I had this discussion with my roomate, who is currently on one of his depressed zeitgeist kicks and keeps mumbling about a resource based economy and the evils of the monetary system, despite having a great job that makes him lots of money.
There are a few particular problems that present themselves to me that I honestly can't think of a fix for, though there may be one out there.
The first is that there needs to be an incentive to work. Even if all of manufacturing and harvesting is automated, even if all the service jobs are automated, there will still be some
people who have to work. People have to call the shots, set policy, repair broken systems, et cetera. No matter what, there will be jobs out there which people have to be doing. There is work to be done, and providing everything for everyone means there isn't any incentive to actually do any work aside from personal motivation.
The second, and more realistic to the current world version of this is that the type of places that would try to do this need to be able to get all the raw materials to manufacture these goods, even if construction is automated. This is going to involve interacting with the rest of the world, and the rest of the world isn't running on a resource based economy, it's running, more or less, on the same economic model as the rest of the world. If the US said "We will open food kitchens across the US which are free to eat at, and open stores which have all of your basic hygienic necessities available for free." There are a few problems posed by this. Who is going to be working in these places? Will they be paid or just volunteers? Who is paying for the materials and the places themselves? The government? With what money? Taxpayer money? Well if everyone wants to sit on their asses and have a free ride, where does taxpayer money come from? Is this infrastructure all going to be build, managed, and ran, all by volunteers for free? So for no charge, dudes are going to be out there cutting down trees to send to volunteer people who turn it into toilet paper which will be shipped by volunteer truck drivers to the hygiene store ran by volunteer people?
Do most people want to work? Yeah, I would like to think so. But they want to do the shit they want to do, if people had the option, they would sit around and be unemployed until a job that they feel is "a fit for them" or "is fun" comes along. Good job if you get a job that you think is rewarding or fun, I'm certainly happy that I have one that I feel that way about, but there are a lot of jobs that nobody in particular will think are rewarding are fun. Those jobs still need to be done, and there are two ways to incentivize those jobs, either because no other jobs are available and a job is necessary for survival, or by boosting the pay to where people want to do that job despite it being a shitty job. If you take away money, and you provide a free and unlimited social safety net to where if you want to just sit around on your ass and eat free food and wipe your ass with free toilet paper in your free house and never work, then who the hell wants to be the dude making toilet paper?
It's just not a sustainable model. Unless the entire world just falls on its own ass and collapses, and this model is being built and sustained from the very beginning on a worldwide level, it just isn't sustainable on that sort of scale. It can be sustainable on essentially a very small community-based scale, or a worldwide scale. There isn't really an in-between, because nobody has all of the resources needed right in their own backyard to get all those things done.
Then, there's ambition. I don't want to have the exact same shit everyone else has. I don't necessarily have gaudy ambitions, I don't have the goal that someday I'm going to own a Maserati, but there are things that I want which aren't necessarily going to be provided for everyone. It isn't sustainable to give everybody a massive mansion all to themselves, but if you want
a massive mansion, how do you get one?
Personally, I don't want it to be viable or socially acceptable to just not work because it's your decision and you don't want to. While I'm a big fan of economic regulation, I do like
capitalism. I don't
like laziness. I like that you pretty much have to have a job to get by, I don't want people to get a free ride. Because other people will get a free ride, and that free ride has to be paid for. And it's going to be paid for by people who are actually working. That isn't fair, it's punishing people for wanting to be successful and saying "The free ride is obviously the better choice." I don't like the idea of incentivizing freeloading.
I do, however, support the existence of welfare programs and the social safety net. After a fashion, I'm all about it. It's just that I feel we need to have federally funded job placement and job training programs for people who are out of work and actively looking. If you're out of work and you aren't
actively looking, I don't particularly want you to be helped. I'd rather you either changed your tune and started looking, or you fucking starved, I don't particularly care about those people. But if you're struggling to find a job, I'm 110 percent behind tax breaks for hiring people who are unemployed, federally funded training to give people skills and certifications, and people there to assist in resume writing and interview skills, and being able to help people get by in the time between and overall improve themselves.
I believe we're a species made special by our ambitions, I don't want us to be a bunch of lazy assholes sitting in lawn chairs and drinking beer while robots do all the work. Maybe it's just because of the way my own personality is built that I have that worldview, but even short of money, I'm a career driven guy. I derive my purpose
from my work, if I didn't have a job and wasn't forced to have a job, I don't know what the hell I would do. Probably sit around trolling the internet, getting really fucking fat, and playing lots of videogames. I'm someone who needs
to have a job. And I want to get paid for it, because I want to go get things that I want. Short of technology that lets us materialize any items that we want out of thin air with no resource cost, a post-scarcity society isn't sustainable or possible in the long term, unless you shrink down the level of material wealth and use of the entire world by a massive order of magnitude. My ambitions are tempered and measured by my realistic financial expectations for myself. If a post-scarcity society requires that we all live like rats and don't get to have our own material things, I don't really want to live that way, and that's what it seems to require, a massive drop in the standard of living for first world countries so that we can bootstrap everyone else up to that same and equal level.
edited 11th Aug '13 8:47:43 AM by Barkey
The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.