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Author Topic: Double Simultaneous Economies - Are they possible?  (Read 1154 times)
Hunterbunter
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January 06, 2012, 08:52:40 AM
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TL;DR: Two, separate and simultaneous economies for public good and private enterprise. People pay for freedom of private enterprise in a nation through public service labour, which is allocated equally to all residents. Government leaves the finance markets to their own devices, and changes its success metric to public happiness.

I've been thinking a lot about economies, governments, capitalism, socialism, history, and psychology the last few years, for various reasons, and naturally the bitcoin had it's role to play in my understanding of them, and their connections to each other - even if just by bringing me to a forum I would not have normally found myself, where such ideas were openly discussed.

Last night I had a thought which I couldn't put down, but like breaking through a rock and discovering a cavern, I did not really know just how far this cave went, and whether it was even safe to enter. I'd like to share the idea I had with you all, in order to discuss it's feasibility and failings.

Double Simultaneous Economy
The idea of a Double Simultaneous Economy is one in which there are two working economies in a nation. One is for the group, and the other is for the individual.

It occurred to me that there is this classic battle between capitalism and socialism, with both sides (and many ideas in-between) adamant that they are the only useful one, when the truth is that both have amazing strengths, and terrible weaknesses. I put this down to the fact that a single human being is both a powerful individual and simultaneously a member by necessity of groups. It seems that socialism taps into the individual's desire to care for the group, and capitalism taps into the individual's desire to care for himself.

Government, by nature, aims to protect the well being of the group, but has to compete for resources on the private market. It has to translate a metric of currency into a metric of happiness, which is apparently an impossible task. In the current model, it has been moving from a direct effort tax to an indirect inflation tax, and has hit another wall. Meanwhile, large groups of people are at odds with themselves, because of the cognitive dissonance (the discomfort when you imagine rain falling upwards) they feel when told, that capitalism is good and socialism evil, but feeling satisfaction when they look after others, even strangers. I would say the opposite is true in socialist/communist countries. People need simultaneously both the liberty to receive the reward for their efforts, and the security of a healthy, happy society with a good even baseline for quality of life, and this is not being acknowledged by either side.

It seems that most peoples ultimately want the same things - all citizens to have their basic needs met, something akin to the bottom 3 levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maslow%27s_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg), and an active and properous private economy, but independently believe it must be one way or another (socialism or capitalism). Capitalists don't want to support the lazy, and socialists do not want to support the greedy. Not all capitalists are greedy, and not all socialists are lazy, but the stigma is attached and it's going nowhere. Can we separate the two?

A different way
The idea that formed was that if a society were to quantify the exact levels of minimum lifestyle it desires for its population, with the easily measured success metric of "public contentment", it could aim to provide these things using the currency of national labour. I believe the hours required for public service to achieve any set of goals over a suitable time period, from every individual, could be calculated. The key to this economy is that everybody contributes an equal amount of their time, for an equal amount of benefit, doing as the "group" needs. There would be some problems to overcome with this, of course, but for the important bit is separation of the social and the individual. The time payment would be given purely to serve the group, and the benefit would be what the society deems appropriate for all - food, water, utilities, housing, clothing, etc - that it could easily provide with central distribution, since the factories and machinery already basically exist to make this happen easily. If the private economy creates something the public deems it should provide everyone, then labour can be applied to make it so, in the form of public works.

The rest of the week/month/year, when not doing public service, a person acts in freedom and in self interest. Any reward for the effort they make during this time is at their discretion, and there is absolutely no need to tax the fruit of this labour at all. The time one spends in public service is enforced and equal across the board (imperative for psychological reasons), and private time allows a man to trade luxuries and self-actualization. This idea balances every human's internal need to be individual, with his obligation to the group. The group effort must be equally enforced to provide solidarity, with no financial way to avoid obligation, and the incentive to perform during public service  is that by making your task more efficient, you shorten the time required per citizen (including yourself), for the next year. If more public time is required than previously (eg aging population), then the pursuit of freedom is the supreme incentive to provide more for less in the public sector. This is where the benefits of a technocracy come into it - experts will naturally be in positions of decision making on how best to manage and direct the labour force. If public service needs you to act as an architect (already trained) to design the best nursing home possible for you to get your freedom back, there's a good chance you'll take it and certainly benefit both yourself and the aged. This actually uses the individual's need for freedom to increase public wealth. On the flip side, if things are going efficiently well, then public service will be reduced for everyone, leaving more time for private enterprise. Some things will always need to be done - eg mail, food, utilities, and if people want to really stop having to public service just to do these jobs, the incentive is there to invent robots on public time.

