perhaps even in the short run.”

    Well, I’m not sure how you intend to make that happen yet. Humans don’t naturally care about others, as much as their care about themselves, and that’s just a simple fact of physiology. Our “pain” sensors are only wired to our own body. Empathy is always weaker than self pain.

    But, we do naturally tend to care about each other, IF we aren’t forced to compete with the person. Since society provides no guarantee of having food to eat, or a place to live, everyone is always coping with the an innate fear, of dealing with that possibility. In the back of their mind, is always the idea of “what if I lose my job – can I find a new one?” Do I have enough savings, to cope with an unexpected disaster, like a tornado, flood, or serious health problem in the family? What if my wife lost her job? Will we have enough to feed the family and pay the bills without her income?

    This basic fear of not having the very basics for survival, can put a huge stress on everything we do. It affects how we treat each other, and how we treat strangers. It affects the level of competition that exists in every workplace due to the fear that we might lose our jobs to a coworker.

    But when everyone has a healthy Basic Income to fall back on, much of that stress can be relieved. If we work, it’s only for the “fun” of having extra money to spend and the “fun” of the work itself. We won’t be so quick to see another person as competition for our survival, which will give everyone more emotional energy and desire to help other people, than to fight them. When we all have a Basic Income to fall back on, the only people that are working, are the ones that decided the job was offering so much money and emotional “perks” that they couldn’t say no. All work would be done because someone “wants” to work. No one needs to turn to prostitution to feed their child. No one needs to break the law and sell drugs (or turn to other crimes), because they feel it’s only option to “get their fair share” of social wealth and status.

    When live is easy, everyone helps each other. When life is hard, they focus on taking care of their own problems, and don’t have the energy to help others that are in need. When life gets hard, families break up over money issues. When we live in a society where we known live is hard for everyone, we fear someone might try to rob us, or harm us, to solve their own problems of having no food etc. But when we live in a society where everyone’s basic needs are taken care of, we know that the odds of someone robbing us goes way down, we feel safer around strangers, and we become less paranoid, and more likely to stop and help a stranger because we don’t fear them, and we have an easy life and can afford to help others.

    I don’t know how to talk people into supporting a Basic Income, but I know damn well, that if we tried it for a few years it would become an instant huge hit. All we have to do, is get one country to start it, to prove it works and to prove how much it will be loved and demanded by the people once they get over the idea that people must “work” to earn a right to eat.

  • Curt Welch “War, poverty, and ecocide are externalities.”

    Sure, if you and I trade, and it puts someone _else_ into poverty, we do not see the effect so the economy can’t “fix it”. But that’s why we should NOT use the economy to totally control the allocation of wealth. If X % of all wealth is allocated by a basic income, then we have solved poverty. You and I trading could reduce someone else’s ability to get “rich”, but it will never take him below his basic income.

    Other externalities like ecocide happen just because either the true cost of the product is not reflected in the market cost.

    But these problems are easily fixed by external regulations. If putting CO2 in the air the bad side effect we want to slow down, we just charge a fee for any company putting CO2 in the air, and let the prices filter through to the consumers. But at the same time, the “fee” just gets added to the basic income of the consumers, so the money does not get “lost” in any sense, nor does it go to support unneeded government bloat. It just becomes an external price adjustment as an input for the economy to optimize for. Same thing for anything the economy is doing we don’t want it to do – like consuming limited resources like oil too fast. Or dumping too much waste into the oceans, or pollute water.

    Anything we want it to optimize away from, we just assign a fee for. If it still does too much of the same thing with the fee, we just keep raising the fee, and seeing what the new optimization point is like.

    And of course these “fees” are created and maintained by the government, which is under the control of a democratic vote.

    Natural resources the government controls, like the air waves, should be leased to whoever is using it, and again, that income from the lease, adds to the basic income. The free market should control what the value of the air waves are.

    If the entire world got on board on a world-wide basic income for every human on the planet, there would be no more war.

