index ... part one

The Vision

The Total Entitlement State
Part two: What it feels like

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright December 2014


The good intention of the Total Entitlement State (TES) is to help people stop worrying about things such as where poor people will get their next meal from and what roof will be over their head when they bed down for the night. There are two categories of people doing this worrying: the poor people themselves and the social justice enthusiasts who see this worrying by the poor as an unfair inequality and an outrage.

Another thinking current that will run strongly through TES communities is, "Are things being handled fairly?" This concern is the root of things such as worries about the rich getting richer, creating unions to protect the working man, and supporting populist political candidates.

TES will help both the poor and the social justice types sleep better at nights, but there will be a lot of surprise outcomes mixed in with achieving these good intentions. This essay is about the surprise outcomes in what people will be thinking -- the physical surprises are handled in Part One.

Security: What the social justice types are thinking

The goal of the TES system is to stop the worrying about meals, shelter and health care.

It is not going to succeed because this kind of worry is instinctive, and quite strong in social justice enthusiasts. This instinctive thinking means that the social justice types who back the TES concept whole-heartedly will sleep better at night knowing they are doing something, but they won't stop worrying about if enough is being done. The social justice instinct is, "If there is still inequality, then more should be done. That is what is fair."

One vexing problem here drawing the line between basic necessities and luxuries -- it won't be easy. And even after a line is drawn, there will be many people still want more than basics -- they will want luxuries. So the chronic question will be where to draw the line between necessity and luxury and even after that is decided how to decide who gets luxuries. The related chronic question is what should be considered "rights" that all people should enjoy? An example:

o A right: People have a right to a good education!

o A solution: If they can get the good education by being taught by cybers instead of human teachers, does that count?

An other example: Does the right to basic necessities include the right to a nice vacation once in a while?

Social justice types, the poor, and society in general, will argue long and hard about these kinds of issues.

Even when a cyber-based TES is successful, in the sense of being stable and long-lasting, these kinds of chronic questions will still be hot topics.

Security: What the recipients are thinking

Recipient thinking will be quite different from social justice thinking. The root of recipient thinking will be taking the system for granted -- as in, "This isn't special, this how I live." Recipient thinking about TES will be that it is like the air we breathe. There will be little gratefulness in the thinking, and on "bad hair days" lots of griping about what right/injustice to protest over next.

The challenge the TES implementation leads to is discovering what will TES recipients take pride in? What activities or accomplishments will "make their day"? This is important. If the entitling process is not handled with this taking-pride question constantly in mind, then boredom and frustration will become a big part of the recipient's day-to-day thinking, and the above mentioned griping fills the day's thinking.

In practice, based on historical efforts to achieve TES, some of this boredom and frustration can countered by adding "hoop-jumping" -- mindless, make work procedures -- to the qualifications to receive TES. This hoop-jumping helps the recipients feel better because it takes their time and attention to accomplish, and the reward then feels to the recipient like they have either done some real work, or successfully gamed the system. Either way, they feel more satisfied.

Fairness: How will this be handled?

"That's not fair!" is an emotion that begins in childhood. In adulthood it is expressed as complaining that the fruits of the community's productivity are not being fairly distributed. "From each according to his ability, to each according to this need." was a late-1800's version of this thinking. "The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer." is a 2010's version.

This desire to be fair has supported labor-related institutions such as unions, regulatory institutions such as the FTC, and laws such as progressive taxation policies. It has been the fuel behind the rise of uncounted populist leaders. A spectacular recent example being Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

It will be an even stronger motivator in the TES's of 2050 because the harsh reality of humans having to make things will have vanished. This change in "harsh reality" will let the fairness instinctive thinking run unchecked, and dealing with it will be a major factor in deciding the governing policies of TES's.

Ambition: How will this be handled?

Fairness and ambition are often at cross-purposes. The ambitious want to get ahead, want to improve. They are more concerned about personal progress than about everyone getting a fair shake.

Ambition is as strong an instinct as fairness is. The TES world is going to have many ambitious people. How are they going to get ahead in the TES environment. Related: How will they measure their success?

Both fairness and ambition will strongly affect enfranchisement. And ambition is strongly correlated with immigration. So how immigration is handled in the TES environment is strongly related to how ambition is handled.

