Home » Monetary System » Economic Calculation in a Resource Based Economy – A Defence

Economic Calculation in a Resource Based Economy – A Defence


INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER [1]

The ideas of Ludwig von Mises, an economist of the Austrian School, have been resurrected by critics of a RBE in an attempt to show that a moneyless economy is impossible. Despite numerous attempts to disprove the criticism, the spectre of von Mises still hangs over the social movements that support a RBE. But my defence here is not merely yet another attempt at disproving von Mises, but emerges also from the frequency of misunderstandings and misuse of his critique, and some issues regarding the proposed solutions from RBE supporters. I wish to set the record straight on what the true challenge of von Mises’s ‘calculation problem’ is, but also offer internal critique against some rebuttals against von Mises by RBE, such as the idea that computation solves the calculation problem.

It must first of all be pointed out that the general idea of a moneyless economy is not new, and that versions of it have been presented and criticised before, most often in connection to some version socialism. This is an unfortunate consequence of the constrained way in which the debate on the issue has been held since the 1920’s. The Venus Project and Zeitgeist Movement in fact, to my knowledge, represent the first attempts to have the discussion outside of that particular box. Yet the situation creates the potential for misunderstandings, and since the last thing I wish to do is add to the accusations of ‘secret socialism’ against the organisations, there is a need to clarify a few things.

The main opponents of my article, von Mises and to an extent von Hayek, where critics of the idea of a moneyless economy and involved in what was to become known as the ‘Socialist Calculations Debates’, after von Mises’s main book on the subject, ‘Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth‘ which he wrote with the USSR in mind. Getting rid of money and markets was, at the time that the Debates began, the avowed goal of many who called themselves socialists. History has of course shown us that no serious effort to do so was ever attempted, and that no iteration of ‘actually existing socialism’ ever came even close to ridding itself of the need of money[2].

Nonetheless, I wish to make it very clear that my use of such sources is in no way an implication that the Zeitgeist movement, or Venus Project for that matter, is any kind of socialist endeavour – and most certainly not something reminiscent of the USSR! It just so happens that some of the points raised by von Mises and von Hayek, and their opponents, can in general be directed at any society that wishes to rid itself of markets and money. This is precisely what has been done by critics of the RBE. Rather than ignoring the challenge due to its roots, I intend to re-deploy it in an updated way such that it is relevant to the RBE.

My intent is to show that von Mises’s challenge is surmountable and his criticism ultimately futile – that a moneyless society can indeed become a reality. What stands in our way is no ‘real and true and literal impossibility’ of the sort that von Mises and his ilk imagined (Salerno, in von Mises, 1990:49), but merely politics and ideology, and the inability of some minds to think outside the box.

THE CALCULATION PROBLEM & VON MISES’S PROPOSED SOLUTION

The way that von Mises presents the calculation problem in his classical text on the matter is as one of choices in production. It is not, as is sometimes misunderstood, a problem of distribution of that which is produced, or deciding exactly what to produce. Even scholars who are positive to the idea of a moneyless or non-market economy sometimes misunderstand this. David McNally (1993, 2010), for example, attempts to argue against von Mises by pointing out how there is no difficulty in the absence of market prices to determine how many schools or hospitals a society needs. While McNally in entirely right about this, that fact does not contradict von Mises. Even von Mises acknowledges that a moneyless economy could estimate the approximate needs of the population (1990:5), such as “whether it desires 1,000 hectolitres of wine rather than 500 of oil” (1990:16). Nor is it challenging to conclude “that 1,000 hectolitres of wine are better than 800” (ibid.).

Rather, von Mises’s critique deals with the possibility of rational decision-making regarding the allocation of resources in the production process, when faced with limited resources. This limitation of resources should not be confused with the artificial scarcity and misuse of resources under the current economic paradigm, and is thus not solved by the concept of “abundance” that is sometimes referred to by supporters of a RBE. Instead it is the practical fact that we do not have an infinite amount of resources, space or time – and likewise face other constraints such as not wanting to damage the environment or waste resources for future generations. We simply have not world enough to realise all potential goods we can possibly imagine, and therefore we are forced to make choices and prioritise. As has been covered, the issue is not insurmountable in the realm of deciding what to produce, even according to von Mises – the choice can be made based on need, and need can be determined by simply asking or observing people. Yet in the realm of production, the hurdle becomes more challenging. It can be illustrated by the following example:

Let us say that we are manufacturing a product, and that we can produce it in three different ways, all of which require differing amounts of the particular resources x, y, z. We assume in this case that the result is otherwise the same, i.e. that the outcome of production has the same qualities regardless of what resources are used or in what combination.


Method 1: Method 2: Method 3: Method 4:
5x 10x 10x 4x
10y 5y 10y 4y
3z 3z 5z 2z

As stated before, even von Mises admits that a moneyless economy can conclude that Method 4 is superior. Let us therefore discard it, as it cannot illustrate the issue at hand, and assume that we only have the methods 1, 2 and 3 available to us. Again, even von Mises admits that a moneyless economy can clearly see that Method 3 is inferior and should not be used. The problem von Mises wanted to show is in the choice between Methods 1 and 2. How does one choose which one is better, without a way to compare the value of x and y? Of determining how many x each y is worth, and vice versa, so that their total cost can be expressed as a single number? In a market economy we can easily make a decision, because we can compare the price of x and y. The price is determined by supply and demand, and thus the cheaper of the two will be the one that there is the most supply of, or least demand for. Nor does the individual person or firm need to have any other information than the price; by selecting the cheapest method they will choose the best allocation of resources, and this without doing anything other than just trying to maximise their own profits – this is known as economising on information (see Hayek, 1945: 6).

In other words, von Mises argues firstly that rational decision-making requires commensurability; a single unit of value by which different options can be compared. Choice must be reduced to a matter of calculation in order to be exact, and is otherwise just an estimation (von Mises, 1990:22). Secondly, he argues that market prices are the best such unit, since they contain in a sense all the information needed by being the result of the aggregation of many individual decisions, and hence carry objective information on resource availability.