  • Eric Schechter Regarding what really motivates people to work …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

    This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace….
  • Eric Schechter Regarding how people really behave when the going gets tough …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1cC27c01Vk

    In the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, or the Loma Prieta Earthquake, author Rebecca Solnit collected hundreds of interviews and spen…
  • Eric Schechter “Anything we want it to optimize away from, we just assign a fee for.” Curt, you make it sound easy, but it’s not. Capitalist corporations are very good at gaming the system. They hire teams of accountants to outsmart the regulators. They’ve got more accountants than the regulators do. And so with each Ptolemaic epicycle that you add to the system, you make the system more complicated, and you make it easier for the corporations to outfox the regulators.

    The only way to stop that is to take profit and private gain out of the system altogether, and just have people doing things because they feel good about doing something that is useful and appreciated. Harnessing greed never ends well. If you bargain with the devil, he will outfox you, and you’re the one who will end up wearing the harness. The only way to best the devil is by avoiding him altogether.

  • Jack Waugh Delia D. Aguilar, can you bring a socialist viewpoint to this discussion?
  • William Waugh Khatoon Khatoonian, can you bring a socialist viewpoint to this discussion?
  • William Waugh Vote Socialism, can you bring a Marxist viewpoint to this discussion?
  • William Waugh LeaAnn Loudmouth Johnson, thanks for continuing to host the discussion instead of kicking all of us out!
  • William Waugh Eric Schechter <<William, I don’t think that progressive taxation is enough to solve the real problems in how economics affects politics. As long as someone has a concentration of power, we have problems. And concentrations of wealth and power arise from market mechanisms, no matter how they are taxed. The only way to avoid rule by the wealthy class is to end private property altogether. >>

    I don’t propose progressive taxation as a way to solve the problem of how economics affects politics. I have wholly different proposals to solve that problem. I propose progressive taxation as part of the solution to deprivation, squalor, filth, pollution, and resource depletion. It is only part of the solution because it does not solve excessive human birth rate.

  • William Waugh Eric Schechter << “Anything we want it to optimize away from, we just assign a fee for.” Curt, you make it sound easy, but it’s not. Capitalist corporations are very good at gaming the system. >> But currently, the political system is not even trying to assign most of those fees. If it were attempted, it might collect 90% of what it is supposed to and so have the effect on the “optimization engine” that Curt Welch predicts. And as for “regulator capture”, the solution for that is to change the voting system so money in politics won’t work anymore.
  • Eric Schechter There is no way to get the money out of politics, except by getting the money out of society. The Supreme Court had it largely correct when they said “money is speech” — more precisely, money can always exert an influence through speech. How can you distinguish between people paying huge amounts of money to say political things, and people paying huge amounts of money to say other things? Ads on tv are quite expensive. Modern corporations spend a very large portion of their budget on advertising.

    If you do pass some constitutional amendment or other regulation to try to block money from entering politics one way, it will just enter politics another way. Or it will buy off the people who are supposed to enforce that amendment or that regulation.

    Money is power; money is influence. There is no way to have a small group of people continue to hold vastly more wealth than everyone else combined, and yet somehow keep that small group of people from being influential. You can no more repeal that fact than you can repeal the law of gravity.

    The only way to avoid rule by the wealthy class is to not have a wealthy class. And since markets concentrate wealth, you’ll only accomplish that by abolishing markets — i.e., by abolishing private property. And that can’t be accomplished by legislation or force, since the force imposing it would itself be an enormous concentration of power. The only way to accomplish it is through an enormous cultural change. As Tuio Maedda said, “We are not seeking power. We are seeking the end of power.”

  • Curt Welch “The only way to avoid rule by the wealthy class is to not have a wealthy class. And since markets concentrate wealth, you’ll only accomplish that by abolishing markets”

    That’s not true Eric. It’s not the only way to fix it. The other way is to balance the power by redistributing the wealth with a Basic Income (or other wealth redistribution system). With greater equality, the distortions created by the wealth become greatly reduced. The society can choose to set the amount of redistribution to any level they want.

    As you say, it’s hard to stop the corruption with laws becuase money has a way of finding new cracks to flow into. But if you fix the problem at the root, by reducing inequality, then everyone has a somewhat fair amount of money to express how important an issue is to them – put your money where you mouth is if that’s really so important to you.

