The Post-Scarcity Economy
I just finished reading a great essay by Rick Webb on the post-scarcity economy of the future.
What happens when capitalism is so efficient that us humans are no longer needed to keep the money machine running?
Webb digs in:
The key here, to me, is to start thinking about how economics would work when we decouple labor from reward. Does that make a system inherently communist? I don’t think it does. People work. They get paid. It is market driven, and not centrally planned. In reality,the market already basically dictates this, for who can claim that a Wall Street banker works more than a teacher? The only thing we really need to do is take this to a logical extreme: that people can still get paid doing zero work. This fear seems to be at the heart of most people who say that Europe is communist: if we give people so much welfare, some of them might stop working! Quelle Horreur!
It seems to me that with the rise of machines and robotics, advances in mining technology, energy technology (both fracking and green energy technologies), the obesity epidemic in the US, etc., that there are plenty of reasons to believe that we may be at the beginnings of a post scarcity economy. We have a surplus, no doubt. Of course, we still have legions of people in the world that are starving, and even people still here at home. But we actually have the capacity to feed them, to feed everyone, even now, even if we don’t have the will. It’s not a matter of scarcity; it’s a matter of the organization of labor and capital.
I lost some interest in the middle during all the Star Trek talk, but if all you read are the first and last sections of his essay, you’ll be good (I read through all 20 minutes of it).
As my fellow Exhauster Bryan noted, this is the kind of thing that makes the GOP shit their pants.