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Revisit the Triple Revolution Memorandum sent to President Johnson

In 1964, a memorandum was sent to President Johnson that has not received much action yet. Here is a link to it:

http://www.educationanddemocracy.org/FSCfiles/C_CC2a_TripleRevolution.htm

And a related Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Triple_Revolution

While some of the specific suggestions may be out of date, the core ideas remain current, that that progress in human rights and technology and weaponry means we need to rethink our social contract, including by things like extending social security (a basic income guarantee) and medicare to all regardless of age or wealth.

From that letter: "The fundamental problem posed by the cybernation revolution in the U.S. is that it invalidates the general mechanism so far employed to undergird people’s rights as consumers. Up to this time economic resources have been distributed on the basis of contributions to production, with machines and men competing for employment on somewhat equal terms. In the developing cybernated system, potentially unlimited output can be achieved by systems of machines which will require little cooperation from human beings. As machines take over production from men, they absorb an increasing proportion of resources while the men who are displaced become dependent on minimal and unrelated government measures — unemployment insurance, social security, welfare payments. These measures are less and less able to disguise a historic paradox: That a substantial proportion of the population is subsisting on minimal incomes, often below the poverty line, at a time when sufficient productive potential is available to supply the needs of everyone in the U.S. The existence of this paradox is denied or ignored by conventional economic analysis. The general economic approach argues that potential demand, which if filled would raise the number of jobs and provide incomes to those holding them, is underestimated. Most contemporary economic analysis states that all of the available labor force and industrial capacity is required to meet the needs of consumers and industry and to provide adequate public services: Schools, parks, roads, homes, decent cities, and clean water and air. It is further argued that demand could be increased, by a variety of standard techniques, to any desired extent by providing money and machines to improve the conditions of the billions of impoverished people elsewhere in the world, who need food and shelter, clothes and machinery and everything else the industrial nations take for granted. There is no question that cybernation does increase the potential for the provision of funds to neglected public sectors. Nor is there any question that cybernation would make possible the abolition of poverty at home and abroad. But the industrial system does not possess any adequate mechanisms to permit these potentials to become realities. The industrial system was designed to produce an ever-increasing quantity of goods as efficiently as possible, and it was assumed that the distribution of the power to purchase these goods would occur almost automatically. The continuance of the income-through jobs link as the only major mechanism for distributing effective demand — for granting the right to consume — now acts as the main brake on the almost unlimited capacity of a cybernated productive system."

We are now seeing the beginnings of cheaper 3D printing and widespread use of robotics, which will accelerate these "Triple Revolution" trends.

For a more modern take on these issues, see Marshall Brain's writings about robotics and a jobless recovery, and a related fictional story:

http://www.marshallbrain.com/robotic-nation.htm

http://www.marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

Related links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-scarcity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jobless_recovery

http://www.shirky.com/writings/divide.html

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=divide+by+zero+economics

http://www.usbig.net/

Submitted by Paul Fernhout 5 years ago

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