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The RICH Economy (Can such an economy work?):

(From this site, and the Illuminati papers by RAW)

Unemployment is not a disease; so it has no "cure."

If there is one proposition which currently wins the assent of nearly everybody, it is that we need more jobs. "A cure for unemployment" is promised, or earnestly sought, by every Heavy Thinker from Jimmy Carter to the Communist Party USA, from Ronald Reagan to the head of the economics department at the local university, from the Birchers to the New Left.

I don't think there is, or ever again can be, a cure for unemployment. I propose that unemployment is not a disease, but the natural, healthy functioning of an advanced technological society.

The inevitable direction of any technology, and of any rational species such as Homo sap., is toward what Buckminster Fuller calls ephemeralization, or doing-more-with-less. For instance, a modern computer does more (handles more bits of information) with less hardware than the proto-computers of the late '40's and '50's. One worker with a modern teletype machine does more in an hour than a thousand medieval monks painstakingly copying scrolls for a century. Atomic fission does more with a cubic centimeter of matter than all the engineers of the 19th Century could do with a million tons, and fusion does even more.

This tendency toward ephemeralization or doing more-with-less is based on two principal factors:

  • The increment-of-association, a term coined by engineer C.H. Douglas, a meaning simply that when we combine our efforts we can do more than the sum of what each of us could do seperately. Five people acting synergetically together can lift a small modern car, but if each of the five tries separately, the car will not budge. As society evolved from tiny bands, to larger tribes, to federations of tribes, to city-states, to nations, to multinational alliances, the increment-of-association increased exponentially. A stone-age hunting band could not build the Parthenon; a Renaissance city-state could not put Neil Armstrong on the Moon. When the increment-of-association increases, through larger social units, doing-more-with-less becomes increasingly possible.
  • Knowledge itself is inherently self-augmenting. Every discovery "suggests" further discoveries; every innovation provokes further innovations. This can be seen concretely, in the records of the U.S. Patent Office, where you will find more patents granted every year than were granted the year before, in a rising curve that seems to be headed toward infinity. If Inventor A can make a Whatsit out of 20 moving parts, Inventor B will come along and build a Whatsit out of 10 moving parts. If the technology of 1900 can get 100 ergs out of a Whatchamacallum, the technology of 1950 can get 1, 000 ergs. Again, the tendency is always toward doing-more-with-less.

Unemployment is directly caused by this technological capacity to do more-with-less. Thousands of monks were technologically unemployed by Gutenberg. Thousands of blacksmiths were technologically unemployed by Ford's Model T. Each device that does-more-with-less makes human labor that much less necessary.

Aristotle said that slavery could only be abolished when machines were built that could operate themselves. Working for wages, the modern equivalent of slavery — very accurately called "wage slavery" by social critics — is in the process of being abolished by just such self-programming machines. In fact, Norbert Wiener, one of the creators of cybernetics, foresaw this as early as 1947 and warned that we would have massive unemployment once the computer revolution really got moving.

It is arguable, and I for one would argue, that the only reason Wiener's prediction has not totally been realized yet — although we do have ever-increasing unemployment — is that big unions, the corporations, and government have all tacitly agreed to slow down the pace of cybernation, to drag their feet and run the economy with the brakes on. This is because they all, still, regard unemployment as a "disease" and cannot imagine a "cure" for the nearly total unemployment that full cybernation will create.

Suppose, for a moment, we challenge this Calvinistic mind-set. Let us regard wage-work — as most people do, in fact, regard it — as a curse, a drag, a nuisance, a barrier that stands between us and what we really want to do. In that case, your job is the disease, and unemployment is the cure.

"But without working for wages we'll all starve to death!?! Won't we?"