    We invest far more than just our vote if we want to, by volunteering our time, by going door to door to talk to people, sharing opinions on the internet. These are all forms of using our private power to bend the government in the direction we want. Spending money, is just one more tool in a very large tool box of political activism. If we offset the inequality to reasonable levels, then we give the people the tools they need to have their voices heard and take the power away from distorted minorities that don’t represent the will of the people.

    You don’t have to get rid of money, and throw the baby of economic optimization out with the bath wash to fix the corruption of money in politics.

  • Eric Schechter Curt, as I’ve explained above, this “economic optimization” that you praise so highly has not optimized for a better world. It has only optimized for increasing the wealth of those who are already wealthy. That’s what markets do.

    In the early 20th century, the concentration of wealth in the USA became so extreme that finally the people rebelled. The socialists, communists, and labor union no longer merely called for change; they actually demanded change. And so Franklin Roosevelt made a deal with the very rich. He told them, you must make a few concessions, or you will lose everything — there will be a socialist revolution. And so Roosevelt created the New Deal, and thereby saved capitalism. This new, Keynesian version of capitalism created a strong middle class, for the first time in the history of the USA, and it lasted for several decades, and since then market fundamentalists have pointed to it and called it “the golden age of capitalism” and cited it as evidence that capitalism works.

    But Roosevelt did not eliminate the plutocracy, nor the market basis for the economy. And he did not prevent the rise of McCarthyism. And so the very wealthy crushed all leftist ideology, and then began unraveling the New Deal. We entered the age of the neoliberals, who espouse the doctrine that market solutions are the best and the only solutions to consider. Keynesianism was discarded completely. And since then we have seen a rapid increase in inequality.

    This is the inevitable outcome, as long as you do not eliminate the market and the plutocracy. And if you somehow succeed in implementing another New Deal, this time it will be overthrown even quicker, because modern marketing techniques and modern communication techniques are so much faster and more effective now than they were a century ago.

    There are some people who believe that the best we can hope for in human society is some sort of Sisyphean struggle — to constantly fight against plutocracy, roll the stone up the hill, see it roll down again, and then try again. Create equality, then watch them destroy it, then struggle to create it again. I believe a better system is possible.

  • Curt Welch “Curt, you make it sound easy, but it’s not. Capitalist corporations are very good at gaming the system.”

    That’s true. It’s not always that easy. Some things we may want to motivate the economy to fix will just be too hard to track, so we can’t. But much of the big important things, we most certainly can, and do address. The problems with the ozone layer was effectively dealt with though regulations for example. Many other problems with pollution by industry have effectively been dealt with. Natural beauty has been preserved though park systems and other regulations. Construction standards are heavily regulated to protect people from being killed in shoddy construction caused by economic pressure to save money. To suggest this “can’t work” is absurd. It most certainly does work — even if it’s not perfect.

    “The only way to stop that is to take profit and private gain out of the system altogether, and just have people doing things because they feel good about doing something that is useful and appreciated. Harnessing greed never ends well. If you bargain with the devil, he will outfox you, and you’re the one who will end up wearing the harness. The only way to best the devil is by avoiding him altogether.”

    There is a force here at work that you seem totally obvious to Eric.

    Humans are intelligent, for the exact same reason the economy is an intelligence. They both use the same basic system for creating intelligence – profit maximising. When we join together in an economy, we have created a super-intelligence that is separate, and greater than, any of the humans that create it. Our society, bound together by a single control signal – money – creates a single large super intelligence.

    This is an exact parallel to how the brain functions by being a distributed reward maximising system. Humans act so as to maximize future rewards. We seek out ways of acting so as to maximize our future pleasure and minimize our future pain.

