A Vague Plan for a Transition to Guaranteed or Basic Income

Monday, December 9th 2013

A large part of the constituency for a Guaranteed Income is securing its share of technological advance via the Bullshit Industry.

There's likely to an increased frequency of systemic crashes, however. The bullshit industry will attempt to rationalise work reducing technology and business practices in terms of, well, its own systemic biases. So society will be unable to deal with actual circumstances; emotive post-hoc rationalisation will blind people to the actual problem of human obsolescence.

One effect of this process is to "obscure and normalise" (in the same way higher and higher rates of unemployment are normalised as the "natural rate of unemployment"), but the effects of new tech will be unavoidable no matter how cunning the post-hoc rationalisation.

The problem is, the bullshit will become less and less effective as the technology improves. Tech just gets better at killing off jobs than the bullshit industry gets at inventing pretend work. Moreover, there will be competition from other jurisdictions with slightly less bullshit.

Market systems are now the object of technological innovation, for instance. Cryptocurrencies, digital markets, online reptuation, etc, all play a part. Many technologists see a market system as a "distributed system". Hayek put it this way in 1945:

The peculiar character of the problem of a rational economic order is determined precisely by the fact that the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess. The economic problem of society is thus not merely a problem of how to allocate "given" resources—if "given" is taken to mean given to a single mind which deliberately solves the problem set by these "data." It is rather a problem of how to secure the best use of resources known to any of the members of society, for ends whose relative importance only these individuals know. Or, to put it briefly, it is a problem of the utilization of knowledge which is not given to anyone in its totality. source

And there is working going on in the area everywhere you look. And all the precursor technologies are in place (mobile, easy to use computers, networks, cheap computation). People are starting to experiment (e.g. Bitcoin, wikpedia, open source, etc).

But:

  • The bullshit will not be able to keep up with increases in computation, robotics, and machine learning. As traditional some jobs are automated (lawyers, admin staff, bureaucrats, and so on) a capable group of organisers will start to fall into relative penury. They will start to relate to outsiders rather than aspire to be insiders.

  • Conservative, enlightened owners of technology (and there are many) will realise their position is under threat if they continue to accrue larger and larger slices of national income. More and more creative outsiders without a stake in the system will start to name and question the bullshit industry.

But the conversion of the middle classes and organisational/admin classes from insiders to outsiders via automation has not occurred on a larger enough scale to create a political constituency for change. Yet.

When that happens we could drift into some sort of technofascism that imposes the bullshit rationalisation on society via the shadow bullshit industry, or take up more enlightened policies that make for a more civilised transition to an automated, post-industrial society.

At this point in history, though, all this seems like fanciful stuff. And, due to the unholy union of the "pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" philosophy and the bullshit industry, guaranteed income and other reforms don't seem to be culturally or politically feasible in 2013.

A transitional system may required to avoid more dangerous possibilities from not doing anything at all.

My suggestion is for Australia, but it could apply to any region - assuming it already has some sort of welfare system. In Australia, my suggestion would probably be cheaper than the current welfare system and, at the margins between unemployment and employment, be less likely to reduce the incentive to work.

Admittedly it is a threat to the parts of the bullshit industry (namely centrelink and a few other welfare bureaucracies), but I think it is politically feasible to take that particular lobby on.

Why? My suggestion could be the policy of a left-wing party or a right-wing party. It could be a policy that would allow for a novel synthesis of political positions.

But what makes it essentially a conservative position is that it is an attempt to secure the viability of the traditional mode of work, reduce admin for business and head-off more radical anti-establishment views that may arise during a crisis.

Moreover, it will allow for a smooth transition to a guaranteed or basic income once there is a large enough political constituency for it and post-industrial thinking is the establishment :-).

What makes my suggestion possible is advances in computational capacity, mobile computers (phones, tablets) and networking.

Lady Mim

Saturday, December 7th 2013

Lady Mim

Crotle

Friday, December 6th 2013

Crotle

Engo

Thursday, December 5th 2013

Engo

Matron

Wednesday, December 4th 2013

Matron

Sad Soklos

Tuesday, December 3rd 2013

Sas Soklos

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