No. Many farseeing social thinkers have suggested intelligent and plausible plans for adapting to a society of rising unemployment. Here are some examples:

  • The National Dividend. This was invented by engineer C. H. Douglas and has been revived with some modifications by poet Ezra Pound and designer Buckminster Fuller. The basic idea (although Douglas, Pound, and Fuller differ on the details) is that every citizen should be declared a shareholder in the nation, and should receive dividends on the Gross National Product for the year. Estimates differ as to how much this would be for each citizen, but at the current level of the GNP it is conservative to say that a share would be worth several times as much, per year, as a welfare recipient receives — at least five times more. Critics complain that this would be inflationary. Supporters of the National Dividend reply that it would only be inflationary if the dividends distributed were more than the GNP; and they are proposing only to issue dividends equal to the GNP.
  • The Guaranteed Annual Income. This has been urged by economist Robert Theobald and others. The government would simply establish an income level above the poverty line and guarantee that no citizen would receive less; if your wages fall below that level, or you have no wages, the government makes up the difference. This plan would definitely cost the government less than the present welfare system, with all its bureaucratic red tape and redundancy: a point worth considering for those conservatives who are always complaining about the high cost of welfare. It would also spare the recipients the humiliation, degradation and dehumanization built into the present welfare system: a point for liberals to consider. A system that is less expensive than welfare and also less debasing to the poor, it seems to me, should not be objectionable to anybody but hardcore sadists.
  • The Negative Income Tax. This was first devised by Nobel economist Milton Friedman and is a less radical variation on the above ideas. The Negative Income Tax would establish a minimum income for every citizen; anyone whose income fell below that level would receive the amount necessary to bring them up to that standard. Friedman, who is sometimes called a conservative but prefers to title himself a libertarian, points out that this would cost "the government" (i.e. the taxpayers) less than the present welfare system, like Theobald's Guaranteed Annual Income. It would also dispense with the last tinge of humiliation associated with government "charity, " since when you cashed a check from IRS nobody (not even your banker) would know if it was supplementary income due to poverty or a refund due to overpayment of last year's taxes.
  • The RICH Economy. This was devised by inventor L. Wayne Benner (co-author with Timothy Leary of Terra II) in collaboration with the present author. It's a four-stage program to retool society for the cybernetic and space-age future we are rapidly entering. RICH means Rising Income through Cybernetic Homeostasis.

Stage I: Recognize that cybernation and massive unemployment are inevitable and to encourage them. This can be done by offering a $100, 000 reward to any worker who can design a machine that will replace him or her, and all others doing the same work. In other words, instead of being dragged into the cybernetic age kicking and screaming, we should charge ahead bravely, regarding the Toilless Society as the Utopian goal humanity has always sought.

Stage II: Establish either the Negative Income Tax or the Guaranteed Annual Income, so that the massive unemployment caused by Stage I will not throw hordes of people into the degradation of the present welfare system.

Stage III: Gradually, experimentally, raise the Guaranteed Annual Income to the level of the National Dividend suggested by Douglas, Bucky Fuller, and Ezra Pound, which would give every citizen the approximate living standard of the comfortable middle class. The reason for doing this gradually is to pacify those conservative economists who claim that the National Dividend is "inflationary" or would be practically wrecking the banking business by lowering the interest rate to near-zero. It is our claim that this would not happen as long as the total dividends distributed to the populace equaled the Gross National Product. but since this is a revolutionary and controversial idea, it would be prudent, we allow, to approach it in slow steps, raising the minimum income perhaps 5 per cent per year for the first ten years. And, after the massive cybernation caused by Stage I has produced a glut of consumer goods, experimentally raise it further and faster toward the level of a true National Dividend.

Stage IV: a massive investment in adult education, for two reasons.

Because people can spend only so much time smoking dope and watching TV; after a while they get bored. This is the main psychological objection to the workless society, and the answer to it is to educate people for functions more cerebral than smoking dope, watching TV, listening to Lady Gaga or the idiot jobs most are currently toiling at.