I understand how dramatically different this idea is to what we're all used to, and I'm having trouble fully understanding it's scope, but I do believe that it can, once and for all, solve the problem of socialism vs capitalism, and governments vs business.

Some of the particular things I like about this system:

- Equal access to brainpower.

Normally private enterprise attracts the bulk brainpower of a workforce. If, for some reason, the nation state requires 5/5 days a week from everyone for a year (say during a catastrophe), then it also accesses the full knowledge and experience base of the workforce, not only a part of it. The group is no longer forced to run on financial restraints, as it's currency is time, and all state members have an equal obligation to this.

- It's self balancing
Since time is allocated equally and enforced, those who wish to spend more time in the private economy can wisely use their time during public service designing efficiency, so the next month/year they are not needed as much - this might happen if there is a resource crisis, or something, which needs to be resolved.

- It leads to a healthier government
Government is no longer directly competing with business to provide a minimum standard of living for its people. It accesses the labour pool first, then business is free to go.

- It leads to healthier business
There is no more need for the group (government) to interfere with or manipulate the free market. Public protection might revolve around liberty of life (criminal law), while private protection might revolve around liberty of market (a modified civil law), and the same people will probably work in both as their duty to public service requires.

- Private Participation is voluntary
A person can risk all or nothing in the pursuit of social recognition, and should they fail, not suffer a horrible homeless and stressed fate. They have the freedom to try to earn a better life for themselves, or they can choose to sit on the beach all day when they're not performing public service.

- Encourages wide social interaction
Public service will put people from wildly different backgrounds in trivial jobs together, if that's all that's required. They might become friends.

- There is no more welfare state
The only people who do not earn their way for a shared public quality of life are the truly invalid, and I think that's reasonable. Disabilities are not as much a hindrance to public service when money is not the motivator (personal anecdotal evidence of this).

- The same people who manage private efficiency manage public efficiency
People would be assigned public tasks to take advantage of their skills - doctors play doctors in both, managers manage everywhere. If people have an applicable skill, they do it. If the public economy doesn't need them in that role, then they drive a bus (or whatever is needed).

- It promotes the social experience without the pressure of money
Just like military service, it provides a common experience that everyone in a society shares. This is psychologically and emotionally bonding.

- It provides the platform for achievement
Those who wish to impress others with their talents and hard work can easily do so, and if others want to partake, they have opportunity to directly offer something in return, that they have created during their private time.

- A more generally skilled population
There are sets of general skills that can be shared by all for the benefit of all. Any industry that works for the public good would need to be designed with low skill labour in mind. There will always be specialists (eg doctors) who would be too busy to work in a factory, however, although this system does afford the opportunity to give up a high pressure private job for a while and just drive a bus.

- Most Importantly (to me personally) - The happiness of the population is no longer tied to their ability to earn money.
Being impoverished makes it very difficult to be happy, but having money only helps up to a point. A government with the success metric of happiness (or more likely contentment) and a resource of labour (and potentially other resources of the nation) can focus on the job at hand as necessary.

There are surely some downsides to this, and these are what I can think of:

- Untangling will be difficult

The government is deeply entwined in the finance markets, and has to be removed...it will be a very complicated surgery. One option is to just drop the whole thing and switch to a cryptocurrency, like bitcoins, to run business, but that will leave a lot of people angry. The government might just run in both systems until all the debts are paid off, then switch to pure labour.

- Difficult predictions
The group has to predict how much time it will need from everyone to produce the intended quality of life its membership requires with a high degree of accuracy. I don't know if this is possible, but I imagine within a few years it will become easier to achieve as bugs are ironed out of the system, and people become experienced to this level of task management. On the bright side, we will have the best brains possible on the job...or at least available....a technocracy in disguise. To prevent too much switching out, perhaps jobs are earned in similar ways to the private system or something - changing skill based.

- Who owns production
The public might have all the labour it needs, but it also needs access to existing capital without paying for it (it has no money). It can either build the publicly owned factories as needed with its allocated workforce, or demand sovereignty over privately created plants as necessary. Since the government shouldn't be allowed to access and interfere in the financial markets, it's only option is to demand time, but this can probably be achieved by allowing a plant's labour to serve their public time at the same time, so a factory's output is taxed as a whole.