THE FLAWS OF THE “SOLUTION”

Concerning the first point of von Mises’s assertions, political economist John O’Neill follows von Mises’s old opponent Otto Neurath in rejecting the above position, and calls it pseudo-rationalism. “Our knowledge”, O’Neill argues, “that informs our decision making is uncertain and the rules of rationality rarely determine a single answer given what is known. A rationalist who believes in reason must recognize the boundaries to the power of reason in arriving at decisions” (1998:115). To believe that there exist a single rule or procedure, such as the price mechanism, that determines the answers to all decisions, is for him the clear mark of pseudo-rationalism. Instead, x and y in our example would have to be compared directly, taking all of their properties and weighing the pros and cons against each-other on a multi-dimensional grid of criteria. This is because their different properties are incommensurable – they cannot be reduced to one another so that we can express the quantity of x, n(x) as n(y), or vice versa. Environmental impacts cannot be expressed in the same terms as product safety or ease of recycling or repair. Even the category ‘environmental impacts’ is internally incommensurable, since CO2 emissions do not have the same consequences as soil erosion or release of lead. To reduce the entirety of two different things to a single, one-dimensional value by necessity means that other aspects of the things are being ignored. In focusing on price, we must by definition ignore everything else. von Mises’s first point hence rests on his second; the belief that price, unlike other properties such as weight or volume, is a conglomeration of all relevant knowledge, and can thus carry all the information need to make rational decisions. There are three reasons that this assumption is incorrect.

Firstly, money is actually a very poor carrier of information. Market prices do not measure externalities, and companies can actually gain competitive advantages by externalising costs and passing them on to society in the form of pollution, increased job insecurity, potentially harmful products, etc. The real cost, not in money, but in the effect on individuals, society and the environment, is hidden by the market price. Resource cost is also greatly shaped by the monetary cost of extraction, and not the environmental or health costs involved. Even if one assumes that such externalisation is balanced out by penalisation, such as the Pigouvian tax[3] suggested by reformists who hope to “fix” the market, issues remain. Price can be influenced by the market power of individual actors, and competition itself can be another hurdle; there is an inherent incentive to keep information from competitors, as not to lose competitive advantages. The most relevant example is information concerning plans and strategies for the future, which are most often kept secret. Patents and trade-secrets can also hide scientific and technological knowledge from the public, which could be relevant to decision-making.

The only information that the market relays to each actor is, potentially, the relation between supply and demand at the time the plan is made; each actor is blind to how their competitors plan and react to the same information. Therefore, no actor has adequate information to construct a plan that suites future levels of demand, even though every actor can be said to act rationally given the information they possess. Individual actors whom are not in deliberation, all behaving rationally, can produce an overall sub-optimal result; this is a central understanding of game theory (see also O’Neill, 1998:99, 134-138).

Secondly, only the subjective willingness to pay of those with purchasing power has any effect on the market. Nor does the market care from where purchasing power originates; any given sum of money has the same power, regardless of whether it comes from a single billionaire or a million of the most impoverished. Thus the poor are not only unable to participate, but the frivolous fancies of the wealthy will often weigh much higher than their most basic needs (Mujezinovic, 2013).

Moreover, by marginalising and excluding actors lacking purchasing power the market does the same to the knowledge they posses. Only the market value, i.e. profitability, of knowledge matters on the market; but such knowledge is far from the only knowledge relevant to rational decision-making (Ibid.). The obvious example is the scientific knowledge concerning human caused global warming and other environmental issues, which is continuously ignored by capitalists who opt to continue ‘business as usual’.

Reformists have argued that a more fair distribution of wealth can be achieved through changes in policy, which would alleviate this problem and allow everyone to participate in market exchanges. That, however, ignores the fact that the incentive structure is not altered by redistribution. It is not for a lack of money or the inability to participate on the market that the knowledge concerning environmental limits is ignored. It is ignored because it is not profitable, and because if taken into account it would actually act as a hurdle to both profit in general, and to the dominant paradigm of constant economic growth[4]. Additionally, there are people and entities that lack, by their very nature, the ability to participate on the market; such as future generations, non-human animals and Nature herself. If we acknowledge these things to possess any form value or meaning beyond just what those able are willing to pay for them, the market is insufficient to our ends (O’Neill, 1998: 112-129)(O’Neill, 1993: 161-171).

Thirdly, a market-based system also assume that the outcome of all production is things which are to be consumed by individuals, rather than things to be enjoyed by the entire human family, such as clean air or drinkable water. To quote Iain McKay: “[i]f the market measures only preferences amongst things that can be monopolized and sold to individuals, as distinguished from values that are enjoyed collectively, then it follows that information necessary for rational decision-making in production is not provided by the market (2008:2130)”. That which may be rational for an isolated individual given a competitive, or even antagonistic, relation to other individuals, may not be rational for a group given a cooperative relationship between its members. The chief premise of the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma is after all that the prisoners in question are sequestered from each-other and make their decisions individually. Where they to collaborate and arrive at a joint decision there wouldn’t be a dilemma!

Conclusively, not only is rational economic decision-making possible without money, a rational and above all sustainable economy practically demands decision-making based on something other than market price. Only then can we take into account all the facts needed for truly rational outcomes to become possible. The truth is that von Mises’s so called ‘solution’ is no more a solution than sweeping dirt under the rug is ‘cleaning’; it simply conceals the problem. The environmental, social, ethical, etc. consequences of decisions do not cease to exist because one decides to ignore them – all that does is exacerbate the problem since the main system of decision-making is unable to take into account the vast majority of negative consequences. As long as there is a profit, the system appears to be working fine by its own standards.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS WITHIN A RBE & THE ISSUE OF COMPLEXITY

Although von Mises’s proposed solution has been shown to be futile, his arguments still present us with one final problem: that of complexity. Let us return to the example given with the four methods. When dealing with such a simply example, it is not difficult to image non-monetary ways of comparing x and y – perhaps their environmental impact or total availability could be the basis. It would, for example, be conceivable that a cannery that makes their cans out of one of two potential metals could easily explore which one would be most suitable.

But for von Mises, it is above all when it comes to so-called ‘intermediate products’ that the real problem reveals itself; i.e. goods that are themselves components of other goods. Goods such as computers, which have potentially hundreds or even many thousands of intermediates. “The human mind” von Mises claims, “cannot orient itself properly among the bewildering mass of intermediate products and potentialities […]. It would simply stand perplexed before the problems of management and location (1990:17).” The essay I, Pencil by Leonard Read, although stemming from a pro-free market ideological basis, remains a good illustration on how even such a simple product as a pencil might have a very complex production chain. How do we solve this problem of complexity, given that we now know that von Mises’s proposition merely ignores most of what is actually relevant for truly rational decision-making?

Could not a potential solution lie in simply relieving the human mind? To merely detail all the properties of all the intermediates involved and use a computer to find the optimal method? Computer aid in decision-making is certainly an integral part of helping us ‘orient ourselves’, but we mustn’t assume that computers can simply resolve the entire issue for us through straight-forward calculation. That would be to repeat von Mises’s own mistake and assume commensurability between different values. It would be to assume that all problems have a solution in the form of Method 4 in the example given; one that is clearly superior in every way. Yet we may very well encounter situations where one method is better in the sense of using less resources, but another is more sustainable; where one uses less energy but the other is safer, and so on; i.e. methods 1 and 2. This is illustrated more clearly in table 2, showing an example of how resource costs could potentially be presented in a RBE.