There are vast challenges and opportunities confronting us in the next three or four decades, of which the most notable are those highlighted in Tim Leary's SMI 2 LE slogan — Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, Life Extension. Humanity is about to enter an entirely new evolutionary relationship to space, time, and consciousness. We will no longer be limited to one planet, to a brief, less-than-a-century lifespan, and to the stereotyped and robotic mental processes by which most people currently govern their lives. Everybody deserves the chance, if they want it, to participate in the evolutionary leap to what Leary calls "more space, more time, and more intelligence to enjoy space and time."

What I am proposing, in brief, is that the Work Ethic (find a Master to employ you for wages, or live in squalid poverty) is obsolete. A Work Esthetic will have to arise to replace this old Stone Age syndrome of the slave, the peasant, the serf, the prole, the wage-worker — the human labor-machine who is not fully a person but, as Marx said, " a tool, an automaton." Delivered from the role of things and robots, people will learn to become fully developed persons, in the sense of the Human Potential movement. They will not seek work out of economic necessity, but out of psychological necessity — as an outlet for their creative potential.

("Creative potential" is not a panchreston. It refers to the inborn drive to play, to tinker, to explore, and to experiment, shown by every child before his or her mental processes are stunted by authoritarian education and operant-conditioned wage-robotry.)

As Bucky Fuller says, the first thought of people, once they are delivered from wage slavery, will be, "What was it that I was so interested in as a youth, before I was told I had to earn a living?" The answer to that question, coming from millions and then billions of persons liberated from mechanical toil, will make the Renaissance look like a high school science fair or a Greenwich Village art show.

 2 Deboss, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 7:53:57 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
My advice would be to read this.
 3 Ralph Crown, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 9:08:14 AM from Next Door to Nowhere
Short Hair
This troper can't speak for other countries, but in America I don't see this happening any time soon. Two main reasons.

One, management would have to think ahead, allow some creativity, and give up some control. That won't happen. In my case I have a manager who doesn't know anything about the software I use. Not only am I discouraged from learning the advanced features that would make me much more productive, I am forced to "break" the features I do use to get a stipulated result without regard for the inefficiencies involved. Typical management is arrogant, willfully ignorant, short-sighted, and focused only on immediate profit. They see employees as disposable, and they will fight any change in the paradigm.

Two, these improvements require a better educational system than we have. The Money Party has been grinding down public education for decades. For a factory worker to invent his own robot replacement, he has to understand robotics, mechanics, electronics, and all the prerequisite fields. Not everyone has the mental equipment, the time, or the money to pick up new skills.

Having said all that, I think the system will have to change, or else it will collapse.
Under World. It rocks!
 4 Inverurie Jones, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 9:31:00 AM from Station 78 Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
'80s TV Action Hero
Three reasons it won't happen:

1. People are greedy. 2. People are lazy. 3. People are stupid.

Cure those and we'll be getting somewhere.
'Our hope's with you, rider in the blue.'

'...Day and night, they're always firemen.
 5 They Call Me Tomu, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 10:28:28 AM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
People are Lazy sounds like a good thing in this model :P

 6 De Marquis, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 10:46:11 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
@QQQQ: Pretty much every serious economist agrees with Wilson's opening analysis of what he calls "ephemeralization". It's the basis of Adam Smith, the result of increasing specialization of labor. But that's only half the story- the other half is that unemployed people are themselves a resource that capitalists seek to utilize to competitive advantage. One set of economic forces trend toward the automatization of less-skilled labor, resulting in greater unemployment, the other set of forces trend toward finding uses for that newly unemployed or underemployed labor (because it's now cheap). So society overall will never reach full or even majority unemployment.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
@deboss

Yeah that link I think is focusing on metric abuse which I really detest about the "no-nothing" managerial style of certain individuals. It's like people who blindly forge ahead and say "Hey GDP has grown 30% over the past 10 years" but if real median income has been static, all the growth has been for nothing. Increases in GDP is about having quality of life improve because you can afford more things that make your life better. If an increase in GDP gives no positive benefit in quality of life, it was totally worthless.

