Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Post-Work Society Is Not a Future State. It Is Here. Right Now.

VII. Conclusion

Many people like me have called for things like a Universal Basic Income, a Guaranteed Minimum Income or a Negative Income Tax. All of these are essentially variations on a theme. But I would argue that the above shows that we're halfway there already! We just give these benefits to certain people - disabled people, children with disabilities, people over 65, and certain people with low incomes, including those who already have jobs. We give money to the unemployed, but make it conditional on them searching for nonexistent jobs, and arbitrarily cut them off after a certain point. And, of course, we are sure to humiliate such people and make it as difficult as possible to lessen the sting of giving undeserving people "free" money which they did not work for (as opposed to "earning" interest by the banks and charges from the rentier class). We also somehow convince ourselves that government jobs are not "real" jobs.

I would argue that waiting for the jobs to come back is like waiting for Godot. We're living in denial, and it's time to face reality. Our real problem is inequality, the environment and government corruption, not debt. We can solve this, but it through making the right choices.The reason people are not receiving adequate medical care and potholes are filling with water is due to lack of money, not lack of resources, labor, or know-how. Here's Australian economist John Quiggin calculating the numbers on one such proposal:
Now think about a closely related alternative, a guaranteed minimum income. This could be achieved by raising existing income support benefits to the target level, then making access to the basic income unconditional for those with no other source of income. I calculate here that this could be done for around 6 per cent of national income.

The guaranteed minimum income obviously lends itself to an incremental approach, based on gradual increases in rates and relaxation of conditions. To quote myself:

We can imagine a few steps towards this goal. One would be to allow recipients of the minimum income to choose voluntary work as an alternative to job search. In many countries, a lot of the required structures are in placed under ‘workfare’ or ‘work for the dole’ schemes. All that would be needed is to replace the punitive and coercive aspects of these schemes with positive inducements. A further step would be to allow a focus on cultural or sporting endeavours, whether or not those endeavours involve achieving the levels of performance that currently attract (sometimes lavish) public and market support.

An Australian example might help to illustrate the point. Under our current economic structures, someone who makes and sells surfboards can earn a good income, as can someone good enough to join the professional surfing circuit. But a person who just wants to surf is condemned, rightly enough under our current social relations, as a parasitic drain on society. With less need for anyone to work long hours at unpleasant jobs, we might be more willing to support surfers in return for non-market contributions to society such as membership of a surf life-saving club. Ultimately, people would be free to choose how best to contribute ‘according to their abilities’ and receive from society enough to meet at least their basic needs.

Compared to a universal basic income, then, a guaranteed minimum income seems a lot more feasible. On the other hand, while a guaranteed minimum income would certainly represent a radical challenge to social values, it certainly seems a less utopian. It’s easy to imagine a capitalist system similar to the one we have today, or at least to the one that prevailed during the postwar ‘social democratic moment’ coexisting with a guaranteed minimum income – much less so with a universal basic income.
And here are some other similar ideas:

Want to Help People? Just Give Them Money (Harvard Business Review)

Print Money. Mail Everybody a Check (Slate)

Guaranteed Income & Auction The Unemployed (As It Should & Ought To be)

And  David Graeber writes:
Submitting oneself to labor discipline—supervision, control, even the self-control of the ambitious self-employed—does not make one a better person. In most really important ways, it probably makes one worse. To undergo it is a misfortune that at best is sometimes necessary. Yet it’s only when we reject the idea that such labor is virtuous in itself that we can start to ask what is virtuous about labor. To which the answer is obvious. Labor is virtuous if it helps others. A renegotiated definition of productivity should make it easier to reimagine the very nature of what work is, since, among other things, it will mean that technological development will be redirected less toward creating ever more consumer products and ever more disciplined labor, and more toward eliminating those forms of labor entirely.
A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse (The Baffler)

I submit that if we implement such a system, we will save money, and preserve human dignity and well-being, and preserve the social fabric, in the age of automation. And we must do it soon, while we still have a functioning government and economy.

