Capitalism Breeds Poverty
Throughout human history the great pursuit of technologic achievement has been to lessen the burden of work on the human condition. Ignoring the arts, the overwhelming majority of all creations throughout time find their maxim in making life more simple and less laborious. We use technology to make life easier for us. Tracing this pattern to its end yields a conclusion, however, that stands at direct odds with the requirements of capitalism. We have reached a point in technologic evolution where human labor itself is becoming increasingly obsolete, but capitalism requires people to work at a job to receive the money they need to purchase goods and services. How is the human workforce supposed to compete with the precise efficiency and endurance of automation? It’s in an employer’s best interest to maximize profits, thus automation is financially preferable to employing people at a wage or salary. As more facets of the workforce are replaced with automation-based technologies, more and more people are going to find themselves unemployed. It’s inevitable. If an economy were to facilitate this end-state goal of the progression of technology in the first place, this current time period would be a milestone in human history — the time we shed our bondage to labor for survival. But, this is not what’s being observed. In our current predicament, this inevitable reduction in jobs and human labor spells disaster for both our economy and us as a result. Without access to that which provides us money, primarily being jobs for most citizens, we lose access to the goods and services we need. By maintaining a capitalistic economic structure, and maintaining an interest in technological progress, we’re investing in future poverty. According to a 2012 Business Insider article (1), the extent of automation is by no means going to be limited to basic factory-related labor. Pharmacists, lawyers and paralegals, all sorts of professional drivers, soldiers, store clerks, and even journalists are all going to be feeling the stress of being out-competed by technology. Within the next few decades, 47% of today’s available jobs will likely be conducted by automation (2). There is no way to justify maintaining an economic system that requires people to absolutely labor to live in a world where there is less and less cause for human labor itself to exist. That is structural coercion, and the resulting widespread increases in poverty and suffering is structural violence. Unless the fundamental capitalistic need for people to labor for a wage in order to live is altered, the coming technologic golden age will bring with it gross reductions in overall well-being. If people can not access jobs, then they cannot make money, and they cannot succeed in their pursuit of happiness regardless of how qualified, educated, or skilled they may actually be. In this system, it doesn’t matter if all the goods and services in the world can be made available; if the common man cannot afford them, it’s all for nothing. The roots of this poverty are already observable in our country, and the problem is only going to become more pronounced. To avoid a future of widespread poverty, and therefore a future of widespread suffering at the hands of structural violence here in our own country at the hands of capitalism, it seems plausible that we ought to upgrade our economic system to match the progression of technological achievement and reduced need for human labor.
Capitalism Breeds And Is Reliant On Economic Slavery
A fundamental component of capitalism is the need to maximize profits. Although automation is eventually going to take the fore with this, there are other immediate on-the-ground effects of profit maximization to take into consideration as well. Right now, it is still more efficient and profitable to employ human labor for some vocations than it is to supply the initial investment of converting to robotic automation so long as this human labor can remain below a certain level of cost. Essentially, the goal of the employer in capitalism is to pay employees as little as possible for the work that is required in order to maximize how much money is gained from the selling of that product. Here in America, and in many other established societies around the world, there is a minimum wage that needs to be adhered to, but this says nothing for the state of affairs in countries that are more unstable or otherwise less developed and regulated. By moving jobs outside of the country, foreign laborers can be hired at minuscule wages and forced to work in deplorable conditions, all while taking employment opportunities away from Americans, because, well, American labor just costs too much. So, while simultaneously ensuring that the average American will have a markedly reduced opportunity to find gainful employment, capitalism also encourages a form of international economic slavery that avoids the penalties of the word “slavery” by being able to say that a wage is offered. Since the countries such “jobs” are being exported to are weak in infrastructure and relatively poor, corporations are able to ensure that their governments do not introduce strong labor laws by threatening to disinvest from the country entirely (3). Thus, minuscule amounts of money are paid to laborers who otherwise have no means of acquiring their basic needs, and violations of human rights proliferate nearly without bound. When resistance is generated by the population of economically enslaved people, paramilitary organizations are hired and utilized to murder union leaders and protestors of the structural bondage being imposed upon them (4). Hey, there’s always going to be someone hungry enough to work at the wage being offered; no sense in letting a strike get in the way of production deadlines, right?
