FORWARD BASE B

"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

On A Post Labor Scarcity Economy

Traditional economies assume that everyone always has a job they could and should be doing and if that’s ever not the case, you have the government tweak a dial here or there.
However, the industrial revolution has made production so efficient that it’s no longer necessary or desirable to try to mobilize all available labor at once.  This is a good thing.

An economic system with no way to preserve surplus labor is like a worker living paycheck-to-paycheck.
It’s like a plant that gets only just enough sunlight through a thick forest canopy.
Or a bear that is still lean in the autumn months when the demands of hibernation are nigh.
Surplus is a key part of strategy throughout the natural world so a model that assumes surplus must not exist is incomplete.

We can see the silliness of total employment even in the present scope of human societies by looking at militaries. Armies go decades at a time without anyone to shoot at.  They mostly deter conflict, like nukes, by simply existing.  There’s no demand in peacetime for skilled soldiers yet every year thousands of troops are trained to fight and kill in combat they may never experience.
Surely free-market advocates have never dreamed of a greater and dumber display of waste.  If the all-knowing and all-wise market had its way, there would be no soldiers, tanks, nukes, or jet fighters in peace time because there would be no demand for them. 

We can also consider how “free-market” states like the USA have generous agricultural subsidies.  Without a state safety net, farms might start to go out of business after a few bad harvests, leaving good ground fallow, spiralling needlessly into famine.  

A die-hard laissez faire capitalist might disapprove, but no matter a state’s rhetoric, security and food supply are two things rulers can’t screw up.  Mesopotamian kings in charge of the very first states thousands of years ago still had to successfully manage the army and the granary.  Even the Soviet Union had to swallow its pride and quietly privatize just enough of its farms to get by when ideology didn’t work in the real world. 

By reducing to basics we see the obvious place of a state as the brain that dictates the survival strategy of the group.  Without a central nervous system, the group is driven abruptly extinct by the first shock it encounters.  A population of millions left to its own devices behaves like bacteria in a petri dish.  
Enlightenment thought, obsessed with the individual, forgets how the society itself loses consciousness and individual agency if no one can agree to work towards common goals. 

7 responses to “On A Post Labor Scarcity Economy

  1. Pingback: On A Post Labor Scarcity Economy | Reaction Times

  2. darkreformation101 May 18, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Good post.
    Few things then something more substantive.
    “By reducing to basics we see the obvious place of a state as the brain that dictates the survival strategy of the group.”
    Should that not be that the “winning coalition” dictates the surivial strategy of the “winning coalition” then “influentials”?
    But yes, comparing the state to a brain is good.
    “A die-hard laissez faire capitalist might disapprove, but no matter a state’s rhetoric, security and food supply are two things rulers can’t screw up. Mesopotamian kings in charge of the very first states thousands of years ago still had to successfully manage the army and the granary. ”
    Right. So we see that there is a difference between reasoning as an individual and reasoning from the point of view of the state.
    “We can see the silliness of total employment even in the present scope of human societies by looking at militaries. Armies go decades at a time without anyone to shoot at. They mostly deter conflict, like nukes, by simply existing. There’s no demand in peacetime for skilled soldiers yet every year thousands of troops are trained to fight and kill in combat they may never experience.
    Surely free-market advocates have never dreamed of a greater and dumber display of waste. If the all-knowing and all-wise market had its way, there would be no soldiers, tanks, nukes, or jet fighters in peace time because there would be no demand for them. ”
    Good. Have you ever read any Luttwak? His point about “efficiency” v “stability” in war and in society? Efficiency would suggest cutting this and that, but this harms operational effectiveness.
    On the one hand, the aim of total employment if pursued will lead to the state using its human capital in ways that are optimal; on the other hand, however, if you destroy all your industries by outsourcing them, rather than keeping them and employing people (which is not efficient, may result in losing one’s industrial base, technological capability and human capital. Success leads to success, and technology and industry at time T3 are but stepping stones to technology at time T8.
    America is now in a very perilous situation with respect to China. It must end its unlimited free trade policy and engage in “strategic” trade.
    Earlier you asked what the role of state is?
    I had just read the Dictator’s Handbook before you brought it up (recently) and it is very good; also, have you read any Charles Tilly?
    I suggest the role of the state:
    1: War.
    2: Taxes.
    3: Internal order (protect against rivals and threats to the state and tax-base.)
    4: Develop the means by which 1-3 can be executed

    • Giovanni Dannato May 19, 2017 at 1:44 am

      Haven’t read any of the guys you mentioned. I consider your mentions recommendations.

      I intended this as an intro post in a series of a few posts where I’ll develop some of these ideas. Was originally 1 post but it was getting too long with too many ideas competing for one space.

  3. Mycroft Jones May 18, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Can you give a bit more info about how the Soviets privatized farms on a limited basis? I knew that individuals were allowed their own gardens, and there was a bit of a black market on a barter basis, is that what you meant?

  4. Sorcerygod May 18, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I would first like to extend an invitation for Dark Reformation and anyone else to come to my website at:

    http://www.templeofsorcery.wordpress.com

    and join in the commenting parade. I try for a mix of fun and erudite.

    Now then, back to the topic at hand:

    Milton Friedman would argue against much government interference, and as a Republican advisor he was supposed to be taken seriously. However, in practical fact, when Republican candidates reached high power, their practical policies were nearly mirror images of Democratic ones: escalating deficits and debts, and the power of the state gradually ratcheted up.

    Liberalism of the Rand sort in the U.S. has no choice of defeating the mainstream parties. It is a dead snake in a fetid ditch.

    *shrugs* So goes the alternatives.

  5. Kanzen May 19, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Having a military or subsidies doesn’t contradicts with free market in principle though. If those “free market” anarchists want to secede and create their military-less commune, they are free to do so, but then they can’t complain when their commune got overrun by robbers. A realistic person obviously want to invest in protection.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: