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Author Topic: A Resource Based Economy  (Read 261137 times)
myrkul
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November 06, 2012, 06:46:52 PM
 #1101

Scarcity will never go away. Technology reduces it's impact, but no technology will ever produce a complete lack of scarcity. Free is not possible. Cheap is.

Scarcity can go away if you let your imagination go wild.  There is no physical principle preventing  a post-scarcity economy from happening.

Sorry. Yes, there is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics

Physics allows for you to have a lot of stuff, but not for infinite stuff. Scarcity will always be.

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November 06, 2012, 06:50:48 PM
 #1102

Scarcity will never go away. Technology reduces it's impact, but no technology will ever produce a complete lack of scarcity. Free is not possible. Cheap is.

Scarcity can go away if you let your imagination go wild.  There is no physical principle preventing  a post-scarcity economy from happening.


I beg to differ.
To remove scarcity you need indefinite ammounts of energy.
Once we consume our sun there will be a very real physical principle preventing more consumption.
We would have to find either a way to transport energy at superluminous speeds of we need a local energy well that matches our consumption.

If you let your imagination go wild you will come up with lots of imaginary situations.
From there you cannot simply talk about physical principles.
Otherwise you could have called Superman and ask for his help.

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November 06, 2012, 06:52:35 PM
 #1103

Scarcity will never go away. Technology reduces it's impact, but no technology will ever produce a complete lack of scarcity. Free is not possible. Cheap is.

Scarcity can go away if you let your imagination go wild.  There is no physical principle preventing  a post-scarcity economy from happening.

Sorry. Yes, there is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics

Physics allows for you to have a lot of stuff, but not for infinite stuff. Scarcity will always be.

I think we would have to discuss something like 'relativistic scarcity' because in such a situation scarcity would propably travel at the speed of light!
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November 06, 2012, 06:56:19 PM
 #1104

Sorry. Yes, there is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics

Physics allows for you to have a lot of stuff, but not for infinite stuff. Scarcity will always be.

Absence of scarcity does not mean infinite amount.  There is no scarcity in sand nor air, and yet the total amount of these things is finite:  huge, but finite.

Scarcity happens when the total amount of what's available is not enough to satisfy demand.

Post-scarcity economy will happen if at some point in the future production capacity far exceeds population growth.  Which is totally possible.
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November 06, 2012, 07:01:34 PM
 #1105

Sorry. Yes, there is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics

Physics allows for you to have a lot of stuff, but not for infinite stuff. Scarcity will always be.

Absence of scarcity does not mean infinite amount.  There is no scarcity in sand nor air, and yet the total amount of these things is finite:  huge, but finite.

And yet we pay quite a bit for both sand and air, because they are not available everywhere we need them.

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November 06, 2012, 07:04:06 PM
 #1106

Sorry. Yes, there is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics

Physics allows for you to have a lot of stuff, but not for infinite stuff. Scarcity will always be.

Absence of scarcity does not mean infinite amount.  There is no scarcity in sand nor air, and yet the total amount of these things is finite:  huge, but finite.

And yet we pay quite a bit for both sand and air, because they are not available everywhere we need them.


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November 06, 2012, 07:13:51 PM
 #1107

Sorry. Yes, there is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics

Physics allows for you to have a lot of stuff, but not for infinite stuff. Scarcity will always be.

Absence of scarcity does not mean infinite amount.  There is no scarcity in sand nor air, and yet the total amount of these things is finite:  huge, but finite.

And yet we pay quite a bit for both sand and air, because they are not available everywhere we need them.

We lack the means to transport air and sand where we need it.  Indeed some people might need air in spaceships for instance, and yet this will not make me tell that there is a lack of air on earth!

I repeat my point:

Scarcity happens when the total amount of what's available is not enough to satisfy demand.

Post-scarcity economy will happen if at some point in the future production capacity far exceeds population growth.  Which is totally possible.

There is no need to talk about infinity anywhere in this debate.  It's about what's needed or desired and what is available or can be produced.
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November 06, 2012, 07:22:52 PM
 #1108

Sorry. Yes, there is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics

Physics allows for you to have a lot of stuff, but not for infinite stuff. Scarcity will always be.

Absence of scarcity does not mean infinite amount.  There is no scarcity in sand nor air, and yet the total amount of these things is finite:  huge, but finite.