There are lot of options, but I know what we're doing isn't working. Do I seriously expect this to happen? I wish I could say yes, but I don't. I just want to point out that we do have other options, just not ones we're willing to implement. I fear our Calvinist desire to punish those how we deem as lazy will prevent us from this course and set us on a path to 40+ percent unemployment. Too see what that is like, see this: Afghanistan, the drug addiction capital (BBC):
Afghanistan produces 90% of all opiate drugs in the world, but until recently was not a major consumer. Now, out of a population of 35 million, more than a million are addicted to drugs - proportionately the highest figure in the world.

The reasons why so many Afghans are turning to drugs are complex. It's clear that decades of violence have played a part.

Many of those who fled during the violence of the last 30 years took refuge in Iran and Pakistan, where addiction rates have long been high. They're now returning and bringing their drug problems with them, officials say.

Unemployment - which currently stands at nearly 40% - is also taking its toll.
"If I had a job, I wouldn't be here," says Farooq, one of the addicts by the river, who has a degree in medicine and once worked as a hospital manager.

He says he takes drugs "to be calm and to relax" - but that he would prefer to be dead than a junkie, as he now is.
I'm not suggesting we pay people not to work. Paying people not to work is what we do now. I'm suggesting we pay people, full stop. Let them work if that's what they want to do. I'm suggesting we stop punishing people who are redundant in this economy through no fault of there own. Because there's no good reason for it. It's true there is not much work anymore, but there is still plenty to do. The only limits (besides nature) are the ones we place on ourselves.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

16 comments:

  1. "besides nature" is the kicker here.
    If one does not "work" - gather or grow food and water, one starves. I do not see how repealing or diminishing the law of nature will help people.
    I don't agree that not giving people people free money to liove on, and then letting them choose what to work at is "punishing them. Life does not owe them a living. If they want something they have to exert effort to get it. They have to trade some thing of value for something else of value. Now, I do agree that if one cannot find a job then, after say a few set months of unemployment they can start helping to cleanup their community, baby sit, do things that contribute to society. For example: Factory workers who are now out of a job and can't, won;t be retrained. ...uhm...
    did you not save for retirement?
    did you not buy a disability insurance policy? I did when I started my business on '98 and have kept it up since...so if I can't work I won't be a burden on society, though that was not foremost in my mind at the time.
    Did you read newspapers and see what was happening in country or the world and plan for it?
    What did you do with the equity in your house? Spend it?
    So, now we are supposed to do what...give you what? at the point a gun?
    Are you willing to move and go where the work is?
    Compassion does not automatically equate to "nice and comfy"
    "Heaven does not care about your comfort."
    We get hungry for a reason - that is not some thing humans invented. That empty stomach, that fire in the belly provides motivation to create, innovate, produce and we all benefit. If someone is proudly ignorant, I do not have a problem letting them starve. THose who flaunt basic laws of nature need to reap the consequences. When we remove risk from our actions we can see the effect around us in the banksters and all. Admittedly, a small percentage cannot work for physical or valid emotional/psychological reasons and I'm willing to help them. I am not in favor of welfare yet I will give money to someone who is hungry, has no roof but wants to improve their situation.
    how does life treat those not motivated to work? isn't it called starving?

    And, if Aunt Jinny hates to see Uncle Fred poor and hungry. then she can feed him off her plate. That's called charity, right?
    but to take it from me at the point of a gun. grrrr

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    1. Dear Joe:

      I would ask, how do you feel about the welfare payments that the rentier class gets. Everyone who makes money by simply being rich and making interest, or even by being destructive failures (e.g. Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan)?

      When you use the word "nature", I have to ask what you mean. Humans don't live in "nature", we live in society. And our current technological society has, through automation and factories and specialization, replaced pure "nature" as the source of bounty and productivity that most people survive by.

      Taken to an extreme, a completely automated agriculture system could produce all the food a nation needs. Now, should the only people allowed to eat be the capitalist owners of the robots and machines? That would be a very small percentage of people allowed to survive. What about the children?

      Your idea that everyone is responsible for planning for their future possible states of health and abilities, by purchasing disability insurance; and planning future economy contingencies, such as housing booms and busts, is ludicrous. Very few people have the intelligence and knowledge necessary; even fewer have the means.

      It sounds like you are a small business owner. Who are your customers? If they had a basic guaranteed income, they might very well spend their money on your business. You could thrive.