As consumers, we naturally gravitate towards the most affordable products. We like to pay the best price for things. People think of retailers like Target and Wal-Mart for $10 t-shirts and inexpensive toys for their kids, but the only way these stores are capable of offering products as such low costs is because there is still a marked profit being gained by the corporation selling them at that low cost. This means that their cost of producing those products is considerably lower than even those cheap prices. This low production cost is possible because the goods are being made for little more than the cost of the materials themselves, with minimal expenses added in to account for the labor of production itself. Lower wages allow for more competitive price points, and this concept has become a morally unjust reality (5)(6) that has inspired many to criticize or even boycott certain corporations. But, how can we blame a corporation like Wal-Mart for what it’s doing when the system encourages such actions as being best for economic growth? Why is it that an economic entity can legally benefit from the suffering of others? The individual could adopt a mentality of boycotting such retailers because of their participation in the perpetuation of mass human rights violations and suffering abroad, but in the end this option is only available to those who are already in a financial place of relative privilege and can afford to do so. The reality is that many Americans can’t afford to properly feed and clothe their families without access to these inexpensive products being provided by third-world economic slaves. Is your closet filled with 100% American-made (or otherwise made by the hands of a laborer who was adequately reimbursed) apparel? Likely not by a long shot. Why? Because as a country, we’re largely incapable of paying the true cost of many products we purchase. We indirectly perpetuate the suffering of millions abroad by maintaining an economic system that feeds off of competition and the maximization of bottom-line profits as a marker of economic strength. This is a morally deplorable state of affairs. Clearly the poor single mom on government aid money shopping at Wal-Mart on the first of the month probably doesn’t fancy the idea that she is contributing to gross humans rights violations, assuming she’s even aware of this economic trophic cascade at all, if even only in a removed and indirect fashion. But, what else can she be reasonably expected to do? Let her kids go hungry, improperly clothed, or both? In this fashion the bottom financial class of Americans is, ironically enough, the most dependent upon foreign economic slaves, and this is all the result of the immorality of our economic structure itself. Capitalism has efficiently ensured that humans rights violations, mass impoverished suffering, and structural bondage are all load-bearing components of sustaining the American way of life, and has turned all of us into unknowing accomplices to these crimes by removing us from the sight of these indignities themselves through the exportation of labor to largely unregulated third-world countries. To avoid contributing to massive amounts of suffering all around the world through the maximization of profits by minimizing money paid out to laborers, it again seems quite plausible to think that our economic system needs to be upgraded to better compliment our idealistic notions of human rights and to account for the current lack of the average American citizen’s ability to genuinely afford the true cost of the goods they need to live comfortably.
Capitalism Produces Inordinate Amounts Of Waste
Another problem with capitalism, and really a problem with most other major economic systems in general, is that they are based on consumption. When a society stops consuming things in such systems, its economy crumbles. A system based on consumption needs to consume at an increasing rate over time to maintain stability. This creates a scenario akin to a car being driven towards the edge of a cliff. Exponential consumption in a world of finite resources is economic suicide planned for a later date, with all of the mass suffering such a scenario involves. The rate at which we’re using resources needs to slow down dramatically, but capitalism requires and demands for us to push the gas pedal to the floor. The largest enemy of capitalistic consumption is efficiency; there’s no way around it. Sure, the technology to produce a car tire that would last twenty years is there, but it’s more profitable to sell tires that consumers must purchase more regularly. For that matter, where’s the financial gain in selling anything that lasts a long time? By ensuring that overall product quality calls for regular replacement of parts or whole products, more profits can be procured, more jobs sustained for the workforce of people making those parts, and thus a greater economic impact generated. This concept is called planned obsolescence, and it’s the primary component of how our economy keeps itself afloat. Planned obsolescence, by purposefully reducing product quality and/or applicable lifespan, makes sure that everyone is purchasing and consuming things regularly in order to keep up with the minimal rate of consumption required to keep the economy going. Each car only really needs four tires for example, but capitalism requires the consumption of many more than that to sustain itself. This leads to large amounts of otherwise useful materials being discarded and taken out of the matrix of resource allocation for no other reason than just because. Contributing to the scarcity that capitalism requires to maintain adequate market value of goods using planned obsolescence produces a somewhat desirable initial effect, but it also increases the rate of natural resource harvest to an increasingly unsustainable level. By inefficiently utilizing what’s available, capitalism fails to ensure a sustainable economic environment for future generations, and knowingly contributes to the inevitable “driving off a cliff” scenario previously mentioned.