It might make more sense to create public factories, and have labour come in and change over time.

- Complications in stewardship
I'm not sure how to best handle stewardship in this...like...would there be jobs that require 100% public service? I think it would be rather interesting if a person could spend say 3 years in public service, full time (reducing everyone else's required public service a fraction), and have it act as a bank against which they don't have to work for a period of time. This is one way around that, and it would ensure a rotation of brainpower to keep the good parts of the 2 party process working. It is absolutely imperative that no one person spends any more time than anyone else, in public service (in a given year or 5 years or w/e) - even if they want to, to avoid agenda setting and "too expensive" a minimum standard of living.

- What do you do if a person doesn't individually want what's on public offer?
There must be some mechanism where someone who wants a better house than what public offers can get it. Public doesn't have to mean 'crappy', but if "happiness" is not reached, then the metric has failed and a better quality should be pursued. Since there cannot be an interaction with money from the public section, and each person cannot do less public service than anyone else (psychology of the system), then maybe government can provide the land, and the option of several house designs, and the person can either choose one, or elect to build their own.

- property
I don't know how this would be reconciled. It's currently deeply embedded in the private economy, and people need to move all the time, so it can't be government allocated places. Shelter is important, and I believe everyone would rather have the security of their home than not (would be decided by happiness metric anyway), but can anyone think of a good resolution to this in this model?

- farming
A healthy and varied diet should be available under public service, and the govt would pretty much be forced to take what it needs from the land to provide first, and excesses left to the private market somehow. I'm not sure if government needs to take ownership of land again or not...but since there is no government money, they can't exactly rent it.

=I could go on heaps more I'm sure, but I think it'll be more fun hearing what you guys have to say now, I've rambled plenty. So what do you think? Will this make both sides happy? who loses out in this concept?

PS If this is the wrong forum, can a mod move it please?
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January 06, 2012, 02:29:39 PM
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Think it through a bit more.  You have an awful lot of hidden guns in your plan.  Also, you are making a huge number of assumptions that don't appear to be valid.  For example, you think that only the truly disabled will opt out of working, and that the demand for free stuff will settle to some tolerable limit.  Any newspaper should be enough to convince you that those two particular assumptions are wrong.

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January 06, 2012, 08:13:30 PM
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Think it through a bit more.  You have an awful lot of hidden guns in your plan.  Also, you are making a huge number of assumptions that don't appear to be valid.  For example, you think that only the truly disabled will opt out of working, and that the demand for free stuff will settle to some tolerable limit.  Any newspaper should be enough to convince you that those two particular assumptions are wrong.

Yeah its a lot to take in - I would appreciate any holes you could point to. What do you mean about the newspaper?

There would be no opt out of working - there can't be for the social aspect to work. You put in equal time in public service for equal out, or go to jail / are excluded from group. The point of this excessive restriction in the public economy is that everyone pays their way with time/labour for the "free" stuff...so there really is no free stuff at all, except for those who are literally useless (I believe few people are). This appeals to the social obligation aspect in humans, because if everyone is doing it, it's less painful for you to accept that you have to do it too. People trying to get out of it in any way would very quickly upset everyone else, and so it's even self-policed for the most part. It's a form of discipline, I know, but its based on the idea that equally applied discipline is more likely to be accepted by a group than individually applied discipline (ie regular socialism - people getting away with being lazier than others). It's aimed squarely at what capitalists claim is welfare laziness. What's the flaw in this? Do you think that the capitalists are the real lazy that just want to live off other's backs, and won't accept this obligated service? They won't necessarily benefit as much as others if they're doing well in the private economy, but there has to be a line somewhere. What's a solution to this?

I figured that settling to some tolerable limit will be a potential weakness, for sure, but that's also where I believe part of the current system is failing anyway. Govts are trying to fulfil their obligations, and it simply costs far more time than people are voluntarily willing to commit - with a common sentiment of 'I'm not going to pay for lazy people'. If there is enforced and time equal public service, that sentiment is false, or replaced by something else. What would it be replaced by? I'm thinking it might be, "Fine, I'll do this shitty service because I know everyone else has to suffer too", but will still do it well because if they do a bad job, next year they would have to spend even more time. Even the lazy people could end up doing it better so they can go back to the beach. Socialism breeds resentment from the aspect of others not pulling their weight, I believe, and if weight pulling is enforced, is this still true? What else is this missing?