And yet we pay quite a bit for both sand and air, because they are not available everywhere we need them.

We lack the means to transport air and sand where we need it.  Indeed some people might need air in spaceships for instance, and yet this will not make me tell that there is a lack of air on earth!

I repeat my point:

Scarcity happens when the total amount of what's available is not enough to satisfy demand.

Post-scarcity economy will happen if at some point in the future production capacity far exceeds population growth.  Which is totally possible.

There is no need to talk about infinity anywhere in this debate.  It's what's needed or desired and what is available or can be produced.

No. Shortages happen when the total amount of what is available is insufficient to satisfy demand. Scarcity is the realization that production is not infinite, transportation is not instantaneous or free, and choices need to be made on what to produce and when to produce it, and where and when to move it. That is the function of the price signal.

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November 06, 2012, 07:41:10 PM
 #1109

No. Shortages happen when the total amount of what is available is insufficient to satisfy demand.  Scarcity is the realization that production is not infinite

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/scarce
«Uncommon, rare; difficult to find; insufficient to meet a demand.»

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transportation is not instantaneous or free, and choices need to be made on what to produce and when to produce it, and where and when to move it. That is the function of the price signal.

Prices exist only where there is a market.  And there is a market only where transportation is not too big a problem.
    EDIT:  I let myself guided in a wrong direction.  This is not the issue.  We are in the hypothesis where transportation and production are free.

But yes, at least from some local point of view there will always be areas where there will still be scarcity.  At least because the speed of light is finite.  We talked about it above in this thread.  If you travel through interstellar space, you can only use what's in your spaceship and the bigger it is, the more energy you need to move it.  So there is little chance that you can avoid scarcity for this.

I don't think that denies all pertinence to the post-scarcity economy concept, though.   If a group of people travel to the desert, the most valuable thing for them is water.  That doesn't say much about the value of water for the rest of the world.   Traveling through a desert or through interstellar space are very particular human activities.

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November 06, 2012, 07:53:33 PM
 #1110

No. Shortages happen when the total amount of what is available is insufficient to satisfy demand.  Scarcity is the realization that production is not infinite

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/scarce
«Uncommon, rare; difficult to find; insufficient to meet a demand.»
Two can play this game.
http://www.cesj.org/definitions/glossary.html
"Scarcity, Economic. In economic terminology, "scarcity" refers to the fact that the same resource - regardless of its quantity - cannot be put to more than a single use at a time. Scarcity in an economic sense refers simply to the choice as to what use to put a specific resource, not to the quantity available."

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transportation is not instantaneous or free, and choices need to be made on what to produce and when to produce it, and where and when to move it. That is the function of the price signal.
We are in the hypothesis where transportation and production ARE free.

Oh. Why didn't you tell me we were discussing a completely different universe than the one we live in now?

Yes, in a completely different universe, where transportation and production are free, scarcity might be eliminated. But that's not the universe we live in. We live in a universe bound by physical laws which preclude the possibility of free, infinite production and transportation.

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November 06, 2012, 08:01:49 PM
 #1111

Oh. Why didn't you tell me we were discussing a completely different universe than the one we live in now?

Yes, in a completely different universe, where transportation and production are free, scarcity might be eliminated. But that's not the universe we live in. We live in a universe bound by physical laws which preclude the possibility of free, infinite production and transportation.

You keep talking about infinite production.  I wonder why.   Free doesn't mean infinite.  It means you don't have to pay anyone for it.    You own machines that produce or transport anything you need.   And you use the energy of the sun.

Assuming the energy of the sun and the total available amount of matter (which can at least theoretically be produced from the energy of the sun anyway) are much enough to produce and power the machines used by the human population, it is very much possible that both energy and transportation are free.

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November 06, 2012, 08:17:55 PM
 #1112

Oh. Why didn't you tell me we were discussing a completely different universe than the one we live in now?

Yes, in a completely different universe, where transportation and production are free, scarcity might be eliminated. But that's not the universe we live in. We live in a universe bound by physical laws which preclude the possibility of free, infinite production and transportation.

You keep talking about infinite production.  I wonder why.   Free doesn't mean infinite.  It means you don't have to pay anyone for it.    You own machines that produce or transport anything you need.   And you use the energy of the sun.

Assuming the energy of the sun and the total amount of matter (which can at least theoretically be produced from the energy of the sun anyway) is much enough to power the machines used by the human population, it is very much possible that both energy and transportation are free.

