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News Some thoughts on society.

  1. Apr 9, 2009 #1
    You know it sure seems like the current socio-economic system is flawed.

    50% of the world lives under 2 dollars a day.

    1% of the world population holds 40% of the world's wealth. It seems like the monetary system is out of date and and in-effective at distributing goods and services.

    This system seems counter intuitive because it requires there to be scarcity for things to be profitable, and also requires competition for things to work. How are we ever going to reach an abundance for everyone, and cooperation among the world under these principles of scarcity and competition? By basing the system on competition it almost seems that things like differential advantage, corruption, lying and greed are built into the system. As well as scarcity, because abundance is not profitable.

    Another thing I was thinking about was technological unemployment. Thats where human labor is replaced by automation. We can see this everywhere today. The thing is: if this becomes an epidemic no one will have any money. There will be an abundance of goods and services but no one will be able to buy anything, so it won't matter. This is a real problem.

    What are your thoughts on these issues? Do you think we need a new socio-economic system that doesn't use the exchange of currencies or credits. Is that possible or impractical? Is it too utopian?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2009 #2
    Well, to be brief, it seems like the things you object to are the exact things that have caused a many fold increase in our standard of living over the past couple of hundred years, despite the fact that many people are unaware of this cause and effect, and fight against the very things that have alleviated more poverty than every government program in history combined.

    And also the facts that competition provides incentives for efficiency and innovation that greatly help everyone and that scarcity determines value were not "caused" by any "system". These facts were discovered by man, not invented by man. No system or set of laws can change the fact that gold has more value than dirt (despite the fact that we would all die without dirt) because of relative scarcity.

    And why would there be an abundance of goods and services if no one is buying? Goods and services are made to meet demand. Why would anyone make things they can't either sell or use themselves?

    And human labor being replaced by automation results in more and better jobs, not the other way around. It is bad for our big picture standard of living for any person to do anything that could be done more efficiently without human labor.

    It would be just plain idiotic to have blacksmiths with hammers manually forging everything that is made out of iron, for example. You can count all of the extra "jobs", but their unnecessary labor just wouldn't have much actual value. No matter what someone does instead of blacksmithing nails one at a time, their labor will have much more actual value because of the fact that they are not doing something that can be done more efficiently with much less human labor.
     
  4. Apr 9, 2009 #3
    Yes. I agree that the monetary system was necessary and alot of great innovation did come out of it. However, pretty soon alot of people are not going to have any money because they won't have jobs. Due to our now advanced technology we don't need everyone to work to create the goods and services provided to society.


    Automation results in less jobs. Thats a fact. We used to need alot of people to make cars, now machines do most of it. Pretty soon even management/decision making will be outsourced to machines that can do it faster and more effectively. With our technology, in the future we will only need a small minority of people to produce everything we need. So, what will people do, when technology is so advanced that there are few jobs are available for people to do? Most will have no purchasing power. Should we just give things to everyone, even though they didn't compete with others to earn it? What I am asking is: is it possible for things to be produced so efficiently that their monetary value drops to zero because they are of so little cost to produce and thus: potentially abundant.

    Could we eventually get so advanced where we don't need money? Could we just give everything away for free because we have so much of it? Similar to the way air and water is given to everyone because its in abundance. Obviously that is absurd!

    But how could the system work under these conditions? I think the system will collapse due to technological unemployment.

    This to me seems the direction society is heading.
     
  5. Apr 9, 2009 #4

    Evo

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    You have to adapt and change. People have always had to adapt and change. If you can't adapt, you die off, thereby strengthening the herd, so to speak.

    So, you are proposing that we rid ourselves of all technology and go back to manual labor for everyone? And how would that make things equal? Do you expect people to do hard physical labor for the same benefits that someone at a desk job would do? Obviously we can't all do hard labor. There are people that are sick, mentally disabled, crippled, etc... Are you going to tear down all of the housing in the world and make identical houses for everyone? No? Then who decides who gets to live in the nice homes? Just a few points in a long, long list for why what you are saying can't work.