 

Method 1 Method 2 Method 3
Resources used Copper, tin Aluminium Iron, Platinum
Environ. impact of resource retrieval[6] 3, 2 1 2, 4
Resource scarcities[7] 20%, 15% 5% 10%, 60%*
*resource very rare!
Energy use 1000 kWh 3000 kWh 1500 kWh
Environ. impact of energy use 2 3 2
CO2 equivalent    emissions 500 m3 700 m3 600 m3
Other pollutants SO2, 1 ppb Pb, 0.002 µg/m3 NO2, 2 ppb
Est. product lifespan 4 years 7 years 5 years
Environ. impact of total production process[8] 3 2.5 2
Recyclable % 85% 95% 70%
Energy requirement for recycling (total) 3500 kWh 2000 kWh 1000 kWh
Environ. impact of recycling 1 3 2
Potential alternative uses[9] 22 16 19

Table 2: Example of a resource cost array detailing some aspects of three methods of manufacturing an equivalent product. It is not an extensive list but an example of what might potentially be taken into account in a RBE. Note that the table only details a one time cost; ‘products’ such as hospitals or machines would have to have a year-by-year account of their cost through-out their estimated lifespan. As this table is meant as an example only, the numbers are just invented and no attempt has been made to reflect real world conditions.

 Note that no straight-forward calculation can be made that finds the optimal method, and the different properties and aspect of each method are not all reducible to each-other or to any single unit. Numerical expressions and mathematical tools are indispensable aids in giving us a proper overview of the issue, and computation is necessary to help us orient ourselves among the many options (some of which are not shown here). Yet, in the end, an informed judgement must be made on which method is the most suitable in this case.


An ordinal scale is a possible solution, where we simply arrange aims from the most to the least important and prioritise aims of a higher order, so that any given aim is only worked toward once the one above it has been satisfied. For example, we could decide that environmental sustainability is always the most important goal, and that only when sustainability has been assured will other matters come into play. The current proposed solution of Peter Joseph and the Zeitgeist Movement utilises such an ordinal scale (2013). Yet even this solution has a small problem attached to it. Even when we find one method that is valid in a given context and scenario, there is no reason to assume it is a universal solution that is equally validity for every context and scenario, and can be applied across the globe[5]. To prioritise sustainability could be a good general rule, but in some cases one would have to make exceptions – what if one faced a scenario where trading away a tiny bit of suitability would immensely improve product safety, or use a resource that is far more abundant? No universal procedure can be applied here, no rule where x amount of sustainability trades for y amount of abundance in every situation, because the two are incommensurable both with respect to each-other and internally. That is, environmental impact cannot be expressed in terms of resources saved; just as different forms of environmental impact are qualitatively different and cannot necessarily be expressed in terms of one another, and different resources differ qualitatively and cannot be expressed in terms of one another.

How we go about applying our reason to achieve the best possible solution must change depending on the given setting. Unlike a capitalist society, a RBE cannot give an answer that is always applicable, such as “maximise profit”. We regard the various possibilities and use the scientific method to assist us; every scenario must be considered on its own and what we do in one case may not be what is done in another case. Value becomes dynamic, and based on current information so as to realistically and rationally find the best possible solution for whatever problem is faced. A part of this is the development of rules of thumb, standard procedures, overall aims, etc., but these are guidelines and not straitjackets. The process also includes making use of computers, which both assist us by giving us overview and sometimes ‘make the decisions on their own’ – there is no need to reinvent the wheel every time, after all. If we’ve arrived at a decision it would be a waste of time and resources to repeat the process of decision-making over and over. It is better if it be handed over to computers until such a time that the need arises to change something in a way that is beyond their abilities. Using computer aid in decision-making frees up our time so that we can focus on deliberation and debate where it is really necessary.

A further clarification of what I mean can be found in an exchange between von Mises and one of his main opponents, Otto Neurath[10]. von Mises asserts that when we “choose whether we shall use a waterfall to produce electricity or extend coal-mining and better utilize the energy contained in coal […] the processes of production are so many and so long, the conditions necessary to the success of the undertaking so multitudinous, that we can never be content with vague ideas. To decide whether an undertaking is sound we must calculate carefully” (1981:89). And, he finishes, “computation demands units” (Ibid.) Neurath, however, responds (quoted in O’Neill, 1998:116):

“The question might arise, should one protect coal mines or put greater strain on men? The answer depends for example on whether one thinks that hydraulic power may be sufficiently may be sufficiently developed or that solar heat might come to be better used, etc. If one believes the latter, one may ‘spend’ more coal more freely and will hardly waste human effort where coal can be used. If however one is afraid that when one generation uses too much coal thousands will freeze to death in the future, one might use more human power and save coal. Such and many other non-technical matters determine the choice of a technically calculable plan… we can see no possibility of reducing the production plan to some kind of unit and then to compare the various plans in terms of such units.”

What this means is simply that comparability need not assume commensurability; we can and must compare different options directly, taking into account all their complex properties. Nor is there one rule that can be mechanically adapted to produce a determinable decision regarding which plan to adopt, in part because uncertainties always exist and our beliefs and expectations form a part of our reasoning. There is thus an ineliminable role for non-technical judgement even in technical decisions.

Nor does von Mises’s complexity problem pose an issue: in a RBE, the complexity of production in an industrially advanced society is laid bare. Complexity is shown to be something constant in any technologically advanced society where manufacturing is done via convoluted chains and networks of production forming a global grid, that alters and is altered by our society and environment. This is the whole point – to reveal the actual, real, tough choices that prices hides. To allow scientific knowledge, academic debate, evidence-based reasoning and ethical concerns a place in decision-making. We need not solve the ‘problem’ of complexity because complexity is not the problem; the concealment of it is the real problem!

The same is true of the difficult choices and trade-offs in production; it is a constant companion of decision-making in any society. In any situation where you do not have access to an infinite amount of resources, time and possibilities, a trade-off will be necessary when faced with several valid, yet mutually exclusive, options. As long as you can’t have everything, choices need to be made – these will always involve ‘opportunity costs’ and forgone alternatives in some form. In a moneyless society the ‘calculation problem’ becomes transformed into the continuous challenge of what the most rational and beneficent method of making trade-offs is, and what needs to be prioritised in any given situation. In other words, the lack of a price mechanism does not mean an inability to make rational choices, it means that for once we get to make actually rational choices! We get to disregard what The Market says and use our reason and judgement to try to find the best possible way to do whatever we want done – selecting the highest quality, greatest sustainability and overall biggest benefit to everyone that we can; and not the cheapest or most profitable way.