Sigh.

In order for something to be completely free, it must be without cost. You are using "free" to mean "unpriced," I am using it to mean "without cost." In order for something to be "without cost," the production of that good must: a) be infinite and b) not reduce the ability to produce another good. That is what is meant by "scarcity" in the economic sense.

Is it possible for production and transportation to be so cheap and abundant so as to be "unpriced"? Possibly. We'd probably need to be a Kardashev Type III civilization, though, harnessing vast amounts of energy. We might be able to pull it off at Type II, but I doubt it.

But no matter how advanced we get, we will never escape scarcity (see above definition). Since that is a physical law of the universe, I don't see money disappearing any time soon, no matter how cheap things get, simply because it makes it easier to wrangle the necessarily finite production and transportation capability of the universe.

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November 06, 2012, 08:37:19 PM
 #1113

In order for something to be completely free, it must be without cost. You are using "free" to mean "unpriced," I am using it to mean "without cost."
I'm sorry but what I meant with free is not "unpriced".  There is a price.  It's zero.

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In order for something to be "without cost," the production of that good must: a) be infinite and b) not reduce the ability to produce another good. That is what is meant by "scarcity" in the economic sense.
If by cost you mean "what you need to provide to produce something", then yes, there is always a cost.  You need time and you need energy for instance.  But to me it is not incompatible with the idea of something being "free", as in, again, you don't have to pay anyone to have it. To me if I can build a boat by myself, using wood I found in a forest, this boat is "free".  I did not pay anyone to use this wood and I used my own work.  And if one of my robots does it for me it's even clearer since I didn't even work, I just ordered him to do it.

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Is it possible for production and transportation to be so cheap and abundant so as to be "unpriced"? Possibly.
It is priced.  If you want something that you can not produce yourself (because you don't have any robot, in which case you'll probably ask for a robot), you might find someone (at least one person), that will give it to you without asking any payment (because he will just order one of his robots to make it).  By definition, it will mean that the price will be zero since at least one transaction can occur at zero.

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We'd probably need to be a Kardashev Type III civilization, though, harnessing vast amounts of energy.
It very much depends on the size of the human population in coming centuries.  The power of the sun can totally be enough, as we don't have to spread through the galaxy.  Growth is not inevitable.

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But no matter how advanced we get, we will never escape scarcity (see above definition). Since that is a physical law of the universe, I don't see money disappearing any time soon, no matter how cheap things get, simply because it makes it easier to wrangle the necessarily finite production and transportation capability of the universe.

Post-scarcity economy does not pretend to violate mass-energy conservation and things like that.   The fact that production capacity has to be finite does absolutely not mean that it can not overwhelm human needs and desires.
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November 06, 2012, 08:47:33 PM
 #1114

You guys are arguing in circles.

Is air scarce? There is only a limited amount of it but still there is enough air available for everybody.
That's the kind of non-scarcity this is about, not some principle based on extrapolated geometric population growth. (Which isn't happing any more)

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November 06, 2012, 08:53:34 PM
 #1115

You guys are arguing in circles.

Is air scarce? There is only a limited amount of it but still there is enough air available for everybody.

Yes, that's what I meant when I mentioned air.  Honestly I don't know what this obsession about infinite amounts is about.
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November 06, 2012, 08:56:50 PM
 #1116

You guys are arguing in circles.

Is air scarce? There is only a limited amount of it but still there is enough air available for everybody.

Yes, that's what I meant when I mentioned air.  Honestly I don't know what this obsession about infinite amounts is about.

Oh right, my bad.

Keep in mind: You are arguing with libertarians who believe everything should be charged for. It's their religion, they think money to be the ultimate messiahs.
Might as well argue with a cow about toilets.

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November 06, 2012, 09:02:29 PM
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Oh right, my bad.

Keep in mind: You are arguing with libertarians who believe everything should be charged for. It's their religion, they think money to be the ultimate messiahs.
Might as well argue with a cow about toilets.

LoL  I am very close to libertarian ideas myself, you know.  Actually, I usually agree with most of what Myrkul write iirc.  But not on this, apparently.

And anyway, I still think the Zeitgest movement or Venus project stink, since they seem to be willing to use politics in order to realize an hypothetical transition to a resource based post-scarcity economy.  This is wrong, as if this must happen, it has to be via technological progress and free market.
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November 06, 2012, 09:03:52 PM
 #1118

Oh right, my bad.