      The fact is that automatic, out-sourcing, technology, and the parasitical nature of finance are destroying jobs, and this will not stop. You have not addressed any solution to this problem, you are simply blaming the victim.
      Congratulations: you are another victim of the successful brainwashing of the neo-liberal paradigm. Enjoy your sense of moral superiority, and pray that you have anybody left you can buy your products or services as the system continues to decay into oligarchy and some kind of combination of fascism, police-state, and dystopic consumerism.

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  2. While I appreciate your suggestions in your blog I do not see how they are consistent with your "Introduction: I'm interested in fostering local food production, local culture, self-sufficiency, and resistance to centralized authority co-opted by the predatory banking class and elites."

    I actually agree with and pursue the same. And I wish to help others as well. However I do not want to be forced to do it at gunpoint. Period. Violence begets violence. If you forcibly take from me what I have earned that is violence.
    If the gov't cut my taxes I would be more inclined to give to local charities. This is where helping others who can't/won't produce have gone traditionally. While I support the Green party, I have a problem with the idea that everyone has a right to food, clothing, shelter and work. It's a nice idea, yes. I do not think it works in nature. Nature as defined as the natural universe. This has not been replaced. Augmented, perhaps. But fundamental rules of life persist. TANSTAAFL. You cannot give to one without taking from another. Where does it end? what is true compassion?

    I think Dimon is a thief and should be put into jail. Our corrupt govt will not do so. I think our automation is out of hand. I was trained as an organic farmer years ago. I would like to see us move away from industrial farming. I am a vegan and resist harming animals for food, clothing, entertainment or science.

    To say we don't live in nature is misguided at best. Nature precedes society. We must live in balance with nature or our society must fail. I think of the monologue in Matrix as to how humans are a virus. I must agree.

    I did not say everyone should buy a disability policy. I simply used that as an example of keeping ones eyes open and planning for the future. You hold most people too stupid to do so. Well then they must accept the results of their actions - or lack.
    Now, that being said - I think this is compounded by a society that is geared toward industrialization and I think that is causing our distress.
    We have moved away from living "naturally" -
    You seem to be willing to label and dismiss me quickly and set me aside. I have enjoyed your blog posts and it helps me to question my own beliefs. Did you take any time to click on my link and look at my blog? as I did yours? I don;t get the same respect I gave you? I took time to reply and begin a dialog. You ended calling me names and with violence. I find that too bad. I think we agree on more thing than we disagree with - but I find doing this kind of a discussion in comments too restrictive. Perhaps if we find ourselves talking one day we can have a better dialog. I wish you well.

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  3. My suggestions?
    1. End corporate welfare
    2. End corporate oligopoly (monsanto, etc)
    3. Reduce size of US military
    4. Cut federal income taxes: give more money back to states and local communities
    5. End war on drugs and release those who are in prison for non-violent crimes.
    6. Convert O-care to a single payer system as they have in Europe. Make medical fees visible and allow doctors and hospitals to compete.
    7. Remove the strangling regulations on small businesses.
    8. Eliminate the Income tax and IRS and replace with The Fair Tax
    9. Reduce size and scope of Federal Govt to what is dictated by the Constitution: Infrastructure, courts Military for self-devfense only. End Military intervention the rest of the world and limited amerikan imperialism and empire building.
    10. Develop a national db of jobs and skills and help others to find jobs they can do - be it productive or helping around the community (guess you missed that part in my comment?)
    11. End the Fed
    12. Move to gold standard - no fiat backed currencies.
    13. Allow people to move back to the land and begin growing. This will be HARD and take a while as we've lost most of our topsoil.
    14. Change the nature of what is taught in schools - less emphasis on being an industrial cog and more on what it means to be a productive.
    15. Stop using violence as a means to achieve political and cultural ends.

    I do not think this is doable - as such. I think we have moved so far away from "nature" that the whole system will have to collapse before we can rebuild. I see we are in an inevitable contraction.
    And no, I still do not think that simply giving people money, which must be printed or borrowed helps in the long term. it simply kicks the can down the road further.

    Books to consider:
    The End of Growth
    Seventeen solutions by ralph nader
    Survival+ by charles hugh smith

    peace.