Perhaps you’ve heard that hunger is the leading cause of death in the world, and perhaps you’ve been lead to believe that this hunger is in some way caused by a lack of available food. This is false (7). In fact, there is enough food to provide all 7.1 billion people in the world with at least 2,720 calories per person per day based upon the current rate of food production. America alone is losing billions of dollars worth of food per year to waste (8). So, the argument that we need to find better ways to produce more food is erroneous. The conversation instead needs to steer towards asking why the food that’s already available isn’t finding its way into the hands of the people who are so desperately in need of it. The short answer to this question is capitalism and western enterprise in general, and namely the concept of requiring goods to be sold at a profit in order from them to exchange hands. Under the cutthroat requirements of a capitalistic economy, whole silos of food will preferentially be left to rot before being freely given to the starving community of people living next door. This is a blatantly immoral situation, because if it is well within one’s power to prevent suffering, and it’s not unreasonably difficult to do so, then it stands to reason that one should prevent that suffering; those people should not be starving while excess food is rotting. Capitalism, however, calls for food to be sold at a cost; a cost that much of the world is structurally withheld from being able to afford. Instead, we are presented with emotional infomercials and advertisements dedicated to guilting the average consumer into buying that extra food for the hungry. Sure, such donations are a morally commendable thing to do for those who choose to do so, but this doesn’t mean that such a situation is in itself a morally permissible one to begin with. “Hey! We have all this food stockpiled over here that’s not being sold, and there’s a bunch of people out there who could really use it right now, but rather than just giving them the food they so desperately crave we’re instead going to require you to buy it for them so that we still get our profits! Otherwise, we’re just fine with letting them starve to death!”
Capitalism inherently calls for these massive disproportional distributions to take place. Goods can’t just be given away freely in a system that is based entirely on consumption; the economy would collapse. So what if there are millions of cars that haven’t been sold and are being left in lots by the droves? We can’t, under capitalism, make a practice of giving those cars to impoverished people just because they need a car, because to do so would mean to flood the market with more goods there there is currently monetary infrastructure to support those goods. So, we can’t stop producing things even though we’re making more than we need since not producing means not employing people to do the producing, and we can’t use a universal policy of giving away excess goods to account for the lack of those who may actually be in need because that would offset the balance of the consumption-driven infrastructure of the capitalistic mold. Our hands are tied: We can’t stop producing too much, and we can’t give away too much excess. Thus, an economic system based on consumption is also an economic system of waste that is logistically required to be indifferent to human suffering; that’s just business. It calls for the consumption of more than is actually needed to be consumed while allocating what is produced in an immoral asymmetrical fashion. Why are there children going hungry in Uganda while their parents work at a food-production factory? Because they’re too poor to afford the food they’re handling, of course, so that food is exported to America where it will be properly bought. To avoid further contributing to the production of unneeded waste and the removal of usable goods from the matrix of resource allocation through planned obsolescence that could otherwise be left available for future generations to use, and to avoid further perpetuating the primary destroyer of human life on Earth, it is again plausible that a progressive transition from the structure of capitalism is a matter of moral importance. A system that inherently thrives upon the inefficient utilization of limited natural resources while also demanding indifference to the plight of those in genuine need due to coerced monetary limitation can not be logically thought of as being a morally just system.
