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The Vision

Distributing Wealth

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright January 2015

Introduction

The questions of how to make and distribute wealth have been with mankind since before mankind was the human species. This means these are issues drenched in emotion and instinctive thinking.

These questions have increased in importance as mankind has become more civilized because mankind has more kinds of things to possess and because these possessions keep playing a greater role in how we live. As mankind transitioned from a semi-nomadic Neolithic Village lifestyle to a sedentary agricultural lifestyle the wealth he could accumulate skyrocketed. (think of adding cities to the wealth package) The variety of ways of creating wealth grew modestly in the Agricultural Age, then skyrocketed with the coming of the Industrial Age.

As mankind has become civilized wealth has moved from "nice to dream about" to the center of mankind's thoughts -- think the consumer society. And while this transition in the role of wealth has been taken for granted, the consequences have been far from placid. As a small sample: capitalism, socialism, unionism, and democracy can all be viewed as ideas concerning how wealth should be created and distributed. And from still another set of perspectives, Romanticism and the other counter material culture movements have bemoaned the rise of the material culture happening at all. In their eyes excessive desiring of wealth is the root of "evil thinking" such as greed and trampling on the dignity of the poor.

By 2050 the wealth making and distributing playing field will have been up-ended yet again. The combination of manufacturing and service automation, and actually achieving stable Total Entitlement States, is going to change all the wealth rules once again.

"Rights" and "rewards" wealth categories

One of the upheavals that comes with establishing a TES is that wealth is divided into two broad categories: That which becomes "rights" wealth and that which becomes "rewards" wealth. (I also call these "necessity" wealth and "luxury" wealth.) In the 2010's context, think of the differences between buying food with food stamps, buying a nice car with money made from a well-paying job, and getting perks such as a government official taking a trip to a conference in a foreign country at government expense.

This difference between rights wealth and rewards wealth will be even sharper in 2050. And the dividing line will remain an important issue to community members. In those communities that enthusiastically endorse TES the percentage of wealth distributed in the rights category will grow. In 2050, thanks to constantly growing productivity, communities will be able to support more wealth being put in the rights category.

But people will still aspire to own luxury goods, so rewards wealth will grow as well, and the desire to acquire it will remain strong. One of the big challenges of 2050 is deciding what activities humans should get paid reward wealth for?

What should become rights wealth?

What things should people of the community be entitled to? What is sufficent food, lodging and health care? What else should become an entitlement?

2010's and earlier versions of TES have failed because when much of the wealth moved into the rights category the productivity of the community suffered -- the community grew poorer, not wealthier. Recent notable examples include Greece, Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea and pre-Thatcher England. This impoverishment happened because the productivity of the community declined -- as the TES became more widespread and comprehensive, fewer people in the community were busy at jobs that created lots of wealth -- the difference between working in a factory and regulating one. (Some places, such as Denmark and Sweden, have had better success with handling rights wealth, but there the rights styles and levels of spending have been carefully limited. The community members have cooperated well on these issues.)

The difference that 2050 brings to this mix is that productivity is no longer in the hands of humans, it is in the hands of cybers. This means that it doesn't matter much how much human activity ends up in non-productive categories, such as being regulators, or doing "make work", instead of in productive work categories, because the community's wealth no longer depends on human productivity. This means that TES variants with wildly unproductive humans can be sustained, as long as those humans don't somehow muck up the cyber-side manufacturing, servicing and distributing of rights goods and services. (Which can happen. This is a real-world threat of the 2050's.)

The spooky side of this is that harsh reality will no longer rein-in enthusiastic emotion-based interest groups. TES's can become playgrounds for charismatic demagogues who prey on human heart-thinking such as Animal Rights, Save The Children, Conspirators Among Us ("There are evil secret agents amongst us who will hurt us badly if they get their way. We must be vigilant and root them out before that happens.") or Chosen Way. ("We are going to run this community the way God tells us to run it.")

Communities based on these styles of thinking will be stable, even though they are a long, long way from the US Founding Fathers thinking, which was solidly based on the harsh reality of diligently researching how to be productive in colonial North America -- a place with lots of wilderness, lots of exploitable resources, and lots of deadly surprises.

What should become rewards wealth?

As TES grows, and rights wealth grows, what should rewards wealth consist of, and what activities should rewards wealth reward? Rewards wealth is going to buy different kinds of things than rights wealth. It is going to buy luxuries and perks.

Supporting hobbies will be one form of luxury spending. Closely related is supporting dilettante activities such as preparing superior meals, getting real good at sports, and vacationing to exotic places.

