What’s wrong with this picture: A happy, wholesome family goes down to a local supermarket to get some food, and all they need to do get the food, is say that they have a job, and that’s it. No money, no checks, no discount, full “priced” food, all for free. So what’s wrong with this picture? Well, you’re going to have to wait a bit to find out, but don’t you worry, I’m going to show you what’s wrong.
G’Day Mates! We’re here again for another addition of Society Smash, so what societies are we smashing? All of them, to be exact. That is, all societies that have working people (so yeah, all of them). What’s the deal with economy? In case you’ve never filed for taxes or collected a paycheck, an economy is a brilliantly designed system that keeps goods and trade flowing all around the world. Or that’s what it does ideally. In a world without inflation, or corruption, or anything else that would otherwise interfere, an economy is a practical necessity that is needed by all of us, in a world with limited goods.
We usually don’t think about it, but we don’t have everything. All of our products, and all of our resources, are on a time limit. Sometimes we extend this time limit, but in general, it stays relatively steady, always counting down to scarcity. Think about it: there can only be so many cars, only so many computers, only so many cell phones, because there’s only so much steel, metal, plastic, gold, and rubber to go around for all these things, that is, unless we extend the limit, as mentioned before. Many economists and futurists, in the 1800s, feared for their lives, that the world would run out of a vitally important resource: food, and it wouldn’t be long before we as a species would clock over one billion people, a number that was imposable to imagine back them. However, we stomped out that fear, with a weapon we dubbed the Industrial Revolution, which in turn, led to many new innovations in agriculture, making enough food, even meat, available for everyone (if you remember from my last futurist article). So what? We can only keep this up for so long before we run out of things to use, right? I mean, what about gas? What happens when we run out of that (which will have to be another article entirely)?
What’s going to happen when we run out of oil? I could tell you that green energy will likely replace it, but I could just as easily explain it away with two words: Post Scarcity. Now, if something has scarcity, which means it is scarce, or limited. If something is post scarcity, or has surpassed being scarce, that means there are unlimited amounts of it available for everyone. Essentially, in a post scarcity world, there would be no need for the practice of economics, as nothing has value, as everything can be produced without bounds. That’s just one vision of a post scarcity world, however, it has some flaws. In a world where everything can be produced cheaply by machines (which would, also, means without costly labor), no one would have jobs, because not only do companies have to pay people money, increasing the cost of their goods, but there would, also, be no need to have a job anymore. If everything’s free, why earn money? Well what’s wrong with that? After all, I can buy anything I want, right? That means I can run down town, get an apartment, get a nice car, maybe a liposuction, or a spa day, then all night, I can party hard, and have the time of my life. Wrong! It’s not so easy my friend!
First off, in a world where everything’s free (at least in this version of a post scarcity world), wealth has no value, and it is impossible to acquire. That also means there’s no class. In our current day world, sure all of these things would be impressive to anyone, but in a post scarcity world, if you think they’re going to help out your social game: newsflash! Everyone can afford anything, so your fancy car and apartment are just like everyone else’s. Second, even though that sounds pretty bad, it would be far worse off for the rest of the world. If everything’s free and no one has a job, who’s going to innovate? Like it or not, money is one of the biggest motivators out there, and you can’t count out its power to move people towards their goals. That’s means the world would crash to a halt, and we would break down as a species. Civilizations, nations, corporations, and organizations would no longer have a meaning. Everyone has what they want, there is no need to get a job, become a citizen, and join a cause, because what is there left to fight for.
However, there are some economic systems at work, right now, that would be perfect for a post-scarcity world. One of them, despite it having some negative connotations, Communism is one of them. The main idea behind communism is that the government collects all the money, and distributes it to people who they think need things within the nation. In modern day, a scarcity world, this sucks! There is just not enough to go around, and it’s very hard to find a system that would allow for everyone to get everything they want without having to make some sacrifices. However, in a post scarcity world, where resources are unlimited, the government can easily afford to dish out infinite amounts of supplies to everyone, so there is no need to make cuts. All the government has to do is set up some parameters. For example, we’ll give you free food, a home, and a new car, as long as you have a job, and work 20 hours a week. Seems like a fair trade, and the best part, is that we’re still working, and working towards a better tomorrow at that!
