Jobs in a Resource-Based Economy

I would like to offer my suggestions for how the concept of employment could be addressed, defined, and/or enacted in a resource-based economy (RBE).  I work in healthcare, and I see a wholly viable paradigm available for emulation in the medical community’s path of what I will refer to as “Rotation-and-Specialization” (RAS).  I will refer to the occupation itself as a service performed by an individual to serve shared needs.  Calling a job in a RBE a service makes much more sense to me, because individuals would need to serve in a role (ostensibly several) in order to maintain necessary services.

There would be two broad categories of service: armed and unarmed.  If the entire population of the world is not adopting a RBE, then an armed service is a necessary reality.  The machinery that would make a RBE thrive however, is the unarmed service.

The best way to illustrate my point is with examples:

1. John Q. Public is a senior in high school.  One of his classes each day is a one or two hour block called “service rotation.”  He spends about 4-6 weeks on each rotation, performing/assisting with a service.  His current rotation is Janitorial service.  He leaves his campus and shadows a person who has specialized in Janitorial Services to see what it is like.  He and his friends all joke about how much they hate “trash duty,” but they would invariably develop a shared experience, and a deep respect for how difficult the service is (and hopefully be less likely to litter as a result).

John finishes his Janitorial Services rotation, and moves on to his Food Services rotation.  He is shadowing citizens specialized in Food Services, and his duties include harvesting food resources from community farms or ‘urban farm skyscrapers,’ transporting and organizing resources for ease of access, handling citizen complaints about food quality, etc.  He used to always wonder how the bananas ‘got on the shelf,’ and now he recognizes why his parents & neighbors don’t take more than they need.  They’ve all had to serve in food services, and they know that it makes an unnecessary amount of work for their fellow citizens.

Six weeks later, John moves on to his Peace Officer rotation.  He rides along with specialized Peace Officers, and learns about what their daily service consists of.  He enjoys this service so much, that he decides that after high school, instead of going to college, he wants to specialize in this service, thus completing the RAS model.

2. Sally, John’s friend, rotated with him on all of the same services.  However, Sally didn’t find Peace Officer service palatable, so at the end of the year, after she’d been through all of the rotations that didn’t require a Bachelor’s degree, she was sure she wanted to go to college.  In college, just like high school, she had a course devoted to experiencing other specialties, which also gave the “specialists” in each of those specialties some much needed help.  She enjoyed her research rotation, where she helped people specialized in certain areas of science to carry out research.  She completed her Legal rotation effortlessly, but didn’t want to be a lawyer.  She really liked her medicine rotation, where she followed around a Family Practice physician who made house calls.  If she wants to specialize in medicine, she’ll have to finish her degree, and then apply to medical school.

Under this RAS model, inherent problems exist that certainly warrant addressing.  For example, what would happen if everyone wanted to specialize in the arts, and just sit around and make music all day?  My first argument to this question would be that this doesn’t happen now, and people’s interests are so diverse and talents are so varied, that it seems highly unlikely that a majority of people would settle on any one service.  However, since it would be possible, it requires addressing.

The solution would (as most do) rely on majority rule.  A simple vote would allow citizens to decide what’s fair.  The nature of an application process tends to suffice at weeding out a majority of unqualified candidates.  Because, even though no one receives monetary compensation, you’d still want the most qualified person serving as a lawyer, or physician.  One suggestion could be requiring persons specialized in the ‘soft’ services (music, literature, etc.) to spend a certain amount of time each year performing services with the lowest census.  In that case, it might make more sense to require all individuals to spend a small portion of time (2-3 weeks per year) rotating through those services with consistently low censuses.  If no one wants to be a janitor, then everyone must equally support the burden.  This allocation of human resources seems most appropriate in an economic model with the same goal of allocating natural resources.

What if someone wants to change specialties?  Have at it.  As long as there is space in the census available for an extra teacher, or an extra lawyer, diversification would be welcomed.

What if someone wants to try multiple specialties?  Certain specialties (and the demands within each subspecialty would come into play) would allow for citizens to have multiple specialties.  A Peace Officer could retain his specialization in that public service whilst also serving as a professional sports player.  The particulars of how “specialist” status would be retained would obviously vary from service to service (tests, performance reviews, etc.)

What if someone gets fired?  Time to pick a new specialty.  Maybe you shouldn’t get to access resources unless you’re serving (in some capacity).

Who would decide who gets to do research?  That’s a tricky question.  Under the RBE model, it may not be fruitful to perform any available research study that we can imagine (but this sounds like fodder for a completely separate article).  However, a problem-based research approach keeps in line perfectly with a needs-based model, such as RBE.  For example, [x] amount of people die in a year from disease [y], therefore individuals specialized in pertinent areas request that someone perform the research service to discover a cure.  This isn’t dissimilar from how things work today, and more than likely an imaginative individual would recognize the need for research before the problem gets to be a large problem in the first place.  But under a RBE, studying the varying colors of bat droppings doesn’t provide a useful service (unless perhaps there’s such a surplus of staffed specialties that the endeavor doesn’t detract from maintaining economic utilities).

Requiring individuals to rotate through all available services would create a shared experience that fostered empathy among citizens.  The added benefit is that all services would receive support staffing, and the needs of the collective are maintained.