[FoRK] Chart of the Day...

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Thu Jun 10 02:32:11 PDT 2010

On 6/9/10 4:44 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
> On Jun 9, 2010, at 0:02, "Stephen D. Williams" <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> I wonder if the solution, probably in the distant future, is 
>> guaranteed reasonably priced housing / healthcare / etc. through some 
>> mechanism that doesn't generate its own gigantic money sink.
> All ears.

Cheap land in good climates and/or close to power, economy of scale 
purchases of infrastructure, beeline long-haul transportation to a metro 
area, guaranteed baseline in return for some contribution: time, money, 
etc.  Chopped up into fractal blocks that are run like a business with 
those that go "bankrupt" fast tracked into new management, etc.  Create 
an ecosystem of support, entertainment, education, medicine, etc.  Even 
support competitive manufacturing (fast-tracked and/or leaned in various 
ways), call centers, or anything else that can be in-sourced.  Make it a 
special trade zone where immigrants can spend a certain amount of time 
working at a wage similar to where they came from to earn a path to 
citizenship, etc.

If you start where the land is essentially free, bootstrap on various 
initiatives that need space, attention, people, then provide a market, 
expedited rules in every sense, and basically combine competitive 
feedback with direct support for initiatives with immediate economic 
payback, it could be interesting.

Even, if you just found a way to make a significant percentage of the 
people in prison more productive during and after incarceration, you'd 
be way ahead.
> Tempted to point out that a perpetual motion machine would solve all 
> our energy woes, too... ;-)

For some purposes, we already have that: Sun, nuclear, wind, etc.  
Boring, next problem. ;-)

> Here's the thing:  there will be no such thing as "post-scarcity" in 
> the physical world, no matter what technology develops, because 
> scarcity is relative and resources are finite.

I disagree.  We're already in a post-scarcity world in a lot of ways.  
Clothing for instance:  Not fashion per se, that is the compelling need 
to constantly spend at the limit as often as possible to ride the wave.  
But functional clothing is practically free.  $15 for shoes that should 
last at least 6 months.  $3-10 for shirts and pants, etc.  Not to 
mention recycled clothing that is often free.  They did a clothing swap 
at Maker's Faire for instance.

Internet bandwidth is getting there.  (And is in Mountain View and most 
public libraries.)  Information.  A shower of cast-off gadgets.

> You could probably provide some cost-effective baseline existence by 
> uploading those folks who can't or won't be productive in vivo, but 
> even the maitenance of their existence in simulo has a cost in terms 
> of substrate resources, energy, and compute cycles that could be 
> directed otherwise.  Short of some Tipler-esque magic trick, that is.
> Don't get me wrong: I'm not suggesting that technology won't continue 
> to improve the mean standard of living beyond anything we can likely 
> imagine, assuming we dodge the various existential risks. But absent 
> some changes in human nature it won't "cure" want, envy, and some 
> notion of poverty.

Of course not.  However, a lot of angst and inefficiency goes into 
meeting the demands of various local living costs, requirements, etc. 
that is out of whack with what should be required.

>> With children and a mortgage, it would be hard to be over half.
> Not so, but this provides a nice teachable moment.  Don't forget that 
> with incomes taxes and witholding, particularly witholding to fund 
> entitlements, a big chunk is gone before you even have it to spend on 
> mortages, kids, etc.  Then factor in e.g. a non-scaled AMT, then all 
> the usual state and local property, income, sales, one-off licensing 
> and registration, double-dipping for the use of already 
> publicly-funded services and resources, and other taxes and I'd hazard 
> a guess that a surprising percentage of the population is over 40% 
> already. Close enough to half for government work. ;-)
> Then factor in the dilutive effects of inflation to feed voracious 
> deficit spending, the most insidious tax of all, and you have a grim 
> picture indeed.
> And absent some massive about-face on spending and entitlements, it's 
> about to get a LOT worse. Absolutely shocking to me that, even as the 
> US rushes to become more like e.g. the U.K. and Europe, those polities 
> are waking up to the harsh and austere futures they now must face.
> $0.02,
> jb


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