How Enfranchisement will be handled

Something that is important to every community is keeping the members feeling enfranchised. The TES system must keep enfranchisement in mind. The more it does to promote community members feeling enfranchised, the more stable and successful it will be. If it is poor at building enfranchisement then crime, corruption, and episodes of rage will be common. The months of protesting in 2014 swirling around police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri were a symptom of low enfranchisement in that community.

Immigration and TES

Immigration is the act of moving from a familiar, born-and-raised, home setting to a distant and strange land and making a life there. From the 1800's through the 2010's much of the immigrating that people did was in search of better working opportunities that industrializing was providing. The common immigrant goal was to work hard and make more money than they could do at home. Or, to go somewhere as a student, learn more than they could at home, and then make more money either in the strange land or back at home.

As TES becomes widespread immigration will change dramatically. The first noticable change will be that it slows down a lot. Two big trends will cause this change:

o A person will have lots of income for basic necessities if they stay home.

o There will be few better-paying jobs located in distant lands. This is because cyber will be taking care of all of the basics. All that will be left for humans are "artisanal" jobs -- jobs where the fact that the object or service is human-made is an important feature. Some of these artisanal activities may gain some entertainment-based appeal, as in having "exotic people" do those style of jobs. This will provide an opportunity for immigration, but the conditions will be quite different from the "migrate to work in a factory"-style immigration that has been the common motivation for two centuries now.

Something that will remain constant: Immigrants have always been ambitious people. They want to do more and get more reward. They also want to innovate -- they want to try doing new things, and old things using different techniques. If there are still new things to learn by moving away, ambition and curiousity may sustain some styles of immigration.

The instinct to fear strangers will remain strong. Locals will still fear that the strangers who come looking for work are really petty criminals at heart, and women stealers, so the underlying distaste for their presence will remain. It will be muted in good times and quickly grow into immigrant witch hunting in fearful times. If TES is successful at keeping feelings muted, immigrants won't be too upsetting. If TES produces frustration and outbursts of rage, then witch hunting immigrants will happen. (see Enfranchisement above)

In sum, immigration will change its nature dramatically as cyber takes over manufacturing and service jobs, and comprehensive and stable TES's become established.


Immigration will change a lot, but tourism will not change much. Traveling to see strange people, strange customs, and strange scenery will remain popular, and be conducted much as it is conducted today. Traveling to exotic locales will be considered luxury spending. "Necessity vacations" will be traveling to somewhere familiar such as Disneyland, casino resorts or cruise ships. One innovative exception will be Avatar Cruise Ships, which I have written about in Child Champs.

"Counter Culture" and TES

In the 1960's in the US there was the Generation Gap -- there were a lot of Baby Boomers coming of age who were not happy with "The System" -- the World War and Cold War-supported conformity and prosperity that was such a comfort to their parents. The Boomers rebelled in various social ways. The symbols became "Sex and drugs and rock and roll", the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, and the Hippie movement. There were many other forms of protesting going on as well. In historical descriptions of this era, these various forms of rebellion were lumped together as the Counter Culture movement.

TES will also support a collection of Counter Culture movements. One variant will be humans who both take TES support and rail against the system. Another will be humans who try to live outside the system and become self-sustaining. These enthusiasts will pride themselves on how little help they take from whatever "The Man" is called in 2050. Scarier groups will be those who work for The System's overthrow through violent means.

How vigorous the counter culture movements will be will depend on the level of enfranchisement the TES designers can develop in their systems. The more enfranchisement, the weaker the counter cultures will be.

Different thinking on the different roads to TES

As talked about in Part One, there will be many roads to TES. The result of this is that there will be many different ways of thinking about the result by both the social justice enthusiasts and the recipients in these different communities. This next section gives some examples of the differences in thinking that will be supported.

The Trading City (Singapore/Hong Kong) approach

As mentioned in Part One, the trading cities, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, are likely to be the first places that transition to cyber domination of "big business" activities and create TES communities. This means their versions of TES will be the groundbreakers, for good and bad.

Because the communities are wealthy and business-oriented the TES beneficiaries are likely to be among the most trade and business oriented of any, and their education levels will be high. Because the understanding is high, these will likely be the most rational in terms of cost-benefit TES systems. In spite of their being pioneers, they are also likely to be among the more stable communities, and have high enfranchisement levels.