    Even though the brain is a distributed system, with some parts of the brain controlling the right arm, and other parts controlling the left, the two parts work together for a common goal, becuase they are driving by the same reward signal. We don’t normally lose sleep at night worrying about whether the right arm might attack the left arm. All our body parts work together for the common good, exactly becuase the different parts of the brain are motivated by a COMMON REWARD SIGNAL. That reward signal, is controlled by pain sensors on the right arm, and the left arm. Both arms have the ability to “vote” just as loudly with a cry of “I’m pain pain”. The left arm being in pain, will motivate the right arm to help it and the same in reverse. If the pain sensors on one arm stops working, then that arm stops being protected by the rest of the body. The arm is no longer “important” to the rest of the body. This is a common problem for any disease that causes the loss of feeling in a body part – the person just “forgets” to take care of it, and it gets more and more damaged over time. When a person suffers from brain damage that results in the brain parts losing communication, it can result in the the two arms no longer working together. People have developed an “arm” that seems to have a personality of it’s own, and will do things, like try to choke the person. That is what happens when your REMOVE the shared reward signal.

    The economy, does for society, what the brain does for humans. It makes the entire society a single intelligent agent that works to maximize current and future rewards (profits).

    If you remove the control signal (money and free trade), you will LOBOTOMIZE the intelligence of our society. You will revert society back to unregulated chaos.

    Social pressure acts as a stand in for the control signal of money, but it’s a VERY WEAK stand in. That’s why society can function, without a formal control signal – by using social pressure alone. We can punish and reward each other, with just a look, or a gesture. These work ok for person to person interactions and for small groups, but they don’t work very well at all for the big decisions, like whether we should build a dam, or a road, or a pyramid, or a fire station, or a factory. For these big social projects, we need careful accounting based on input from the entire society – which is what money is all about.

    But, again, as I’ve talked about before, how the system acts, is 100% under the control of what rewards you train it with. When every human has an equal ability to reward or punish the economy (same amount of money to spend), then the economy works for the good of all equally. But when some people get spend a LOT MORE money than others, the economy works more for them, and not for the others. If 1% gets to spend 90% of the money, the economy is a an intelligence, that only serves the 1%.

    If we eliminate money, we will lobotomize the intelligence that protects us. The intelligence that delivers food to our table, builds homes for us, and iPhones, and creates health care for us. The intelligence that keeps the electricity working, and the water flowing to our homes. The intelligence that keeps roving bands of thieves from attacking and killing us every week.

    We don’t need authoritarian rule, but we very much do need, the control signal of money, to bind us into one large super intelligence to protect us. If you get rid of money, you have to find a substitute control signal, but any substitute will just again, be money, whether you call it money or not.

  • Curt Welch Money is not evil when it’s used correctly. It’s just a technology, which like all technology, if used correctly, will benefit us. We don’t move forward as a society by rejecting technology. We move forward by mastering it’s use. The only problem with the technology of money we have failed to master, is equality. And the reason we have failed to master it, is because the level of inequality it is able to create today is a new problem we have never dealt with in the past, and new, global social problems are hard to fix. People don’t trust big changes to how society works, and most see redistribution as a big change – one that was never justified in the past, so they reject it out of fear instead of trying to understand how important it is.
  • Eric Schechter Curt, you’ve said that social pressure does the same information-carrying task, but not as strongly. I think it would work a lot more strongly if it didn’t have money getting in its way.

    Do you know how carbon monoxide acts as a poison? The hemoglobin molecule is a big, complicated molecule that evolved for the purpose of carrying oxygen. It has a receptor site where it temporarily attaches oxygen. It picks up oxygen while it is in the lungs, and then releases the oxygen in the capillaries. Carbon monoxide is similar enough to oxygen that it attaches to the hemoglobin in the same place — but different enough so that it gets stuck there instead of letting go. Thus the hemoglobin is no longer available for carrying oxygen. In much the same fashion, money has displaced social pressure.

    Have you ever been a member of a social unit or organization that did not exchange money among its members? Some examples are a family, a political organization, perhaps a bowling league or a bridge club. Or perhaps a group of people who all are paid by the same employer, but not paid by each other. Really, such groups can function quite well.

    And, Curt, you are in agreement with me that the social system doesn’t work well when a handful of people have nearly all the money. How can you correct that? And how can you correct that so that it will stay corrected?