Tools such as multiple-criteria decision analysis, natural capital accounting, material balance planning and input-output modelling are all potential sources of aid, that can help us in that endeavour. Yet they are all in various ways flawed and burdened by the politics and ideology of currently existing or dead economic systems. The same can be said of the methods of post-normal science, cybernetics and systems theory; there is a potential in each one, if only it was developed further in a way that is relevant to a RBE. Unfortunately, the efforts to do so have been hampered by the nearly century-old arguments of von Mises. Recognising them as incorrect is the first step towards building actual alternatives and, as O’Neill (1998:128) puts it, “entails a need to rethink the ways we make decisions without a single measure.” The possibility of a RBE has been shown. The real work remains to be done.

 



 

1 Note that this particular piece does not go into the epistemological arguments concerning centralised or decentralised forms of economic planning. For more details on that issue, see O’Neill, 1998:129-159, where the scientific community itself is held up as an example of decentralised, non-market, multi-dimensional global coordination. See also Mujezinovic, 2013 for a briefer overview.

2 The use of ‘need’ is intentional, as for instance the bloody regime of the Khmer Rouge did attempt to simply ban the use of money without overcoming the need for it, with disastrous consequences.

3 See Baumol 1972:307–322 for more information.

4 Exposing and arguing against this paradigm is a crucial element in the school of economics known as Ecological Economics. See the work of Herman Daly, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen or Joan Martinez-Alier, among many others, for examples.

5 The ecological disasters caused by large-scale factory farming, both of the capitalist and USSR-style command economy varieties, serve as a real world example of the consequences of neglecting local conditions and attempting to apply the same approach globally.

6 Assume that a qualitative judgement based on ecological research is expressed on a 1-10 scale for easy overview.

7 One presumes that such a thing would be measured as the total world need / know total world availability. Thus a number of 10% means that the total world need is 10% of the total known world availability.

8 This would be an approximation, expressed numerically on a 1-10 scale, based on the inclusion of intermediate products. Other tables would detail all such intermediates and their respective Resource Costs. This value could thus be altered for each method by altering the choice of intermediate products; and the same value for each intermediate product could be altered by a different choice of its constituent products, and so on.

9 Resource tables for the alternative uses, alternative means of producing them, and all the urgencies of need for each would also have to be taken into account.

10 Caveats must be made regarding the context, and that the technological references are outdated in respect  to what the Zeitgeist Movement (or the Venus Project) wishes to accomplish. It is rather the principle of the matter that I wish to illustrate through these citations.

 


 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baumol W J 1972, ‘On Taxation and the Control of Externalities’, American Economic Review, 62(3)

McNally D 1993, Against the Market, Verso

McNally D 2010 Against the Market, talk held in Fall of 2010
audio file available through the Havens Center for the Study of Social Justice:
www.havenscenter.org

McKay I 2008, An Anarchist FAQ: Volume 1, AK Press

Mujezinovic D 2013, ‘A brief analysis of Hayek’s Epistemological Critique Against Central Planning and in Support of Markets’, unpublished
avaliable at lancaster.academia.edu/DavorMujezinovic

O’Neill J 1993, Ecology, Policy and Politics, Routledge

O’Neill J 1998, The Market: Ethics, Knowledge And Politics, Routledge

Peter Joseph 2013, Economic Calculation in a Natural Law / RBE, talk held on November 12 of 2013 in Berlin
video available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9FDIne7M9o

Read L 1958, ‘I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read’, the Freeman December Issue

von Hayek F 1945, ‘The Use of Knowledge in Society’, The American Economic Review, Vol. 35, No. 4

von Mises L 1981, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, Liberty Fund

von Mises L 1990, Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, Mises Institute

 

 

 

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27 Responses so far.

  1. Spillsammen says:

    Hello everybody out there supporting RBE or NLRBE –
    I’m currently in beginning of making a (free) open source calculator for the resource based economy (just a hobby, wont be big to start with).

    The idea is based on gathering our current technological understandings to make a “scientific lanscape”, of production, distribution, consumption and recycling.
    Here we have a possibility to make basic science a cooperative, and make it’s work close to our social and cultural world. This has hardly tried before.

    Currently I’m just setting up synergistic relationship between the system components som we have basic economic relationships. I also gather resources for methods of resource efficiancy messurements.

    Give me some feedback, and Ill explain whatever you want!
    Everybody is welcome, anything goes!

    Publish then filter# humor of the commons#

    • bhaugen says:

      I’m interested. Where will you publish your work? I’ll subscribe.

      • Spillsammen says:

        Brilliant!
        Until now I haven’t published anything. Sadly, my computer just crashed. Without backup for the last year all my data on this project are lost. From now on, I will sync all my work at a cloud.

        To be honest, this is not just a hobby. As far as this project corresponds with the data I am to be the most sufficient way to “the objective good”, I will devote my life to it. So if you have any other good litterature I would apprechiate it!

        Thank you for sharing bactra.org/weblog/918.html
        It pointed on aspects I haven’t touched, as I mostly read social science. The project of a “economic calculator” I was in the beginning of making was beginning with the easy part, like energy. Here we alredy know the demand, and it would be a whole lot easier. Though, locking out many of the synergistic and prosess demanding aspects. You can join from the start, and I suggest we just start at some google docx online, just to get the basic ideas and references. I will try getting as many contributors as possible after making the basics,

        If you are still interested you can email me and get password for a collective google account for the docx.

        My mail: Isakhindalgjerstad@gmail.com

  2. Let’s assume you are correct, a moneyless economy is possible.

    How do you create a “Sharing Mindset” without the use of force?

  3. Davor Mujezinovic (author) says:

    @Gaurav Sinha
    I implore you to actually read the article, since it quite clearly rejects the idea of ‘supercomputers will solve everything’, which I admit a lot of RBE-people falsely believe in. I fully acknowledge that it’s not a mathematical problem (not entierly at least), but one that “require[s] a human to prioritize options by making choice[s]”. What the article does is question your assumption that what is “reflected as prices in the market” is adequate as the basis of all rational decision-making. I.e. it argues that prices indeed might “contain the summarized information of human subjective preferences”, but that aggregate subjective preferences are insufficient as the basis for decision-making on the SOCIAL level (especially since they are preferences of humans who are not and cannot be fully informed).

    @Adam
    Demand and the question of ‘deserving’ are seperate issues. von Mises acknowledges that even a planned economy can estimate demands (for example, using the same methods firms use to gauge demand, such as surveys or statistical tools). His aim was to show that such an economy is impossible; not inferior or plagued by ethical problems of who deserves how much or whateverelse but completely IMPOSSIBLE. This has been show to be false.