    Yes, it's absurd. Where is the "it" going to come from that we suddenly have so much of?
     
  6. Apr 9, 2009 #5
    I didn't propose we tear anything down. I'm just saying, eventually we are going to have machines that, using renewable energy at every step of the process, extract resources from the earth, transport those resources to a factory where other machines takes those resources and produce usable products out of them.

    Why would this happen in the future?

    Simply because it would be faster and more efficient, not to mention it alleviates humans from these tasks. Machines don't require a salary, health insurance or benefits. There is quite a bit of incentive for companies to automate labor.

    So, what I'm saying is everything will be produced with free labor, using renewable energy. Eventually, these machines whether through nano-technology or through other technologies will be able to maintain themselves. Things will start to be self-sustaining.

    The monetary system will be out of date and we will need a new system. Perhaps since these things were produced for free and can be made abundant with no cost, then they should be sold for free to everyone? However, that goes against every part of the value system our society has been conditioning us into since grade school...Maybe we will develop new values with this new technology.

    Values of cooperation instead of competetion.

    Maybe if we put our mind to it, we could do it today. It is just a technical problem, right? It just takes a technical solution.

    Maybe we don't have the technology to do this yet, but we will in the future, right?
     
  7. Apr 9, 2009 #6

    Astronuc

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    Air and sunlight are just there for the using.

    Clean (potable) water for drinking and bathing is not simply given in most cases, rather is it processed, distributed and supplied. Only 2% of the water on the planet is suitable for consumption without significant treatment, and that 2% does need to be treated. I have a filtration system on my well, and I need to pay for the electricity to pump it out of the ground. The cost of the electricity is partly to part for the fuel (energy source) used to provide the energy at the front end of the process, and part pays for the infrastructure, and part pays for the people to develop and maintain that infrastructure.
     
  8. Apr 9, 2009 #7

    Astronuc

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    I think one needs to learn how it's done now before jumping to speculation about machines can do it all.

    This is very speculative.

    May be, may be not.

    And what if some people do not want to cooperate? What is some people want to maintain an advantage over others?

    May be, may be not. Again, one is speculating.

    How about growing food? I suggest one look at how labor intensive that is.
     
  9. Apr 9, 2009 #8
    This always results in more net jobs, not less. We have less jobs today making nails than we did when they were made by hand. That's a good thing.
    Untrue. It only results in less of those particular jobs that are no longer needed. 100 years ago there were vastly fewer total jobs in the US than there are today with our more efficient technology. More efficient use of labor results in more and better jobs with a higher standard of living. Not the other way around.
    Sure, like nails. People used to have to use some part of their own wages to buy nails. Now they are almost free. Is that a bad thing? And nails are but one example of many. An overwhelming majority of the jobs of 100 years ago have been eliminated by technology. That equals more and better jobs overall! 100 years ago, people slaved away for the things that we have for next to nothing today.
    Is it? Do you not think that we will find other things to strive for? Are you aware that a majority of people spend most of their income on things that nobody had over 100 years ago? The fact that the things people had to work hard for 100 years ago are now plentiful means we have it better. It means we work to obtain cool cellphones and TV's and stereo systems and computers, things that would never have existed if we still had to work all week just to eat. Sure, food is cheaper and requires less labor to produce. There's no downside to that in the big picture.
    If that's how it worked, it would have collapsed decades ago, instead of improving the standard of living of everyone.
     
  10. Apr 9, 2009 #9
    Hm, those are interesting points. However, the only reason the system didn't collapse decades ago is because they have found that exploiting desperate people in third world countries is alot cheaper then automating labor.

    In a sense the monetary system is using a sort of slavery. I know they work by choice, but its only because they're only other choice is to go hungry.

