Thursday, September 18, 2014

On the Stipend, 2

          On the Stipend, 2

This very Internet, on which we communicate so swiftly, has Star-Trek-like economics. The cost of data replication is near zero; information once released on the Net becomes essentially common property of all humankind. This has already cratered the music industry, and is now obsoleting newspapers and book publishing.

          So we already have a replicator of sorts; a data replicator; and enough of our economy is based on data rather than labor or materials that replicator logic is a major factor in the economy. The replicator doesn’t make hash of economics, as such, for it has an economics of its own; an aplutic logic of zero-difference transactions.

          The market-based Keynesian effect of the stipend is its selling point to the business class; its purchase of the political loyalty of the poor is its selling point to the political class (and yes, they overlap); but let me add a third point; a medical point; the healthfulness of the stipend, its elimination of sickness and anxiety; a benefit proven to be shared by the rich as well as the poor.

           In a 23rd-century Star Trek economy, the only scarce raw material is energy. Short of then, we can soon assume cheap form-printing, and have long had fairly cheap chemistry short of alchemy.

          And the information replicator is right here right now.

          In a replicator economy, raw materials are scarce, and new ideas are scarce. Old ideas become common property of humankind, and therefore contribute value but not competitive advantage. Old, processed, materials eventually become trash, and hence recycling; again, a value-contributor but void of profit margin.

          The replicators themselves are not scarce; they self-replicate, if you know how to build them from the spare parts they can replicate. So labor is scarce and valuable; so is knowledge, particularly of replicators.

          The question is, what to pay the maid? Or the doctor? Or the replicator repairman? In gold? Well, that works until the replicators can do alchemy; and until then it’s too inelastic a medium. In paper money? Crank up the xerox machines!

          What to base the zero-sum currency on in an economy largely zero-difference? Credit? Bitcoin?

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