The Idled Young Americans

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jennypenny
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Post by jennypenny » Thu May 16, 2013 3:18 pm

Those quotes make me think this topic would make a great book...

More and more young people and laborers out of work, having to develop homesteading skills just to survive, then realizing a handful of EMPs would put all of the rich and their robots out of business...sorry, occupational hazard :-)


Felix
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Post by Felix » Thu May 16, 2013 3:45 pm

Given the development of increasing use of robots, how about starting a RICH economy? Distribute money so people can buy the stuff these machines produce. Basic income FTW. I don't see how else to make the numbers work ...
Imagine what people could do with all that free time.
... well, reddit would need new servers, ... :-D


Seneca
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Post by Seneca » Thu May 16, 2013 4:56 pm

...and yet, I know many businesses who can't get the people they need with the right skills and willing to do what the job requires.
The Luddites were wrong then, and they're wrong now.
The RICH economy would be a catastrophic failure. It forgets (or denies) economic incentives are very much a reality, and therefore, would not be a sustainable system.
The better answer, and reason I am here, is encouraging ERE principles and skills which are above all, a robust self-reliance in the various aspects of your life. Just 3-4 generations ago, when most people were self-employed farmers, these were the sort of skills everyone had to learn to be successful in life.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Thu May 16, 2013 5:15 pm

"Distribute money so people can buy the stuff these machines produce."
This is what Marx suggested, but of course pointing that out will raise the ire of the ideological knee-jerkers...


Seneca
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Post by Seneca » Thu May 16, 2013 5:17 pm

Funny, we've tried Marx's ideas on the distribution of "stuff" and have results...which Marxists seem to forget.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Thu May 16, 2013 5:19 pm

"we've tried Marx's ideas and have results...which Marxists seem to forget."
Not really. Just because someone says they're a duck, doesn't mean they're a duck. I doubt Marx would've recognized much from China, USSR, or North Korea.
The important point: the USSR, China, and NK never had post-scarcity. A workless post-scarcity economy seems to be the core idea of Marx's communism, and has been an idea suggested by Felix, Jacob, that RICH guy, Bertrand Russell, and probably a lot more.


Felix
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Post by Felix » Thu May 16, 2013 5:27 pm

The economic incentives to get people out of a self-reliant farm life into wage-slavery were very much coercive in nature. Like for goal of living on dividends, most people lack the means to acquire the farm land for a back-to-the-land scenario.
The self-reliance of older ages was embedded in a sense of community that is pretty much gone in today's culture in which holding up self-reliance has become mostly a mask to hide indifference.
And when the economic structure doesn't support enough jobs for many people (and that's where many believe we are headed due to technological advancement), how is self-reliance supposed to work for someone with neither a job nor a farm? With farm life a distant relic of the past and jobs evaporating, where's the average person supposed to get his means for living?
And who is supposed to buy all that stuff the robots produce? Or to put it differently: For whom do these robots work, then?


Seneca
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Post by Seneca » Thu May 16, 2013 5:36 pm

"we've tried Marx's ideas and have results...which Marxists seem to forget."
Not really. Just because someone says they're a duck, doesn't mean they're a duck. I doubt Marx would've recognized much from China, USSR, or North Korea.

Lenin and Trotsky were most certainly Marxists. The fact their ideals met the real world is just politics.
Do you think the United States was exactly what the Enlightenment thinkers had in mind? Do you think they had disagreements on what it should be (such as, at the Constitutional Convention) Were there compromises made to get as close as possible? Do you think the United States of 2013 was what Franklin envisioned? Does that make us not a representative republic?


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Ego
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Post by Ego » Thu May 16, 2013 5:40 pm


Those quotes make me think this topic would make a great book...

More and more young people and laborers out of work, having to develop homesteading skills just to survive, then realizing a handful of EMPs would put all of the rich and their robots out of business...sorry, occupational hazard :-)
Of course, the rich would have EMP hardened robots and they'd actually invite the attack ala Lusitania.


Seneca
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Post by Seneca » Thu May 16, 2013 6:02 pm

The economic incentives to get people out of a self-reliant farm life into wage-slavery were very much coercive in nature. Like for goal of living on dividends, most people lack the means to acquire the farm land for a back-to-the-land scenario.
The self-reliance of older ages was embedded in a sense of community that is pretty much gone in today's culture in which holding up self-reliance has become mostly a mask to hide indifference.
And when the economic structure doesn't support enough jobs for many people (and that's where many believe we are headed due to technological advancement), how is self-reliance supposed to work for someone with neither a job nor a farm? With farm life a distant relic of the past and jobs evaporating, where's the average person supposed to get his means for living?
And who is supposed to buy all that stuff the robots produce? Or to put it differently: For whom do these robots work, then?