    Your point on a “caste of technocrats” is however vital – what I’ve covered in this article is merely that there exists a possibility of doing this. There are several ways of making it happen, and top-down, centralised, buerocratic/technocratic management is sadly one way of doing this. A terrible, terrible way – but luckily not the only way. I believe in the possibility of creating a system such as this WITHOUT top-down rule, where we all take the part of the ‘planner’ in a similar way to what Robert has explained already. But it is ethical and political discussions such as these, and issues such as those you raise, that are what we should focus on. My article aimed to show that a RBE was POSSIBLE; whether it is DESIRABLE or not – and under what form it might be – is another question.

  4. Gaurav Sinha says:

    I wonder at the ignorance of RBE people who don’t put in any effort to understand the Calculation Problem. The crux of the calculation problem presented by von Mises is that all such calculations finally at their bottom turn into subjective value judgements. Do i want 1% more safety at the cost of using up 1kg more aluminium ? Do I want to reduce 1 tonne carbon emissions in the environment at the cost of having to walk 10 miles a day ? These are not mathematical problems which a computer following rules can find answers for. These require a human to prioritize options by making choice . Choices which can be made only when artificial constraints are not imposed on the human. These choice made by millions of humans get reflected as prices in the market. Prices contain the summarized information of human subjective preferences. I don’t understand why RBE guys have such a difficult time understanding this concept. They need to get out of the closet and think out of the box. Communism with supercomputers is still communism. Why are you guys so adamant on repeating the same core problem which communism suffers from ? Not understanding that human preferences are subjective . One size fits all approach does not work.

    • bhaugen says:

      I see you people have not yet read Cosma Shalizi, of bactra.org/weblog/918.html

      If you do, you will leave convinced that this is a hard problem and neither RBE nor von Mises has the answer. Although part of a real solution is to understand that no real-world markets nor large corporations actually works the way von Mises says it should.

      Here are a couple of pull quotes for the lazy:

      If it’s any consolation, allowing non-convexity [that is, all real-world markets] messes up the markets-are-always-optimal theorems of neo-classical/bourgeois economics, too. (This illustrates Stiglitz’s contention that if the neo-classicals were right about how capitalism works, Kantorovich-style socialism would have been perfectly viable.) Markets with non-convex production are apt to see things like monopolies, or at least monopolistic competition, path dependence, and, actual profits and power.
      […]
      The conditions under which equilibrium prices really are all a decision-maker needs to know, and really are sufficient for coordination, are so extreme as to be absurd. (Stiglitz is good on some of the failure modes.) Even if they hold, the market only lets people “serve notice of their needs and of their relative strength” up to a limit set by how much money they have. This is why careful economists talk about balancing supply and “effective” demand, demand backed by money.

      This is just as much an implicit choice of values as handing the planners an objective function and letting them fire up their optimization algorithm. Those values are not pretty. They are that the whims of the rich matter more than the needs of the poor; that it is more important to keep bond traders in strippers and cocaine than feed hungry children.

      • “Unfortunately, the efforts to do so have been hampered by the nearly century-old arguments of von Mises”

        And that will continue until you spend more time understanding the praxeological implications of what Mises and his proponents are saying. Literally the first 3 chapters of Human Action were written with you in mind as the audience.

        This is a long post about EC but sadly much of it avoids the meat of the topic. This post reads like a cheap 30 minute infomercial which promises to deliver hopefully at some point before the end. (No offense OP) Sadly after all the talk only an assertion that calculation can be done without money and that money or modern “dead” economic solutions do not provide a rational solution. Something that which, if the author understood his opponents positions, would know they are presenting the argument with the notion that they ARE making rational decisions. That is the whole point of economic calculation. That it is rational. Yet no where does the author elaborate on why it is not rational. The irony is that EC argues that things like the VP are irrational and yet here you stand trying to claim the opposite.

        On Money.
        Money simply solves the double coincidence of needs. It is simply a normalization layer for individual subjective inputs. Don’t over think it. It is nothing more.

        Also there was a useless comment about externalities, pollution and whatnot. The type of economy Mises is arguing for describes the costs of those externalities getting rolled into system as an input in the price mechanism. For example if a particular widget factory excessively pollutes a region or territory pre-existing respect for property rights should be employed to fetch compensation for the damage on that region. This adds additional cost as an input in the good and that is then rolled into the final price found on the market. If the factory can only continue if it can show its justification to the consumer that it is able to adequately answer the demand for compensation in damages and continue to operate at a profit. If the compensation forces the factory to operate at a loss then it is closed. This obviously breaks down when the State protects one business or another.

        The OP classically and perhaps intentionally confuses state capitalism with the type of capitalism Mises is referring to when he brought the topic of economic calculation in his book, “economic calculation in the socialist commonwealth” and also in “Human Action”. Mises in fact spent the first 6 chapters of human action, wasting the readers time, and going out of his way to call this out. So you can imagine the frustration of someone who has read Mises has when someone writes a lengthy blog post that was refuted in the first few chapters of Human Action several decades ago. This was posted in 2015. These are the same arguments I have heard from over half a decade ago. There has literally been no progress in a response to the Economic Calculation debate. I imagine it to take the same course as it was with the socialists that were originally intended as the audience of EC. The sooner people forget EC the better off it is for the ideology.

      • filc says:

        DAVOR MUJEZINOVIC (AUTHOR)
        September 30, 2015 at 18:45

        “@Adam
        Demand and the question of ‘deserving’ are separate issues. von Mises acknowledges that even a planned economy can estimate demands (for example, using the same methods firms use to gauge demand, such as surveys or statistical tools). His aim was to show that such an economy is impossible; not inferior or plagued by ethical problems of who deserves how much or whatever else but completely IMPOSSIBLE. This has been show to be false.”

        Do you know how Mises acknowledged that? He pointed out that the USSR used external markets as a crutch in their own estimation. However this raises the obvious point that their own calculations are now clouded and only as good as their ability to predict yesterdays pricing stolen from a completely separate landscape. The result? Too many nails!

        This is discussed in great detail in several of his books and in the books of other authors.

        ” has been show to be false.”

        This is precisely what is being debated. So you can’t just simply assert this. Circular reasoning and all.

        We can all agree that a RBE will succeed the very moment your robot becomes omnipotent and omniscient. Knowing the individual subjective preferences of all consumers at any given moment of any given time.

        I suppose the other solution would to bring about a star trek style super abundance. Break physics and create something from nothing. Fine that would also deliver us into your technological utopia. However I would expect to see prices of all goods and services to generally fall over time. By the way a typical RBE proponent preaches I would expect this singularity to happen tomorrow.

