Converting to Post Scarcity

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withinboredom
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Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby withinboredom » Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:46 pm UTC

There's plenty of talk out there on what a post scarcity would look like, but no one seems to wonder just how we would get there.

I have an idea, but its obviously not the only possibility:

    - Change welfare so that everyone get's 70k per year, whether they have a job or not
    - All wages get taxed at 70% (to help pay for that 70k per a year)
    - Business income gets taxed at a normal rate to keep them globally competitive

What are your thoughts - either on the idea or on the thoughts of how (if not why) we'd achieve a post scarcity economy.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Azrael » Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:55 pm UTC

Among other things, that would likely just lead to massive inflation.

Nor does it address the point of scarcity -- that we have insufficient resources and production means to meet everyone's needs. All your plan does is redistribute wealth in one country. If you're lucky, that might solve local poverty. But poverty and scarcity are not the same thing.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby speising » Mon Sep 15, 2014 6:05 pm UTC

what thos does is devaluing work massively. which means that companies will have to pay massively higher wages to get their work done.

Derek
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Derek » Mon Sep 15, 2014 6:45 pm UTC

How to get to a post-scarcity society:

1. Discover infinite energy.
2. ???
3. Profit! Post-scarcity!

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Cres » Mon Sep 15, 2014 6:54 pm UTC

Congratulations, you've just invented the basic income.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Sep 15, 2014 7:09 pm UTC

withinboredom wrote:There's plenty of talk out there on what a post scarcity would look like, but no one seems to wonder just how we would get there.

I have an idea, but its obviously not the only possibility:

    - Change welfare so that everyone get's 70k per year, whether they have a job or not
    - All wages get taxed at 70% (to help pay for that 70k per a year)
    - Business income gets taxed at a normal rate to keep them globally competitive

What are your thoughts - either on the idea or on the thoughts of how (if not why) we'd achieve a post scarcity economy.


I think you kind of have the problem backwards. The problem isn't that we have achieved post-scarcity and haven't properly shared the benefits with everyone; the problem is that we aren't post-scarcity at all. Our economy is still heavily dependent on all sorts of things--oil, to take an example--that are finite resources. We still are in a situation where we need lots of people (though perhaps not as many as we currently have) to be working for a somewhat significant portion of their time in order to convert those resources into stuff people want. In a post-scarcity society... we wouldn't have either of those problems. What post-scarcity describes is a breakdown in our current ideas about economics, resulting from the realization (through whatever means) of effectively infinite supply of goods. Talking about money, welfare, taxation, etc. in this context doesn't make sense, because everything you could want is available in abundance.

What you're describing, as Cres has pointed out, is the idea of a basic income supplement, which may be good for all kinds of reasons, but not specifically the ones you're talking about. Here is a thread that covers this topic in excruciating detail, so you might want to go check that out.

[edit]found that thread and added it in

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby withinboredom » Mon Sep 15, 2014 7:26 pm UTC

Cres wrote:Congratulations, you've just invented the basic income.


That was not my intention :) I was thinking more along the lines of more than enough, much more; in order to artificially create an environment where post scarcity can grow out of. I think that as long as there's monetary scarcity, there's reason to attempt to control the scarcity in order to get more money.

For instance, who would want to buy my McDuck Hamburger Flipper 9000? Not a fast food chain that would go down the toilet (in the papers) for firing 90% of their workforce. If they can't hire the people to work for them, then they'd have to invest in building my product.

Edit: That was a really bad example to what I just said - was fighting the spam filter and lost several paragraphs.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:26 pm UTC

withinboredom wrote:There's plenty of talk out there on what a post scarcity would look like, but no one seems to wonder just how we would get there.

I have an idea, but its obviously not the only possibility:

    - Change welfare so that everyone get's 70k per year, whether they have a job or not
    - All wages get taxed at 70% (to help pay for that 70k per a year)
    - Business income gets taxed at a normal rate to keep them globally competitive

What are your thoughts - either on the idea or on the thoughts of how (if not why) we'd achieve a post scarcity economy.


We get there by things becoming not scarce. In other words, we become more and more productive. In practical, modern day terms, this is most notably happening in developing countries, which are advancing to at least partially catch up with more modernized cousins. Still a lot of work to be done here, obviously, but I cannot help but be amused at people who assume we are past scarcity now, while much of the world lacks security for even basic food, water, and sanitation needs.

Also, I have a six figure income. With a 70% tax and a 70k base wage, there would be little reason to work, barring inflation. Going to work is a large investment in time, and it has non-zero costs(gas being an obvious one). This will only be a larger factor for lower paying jobs.

Can you imagine a minimum wage job, in which 70% of your money gets taxed? Modest shifts wouldn't even be worth driving in to do.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zcorp » Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:34 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:I think you kind of have the problem backwards. The problem isn't that we have achieved post-scarcity and haven't properly shared the benefits with everyone; the problem is that we aren't post-scarcity at all.

I hope I'm not putting words in withinboredom's mouth, but I don't think thats the problem at all.

The problem is that we are consistently producing more and that the people who are the labor of that production are gaining very little (especially relative to the people with capital) despite that we are so much more productive. Labor itself is becoming less scarce.

While withinboredom's 'idea' is well explored in the Citizen's wage discussion (which you linked) and well articulated in the basic income wiki already linked or the Guaranteed Minimum Income one, I think there is value in discussion how to realize this idea or possible alternatives.

