Re: true abundance?

From: Barbara Lamar (
Date: Mon Jan 29 2001 - 22:56:09 MST

At 05:50 PM 01/29/2001, Samantha Atkins wrote:
>Barbara Lamar wrote:
> >
> > The main reason I can think of for not having a government-provided
> > guaranteed income is that it is morally wrong for
> > one group of people calling themselves "the government" to steal from
> > another group of people, regardless of how the thieves dispose of the
> > stolen goods. A guaranteed income would seem to require that this sort of
> > theft be perpetrated.
> >
>Which of course depends on what the notions of ownership are and are
>not. If the plenty produced by say NT is not considered to be owned by
>a relative handful of individuals then it is not theft to distribute it
>to all. Who owns the assemblers? When assemblers make other assemblers
>who owns them? Ad infinitum.

This is true. Possibly the outcome of the present disagreements on the
ownership of intellectual property will play a large role in determining
who owns the assemblers and their output.

> > [Damien writes: "...society will pay everyone, as an inalienable right, a
> > basic minimum dividend drawn from the productivity and wealth of the
> > nation."--the problem with this is that society is made up of individuals.
> > Productivity and wealth don't appear unattached to human effort. In order
> > to "draw" them and make them available for distribution, one must first
> > take them from the individuals who produced them--this is the libertarian
> > argument, and it's valid, I think, to the extent that current distribution
> > of wealth reflects a morally justifiable process]
> >
>With assemblers wealth in the form of material goods will be effectively
>as infinitely divisable and free from further human effort as digital
>bits largely are today. The above argument is scarcity based and does
>not account for new and coming conditions.

But people don't seem to change the way they think simply because they're
no longer in need of anything. As a tax lawyer I used to meet people who
had quite a bit of money. One might think that a person with $5,000,000 in
personally owned assets wouldn't feel the need to accumulate more. But they
do, and some of them would still shoot a person they caught trying to steal
their car.

> >
> > In Chapter 7 of THE SPIKE Damien mentions, in passing, the concept of the
> > guaranteed income as an inheritance. ["...let's not look at a guaranteed
> > income as a 'natural right,' like the supposed innate rights to freedom of
> > speech and liberty. Rather it is an inheritance, something *owed* to all
> > the children of a society whose ancestors for generations have together
> > built, and purchased through the work of their minds and hands, the
> > resource base sustaining today's cornucopia."] I like this idea a lot, and
> > it ties into the discussion we were recently having about "human nature."
> >
>I partially like it and partiall do not as it can be used to justify
>real theivery past and present. The reason everyone gets the basics in
>the NT future is because producing the basics for everyone is not a
>burden at all on anyone, not because everyone has a claim on everyone
>else simply by virtue of being born.

Even now, though, I don't think it would really be that much of a burden to
pay a guaranteed income to everyone in the United States. And yet people
get upset at the idea of doing it.

> > But our present system isn't working very well either. Not for the vast
> > majority of people living within it. Most people spend the majority of
> > their time doing things they don't want to be doing. For most people, life
> > cannot be said to be joyful. One reason for this seems to be the
>Actually we have far more discretionary time on average than at any
>other time and more discretionary income.

I didn't make it clear that I was speaking of the world population, as we
now have a global economy. I'm not sure, but I think things have got worse
for most people over the past several years. Here's another quote from
Theobald (can't say how accurate the figures are, but they're in line with
my personal observations):

"According to Victor Keegan, writing in the British newspaper The Guardian,
the richest 20 percent of the world's population increased their share of
total global wealth from 70 percent to 85 percent, while the poorest lost
ground moving down from 2.3 percent to 1.4 percent. The wealth of Bill
Gates, the richest man in the world with $18-billion US, founder of
Microsoft the world's premier software company, is greater by itself than
that of half a dozen poor countries according to Keegan.
It is not true that we must continually crank up the economic machine,
starve the poor, and work ourselves to death. Believe me about this: I was
trained as an economist! The challenge is to set imagination and creativity
loose, to think outside the box, to see the opportunities which lie beyond
the problems. We can only resolve today's questions by opening up new
approaches and seeing new connections."

People don't seem to stop accumulating wealth simply because they have
everything they need; to the contrary, they seem to accumulate it to the
extent that it becomes more of a burden than a benefit.

> > Here's a quote from one of Theobald's lectures:
> >
> > "A new image may help us to grasp the ways we shall need to behave in the
> > future. Herman Daly, an economist who challenges the growth ethic, has
> > suggested that our present economic system is like a jet plane that must
> > fly at high speed, because otherwise it will stall and crash. He suggested
> > that we should start to think about a helicopter which could hover.
> > However, a helicopter is both fuel-inefficient and noisy. I propose that we
> > start thinking about a glider as our symbol for the future. I recognize the
> > danger of pushing any analogy too far but there are some fascinating
> > thoughts which emerge as one considers the operation of a glider.
> >
>Yukky analogy.


>And who should make these decisions but the local persons/entities

No one.

> > "Third, the glider is brilliantly designed for its purpose. The
> > post-industrial world will not have the resources to tolerate the
> > overdesign and waste which is so common today. Overcoming problems by brute
> > force, rather than by using imagination and knowledge, will not be
> > acceptable in the future.
> >
>On the contrary, the amount of resources is drastically increasing.

How do you mean this? I can see how this would be true with NT; but at the
moment the amount of water in aquifers is not increasing. The amount of
fossil fuel isn't increasing. The amount of topsoil on most agricultural
land isn't increasing.

>Brute force is quite acceptable when it is more efficient than the
>intellectual and computational resources necessary to calculate a more
>optimal solution.

  Isn't the optimal solution always the one that's more efficient? If I can
get the most bang for my buck using method A, wouldn't I be foolish to use
method B? Far as I can see brute force is a result of lack of imagination.
You throw Mexican peasants off their land so middle class Americans can eat
Mexican bananas and flush your shit into the drinking water (brute force)
rather than leaving the peasants as they are and growing bananas in
microenvironments heated with methane produced from the decomposition of
shit; or developing bananas that can grow in cooler climates.

You spend as many dollars chasing down welfare cheats and imprisoning
people who use illegal drugs (brute force) than you would've spent giving
everyone in the country a guaranteed income.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:26 MDT