What if …

What if … . What would be some consequences for nations that were closer to the goal of a just distribution of human production, a just society, where almost everyone had sufficient food, clothing, housing, education, and health care, freedom from coercion and violence, maximal freedom of thought and behavior consistent with the freedom and rights of others?

Let’s assume 1) That we have changed our economic and political systems so that the cycles of booms and busts have been damped down greatly. We will have a much more stable system. Notice I am not hypothesizing any kind of absolutely stable or static system. Our systems will still evolve. They will change. It is just that we will avoid, or make it much less likely, that there are destructive crashes of the system — at least crashes of those subsystems that provide for the just distribution of the human necessities just described. There will still be innovations, discoveries, inventions, intellectual, informational, artistic creations. There will be a whole economy above and beyond and in addition to those subsystems that assure the production and just distribution of the human necessities. The subsystems that assure the production and just distribution of the human necessities will be the focus of stability and redundancy (back up systems) to minimize the effects of internal or external disturbances to these basic and critical systems. These systems and all other systems must operate within the constraints of the earth’s limited resources and within the constraint of not further degrading the natural world.

Let’s assume 2) That there will be useful and productive employment for anyone who wants it. And we will have designed the production and distribution processes not only to be efficient with respect to goods and services produced, but also in terms of the physical and mental health and well-being of the workers.

Society needs skilled, talented, knowledgeable people in many, many areas and in many levels of accomplishment. Maximum variety will provide maximum benefits in terms of human development and creativity. Intangible things like human services, artistic, scientific, and informational creativity will be valued as well as tangible goods.

So let’s assume 3) That people will be paid to educate themselves in all these areas.

Education will be everyone’s first job. Actually education is already everyone’s first job except we don’t get paid for it now. We can pay students starting in the first grade with 100% of the pay going to the parents and in following years smaller percentages to the parents as the students can be more responsible with their own money. Then later further education will replace unemployment if the system should sometimes or periodically not have jobs for all who want one. People can be paid according to the progress they make. Education will be the default job.

So we have three specific things that could be easily evolved from our present systems: 1)More stability; 2) Zero unemployment; 3) Paid education. As stability increases, as unemployment gets closer to zero, as paid education can be offered to more and more people, these changes will change people’s beliefs and behaviors about the future, they will see more easily that the revolutionary goals are achievable, and the revolution will be speeded up.

In addition imagine 4) That almost everyone has sufficient food, clothing, shelter, health care, that society is much less coercive, and less violent. Now we haven’t proposed any details how these can be accomplished yet, but the increase in productive work that results from 1), 2), and 3) above, will be one means by which we can move toward a just distribution system that satisfies these human needs.

Then, if education is a paying job, and if everybody who wants a paying job can have one, then many, many more people than today will want to work. They will be incentivized to participate in the system and the production of goods and services will be increased. And as the revolution spreads the just distribution goals through larger and larger populations, almost all people will adopt these goals as their own and will thereby be eager to develop themselves through education and work.

Welfare, government handouts, charity will be eliminated or at least reduced greatly. (We may have to keep giving government handouts to the large banks and corporations if we don’t regulate them better and seriously change our money system.) Almost everybody will have a livable wage job. Retirement as we know it today with all its uncertainty, planning, saving, ceasing productive work — will fade away. Older people, and younger people too, will be paid to do productive work consistent with their physical and mental abilities, and if they can do no productive work, their human necessities will be provided as it is (or better than it is) today. We don’t want to waste any human capacities.

If the system is more stable, even as it continues to evolve, if people can see that their basic physical needs — the human necessities — are and will be taken care of, then there will be much less incentive than there is now for people to hoard, be greedy, be trying to get as much as possible now for themselves no matter what happens to others. So even the rich will come to see that the revolution will be good for them too. They won’t have to waste so much of their lives hoarding and gambling with money.

The revolution is a self-reinforcing process.

Eliminate Unemployment

What would it be like if there were no unemployment? I am not talking about so-called full employment. Full employment is the euphemism for 5% unemployment that economists use. What a cop-out. They have no theory that allows 0% unemployment. They have given up trying to reduce unemployment to zero. This is just another example of how deficient economics is. Another example of epistemic closure. Another example of being trapped by your ideology. The idea of 0% unemployment cannot even enter their minds for consideration. According to the dominant economic ideologies zero unemployment is impossible. But it is not impossible because we, at least, can conceive of it. We can, at least, try to build a system with zero unemployment.  

