Raison d'etre

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Resourcism - a new economic system for the coming age of automation

Alternatives to Resourcism

When the labour market fails, and few people are left in proper full time jobs, current economics will force massive disruption on to the core values of our societies.  Below is a review of some of the possible routes to prevent a social disaster.  None  of these currently offer a good overall solution.  There may be other possibilities but, to date, there have not been any put forward that have come to the attention of the wider public.

Capitalism with extensions

Universal Wage

This may alleviate the worst impact of the labour market collapse.  If we do this for the majority of the people, it creates a massive imbalance between those left working and the rest.  Furthermore, the main body of people will be disenfranchised from any course of self-improvement in the future.  This applies also to the younger generations who will view education as pointless as they will be very unlikely to secure a proper job.

Many people are likely to find some sort of work, (in the gig economy), this will not improve their outlook.  It is likely that such gig economics will uphold the capitalist economic system that is the source of the problem.

To create a large universal wage is impossible under the present economic system.  Where would the money come from?  The large businesses who make and sell most products and core services will not provide this money due to the competitive nature of world economics. Many smaller businesses would not have any additional money gained from new efficiencies as they also exists within a competitive system.  This should mean all margins are driven down over time as profits are historically only enough to provide for the needs of the business. 

However, this takes time and has not applied to many key global businesses who have outright control of monopolistic global markets. This means that while some prices will fall as efficiencies increase, there will be significant long-term lag due to the global companies continuing to make massive profits, (as some, like Google, Apple and Microsoft do now).  Inflation will continue to fall as there is little need or incentive for capital investment except by large businesses. These are not interested in the wider infrastructure.  

Thus we get into a deflationary spiral that helps no one and potentially leads to economic instability.  Without (the state) taking control of the core production of products and services there would seem no obvious solution here.  By taking such control we would be essentially moving to a system that has many similarities to Resourcism but without the overall benefits, and more like communism with all its problems of hierarchical control, power building and corruption.

Taxing the Robots

This idea is crass.  The luddites would have been happy with this solution.  It means that as automation increases, (and thus efficiency increases), the more the society burdens the production processes.  This logically means we cannot maximise the leverage of this automation for efficiency as it limits the investment in this automation.  The answer is the opposite, increase automation (and efficiency) and reward businesses to improve further.  This leads us in the direction where we can move quickly away from labour as soon as possible.  Anyone who thinks that imposing work on people 9 to 5 is a great deed - please put your hands up now! (Unless of course, you are the one holding the capital to employ others to make yourself more money).

Socialism / Communism

Historically we have found that such centralised controlled political systems lead to both increased corruption and power based politics.  It is unlikely that going back to either of these political systems will be useful for improving the overall future for the human race. Neither utilise improvements in technology for creating a stable system.

However, some countries are already establishing the Nordic model of socialism. This seems to be a path that could play-out as the best alternative to capital based economics, (see discussion below). At some future time, Resourcism could be enacted as a more liberal, more democratic system that uses technology to improve the personal freedoms and limit the central power and corruption issues.

Local Economies

There are of course other avenues such as building local economies.  This requires legislative power to stop global organisations from leveraging their wealth and capital ownership on the rest. For instance, if local authorities insisted that only small local companies and individuals could be licenced for trade within their boundaries, and a local digital currency was issued to keep the money supply buoyant for local trade, this would allow for more individual employment. 

Consider that after 'smart automation' exists, this local authority provides free robots, transport, power production, water, food and general services – what would be the point of local businesses?  Apart from the hairdresser and possibly some trades people, what would the local people provide that would earn them a decent living?  So we are back with the same basic issue – the old economics simply does not work. Resourcism is still an economic system, but one designed to work, as and when, labour has been taken from the equations.

 

Discussion of Current Economic Theory

As job market changes, what is the necessary impact on the processes within capitalism or within a social mixed economy?