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    1. Joe D G, What you're saying is, in effect, that actions have consquences. This is a law of nature and I don't disagree. If I jump off a tall building, will the government save me? No. If I become a heroin addict and overdose, will the government save me? No. If I walk in front of a moving bus, will I not suffer the consequences? I certainly will. Can the government make crops grow where there is no rain? Of course not. I hope I have not given this impression. But I don't think it invalidates what I said. We are talking about something very different. We are talking about policy. And that is a choice. A choice made by us, collectively. If a corporation decided to distribute its profits more fairly among its workers, should that be opposed on the grounds that it is somehow unnatural? Nature and macroeconomic policy are not the same thing. And consider this -the rich can make whatever mistakes they want and suffer no consequences. Plenty have made any number of transgressions that a poor person would never recover from (I can cite examples if need be).

      As for taxes, if you utilize government services such as roads to transport your produce to market, yet do not pay for it, are you not a "freerider" as well? How can governments with higher tax rates have less poverty than ours? Do you think people in Finland believe paying taxes is 'violence?' Why not? That question is not rhetorical, I really want to hear an answer. It's almost impossible for every single person to pay in exactly what they get out. That's the nature of the beast; throwing a tantrum about that is childish. What's important is that you've collectivly paid for an environment in which you can thrive, as a worker, a business owner, or a farmer. Please see the charts to indicate who in America has not been paying their fair share.

      What if I lost my job? It's not academic - I have lost my job though no fault of my own (the dotcom bust), and used unemployment to survive. Did that invalidate the law of consequnces? What could I have done differently? Seen the future? In such a case, should the government pay for retraining? Well, of course, it is under no obligation to do so, but it would probably be smart policy in the long run, as it would allow me to contribute to society again. That's all this discussion has been all along - the policy that's best for society in the long run. I hope that doesn't violate the laws of nature. Since I've been "back" in the workforce I've worked on numerous $100,000,000+ buildings. I think I've repaid my debt to society.

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    2. We live in an industrial society where most people do not own productive land and must either sell their labor power to survive, or find and unmet needs and invest startup capital in a business to fulfill that need (because that what starting a business is - you can not fulfill a need where none exists). That is a fact. I would argue that that arrangment has been a mixed bag, as it has caused many problems, enough to fill a book, along with the problem we're discussing now. But it does not change the fact. Ignoring it or wishing it away will not make it go away. Industrialism may have a short shelf life due to Peak Oil and social breakdown. But ignoring problems is not the answer. And what's on the table now - gutting the safety net even with nowhere near enough jobs for people and no support is not a recipe for success. I'd prefer the status quo to that.

      I can understand why Publius lost his top at the end there; there are a lot of smug, self-satified, condescending libertarians out there. In my experience, these are usually people who've been handed everything in life and think they made it all "on their own." Some of them are sociopaths. I certainly don't think you're one of those. I think you have legitimate concerns, and that'a good thing. If nothing else, we can agree on this - people should keep what they produce. Please see the chart where wages are contrasted with productivity. I think this shows pretty clearly that this is not currently the case. If nothing else, fixing this would go a long way. And shortening work hours is a proven method of sharing more jobs. It simply makes sense; in a village, the work to be done is parcelled out among the inhabitants, not horded by a few who blame everyone else for their laziness.

      Even under what I have proposed, there will still be a ladder, and there will still be motivation to work hard. The human desire for status is still there, and more than enough to motivate most people to do more than sit around and play video games all day. You will still ultimatley get out from society (and life)what you put in. No scheme wil invalidate that law. In fact, it is the very law that makes the scheme work in the first place.

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    3. There are alot of good suggestions here. I agree with most of them, but I have a few quibbles:

      4. Cutting taxes would drive up the debt. As I have argued, that is not a problem. As MMT points out, the government's debt is the private sector surplus, and private sector suprlus is a good thing because private businesses, unlike government, can not carry debt indefinietly. Both cutting taxes and spending money into the economy means more money in peoples' pockets. Don't forget that state and local taxes are also paid in Federal dollars. The government collects taxes not because it needs them to operate but to prevent an oversupply and thus inflation.

