Dirk Knemeyer

The future of capitalism

The future of capitalism, October 11, 2011

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

All of those lovely devices we covet and treasure come at a cost that we don’t often see but most certainly is there. What is the point of diminishing returns for evaluating material progress and gain against human and planetary loss?

[…] it comes back to capitalism. If you incentivize people and collections of people (companies) to get their greatest rewards for being sociopathic, it should surprise absolutely no one when they choose to be precisely that.

[…]What does my “post-capitalism” look like? Very simple and straightforward:

1. We determine what constitutes a “baseline for decent living.”
Some sort of shelter; some degree of healthy nutrition; presumably electricity and some of the technologies it affords; fresh water; waste disposal; police and fire; a judicial system. Whatever the totality of those things are, they are things the current society deems as the baseline, and we provide them for every last citizen.

2. We determine the totality of effort necessary to provide that “baseline” for all citizens. It is determined down the last (wo)man hour. Nothing else is necessary. Entire industries that simply prop up capitalism but are not essential to the human condition – banking, insurance – disappear overnight, freeing up incredible amounts of human capital.

3. Each citizen is responsible for an exactly equal share of completing the tasks required to provide the “baseline” for all. This is determined by…wait for it…a free market system. Each week? month? every single one of us is responsible for providing our proportion. We can bid to spend very few hours and clean out the sewers, thus fulfill our quota quickly with terrible work. Or we can bid to spend more hours and be a night watchman, fulfilling our obligation slowly with more relaxing work. This type of jobs market is trivial to handle in an organized way thanks to cloud computing and handheld computing devices. The system rewards you for doing harder/less desirable things. Yet, everyone contributes.

4. Anything you do over and above that is how you get more credits. Credits to be able to do less later. Credits to be able to trade up for desires, for “luxury” things that are beyond the bounds of the “baseline for decent living”. In reality, the amount of time it would take to perform all of the tasks to enable our “baseline” would be far, far, far less than what we currently work in a given workweek. We’re going to some time on our hands. Time to do things we are interested in. Time to pursue our desires. We can even pursue those things and trade them for credits, so we don’t have to do the “baseline” work because people doing that work are happy to work in our place, to give us those credits in exchange for our fulfilling their desires with out other work.

5. The government would regulate away the ability for those pursuing their desires to do so at the expense of others and the planet. We might be free, but that does not give us the right to exercise that freedom at the expense of other people today or tomorrow. This is an essential component to ensuring our continuity as a species and our continuing to operate with humanity.
The result? We are required to work much less – our hitting the “baseline” would be easy – yet EVERY citizen would be able to live with dignity, place and purpose. We still have the opportunity to pursue our desires, and certainly those who work hard would – through accruing credit – buy themselves more opportunity in the system.

That sounds like a much better world to live in than the one we inhabit. And, functionally, there really are not barriers to getting from here to there beyond our will to do so.