atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#6384: What you hear is MAKI LICKING YOUR CRACKERS

Tonight was chili night. We ate chili, watched Sixth Sense, and had a grand old time.

Moved to the computer room for a blog post. We're both in here on our computers, when Mrs. Fungus hears noises coming from the family room.

"They're eating your chair!"

"Fine by me." But I got up to check; and saw Maki sitting on the coffee table next to the package of crackers Mrs. Fungus had left there, and I told her what was going on: today's post title.


* * *

Do these people not realize that one of the founding principles of their religion is that everything you do comes back at you threefold? If you "put negative energy out there", you will get three times the negative energy back. No tap-backs. I fail to see how you can redirect it.

"Do what thou wilt, an it hurt no one." You know? Putting a curse on someone just seems like a bad idea when you subscribe to the notion that you have the capacity to put a curse on someone, but doing so will result in you being cursed thrice over.

Well, none of that is my problem. And I doubt it's Kavanaugh's problem, either. "Armor of God" trumps that stuff.

* * *

Ernesto "Che" Guevara is one of those people who I cannot have any sympathy for, not even as a Christian. Like Fidel Castro, his death was a good thing for the world. I LOL:
So, for many, the question remains: how did such an incurable doofus, sadist and epic idiot attain such iconic status?
Well, essentially, because all Leftists are moronic shitstains nursing violent revenge fantasies against everyone who is more successful, more talented, more courageous, more intelligent, and more worthwhile human beings generally than they'll ever be.
Basically, that.

* * *

So, thinking about the economy of my SF universe, the one in which AV takes place, because I needed to get some things straightened out.

In my SF universe, most of the advanced worlds have a Universal Basic Income (UBI)--not because I believe in the grand idiocy of socialism, but because I believe that there comes a point in every industrial revolution where stuff starts being too cheap.

The situation we find ourselves in began in the 20th century, when industrial automation began to replace labor with capital. Thanks to lunatics like Jeff Bezos and the labor unions pushing for a ludicrously high minimum wage, the boundaries of what can be automated gets pushed ever forward--until presto, you can walk into a factory or a fast food restaurant where the only humans working there are there to maintain the robots.

This results, in the 2020s, in a massive deflationary spiral. The advent of fusion results in electrical power that's too cheap to meter, and a sudden discovery in how to do AI yields robotic systems that are a lot more robust than anything we can build now. (Not to mention, a few decades down the road, computers which can pass the Turing test.) Unskilled labor is now a thing of the past; you no longer need to pay someone to stock shelves or pick orders when you can pay $50,000 for a robot that can do it. (Yes, industrial robots cost a lot more than that right now. See above, "deflationary spiral", and remember that computers used to cost millions of dollars at a time when a dollar was worth something.)

The upheaval is world-wide, but when it's over, it is possible to provide every person on Earth with the basic necessities--food, water, shelter, clothing, medicine, communications--as a matter of course. In other words, everywhere on Earth, poverty becomes relative. No one starves, no one lives in a shed, no one goes barefoot. Thanks to the timely invention of a broad-spectrum vaccine, one shot does away with about 90% of the worst ailments plaguing Mankind. It turns out that a lot of cancers are caused by virii, and that one vaccination prevents them. There are still diseases and people still die of them, but it's much more common for someone to die in some kind of accident, or of simple old age.

During the upheaval government can't over-regulate, and none of this comes about because of government intervention. It just happens that "too cheap to meter" electricity means a lot of other things get cheaper, and the long-promised benefit of industrialization is finally realized once government and banksters are unable to get in the way.

The UBI is instituted only after things settle down enough that the people again become governable. Once the economy adjusts, people are able to pay taxes again, and do. The UBI comes about in part because the only reasonable way to keep production at some sane level is to tax it, and the revenue that results from that is distributed as a per capita stipend.

Production is cheap due to automation. Food, for example, is almost too cheap to charge for, or would be absent the production tax. And because robots don't ask for raises, there is virtually no inflation. It does not cost more to make 50 widgets instead of 1, and in fact it costs less per unit because it scales with volume. My factory can make a one-off for X, but it can make 500,000 for X+500000y, where Y is some extremely small number, and you can sell them for 1.5y and make scads of money on it.