The US approach

The US approach is going to have a lot of racism sensitivity built into it -- this will be the biggest distinctive element in the US approach. Most of the poor will be urban. This element will make it like the trading cities TES's. America is big and diverse, which makes it different from the trading cities. There will be enclaves of rural poor, such as Appalachia and Native American reservations, but the population numbers of these enclaves will be small compared to the city populations. The archtypical US TES recipient will be a resident in a city- and suburb-spanning urban complex along the East or West Coasts.

Historically the US has been a manufacturing and trading powerhouse and a vibrant democracy. This will affect the TES culture, but I'm not sure how.

The Eurozone approach

A mix of variety within high prosperity will be the theme of Eurozone TES's. There are many European cultures so the TES styles and cultures will also be diverse. Also Europe has been experimenting with TES for a long time. The aspiration of socialism, in its many forms, as been to create a TES. When cyber TES arrives, and proves stable, there will be a collective sigh of "At last!" among the social justice types of Europe. Attitudes towards education will be diverse, STEM won't dominate, and feelings of enfranchisement will be all over the map.

The China approach

There is a lot of cultural diversity in China, but also a lot more acceptance of top-down dictates of how things should be done. Think Confusionism. Education, and in particular STEM-style educating, will be an important element of Chinese-style TES's. How the STEM will be used is still a big question mark for me.

The Saudi/Russia approach

Saudi and Russian style TES will be heavily paternal -- the state will be quite visibly in charge of doing the handing out. This means there will be more human bureaucracy and procedural hoop-jumping to get TES necessities than in other cultures. And this will provide humans with more jobs than in other cultures.

How this will affect enfranchisement I'm not sure. It is likely to help because these cultures are used to passively accepting government-controlled fate. For the same reason, corruption is likely to remain high. These cultures are not used to being sensitive to cost-benefit. In Russia in particular, business sense has low social standing. Fighting capitalism has been Russia's War on Drugs for decades.

The India approach

India's deeply heirarchical ancient heritage, and British-inspired liberal socialist modern heritage, will shape its TES. There is a lot of top-down in the culture and the TES will reflect that. It is likely that the TES will be used to support the hierarchical status quo, even though the Indian social justice types will be complaining. Related is the question of how widespread and extensive human education will be in the Indian TES environment? How much social disruption will be supported? And India is diverse, much more like Europe than the US in its diversity, so the TES's will be regional in orientation and vary a lot between them. This also means that the TES will be supporting Us versus Them thinking in many more incarnations than the US or trading cities styles do.

The Failed State (Haiti/Somalia) approach

Chaos is the theme of failed state cultures. Governing systems are small scale and subject to lots of surprises. Since TES is going to be initially financed from the outside, there will also be lots of culture clashing mixing in with the local chaos in the TES implementations. This means the local thinking supported by the TES is going to be all over the map. Think supporting witch doctors for both health care and business forecasting.

The Totalitarian (North Korea/Cuba) approach

If the governing styles of these states don't change much as TES is implemented, the TES is going to be deeply patronizing. It will be structured to support the fear, and the feeling grateful that the government is there to protect that are current themes of these cultures.

As in failed states, the cyber infrastructure will be financed externally to start with. Unlike failed states, the government will be fully in charge so the culture clash will be subdued. These governments are likely to be able to sustain their fear-of-external-enemies theme, even in the face of the deep hypocrisy of those outside entities financing the transition.

The Big Vision approach

As pointed out in Section One, the communities that have been most spectacular to historians are those that have pursued The Big Vision, whether they are TES or not. So a Big Vision TES is likely, and if successful, will be a shining beacon to other communities.

But who will actually succeed at a Big Vision TES will be a surprise. The main thinking characteristic will be lots of people in the community believing that they are making a difference and changing the world for the better. "The American Way" in the 18/1900's is a good example of an enduring Big Vision. Community members of the Big Vision TES are going to be similarly proud of what they are accomplishing.

Again, which communities that can create a Big Vision TES will be a surprise, and what they create will also be a surprise.

Destructive Us versus Them Thinking

Based on the experience of the world's previous aspirations to TES, the TES's of 2050 are going to support lots of destructive Us versus Them thinking. I base this on both what I read about in current events and personal experience. In the news, Europe's 2010's aspirations to TES are supporting lots of criminal and protesting violence. In personal experience, as an old man traveling on a budget in Europe in the 2000's I was pickpocketed twice and taxi farejacked once. This has happened to me zero times in the other places I have traveled. Conclusion: The Us versus Them thinking is strong in these European communities, and they are wild and wooly places to be living!