        Sadly I can only sit here and hope in vein that you are correct. You have to options.

        A) Break the laws of physics. Create mass from nothing. Star trek it up in a replicator
        B) Create an omnipotent and omniscient robot to read human preferences. Deliver humans their needs without draining the world of all its precious scarce resources. A is a better solution. Both are science fiction.

  5. bhaugen says:

    You might like this: bactra.org/weblog/918.html

    Plagues both sides in your ongoing arguments.

    Beyond that, I really liked your article, thought it covered a lot of issues well.

  6. Adam says:

    What about the most important factor in the economy, which is the demand? Let’s assume that we have a global RBE system and I order 1 kg of gold. Will the system just give it to me? Who or what would decide whether I “deserve” this? The system in no way is able to know how much I want or need something, if I can’t exchange it for anything else.

    • Robert Meyer says:

      Adam, it probably depends on what you need it for, and the scarcity of the resource. I could see a system that prioritizes the use of resources based on societal importance and scarcity. Certain highly important and scarce resources would likely be prioritized for best social use, such as science, medicine, etc. Also, raw resources such as gold,would likely only be available to certified cybernated production facilities, as opposed to private individuals. Someone seeking gold is not likely seeking it just to have it (contrary to the incentive in a market economy), but rather for the function gold can provide them. So rather than wanting the gold in a raw form, they’d want it made into something, which could be done easily by ordering that gold component from the production facility. The production facility would then order the gold, or draw from gold they have in stock, and make the part, and then the component would be available to the person who ordered it. Production facilities with surpluses of gold could be in communication with facilities that have deficits, making their surpluses available. Also, when a resource becomes increasingly scarce, the acceptable uses would likelu become more limited. So it’s a cybernater system of distribution and production that decides who gets what, based on what they order. The production facilities and governance system would be run by scientists and engineers who are qualified to make these decisions, as well as a cybernated computer system that can help these experts make the best decisions. Overall, you’d likely not be ordering gold, but a component made from gold, or more likely, a device containing a component made from gold, based on the designs and calculations of experts, with the assistance of cybernation. It is unlikely that you could simply order a gold nugget to hang on your mantle, as that would be deemed a wasteful use of resources.

      • Adam says:

        Thank you for explaining why RBE sucks. This idea is absolutely ridiculous. Today, producers need consumers and vice versa. In a RBE, consumers would be at the mercy of the omnipotent system, tirelessly “optimized” by the caste of technocrats. I can’t imagine a more totalitarian system than RBE. Yet I’m not fully satisfied with your answer. Tell me, how the system would know how much I want or need something, if I can’t exchange this for anything else, even my work? If the system refused my request, how else could I fulfill my dream, except by theft?

        • Robert Meyer says:

          Adam, let me first address the issue of alleged “technocratic totalitarianism”. This could not be further from the truth. Anyone and everyone has the potential to become involved in the production system, since education would be absolutely free, and those who want to become engineers or scientists or anything else, can do so. It’s not a fully automated system, and many human decisions will still be made, as outlined in the article above. When you put things like “at the mercy of” and “caste of technocrats”, sure it sounds bad, but what really matters is the output and product for society. Right now I could say (and some people do say) that I am at the mercy of globalization, with most decisions being made by the caste of corporate elites. What say do I have in how my phone is made, how the products it was made with are mined, whether those products were made with slave labor or not, etc? I really don’t, unless I buy a phone that advertises as being ethically produced, which is non-existent in the market today. In addition, engineers and scientists and other highly advanced professionals make the vast majority of decisions in society today, that you don’t even know about, everything from how water is managed, to where your garbage goes, to what products do or don’t end up on the market. So the idea that we have some kind of ultimate freedom in a market system is a falsehood. We are generally already at the mercy of the “caste of technocrats” as you so dramatically put it, we just don’t see it as clearly as we would in a resource based economy, and because of the monetization of education, only those who can afford to go to school are the ones who end up in these positions, by and large. As I was starting to say, anyone can become a member of the production system if they want to, or not if they don’t want to. The choice is theirs. They can also be a musician, or a farmer (technically part of the production system, but a different less skilled sector), or a teacher, or many of the other things you can be in society today. So it’s no technocratic totalitarianism, as you put it, but I will admit that it is a technocracy overall. Whether it’s totalitarian or democratic depends on how we decide to organize our political structures. It could go whatever way we decide.

          To answer your question, of “how the system would know how much I want or need”, there are two possible options that I can think of. The first is an in person transaction. This could be thought of as similar to a grocery store, except instead of groceries, it has everything you need, kind of like a mega-walmart, with groceries, home appliances, tools, etc. The second option is something similar to amazon.com, where you can order whatever you need. It would then either be delivered to your house, or you could go pick it up from a local distribution point. So pretty simple, either pick it up in person, or order it online. In terms of items like rare minerals, again, I don’t think you’d be able to obtain that, unless you have a valid reason, and acceptable credentials. But again, I see no reason why someone would want to take that resource from outside of the idealized production system, where it could be put to best use, unless they are trying to horde it for themselves. If your primary complaint about a RBE is that it prevents people from being able to horde precious metals, I think that’s a pretty lame complaint.

          I’ll also say as a disclaimer that there is no formalized definition of a RBE, and the ideas I am discussing are my personal interpretation of how it might work. There may be flaws, but no idea is perfect when it first starts out, so please keep that in mind. The intended ends of a RBE are the elimination of poverty, true sustainability, and improved standard of living for everyone. I see no way that this is possible in the market economy, so I think this is an idea worth striving towards.

          • Adam says:

            “Whether it’s totalitarian or democratic depends on how we decide to organize our political structure” – technocracy can’t be democratic, and democracy can be totalitarian.

            “I see no way that this is possible in the market economy” – and it’s also impossible in a RBE. The idea that people can be better off than today without having to work is absurd.

            “anyone can become a member of the production system if they want to” – but you must be qualified, you must be invited or accepted by someone or something. What if I’ve found a great idea to use that gold for something really good, but couldn’t get it, because system thinks it’s not optimal?

            • Robert Meyer says:

              ” technocracy can’t be democratic, and democracy can be totalitarian.”

              I would argue that to a certain degree, we already are living in a technocratic democracy. The US government is among the top employers of engineers and scientists in our country, and as such, we are constantly under the influence of highly advanced experts, who are making decisions for us behind the scenes. Without these people, we wouldn’t have the clean air, water, food, and shelter that we need to survive. So to a certain extend, we are already at the mercy of these individuals.

