Embracing Post-Scarcity

…and then he asked me,

As if those shows you watch would get aired without a profit motivation? Would they even have been made? Would Netflix exist? Would Facebook? You take a lot for granted.

I had to admit, he had a valid point. Not that I agree with him, but the point is valid on its face. Every television show, every radio show ever created was created the way they were to specifically address the advertising model adopted by broadcasters in the early twentieth century. All of them exist the way they do because their creators and the networks that paid for their creation were speculating on audience appeal and the value of that appeal on the advertising markets.

I find it amusing, when listening to public radio podcasts, that they stop for an advertising message at precise intervals. Those intervals are dictated by the broadcasters who understood just how much information the listener or viewer could assimilate at one time before being lost in the narrative. You can have this much information and no more, because we need you to pay attention to this next advertisement! Leave the audience hungry, so that they will tune back in after the pause in order to hear the rest of the story.

Public radio and television networks (and especially podcasts. No podcasts need to follow this formula unless they too count on advertising to pay for their content) do not need to stop for an advertising message every fifteen to thirty minutes. They just do that in order to conform to the standards for commercial broadcasts and the advertising model that has proven to be largely unworkable in the post-scarcity economy that the internet is the harbinger of.

The Wife and I have mused together several times over nearly a decade about what this impending switchover to post-scarcity economics implies. Gene Roddenberry and his chief work of fiction, Star Trek, do not do more than imply that inhabitants in that distant future no longer understand what money is and why we ancients could never get past the need of it.

The Wife has asked this very question when I have posed what the impending advent of a freedom dividend or universal basic income(UBI) or guaranteed minimum income (GMI) would mean to the average person. What will the world be like, when people no longer have to work to survive? No one knows, because that economic state has never existed in human memory. But it is about to happen, one way or another.

The world economic system throws off enough human value, measured in increments of whatever monetary system you want to use, for the entire world to be provided with the means to survive without having to work. The operative phrase there being having to. Work will still be done, because people need to work. They just won’t starve or be kicked out of their (modest) residences when they don’t. We already live in a post-scarcity economy, we simply do not have the benefits of that economy spread equinomically across all the participants.

The right way to get out of the problem that we are in now, the problem of false scarcity, is the only real question here. The question is not whether or not we can get out of this delusion of scarcity that the wealthy who run the world make sure to indoctrinate their workers with. How do we do emerge from scarcity in a way that the creators of all the things we use on a daily basis finally do get the benefits of their creations? That system has never existed before in history.

In Fields of Blood (Karen Armstrong, 2015) the point was driven home early in the book that the agrarian state was based on the direct confiscation of the farmer’s work. In example after example she paints the inescapable portrait of the leaders of these states confiscating the work of the providers and creators in order to live more comfortable, secure lives, while only marginally providing security and stability for the people that they live on top of.

In the recent science fiction novel, New York 2140 (Kim Stanley Robinson, 2017) the author projects a future where these economic thieves are still making a fine living off of the suffering of other people, even though a good portion of the world’s population is living a marginal existence in the flooded remains of our former coastal cities. I don’t want to spoil the ending of the book, so I won’t go into how the world changes over the course of the novel, but I don’t need to in order to make the point that I want to make in mentioning the book here.

That point is this; we can stop these profiteers, these pirates, we can stop them here and now and just avoid that future altogether. All we have to do is adopt an economic strategy that lifts all boats by design. A strategy that modifies itself as the economics around it shift from decade to decade. That strategy will take the form of a UBI or GMI, but that is just the beginning. The question then really does become, what next?

Well, the creators will continue to create, for one thing. The farmers will farm, because that is what they do. When they get wealthy from their efforts at creating they will either stop doing that or find someone else to help them do that. Someone who is still just bouncing along on subsistence. The farmers are just the beginning of what has become a very complex social structure since the days when Abraham first conjectured that the problem with society was that it stole all of his work, and set off to create the perfect agrarian state. A state that ended up never existing. Dozens of religions have been founded on his simple observations, and still we struggle with the beast that is scarcity and the fear of scarcity.

To answer the question from the beginning of this article, would these shows exist? I have to point out that most people who create do that because that is what they do. The Wife makes movies, has been part of some fifteen films over the span of decades of her life, and she’s never made a dime off of any of them. It would have been nice to make some money from them, that just isn’t the reason she does it. It isn’t the reason that anyone working in film or television or radio or the theater does the work they do. They create the things they do because that is what interests them, and there is a place for them to make these things and so contribute to the world, so they do what they can.

I write because that is what I do. I also don’t make any money off of it. It would be nice to make money; but again, that isn’t why I do it. I didn’t create architectural documents to make money. I did it because drafting and computers and escaping my dysgraphic limitations were what drove me. When I couldn’t do that anymore, and being faced with ceasing to be relevant to the world because I could no longer do the thing I loved, I found a way to do the thing I had always wanted to do. Write. Writing is the thing I had always wanted to do but couldn’t do because I had to feed a family, and writing without a computer interface is an impossibility for someone who has the kind of dysgraphic problems that I have.

The space in which to reinvent myself was provided by socialism, which is why I say that I was Saved by Socialism, and having been given that space and discovering that I had to do something in order to keep living in the here and now, I taught myself to write in much the same way that I taught myself computer assisted drafting (several times) I can now bring my ideas into existence with a word processor for them to be discussed or puzzled over by anyone who runs across them.

This personal revelation of mine is a part of why I keep telling people who clearly are angry about being forced to do a job they don’t want to do, to just stop doing it. Just stop. Wait. Wait as long as it takes for them to get that itch. Some people will never notice the itch. There is no help for those people no matter what I might say here. Most people will get the itch and they will be driven up off the couch and out the door in pursuit of something to do with themselves that feels meaningful in the grand sense of meaning, and not in the personal sense of meaning which amounts to “what can I distract myself with next?”

I want, more than anything, for everyone to be allowed to sit down and say “I’m not going to do that anymore.” …and then have them be forced to admit that sitting at home doing nothing is not a useful, rewarding life that you can be happy in. Because until that experience is a realistic possibility the delusion of scarcity and its fear will drive people to keep working at things that they don’t find rewarding but feel that they must continue to work at anyway unless they want to starve, their children to starve, live on the streets, etcetera.

They are convinced that if they don’t work the world will come to a standstill. Even the Wife says “the world will come to a standstill, won’t it?” I want to see their faces when they realize that the world keeps going on anyway, turning once around its axis each day, traveling once around the sun each year, even though they have decided not to participate in life any longer. Because it is at that point that we really will have arrived at a post-scarcity economy.

OHM GDP Shrinkage

This is the news that the Orange Hate-Monkey doesn’t want anyone to notice right now. This is what has his rapidly thinning hair on fire.

The Indicator from Planet Money – GDP -32.9%???!!! – July 30, 2020

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released second quarter gross domestic product data today. The number shows how much the economy has grown in a given quarter. And in the second quarter, the BEA says, the American economy grew at an annualized rate of…wait for it…negative 32.9%.

…this is why he is talking about postponing or cancelling the elections in November. It isn’t because of the COVID hazards. It isn’t because of any other reason that people might toss around in an attempt to obscure his motivations.

It’s the Economy, Stupid

The OHM knows that the economic success of the average American is what they will be voting on in November, those people who aren’t interested in politics, health or climate change anyway. Everyone else (the average wage-earner) is going to vote on their own economic status, and right now the average person’s economic status is not good.

They’ve been out of work since March. They have rent due. They are running out of food. They are terrified of catching the plague that is sweeping the nation. Too terrified to send their kids to school, with good reason. The economy is melting down all around us and the Party of Trump is busy trying to talk about budget overruns and how we can’t afford to keep paying people to stay at home as if they have any choice in the matter now.

The Democrats are rolling out election strategies in states they haven’t even bothered to contest in decades. They are campaigning all across the nation in ways that haven’t been seen before, their candidate running double-digit polling projections. Remembering 2016, the Democrats will not lay back and expect votes from average working people. They are going to go out and ask these people to support them, and they probably will.

