You seem like the person I’ve always wanted to meet. If we could only have an hour’s discussion, I could change your worldview.
Please be progressive minded. It is possible to break the historical pattern of economic death and suffering and rebirth, in this case I mean the US and the great reset, of course. The circumstances of history are different this time, or at least they might be, if we wish them to be.
Women are just beginning to be unleashed globally. We are on a way towards having twice as many innovative brains and high-end producers, if we wish, and better diversity of thought than ever before. Africa is, in fact, coming out of poverty, and Asia already has. The contrast with the Asia of 1980 is staggering. Geoengineering has numerous real solutions to air pollution, atmospheric chemistry imbalances (CO2), and water pollution. Population dynamics are now equilibrating to a steady state, not exponentially growth anymore — owing to the magic of education and birth control reaching the whole globe. We no longer need to accept famine as inevitable anymore, not anywhere. We can allow ourselves to improve our food supply, if we want. It’s completely under our control. Likewise, there need be no fresh water shortage at all. Desalination is only limited by very minor affordability challenges, that’s it. It’s completely our choice.
My point is: Scientists and economists have realistic, achievable solutions to today’s most pressing worries. Most people just don’t know this.
Of economics and politics, I would ask you to think about work. Do we work for money? Or for the things we need to buy with money? What if the US went to a formal 36 hr workweek? What would be the effect? What if other countries did that? What if we did it together?
Think about a future where less total work is needed to achieve a sustainable, decent existence for everyone. Everyone is getting food and water, and housing of some level, and health care of some level, for less than 40 hrs of labor per week. That’s all I’m asking you to envision. It’s not a utopian vision. It’s more of a minimalist vision, in which the worst of the worst of human sufferings are nullified by progress. And then we raise the bar, bit by bit.
What would people do with their free time if they didn’t have to work more than 36 hrs/week to avoid starvation? Would they always want to work more, to get more? What if they are wealthy-ish? At what point of income are you seeking balance instead of just wanting more work opportunity? Do we really think people would strive to maximize their personal output and productivity, even though they don’t need additional income to be happy, and society doesn’t need all of their time, all of their life? Can we envision a future where people retire at 55?
Economists and social scientists actually have answers for all these questions. They really do. Work is about contributing, not earning. We won’t ever stop contributing, because that’s about being part of a society. Life has purpose only when we are connected to others in societies. We are bonded and welcomed in our society by the contributions we try to make, paid or unpaid. Work is timeless and universal; income is not. When we have aggregate productivity gains, they enrich us all, enabling innovations and progress. It doesn’t need to be endless. There can be a ‘good enough’ point. Science provides numerous great examples. Smallpox, for example, is gone. We beat it. And democracy, if you will, is the science of humane civilizations. It still needs work of course, but what tremendous progress has already been made!
The essence of the Enlightenment was that even the most admired world leaders still have bad breath and take a massive dump some mornings. The Enlightenment gave us our first woke moment — the full recognition and acceptance of the essential equal-ness of all persons. We sometimes choose to have rulers or ruling systems, for our convenience, but we now appreciate that this is just a superficial, man-made hierarchy. And that enables us to treat our political systems with the disrespect they deserve; we can adapt them to fit us, not the other way around!
We are all the same, and we all have the same intrinsic value, including the rulers. This view is of course anathema to the Chinese, and that creates a risk of political conflict. They believe rulers and leaders are supra-normal, or should be, and in any event are necessary for stability and peace. We don’t see eye to eye on that philosophy.
Hopefully, they can come to understand our Western philosophy, and we can accept their old-school philosophy. Hopefully, we can find win-win economic solutions while mutually respecting each other’s different philosophies and the associated differences in political systems that follow naturally from the philosophies.
Finally, of the personal matters: Business folks are often flawed in two ways, I find. First, it’s just a lack of broad knowledge. Any specialist has blind spots. If the wisest belief you possess is simply “Money makes the world go ‘round”, you’re really going to miss important things that are happening right in front of you. Like scientific progress, and world history, and especially the understanding of political philosophy and its relationship to economic cycles. Money is just a means to an end, and an economy is not the primary concern of legitimate governments, only people are.
Second, and it’s related to the first, is a lack of thinking about the future as a possible better place. There seems to be a strong dystopian preference among conservatives, despite the fact that science actually has viable solutions, and we are all understanding cultural differences much better these days. If I said that the total human work output needed, for a basic living standard, would plateau, and this would result in more leisure for everyone, a conservative business guy would think of that as a dystopian future. But that is actually just pure subjectivity. I would see it as completely good and desirable. If people used that leisure for education, then they would engage their lives in innovation and exploration and limitless optimization and progress. It’s a utopia, but still a highly capitalist one, too! So the difference is just worldview.
For whatever reason, some people just want to think the future is going to be worse than the present, and it colors what they see. I believe that my belief — that the future can be better, for everyone — is very well-grounded and realistic, according to my knowledge of things. It’s not merely my personality that steers me to think of aworld with less work as a good thing. It’s my knowledge. I’m progressive by reasoning, not by personality. In fact, I’m rather on the cynical side, with a sense of humor, just like I imagine you to be…
Please consider joining me on the progressives-who-love-capitalism bandwagon. You don’t want to miss out on the growth of the sustainability economy and the real opportunities of digital currency. Global standard units of account are a step towards ending the historical patterns of 100-year debt cycles with their painful resets at the end. A widely accepted digital reserve would probably be very good for world peace, for efficient allocation of resources, for wealth redistribution among nations, plus it would lead to massive global productivity increase worldwide, not just in China and the US.
Geopolitical leaders and business conservatives are like drunk drivers. Their vision sucks. We are all better off if we can convince these forces to stay in the passenger’s seat. They want to drive, though.