              Furthermore, we can tweak our current system of government to make it more interactive, and more inclusive and transparent, again using cybernetics and technology. At the same time, the existence of a class of experts that guide our production systems is not totalitarian, but rather simply common sense. Which makes more sense, allowing “the invisible hand” of the free market to guide how and what we produce, or allowing a class of highly trained experts to guide how and what we produce? The answer to that seems obvious to me. This doesn’t mean that all things will be decided by these people, and with an e-democratic platform in place, the desires of society could easily be heard and realized, and the decisions made on this platform could be binding if we really wish. In addition, money would not be banned, and especially at first, these sorts of societies will exist as their own microcosms, as a way to prove the concept. If people decide they don’t like how things are working, they could easily go back to the old ways without an issue, as easily as moving to another community.

              “and it’s also impossible in a RBE. The idea that people can be better off than today without having to work is absurd.”

              Well at least you admit that the monetary system is failing us….

              Did I or anyone else say anything about not having to work? There would still be work, and lots of it. Everything from farmers, musicians, artists, builders, architects, engineers, scientists, and many more (obviously certain jobs would be eliminated, like bankers, or tax collectors). The difference will be that you won’t be paid for your work. Instead, the incentive to work will be driven by the satisfaction that comes from it, and the fact that you have whatever you need at your finger tips, at no monetary cost. The jobs that are not satisfying or especially strenuous will be automated, or assisted by technology to make them less strenuous. This is not possible in our current society because it’s too expensive. In a RBE, the highest realization of human potential will be the goal.

              “but you must be qualified, you must be invited or accepted by someone or something. What if I’ve found a great idea to use that gold for something really good, but couldn’t get it, because system thinks it’s not optimal?”

              Again, who said anything about being invited? It would be like applying to any other job. You’d fill out an application, your credentials and work history would be checked, and if you qualify, and there is space for you, you’d be accepted. Because of how automated society is, the idea of work as a 40 hour a week thing would likely be greatly reduced to much less, making the availability of jobs much higher. In addition, there is no overhead for taking on more “employees”, so generally, most if not all places would be thrilled to have another mind working on the team. If you have a great idea for gold, and don’t work at a production center, and for whatever reason haven’t been able to get a job there, don’t have the right qualifications, etc, you could easily get in contact with the center, and see how your idea is received. If the production center rejects your idea, then it probably wasn’t a very good idea. If you still think it’s a good idea, you could contact someone who is qualified personally, and discuss the idea with them, and see if they could help you get your idea approved. Overall, the intent is to provide the greatest level of well being for all of humanity, and if your idea is really that good, it will be accepted, and put into production.

              Also, it should be mentioned that this is not some faceless automaton running society, but the best and brightest members of society out there, who are driven to make the world a better place. It’s not an impersonal, non-interactive society, but one that is very personal, personalized, and ever changing. I’ll also emphasize the fact that anyone who is driven enough to complete their totally free education in whatever field they wish, can become anything. You could become an engineer or scientist, and work at the production center if you really want to pursue your gold idea. Money is no longer a barrier to career advancement.

              Also, I suggest you watch some videos or read some more info on the idea before you make up your mind. Again, this is just my personal interpretation, which may be flawed in some way. The Venus Project is a great place to start, type that into good, or youtube, for some good stuff on the subject.

              • Adam says:

                “Without these people, we wouldn’t have the clean air, water, food, and shelter” – Do you really believe this? Are they gods or what?

                “Which makes more sense, allowing “the invisible hand” of the free market to guide how and what we produce, or allowing a class of highly trained experts to guide how and what we produce?” – To me it’s also obvious. People should be free to produce whatever and however they want, if they make no harm. Any unbidden interference from scientists and experts is against their freedom.

                “Well at least you admit that the monetary system is failing us…” – It depends on what you expect from the system. I don’t expect a paradise, so I’m not disappointed. Inequality is absolutely normal, nothing in this world is equal. Evolution can’t work without inequality.

                “you have whatever you need at your finger tips, at no monetary cost” – but the cost won’t disappear. In a RBE everyone would “pay” for everyones whims and fantasies. Is this more optimal than the market? Can you imagine how much things people would like to have if they were not restricted by their incomes and savings?

                “This is not possible in our current society because it’s too expensive” – which confirms that RBE would be less resource-efficient than free market.

                “In a RBE, the highest realization of human potential will be the goal.” – which confirms that RBE is not an economic system, but political, holistic, or… totalitarian.

                “Again, who said anything about being invited? It would be like applying to any other job. You’d fill out an application, your credentials and work history would be checked, and if you qualify, and there is space for you, you’d be accepted. […] see how your idea is received […] it probably wasn’t a very good idea […] get your idea approved […] it will be accepted” – Applying for a job without any choice of employer? Great! You have just contradicted yourself.

                “totally free education in whatever field they wish” – TINSTAAFL.

                “I suggest you watch some videos or read some more info” – I did enough of it.

                • Robert Meyer says:

                  “Do you really believe this? Are they gods or what?”

                  Scientists and engineers are not gods, but it’s undeniable that they are crucial to our society today. Look into the fields of environmental engineering and science, which ensure clean water, clean air and a safe unpolluted environment, the field of civil engineering, which ensures safe and reliable infrastructure and buildings, the field of mechanical engineering, which has figured out how to build incredible machines to make our lives more convenient, the field of chemical and petroleum engineering which has made our fossil fuel based society possible. Without these fields, we would not be where we are a society, that’s just a fact. Our economic system had little to do with this progress, and as I have argued, it has actually reduced our potential, as these individuals are bound by economic realities, making certain potentially beneficial ideas impossible due to expense.

                  “To me it’s also obvious. People should be free to produce whatever and however they want, if they make no harm. Any unbidden interference from scientists and experts is against their freedom.”

                  The system in question is voluntary. As I said, it will start out as test cities, based on whoever is willing to try it out, and if you don’t like it, you can go back to capitalism, no problem. Furthermore, the idea that “freedom” is the highest ideal of capitalism is a bit of a farce. Sure I can produce things freely, but the idea that I am required to sell my labor and skills, just to exist as a human, does not sound very free to me. In addition capitalism has produced the worst environmental disasters, the most waste, the most slavery, the most killing, of any system we’ve had. The slavery idea is not an exaggeration either. There are currently more slaves than at any time in history. So the idea that capitalism works to bring freedom is simply not true, and a system that actively and intentionally works towards freeing humans to the greatest degree, not just in production, but in the fact that you can get what you need without arbitrary cost, the fact that the environment is clean and safe, the fact that meanial tasks which result in slave labor have been eliminated, etc, is in my opinion a much better approach to liberating humanity. The idea of free production only works to help a certain economic class, since not everyone is a producer, and as such will always come short of achieving any meaningful degree of freedom.

