CapitalistCommunismOur economy is based upon a new concept which is an amalgam of two older concepts.
Karl Marx's watershed book, ostensibly about capital, is really a rant about class warfare with insights about capital thrown in for context. It's so poorly written and so judgmental that it's easy to overlook the fact that the world is starting to look the way Marx said it would.
CapitalistCommunism replaces the class warfare rants with questions about providing well-being for large numbers of people in an age when information dissemination and transactions no longer require newspapers or offices full of filing cabinets, when manufacturing is so efficient that something as complex as a DVD player costs little more than the cost of packaging and distribution, and when open source software reduces the cost of the machinery of business to just the cost of installation and maintenance.
Solving the Productivity Problem
Productivity is good. Increases in productivity are good.
However, productivity increases cause disruption. As any venture capitalist will tell you, disruption is good for those who are prepared for it, and bad for those who are not. (If you are a stakeholder in Apple Inc., you know what this means...)
For millennia, most people on earth were employed in agriculture. There were the merchants and shopkeepers, and the nobility. The nobility lived off the productivity of the farmers and the merchants and shopkeepers.
Agricultural automation meant that the vast majority of people on earth had to find new sources of income.
Industry took up the slack for a while. But then industrial automation brought about things like the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Georgia, where just sixteen hours of labor is required to assemble a Maxima. This is true across virtually all manufacturing industries: effectively, manufacturing has ceased to employ people. (So why do people still advocate investment in manufacturing as a means to solve unemployment? Answer: most people are incapable of cogent thought. That is why we need optimocracy.)
In the latest assault on the resistivity of productivity in economic circuits, software is displacing employment everywhere, including the professions. There is no longer any justification for the "get a job" reaction to idleness. Jobs are becoming obsolete. (Really, the concept of a job is just a couple hundred years old; jobs did not exist through most of human history. Five hundred years from now kids will learn about this curious thing called a "job" in AP History.)
Solving the Problem of Loss of Jobs
Because there are few laws in the Republic of Bookland, and because government is largely a matter of software acting at the direction of vvolunteer commissioners and moderators, there are no "entitlement programs." However, we do have neighbors whose livelihoods vanished with the obsolescence of jobs. Those of us who have incomes are obligated by social norms to provide meaningful opportunities for those of us who do not.
It is the moral obligation of each adult in Bookland to provide opportunities for those who are able to contribute to society but not in ways that are related to this economic entity called "productivity." Historically this has included those who write, create, minister, and discover (e.g. poets, artists, clergy, researchers/explorers etc.). In Bookland it also includes parents who either home school their children or who must pay for the services of others to educate them. This does not include academic bureaucracy, whose function has been mostly replaced by software.
So we have the following classes in Bookland
1. Civic bifurcation
2. Economic bifurcation
- Producer Aristocrats
As has been the case through history, the producing class is morally obligated to support the nobility; but the nobility is morally obligated to do things that engage the producing class in things that help them expand their lives spiritually, aesthetically, morally and intellectually beyond their work in the productivity sector.
To qualify for stipends from the producing class, each member of the nobility must fill in this form on a periodic basis, the frequency to be determined by the appropriate commission:
Here is what I have done to contribute to society over the last _________ months:
Here is what I intend to do to contribute to society for the next _________ months:
Members of the productive aristocracy are expected to issue stipends either individually, in groups, or by means of the Commission on Nobility Stipends, which may take up the case of a member of the nobility, to determine whether he or she is actively contributing spiritually, aesthetically, morally and intellectually to the life of everyone, including those in the productivity sector. Raising children is one of those pursuits that contributes to society.
Those who fill in the form without actually doing what they claim to be doing will find stipends to be scarce.
Let A = number of members of the productive aristocracy in Bookland
Let N = number of members of the nobility in Bookland
Let I = the income of a member of the productive aristocracy
Let C = the contribution of a member of the productive aristocracy toward stipends for the nobility
However a member of the productive aristocracy chooses to contribute, the amount of the total contribution is expected to be according to the formula
This is not enforced by any law. However, C is to be publicly disclosed.
If an aristocrat claims he or she has no need for the contributions of the nobility, and as a result does not contribute, that is his or her business. If other members of the aristocracy shun that person, that is their businesss.
BTW this is not "libertarian" or "rightist" or "leftist" or any of those labels that were worn out years ago.
Bookland strives to have all public needs covered by voluntary contribution of time, effort and money. Some costs, such as the cost of hosting of the nation, may need to be paid for with taxes. Taxation is a last-resort method of covering public costs.
[insert Open Source Economics link]
As an optimocracy, Bookland puts people with engineering skills in control of regulation of its CapitalistCommunist economy. Commissioners work with
To avoid the economic problems experienced by other nations [link to WSJ story about over-leverage, the thrift disaster, etc.], Bookland requires all students to pass courses, economics.
In Bookland we consider values to be a component of pricing policy. Specificallly, margin-based pricing is considered to be the proper approach, while opportunity costing is considered to be antisocial.