      9. No regulation of nuclear reactors? No food safety laws? No minimum wage? No building codes (that would make my job easier) I'm not sold. We don't live in 1788. If nothing else, government needs to prevent the tragedy of the commons. I do agree that many things that should be left to the states have been usurped by the federal government. I do agree that the government has overstepped its bounds in many cases. But remember, states cannot print their own money (yet). That's at the heart of the problem. If you look at history, just about every time the government has stepped in, it has been due to a failure of the market, not a bald power grab. Eliminating government will not make things work again. They found that out when they repealed Glass-Steagall.

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    4. 11&12. - Terrible idea. The monetary needs of an advanced industrial economy have nothing to do with how many bars of shiny decorative metal sit in a vault somehwere. We don't even know how much gold there is in the world. This was tried during the Great Depression with disaterous results. When we went to war with the Axis, it did not matter how much gold we had, we spent enough money into the economy to produce full employment (and went into massive debt) and ended the Depression. And for all the Fed's sins, fiat currency has been a better macroeconomic stabilzer that gold-backed currency. Gold is just as much of a "fiat" currency as are dollars, and just as subject to price fluctuations. Have we forgetten all the panics and crashes of the nineteenth century? Honestly, I don't understand the obsession. I would much prefer focusing on public banking so we can regain control of our money system from the financial rentier aristocracy and return the suplus to the public where it belongs instead of letting the userers live like Oriental Pashas at our expense.

      13. Allow? What's stopping them? Right now it's land prices, low commodity prices, and a lot of other things in the "free" market. Add to that most people don't have the knowledge to farm, and would be risking their lives on it (most farmers need to take out huge debts). And in the age of climate change, there is even more risk. U.S. agricutural policy is a disaster to be sure, but reform has been stubbornly impossible thanks to vested interests. Ideally, we should do what we can to shore up small farms. But remember, during the Great Depression, millions of small family farms went under until the government bought up surplus commodities. Doing nothing failed to solve that problem, and it was government action that reversed the dust bowl. Breaking up agribiz like we did with Ma Bell and actually enforcing monopoly law would help, too.

      One of the work programs I suggested could be exacly that - letting people learn to farm by mitigating the risk factor, at least temporarily. There's still plety of idle land in America. As many people have pointed out, there are more people in jail than farming the land sustainably.

      One final note re: back to the land. One of the "problems" with Permiculture is that it produces more food sustainably, yet requires more labor to produce that food. Yet all around the world the one thing we have in abundance is labor. Um, do you see a problem here? Yet the root of problem here goes much deeper than government or currencies.

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  4. Nice discussion.
    @Joe: Sorry I "lost my top," as Escape put it.
    Forgive me. I was pressed for time, and have been under a lot of stress at work. You seem like a good person, who has struggled to build a good life for himself and his family. You rightly want to be rewarded for your hard work.

    I believe my current supervisor may be a sociopath. I have good evidence.
    Another department wants to hire me, desperately. It would be a job/position that would allow me to do something I've wanted to do for years! I told my manager that it's been a dream of mine for years.

    Yet he fought to prevent me from leaving. Which is strange, since he's been very critical of me. When other employees or customers praise me, which happens a fair amount, he never responds to these praises... he studiously ignores them. When I recently went over his head with a suggestion to improve our product, that suggestion was well-received. He then told me to not leave him out of the loop on such things.

    Regardless, he implemented a new policy that states that nobody can leave his department for one calendar year after being hired. That would have prevented me from leaving his purview until the fall.

    The people that want to hire me, though, are tight with the founder. I had a stressful week being made to feel guilty be Mr. Boss (one sign, I believe, of sociopathic control schemes), but in the end, he lost that battle. He told me that "he made an exception" to his policy for me. I doubt it. He implemented the policy specifically because of me.

    So: I may be on my way towards a less stressful, more satisfying position for the same pay. Wish me luck! It could even be the pathway towards being an independent contractor/writer if necessary or if desired, and the ability to work remotely wherever I am.

    Back to this discussion: Peak Oil is the monkeywrench in the gears here. Regardless, if people like Orlov are right, the more government support there is for programs and policies that cushion the shock for the masses, the more likely it is we will survive and have the chance to develop something new. Well, some of us will survive. Many will just languish and die of malnutrition, despair, and neglect. Many already are... it will be interesting to see the population of the USA decrease, as it did in the ex-USSR, due to collapse. I should say, it will be interesting in a dark, academic way, because it is something that modern economic theory would say can't happen.