    Here is a general history of the labor in the U.S.: Up until the industrial rev. it was mostly agriculture. Then the industrial revolution happened and we got alot of manufacturing jobs. Now technology and out sourcing as drastically reduced those jobs. So, the service, advertising, and marketing industries have been absorbing alot of those jobs. But its not gonna last long. We're starting to see even service jobs become automated: automatic phone services, ATMs have replaced a substaintal amount of bank tellers, even fast food is exploring automated ordering kiosks.

    You know, our current system is incredibly wasteful. Things are not made to last, they are made to make money. So many products are released just for the purpose of cyclical consumption. Companies diliberately make things so they will break, either through cost cutting measures or planned obselesense. Its terrible for the ecosystem. This system rewards pollution, corruption, lying, greed, exploitation and scarcity.

    Ever heard a company called Da beers? They own something like 95% of the world's diamonds. With this monopoly they can charge whatever they want for diamonds...and they do. Based on supply and demand, Daimonds should not be as expensive as they are...but because a company has all of them, they can charge what they want.

    Not only that, but Oil companies diliberately slow the production of oil so that they can charge more. This is obvious, they have a monopoly on oil and the manipulate the prices to scam everyone.

    The truth is, all the economic problems were seeing, all this stuff with bankers being so corrupt and such. Its not a problem of individuals or of specific monetary reform. Its caused by the socio-economic system itself. Thats just my opinon, and I could be wrong.
     
  11. Apr 9, 2009 #10

    Evo

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    No they won't. This is a science fiction scenario where machines take over the world. Go back and answer the questions I asked. I want to see how you answer them.
     
  12. Apr 9, 2009 #11
    Thats not how supply and demand is supposed to work!!!! Thats called exploitation. thats monopolism! By laws of supply and demand, diamonds should be cheaper then they are. Do you not see whats wrong with this?! Its not moral to do what they are doing.

    I will answer your questions now, after I find them. I just wanted to say that.
     
  13. Apr 9, 2009 #12
    I think we can see from this "history" that whenever something requires less labor, it frees up labor for better things. There is no reason to believe this will not continue, since people will always want more, including things that don't exist yet, and nobody even thought of yet. How many people who slaved away 100 years ago just to try to eat every day were thinking about computers and the internet and cell phones? If they had got their wish to keep their jobs instead of being more efficient, where would we be today? We would be worse off, not better off, despite the fact that they could not anticipate the types of goods and services that would result from the increased efficiency. And for that matter, the only reason it's profitable to make things cheaper with less labor is if there are plenty of people who can afford to buy the product. That can only happen if the available labor can be better utilized elsewhere.

    We will never have a shortage of people who want more for themselves and their families. We will never have a shortage of people who want to profit from new inventions and innovations. The only thing that could even potentially stall the continued long term increase in overall prosperity is a major catastrophe or government interference.
     
  14. Apr 9, 2009 #13

    russ_watters

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    No doubt, it is imperfect.
    I don't think I would consider the fact that Michael Jordan couldn't hit a baseball to be a flaw in his basketball skills. It isn't a flaw that the economic system isn't doing something it wasn't designed to do. It is simply working well in a different way than you envision it should.
    Those things are not requirements, they are facts of life that the current system was designed to deal with. You can't wish reality away. You can't make gold not be scarce by wishing there were more of it.
    As above - we aren't/can't. You can't make finite resources infinite.
    The current recession notwithstanding, unemployment has, for the last couple of decades, been about the lowest in history. I suppose that must surprise you, but in any case, all the outsourcing and "technological unemployment" hasn't made it get higher than it used to be.
    The system has flaws and those flaws should be fixed, but in the grand scheme of things, the flaws are relatively small and the problems are largely fixing themselves (ie, the poverty rate that you referred to in the first post is out of date: it is 40% that live on $2 a day, not 50%
    http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats ). The global poverty rate has dropped by half in about the last 20 years.
     
  15. Apr 9, 2009 #14

    russ_watters

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    It is tough to consider someone who didn't have a job before and now has a job to be "exploited". More to the point, you are basically saying that we have "exploited" the 3rd world into a halving of their poverty rate over the past 20 years! That's some great exploitation!
    I make the same choice every morning. So what?
     