We are far away from removing scarcity entirely, and we may never be able to. However, a lot of things are getting less scarce. Labor, especially transportation labor, is something we seem likely to be able to automated on a grand scale in 5-10 years or almost certainly within the lifetime of Gen Y. We might stop that to protect peoples jobs, but it seems we will be capable of automating at least cars during that time frame. Truckers in America are 2% of our jobs. Add all other people employed to drive and the reduction in services needed to support them and we are unemploying a large part of our economy in a very short time. To short for those people to gain education to compete in other areas of skilled trade, especially considering what is happening with the costs of education.

As we become more productive, and automate more things, we are entering a world where we need and want less jobs to sustain ourselves. While this isn't post scarcity per se it is certainly less scarcity for a lot of things other than just labor due to increases in efficiency through automation or other technology.

So as we aspire toward post-scarcity we will eventually, are already and will soon to a greater degree experience less scarcity and less required work to sustain ourselves. There is a valuable discussion to be had with ramifications that extend to ethical, political scientific, legal and technological levels on what we should do as we move forward.

I don't believe anyone has suggested a better idea than a Citizen's wage either a GMI/Basic Income (with some good arguments and specifics about the difference between GMI and Basic income) but realizing that goal is certainly going to be difficult for a lot of countries, especially the US.

Star Trek DS9 explored an option in 1995 in two episodes, where Earth created areas for the people we couldn't use to go live. Based on our political climate of most countries in the world today this seems o be a more likely occurrence than creating a Citizen's wage.

With the reduction in jobs, increased productivity, stagnant wages and unreasonable costs for education we can easily imagine a place not long from now where we could kill half our population without having significant drop offs in productivity and where we greatly increased Average Utility. Sort of the opposite of the repugnant conclusion, if then we want to focus on Average Utility and Total Utility we will want to select people who's personal happiness points directly relate to the community's happiness points. If we can greatly improve Average Utility by killing off half our population it could be the right choice to make if we haven't set ourselves up for a better one. This assumes that the remaining population then adopts a ideology that strives to maximize Average and Total utility and any action that does not do that is considered defecting on society and breaks whatever social contract (laws) we setup.

So, while withinboredom's idea isn't new and is even explored well on this forum there is little discussion on not only how to practically achieve a Citizen's Wage but also what likely alternatives might happen if we don't.

I strongly believe the answer lies in cheap or free quality education, and by education I don't just mean learning a trade skill and contributing the economy but also learning philosophy and how to become a good citizen. However, America and quite a few other places are headed in the opposite direction. As much as I still hold that this is the ideal answer, it does not seem to be a practical one as we move toward greater productivity with greater efficiency and thus less jobs and in practice for most essentials less scarcity all while harming our educational institutions and erecting great barriers to higher education.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby withinboredom » Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:15 am UTC

Couldn't say it better myself Zcorp. I mean that quite literally - as I'm too "young" to avoid the spam filter.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:47 am UTC

In the early days of industrialization, there was the idea that because a machine could make twice as many widgets as a man, the man would work half as much and have the other half of his time to persue the finer things in life. Alas, what really happened was that the man either made twice as many widgets or got paid half as much. Soon the wrk overflowed with widgets, and constant consumerism was created to drive the cycle of make widgets-get paid-spend your money on widgets, make more widgets.
A post scarsity world would make it possible for widgets to be made at effectively no cost, thereby cutting out the need for getting paid to make widgets. We are nowhere close to that world. When I can feed trash into a 3-D printer and get a meal or a sofa out, then we might be close.
Until more of the world has access to reliable energy, food, water and health care discussions of what to do with the "excess" population are kind of silly.
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Derek » Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:50 am UTC

Zcorp, you seem to be assuming that when jobs are automated away, no new jobs appear to replace them. This is demonstrably wrong. While it may be hard to get the individuals who have lost their jobs into a new career, every technological advancement that eliminates jobs opens up new opportunities in other, sometimes unrelated, areas. The number of jobs that people could do is essentially infinite, but only a few of them can be filled at once. When old jobs are eliminated, that just frees people (directly or indirectly) for new opportunities.

EDIT: Pastrychef just ninja'd me. To reply to his specific point:

When industry was automated, workers neither worked less nor were paid less (actually, they were paid more), nor was consumerism "invented" to solve this problem. Instead industrial jobs were cut, but the service sector opened up to take advantage of the new labor surplus and millions of jobs that had never existed before were created.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby withinboredom » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:14 am UTC

Derek wrote:Zcorp, you seem to be assuming that when jobs are automated away, no new jobs appear to replace them. This is demonstrably wrong. While it may be hard to get the individuals who have lost their jobs into a new career, every technological advancement that eliminates jobs opens up new opportunities in other, sometimes unrelated, areas. The number of jobs that people could do is essentially infinite, but only a few of them can be filled at once. When old jobs are eliminated, that just frees people (directly or indirectly) for new opportunities.

EDIT: Pastrychef just ninja'd me. To reply to his specific point:

When industry was automated, workers neither worked less nor were paid less (actually, they were paid more), nor was consumerism "invented" to solve this problem. Instead industrial jobs were cut, but the service sector opened up to take advantage of the new labor surplus and millions of jobs that had never existed before were created.


No doubt new jobs are created, but then it becomes an issue of what happens to the workers that worked the now deprecated jobs? I don't see a 55 year old truck driver going back to school to learn automated driver babysitting technician (no offense to anyone), instead I see 5 just out of high schoolers getting that degree.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zcorp » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:43 am UTC

Derek wrote:Zcorp, you seem to be assuming that when jobs are automated away, no new jobs appear to replace them. This is demonstrably wrong.