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  5. Great posts. I would comment that when productive efficiency leads to 'human redundancy' in a particular instance of production, there is no physical law stipulating that other instances of production cannot be pursued with the capital gained by the efficiency. There is a capitalist mentality that focuses on ROI for an individual which stipulates which instances of production can be pursued. But this is not a natural, physical law.

    In other words, consider this scenario:

    A group of 100 people maintain a thing. Each day, 1000 customers each put $1 into the thing so that the thing collects $1000 per day. Suddenly, due to productive efficiency, only one person is needed to maintain the thing. The thing still collects $1000 per day, but now all of the money is collected by just one person rather than 100. So now, one person receives $1000 per day and 99 people receive $0.

    The lucky person who now receives $1000 per day is encouraged by society to open trust funds and buy CDs etc. with his new extra income. He would be considered an idiot to 'waste' it. I posit that what needs to change in society is that this lucky person should be obligated to spend the money and prevented from saving it. This obligation would generate alternate instances of production which would allow for the employment of the other 99.

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  6. Pubilus, your apology is gracefully accepted. And I do wish you luck in your new endeavor. I am wrestling with that same idea.

    @Shannon. I have a fundamental problem with your saying others should be obligated and forced, through violence. Sounds like a Totalitarian state. Images of the Factory in Atlas Shrugged come to mind. And Communist Russia or China. Is this really what you want?
    Do you genuinely think this will result in improved quality of life and happiness for all? And who is to determine where and what the money should be spent on? And how Much. At first, glance, I think I will opt out of your society.

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  7. @Escape.
    I think we are closer on this than it seems form comments posted on a blog. As I said, a conversation between people would be more fun. Anyone care to get on a conference a free conference call and share?

    Anyway, perhaps I am simply too pessimistic, but I find this to be very much to the point:
    http://theautomaticearth.com/Finance/nicole-foss-in-australia-its-no-use-trying-to-build-a-better-dinosaur.html

    I don't think this is fixable. I think starting over with small communities, communities that band together, share resources, respect private property, self-regulate, are and hold each other accountable, tell the truth, be willing to share without gaming the system, is the only way out.

    I think that Finland and those countries worked out a social agreement that is taught at a young age and works for them. I assume it is not "violence' in Finland because they all agree. I am also guessing that their leaders and elites do not enjoy the wealth disparity we have in this country (though this is seeming to be changing: http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Income+disparities+growing+faster+in+Finland+than+in+any+other+OECD+country/1135241060829)

    But I do agree - a community that agrees to a social contract and then abides buy it - then "taxes" would not be coerced. I just wonder if it needs be taxes. I do not believe in throwing everything into a pot and then having leaders divvy it up"unfairly."

    I have not been given all the things I have in life. I worked my entries life, including putting myself through college and paid off my own loans. My parents were to poor to help with college or even a car. I did this myself. Well, ok, LIFE Itself is a gift as is my energy, passion, etc. so I really do not know hare that comes form and so cannot really say it's "mine."
    When I had my own company, struggling 14-18 hour days to make it go I set it up so the business paid for everything: food, energy, shelter, even some technology and entertainment. What was left: I took a small amount for myself to live on and save for when I could not work. I would be willing to live like in a community. I would till want to retain some of what I earned to maintain the (illusion) of independence and free will.
    And I think I would prefer living in a communal environment. I have several times - sharing work, chores, labor, even money, and it worked. Mutual respect and sharing of the work, risk and responsibility made it go.
    But, and this is a big BUT, those who game the system, seek to suck off others knowingly and with malice aforethought I cannot abide. This I am not ok with Are you?
    . There are some who genuinely cannot work or contribute to the same degree. I am willing to help them. Those who can, but choose not toil - the Grasshopper types, I am ok to leave starve. If they cannot find it in themselves to man up, be a "mensch" then I cannot see helping them. The trick, of course, is how to tell the difference.

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  8. @Escape.
I think we are closer on this than it seems from comments posted on a blog. As I said, a conversation between people would be more fun.

    I don't think this is fixable. I think starting over with small communities, communities that band together, share resources, respect private property, self-regulate, are and hold each other accountable, tell the truth, be willing to share without gaming the system, is the only way out. 

