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Monday, January 9, 2012

A cool idea I found: economics

The RICH Economy
by Robert Anton Wilson 
RICH means Rising Income through Cybernetic Homeostasis

Basically: Unemployment is a natural effect of improved technology. The more efficient machines become the less workers you need. Employment and work are not self-evidently "good" uses of time. Most people hate working. We work in order for the products of work. Needing less people is not a bad thing. People not "working" isn't a bad thing either. The wealthy do not really work. So why is being unemployed a bad thing? Our current economic system is set up to reward work and punish unemployment. Our economic system made sense back in the pioneer days, in modern times and in the future this makes less and less sense. Robert Anton Wilson lists 3 new economic policies to change our understanding of unemployment and the affect massive unemployment has on the world. Consider these ideas alternative to hiring people to dig a hole and then fill the hole - government employment.

IDEA #1:
The National Dividend. This was invented by engineer C. H. Douglas and has been revived with some modifications by poet Ezra Pound and designer Buckminster Fuller. The basic idea (although Douglas, Pound, and Fuller differ on the details) is that every citizen should be declared a shareholder in the nation, and should receive dividends on the Gross National Product for the year. Estimates differ as to how much this would be for each citizen, but at the current level of the GNP it is conservative to say that a share would be worth several times as much, per year, as a welfare recipient receives -- at least five times more. Critics complain that this would be inflationary. Supporters of the National Dividend reply that it would only be inflationary if the dividends distributed were more than the GNP; and they are proposing only to issue dividends equal to the GNP.

 IDEA #2:
The Guaranteed Annual Income. This has been urged by economist Robert Theobald and others. The government would simply establish an income level above the poverty line and guarantee that no citizen would receive less; if your wages fall below that level, or you have no wages, the government makes up the difference. This plan would definitely cost the government less than the present welfare system, with all its bureaucratic red tape and redundancy: a point worth considering for those conservatives who are always complaining about the high cost of welfare. It would also spare the recipients the humiliation, degradation and dehumanization built into the present welfare system: a point for liberals to consider. A system that is less expensive than welfare and also less debasing to the poor, it seems to me, should not be objectionable to anybody but hardcore sadists.

IDEA #3:
The Negative Income Tax. This was first devised by Nobel economist Milton Friedman and is a less radical variation on the above ideas. The Negative Income Tax would establish a minimum income for every citizen; anyone whose income fell below that level would receive the amount necessary to bring them up to that standard. Friedman, who is sometimes called a conservative but prefers to title himself a libertarian, points out that this would cost "the government" (i.e. the taxpayers) less than the present welfare system, like Theobald's Guaranteed Annual Income. It would also dispense with the last tinge of humiliation associated with government "charity," since when you cashed a check from IRS nobody (not even your banker) would know if it was supplementary income due to poverty or a refund due to overpayment of last year's taxes.

I personally think that these are great alternatives to our current reaction to unemployment. 


  1. A Resorced Based Econimy as preposed by Jacque Fresco of the Venus Project.

  2. Coming from Sweden I find these options very interesting. There of course it was funded from taxes and I don't know how sustainable it has been in the long run. I like the option of a set wage. I find it outrageous that in this rich country people can actually run out of unemployment! It has happened to friends of mine. Unbelievable!

  3. I believe the idea of people not working not necessarily being bad is true only on the higher income level. The wealthy work because they don't need to work, but they still pay taxes. On the other hand, the unemployed do not pay federal taxes but can opt to collect unemployment, welfare, etc (all of which sound similar to the above ideas) and have a net drain on the economy. Thus the best solution in terms of debt on both on the national scale and the individual scale is to encourage employment. The precise means of doing so, however...