Nothing I said would lead to any reasonable person thinking I made that assumption at all.

It is also demonstrably wrong that an equal amount of jobs will appear to replace them, or that we have ever encountered anything like automation like we are starting to encounter now.

We can talk about the specifics of why, but please watch this mediocre video on the problem and we can then discuss from there:
Humans Need Not Apply.

----------------------------------------------
PAstrychef wrote:In the early days of industrialization, there was the idea that because a machine could make twice as many widgets as a man, the man would work half as much and have the other half of his time to persue the finer things in life. Alas, what really happened was that the man either made twice as many widgets or got paid half as much. Soon the wrk overflowed with widgets, and constant consumerism was created to drive the cycle of make widgets-get paid-spend your money on widgets, make more widgets.

So your saying that widgets became less scarce...which is exactly what we are talking about. People using tools that allow them to be so productive that instead of only making twice as many widgets they can make much much more than that.

A post scarsity world would make it possible for widgets to be made at effectively no cost, thereby cutting out the need for getting paid to make widgets. We are nowhere close to that world.

We are close to a world where one person can make their own widgets at home through 3D printing or where one person can make enough widgets for at least, millions of people.

By close I might mean 10, 20 or 50 years, but the transition to that level of productivity is something we can easily imagine with technology we have now. The important part is that it is very likely within the lifetime of a large part of the population today and the discussion on how we make the transition to much much less scarcity is a valuable one. Transportation is likely the more immediate problem, but production of widgets isn't far away either and is certainly more difficult to prevent politically.

Until more of the world has access to reliable energy, food, water and health care discussions of what to do with the "excess" population are kind of silly.

Not they aren't, and that we might be further from solving the problems of scarcity in energy, food, water and healthcare compounds the problem that labor is getting less scarce. It is even one of the primary problems in relation to it. Well that and education getting more expensive while labor becomes less scarce. Education is already cripplingly expensive for many people and we aren't quite yet at a place of large scale automation for many educated jobs.

When I can feed trash into a 3-D printer and get a meal or a sofa out, then we might be close.

We are at the beginning but we are moving quickly, 3D printing is growing quickly and its technology is being applied in somewhat creative ways.
It's a stretch to call this 3D printing but you can see how the idea was from it.
http://3dprint.com/12325/farmbot-3d-farming-printer/
http://farmbot.it/

As I mentioned it isn't simply a matter of what can be made but how many people it takes to make it or how easy it is to make it at home.

This is not the industrial revolution, and we close to whatever people want to call it. What you mean by 3D printing food will require more details from you, however as for couches...
http://www.printing3dtoday.com/news/201 ... -materials

Google's car isn't quite there but it is close and again, when it is, it is a huge deal. Millions of jobs, further increases in productivity for everyone in just about everything which will create less scarcity and making labor even less scarce.
http://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation ... iving-test
http://www.technologyreview.com/news/53 ... ving-cars/
Last edited by Zcorp on Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:19 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Thesh » Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:09 am UTC

Derek wrote:When industry was automated, workers neither worked less nor were paid less (actually, they were paid more), nor was consumerism "invented" to solve this problem. Instead industrial jobs were cut, but the service sector opened up to take advantage of the new labor surplus and millions of jobs that had never existed before were created.


Except in recent years in the US, that was the case:

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/PRS85006 ... _year=1990

This graph is annoying, because it's percent change, but here is that percent growth in labor productivity aggregated on a decade-by-decade basis:

1950s: 31.35%
1960s: 31.33%
1970s: 20.78%
1980s: 15.59%
1990s: 22.17%
2000s: 28.81%

What's interesting is to compare that with GDP growth by decade:

1950s: 50.88%
1960s: 55.48%
1970s: 37..21%
1980s: 35.88%
1990s: 37.32%
2000s: 19.50% (note that the 2000s would still be ranked last had we kept with the 2000-2007 average for GDP growth)

So why did we see strong growth in productivity but weak growth in GDP? Well, the productivity growth is most likely due to the tech boom, but there were other things going on:

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12300 ... _year=1990
Basically, sharp drop in employment:population ratio.

http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=ANHRS
And the average worker was working about 30 hours per year less than they did in the 1990s. And what is GDP? Labor Productivity * Average Annual Hours Worked Per Worker * Number of people employed

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/d ... R_2012.xls
And in 2007, the bottom 80% were making over $700 a year less than they did in 2000, and they lost another $1500 per year by 2009 as a result of the recession.


What happened is we were getting more productive, and either because there weren't enough people with the skills necessary to take on more jobs, or more likely, because businesses focused on capturing greater shares of the wealth (low risk, high reward in a tech boom) rather than investing in creating new wealth (not necessarily more rewarding), leading to a reduced demand for labor and lower salaries, sending us into a bit of a vicious cycle where the more we focused on growing productivity, the more risky it was to make new products because the income for most of the population wasn't growing with productivity, thereby limiting the markets. It could be a bit of both.

So, what does a transition to post scarcity look like? The 2000s, but worse. Note that if we continue at the 2000s pace over the next 30 years, productivity will have doubled. Considering income for the bottom 80% of households has only grown 12.6% in the 1980s-2000s, while productivity grew 73.4%. I don't think that gives us a very good outlook for the future in a consumerism-based economy.
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Gnomish8 » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:03 pm UTC

I think we're looking at two different issues. Although I see some benefit to a basic income leading to post-scarcity (potentially more research, more people able to obtain "knowledge for knowledge's sake" leading us towards post-scarcity), the problem is that money itself isn't what causes scarcity. The problem is simple and core to economics:

We have a finite number of resources.

