The RICH Economy

Summarized (lots of quotes, stretching fair use) from Robert Anton Wilson's Schrodingers Cat Trilogy (written in 1979). Not saying I agree with this, but it's an interesting scenario...

Rising Income through Cybernetic Homeostasis

Scheme to abolish all forms of human labor except the most Creative... Anybody who could be replaced by a machine would be replaced by a machine. (Economic Transition)

Offer a prize of $50k/yr to any worker who could design a machine that would replace him. Plus $30k/yr to all the other workers replaced by the machine. (Who paid the reward? The corporations no longer hiring the people?)

  • a "multi-inventive Leisure class" of people who eliminate multiple jobs, making themselves wealthy retirees. "Many had gone on to seek advanced scientific degrees, and some had already migrated to the L5 space-cities (Space Migration)."
  • The majority of the unemployed (UnEmployment) spent most of their time drinking, screwing, watching TV. When moralists complained that this was a subhuman existence, the counter was "And what kind of existence did they have doing idiot jobs that machines do better?" (Meaningful)
  • Some sought new jobs, to have even higher income. They discovered that many of the jobs still available required higher education. Adult education (Educating Adults, Intelligence Increase) became the fastest-growing industry.

Reward of $100k to the non-scientist who made the most important contribution to the fight against aging (Life Extension). (Since scientists were already well-funded for this.)

  • Lots of ideas submitted. Most from the multi-inventive Leisure class. Others from the paid unemployed, who were apparently getting bored. The majority of practical ideas were coming from colonists of the L5 space-cities.
  • People were starting to think longer-term (Sustainable), as they considered the implications of living for centuries.

Prisons were abolished. Crimes were divided into 3 classes:

  • Victimless Crimes (crimes against convention): there would have to be complaints by 100 neighbors of an individual. Then there would be an investigation by group of "trained neurogenetecists", who would recommend neighbors mind their business (usually), or mildly recommend relocation of the individual. Those choosing relocation were assigned by the government supercomputer to a locale where their heresy was considered "normal". This was typically an L5 city; most of them liked it when they got there. Some heretics chose to stay where they were, annoying their neighbors.
  • crimes against property (Property Rights). Felon required to make full restitution to the victim. If unable, then government made restitution, and felon had a "debt to society", repaid by working at half wages on a socially useful project.
  • crimes of violence (Violent Crime): felons were sent (for life) to "Hell". Hell had been Mississippi, now sealed off; there they could do whatever they wanted. Many people moved to Hell voluntarily, as it was the only place that fit their desired social structures.

All citizens were declared shareholders in the L5 space-cities. And a National Dividend was distributed every year, in the form of trade aids. (UBI)

  • They were like Money, could be exchanged for services or goods.
  • But could not be loaned at interest
  • And could not be hoarded, as they lost value over time (Negative Interest)
  • Thus everyone had incentive to spend it all quickly, creating demand, expanding the economy.

Excerpts from briefer summary from The Illuminati Papers... invented with L Wayne Benner (who did some writing with Tim Leary)

Someone else has posted a longer excerpt.

reader comments

Where did prizes/rewards come from? The company no longer paying you? The government? If the latter, did this require (at least temporarily) new/higher taxes?

Uh, so printing money (trade aids) isn't inflationary?

The prizes/rewards were paid for by the Government, which was making loads of money from the L5 Space Cities - mostly from energy production, but also from other manufacturing and such that could take place more easily in space. The main concept of "trade aids" is that each is stamped with a date and "devalued" with time - this is a counter-inflationary function. Inflation is caused, in the long term, by an increase in the quantity of money in circulation without a proportionate increase in services or by changing interest rates or load rates. By expiring trade aids, the total dollar value in circulation only increases in a short-term period; long term, the amount of money stays the same or decreases.

Several years later, certain elements of society decided that it would be a much better idea to paste their ideals to the walls of public buildings, without expectation of prize or reward. This annoyed many of their neighbors, who chose to build otherwise identical public buildings, right beside the old ones, but without the pastey ideals. This annoyed certain elements, who inadvertantly transmuted to a flock of geese and proceeded to peck each other to death in a public square. A hastily organized baseball league salvaged the feathers for later use in a banned fetish ritual involving young boys named Tim. For reasons that are now obscure, this was considered a crime against property, and nine judges, wigged and robed, pranced around the diamond as if they had just hit their own balls.

And that, Billy Bob, is why this day is different from all others.

It seems unclear where the government got the money for the rewards. However, the talk about inflation in Schrodinger's Cat suggests that they simply printed the money. The theory (as it appears in the Illuminati Paper excerpt) seems to assume that before significant inflation could occur, cybernation and space industry would produce a corresponding increase in real wealth (since the $50k and $30k rewards wouldn't really start to add up until cybernation began in earnest.) It seems relevant to note that the Apollo program and its spinoffs apparently paid back at least thirteen bucks on the dollar. Incidentally, Heinlein describes a slightly different version of the "Hell" scenario in his (much earlier)short story, "Coventry".

see PhilJones:EliminateYourJob, PhilJones:AutomatingMechanicalJobs

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