The OHM has to know that this is not good news for him. He is smart enough to see that writing on the wall. That is why he is talking about postponing the election. Plain and simple. Nevermind that he can’t do it. He will try every trick that he can utilize to see that the election, when it occurs, is contested. This is why he is talking about the insecurity of mail-in ballots. This is why he will roll out the specter of brown people voting against him. Non-citizens voting. He will try to tamper with the counts, stop counts from happening, stop the mail service from delivering ballots.

None of this matters aside from the parlour game that it has been and will be. Oh, he’ll do any number of things to try to stay in office, but unless he can make the count go his way, he ceases to be president on January 20, 2021 anyway.

Why is this? Because the system is more than the election. Barring a winner in a contested presidential election, on January 20, 2021 the president of the United States will be Nancy Pelosi. He can’t stop this from happening. A majority holding for the Trumpists in the Senate can’t stop it. His term of office ends on that day, and the presidency will pass to the successor to the office.

Then the real work begins, for the first time in I don’t know how many years. New Year’s Eve can’t come soon enough to suit me this year.

Featured image: Screenshot from fred.stlouisfed.orgtwitter.com

It’s been three years now. In order to get a sense of the history of what OHM means, I will link a few crucial posts. I wrote The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) when it became clear that the Republicans were going to nominate Donald Trump.  I wrote The GOP Cuddles Up To the NSDAP when the GOP refused to ostracize the OHM for his dangerously xenophobic populism. I wrote Caveat Emptor on the day Trump lied with his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the US constitution. I wrote Bullshit is Bullshit on the day I stopped even trying to catalogue the blatant disregard of the truth by the OHM. It mystifies me why people still listen to him, and why the OHM still holds the office of the president. #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. Anyone who believes differently is a MAGA themselves, otherwise known as a Stormtrumper, h/t to Berkeley Breathed.

Xenophobia Revealed

Twitter – TheAtlantic

It is the poor who suffer. The majority of the poor are black and brown, yes. But it is the poor as a group who suffer and it is the poor, the majority of Americans, who must seize control of this country from the wealthy who seek to divide us into digestible chunks.

Poverty is a big part of it, but race is the beating heart of American injustice. Serwer makes this abundantly clear. Racism justifies and perpetuates class inequality, not the other way around.

Twitter

You are also playing into their hands. They want you to talk about race, don’t you understand what justification means? They point to the results of poverty as their proof that their racism is correct. Fix the root cause, poverty, and the rest of the problems will work themselves out. With no proof for the xenophobes to point to, there will be no hiding their xenophobia from scrutiny.

Twitter

The Economy Abides

I keep hearing the phrase we shut the economy down being voiced by politicians and economists everywhere. What remarkable powers government actors think they possess. We told people to stay home, ergo there is no economy. How wrong they are.

Who cooks for you, Mr. Smith? Who does your washing, house cleaning, sewing, etcetera? The politicians and economists will answer something like we don’t measure that part of the economy. That is the error in their precept. All that work is essential, but they don’t measure that.

Adam Smith would have derided this work as women’s work, as have most men since his time. What they call women’s work is the most essential work anyone can do, and it is the exact same work that you cannot just stop doing. Calling something women’s work, and therefore not measuring that work, is the perfect example of confirmation bias. If it was important, the men would be doing it. However, women do most of the working in this world. They have to do most of the work because they are more than half of the population.

Maybe we should at least make the attempt to measure the work that currently goes unmeasured. We should at least make the attempt to measure how much of the economy is left when only essential services are running. Then we might get a baseline measurement as to how much work goes unrewarded in the parts of the economy they do measure.

Abuse of Power

What should outrage us is not what appears or is suspected to be Burr’s insider trading, but that any representative of the US government, and in this case a particularly high-ranking one, is permitted to own stock. It is as if there is no relationship between government decisions and market developments. The fact that this is possible, that a powerful senator like Burr can be deep inside of the government and yet play the market, exposes the exceptionally high levels of corruption permitted in our political system.

thestranger.com

The Power of Oil

“I’m like a corporate political prisoner,” Donziger told me as we sat in his living room recently. The attorney, who is 6-foot-3, graying, and often used to be mistaken for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio when he was able to walk the city streets, was surprisingly stoic and resigned about his predicament during my two visits to the apartment he shares with his wife and 13-year-old son. But on this particular Wednesday, as the winter sunlight in his living room was dimming and the charger for his spare ankle bracelet battery flashed on a nearby shelf, his optimism about his epic battle against one of the biggest oil companies in the world seemed to be flagging. “They are trying to totally destroy me.”