In order to convert to post-scarcity, we need a way to have "infinite" resources. To be honest, with the economic grip major companies have on finite resources, it's going to take a LOT. Removing oil from the equation for renewable energy? Or heck, even fusion if we're able to achieve it? Good luck.
But, that brings up a few things that I see as crucial in order to achieve this:
A renewable/unlimited energy source. Right now, manufacturing is expensive because of the sheer amount of energy it takes (from start to finish, meaning from mine to store).
More efficient recycling programs. Making something into 1 thing is a huge waste of resources, especially if it's going to receive a small number of uses.
Space exploration. Look, we know Earth has a limited number of resources. If we were able to harvest metals and other goods from passing asteroids or whatever, using our nifty unlimited energy source, we'd have an abundance of goods for next-to-nothing cost.

tldr;
To achieve post scarcity, we must first make THINGS not scarce, not make money not scarce. And step 1 is energy.

Regards,
Gnomish8

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zcorp » Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:37 pm UTC

Things are becoming less scarce, and it isn't that we need a Citizen's wage of either type to achieve post scarcity. Instead the problem is that because we are increasing productivity so much we need less people to do the work my potentially and likely multiple orders of magnitude. This leaves us with mass unemployment. GMI or BI strive to solve the threat to the collapse of society in one of the most ethical ways.

Its not Citizen's wage leads to post scarcity/less scarcity.
It is great gains in productivity lead to less scarcity so we should implement a Citizen's wage as other options to combat the raise in unemployment and/or decrease in relative wages are pretty shitty.

As for energy Germany is making great strides in that area, hopefully other countries will follow.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_ ... in_Germany

Scandinavia is also doing quite well in this regard, but that group of countries leads in just about everything for social and global good so no surprise there.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 16, 2014 6:11 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:I think you kind of have the problem backwards. The problem isn't that we have achieved post-scarcity and haven't properly shared the benefits with everyone; the problem is that we aren't post-scarcity at all.

I hope I'm not putting words in withinboredom's mouth, but I don't think thats the problem at all.


It's a problem. Post-scarcity represents something much more radical than merely a fairly equitable distribution of goods and services...it represents a surplus of wealth. Everyone being equally poor is not post-scarcity, it's something else.

The problem is that we are consistently producing more and that the people who are the labor of that production are gaining very little (especially relative to the people with capital) despite that we are so much more productive. Labor itself is becoming less scarce.


In the sense that more people are being made, sure. But world population is predicted to cap out, then decline modestly. Civilization tends to handle population growth. So...an overabundance of labor isn't the issue. In fact, becoming more productive is not a problem...it's the solution. It's how you create more wealth from a given quantity of labor. To reach post-scarcity, you need that.

As we become more productive, and automate more things, we are entering a world where we need and want less jobs to sustain ourselves. While this isn't post scarcity per se it is certainly less scarcity for a lot of things other than just labor due to increases in efficiency through automation or other technology.

So as we aspire toward post-scarcity we will eventually, are already and will soon to a greater degree experience less scarcity and less required work to sustain ourselves. There is a valuable discussion to be had with ramifications that extend to ethical, political scientific, legal and technological levels on what we should do as we move forward.


Good. Less work being required for a given level of expenditure is a virtue. Perhaps people will choose to work less. Perhaps they'll choose(as they mostly have so far) to work the same and spend more. Either is fine.

I don't believe anyone has suggested a better idea than a Citizen's wage either a GMI/Basic Income (with some good arguments and specifics about the difference between GMI and Basic income) but realizing that goal is certainly going to be difficult for a lot of countries, especially the US.


Almost all ideas are better than deliberately trashing your economy because of an irrational fear of progress.

Star Trek DS9 explored an option in 1995 in two episodes, where Earth created areas for the people we couldn't use to go live. Based on our political climate of most countries in the world today this seems o be a more likely occurrence than creating a Citizen's wage.


That's fiction. Also, those are not the only potential outcomes for society.

More than likely, the society of twenty years from now will look rather a lot like todays. Some elements will change, but in a fairly gradual fashion, much like in the last twenty. The sudden rise of technology in the form of computing was a big deal, to be sure, but despite the fears of alarmists, society did not melt down. We just all have awesome cell phones.

withinboredom wrote:No doubt new jobs are created, but then it becomes an issue of what happens to the workers that worked the now deprecated jobs? I don't see a 55 year old truck driver going back to school to learn automated driver babysitting technician (no offense to anyone), instead I see 5 just out of high schoolers getting that degree.


The job market is not quite so simple as that. Most likely the 55 yr old does something else that he's already got a touch of experience in. It's hard to get to 55 without doing a couple things. Shit, truck driving, as a career, has a stupidly high turnover rate(90%+, yearly, and there's a shortage of them). So, they'll go do something else. Just like they do right now.

Zcorp wrote:We can talk about the specifics of why, but please watch this mediocre video on the problem and we can then discuss from there:
Humans Need Not Apply.


I have previously seen it. Mediocre is too kind. Yes, yes, people have panicked about this throughout all of history, have always been wrong, but this time, PANIC!.