Exclusivity will be one of the luxuries of 2050 -- this emotion isn't going to change, but what will be considered exclusive will. What is considered exclusive is partly a fashion call, so there will be surprises as well as constants -- demand for exclusive real estate will be a constant, wearable accessories will be fashionable.

Here are some thoughts on how rewards wealth will be handed out.

Ways of Rewarding
(Who gets to be a kleptocrat?)

In Neolithic Village environments there is little wealth of any kind to hand out because the environment is semi-nomadic. In Agricultural Age environments most rewards wealth has been handed out based on social standing in the community -- the noble/priest classes -- the few exceptions include occupations such as merchant. An innovation of Industrial Age capitalism was to include productivity as part of the basis for for social standing -- capitalism created powerful business classes which at first co-existed along side the hereditary landed and noble classes, and with time displaced them. As the Industrial Revolution has evolved even more, those involved in law making and enforcing have been added to the wealthy classes -- regulators, bureaucrats and politicians.

In 2050 humans will still be doing business, but it will mostly be artisanal business, not foundations-of-productivity business (what I call Big Business) -- cyber will be handling that. This means that improving productivity will lose standing as a criterion for handing out reward wealth, and the criteria move back to centering on social standing as it did in the Agricultural Age.

Ways of rewarding humans will still be a chronic big issue in 2050 communities, and it will be something humans have a lot of say in -- no matter how divorced they are from the harsh realities of productivity. The following are some examples of how instinctive thinking can shape how rewards wealth is handed out.

Rewarding for leadership

As has been true throughout the ages, people will reward other people for being leaders. A person who commands respect, and directs many other people in an activity, will be rewarded with luxury money.

There will be many kinds of leaders, and many kinds of leadership styles. The most desirable leaders are those who gather the community to accomplish big goals. JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." personifies this Big Vision leadership style.

Another common style of leader is one who stokes community fears. Given how divorced the TES-acclimated person will be from dealing with material harsh realities, emotions can run strongly and be the source for much decision making. In such an atmosphere stoking fears will work quite well to produce leaders, and they will be well rewarded. In the 2010's this is ruthless leadership in action with Vladimir Putin in Russia being a great example.

Rewarding for Entertainment

Entertainment is something that humans will spend even more time on than they do in the 2010's, and success will be rewarded much the same way -- there will be a whole lot of nearly anonymous aspirants, and a few high-profile "rock stars". The rock stars will be well rewarded.

Entertainment has its roots in Neolithic Villlage environment begging. It split away from begging much as religion and science split away from fortune telling. It has grown in social importance as prosperity has grown, and will continue to do so. And it will keep changing form to suit existing local tastes and conditions -- fashions.

As productivity looses importance as a human activity, entertainment will become even more important. In 2050 it will become what humans spend most of their time, attention, and effort on. Community members will spend more and more time on both sides of the entertainment equation -- producers and audience.

Rewarding for Good deeds

People like seeing good deeds happen. Given that, one style of activity that can be rewarded with luxury money is for "Good Samaritan" and "Pay it Forward" type activities. This could include things that are familiar today such as running charities, and it could include things such as winning prizes for other good works the media and public choose to recognize. (ala Nobel Prizes) These contests and prizes could become substantial parts of the reward system.

What are considered good deeds will be fashionable: the choices will change quickly with time, location, and the decider. As a result there will be arguments about how good a deed really is.

Rewarding for Gaming the System

People love to be rewarded for gaming the system. If someone is playing a loophole or sneaking stuff out behind someone else's back, succeeding at this feels good. As a result letting people game the system buys a lot of social peace. While the TES community members may say they don't want this, and the media may amplify this sound and fury, the social peace it brings can be substantial.

System gaming can be supported by cyber-lying. When cybers can support hypocrisy, system gaming can be structured to keep the expense low and the social reward high. As a side benefit, discovery of system gaming can also be a supported activity. This also brings a lot of good feeling -- "Those cheaters are getting their just deserts."-feeling. The chattering classes will love this in 2050 as much as they do in the 2010's.

How this discovery and punishment process will be handled will be highly variable between different communities. And, a possible surprise use of the technology can be that most of these discoveries are in reality fabrications whipped up by the cybers simply for human consumption -- the perpetrators being shown in news vids are not real people. This is "Big Brother" newspeak stuff.

Rewarding for Personal Industry

Some people will still want to work for a living. This, too, is a deep human instinct. The reward for good work attitude thrived in the Industrial Age as indicated by the rise of Protestantism. What kind of work is "good work" and how to reward it will be one of the most variable parts of the 2050 environment. One style will be doing artisanal work that creates high demand.