The Moral Problems Of Capitalism Demand Economic Evolution
So far I’ve noted that capitalism is morally inferior due to the fact that it:
1.) Opposes long-term technological evolution, depleting the available reservoir of opportunities for gainful human employment, leading to future mass unemployment, poverty, and suffering that is already beginning to manifest
2.) Creates, by definition, a scenario where corporations are motivated to secure the lowest possible wage to be paid out to laborers, leading to the exportation of many job markets away from needy Americans and the formation of economic slavery abroad
3.) Inefficiently utilizes finite natural resources at an unsustainable rate, while simultaneously withholding excess products created as a result of planned obsolescence from the hands of human beings who are in genuine need of them, perpetuating further poverty and worldwide hunger
There’s also the nasty little fact that one of the biggest stimulaters of capitalistic economy is war, and the war industry itself, which is a sickening reality to tease apart, but I digress. The bottom line is that capitalism is now archaic, and no longer functions properly under the current geopolitical/socioeconomic conditions being faced by human beings today. You can’t have infinite consumption in a finite world. You can’t pin man against machine in a battle of production efficiency. You can’t sit idly by while millions and millions of innocent children grow distended stomachs and starve to death. You can’t base the very foundations of a country’s economic class system upon the necks and backs of impoverished economic slaves just because they’re out of sight and mind. These facets of capitalism make it not only morally impermissible, at this point it’s downright insane. How can we sit here in the ivory towers of our climate-controlled rooms discussing what moral concept is superior to the other, when we, individually, are all contributing to the suffering of hundreds of millions of people by simply being a part of such a system of structural violence and coercion? We are blind to the very plight we are creating each and every day we allow this wolf to continue prancing around in sheep’s wool. One might say, “the free market is the way it is, and it’s not necessarily a morally optimal situation, but that’s why we support charity organizations to correct for these shortcomings,” which refers to the ability of humanitarianism to reduce suffering. The concept of humanitarianism itself is usually spoken of with good moral regard, but in reality the root question that needs to be asked is why haven’t we enacted a solution for the need of humanitarianism in the first place yet? At the very least we might take a shot at eliminating the need for humanitarianism within our own country. But, within a capitalistic system, benevolence must always take a subordinate role to competition; living expenses take priority over compassion. You can enact a policy here and there to boost certain niches of the economy, but this doesn't address the root problem. You can create nonprofit organizations dedicated to raising funding and awareness for issues like hunger and poverty, and people prone to compassion will contribute both their time and money to help as many of those in need as they can. But, this still does absolutely nothing to alleviate the underlying set of conditions that allow such a scenario to ever even occur. The only way to escape this morally bankrupt and insane reality is to look at the current state of things, and transition to an economic mold that is properly equipped to operate in such a state. No amount of legislation can fix a system that is fundamentally based upon profits, competition, wages, and consumption. A new system needs to be considered. A system that can guarantee each person within it, if even only in theory (something capitalism can’t claim to do), the fundamental human rights and basic needs that they are warranted as human beings in a society of vast resources and modern technology.
What is an RBE?
A Resource-Based Economy (RBE), is a term first coined by a man named Jaque Fresco back in 70’s, and it has been receiving a great amount of attention in recent years due to the realization of so many that the current economic mold is insufficient at managing the scarcities of today. According to his movement’s website, a resource based economy is “a holistic socio-economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude." (9) In contrast with the scarcity-based foundations of capitalism and other monetary-based economic molds, an RBE is strengthened by abundance. Capitalism cannot take advantage of abundance, otherwise demand, and therefore profits, and therefore economic strength, decline. In the presence of abundance, capitalism must artificially create a sense of scarcity to drive market value up: this is called “marketing”. When you sit down at an average restaurant, you are usually offered a glass of water free of charge. This is because clean water is so abundant here in America that the market value doesn’t allow for an establishment to actually charge anything for it. We place water fountains all over in public arenas because clean water is so cheap for us that we can literally just give it away. Since it is so abundant, capitalism can’t use it to make a profit unless it is presented in such a way as to demand a cost, such as with water-bottling companies. With an RBE, eventually every single good provided would theoretically cost as much as a glass of tap water at a restaurant —nothing. This is accomplished by embracing technological progression, and encouraging the ingenuity behind such progressions to unleash the full power of the human potential upon society as a whole. An RBE is in cooperation with the technologic future of reduced human labor, not in competition with it.