Let’s imagine such a system. What would it be like? What would be the advantages of such a system compared to the present system, or any system, where at any time one in every twenty people or more, who want to work, who are actively trying to find a job, cannot find a job, and thus more or less waste their time, do next to nothing productive, do not contribute to the general welfare, feel useless and unneeded?

First more goods and services would be produced. When there are people going hungry and even starving, when people are not protected from the variations in the weather and climate by clothing and adequate shelter, when people’s health deteriorates because of injuries, disease or old age, when people do not know enough to take care of themselves or to contribute to the welfare of others, there are unmet needs for more goods and services. Specifically there are needs for food, clothing, housing, health care, and education. Surely there is work to be done. And it will require work to design and build new systems, new organizations, new institutions to train and educate and coordinate those now unemployed so that they can get to work providing the goods and services just listed. New skills and knowledge will be required to do all this within the constraints of the earth’s limited resources and within the constraint of not further degrading our natural world.

The following steps might begin the process of modifying our systems so that anyone who wants a useful and productive job gets one. First pay people a little more than they receive now from their unemployment insurance (or the equivalent in other countries) if they educate themselves in some job related skills or even any job unrelated education that truly interests them. This can be financed the same as the present unemployment payments are now. Courses could be offered at zero cost to the participants over the internet. Participants would be tested and graded to measure their progress. Methods would be implemented to prevent cheating on tests or other gaming of the system by personal interviews and tests if automated methods were not enough. The courses would be designed to require an effort equivalent to the effort for a full-time high school or full-time college or a full-time job.

If, after unemployment payments run out, a person still cannot find a productive job with a corporation or a government, then that person would be allowed to continue in the education program at the same pay by a government. Pay could be scaled by progress being made as measured by course grades to maintain incentives to work at acquiring productive and useful skills and knowledge.

Governments would create jobs by paying people directly or through corporations organized to provide necessary or useful goods and services. The education system just described would provide some of the jobs. A sort of job of last resort, a job if you can’t find any other. Because, really, educating yourself is a job. It takes time and effort. It produces a useful result — a skilled or talented or knowledgeable person who can contribute to his or her own welfare as well as the welfare of humanity as a whole. It is a simple-minded idea that the only person who benefits from a person’s skills, talents, and knowledge, is that person, and that therefore, he or she must pay for it. We don’t ask babies to take out loans to pay for their care and early education into our cultures. We don’t ask grade schoolers, or high schoolers either. To make our complex societies work well for everybody we need a wide variety of people with different skills, talents, and knowledge at multiple levels of accomplishment. To develop skills, talents, knowledge requires time and effort — work. We should pay people to do it.   

Don’t get hung up on questions of how to pay for all this. It doesn’t matter how as long as it works in a more or less consistent system that we are evolving from our present systems. Pay with taxes or pay with fiat money or pay some other way (except probably do not pay through debt financing as at present, since unregulated debt creation may be a source of many of our current problems). The point is to try stuff, build institutions and organizations that work so that everyone who wants a productive job can have one.

When people say “Well, that’s all fine and good, but how are you going to pay for all this?” they are just showing the limited thinking imposed by the grand economic theories and our present actual systems and practices. Our present systems and practices are not the only way to do things.

In addition to producing goods and services needed, people who do useful work feel good about themselves. There is considerable evidence that people want to contribute, want to work with others to make things, create things that are useful and enjoyable by others as much as themselves. Consider all the people who make art of one kind or another, often with no real hope of making any money from it. Young people who make music together, people who play and watch sports. Consider all the people who work at jobs not just for the money but also because they want to help others. There are many such people in many professions. Most of the people most of the time want to do their fair share.

As mentioned yesterday, total employment would dampen the booms and busts that occur in our present system.

There would be less crime.

There would be less boredom. There will be even less boredom if all jobs can be matched with the skills, talents, knowledge of the people doing them. Giving people as much freedom as possible in how they educate themselves might make it easier to match jobs to interests.

There will be more confidence in the future since people will not have to worry about having their incomes randomly cut off by being unemployed. People will be more confident about raising a family.

There will be less unhappiness, less depression, less mental illness, less violence, more peace, less thinking with anger, fear, hostility, and hatred. Just think about it! What a payoff!

And we haven’t even talked yet about how to encourage those who don’t want to work to do something useful for their lives. The program outlined above will in and of itself move many people now not in the workforce to join in and get a life.