So say I make one whatsit for $1,000; making half a million of them means $1,000 plus another $50 times 500,000, and then I sell them for $75 each--$25,001,000 is my cost but I make $37,000,000 on selling them, meaning my profit is twelve million dollars. Once my factory is programmed to make whatsits, it can make as many whatsits as you want, at a cost of $50 each, and you can sell them for whatever the market will bear--and there will never be a strike or a plague or anything. And if you saturate the market for whatsits, and want to stop production, then all I have to do is reprogram my factory to make something else. It's not magic; I can't take my whatsit factory and reconfigure it to make jet engines, but I could reconfigure it to make thingamajigs or doohickeys with very little modification.

Example: a factory which makes iPods could be easily reconfigured to make iPhones. A factory which makes sneakers could be reconfigured to make boots. But a factory which makes aluminum cans could not be reconfigured to make socks; it could be reconfigured to make saucepans or something similar.

Now multiply that across the gamut of industry. Industry, post-upheaval, is flexible in a way we can scarcely imagine now, and pumps out everything in such plenty that it's possible, for the first time in history, for everyone to be clothed and fed and treated and so forth without government putting guns to our heads and saying, "Give me 23.5% of what you earned last year, subject to these deductions according to the schedule referred to on line 87 of form 3293."

Under this system, there will still be people who have more than others. You can't escape that. Some people will be content to sit around and watch TV and live off the UBI. Others will go and do things and earn money. But poverty is relative in this society, exactly as it is in the United States in the early 21st century. The poorest man on Earth will live to be two or three centuries old, never miss a meal, and never have to worry about shelter or clothing. His access to the Internet will be unlimited and he never has to choose between medical care and having food--though most of his medical care will be delivered via machine rather than a human, and the food he eats will largely be synthetics (which are, it must be said, virtually indistinguishable from non-synthesized food). And thanks to the Internet access he can learn whatever he's capable of learning, or else he can just watch pron all day.

Entirely up to him.

"But what if he's an alcoholic and just buys booze?" Well, guess what? That's his choice, too. One thing this system has in spades is freedom. As long as you're not hurting anyone else, you can do whatever you want. But if you spend all your UBI money on booze and pot, and you don't have anything left for food? That's your tough luck. There are charities which may help you, but there is no government assistance. UBI is it and the government won't tell you how to spend it. Now, you are paying something for everything you receive; your rent is dirt cheap (as are the other necessities and services) but nothing is free.

In our dollars you might get $1,000 a month for UBI and rent on an efficiency apartment costs maybe $100 for a space that's about four meters on a side. Electricity is $50 for your non-metered subscription, so you can use as much as you like; ditto for your communications service, all handled via your PDA (you might buy a new one every other year for perhaps $200-$300). So after that, you've got $800 per month for everything else: food, medical care (there is no medical insurance; it's not necessary), transportation, and entertainment.

Everyone gets the same amount. It doesn't matter if that's all their income, or if they make $50,000,000 a year; everyone gets a UBI check every month. Further, this figure is per adult, starting at age 18; minors do not receive UBI. But considering the prices of basic necessities in this world, two adults can easily support several children with just their UBI.

But here's the funny thing: this all exerts a negative pressure on population growth. First-world countries don't have the birth rates of third-world countries, and that's partly because in third-world countries, sex is just about the only entertainment that's available. In this world, with all this going on, the popuation of Earth peaks at just under nine billion before it begins to decline, slowly; and after this regime has gone on for a few decades they figure out how to go faster than light, and start colonizing other star systems. That has a negligible direct effect on Earth's population, of course, but it does spread the human race across the cosmos.

Yes, it's a utopia, and yes, I'm deliberately skipping over a lot of the problems that would undoubtedly crop up. But I don't have to make it any more realistic than other SF writers made their utopias.

* * *

Dang, that one did go on. It's after 3. Time for bed. At least I can sleep in; it's Sunday!

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