“In a resource-based economy all of the world's resources are held as the common heritage of all of Earth's people.” (9) This particular facet of an RBE tends to scare people away, because taken out of context it appears to have a socialistic ring to it, but socialism is still a system that operates on a consumption basis and can’t be compared to the abundance-based RBE. There are finite goods being shared in socialism; an RBE shares in-finite goods. In other truncated contexts it sounds quite a bit like a global order of sorts which carries with it the fear of oppression at the hands of a few. However, this is not how an RBE functions at all. In an RBE, leaders don’t make the call as to where any one particular resource is to be allocated and in what proportion. In fact, in an RBE, the concept of requiring there to even be “leaders” begins to become obsolete beyond the basic establishment and enforcement of decent behavioral standards. Up to now leaders have indeed been required to make the big decisions as to how to go about using what’s there to be used, but instead a computerized analysis of all available resources could be continually conducted and monitored to asses in real-time what, in fact, there is to be utilized, and an equation would be employed to determine how such resources are to be distributed to maximize the needs of the whole. The goal of the globalization aspects of an RBE is to be able to algorithmically analyze all of the world’s resources, and to recognize all of the human beings in the world as being equally deserving of a state of abundance. This isn’t an “ISM”. This isn’t capital-ISM, commun-ISM, social-ISM, or anarch-ISM. It’s just plain ol’ practical distribution and utilization based upon empirical facts about the abundance of resources without the clumsiness of greed/competition-based economic motivations. Right now there are enough material resources on Earth to provide a very high standard of living for each of the 7-billion human beings living on it, but only if those resources are properly managed in an efficient way. For emphasis: there is enough stuff on this wet pebble to provide every one of us a state of abundance. When resources are inefficiently managed, such as in capitalism, the carrying capacity of the land is exceeded and problems associated with greed, crime, and violence result. By being an economy who’s goal is absolute efficiency of resource utilization rather than one based upon scarcity and profit maximization, renewable energy sources would become emphasized (because oil scarcity wouldn’t be required to drive a market) and overall production of waste can be dramatically diminished (because products could finally be designed for quality and sustainability rather than for landfill fodder). Essentially, all of the technological achievements that have already been elucidated but are currently being repressed by current market trends and preferences would not only be allowed to grow, they would be encouraged.
The technology is already present to provide the entire country with substantial amounts of renewable energy, and will soon be adequate enough to make the use of fossil fuels altogether obsolete (10). The technology is already present to automate whole cascades of food production, reducing the future cost of food to next to nothing (11). The technology is already present to automate the construction of buildings in less than a day using recycled materials (12), and everyday products like jewelry, toys, electronics, medicines, cars, and even food itself are already beginning to be made using 3D-printing technologies (13). When you combine renewable energy sources with the ability to automate manufacture processes, and compound these achievements with the capacity to utilize previously expended waste as building materials, the rate at which current natural resources are being used up will not only decrease, the effects may actually reverse in some circumstances. All this is only capable of being achieved when the capitalistic demand for structurally coerced human labor is abandoned. We are holding ourselves back from our true potential by not allowing ourselves to unleash the might of our technology to take the burden of labor away from us. We toil away decades of our lives, for may people within vocations that produce chronic stress and malcontent because the thing they’re actually passionate about doesn’t earn money, only to perhaps have a chance at one day living a comfortable, easy existence right before we die. We can end the toil for our future generations. This new schematic of efficient resource utilization destroys the foundation of capitalism by definition, because efficiency cannot exist in capitalism beyond a shallow application of it. We can either embrace the seemingly inevitable evolution to a state of reduced labor bondage, or we continue to allow it to be our greatest enemy in an odd, Omish-rejecting-technology sort of way.
