Re: true abundance?

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Mon Jan 29 2001 - 16:50:13 MST

Barbara Lamar wrote:

> Barbara Lamar now writes:

> 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.

> [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.

> 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.

Now I could see an argument that an advanced society would consider its
true wealth to be directly proportional to all of its citizens being in
maximal shape as far as actualizing their potential (assuming their
potential is good or neutral for a moment). This is more or less the
STNG position.

> 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.

> association of having a job with being a respectable person. The problem
> with this is that a huge portion of the "work" done each day is bullshit
> "busy work." An example of busy work in school: my daughter and I used to
> spend a certain part of each year traveling, and I'd get the lesson plans
> from the teachers so she could keep up with her class at school. We'd

I agree that a lot of work is "busy work" seeming designed simply to
ensure more people are
"respectable" and have the means to be consumers in order to create and
sustain more "respectable" jobs.

> Another quote from THE SPIKE: "In a world mutating ever more swiftly under
> the impact of high technology, detestable toil will be very hard to find,
> or even invent."
> I'd never heard of Robert Theobald until I read THE SPIKE and was overjoyed
> to discover his work. At the link below you can read, in book form, a
> series of lectures he prepared shortly before his death in 1999.
> Theobald says:
> "My experience shows that people ready for new opportunities. Think about
> how avalanches start. When conditions are ripe, the immediate cause can be
> very minor. The same is true for cultural shifts. The real challenge today
> is learn how to act as though what we do can make a difference. As the
> anthropologist Margaret Mead said: 'Never doubt that a small group of
> committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing which
> ever has'."
> I'd like to begin a discussion here and now about changing the social
> structures of the world. Rather than falling into the abyss of pigeon
> holing and name calling, I'd like to begin by looking for common ground.
> What sort of lives do we want to live? If we were writing the scripts for
> our own lives, including he sort of society we'll live in, what would we write?

Hear, Hear! Yes! I hope we will leave room in our society for its
dissenters also. Creating a coherent vision of what we want is an
absolutely essential step in arriving in a future you actually want to
> 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.

> "First, any activity will inevitably use up resources at its beginning. The
> appropriate questions are first, what is the minimum effective amount of
> resources needed to accomplish the purpose, and second, whether the gain
> will compensate for the expenditure of energy.
> Second, just as an experienced pilot can find a thermal when the less
> skilled may miss it, an individual who knows how to carry through an
> activity has a far greater chance of succeeding than the uninformed.

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

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

- samantha

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