Top-Down "Solutions" = Institutionalized Serfdom, Bottom-Up Solutions = Reviving Opportunity
January 25, 2016
If the "solution" doesn't enable the accumulation of capital in all its forms by individuals and households, it isn't a real solution--it's just another top-down scheme that institutionalizes subsistence serfdom.
Phrases like reviving the American Dream emit the lingering stench of empty political rhetoric mouthed by bought-and-paid-for candidates. But if we wave aside this foul smell, we're left with a very profound topic: reviving broad-based opportunity.
Longtime collaborator Gordon T. Long and I discuss what it will take to revive opportunity in a new 27-minute video Reviving the American Dream.
The status quo "solution" to the decline of opportunities for meaningful work is predictably top-down: guaranteed income for all, a.k.a. "welfare for all." This is of course a re-hash of the Keynesian Cargo Cult's 1930 fix for the Great Depression, except on a far grander scale.
There are three completely unsupported assumptions in every proposed "welfare for all" scheme:
1. The trillions of dollars/ euros/ yen etc. required to fund "welfare for all" can be raised from taxing profits and wages. Yet wages and profits are both set to decline sharply in the near-term as the global recession tightens its grip and longer term from the unstoppable forces of automation.
2. Paying people to do nothing will free people to become artists, entrepreneurs, etc. This is a noble ideal, but if we look at communities that have become dependent on top-down central-state welfare, we find despair, social depression and the collapse of real community.
"Welfare for all" debilitates the community by stripping away the sources of meaningful work and positive social roles. I explain this further in my book A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All.
3. Though few if any supporters of "welfare for all" schemes state this directly, the underlying assumption is that "welfare for all" is a temporary measure to get the unemployed/under-employed through a rough patch, and that the economy will magically heal itself and create millions of new jobs if given time.
Automation has changed the economy in ways the status quo cannot dare admit. As a result, pundits profess their faith in the false premise that technology will always create more jobs than it destroys. As I explain in my book, this is no longer true, as the prime directive of automation is the elimination of costly human labor--not just in the developed economies, but in the developing economies.
The full-spectrum failure of "welfare for all" is the inevitable result of its essential nature as yet another central-state/bank top-down "solution." Real solutions no longer come from central states/banks that have long been captured to serve the interests of Elites. Real solutions are bottom-up: the community economy is the only sustainable foundation for broad-based opportunity and the wide spectrum of solutions that support employment, capital accumulation and vibrant local economies.
If the "solution" doesn't enable the accumulation of capital in all its forms by individuals and households, it isn't a real solution--it's just another top-down scheme that institutionalizes subsistence serfdom. Stripped of unrealistic ideological faith, "welfare for all" is revealed as nothing more than institutionalized subsistence serfdom.
Reviving the American Dream boils down to reviving bottom-up opportunities within the community economy.
Gordon and I discuss the bottom-up community economy in Reviving the American Dream (27:48 video).
My new book is in the top 20 of Amazon's Kindle ebooks > Business & Money > International Economics: A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All. The Kindle edition is $8.95 and the print edition is currently discounted to $20.82.
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