  • Eric Schechter Curt, it is not true that “the level of inequality … is a new problem we have never dealt with in the past.” Think of feudalism. Think of the rule by kings or pharaohs. Those actually “worked well,” in some sense — they build the pyramids, and the great cathedrals of Europe.
  • Curt Welch “And, Curt, you are in agreement with me that the social system doesn’t work well when a handful of people have nearly all the money. How can you correct that? And how can you correct that so that it will stay corrected?”

    Well, we correct it by implementing a basic income guarantee. We keep it corrected by setting the size of the Basic Income Guarantee as a percentage of GDP (or some similar measure). So we just define the size of the Basic Income as 20% of GDP or something along those lines. That in effect fixes it forever. We can tweak the % over time, for various reasons, but as long as we have the redistribution in place, people won’t give it up.

    The hard part, is getting it started. We have massive social pressure against the idea currently because society has been trained to believe redistribution is a form of theft. Conservatives are little picture thinkers and as such, only see redistribution as taking money they “earned” out of their pockets, and giving it to someone that didn’t earn it. This is a big picture problem, and conservatives just aren’t going to be good at understanding it. They will go down in flames, before they will understand it.

    But this “going down in flames” is exactly what IS happening even now as the conservatives in the US threaten to shut down the government, instead of being forced to implement the redistribution part of Obamacare (individual mandate). They don’t like the rest of Obamacare, and they don’t like ANYTHING with Obama’s name on it, but the individual mandate that the Supreme Court ruled as constitutional is what they are willing to go down in flames over (in my view).

    The worse inequality gets, the more people will start to catch on that something very fundamental is deeply wrong, and the more they will be willing to vote for redistribution of one type or another. It’s just going to take time. But these ideas of inequality are growing in society, and it will catch on in time that this is something capitalism won’t “fix” on it’s own. The more technology advances, the more obvious it all will all become to people that “this time” it really is different.

  • Eric Schechter I agree that the “basic income guarantee” would be a big, good step in the right direction. I don’t know if we can get that implemented under the present social consciousness.
  • Curt Welch Yeah, especially in the US it will be a very hard sell. But, we might have a chance if the republican party manages to go down in flames and enough people step up to demand change. The mid term elections and the next presidential elections will say a lot about the mood of the country. Will they support the republican nonsense and feel we have too much liberal influence, or will they turn against the republicans? If we turn back to republican control, there will be no chance again for many years.

    But there is far more hope that one of the European countries will try it and if they do, it will give good data on how it works. It’s just going to be slow and painful I’m afraid.

    My approach is to continue working on AGI and just put everyone out of work as quickly as I can. Then they will catch on to what a disaster they have created by not implementing more redistribution.

  • Eric Schechter I think it may be difficult to get a sane economic system working in one place before everywhere else. Once one region has a good economy, they will be flooded by more immigrants than they can handle — or else they will have to turn to oppressive tactics to keep out the excess immigrants.
  • William Waugh Eric Schechter, you say “There is no way to get the money out of politics, except by getting the money out of society.” However, I think there is a much, much easier way (than getting the money out of society), in terms of the amount of social shift required, to get the _effect_ of money out of politics. I contend it’s not necessary to try to restrict the use of money for political advertising (which I think you and I agree wouldn’t be effective anyway). But what I say the polity could do with enough support, is get the _effect_ of money out of politics. And the way to do that is to reform the voting system in a way that defeats Duverger’s Law. For example, use fractional approval voting ( = Range Voting) with permissible scores (fractions) of 100%, 99%, 96%, 87%, 64%, and 0. Or, for a body like the US House of Representatives, use Jim Mueller‘s “Choice of Representation” concept, which, like approval voting, prevents popular votes from being wasted. Then the negative advertising won’t work for the 1% so well as it currently does, because the element of blackmail (or prisoner’s dilemma) will be gone. Changing the voting system in one of those ways will effectively tear out the clutch that connects the engine of money-in-politics to the wheels of legislation and policy. The engine can rev all it wants, but it won’t get any traction.
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