The Intercept

…when you read stories like this one, It is easy to see why Glenn Greenwald thinks the US is behind all the bad things that happen in the world. I wonder if Chevron will ever be made to pay for the damage they’ve done?

The Cost of Being Homeless

Morning Edition – To Combat Homelessness, Spokane Is Starting To Put Relationships Before Punishments – February 19, 2020

It is an incredible expense on the community to have these warrants ultimately served. I think people have to start, frankly, caring about folks, their problems, and try to help them with it.

Spokane Municipal Court Judge Matthew Antush

$134 a day is the price of jailing a person for being cited for being homeless. For being caught camping or sleeping on the street. $134 a day. Here’s a radical thought. How about we assign that as a baseline cost for living in the city of Spokane, and simply give every person who is found homeless in the city that much of a stipend so that they can get back on their feet. Once they find housing and a job that lasts longer than a year, the stipend ends. If they don’t find housing and a job within some set time limit, then the stipend rolls over into mental health care programs that will help that homeless person find housing and work.

…or we can keep blaming the victims for the problems that system as it is currently structured forces on them. Given the heartlessness of the average American these days, I’m betting that the latter will continue to be the excuse we use.

Caudito Trump

A Caudillo is more murderous. I’m thankful that the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) isn’t a Caudillo. He’s a tiny little wannabe Caudillo. He’s a Caudito. My apologies to Spanish speakers for murdering their language.

I only bring this up because Robert Reich says that,

A dictator is on trial in his home country. Over half the jury is in his pocket, the foreman is openly coordinating with him to make sure he goes free, and despite public outcry the foreman is refusing to conduct a fair trial.

Facebook – Robert Reich

He says dictator and makes references to Banana Republics or Third World countries in this video.

Facebook – Robert Reich

The word for strongman leader, colloquially, in the language that is spoken South of the United States border, is caudillo. I have this on the good authority of Maria Hinojosa and this episode of Latino USA. If Trump was a dictator in the fashion of third world countries, countries that used to be South of our border here in the States, then he would be a Caudillo. Since he is a little short of the mark, I will from this point onward refer to him as a Caudito. The Caudito, Mr. Orange Hate-Monkey if I want to address him formally.

I thought Trump was a dictator in waiting when he first asked to be given the job of president. I still think he is a dictator in waiting, I just don’t think his mental makeup is vicious enough for him to be able to be a Stalin or a Mao. This is a good thing.

Player.FMStitcherThe Economist Asks – What makes a dictator? – Jan 17th 2020

[We] enter an age of Democracy in that you must appeal to the people. You can either do so by going to the ballot box and be elected; or, if you are a dictator, you can pretend somehow that the people really, truly love you, even though they never voted for you. But this is surely the paradox of dictatorship in the twentieth century, that even dictators ultimately wish to portray themselves as democratic figures.

Frank Dikötter

That author specifically rules out Donald Trump as a dictator because the structures of the United States government have so far kept him in check. I think the professor overestimates the fondness that Stormtrumpers feel for the United States government. I think they’d happily live under a dictatorship that governed according to the rules they felt were important enough to kill over. Things like abortion, which isn’t murder, but I digress.

The former president of Mexico, Vincite Fox, thought Donald Trump was a dictator back in 2016,

Weekend Edition – A Former Mexican President Looks At Trump And Sees A ‘Dictator’ – April 10, 2016

Just like the rest of us did. However. If Donald Trump, the OHM, really had the metal it takes to be a Stalin or a Mao, he’d have cut a bloody swath across the country already with the power that the presidency controls. Luckily for us (so far) he is too incompetent to do the job he was sent to do by his Stormtrumpers. It isn’t too late for one of them to step up and be the Stalin or the Mao, and it won’t be too late for that to happen for quite some time. Not until he is safely removed from office and cannot be brought back to power by some group or other in violation of the law of the United States.

…for now he remains Caudito Trump. But for how much longer?