Thanks for the reply btw.
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January 08, 2012, 01:34:14 AM
 #4

1) It appears that "experts" would determine what constitutes "group needs". These experts will be in a position of power over the normal person. How will these experts be chosen? How will your system avoid corruption of this process?

2) It appears you believe that the threat of jail-time (or exile) is a motivator on par with the intrinsic motivation to help people (including yourself and loved ones). Is this accurate? If so, why? If not, please explain.

3) How will your system deal with immigration?

Here is a quote I found insightful:
Quote
Each facet of government represents, at its core, a fundamental need of society.
Usually the government solutions spiral out of control, but that doesn't mean there wasn't originally a need there.

So, identify these needs, and build non-violent replacements for each of them. When they're all complete, government will be merely an expensive alternate implementation.

I do hope this letter arrives safely at your home by Spring. The postal system is such a wonderful modern convenience.
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January 08, 2012, 09:45:00 AM
 #5

Interesting thoughts, you could develop this further.

I think you need to take into account though, that there are other factors in society that you seem to leave out: Historical factors, religious factors etc.

Also, you seem to not have taken into account that people will:
1. Refuse to accept your system (even if implemented on state level)
2. Try to exploit your system by lying and cheating
3. Have 343546546 different ideas of what their basic needs are
4. Dumb people.

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January 08, 2012, 12:35:45 PM
 #6

1) It appears that "experts" would determine what constitutes "group needs". These experts will be in a position of power over the normal person. How will these experts be chosen? How will your system avoid corruption of this process?

2) It appears you believe that the threat of jail-time (or exile) is a motivator on par with the intrinsic motivation to help people (including yourself and loved ones). Is this accurate? If so, why? If not, please explain.

3) How will your system deal with immigration?

Here is a quote I found insightful:
Quote
Each facet of government represents, at its core, a fundamental need of society.
Usually the government solutions spiral out of control, but that doesn't mean there wasn't originally a need there.

So, identify these needs, and build non-violent replacements for each of them. When they're all complete, government will be merely an expensive alternate implementation.

I do hope this letter arrives safely at your home by Spring. The postal system is such a wonderful modern convenience.

That's a nice quote...from pioneering America?

To address your points:

1) The only thing I can think of that would even vaguely come close to any promise would be a preference, skill and necessity based public algorithm with some sort of reputation bias, decided by machine. I'm not sure how long a person would need to stay in a public job to be effective vs switching them out often enough to stop negative abusive influence, but that can probably be experimented out. Out of curiosity, though, is there a way you can see people abusing the public system for private gain? Something they can do that will benefit them in the private system, I mean, if there is no financial crossover - ie today politicians can say "War!!" and make profit owning weapons manufacturing. Can this be done in a duel economy? The only weapons available to the state would be produced by the state...but that may pose a separate problem. It takes a lot of effort to maintain top weapons and not use them...that's a problem of today too, so perhaps that's one thing this proposal can't solve.

You do raise the bigger issue of "group needs", and deciding how that's decided. I don't know yet Smiley...any ideas?

2) The threat of jail (or exile) is not actually intended as a motivator. If it has that role it would be purely as a by-product. Instead the goal is to isolate the non-contributors so that those remaining do not feel that while they are openly willing to serve their public obligation, others are not, who then create an emotional burden on them in the form of cognitive dissonance ("I want to help others, but I don't want to be the only one contributing, to become a doormat for selfish people benefiting from all my hard work"). I believe most people prefer to look after others in kind, so this is aimed at protecting them by removing leeches, rather than scaring them into being "good". I suppose you could say this is about the majority being able to more easily trust each other, by strict removal of the untrustworthy - equal service time is one metric, but I'm sure there could be others. This is based on a hunch of mine, and needs further research. Do you think it's an inappropriate perspective?

3) Assuming you mean legal immigration, I imagine they would be absorbed into both economies in the same way as everyone else. Green card, make aware skills / preferences, given public duty schedule (probably "sooner rather than later" weighted), assigned basic necessities, freedom to then do as they please when not in public service. Which part of immigration do you think would cause a problem?


Interesting thoughts, you could develop this further.