One ongoing emotional conflict will be the emotion gap between the "system gamers" and the "hard workers". Being rewarded for hard work conflicts with the wish to be rewarded for doing no work -- this emotional difference will still be a hot point in 2050.

Related to the above, how will politicians and bureaucrats fit into this system? Part answer: much of the bureaucracy side can be taken over by cyber. Once the rules are established, cyber can help people "hoop-jump" as well as humans can, if not better. But how much of this cyber handling hoop-jumping is actually implemented will be highly variable.

What will politicians still control? What laws can they make? The craziness of the Republican congressmen in 2014/15 can be a model for 2050 -- these legislators will talk, but it is just cheap talk as far as cyber-controlled activities are concerned. So... what will legislators and governors still control? Will they do more than just think of new hoops for humans to jump through? How damaging to the cyber-managed systems can they be? Will they send cops after totally automated factories and tell them to shut down?

(Figuring this out in more detail will take a lot of thought. I'm working on it. See Saving and Investing below, too.)

Rewarding for Gate Keeping

Related to hard work is gate keeping. These are the regulators who want to see that things such as fairness and safety are just as high priority as getting stuff made and getting innovative ideas brought to reality. This feeling is powered by the prescriptionist instinct. There will be lots of people who want to be regulators, and they will have specific right ways in mind as they do their inspecting of other people's activities. The list of what people want to prescribe is nearly endless. The question each community will face is how to balance the prescription instinct against the creating of opportunities to experiment with many different ways of doing things that prosperity offers.

Mixed with this will be the disconnect from harsh reality that cybers are providing. A surprise use of cyber human manipulating abilities is that they may be able to find inventive ways to lie that allow both prescriptionists and experimenters to have their way. What the regulators really regulate may have little to do with what the experimenters experiment with.

Rewarding for Plight

Begging -- rewarding for plight -- goes way, way back. Because of its deep emotional roots it is not going to stop in the TES environments -- which is ironic. And, as it always has, it will change form to suit local existing conditions because it is very much an advertising activity. And, as it always has, it will annoy many people as well as salve many people.

Saving and Investing

Saving and investing are icons of human activities successfully adapting to the Industrial Age environment -- these only become big and important activities when human activities get complex and there is lots of wealth to be made and passed around. These are comparatively new human activities, and they are going to be changed a lot yet again by the time 2050 rolls around.

As cyber takes over manufacturing and service industries it will also take over making the choices of what to invest in in these activities. It will be deciding what new machines to get, what the machines should produce, and what new services to provide. This cyber takeover of Big Business investing has to happen because so few humans will understand what is happening in the world of cyber manufacturing and services.

This means that capitalism -- the act of humans investing in companies -- will once again change dramatically. What a human board of directors will do for a company where cyber is making all the investing decisions is not clear.

Because the role of human investors will change so dramatically, human investing will change. There will still be financial instruments for humans to invest in, but their forms will be quite different from the investing instruments of the 2010's. They will be even more abstract and disconnected from the day-to-day activities of wealth generating than those of the 2010's.

One of the instincts that powers investing is the gambling instinct. This element is likely to endure, and it will be something that disconnects human investing from cyber investing -- the human side will continue to support the thrill of gambling even when the investing process overall becomes a lot more certain. For this reason human investing in smaller-scale, artisanal activities, is likely to thrive.

Saving and investing are tightly tied to luxury wealth. It may be so tightly tied that rights wealth can't be used for these activities.

Unanswered questions: How will humans be innovators in this cyber-dominated Big Business world? Where will they "hold out" and still be useful? In these hold out areas how can they invest in their dreams? How can they be educated to do these kinds of innovating and investing activities?

"Being Fair"

The question of how to distribute luxury wealth fairly will be a hot issue. It will rage, and rage strongly. So will the related question of what are acceptable working conditions. Both are deeply emotional issues -- lots of instinctive thinking -- and both suffer from The Curse of Being Important -- lots of people have strong opinions on what is the right way to handle these issues, and feel those opinions should be respected.

This will be one of the areas where the different TES communities vary widely in what they choose to be the right formulas.

How cyber, in particular cyber lying, will affect these issues is unclear. There will be surprises.

Further Reading

Update: This 23 Feb 13 NYT opinion page, A World Without Work by Ross Douthat, talks about how unemployment is starting at the bottom and working its way up. That is the opposite of what was expected of a prosperous utopia by most visionaries.

 

--The End--

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