Robert Reich goes on to suggest that Mitch McConnell is going to orchestrate the acquittal of his Trump card. However, Mitch McConnell isn’t in charge of the Senate during an impeachment trial. Mitch McConnell is nothing more than another senator for as long as this trial lasts. What needs to happen is for someone to point out to the actual leader of the Senate during trial, Chief Justice John Roberts, that Mitch McConnell is claiming more authority than is his due. Even the Chief Justice refers to Mitch McConnell as Leader McConnell, so the chances that pointing out his error will change his behavior is slim. But Mitch McConnell isn’t leader anything during an impeachment trial. He is senator McConnell, and the word disgraced should preface even that since he should have been removed from office already for his unwillingness to do his job properly.

…Again, someone should point these facts out to the presiding officer of the court. You can write (or call) him here.

The rest of the video is informative, as far as it goes. The yield curve inverted. That was a bad thing. Tariffs are bad for trade and the OHM loves tariffs. This is also a bad thing. The economy is weakening. Also bad. If we allow Trump to continue in office, he will drive the economy into the ditch all the while blaming everyone around him for the problems that he doesn’t know how to fix because he is a caudito. A caudillo would have executed a dozen people already and blamed them. Be thankful Trump isn’t one of those.


Anyone who doubts that Trump doesn’t want to be a dictator need only look at what he said to Representative Schiff via Twitter. Trump threatens his prosecutors. That is what that Tweet was, and no lying press secretary can change the text in the OHM’s tweets. It was a threat, and it wasn’t even the first one issued against someone who didn’t act like one of his toadies does. Jokes are funny. That was not a joke. Remove the Cadito.

Dear Republicans. What Does Trump’s Cock Taste Like?

This should be the question that every pundit asks every Republican who won an office in the election on November 6, 2018, since every one of them swore fealty to King Trump in order to win their elections. The question should be asked every time they hold a presser. It should be asked every time they are seen in public. It should be asked in front of their wives. Their children. Their families. Everyone needs to have the blatant corruption at the heart of every Republican victory last night spelled out in the most graphic, disgusting terms possible. Trump can get away with the shit he says every day? Ask that fucking question every fucking day until they crack.

“what does Trump’s cock taste like, Mr. Senator? Mr. Representative? Mr. Secretary?”

Maybe, just maybe, they’ll fucking wake up then. But I doubt it.

In the meantime. The weasel will try to squirm out of harm’s way. The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) has already signaled that he’ll play ball with the Democrats. Nothing doing. Not unless he turns states evidence on all his Russian contacts, fires all his children, divests from all his businesses. And when I say divest I mean sell every one of his properties to the highest bidder with all proceeds going to pay off the design and construction professionals he’s screwed over the last forty years. He has to agree to replace his entire cabinet with people who will not attempt to undermine their departments. Essentially he has to agree to congressional oversight of everything in the presidential administration, and he loses control of the military. He has to rubber-stamp everything the congress sends to him and he has to tell all his supporters how much they’ll love it.

Oh, and he also will have to insist on IRS prosecutions for the entire DeVos family.

If. If he does all of that, he can stay president for two more years. No running for re-election either. Take your pension, sit down and shut up after January 20th, 2021. If he doesn’t go for all of that, the anal probes start moving in on January 20th, 2019. Or he could just quit now and take his chances. It’s all up to him now. Let’s see which way the weasel runs.


…I spoke too soon post-election. Ann Coulter and the Joey Goebbels of AM radio, Rush Limbaugh, scared the OHM into demanding congress do his bidding instead of trying to do something that made sense, like bow to the will of the majority of US citizens. He said (paraphrasing)

Build my wall with your money since Mexico won’t pay for it!

Unsurprisingly the answer from Nancy Pelosi and her majority of the House has been no. Also unsurprisingly, the art school turtle,

THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART – FACES OF DEBT – 9/14/2010

Mitch McConnell, refused to do anything unless the OHM tells him to. So the OHM shut the government down. He, the president, the man charged with keeping the government running, turned the government off. This is probably the most impeachable act we’ve seen a president do, ever. Another history-breaking action from this, the most corrupt, the most fraudulent, the most ridiculous president in the history of this country.