Another aspect of an RBE that makes capitalist proponents uneasy is the concept of abandoning a monetary system, but from a strict logical perspective the concept of requiring money to exchange hands for goods and services is entirely unnecessary and creates the breeding ground for all of the social injustice and human rights violations discussed in accordance with capitalism above. In Jaque Fresco’s words: “It is only when resources are scarce that money can be used to control their distribution. One could not, for example, sell the air we breathe or water abundantly flowing down from a mountain stream. Although air and water are valuable, in abundance they cannot be sold. Money is only important in a society when certain resources for survival must be rationed and the people accept money as an exchange medium for the scarce resources. Money is a social convention, an agreement if you will. It is neither a natural resource nor does it represent one. It is not necessary for survival unless we have been conditioned to accept it as such." (9) In a society of universal abundance, the concept of charging money for anything would sound as ridiculous as to charge for a glass of tap water at a local diner today, therefore the concept of money even being a thing becomes obsolete.
This is a hard concept to wrap one’s head around, any many feel that by eliminating money, and competition especially, from the fold that overall human motivation to progress would be stagnated. This sounds like it makes sense at first; what’s to keep everybody from just sitting around all day doing nothing at all for humanity or their community in general? Well, in this system, that’s a very valid question, because technically nothing is stopping them from doing so, but in practice I suspect this wouldn’t be the case with all but a minority of people. An RBE is premised upon building fundamental human rights and liberties directly into the system itself, thus in an RBE people would have the genuine liberty to do, or to not do, as they see fit. Nobody is bound by toil to gain the goods and services they require, those goods and services are simply made available abundantly. Anybody could drink of the public “water fountain” of goods. To say that people require monetary motivation for action is to laugh in the face of the millions and millions of volunteers and unpaid aid workers all around the globe who give of their sweat, blood, tears, or even just their own money to further the progress of whatever cause they hold to be important, for example. People are motivated to the kinds of actions that befit their own person character and constitution. Often I find that people carve out time to voluntarily do the things they’re passionate about in spite of the fact that they are structurally coerced into working at a job. They use their off-time to play in bands, go dancing, build things, and so on. Most people have something they’re quite interested and passionate in, and it is these passions that drive our actions in our free time, thus it is most likely our passions that would consume most of our time in an RBE. There are people who are passionate about aerospace engineering, I’ve met some. There are people who are passionate about medicine, I’ve met plenty. There are people who are passionate about each and every field out there. Eliminating money doesn't remove motivation unless you hold that coercion is the only acceptable form of motivation. In reality, eliminating the need for money would allow freedom for each individual to pursue whatever it is that drives them, rather than picking and choosing arbitrarily what passions are worthless, and what passions are worth-while.
Not every person is internally motivated to participate in the types of vocations that currently pay well or otherwise grant a high standard of living. This, in effect, creates a form of vocational prejudice against many individuals who are then structurally coerced into professions that they are in fact unhappy doing. Perhaps a person is a gifted musician born to a poor family, and doesn’t have the financial means to attend the proper school, get the proper diploma confirming that they are a gifted musician redeemable for a decent paying job somewhere, and winds up having to work at a bottom level factory job that is going to to be replaced with a robot. What can you say to this person for the morality of their economic system? Now, imagine another person born into our system who is infatuated with mathematics, has wealthy parents, and is able to afford a diploma that they can redeem for a job as a university math professor, but is afflicted by a stroke that completely eliminates their ability to perform their job. What is that person, who has invested their entire life into one specific vocation, supposed to do under the financial requirements of capitalism to earn a wage proportional to the lifestyle they were previously living as a professor? Well, baring any significant gifts of money from others, all they can do is reduce the quality of their lifestyle and attempt to find another, likely unrelated profession from their passion. Why must their quality of life decrease on top of having to recover from a stroke? How might you respond to the starving child in Uganda when he asks why his parents are not capable of affording food for him today, or tomorrow? Is it really just his destiny is to die, because he doesn’t have the dollars required by the capitalism brought to his community?
