Shaun Johnston British, now living in Hudson Valley NY Email address
A future economy
I tackle two linked challenges: how to maintain a vigorous economy, while providing basic cradle-to-grave support for citizens. My answer is to give people the free choice of two physically-separated but mutually-supporting communities, one for total citizen support, the other for unfettered capitalism. I imagine the second occupying a city-center, the other spreading out around it in bands of suburbs. I think modern consciousness has turned decisively away from abandonment of the less able and less fortunate. Applied to children that is called infanticide, and is deemed abominable under any circumstances. I think it is becoming deemed abominable to do something similar to those not able to fend for themselves for any reason. It is similarly homicidal--homeless people commonly die within one or two years. As unskilled jobs become rare in modern economies, people appear less personally responsible for such misfortunes as losing a job or becoming deskilled and unable to provide for themselves and their families. Families are more frequently becoming homeless through bad luck, suffering terribly both physically and mentally for something that is not critically their fault. I think we will have to abandon the idea that it is up to each individual to support himself or herself through personal enterprise. Society should in the future guarantee citizens a basic minimum of long-term support, that some may embrace for a lifetime. Once such support is available, the market economy can be freed of regulation. Those who spiral out of it through failure have the other community to enter where they can lick their wounds in preparation for a return to the fray. Those who succeed could achieve great wealth and power. Participation in the center city would be intensely desirable, and perpetually attract those ambitious for personal gain and fame. The citizen-support community would be run economically. Diet would be centrally provided, and basic. Rice and beans, perhaps. Housing would be in dormitories. Citizens would provide services for each other on a volunteer basis. The main comforts would be in supportive company and shared hobby activities. A bare minumum of necessary mental and medical services would be available. If you want more you have tap into city wealth and services somehow. But you couldn’t use civil-community currency, it wouldn’t be viable in the city. You’d have to use personal contacts in the city or provide some service for city businesses. The civic community would be run by a government that everyone votes for. The center city would be run by its own managers whose main interest will be to see that business succeed, not go through periodic crashes for example. The entire society would be financed through wealth created by the city center. Individuals’ wealth would not be taxed for support of the civic community during their lifetimes but would go 100% to support of that community on their deaths. Children would all start out similarly endowed, free to aim for one or other of the two societies. Such a society would not be purely socialist or free enterprise, it would be a combination of extremes of both, in separate communities that people would move between at various times in their lives, as their circumstances and inclinations change.