Angry Robot

The Economics of Star Trek

This was linked to in the post about rarity and is worth a read:

Imagine there’s some level of welfare benefits in every country, including America. That’s easy. That’s true. Imagine that, as the economy became more efficient and wealthy, the society could afford to give more money in welfare benefits, and chooses to do so. Next, imagine that this kept happening until society could afford to give the equivalent of something like $10 million US dollars at current value to every man, woman and child. And imagine that, over the time that took to happen, society got its shit together on education, health, and the dignity of labor. Imagine if that self-same society frowned upon the conspicuous display of consumption and there was a large amount of societal pressure, though not laws, on people that evolved them into not being obsessed with wealth. Is any of that so crazy? Is it impossible?

It really depends on society generating enough money that such a guaranteed income is actually doable for the whole population. While that might indeed be possible now if we increased our top marginal tax rate to eat up 90% of the 1%‘s earnings (I would love to see an economist weighing in on that), my hope is that eventually a sort of “robot tax” is instated. More and more people are going to be put out of work by machines, until eventually all of us will. We need to plan for that.

• June 16, 2014, 9:14 am |