I think you need to take into account though, that there are other factors in society that you seem to leave out: Historical factors, religious factors etc.

Also, you seem to not have taken into account that people will:
1. Refuse to accept your system (even if implemented on state level)
2. Try to exploit your system by lying and cheating
3. Have 343546546 different ideas of what their basic needs are
4. Dumb people.

Yeah for sure...this is far bigger than my brain and I appreciate your comments and criticism.

1) One of the things I like about this system, is that I believe it appeals to two enormous parts of the human experience - social and self - at the same time. It would be foolish of me to think that people would see benefit in this system just because I do, which is why I guess I'm putting it out there. Do you see a reason why you wouldn't want to live a life under this type of society? I'd love to hear why, to be honest. What do you think would be the reasons others wouldn't like it? Assuming they're not liars, and cheats, I mean. I could understand some businesses would think they were losing out on this, but all that would be required from them is a shift of perspective. The basic needs are being taken over by the group for the well-being of the group, and this is important. If people want to stand in the way of that, they are free to, but if the group that wants it is large enough, it would be a losing battle. Most businesses would not be affected by this, and instead the free market would be a lot freer. Minimum wages, welfare and unions would be a thing of the past (except maybe work safety?). The other beauty of equal time is that it affects all businesses equally, so there is no unfair advantage.

2) The "everyone pays equal time" aspect is intended to help with the lying and cheating. It's fairly straightforward to account time, but maybe not actually doing what they're supposed to be doing when "working", since the jobs will essentially be randomized to a degree, and accountability will have to be built into it (maybe via feedback with abuse tolerance or something). If people leave feedback on their co-workers when their service is finished, that might help the system identify focus areas for public psychologists. There's always going to be a fine line to tread here, in any system.

3) There are two ways to approach that. One is the contentment metric - "Are you happy?" - while it sounds like a loaded question that will lead to endless public service, people that genuinely aren't happy will have a reason to say it, and those who are "just saying it because they want more" are basically saying that they want to work more (because needs are produced by everyone) and can't find work in the private sector for any luxuries. If I understand it correctly, recessions also automatically resolve themselves through this mechanism of automatic needs driven public service to take advantage of less private employment than necessary. Nothing is free in this system, and how much they're willing to work to be happier acts as a drag on what people really believe they want. This system may end up giving the average level of what people believe those basic needs are, which I would say was a good thing.

The other way to approach it is to leave those decision in the hands of the people put in the jobs of delivery (possibly experts). If they fail, they get lots of "unhappy" from the populace. If they succeed, they get great public recognition. I think the first one is actually better, though, at the moment.

4) I will say one thing about dumb people, and that's that they are still driven by peer pressure...probably more vulnerable to it than most, I think, and the public service economy is 100% peer pressure.
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January 10, 2012, 06:33:27 AM
 #7

this is basically cuba.
Go there! It's amazing. You can preview many of the advantages and disadvantages.

A big problem they had was separating the markets. It's basically impossible.

Such a solution would need to be as immovable as the bitcoin protocol. It would have to be expressable as a formula.

What about taking it the other way?
The other way is to aggressively enforce capitalism. That is, to provide no social care in any sense. A bit like living in somalia it would be a warzone unchecked.
But here's my philosopy on that:
- if capitalism is the only way because it infects everything then when does it fail?
A: lack of leadership. Clearly the markets fail in so many ways. They shouldn't. Would the market come up with solutions eventually? Is this why america rules the world and is it any coinideance that a market liberised china is thought to be taking over?

There are some things in life we all deserve it seems. The one that gets me is shelter. Every month we pay rent or are linked in some way to something similar. It never used to be like that. This land used to be free to use. Have you ever not needed to pay rent? It's amazing how free we feel.
But it's an illusion because rent is more than just rent. For every renter there's an investor.

I don't think the answer is 2 separate markets.

I think the answer is either to drop capitalism (live in a monestory),
Or to address the market.

The market is very weak in so many ways. The problem areas that the market gets blamed for are that areas where the market has been barred. For example:
1) doctors pay (qualifications ringfencing)
2) politicians (accepting bribes is corruption etc)

So i argue that the answer to one might be to have a public record of performance, much more information, easier choice and no monopolies. Patients are free to choose unqualified doctors.

The answer to 2 might be simply voting purely with money!

Socialism is not the only idea at odds with capitalism. I think the republic might be too? (the justice system)
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