Maybe this is really the time to buy gold and prepare for zombies, too, but I'm not gonna stress until they have actual evidence, and maybe some experience with the robots they worry so much about. Yes, baxter can mix drinks, okish, far slower than a person, as long as everything is set up predictably, for a very costly up-front investment. That's fascinating, and maybe it'll improve, but it's not cause for doom and glooming about the end of human employment.

Zcorp wrote:
A post scarsity world would make it possible for widgets to be made at effectively no cost, thereby cutting out the need for getting paid to make widgets. We are nowhere close to that world.

We are close to a world where one person can make their own widgets at home through 3D printing or where one person can make enough widgets for at least, millions of people.


Not really. I bought my first 3d printer a coupla years ago now. It's fun. Has many niche uses. However, despite quite a lot of hobbyist enthusiasm, none of the folks I know with one has stopped buying other stuff to any significant degree as a result. It's a glorious prototyping tool. It's not ideal cost-wise for manufacturing a great many things, and technologically, it sucks at making many things(electronics being a major one).

Again, the people panicking over this are the ones who are not entirely familiar with the actual things they are panicking over.

Gnomish8 wrote:tldr;
To achieve post scarcity, we must first make THINGS not scarce, not make money not scarce. And step 1 is energy.


Precisely. If the same quantity of things exist, but you have merely shuffled money around, that's just economic redistribution. You haven't actually made things non-scarce. Economics are important, but they're not magic.

Zcorp wrote:Things are becoming less scarce, and it isn't that we need a Citizen's wage of either type to achieve post scarcity. Instead the problem is that because we are increasing productivity so much we need less people to do the work my potentially and likely multiple orders of magnitude. This leaves us with mass unemployment. GMI or BI strive to solve the threat to the collapse of society in one of the most ethical ways.


How would you test this hypothesis?

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Sep 16, 2014 6:54 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:As for energy Germany is making great strides in that area, hopefully other countries will follow.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_ ... in_Germany


There isn't enough spare energy or resources around, from renewables or otherwise, for everyone to decide that they want a spaceship in their backyards, for example, but in a post-scarcity economy, everything, including spaceships, are available in abundance. Otherwise you still have at least one scarce resource, namely spaceships. To truly reach a post-scarcity economy, we would require orders of magnitude more energy than we have currently available to us.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Gnomish8 » Tue Sep 16, 2014 6:59 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Not really. I bought my first 3d printer a coupla years ago now. It's fun. Has many niche uses. However, despite quite a lot of hobbyist enthusiasm, none of the folks I know with one has stopped buying other stuff to any significant degree as a result. It's a glorious prototyping tool. It's not ideal cost-wise for manufacturing a great many things, and technologically, it sucks at making many things(electronics being a major one).


I'd like to point out that the original quote this section was refuting stated that we were *close* to being able to achieve this. Granted, 3D printing isn't yet perfect, we are advancing it at break-neck speeds. YOUR 3D printer may not be doing super cool stuff, it doesn't mean others aren't advancing theirs.

Examples:
SpaceX Dragon Capsule to use 3D printed Thrusters:
http://www.space.com/26899-spacex-3d-pr ... gines.html
http://www.spacex.com/news/2014/07/31/s ... ber-crewed

3D printed car:
http://mashable.com/2014/09/16/first-3d-printed-car/

Heck, even parts of the human body:
http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/17/tech/inno ... ting-body/

This is fairly new technology that has the potential to, in the near future, as you stated, cause us to stop buying other stuff in a significant degree.

As for the rest of the post? Pretty much how I see the situation.


LaserGuy wrote:There isn't enough spare energy or resources around, from renewables or otherwise, for everyone to decide that they want a spaceship in their backyards, for example, but in a post-scarcity economy, everything, including spaceships, are available in abundance. Otherwise you still have at least one scarce resource, namely spaceships. To truly reach a post-scarcity economy, we would require orders of magnitude more energy than we have currently available to us.


I'm not certain I would consider spaceships in every backyard to be a requirement of post-scarcity. Having the resources available to create those spaceships, however, is. If those resources are available and the spaceship is able to be created (meaning manufacturing is in place, too) in excess of the demand of the spaceship, then, to me, the criteria for post-scarcity (for that, at least) has been met. Not just having a ton of spaceships lying around willy-nilly. However, on the energy front, we agree. As stated previously, moving towards post-scarcity would require us to come up with new energy techniques that produce "infinite" energy, be them renewable, fusion, whatever.
Last edited by Gnomish8 on Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:10 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Thesh » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:08 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Zcorp wrote:As for energy Germany is making great strides in that area, hopefully other countries will follow.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_ ... in_Germany


There isn't enough spare energy or resources around, from renewables or otherwise, for everyone to decide that they want a spaceship in their backyards, for example, but in a post-scarcity economy, everything, including spaceships, are available in abundance. Otherwise you still have at least one scarce resource, namely spaceships. To truly reach a post-scarcity economy, we would require orders of magnitude more energy than we have currently available to us.


Depends on how you define post-scarcity. No one can ever have everything because there is finite energy in the universe, but at some point everyone can have everything they can realistically want without having to work for it. Maybe this doesn't mean every individual owns their own spaceship, but it does mean there is a way for every single person to get where they want to go given physical limitations (e.g. speed of light). It doesn't mean that everyone has a island full of clothing, but it does mean that everyone has access to clothing for every occasion. It doesn't mean that anyone has to actuslly own clothes or a spaceship, it just means it's available for them.

But world population is predicted to cap out, then decline modestly.


