Saturday, January 25, 2020

Socialism and Wealth Creation

Wealth basically comes from the same place in a society that calls itself 'socialist' as it does in any other.

so·ci·e·ty -- /səˈsīədē/
1. the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community.

so·cial·ism -- /ˈsōSHəˌlizəm/
a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

To some extent, society by its nature is socialist. 

Much wealth is already in place. In the USA, the baby boomers are about to pass on a cool $30,000,000,000,000.00 (yeah, that many zeros — trillions of dollars):

The Greatest Wealth Transfer In History: What’s Happening And What Are The Implications

Some wealth needs only to be discovered:

Lucky Fishermen Have Stumbled Across a $3 Million Lump of Whale Vomit

Some is made using various means of production:

5 Reasons Why America's Manufacturing Is Growing Again

We acquire things of value in excess of our needs, use something agreed upon as currency to measure relative value and exchange things, and use appropriate agreed upon instruments as stores of value.

We are in a transition period to an economy where many of the ordinary things a person would need require very much less human labor than we have available.

As things currently stand, the costs formerly associated with producing artifacts necessary to access media like books, pictures, movies, etc are no longer required. If you are content to use your existing online PC, the only thing that stands between you and access to hundreds of millions of items are the gatekeepers claiming the right to stop you. The cost of accessing digital data is becoming too small to meter.

Action Item: We need to eliminate copyrights and associated mechanisms that give gatekeepers their power.

The next phase: Advancing automation promises to usher in a spectacular new industrial revolution. Artificial Intelligence, robotics, 3D printing and the IOT are currently coming on fast. We are probably less than two decades away from fully automated systems capable of producing just about anything, including copies of themselves.

Tesla’s full self-driving computer is now in all new cars and a next-gen chip is already ‘halfway done’ – TechCrunch

Boston Dynamics’ latest robot is a mechanical ostrich that loads pallets

The Metal X metal 3D printer

The Rise of the Internet of Things

Soon we will be able to create physical artifacts like can openers for basically just the cost of the metal and energy required. Food  will eventually just about reduce to energy costs, with the raw ingredients simply being recycled. In the coming years, the only thing standing in the way of people getting most ordinary things they might want will, again, be the gatekeepers claiming the right to stop you.

Action Item: We need to eliminate patents and associated mechanisms that give gatekeepers their power.

Sharing the Wealth: We are already awash in a sea of wealth and poised to enter a world where much more will be created with little human labor. Distribution of wealth is already a problem and that is something that socialism aims at making better.

Pretty much all human endeavours are already socialist to some degree. What we need to do is concentrate on how we manage it so that we all can agree. Our current situation in the first world is evidence of how spectacularly good our mutual cooperation can be.

Libertarian Socialism: A socialist society can and should value and protect personal liberty. Except when the state is enforcing sensible common cause rules like the rules of the road, I don't think the state has a place dictating our behavior. Working together does not mean that everybody has to be controlled from above. Wealth without freedom is pointless.

Social Capitalism?: I like the idea of people democratically ‘voting’ with their dollars. I think we have enough evidence that it is an effective way to prioritize production, reward innovation and quality, and punish poor performers. I think that we are all best served if we allow our best people to make more money by producing more, and effectively get more voting power.

If everybody’s reasonable basic needs are met, I don’t think anybody would object to incenting highly productive individuals by giving them more money. There is a limit, though, and at least here in North America, we have long since passed it.

Evil robots: Capitalism as promoted in the United States is a formula for creating ‘evil robot’ corporations whose only purpose is to serve the bottom line. That is what we see happening. The only way to fix this is to legislate effective checks and balances. Corporations are not human. They cannot govern themselves because their allegiance to the bottom line runs counter to human interests.

Socialism *is* wealth creation: Socialist things like shared infrastructure, socialized medicine, education, management of natural resources, the protections of a legal system, defense, education, etc are good things. Taking care of one another is hardly inconsistent with the creation of wealth. If wealth is to have any real value, it should start here anyway.

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