Those communities of 2050 which don't put a lot of emphasis on having a Next Big Thing goal that the community buys into in a unifying way are going have the same kinds of disenfranchisement issues, which means a lot of crime issues and periodic episodes of scary witch hunting. Because cyber is taking care of all the necessities, this is sustainable. This means that on the petty crime and damaging protesting sides, most of the TES's of 2050 are going to be wild and wooly places.

Love, Marriage and Gender Relations

In 2050 these relations will be different than in the 2010's. These are emotional issues, so there will be even more emotion wrapped up in these relations than in the 2010's.

Here are some key influencers:

o Prosperity will support a lot of variety. But prescriptionism will also be strong, so much of the variety will be of the low-profile sort.

o Woman-scorned emotions will be well supported -- this will be part of supporting feminism. This means there will be a lot more at risk for men who get into a relation with a woman. This risk will be the "burqa" of 2050. It will push men and women into separate social groups.

o There will be a lot of competition for a man's attention from sexy cyber muses, and for a woman's from cute, cuddly cyber muses.

o Child raising will be handled with a lot of cyber assistance and most if it will take place in single mom clubs. There will also be single dad clubs. The nuclear family way of raising children will be a minority practice, and, as with the 2010's, practiced mostly by those who have lots of luxury income and feel lots of enfranchisement.

Further Reading

This 3 Jan 15 Economist article Getting hooked How digital firms create products that get inside people’s heads, is about what companies are producing that people like spending time with. This will still be pursued in 2050.

From the article, "This time it is not nature but man that has done the planting. Internet entrepreneurs devote a lot of thought to getting people hooked on their products. How else can they survive in a world in which hundreds of new ones are launched every day? And smartphones and tablets have helped greatly: what could be more habit-forming than devices that are always evolving, always there and always buzzing with fresh diversions?

“Hooked”, a new book by Nir Eyal, a technology writer, gives an overview of one of the most interesting battles in modern business: the intense competition to create new digital products that monopolise people’s attention."

This 17 Jan 15 Economist article, Love, tax and wedlock The high marriage rates of the 1950s are not coming back, is a nice discussion of many sides on the marriage issue.

From the article, "A debate about marriage should begin by acknowledging that the high rates of the 1950s and 1960s were a peak rather than the norm. The marriage rate in America has only recently dipped below where it was at the end of the 19th century, according to Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University. Reviving marriage rates of the 1950s, an era looked on fondly both by conservatives (who remember an America as wholesome as its cereal adverts) and by liberals (who recall an age when well-paid jobs were available for people with few qualifications) would require reviving some of that decade’s less jolly features too."

This 17 Jan 15 Economist article, Of slots and sloth How cash from casinos makes Native Americans poorer, outlines the effects of the difference in how money is paid out in a TES environment. Basically, if it is simply handed out to the people of the community it promotes poverty. The alternative is to use the money to create an NBT project that will build enfranchisement and jobs in the community. (And again, what will replace the jobs part in 2050 is the big challenge.)

From the article, "But the biggest problem may be the way casino profits are sometimes disbursed. Per capita payments have grown as gaming revenues have risen. “These payments can be destructive because the more generous they become, the more people fall into the trap of not working,” says Ron Whitener, a law professor, tribal judge and a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe in Washington state. Of the 17 tribes in the study that handed casino profits directly to members, ten saw their poverty rates rise. Of the seven tribes that did not, only two saw such an increase (see chart)."

This 26 Jan 15 WSJ article, The Fight to Save Japan’s Young Shut-Ins A City Reaches Out to Its Hikikomori Population; Some Stay Inside Their Homes for Years by Shirley S. Wang, describes the hermit lifestyle already spreading through Japanese culture. In this article it is called "hikikomori" meaning the condition (or the person) who mopes around their home and rarely leaves it. It can go on for years.

From the article, "The puzzling condition is often thought of as a Japanese phenomenon, affecting an estimated 500,000 to two million in Japan, according to projections from academic surveys. Published reports also have described cases in the U.S., Hong Kong and Spain, among other countries.

In Japan, hikikomori has been a household word since the 1990s, with many experts calling it one of the biggest social and health problems plaguing the country. Yet the causes and treatments of the condition—or even whether it’s a mental illness or not—remain poorly understood. And while the Japanese government has poured significant funds into helping hikikomori, treatment success rates remain low."


--The End--

index ... part one