We have seen how very soon, an autonomous car can change the ownership possibilities – the car owns itself, and the technology allows this without any issues, (John’s got a new motor).   We can see already the change to a gig economy, where individuals are able to work when they want under self employment.  We see already a move (in the UK) for older people to own the land & property and rent it back to the younger population.

So, while the machines will soon be able to own themselves, land and housing, (which are fixed resources), are becoming held by a smaller (more wealthy) sector of the society.  As the machines do more, and people’s jobs move to service sectors that become more about people services (where the machines cannot easily do the service), what happens to the economic theories?

Under current ‘rules’ of a free capital based society, the wealthy people will own more of the fixed resources.  At the same time, machines will create much cheaper goods, power production and some services.  Some of the wealth created by the machines will go to the wealthiest sector (and global companies).  This will include those people who have a proper job doing complex tasks such as the doctors, engineers, researchers and technical people running the machines.

The rest of the fully employed people doing the other, less complex tasks, (teachers, nursing, care workers?), may struggle as these need to be paid for in the main by the state.  And the state will have less funds as there are less people paying taxes.  So the money/wealth would seem to continue to accumulate in the older, wealthier people and the corporations who own the machines and technical systems (eg Google et al).

The gig economy, will be very competitive as many people will need to work, and thus work for less in this increasingly competitive environment.  The wealth gap will widen continuously as the machines do more and squeeze the gig economy further.  We shall see this quite soon as people such taxi drivers are forced out by autonomous taxis.

The fact that an autonomous car could own itself, does not mean that it will. The people who first purchase it will not allow this to happen.  No, more likely, these vehicles and other autonomous machines will be closely guarded as a source of wealth creation.  The wealthier sector will own these new machines and extract further wealth from the declining gig economy and the fewer people who have full time jobs. That is capitalism.

There does not seem to be a time when this process has to change.  The wealth will flow to a smaller and smaller part of the society and to large corporations such as Google, Facebook, et al who work without borders and therefore without constraints on their wealth creation.  The only way this could change is for the major countries to create a world tax system to address the increasing wealth of these global businesses.

If we fast forward, say, to 2070, we can confidently predict that many normal jobs will have transferred to the machines.  Only a few people will have full time employment, the rest will live in the gig economy and on a universal wage, or pension.  The ownership of the machines will be still be (mainly) held within the wealthy sector and large corporations.   There would need to be a payment from these wealthy people and corporations simply to maintain the universal wage and pensions, (pensions continue to increase due to demographics).

However, why would these wealthy people pay more than the absolute minimum to create a stable society?  They will likely also be the power-brokers within the political system and main authorities. Change to the basic system of wealth creation could be very slow.  As is also likely, the (technical) means to control the majority population will continue to improve.  This will be helped along by the continuing terrorist activities of a minority and extreme religious organisations that are unlikely to dissipate any time soon.


Social Models


If we take the Nordic social models, will they do better when the machines do more?  Is it possible that with a universal wage, many state run organisations and high taxes on employed people, the gig economy could grow and significantly increase the wealth of the people outside full employment?

Where does the wealth created by the efficient machines then go?  If a large proportion of the services were state-run (transport, power, water, standard services, education, heath, elderly care, police, etc), then even when less people are fully employed the services would become more and more efficient (and cheaper) provided that the state owned (made?) the machines employed.

Now, it would be feasible to imagine that the state see’s the benefit of both creating their own machines and to create standard production facilities to make more machines and then to make other goods.  This sees the state becoming effectively a major corporation.  This would mean that the state is cutting out the wealthy and the major corporations within the wealth creation process.  The biggest issue here is the concentration of power within the state and the people who run it.... history strongly suggest that this is an accident waiting to happen.

Conclusion

So, whichever way we look at the coming economy, it seems to move to either a very polarised society, or to a much more social model that starts to remove the wealth creation process from the wealthy to the mass population.

In this context, Resourcism could be seen as an idealised future social model, but without the potential centralisation of power.

 

 

email: cst@commonsensethinking.co.uk