Builds Upon: Legitimancers
I. Scarcity Has Caused Deterioration of Social Cooperation and Codependence
No matter how policy makers might try to manipulate affairs, there are two intractable facts that drive the current trends.
1- Automation will cause a continued decrease in the number of necessary workers. Only the most skilled workers remain necessary. Much of the work very skilled workers do is finding ways to reduce the number of workers needed.
2- A higher standard of living relative to the rest of the world entails a higher price of labor. Without strict protectionist measures, the inevitable result is less exports and fewer jobs. All systems tend towards equilibrium and the world economy is no different. Any water that falls upon the high ground of prosperous industrialized economies will tend to flow downwards.
In industrialized nations this can only mean that jobs will continue to become more scarce and scarcity of jobs will push wages downwards.
Already, jobs are becoming a luxury to be fought over.
Whenever I see articles about how people with college degrees can’t find jobs and are tens of thousands of dollars in debt, there’s always someone who shows up in the comments column who laughs at their misfortune and tells them off for being lazy fools who failed to get STEM degrees.
These critics miss the point: Whatever their errors in judgment, these students were willing participants in society who went deep in debt so that they could one day contribute…And in return, they now receive mockery for having fallen for an elaborate prank.
Critics of the ‘overeducated’ demonstrate a fundamental change in society’s attitude towards work.
The whole idea that society is open to anyone willing to cooperate and work hard is gone.
The new mentality more resembles that of a royal court full of scheming—a place where only the clever and well-connected survive.
If someone spends years in school only to see their field become saturated or obsolete they are showered with the derision of those who ‘made it.’
In previous times, even those down on their luck bore successful people little ill will. They were more likely to suppose that their own lack of fortune was temporary. Their social superiors likewise generally didn’t hold a lower social station against unfortunates so long as they were willing to work hard to contribute to society.
But in the present social climate, the less fortunate feel little reason to care about the interests of their social betters. If they could better themselves by taking from those higher up, why wouldn’t they?
In short, a trend of decreasing available wealth in Western nations has drastically increased competition and destroyed the overall cooperative spirit that had previously prevailed.
This widespread zero sum culture makes society fertile ground for unrest. The ‘losers’ have little reason to be content with losing. If all is lost, they have no reason not to take the ‘winners’ down with them.
Once the people have a certain sort of mentality, they’re like tinder lying about waiting to be lit.
II. Artificial Scarcity Undermines Systemic Legitimacy
History is full of scarcity and social inequity, but at present the scarcity and inequality are increasingly artificial in nature.
People cooperate with capitalism because the prices of goods and services reflect actual market demand.
But if money ceases to properly reflect supply and demand, why would people continue to cooperate?
I recently visited a site called The Venus Project. Its creator, Jacque Fresco, lays out a plan for a future society. Whatever one might think of Fresco’s overall vision and retro-futuristic building designs, he makes an insightful point concerning money systems.
Money systems, he observes are dependent upon scarcity to motivate people and for their continued existence.
When a good or service is not scarce enough, the general response of elites and property owners is to create artificial scarcity to protect their interests.
In everyday life,
-The person who can barely afford food after rent sees grocers and restaurants throwing out tons of food.
They might read stories of how farmers sometimes destroy tons of their crop so they can actually profit from their harvests.
-The person who can barely afford rent sees neighborhoods full of houses with telltale alarmed padlocks on the front gates.
People were forcibly driven out of homes that no one else wants. Now they just sit there empty.
The reason for this cruel irony: real estate “kept off the market” got the occupants kicked out for being unable to pay an artificially high price no one else in society was willing to pay.
It is exactly this sort of cognitive dissonance that destroys the credibility of a system.
If a system is impartial and enjoys legitimacy people will tolerate incredible hardship.
If there are real conditions of hardship and famine no one is going to complain. Everyone’s too busy surviving.
However, the present scarcity of jobs does not result from general famine or any real crisis.
On the contrary, scarcity now exists precisely because we are able to produce more resources more efficiently than ever.
As Fresco points out: abundance causes money systems to malfunction.
-A social climate of zero sum competition.
-Conditions of artificial scarcity.
-The ubiquity of i-phones and the internet.
The trend of social unrest will both continue to spread and rise in intensity.
There will be intense struggles as those towards the top of the pyramid resort to increasingly desperate measures to protect their wealth by artificially maintaining the scarcity of abundant resources.
These measures will force increasing numbers of people to come face to face with homelessness and starvation in the midst of plenty.
And at some point, these people will realize that if they do nothing they will be gradually be phased out of existence just like any other product that doesn’t sell.