First off, I am not a Luddite, nor am I arguing for subsistence farming here. I think those sorts of skills are interesting and useful, and we practice them at a certain level in my household. But that is a minor diversion compared to our engagement at the leading edge of the tech economy and the time we spend on our skills there.
My point is that farmers were multi-skilled, they didn't just grow hay. They had cows, chickens, pigs, they had orchards, they could make different things, etc etc. This made them adaptable. Subsistence farmers also knew they needed to "make hay while the sun is shining" because bad times also happen. They stored grain, canned fruits and vegetables, bought more livestock etc etc. This was their "savings" and "investment". Nature drove their economy, and they knew it was unpredictable and they would have to survive lean times and adapt. It's also worth pointing out, we had to be coerced into the debt economy we are, these people hated debt.
My great grandmother had canned stuff hidden everywhere, I know many others who experienced the same with people of the depression era. My great grandparents knew tons of different things, agrarian and "modern".
There are many "new economy" skills you can "plant", but the point is, you need to learn more than one to earn a living. What skill is valued by the environment is going to change and rotate, just like crops. If an opportunity presents itself, you might want to work 80hr weeks for a few years too, and rather than complain about "work life balance" or "workin' for the man" and not take the job, enjoy nature smiling on you. Certainly farmers don't let their crops go to waste in bountiful years just because the harvest is too much work to bring in that year.
ERE itself argues for a short period of paid employment, with savings and skills development as you become "Financially Independent". People leaving the workforce early when they hit FI (look how many are here just for that fantasy) will free up jobs.
The fact we destroyed the need for family and community engagement with our factory work and government support programs doesn't mean it has to stay that way.
Coercion is what government does, so I agree with you on that. But, the RICH economy is extraordinarily coercive too...it tells the "makers" what they get to keep and the "takers" what they get to have at pain of gaol and bullet. Doesn't get much more coercive than that.


Felix
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Post by Felix » Thu May 16, 2013 6:38 pm

I guess my point is that none of this is natural. This is an artificial structure, built deliberately to benefit a few at the cost of the many. There are two parties to each deal. If you live on a farm, you deal with nature and getting a good harvest means you have nature shining on you.
If - after getting thrown off your farm - you get a high-hour-factory job at shitty pay, that's not nature shining on you. That's your fellow man shitting on you. Government is merely the tool doing the nasty coercion part based on bought politics. None of this is natural in any way.
Similarly, a job market with structural unemployment is an artificial creature. It benefits one side and harms the other.
I agree on the importance of self-reliance in general and that's also why I am on this forum.
Also, what do you mean with makers and takers? Those who make products, i.e. those who still have jobs, vs. those who take their cut, i.e. those with formal ownership of capital/robots? What about the rest? Besides, there is enough stuff to do in the real world. It's just that the artificial economic structure on top of it stops working for most people. Yes, the RICH economy is coercive. It coerces people with capital to offer jobs people would willingly do for the payment offered even if they don't have to. This is a strong change from the old system, which has coerced workers to be reliant on a market economy in which they need to sell their time to whoever offers them a job (and not everyone gets that offer) as the only way to get what they need to live. Both systems are coercive. Those who benefit are different.


Seneca
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Post by Seneca » Thu May 16, 2013 7:05 pm

Similarly, a job market with structural unemployment is an artificial creature. It benefits one side and harms the other.

In a RICH economy that guarantees an income that is "middle class", you do not think you are creating artificial structural unemployment?!
Many if not most people I know work because they have to to maintain lifestyle, not because they want to.
Makers means anyone working, takers anyone who is not. This is not a moral judgment either, so please don't start talking Protestantism with me...


Felix
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Post by Felix » Thu May 16, 2013 7:36 pm

Sure it creates structural unemployment, that's one of its main purposes. But there's a difference in kind between a society in which the risk of losing your job means losing your home and your participation in the economy vs. a society where there is no need for said job in the first place in terms of economic pressure on most members of society.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Thu May 16, 2013 8:08 pm

For the record, it took 36 seconds for the ideological knee-jerk to appear. The association of Marx with 20th century atrocities is still stifling intellectual debate, decades after the fact.
To put Felix's point differently: society is fundamentally different whether people work because they have to or because they want to.
The idea behind Marx, the RICH economy, and the basic income guarantee that Milton Freidman advocated (who seems quite left of Seneca on economic issues), is to create a society where people work by choice. Of course, this can only happen if there's enough wealth to go around (i.e., post-scarcity), and there's plenty of room for debate about whether we will ever reach such a state (I'd say absolute post-scarcity will never exist, but partial post-scarcity is already here).