Current model has the population growing well in to the 2100s, albeit at a slowed rate. However, in that time we may make advances that allow us to cure most cancers, heart disease, etc. as well as slowing or stopping the aging process. The models can't predict significant leaps in technology. Furthermore, if productivity grows significantly and the inequality crisis is solved, people might choose to work less, with more free time and more money, with less of a disincentive to have children. Things could look very different in a few decades, especially if the future is more utopian than dystopian.
Last edited by Thesh on Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:10 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Derek » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:10 pm UTC

And what exactly do you expect to feed those 3D printers? Even if you don't have to purchase finished goods, there will still be a huge demand for the finite raw resources (and energy) that go into 3D printers. It won't even be remotely post-scarcity.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Gnomish8 » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:12 pm UTC

Derek wrote:And what exactly do you expect to feed those 3D printers? Even if you don't have to purchase finished goods, there will still be a huge demand for the finite raw resources (and energy) that go into 3D printers. It won't even be remotely post-scarcity.


Catch up on the conversation. ;)

Gnomish8 wrote:But, that brings up a few things that I see as crucial in order to achieve this:
A renewable/unlimited energy source. Right now, manufacturing is expensive because of the sheer amount of energy it takes (from start to finish, meaning from mine to store).
More efficient recycling programs. Making something into 1 thing is a huge waste of resources, especially if it's going to receive a small number of uses.
Space exploration. Look, we know Earth has a limited number of resources. If we were able to harvest metals and other goods from passing asteroids or whatever, using our nifty unlimited energy source, we'd have an abundance of goods for next-to-nothing cost.


What do I intend to "feed" those printers? Recycled material that we DO receive from Earth, as well as resources gathered from wherever else.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:29 pm UTC

Gnomish8 wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Not really. I bought my first 3d printer a coupla years ago now. It's fun. Has many niche uses. However, despite quite a lot of hobbyist enthusiasm, none of the folks I know with one has stopped buying other stuff to any significant degree as a result. It's a glorious prototyping tool. It's not ideal cost-wise for manufacturing a great many things, and technologically, it sucks at making many things(electronics being a major one).


I'd like to point out that the original quote this section was refuting stated that we were *close* to being able to achieve this. Granted, 3D printing isn't yet perfect, we are advancing it at break-neck speeds. YOUR 3D printer may not be doing super cool stuff, it doesn't mean others aren't advancing theirs.


That was my FIRST 3d printer. I bought another one, and I've been advancing stuff(had a period of sudden notoriety because printed firearms).

There is a huge, huge difference between doing one-offs or tiny runs and it displacing traditional manufacturing methods. Injection molding is way cheaper if you're doing bulk. Again, people who do not understand the tech are extrapolating based on what seems "obvious" to them. Just because a nifty one time thing happened and made the newspaper does not mean it is necessarily going to displace an entire industry.

I'm not certain I would consider spaceships in every backyard to be a requirement of post-scarcity. Having the resources available to create those spaceships, however, is. If those resources are available and the spaceship is able to be created (meaning manufacturing is in place, too) in excess of the demand of the spaceship, then, to me, the criteria for post-scarcity (for that, at least) has been met. Not just having a ton of spaceships lying around willy-nilly. However, on the energy front, we agree. As stated previously, moving towards post-scarcity would require us to come up with new energy techniques that produce "infinite" energy, be them renewable, fusion, whatever.


Enough spaceships to satisfy demand. Sure, someone who doesn't want a spaceship and hates the idea of flying into space, fine...skip him. But the whole idea of post-scarcity is that supply has caught up with demand to the extent that prices approach zero. Spaceships simply happen to be a product that is overtly scarce at present, and thus, is quite expensive. It's quite clear that not everyone who wants to go joyriding in a spaceship can, and thus, it's an easy rebuttal to claims of post scarcity.

Gnomish8 wrote:
Gnomish8 wrote:But, that brings up a few things that I see as crucial in order to achieve this:
A renewable/unlimited energy source. Right now, manufacturing is expensive because of the sheer amount of energy it takes (from start to finish, meaning from mine to store).
More efficient recycling programs. Making something into 1 thing is a huge waste of resources, especially if it's going to receive a small number of uses.
Space exploration. Look, we know Earth has a limited number of resources. If we were able to harvest metals and other goods from passing asteroids or whatever, using our nifty unlimited energy source, we'd have an abundance of goods for next-to-nothing cost.


What do I intend to "feed" those printers? Recycled material that we DO receive from Earth, as well as resources gathered from wherever else.


You can't recycle all materials indefinitely. Plastics, in particular, frequently offgas a bit in the heating process. Good temperature controls minimize this, but degradation tends to occur. This is one of the big obstacles preventing us from recyling extensively now. You can do some, but some sort of slightly more sophisticated treatment is going to eventually be needed.

Also, if energy becomes sufficiently cheap/unlimited, then distributing manufacturing becomes fairly unimportant, because transport costs fall.

3d printing ain't magic. It's just additive construction instead of reductive or molded. All of those have their place, and which is best depends on many factors.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zcorp » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:43 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:There isn't enough spare energy or resources around, from renewables or otherwise, for everyone to decide that they want a spaceship in their backyards, for example, but in a post-scarcity economy, everything, including spaceships, are available in abundance. Otherwise you still have at least one scarce resource, namely spaceships. To truly reach a post-scarcity economy, we would require orders of magnitude more energy than we have currently available to us.