If all the available technologies available to abundantly produce goods and services as efficiently as possible were finally allowed to be unleashed upon the world, without risk of destroying our own well-being by doing so, we would no longer have to fight to end poverty, because we would have in fact simply risen beyond the very concept of poverty itself. Poverty is the condition of not having the sufficient amount of money to purchase required goods and service to live, or of otherwise not having access to vital goods and services in general. Our current system is entirely premised upon the very possibility of poverty, and requires individuals to compete with each other in order to attain that which they need. Capitalism allows for humans rights violations by its very nature. To my logic, an RBE would be a morally optimum scenario, because it can grant our idealized notions of human rights to every human being, not just as a philosophical notion pursued by altruistic organizations, but as legitimate practice and societal standard built directly into the system itself.
The Gaps Between Theory And Practice
It’s rather easy to sit back and theorize about economic improvements to the currently immoral mold, but the bottom-line question begs for more of the sheer practicality that an RBE claims to provide: How can you make one? If you take one facet of the economy, and replace it entirely with automated, renewable-energy-driven, recycled/efficient-resource based technologies, then give that good away freely, you would only accomplish an unsupportable flooding of the current market infrastructure and the elimination of all the jobs associated with that particular economic niche. It would have a very detrimental effect; that’s not an option. You can’t inch towards an RBE, because each small step would further erode current economic stability and endanger the well-being of the average citizen. You can’t just take away all the automotive jobs. You can’t just take away all the agricultural jobs. You can’t just make all the lawyers, paralegals, and stock-brokers jobs obsolete. That is econocide. So how’s this fanciful concept of an RBE supposed to actually be enacted in real time on the ground? How can you make the gaps between the theory and the practice smaller? There is no way to wean an economy from being based on consumption and scarcity to being an economy of abundance and efficiency. The one destroys the other. With this in mind, the inevitable conclusion is that it’s not possible to gradually transition to a Resource-Based economy; one, all-encompassing step has to be taken. New cities built upon the efficient infrastructure of an RBE must be constructed in their entirety while continuing to operate as normal within current capitalistic-built cities, because current city layouts are not designed for the efficiency an RBE calls for. It would likely cost much more to renovate current cities than it would cost to simply build new ones based upon genuine lasting efficiency, then move into those cities. Within those cities, every needed facet of current modern life needs to be accounted for by the highest possible standards of efficiency: convenient transportation, food production, recreational/educational/research facilities, public gathering spaces, residential structures, and all the other myriad facets of modern life need to be concretely set in place and tested before the switch can ever be flipped on. If you flood the market with one, or even a couple, of the goods produced from a particular niche in the economy, everything will crumble. That creates a situation where people are incapable of acquiring the goods and services they need because you’ve taken away jobs. If you flood the market with everything that an economy produces, then of course the monetary economy will crumble, but the ability of the people to acquire everything that they need will remain unaffected. The construction of the new cities would generate a plethora of job markets during their development, which would provide an economic stimulus that capitalism can grasp onto which can begin to help pull American citizens out of the poverty that they are being driven into with current economics. Upon completion of the cities, whereas before a depression would be met due to the sudden lack of work, the switch to the RBE can be flipped—no depression required. Only in this state, where all the parts and pieces of an RBE’s infrastructure are set in place prior, can a switch to a Resource Based economy be made in ernest without fear of the consequences of intruding alien efficiency to a system which thrives on the opposite.
This too sounds all fine and dandy, but again: How? How can one reasonably expect a government and an economy that is so enmeshed in the profits of inefficiency to endorse the construction of all new cities with the intent of overhauling everything about our economy? That’s a massive commitment to think about, and sounds unrealistic. How can this ever be brought into legitimate political conversation when so much of our political system is funded by economic leviathans thriving off of the effects of capitalism? Looking at the prior work relationships and current affiliations of a great deal of political figures leads to the tempting conclusion that while we’ve managed to separate the state from church, we perhaps should have considered the long-term effects of letting state and market be so closely intertwined. What motivation for them is there to change when they’re not actually members of the economic caste that is destined to suffer the most from capitalism driving itself off that cliff? Above a certain threshold of wealth the detrimental effects of crisis that are directly felt are lessoned. Thus, the very people who would need to be in charge of directing such a massively coordinated project, being some majority of the political figures in power, aren’t going to be on board, as is evidenced by the political and economic suppression of certain technologies already occurring. Out of concern, they might oppose it on the grounds that what is being proposed hurts the economy, or because the radical nature of it simply sounds preposterous. As laughable as it may seem, this endeavor more or less requires that all parties come together to plan a future that is entirely alien to everything that is now known about the way a society can be run. This very much feels ridiculous, but at the same time the inevitable end-state of capitalism’s infinite consumption in a finite world are still going to be realized regardless. This concept may start to look less and less ridiculous as conditions and trust in the system continue to decay, but just how poor are the conditions going to need to be before a sincere pursuit for cooperative solutions begins? What’s the point of a systematic economic solution for the problems we’re observing when all it is, is a theory? It’s as if we’re standing on the shore of a depleted island looking out with a telescope, and we’ve spotted an island that looks bountiful. So what if there’s a bunch of good stuff over there if we’ve no means of getting there?