I think that Finland and those countries worked out a social agreement that is taught at a young age and works for them. I assume it is not "violence” in Finland because they all agree. I am also guessing that their leaders and elites do not enjoy the wealth disparity we have in this country (though this is seeming to be changing: http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Income+disparities+growing+faster+in+Finland+than+in+any+other+OECD+country/1135241060829)



    But I do agree - a community that agrees to a social contract and then abides by it – then "taxes" would not be coerced. I just wonder if it needs be taxes. I do not believe in throwing everything into a pot and then having leaders divvy it up "unfairly."



    I have not been given all the things I have in life. I worked my entire life, including putting myself through college and paying off my own loans. My parents were too poor to help with college or even a car. I did this myself. Well, ok, LIFE Itself is a gift as is my energy, passion, etc. so I really do not know where that comes from and so cannot really say it's "mine."


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  9. In the late 90's I started my own company with a little savings I had No Govt help, no "help" from others. I used to pass a guy sitting on the sidewalk with a cup out, begging, sitting against a wall and reading a book. I never gave him any money. He looked whole, sane, capable, He simply chose to beg instead of "work". I did not give him money. I guess I did not find what he had to offer ostensibly bettering himself through reading, worth giving him money. Perhaps this was short sighted. Perhaps if he had even had a sign that said" will read for food" I might have given him some money. But he just sat there. Granted, he was peaceful about it.

    When I had my own company, struggling 14-18 hour days to make it go I set it up so the business paid for everything: food, energy, shelter, healthcare even some technology and entertainment. What was left: I took a small amount for myself to live on and save for when I could not work. I would be willing to live like that in a community. I would still want to retain some of what I earned to maintain the (illusion) of independence and free will. 
And I think I would prefer living in a communal environment. I have several times - sharing work, chores, labor, even money, and it worked. Mutual respect and sharing of the work, risk and responsibility made it go. 
But, and this is a big BUT, those who game the system, seek to suck off others knowingly and with malice aforethought I cannot abide. This I am not ok with Are you?
 There are some who genuinely cannot work or contribute to the same degree. I am willing to help them. Those who can, but choose not to toil - the Grasshopper types, I am ok to leave starve. If they cannot find it in themselves to man up, be a "mensch" then I cannot see helping them. The trick, of course, is how to tell the difference.
    To help others helps us all, of course. But to help others, who do not also contribute, I think this will not work out well.
    And, this is the work of nature, to ferret out those who would prefer to suck off my energy.

    As to your proposal? I'll pass, thanks. I have worked hard all my life and would prefer to exchange the efforts of my labor with someone else, though those efforts may not be "industrial." But to simply give someone money and "hope" they find their way to contribute and pay back to society?
    Nah. I'll let Mother Nature sort it out. I'll take my chances. If I perish, So be it. And I'll take responsibility for my choice.

    I need to go collect seeds, meet my neighbors and see where we can grow food.

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  11. Some people simply will not change without pain.

    We can debate this forever, but it comes down to one's view of the world.

    This is a pretty good test, I think:

    You get onto an airplane having checked your large bag, accepting the inconvenience and risk associated with that and as you are getting to your seat you see an older person coming down the aisle with a roll-on bag. The person asks you to help them put their bag up into the overhead bin. They do not have obvious injuries or other physical issues. They simply are not able to lift the bag into the overhead bin.
    So. do you help them put htier bag up?
    Now, bear in mind, they knowingly packed the bag knowing they cannot hope to get it up and down from the overhead bin and it won't fit under the seat and they planned to not check it to avoid the hassle, risk and cost of checking it.

    What do you do?

    Your answer to this, I think is a fundamental one.

    Mine? I tell them to ask the stewardess to check it for them, for free and the bag will be waiting at the jetway when they land.
    I do not want to help people fake reality or ignore the consequences of their actions. They can ignore its existence, but not the consequences.

    I don't "do" compassion. I'm not "nice." In society I trade with others. Reciprocity is absolute.

    So, my suggestion as to what to do as we go forward?

    Keep your eyes open, mind clear and be ready to act on opportunity.
    I do not think sinking deeper and deeper into debt is the answer.

    My best to all.

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