What's the New Way to Prosperity?

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright November 2015


China may be the last nation to become prosperous by industrializing. India and the other developing and frontier economies of today are going to have to find a new road to prosperity.

What has changed? The extensive automation of industry. If industry is being done by robots, not people, then cheap labor is no longer an incentive to bring industry, and its prosperity, to impoverished nations and regions.

The path to prosperity is going to follow some different road.

The Tried and True Path

Ever since the Industrial Revolution began in Western Europe and North America in the 1700's, adding more industry to an economy has been the proven road to prosperity. Many times over these last three hundred years leaders of nations have tried to make alternatives lead to prosperity, such as better agriculture, but the success of these alternatives has been fleeting at best.

"If you want to get rich, add factories." has been the truism of these last three hundred years.

But times keep changing and this truism may have finally had its day.

What has changed over the last fifty years is the rise of extensive automation. There are many more machines now, and the machines are getting a lot more versatile and smarter. The result of this is that skilled industrial workers are not as valuable as they have been, and not needed in the large numbers they have been.

This means that providing low-wage factory workers is no longer a powerful way to attract factories, and no longer the first step towards industry-based prosperity.

So, if industrializing isn't going to be a first step towards prosperity, what will replace it?

Enter The Total Entitlement State

Social Justice will provide part of the answer.

The desire to help the poor by having some agency give them basic necessities is a powerful instinct that goes back a long way. The historic problem with helping the poor this way is its so expensive -- a community can only afford to do so for a few years before it goes broke, and everyone becomes poor. The big difference, coming in the near future, is that manufacturing, service and transportation will become totally automated. This means prosperity goes way up. Related: the agency that does the giving away can become cyber-run, which will keep the charity costs way down. The cyber charity agency will side-step those expensive issues that come with human foibles, corruption and incompetence. In sum, the automated factories become very efficient, and the charity distribution becomes very efficient. When the automation is complete and a cyber charity organization established, then stable Total Entitlement States (TES) can be achieved. (there will be many variations on the TES theme)

And once stable TES's are achieved in prosperous communities, there is no reason that TES's can't spread to currently impoverished communities as well.

So, a large part of the solution to becoming prosperous is simply to wait for it. Yes, this seems like a strange solution, but we are moving into new and different times.

The alternative to the TES solution

The alternative to TES is to research and discover other things besides industrializing that humans can do that are valuable to the fully automated societies of our near future -- this is the 2050's version of "Get a job."

This challenge will face humans around the world, not just in impoverished areas. And it will be an interesting challenge.


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