Thesh correctly brings up the point that we need to establish a definition. We can also sidestep a hard definition a bit as we are not actually discussing 'can we give everyone everything they might ever desire ever' but rather as we move to less scarcity of things and of labor what should society do as it moves in that direction. This brings up various questions about inequality, Average and Total Utility what solution we ideally should strive for and then what solution we can practically strive for.

If we as global citizen's don't recognize the issue of less scarcity and do nothing to change political views or ethical standards before we reach significant less scarcity (again, quite likely to happen in the lifetime of Gen Y) the most practical solution might be to just kill a very large percentage of our population.

As I view that as the solution we should want to avoid I'd hope we can have a good discussion on how to avoid it.

The process of 'converting to post-scarcity' requires a lot of time spent reducing scarcity of many things. The less scarcity world is going to have significant impact on the economy.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:57 pm UTC

Gnomish8 wrote:What do I intend to "feed" those printers? Recycled material that we DO receive from Earth, as well as resources gathered from wherever else.


If energy is infinite, or close enough as it makes no difference, you can make almost anything you want from really inefficient chemical, or even nuclear processes.

Zcorp wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:There isn't enough spare energy or resources around, from renewables or otherwise, for everyone to decide that they want a spaceship in their backyards, for example, but in a post-scarcity economy, everything, including spaceships, are available in abundance. Otherwise you still have at least one scarce resource, namely spaceships. To truly reach a post-scarcity economy, we would require orders of magnitude more energy than we have currently available to us.


Thesh correctly brings up the point that we need to establish a definition. We can also sidestep a hard definition a bit as we are not actually discussing 'can we give everyone everything they might ever desire ever' but rather as we move to less scarcity of things and of labor what should society do as it moves in that direction. This brings up various questions about inequality, Average and Total Utility what solution we ideally should strive for and then what solution we can practically strive for.


Post-scarcity already has a definition. This isn't a term that the OP just made up. I don't think we are talking about the same thing at all.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zcorp » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:24 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Post-scarcity already has a definition. This isn't a term that the OP just made up. I don't think we are talking about the same thing at all.

It does, and it does not include 'everyone has a whatever they want.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-scarcity_economy

The definition and the examples in fiction do not include a world where everyone has a spaceship.

And yes we are talking about different things. I assumed and withinboredum confirmed that he hoped the discussion would be about how to deal with the reality that we moving toward great productivity and great abundance. Less scarcity of things and less scarcity of labor, and discussing what we can do as we move toward that world and variant options of what might happen.

A citizen's wage is, I think, the ideal solution. That does not mean it is the one that will be enacted or that it is politically practical to enact.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Derek » Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:44 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:It does, and it does not include 'everyone has a whatever they want.'

Umm, yes it does? If I can't have whatever I want, then something is scarce and we're not living in a post-scarcity world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-scarcity_economy

The definition and the examples in fiction do not include a world where everyone has a spaceship.

Post-scarcity is an alternative form of economics or social engineering in which goods, services and information are universally accessible.

Spaceships are a good, therefore in a post-scarcity world spaceships must be universally accessible.

And yes we are talking about different things. I assumed and withinboredum confirmed that he hoped the discussion would be about how to deal with the reality that we moving toward great productivity and great abundance. Less scarcity of things and less scarcity of labor, and discussing what we can do as we move toward that world and variant options of what might happen.

A citizen's wage is, I think, the ideal solution. That does not mean it is the one that will be enacted or that it is politically practical to enact.

The reality is that a post-scarcity world violates the first and second laws of thermodynamics. I am quite sure that we will never see in our lifetime anything that even remotely resembles post-scarcity, nor do I believe that humanity will ever reach that point. As such, I don't expect any breakdown in conventional (scarcity-driven) economics and I consider the whole exercise little more than a thought experiment, or a setting for science-fiction stories.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zcorp » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:13 pm UTC

"Unavoidable scarcity"
"Fictional post-scarcity societies include varied settings, such as The Queendom of Sol in the series of the same name by Wil McCarthy, "the Festival" and agalmic economics from Singularity Sky and Accelerando by Charles Stross, and the United Federation of Planets from the Star Trek series"

If you aren't going to be reasonable why are you even bothering to post anything? What you mean by post-scarcity is what no one that has ever talked about the idea meaningful or imagined a world in fiction mean by the word.

So either please participate in the discussion, which is about overcoming the economic and political reality of less scarcity or at least stop derailing this discussion with your obviously wrong definition.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby speising » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:40 pm UTC

have you actually read the chapter?

Unavoidable scarcity wrote:However, hypothetical machines such as a nanofactory are envisioned as being able to produce any real-world artifact,


which would include spaceships. (of a sort)

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zcorp » Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:37 am UTC

speising wrote:have you actually read the chapter?

Unavoidable scarcity wrote:However, hypothetical machines such as a nanofactory are envisioned as being able to produce any real-world artifact,


which would include spaceships. (of a sort)

I did, and the "sort of" is the point of contention of the disagreement. There are even various examples of it in fiction with various levels of overcoming scarcity. Its a vague definition but one that certainly does not mean "everyone has everything they could ever want."

However, the actual point of this entire thread has nothing to do with if we can attach whatever concept we wantto post-scarcity, but as I've mentioned in just about every post, the difficulties society will face as it rapidly becomes much much more productive.

We can already see this starting to happen. Thesh provided info, and Gen Y is struggling like no generation before, relative to unemployment and underemployment, despite record markets and production.