The standoff cannot last, and the OHM will not be getting money for his wall from the Democratically lead house. They know what kind of thief he is already. If the shutdown doesn’t end in less than a month, I predict impeachment hearings will begin to be discussed seriously. The only thing standing in the way of the government reopening is the idiot sitting in the White House not doing the job he was elected to do.


The government stayed shut down from December 22, 2018 until January 25, 2019. 35 days. For more than a month, there was no United States government. Let that sink in. There was no capacity to do anything that required the federal government to operate for almost the entire month of January, 2019. The president turned the government back on at that point. The house passed some meaningless legislation so that the OHM could save face, and he grudgingly allowed the United States to continue to exist, until he changes his mind again.

…and the outrage rolled on through the year of 2019. Trump’s new flunky, AG William Barr, ensured that the Mueller investigation ended. AG Barr then lied about what was in the report, and refused to re-characterize his assessment of the report even after Bobby-Three-Sticks testified before the House. Mueller said in very precise terms (paraphrasing)

If you want him punished, you (the House) have to do it.

Weirdly, people keep telling me Mueller didn’t find anything. That isn’t what I heard in his testimony. What I heard him say was he found a lot of stuff. He just couldn’t prove any of it as a prosecutor tasked with building a case against Donald J. Trump, because that guy is the president and a president has to be impeached. That is the prosecutorial remedy for bad presidents.

Finally. On december 19, 2019 Donald John Trump was impeached by the House of representatives. It was then that speaker Pelosi proved she was the canny operator that everyone says she is. She held the impeachment articles until after the Christmas holiday (Die Hard Christmas) so that the Senate would have had time to think about the job before them, and possibly get an agreement to call the witnesses that are needed to prove the case they’ve built against the President. That process is going on now, so I have moved this article forward in time to the day the House Managers began presenting the prosecution’s case in the Senate. That date (for the later clarity of this article, so I don’t have to re edit this fucker again. Editor) is January 22, 2020.


Side note

On January 14, 2020, the new P.M. of the United Kingdom (soon to be just the Kingdom of England and Wales once again. After Brexit that is. AB? –ed.) the infamous Bojo is also on his knees sucking Donald Trump’s cock. I wonder if he has an opinion about the flavor? The BBC reports that Bojo wants to Replace Iran nuclear plan with ‘Trump deal’. That’s rich. Like there will be a Trump deal with Iran short of full-out war. Yeah, that will happen.


I’m watching the case being put before the Senate as I write this (January 22, 2019, 6:30 pm) I decided to move this article forward to the date of the impeachment trial in the Senate while watching the endless arguments yesterday (01/21/2020) over the rules that the Senate would follow during the trial. I have now updated the article with links to some of the OHM articles I’ve written since the 2018 elections. Time to get busy watching this rare political event unfold.

C-SPANU.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial (Day 3) – Jan 22, 2020
Facebook – PBS News

…but make no mistake. If the Senate acquits the OHM without calling witnesses, every Republican Senator who votes to acquit will have taken their turn at sucking the President’s cock. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

More importantly, every one of them will be investigated by the next president who takes control of the office, and that investigation could very well be conducted by foreign governments interested in seeking favor with the president of the United States. They should probably think pretty hard about acquitting the OHM. You never know who the next person who holds an office might be. Just ask Barack Obama if he’s happy about his current predicament. Ask him if he thinks the future turned out the way he wanted.

BTW, it has been 3 years, 2 days, 13 hours and 22 minutes since Donald Trump should have been removed from office. It will have been a bit longer by the time you read this.


Afterword

I edited and moved this article forward for the first day of impeachment prosecution arguments (day three according to C-SPAN) because I wrote this article after the Democratic midterm victories thinking that we would see a change in President Trump’s behavior. Would see him modulate after the drubbing he suffered in that election. Once again, I was wrong. Against all the evidence of history, the Republicans and their president have continued on their merry way pretending that they haven’t got anything to worry about.

The government shutdown also derailed my train of thought and I forgot about this article until I went back over the year’s articles trying to decide what I would use to anchor this first day of testimony that so many of us have been waiting for, for over a year. Finally that day has come. Not that it will amount to much.