Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Postscarcity Status

Look, by the time Every Person is Running a Robotic Outsourced Corporation, it will be far too late to adapt. That time may well come, but it is not required that any specific futurist vision come to pass in order for us to grasp and act upon the imperative of apprehending postscarcity as a fundamental requirement of adaptive human civilization development, right now.

A rising confluence of urgent pressing changes are already upon us, and the observations are increasingly plain and simple. For instance, the opportunity -- let alone requirement -- for the U.S. to be the world's manufacturer has clearly past. Denial of this fact will only doom us to decades of downturn and dysfunction. This need not happen. As I've said many times, we've "beat that level of the game" and we have to show the way to the next level. When we beat the whole game, then we have to write the next chapters. That's just how leadership works.

The fact is, those of us sufficiently fortunate to exist and operate at the very tip of the spear of economic and technological development have Already Moved Beyond Scarcity. The top 2% have been here for a very long, long time, indeed.

While our numbers have "dwindled" somewhat from 1,000 down to 793, today, the challenge and charge to this generation remains as unchanged as this "downturn" will leave us top 2% untouched: to Mass Produce and Distribute this long proven level of individual material sufficiency and existential liberty. We can call this the postscarcity status.

In the advanced nations, we've already mass produced and distributed every widget imaginable to mankind and this Stuff Network will continue to work for the yet unimagined stuff into the future. Obviously, in contrast to the well worn counter cliche, everything that is needed and can be invented has NOT YET been invented; however, we do know how to make and move Stuff. We've beat that level of the game.

What we're working on now is mass production and distribution of the postscarcity status; a status which is actually quite a modest proportion of the same status that some of us have enjoyed for generations, thanks to our lineage in the top 2%. In the U.S. a meager universal $1,000/mo. Basic Income for adults would bootstrap postscarcity and could be implemented immediately.

What's puzzling is that there is, already, virtually universal unanimity of opinion that "sharing the oil wealth among all Iraqis" makes sense. Clearly, this has worked for the Alaska Permanent Fund for generations. So the idea and everyday practice of equitable distribution of Natural Resources which are pure Public Goods is not foreign to Americans. In fact, it's business as usual. Yet, many people still freak out over anything that hints at "redistribution." Economies are ALL distribution and redistribution. That's all that they do. Period. When economies fail in those functions, when they become systemically and unsustainably skewed, that's when they need to adapt and evolve, or die.

What we've missed; or rather, what it appears that a handful of literally pathological hoarders at the very top of the top of the economic food chain have worked hard to discredit, is the fact that GDP is a Shared Fate Natural Resource like any other. We create GDP all together and it belongs to all of us.

A Basic Income is not a free lunch, it is a Dividend Reinvestment program that begins by declaring CENTURIES OF UNDECLARED PRODUCTIVITY DIVIDENDS that have been hoarded by the unsustainable misbehavior of a relatively few dysfunctional market participants. The market has worked and will continue to work, but only to the extent that we identify market failures along the way and correct them, thereby making markets increasingly efficient and EFFECTIVE at raising the standard of living for everyone.

So, a basic income is like the Alaska Permanent Fund, but it's a U.S. Permanent Fund, based upon the adaptive and ever expanding deep well natural resource of GDP rather than the limited and dwindling resource of oil. In this manner, basic income is even more logical and sustainable than the legacy Permanent Fund programs which have indeed worked well and continue to work well.

Postscarcity is the charge set forth upon this generation's 793 current U.S. Billionaires -- particularly those who are STILL billionaires today, even here, near a market bottom of 2009-2010. The Carnegies and Rockefellers and Fords had to figure out how to get the most Stuff to the most People possible. They succeeded. Now, it's our turn. They mastered the Stuff part of the equation, it's up to us to master the post-Stuff part of the equation: postscarcity.

Postscarcity is not some science fiction future theoretical state, it's a status that has existed for a long time in Royal Circles; from the DNA-based Royalty of ages past to the Industrial Oligarchic Royalty of present day America and the West. The "problem" is that the postscarcity status hasn't been mass distributed yet, and for the sake of continued adaptive success of the human race, we have to solve this problem RIGHT NOW because it will take generations to roll out to wider and wider populations as our technological means advance at an increasingly accelerating pace.

Obviously, industrialization is not "dead" and there are societies that need to traverse stages of development that we in the advanced nations have long left behind. Some may be able to leapfrog the more destructive aspects of early, mid, and late industrial stages, such as dependence upon carbon based fuels for energy used during industrialization. This isn't science fiction, it's the real work for this generation of IMF and international development gurus.

So let's git'r done. Now.