Can Haz

Here is a list of things that we, as humans, could technically have, but lack an economic model to provide.

Here are somethings we could have by doing no more work that we have now. Its simply a matter of removing some limitations imposed by our economic model. If we could keep everyone doing the same jobs (or in some cases working less), and just ignore the money, we could gain these. Another way to look at it is if we somehow got communism working without any trade-offs (which isn't too likely), we would gain these without extra work. Some of these actually have a trivial cost (ex: bandwidth), but nothing significant really.

Free stuff everyone could have, if only the economy didn't get in the way:

  • Every digital thing, for free, for everyone, forever
    • All Software
      • Every video game ever, for download (Maybe some lack updates/support)
    • All digital media: every movie, tv-show, comic, book, song, etc
    • The source code to everything, use how ever you want.
    • The media assets from everything (Models from your favorite movie? Effects from any game? Use/Share all for free)
  • All patents, free for any use
  • Every phone could use all compatible cell towers (no carrier limits)

Now, I hope it is obvious that this would be good. Unfortunately, our economic approach uses limited (and paid) access to encourage production of these assets, and this getting them all for free is rather hopeless, as it would prevent them from being created in the first place. That said, its kinda annoying that if we all did the same amount of work, and just ignored economics, we could have exactly the same setup, and get a ton of amazing stuff for free. The issue is we assume (probably correctly) that no one would just produce works according to their ability without financial incentives, and we currently don't have a way to fund such content creation other than restricting access once it is finished.

Communism was an attempt to solve this in some respects, but I think we can agree we don't have a working idea communist system we can just implement globally. Though if we did… so much free stuff!

Perhaps getting all of this is impractical, but please do consider economic policies in terms of efficiency. By efficiency here I mean how much benefit they provide to the people in per-portion to the amount of work performed by said people. The ideal 100% efficient system would be the (likely impossible to implement) communist model outlined above. We want to get as close to this as we can.

Do you have a way to do this? Maybe a system for funding the creation of works that will be added to the public domain? Its been done before, but its hard to make sure it encourages the works people actually want. Think about these issues, and please to try and do something about it. There is obviously room for improvement!

Work is bad.

And while you're thinking about the economy, stop thinking more work is good. Ask any 13 year old if they want more work they have to do, or would prefer to have time to do what ever they want. What will they answer? Don't confuse distribution of income with the total amount of work to do by people. If, as a society, we can produce/receive the same stuff, and work less, wouldn't that be awesome? Too bad our economic model makes people want more work. If there are efficiency gains to be has as far as labor to production goes, it would be really nice it we could take advantage of them without screwing over the workers involved. Its great that we have unions to defend these people (since our current economic model would screw them over), but as far as the big picture goes, a group fighting to keep efficiency down so they can all do more work for the same result looks really silly. Its only going to get worse as automation increases. Maybe there is a solution to this?

On that note, how can we deal with the extreme case: what happens if the majority of human labor is no longer needed? We could just all work 10 hour weeks, or maybe 3/4 of people could be impoverished, and a few factory owners take their income? Oops, work free utopia -> 100% unemployment, darn.

Enter robo-communism: each robot produces according to their ability, and each humans receives according to their needs. Ya, probably won't happen, but we need to think about the issue. Automation is driving up the separation of wealth, and if current trends continue, we don't get a happy nice future with basically no work, we get a real mess. Suppose someone managed to make an automated factory that could design and build automated factories. They would take over an exponentially increasing portion of the economy, and essentially acquire all the economic power. The same technology could implement robo-communism, but it wouldn't be used for that, since we apparently really make communism work, and don't really try anyway.

Copyright © 2011-2013 Craig Macomber