The second is Socialism. The main idea behind socialism is that all the wealth of a nation is distributed equally, this ending the concept of class, wealth, and economy altogether (because no one is richer than anyone else), but much like communism, in a scarce world, it just don’t work without making cutbacks. Many modern nations are pushing for universal healthcare, a socialist concept that will end the pharmaceutical industry by having the government directly supply all medical care to its citizens. That sounds great and all, but as I said before, in a scarcity world, it just doesn’t work. You either need to cut back on the quality of medical care offered, or make cuts to other government programs, such as the military, and welfare. However, in a post scarce world, much like communism, it becomes possible for the government to provide for its people, as well as, giving some money out for everyone to have equally. Unlike communism, socialism is a bit more laid back, the people run to the government. There is no centralized power, no leaders, or any form of capitalism, much like modern day. There is no reason for the government to be strong.
Science fiction has toyed with the idea of socialism and communism for a long time, and it hasn’t always been good... do I even need to make a list all the movies where evil communist states rule the world? However, pop culture still does support a few socialist ideologies. For example, Star Trek technology is hundreds of years ahead of ours, and they have achieved post scarcity. With technologies such as replicators widespread, is possible for them to produce a nearly limitless source of food, water, clothes, and other such daily necessities that would be required for everyday life. However, the presence of the United Federation in Star Trek does support the idea of meritocracy. For those who don’t know, meritocracy is the idea of being recognized for deeds, actions, or other instances of merit. That means that, although there is no class on Federation worlds, it is still possible to gain prestige, and recognition, for one’s actions. A common example of this is Starfleet’s captains, including the likes of Pike, Kirk, and Picard, the most famous of the mythos.
So, going back to our original question proposed at the beginning: what’s wrong with this picture? A happy, wholesome family goes down to a local supermarket to get some food, and all they need to get the food, is say that they have a job, and that’s it. No money, no checks, no discount, full “priced” food, all for free. So, it’s finally time to answer this; what is wrong with this picture? Now, sorry to throw you for a loop, but there is actually nothing wrong with this picture. It is an example of an ideal situation for the future, or in other words, a utopia. In this case, it’s the ideal situation I described, and have been described for several paragraphs now: a world where everything can be gotten with minimal effort, but still requires some. You need to get a job, and you need to work if you want to get anything, but you don’t need to work yourself to death to get it.
Anyways, what do you need to worry about? Well, since it’s probably going to be a few decades before it happens (we’re talking like, 80 years here, people) and technology advances far enough to produce so many things for free, you probably won’t have to worry about it if you’re over forty. However, if your young sprout, still understanding and trying to figure out the world, this is probably going to affect you. That’s why you need a skill that only humans can do. Since robots, machines, computers, and whatnot can’t paint, write, play sports, or anything of that sort, so long as you have a creative skill, you should be pretty much set. Best case scenario, as we discussed before, much like the Star Trek universe, chances are humanity won’t stop recognizing people for great deeds. You may not be a businessman or a politician in this new world, but you could still be great a great visionary, writer or an artist. That’s my two cents on the issue.
Thanks for reading everyone. Now, this wasn’t a full overview of the subject, I know, but I’d still like to know what you have to think. If you liked it, thought it was interesting, or felt informed at any point during the article, I implore you to leave a like, or a comment, especially if you like to help add to the article. I’m only one man after all; I could definitely use your help “spicing” things up a bit. Anyways, once again, thanks for reading, and I hope to see you again next time!
The Schafer Web-Log
Articles, Reviews, Futurism, Current Events, and More!