Dear Diary 

The real reason to fear 'basic income' (and Bernie Sanders)

Let's get one thing clear from the start:

Communism is coming. Allow me to explain.

We are rapidly approaching a post-scarcity society, where technology and automation reach such levels that most people wouldn't need to work for a living. We are approaching the end of material scarcity (other sort of scarcity will remain of course). What's more, in this sort of society, most people will likely have nothing of value to offer. What happens to the society where 80% of populace have, in effect, no economic value to contribute? When machines do all menial (and not-so-menial) labor? What do we do then -- a personal chef, beautician, and gardener for everyone? But I don't want a personal chef with IQ of 80! Bot that matter, I will probably not want a personal chef with an IQ of 110 either -- a robot will cook better!

Communism -- 'from each by his ability, to each by his need' -- inevitably devolves into tyranny in a scarcity society, because it takes coercive force to make people work when they aren't being rewarded for working. In a scarcity society (i.e. any society in history up until now, and for a few decades in the future), any attempt to build communism must inevitably result in totalitarianism.

But in a post-scarcity society, some form of communism is effectively inevitable. Free-market economy can't exist if there's no scarcity. Free-market economy can't exist when robots make everything, and every home has a Star Trek-style replicator.

SOME FORM. But which form?

Well, I see it as being a spectrum. On one extreme, we can have a panem et circenses ('bread and circuses') society, where the problem of most people having no value to contribute, is addressed by the fact that they don't need to contribute anything to survive; the worst-case outcome, IMO, a slow fading of mankind into a cesspit of decay and corruption.

On the other extreme, we can have a Star Trek society, where the problem of most people having no value to contribute, is addressed by improving those people's ability to contribute. We will probably end up embracing both genetic engineering and cybernetic enhancement in pursuit thereof, but that's a different topic.

The point is that Star Trek society is a result of dealing with post-scarcity and mass unemployment in a radically different way than panem et circenses -- instead of giving the economically unable their bread and circuses, we make them economically able: smarter, mostly. They are both forms of communism, but they are extremely, radically different forms of communism.

So you have this spectrum, from panem et circenses to Star Trek. How do we determine which direction our society is moving in?

That's where the basic income comes in. Basic income, IMO, is a move in the panem et circenses direction. It would result in an ever-growing permanent underclass with no interests, aspirations, or skills; an underclass that will just eat cheetos in their underwear, laugh at TV reality shows, and occasionally riot.

Bernie Sanders scares me not just because he is a socialist today -- he won't do much damage, not in USA -- but because his ideas, IMO, would sway our society more towards the terrible, terrible panem et circenses future.

I want our future to be more like Star Trek, not like panem at circenses.

07:12:17 on 03/30/16 by danilche - Category: Policy


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