  16. Apr 9, 2009 #15
    Diamonds could easily be mined much more efficiently with better technology, too. But it's really only decorative (relatively large) diamonds that are expensive, partly due to the labor used to shape them. Very small diamond grains used in industry are relatively cheap. But despite the fact that I agree with you in principle, if diamonds were as cheap as they should be, who would want them?

    It's weird, but in the case of decorative diamonds, their value to the person wearing them is solely due to the fact that they are expensive.

    What woman's eyes would light up at the sight of one if they were as cheap as they should be?
     
  17. Apr 9, 2009 #16
    I guess this is what you wanted me to respond to.

    1. I'm not suggesting we go back to manual labor. I'm saying we use technology to its fullest potential and alleviate humans of physical labor. In the future I don't imagine very many will work. I imagine people will do whatever they want, and have whatever they want with no obligation to perform any kind of servitude.

    2. Things would be equal because every one has access to everything. It is fair. Everyone gets a house, everyone gets everything. You can't steal anything, because everything is abundant, if you stole my tv I'd get another one for free.

    3. Basically, everything is abundant, without the need for anyone to work. Most people would go to school and indugle in the arts and music. They would travel. They may even innovate and make better products for our society, which if it was determined by the scientific method that they new product was better, it would immediately be put into production and the production of the older one would stop.

    4. Houses could constructed using autmation as well, people could order houses that suit their needs. Its all Technical problems and therefore can be solved with technical solutions. You should look into Jacque Fresco. He is a very intelligent individual.

    There would be no social stratification simply because everything is made available to everyone.

    These are not my own ideas, I just happen to agree with them. They were produced by the Zeitgeist movement, as you moderators know who closed my other thread for blasphemy i suppose. I wanted to discuss these ideas, because I feel they are worth our thoughts.

    If you really want to dive into these ideas, in a much more in depth manner I suggest you watch this video. Its not controversial in the least like the first Zeitgeist film was. It simply covers the things we have been talking about.

    Zeitgeist movement orientation video:

    Crackpot link deleted.

    If you want to close this thread go ahead, but I feel that would be extreme, since we've been able to conversate on this for so long, I don't think it qualifies as crack pottery.

    I think the Zeitgeist films started out very controversial, but they have evolved into something very beneficial for society and i suggest you look into the video above or the site itself. Even the maker of the films has stated he is moving away from conspiratorial notions and more towards ways to make society better.

    The truth is the current socio-economic system is out of date. It is not only ineffective at distributing goods and services, but it has now paralyzed society with debt.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2009
  18. Apr 9, 2009 #17

    Evo

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    If there weas no profit to be made, what would be the point of mining diamonds, other than industrial grade diamonds, which are not profitable?

    There is a lot of labor involved in mining diamonds.
     
  19. Apr 9, 2009 #18
    So, what are the incentives to create/maintain such efficiency in this plan. And what about the cutting edge things that aren't so cheap yet, that require new invention and innovation. Like the internet was before it existed. Where are the incentives for improvement? Are you assuming that these things just happen? Or are you assuming that people will be satisfied with a stagnant economy and not desire anything more?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  20. Apr 9, 2009 #19
    zwest135

    To test your basic conceptual theory, perhaps you should begin with a study of the Amish way of life...or cosider moving to a Cuban plantation...or perhaps try your hand at independently farming and bartering for goods/services for few years and report back with your findings?
     
  21. Apr 9, 2009 #20

    No, You dont. You don't go into a sweat shop every day to work insane hours to get paid rediculous low wages. You probaly get paid a good salary to work good hours at a job that is most likely not physically painful.


    Now, you bring up a very good point with the fact that poverty rates have halved. That is very interesting if thats true. That makes sense to some degree, with the emering industries of india and china. That is a great point. Maybe I am wrong. I certainly hope that the poverty rates are going down because right now its sad.
     
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