 8 They Call Me Tomu, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 11:47:51 AM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
Well, unless you think more people = better, in which case, if standard of living stays the same but population size rises, you're doing alright.

But I for one reject that premise.

 9 Major Tom, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 12:00:28 PM Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
@OP's "economics":

That model is ridiculously prone to inflation. You don't create a stable price market (assuming this doesn't force price controls which opens a new can of hell) by having "GDP dividends" and a guaranteed paycheck per citizen. The value of currency becomes very little very fast in that model.
Endless Conflict: Every war ends in time, even supposedly this one.
 10 They Call Me Tomu, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 12:02:15 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
The practicality of the model is one thing, but I think the main point stands: it's stuff, not jobs, that are valuable. The problem with unemployment is that there are people who need stuff but are unable to get stuff.

One set of economic forces trend toward the automatization of less-skilled labor, resulting in greater unemployment, the other set of forces trend toward finding uses for that newly unemployed or underemployed labor (because it's now cheap).

Automation of ze labour, ja, so we can find better things to do.

So society overall will never reach full or even majority unemployment.

Hmm.

I imagine it like this. Looking at Deboss's article on wasting our time doing needless 'labour', to try having people continue acting as cogs while cybernizing strolls forth — I think it is like Windows 95 inefficiently sucking out unused RAM by filling it with more background processes.

Instead, the people freed from salary/wage labour — now they have a big load off their backs. ("So then I got a call from him, saying we don't have to worry about money no more. And I said, that's good! One less thing.")

Delivered from the role of things and robots, people will learn to become fully developed persons, in the sense of the Human Potential movement. They will not seek work out of economic necessity, but out of psychological necessity — as an outlet for their creative potential.

Stage IV: a massive investment in adult education..

Because people can spend only so much time smoking dope and watching TV; after a while they get bored. This is the main psychological objection to the workless society, and the answer to it is to educate people for functions more cerebral than smoking dope, watching TV, listening to Lady Gaga or the idiot jobs most are currently toiling at.


Major Tom: That model is ridiculously prone to inflation. You don't create a stable price market (assuming this doesn't force price controls which opens a new can of hell) by having "GDP dividends" and a guaranteed paycheck per citizen. The value of currency becomes very little very fast in that model.

Supporters of the National Dividend reply that it would only be inflationary if the dividends distributed were more than the GNP; and they are proposing only to issue dividends equal to the GNP.

Stage III: Gradually, experimentally, raise the Guaranteed Annual Income to the level of the National Dividend suggested by Douglas, Bucky Fuller, and Ezra Pound, which would give every citizen the approximate living standard of the comfortable middle class...

edited 2nd Mar '11 12:05:05 PM by QQQQQ

 12 They Call Me Tomu, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 12:07:37 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
The real problem is that learning is hard. You create new tech BAM. Lots of people are out of a job. Now, if they could instantly pick up new skills, joyous day, you're in business. But sadly, it doesn't work like that. The value of experience becomes negated by the presence of technology, so the overall value of the labor force does in fact fall.

Well no that doesn't make sense. If that were true, we should all be jobless bums by now. We've robotic factories now for god's sake but the unemployment in Canada is around 6%, which basically is optimum (ie. those are just people leaving or getting laid off and going off to a new job with a short period of unemployment). We're almost running full tilt. The metrics we need to focus on is the real income from those jobs and whether that real income translates to actual happiness/fulfilment/whatever.

edited 2nd Mar '11 12:10:32 PM by breadloaf

Moi?
@Deboss: ...Whoever wrote that essay missed something vital: Rich people spend a much smaller percentage of their income than poor people. In other words: Taking money from the rich and giving it to the lower and middle classes means more money is spent, which is good for the economy.

