Fix unemployment (was: Re: Hollywood Economics)

Damien Broderick (
Thu, 03 Sep 1998 11:45:39 +0000

At 08:37 PM 9/2/98 +1000, James (- wrote:

> Bringing third world countries up to frist
>world standards provides many wealth generating advantages to
>both countries and coporations.

It suddenly strikes me that a useful challenge to the smart people on this list might be:

Solve the problem of bringing the structurally-unemployed people of the *first* world up to the standards of their wealthier, currently-employed fellows.

It used to be thought that egalitarian provision of education would ensure that everyone of decent intelligence and character could find work. That is clearly not true any longer.

If anything, we can surely expect a larger and larger proportion of the citizenry to remain outside the job market for life - unless they are prepared to work for a pittance in some sort of servile `down-stairs' role - and even those kinds of personal services will be taken over increasingly by smart, cheap machines. The only reason to keep a staff of cooks and servants will be to prove one's superiority, and their inferiority - not a recipe for a pleasant society in a world where everyone can watch television and aspire to better things.

The solution I floated in THE SPIKE is one discussed in the 1960s - a guaranteed minimum income tax, or negative income tax. That idea has been assailed by some people here as impractical. It probably requires central collection and distribution, which some here will dislike. And, by itself, it doesn't solve the socio-psychological malaise of those who ride the `purple wage' (as Phil Farmer called it) while having no meaningful role in society.

In the longer term, with the advent of molecular nanofacture and AI, we will *all* be in this position, to some extent. But those technologies will perhaps change the landscape so drastically that we will have to start again from scratch in thinking these issues through.

For now, there are many people out there in the First World who are angry, baffled, hurt, deracinated - and their numbers can only increase. If extropians can find solutions to this deep problem, that will certainly prove the worth of the philosophy. `Answers' such as *get rid of the state* lack the specificity most people without work are looking for...

Damien Broderick