Keep in mind: You are arguing with libertarians who believe everything should be charged for. It's their religion, they think money to be the ultimate messiahs.
Might as well argue with a cow about toilets.

LoL  I am very close to libertarian ideas myself, you know.  Actually, I usually agree with most of what Myrkul write iirc.  But not on this, apparently.

Then you are not a libertarian. The boundaries around this ideology are quite strict.

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November 06, 2012, 09:05:03 PM
 #1119

In order for something to be completely free, it must be without cost. You are using "free" to mean "unpriced," I am using it to mean "without cost."
I'm sorry but what I meant with free is not "unpriced".  There is a price.  It's zero.
"price" is defined as the number of some market element (typically money) which must be exchanged in order to get the item in return. Perhaps you are equating "unpriced" with "undefined" (the mathematic term), but in the sense we are speaking of, "unpriced" and "0 price" are the same.

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In order for something to be "without cost," the production of that good must: a) be infinite and b) not reduce the ability to produce another good. That is what is meant by "scarcity" in the economic sense.
If by cost you mean "what you need to provide to produce something", then yes, there is always a cost.  You need time and you need energy for instance.  But to me it is not incompatible with the idea of something being "free", as in, again, you don't have to pay anyone to have it. To me if I can build a boat by myself, using wood I found in a forest, this boat is "free".  I did not pay anyone to use this wood and I used my own work.  And if one of my robots does it for me it's even clearer since I didn't even work, I just ordered him to do it.
No, the boat is not free. It cost you a house. Or several statues. Or toothpicks. Et Cetera, Et Cetera. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_cost

If your robot did it, it also cost you the energy it took to run your robot, and the robot itself cost a considerable amount of energy to make.

Again, you make the mistake of seeing only the price tag, and ignoring the greater truth: that nothing, even if given away without price, is not free. Everything has a cost.

Quote
Is it possible for production and transportation to be so cheap and abundant so as to be "unpriced"? Possibly.
It is priced.  If you want something that you can not produce yourself (because you don't have any robot, in which case you'll probably ask for a robot), you might find someone (at least one person), that will give it to you without asking any payment (because he will just order one of his robots to make it).  By definition, it will mean that the price will be zero since at least one transaction can occur at zero.
price ≠ cost. The recognition that everything has a cost is what creates the price system in the first place.

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We'd probably need to be a Kardashev Type III civilization, though, harnessing vast amounts of energy.
It very much depends on the size of the human population in coming centuries.  The power of the sun can totally be enough, as we don't have to spread through the galaxy.  Growth is not inevitable.
No, it is not.

But time is limited. In just a few billion years, that sun will destroy this planet, and anything still living on it. So while growth is not inevitable, it's still a good idea.

Quote
But no matter how advanced we get, we will never escape scarcity (see above definition). Since that is a physical law of the universe, I don't see money disappearing any time soon, no matter how cheap things get, simply because it makes it easier to wrangle the necessarily finite production and transportation capability of the universe.

Post-scarcity economy does not pretend to violate mass-energy conservation and things like that.   The fact that production capacity has to be finite does absolutely not mean that it can not overwhelm human needs and desires.

I think the core problem we're having is you're still using the "shortage" definition of scarcity. You cannot get past the physical limits of scarcity, but you can certainly achieve abundance and therefore extremely low prices.

You guys are arguing in circles.

Is air scarce? There is only a limited amount of it but still there is enough air available for everybody.

Air is not only abundant, it is everywhere people need it. Except underwater. And in tires. And hey! They charge for filling up scuba tanks and tires, don't they? And using the Economics definition, yes, air is scarce. The same air which I am currently breathing cannot at the same time be used by you. Should we attempt to do so, we would both die.

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November 06, 2012, 09:11:03 PM
 #1120

LoL  I am very close to libertarian ideas myself, you know.  Actually, I usually agree with most of what Myrkul write iirc.  But not on this, apparently.
Most (at least 90%) of our disagreement comes from a difference of definitions. The rest is whether or not money will ever be done away with completely. Even Star-Trek gave up on that idea.

And anyway, I still think the Zeitgest movement or Venus project stink

We definitely agree here. I've never even been able to get a solid answer on what the term "resource-based economy" means.

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