You may be thinking "Ah, but rich people invest!" Which is true, but... so does everyone else. Where does pretty much everyone keep their money? In the bank. Where it is invested. When it is spent, it simply moves from one bank account to another, and with new technology it's spending less and less time in the transition. What this means is that while money that is invested is only invested, money that is spent is invested and spent. Now, rich people might invest in things that banks won't, but usually... they invest in exactly the same way banks do. They may add some X-factor to the system, but not much.

Not that taxing the rich and giving out benefits or creating new jobs can't have any adverse effect on the economy, but, in and of itself, taxing the rich and giving to everyone else is good for the economy.

This is the problem with economics; it's easy to miss a variable or a consequence, and end up with a utterly misleading model.

@De Marquis: Of course, if workers have more rights, then they become more expensive, and businesses have to automate to cut costs (as you can see in European industry.) This can lead to unemployment, but if a country has good benefits and adult education, it's not as big a problem as it could be.

As with most political problems, it's not that there isn't a solution - it's that those who have the power to change matters don't like the solution.

edited 2nd Mar '11 12:12:11 PM by HughMan

 15 They Call Me Tomu, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 12:12:02 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
Technology isn't instantaneous you know. SOME people do get laid off due to changing job markets. But it's not a case where everyone gets laid off all at once.

People learn and adapt rather fast, and knowledge is inherently self-augmenting. With the attitude of self-motivation (I want to be a better person), I think myriads can be achieved.

As far as investment goes, money invested is money that is loaned back out to be spent. So I think it's better to argue that we should have a metric for invested money versus money lent out. Focusing on pure spending is bad, focusing on pure investment is substantially less bad.

edited 2nd Mar '11 12:14:02 PM by breadloaf

 18 They Call Me Tomu, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 12:15:23 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
^^I call bullshit on that. Socio-economic policy should not be based on platitudes.

It depends on the industry/knowledge/etc. But the bottom line is that, information/skills that is easy to acquire/learn is not highly valued. That doesn't mean it's not essential, just that it's harder to use the new easy to get skills as a means of "filling in that void" so to speak, because there won't be a void there.

edited 2nd Mar '11 12:18:43 PM by TheyCallMeTomu

 19 Deboss, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 1:06:04 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Money being "spent" is not better for the economy if it's not going anywhere useful. Which was the thrust of the article.

Moi?
[up]But the people that are hired then spend the money. When the government spends money, that money doesn't disappear; it goes into people's paychecks. That's not to say government spending can't harm the economy, but it's simply not a matter of money. It's a matter of production capacity; man-hours. The waste in the "ditch-digger/hole-filler" is of people's time and energy, not of money.

edited 2nd Mar '11 1:41:01 PM by HughMan

Although it is best if whatever you're spending money on will continue to provide economic value once the job is done. Hence, large-scale public works.
 
 22 They Call Me Tomu, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 1:28:23 PM Relationship Status: Wishfully thinking
Sureeeeendaaaa
High speed rail!

 23 deathjavu, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 1:49:36 PM from The internet, obviously
This foreboding is fa...
Drinking water!

@ Deboss: The problem I have with that article is that it doesn't say where the inflation comes from. Inflation occurs only if the government pays for these works projects by printing new money. If they pay for it by, say, raising taxes, the assumption of inflation is false.

Also why the hell would we make them dig holes when there's plenty of valuable infrastructure projects to be done? What a stupid analogy.
Look, you can't make me speak in a logical, coherent, intelligent bananna.
 24 storyyeller, Wed, 2nd Mar '11 2:01:23 PM from Appleloosa Relationship Status: RelationshipOutOfBoundsException: 1
More like giant cherries
Debosses' article would have been a lot better if it had cut out everything besides the last paragraph.
Life is simple: it has no nontrivial normal subgroups.
Debosses' article would have been a lot better if it didn't exist.

@deathjavu: It's supposed to justify not spending anything on public works projects, and says that the unemployed will do just fine without work, so don't get too concerned about them.

edited 2nd Mar '11 2:34:05 PM by EnglishIvy

 
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