These are the questions I leave you with, because I don’t know the answers and whoever figures it out is probably going to receive a Nobel Prize. Here in this paper I’ve presented my best argument for why capitalism is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Capitalistic concepts of good business, when allowed to run rampant, create suffering both domestically and abroad. Capitalism establishes an environment where man is pinned against his own ingenuity and innovative mind, and therefore suffocates the ability for society to progress technologically and experience it’s full potential. The moral implications of how our lowest economic caste can only sustain a comfortable life by purchasing the cheapest of products made by the hands of what are essentially slaves, are mind boggling. The waste generated by capitalism is astronomical, and is robbing future generations of resources to live with while taunting those currently in need with things they can’t touch. If capitalism was embodied in a singular man, he’d be locked up in an asylum. A Resource Based economy would solve all of the moral injustices presented by capitalism by eliminating the conditions that allow those problems to manifest in the first place. Rather than topically treating symptoms by signing more laws and more policy changes and even more laws, a Resource Based economy treats the problems at their root. Whereas capitalism allows for the condition of suffering to exist as a part of the have/have-nots paradigm, a Resource Based economy ensures that every human being is granted their due human rights, needs, dignities, and liberties, as a very function of its foundation; they’re built into the system itself. But, at the end of the day, there are always gaps between theory and practice, and the devil’s in the details. Unless we can find a way to fashion our speeding car some wings, well, I suppose you know the rest.
(1) Aquino, Judith. “Nine Jobs That Humans May Lose To Robots”. Business Insider. 2012.
(2) “Coming to an office near you: The effect of today’s technology on tomorrow’s jobs will be immense—and no country is ready for it”. The Economist. Jan. 18, 2014.
(3) John Madeley, Big Business Poor Peoples; The Impact of Transnational Corporations on the World’s Poor, (Zed Books, 1999) p.63
(4) Anup Shah, “Corporations and Worker’s Rights”. GlobalIssues.org. May 28, 2006.
(5) Jim Gilliam. “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price”. Brave New Films. 4 Nov 2005.
(6) Jason Burke. “The Shirt On Your Back”.
(7) 2013 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics. World Hunger Education Services. worldhunger.org. July 27, 2013.
(8) Dana Gunders. “Wasted: How America Is Losing 40 Percent of Its Food From Farm To Fork To Landfil". NRDA Issue Paper. IP12-06-B. August 2012.
(9) “What is a Resource-Based Economy?”. The Venus Project. thevenusproject.com.
(10) Niklas Höhne, Pieter van Breevoort, Yvonne Deng , Julia Larkin, Gesine Hänsel. “Feasibility of GHG emissions phase-out by mid-century”. ECOFYS, project CLIDE14075. 2 Oct 2013.
(11) Darwin G. Caldwell. “Robotics and automation in the food industry: Current and future technologies”. Woodhead Publishing Series in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition. Number 236. 2013.
(12) Mary-Ann Russon. “China: Recycled Concrete Houses 3D-Printed in 24 Hours”. International Business Times. ibtimes.co.uk. 24 April, 2014.
(13) Leadership. “Our Future With 3D Printers: 7 Disrupted Industries”. Forbes. forbes.com. 29 Oct 2013.
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