                  “It depends on what you expect from the system. I don’t expect a paradise, so I’m not disappointed. Inequality is absolutely normal, nothing in this world is equal. Evolution can’t work without inequality.”

                  I don’t expect paradise either, but I believe we can do much better than we are currently. You are correct that inequality is normal, but so is disease and scarcity, and yet we have done much to change that. So just because something is normal doesn’t mean it is beneficial. Also, what is being called for will not result in total equality, where everyone has the same amount and type of everything, but simply equality of access, so that everyone has access to whatever they need. Change and evolution will be the norm, as new and better ways of doing things are constantly developed, thanks to the liberation of society from economic constraints.

                  “but the cost won’t disappear. In a RBE everyone would “pay” for everyones whims and fantasies. Is this more optimal than the market? Can you imagine how much things people would like to have if they were not restricted by their incomes and savings?”

                  In what way would everyone “pay”? There is no money, so the only way they could pay is by working. How would more automation and increased access to resources lead to more work?

                  On the issue of people over consuming as a result of elimination of economic constraints, I think that while consumption will definitely increase to a certain degree, at least till everyone is brought up to a sufficient standard of living, the improvement of technology and overall livelihood will actually lead to decreased consumption, and more importantly, decreased environmental impact. For example, when people increase in economic class, they start having less kids. Less kids means less people consuming. In addition, in a RBE, technology will be focused on the problems of overconsumption and sustainability, and as such, the issue would simply not be allowed to happen. Using water recycling, renewable energy, durable product design and other methods, we can greatly reduce the impact on the planet, while increasing consumption. This is in contrast to our current society, which produces increasingly massive piles of trash, toxic waste, and all sorts of other pollution. In a RBE, designs will be focused on eliminating these problems, and because money is no longer an issue, we will be able to achieve those goals much easier.

                  “which confirms that RBE would be less resource-efficient than free market.”

                  Again, the focus will be on resource efficiency. There are numerous examples of how cost efficiency, as in a monetary economy, does not necessarily equate to resource efficiency. One obvious example is planned obsolescence. It’s cheaper and more profitable to make products that are made of flimsy material, and fall apart relatively quickly, which leads to much more consumption that if companies instead made things that last a long time and could easily be repaired. These things are not common in a monetary economy because it results in a higher priced product, and more manufacturing and infrastructure costs. To maximize profit, and minimize cost, resources are managed inefficiently. That’s just one example.

                  “which confirms that RBE is not an economic system, but political, holistic, or… totalitarian.”

                  The definition of an economic system is a method of producing and distributing goods. That is what a RBE focuses on. Thr underlying ethical motivation does not change that fact. Also, you can’t just throw around and the word totalitarian, unless it actually applies to the situation…which it doesn’t.

                  “Applying for a job without any choice of employer? Great! You have just contradicted yourself.”

                  In a rbe, the concept of employer no longer exists, as we know it. This does not mean that you don’t have to apply for jobs. Some jobs which require technical skill, like science or engineering or even landscaping, need credentials. What would likely happen is that it is a much more integrated system, where you decide you want to be an engineer for example, and then go into the engineering field at whatever level is appropriate. For example, if you have no experience, you’d be put into basic schooling, whereas if you have a lot of experience from living in another rbe city, or from a place where the is not practiced, you could apply for whatever field of work you want. The employer you’re applying to is society, rather than some private individual or group.

                  “TINSTAAFL”

                  That’s a cute phrase, but I’m curious, who exactly do you think pays in a RBE, if all things are made freely available. Also, if you look at things like open source software, Wikipedia, etc, I think it’s pretty clear that even in a monetary economy, people are more than willing to do things for free.

                  “I did enough of it.

                  Maybe try watching it with a more open mind, without holding on to preconceived notions that have been repeated to you over the years. It’s not a perfect system, but it definitely has the potential to improve on what we have already, and I think the issues it raises are valid. Try watching the latest documentary put out by the venus project, which is parts 1&2. It lays out the problems with the monetary system in a comprehensive and understandable way.

                  • Adam says:

                    “individuals are bound by economic realities, making certain potentially beneficial ideas impossible due to expense.”

                    Investors risk their money by funding many “potentially beneficial” ideas. It’s very important that it’s only their risk, not mine or yours.

                    “The system in question is voluntary.”

                    No, RBE is intended to work globally. Otherwise is wouldn’t make any sense.

                    “the idea that I am required to sell my labor and skills, just to exist as a human, does not sound very free to me.”

                    You don’t have to work, you are also free to beg and even starve, but it doesn’t sound right.

                    “capitalism has produced the worst environmental disasters, the most waste, the most slavery, the most killing, of any system we’ve had.”

                    And dinosaurs have extincted because of capitalism too!

                    “liberating humanity”

                    I want to be liberated from socialism and the danger of technocratic communism aka RBE.

                    “Change and evolution will be the norm”

                    Evolution would be much slower, because it works by natural selection.

                    “In what way would everyone “pay”? There is no money, so the only way they could pay is by working.”

                    Everyone would have to pay somehow, no matter how. I’m sure that people would be less happy than today.

                    “How would more automation and increased access to resources lead to more work?”

                    Every technological revolution shifts people more and more from production to services and from less advanced to more advanced jobs, but it doesn’t allow them to work less.

                    “technology will be focused on the problems of overconsumption and sustainability, and as such, the issue would simply not be allowed to happen”

                    I see. The famous “access abundance” will have to be controlled a little. Social engineers and other “scientists” would be delighted to have such a power over the masses.

                    “To maximize profit, and minimize cost, resources are managed inefficiently”

                    Can something with less profits and more costs be more efficient? Really?

                    “you can’t just throw around and the word totalitarian, unless it actually applies to the situation… which it doesn’t.”

                    Global technocratic communism is totalitarian by definition.

                    “The employer you’re applying to is society”

                    People don’t know what’s good for them, do they? But scientists know.

                    “who exactly do you think pays in a RBE”

                    Everybody pays, even if they don’t want the benefits of RBE, because this system cares for the society, not the individual.

                    “people are more than willing to do things for free.”

                    They are doing these things for their own pleasure. But things that people do for money, are for the pleasure of those who pay. They must pay, because these things do not bring enough pleasure, or not at all. Eventually, the workers will spend their money for their own pleasure. If any of their jobs could be efficiently automated, it would be automated. It’s so simple.

                    • Sorry Adam, but this quote perfectly describes what you are doing right now.

                      “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

                      Arthur Schopenhauer

  7. Harald Sandø says:

    A brilliant, brilliant article.

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