RealPerson
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Post by RealPerson » Thu May 16, 2013 8:24 pm

"we've tried Marx's ideas and have results...which Marxists seem to forget."
Not really. Just because someone says they're a duck, doesn't mean they're a duck."
I am curious where Marxism has been implemented successfully? One would hope it is not simply a theoretical concept that has never been implemented anywhere. This is a concept over 100 years old. Everything looks great in theory. It is the reality that matters.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Thu May 16, 2013 8:31 pm

"I am curious where Marxism has been implemented successfully?"
It hasn't and it cannot before post-scarcity isn't achieved. It's debatable whether we could ever achieve post-scarcity.
Currently, it's a theoretical concept that has never been implemented, and it's reaching 200 years old by now.
I want to make it clear: I'm not advocating Marxism. I'm just pointing out this use-technology-to-replace work utopian idea is not new at all.


Seneca
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Post by Seneca » Thu May 16, 2013 8:34 pm

Sure it creates structural unemployment, that's one of its main purposes. But there's a difference in kind between a society in which the risk of losing your job means losing your home and your participation in the economy vs. a society where there is no need for said job in the first place in terms of economic pressure on most members of society.

Your first reply to the RICH thread contained, "I like the proposal. A lot of work is simply pointless drudgery"
Here is a big problem I see with this idea. A LOT of work is drudgery with a point. Especially work in the service industry. The only reason many do that drudgery is for lack of a better plan "to keep the house".
I think the incentive of the RICH economy is that we'd encourage more risk averse people to start their own ventures, and the downside is we'd have an extraordinary lack of workers in other parts of the economy such as services. The entrepreneurs in it for the money however, would be strongly disincentivized. As the US arguably has the best developed entrepreneurial economy in the world (in part, due to the potential for profit), I think the downside would outweigh the upside.
The other thing is, I'm OK with a little fear. People should feel upside and downside consequences to their actions, it improves individual decision making, and thus the whole.
I like option C. I think we can solve the problem without heavy handed coercion, by encouraging people to apply ERE principals to their lives.
Since even many ERE people can't get past ostentation in the wealthy, as was repeatedly shown in the RICH thread, maybe some limit to outward consumption, as proposed by Jacob, would also be a good idea.
For the record, it took 36 seconds for the ideological knee-jerk to appear. The association of Marx with 20th century atrocities is still stifling intellectual debate, decades after the fact.

Disagreeing with the ideas of someone does not make it knee jerk, and it's plain I did not do any sort of linkage with atrocities.
I think Marx is well worth reading, and he's got a lot of the big problems right. I simply don't think his solutions work as well as others when they meet actual humans.


Felix
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Post by Felix » Thu May 16, 2013 8:45 pm

I think what the RICH economy will do is restructure the wages so that shitty jobs will be correspondingly well paid. Right now not only do you have to do lousy work, you also receive minimal payment because your bad situation is being exploited. What a basic income will essentially do is redistribute power. Maybe people shouldn't be forced to work bad jobs at lousy pay? I mean, that's a really bad example of coercion, isn't it? A basic income will result in lots of renegotiated agreements. I'm always very curious about actual experiments with this approach. So far, in the tests that have been done, results have been very encouraging, I think.


Seneca
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Post by Seneca » Thu May 16, 2013 8:52 pm

So far, in the tests that have been done, results have been very encouraging, I think.

Did you read the Jobs auto by Isaacson?
Jobs tried equal pay at NeXT and it was a dismal failure. Even with the draw of working at a startup for Jobs, in the SF Bay Area, a significant draw most companies simply don't and won't ever have, still wasn't enough to make it work.
Pay matters. Don't believe the funny papers.


Spartan_Warrior
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Post by Spartan_Warrior » Thu May 16, 2013 8:58 pm

"Here is a big problem I see with this idea. A LOT of work is drudgery with a point."
The whole point is that these unskilled "drudgery with a point" jobs are being increasingly automated due to technology. When you have Rosey the robot maid ala Jetsons, there will effectively be no service industry.


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