Here is some info on Gen Y's employment problem.
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/arc ... rs/283752/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ryan-done ... 77145.html
http://business.time.com/2012/08/29/jus ... -is-gen-y/

You can also check out Piketty's book Capital. Resources are being consolidated while productivity is greatly increasing already.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Derek » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:30 am UTC

As productivity increases wealth will increase across the board, with no substantial changes in economic approach necessary. That is your answer. Because all the fear mongering about jobs disappearing forever are the exact same predictions that have been made for 500 years, and it will have the exact same outcome. And the only resource that might, might, become non-scarce is information (the means to store and process information however will remain scarce).

Zcorp wrote:We can already see this starting to happen. Thesh provided info, and Gen Y is struggling like no generation before, relative to unemployment and underemployment, despite record markets and production.

Except, you know, the Great Depression. To start with.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Thesh » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:38 am UTC

Derek wrote:As productivity increases wealth will increase across the board, with no substantial changes in economic approach necessary. That is your answer. Because all the fear mongering about jobs disappearing forever are the exact same predictions that have been made for 500 years, and it will have the exact same outcome. And the only resource that might, might, become non-scarce is information (the means to store and process information however will remain scarce).


viewtopic.php?f=8&t=109917#p3653019


As for the definition of post-scarcity, the definition of "Everyone has everything they want" is useless, because it can never happen. The real definition should be "Everyone has everything they are willing and able to consume." Let's say you have self-repairing cars that never need maintenance, how many cars does each individual need to able to own for it to be post-scarcity? The answer is zero, because you don't use your car 100% of the time (most people probably use it less than 5% of the time), and if there are more cars than the people can use you have overproduced them. The same holds true for spaceships; not everyone needs to own a spaceship, there just needs to be enough to meet demand if the price is free. Technically, you don't even need the concept of ownership to have a post-scarcity society.
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Derek » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:50 am UTC

Thesh wrote:As for the definition of post-scarcity, the definition of "Everyone has everything they want" is useless, because it can never happen. The real definition should be "Everyone has everything they are willing and able to consume." Let's say you have self-repairing cars that never need maintenance, how many cars does each individual need to able to own for it to be post-scarcity? The answer is zero, because you don't use your car 100% of the time (most people probably use it less than 5% of the time), and if there are more cars than the people can use you have overproduced them. The same holds true for spaceships; not everyone needs to own a spaceship, there just needs to be enough to meet demand if the price is free. Technically, you don't even need the concept of ownership to have a post-scarcity society.

It's true that it's not about ownership, it's about availability, but that doesn't change the point. It's fine to not own my own car, as long as I can get any type of vehicle I want at any time, any place, for however long I want, with no restrictions and limitations.

Until we've reached a point where I can get a private spaceship on ten minutes notice for a three week vacation to the moon, complete with my own personal luxury suite, gourmet meals, and private tour of the craters, we haven't reached post-scarcity.

If that sounds completely unrealistic and ridiculous, that's because it is.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zcorp » Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:35 am UTC

Derek wrote:As productivity increases wealth will increase across the board, with no substantial changes in economic approach necessary. That is your answer.

No this is you just being wrong, which has already been demonstrated. I've also given you a great book that does so in great detail.

Because all the fear mongering about jobs disappearing forever are the exact same predictions that have been made for 500 years, and it will have the exact same outcome. And the only resource that might, might, become non-scarce is information (the means to store and process information however will remain scarce).

If you aren't willling to click on a link, read a book, or even digest other peoples posts why do you bother posting?

We are well past making information and all things that can be made digital media non-scarce. It is abundant, not scarce. The only thing keeping it scarce at all is that we actively keep it scarce.

And really, instead of whining about people 'fear mongering' treat the scenario as a hypothetical (while ignoring all the evidence showing how you are wrong) and actually add something to the discussion instead of ruining it.

Zcorp wrote:We can already see this starting to happen. Thesh provided info, and Gen Y is struggling like no generation before, relative to unemployment and underemployment, despite record markets and production.

Except, you know, the Great Depression. To start with.

I misspoke, worst in 50 years.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby leady » Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:20 am UTC

ah post scarity, zeitgeist pish :)

I notice in all these debates, the post scarity advocates pointedly avoid the most scarce resource in the world. I might not want a spaceship, but I'd really like [insert latest hottest film star here] on demand

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby elasto » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:05 am UTC

A world that can build spaceships on demand can probably build people on demand too.

And if the person has been built with the belief that you love them and they love you, would 'what happens next' even be unethical?

(Surely a quandary for another thread!)

---

(Imo the most likely route to post-scarcity is via a perfect virtual reality. In VR you can have your own private spaceship to explore the universe or your own private [insert latest hottest film star here]. The choice is yours!)

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:01 pm UTC

leady wrote:ah post scarity, zeitgeist pish :)

I notice in all these debates, the post scarity advocates pointedly avoid the most scarce resource in the world. I might not want a spaceship, but I'd really like [insert latest hottest film star here] on demand


Resources like fame, etc will continue to be scarce even if things are. Not everyone will be equally famous. There'll always be a demand for things related to people, like...say the house next door to your favorite actor. Physical location is also finite. Those we can't really solve by making more stuff. Making more stuff just fixes problems of not enough stuff.

Now, post scarcity is already a very high bar for "lots of stuff", and we certainly haven't reached it, but even if we do, there'll still be all sorts of other issues around.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Brace » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:07 pm UTC

This post had objectionable content.
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Reko » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:22 pm UTC

We might be off topic from the OP already, but if the costs of production are being driven to zero, thereby driving cost to the consumer to (near) zero, is the citizen's wage even necessary at that point?


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