Carl Guderian on Tue, 3 Jun 1997 18:52:05 +0200 (MET DST)

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Re: <nettime> The Piran Nettime Manifesto

What happened to zerowork here? Personally, I like the idea that Robert
Anton Wilson mentioned in "Schroedinger's Cat," a 3-part novel of 6
alternate scenarios, from worst to best, of modern life in the fictional
country of Unistat. In one of the better histories, the female president,
Eve Hubbard, awards workers $50,000 to eliminate their own jobs through
automation or other method of streamlining. Everyone else whose job is
eliminated as a result gets $30,000. In the story, one guy has done himself
out of more than one job, so he's living pretty fat.

A company wins by becoming more efficient (profitable), while the worker
gets paid to do whatever he or she finds meaningful. Other workers
encourage the innovation and may even add to it. Since most work today is
useless, redundant and/or underpaid (to keep the stock attractive), a
worker's survival demands that he or she do as little work as possible
while pretending to be indispensable. Hardly a recipe for efficiency in
business or happiness on the job or off it. Paying the worker to eliminate
his or her job benefits society as well, because the fraction that wants to
do something positive is now free to do so and the bums don't have to steal
or kill to live. It's a grand bet that there are enough naturally
productive citizens to make the effort worthwhile financially and socially.

It can't be much more expensive than even the current shrunken welfare
system or the subsidies paid to companies hire unemployable citizens (not
to mention the waste of hiring them into the state bureaucracy which,
anyway, needs to be smaller).

The late President Nixon considered a version of this, called the
Guaranteed Basic Income. But it could be a business initiative. It could be
tried on smaller scale, as pilot projects, with authority at local levels.

Okay, that's an example of a planned economy, but not like 5-year Plans or
Great Leaps Forward, in which production was controlled down to the last
job or long ton of ore. But what about an "unplanned" economy, again a
staple of Russia, dominated by Mafiya collusion--price fixing, protection
rackets, division of territory. Oddly enough, many old-style communist
bosses are adapting wonderfully to the new "open" economy.) The regulations
US industrialists grumble about today are the public response to poison
foods, disfiguring cosmetics, speculation with bank deposits and Ponzi
schemes common in the heydays of unfettered capitalism (1870-1929, 1980s).

People just want to control their own economies. Mr. Barlow can appreciate
this if he's ever dealt with outsiders trying to set up a polluting plant
on a river that feeds the cattle his neighbors raise. In Texas, the state
government tried to induce, through tax breaks, a Taiwanese copper smelting
plant to relocate to the Texas Gulf Coast, threatening a nearby wildlife
refuge and the regional fishing and shrimping industry. It would have
provided jobs, but most other rights and recourse would have been bargained
away. The locals raised enough of a stink that the smelter went elsewhere.
Likewise, the American factories in Indonesia or Vietnam provide jobs but
no local economic power. Outside money using powerful friends in government
(or cutting private deals) to trump local interests is what hurts the most
and makes the little guy feel like such a sucker for playing by the rules.

I would like to see each level of government (regional, national, state,
local) act as referee and keep the bullies and pillagers out of the
economies in its domain. If economy is biology, then economic systems at
every level should be cultivated appropriately. People don't live in the
wild; they live in a rough balance with nature. Why should they live in a
wild economy? And as was famously pointed out elsewhere, the aerospace and
computer industries of California are nothing if not cultivated
economies--seeded, watered and protected. I'm like Candide; I want to
cultivate my garden. Can I cultivate my economy without worying about the
neighbor's pigs trampling it? Former Speaker of the U.S. House of
Representatives, Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, had it right: all politics are

Bologna, Italy, and Portland, Oregon are examples of successful cities with
economies appropriate to their size. All fledgling economies, from
inner-city Detroit to Vietnam to ther internet, should be allowed to grow
into their own, not serve as sources of cheaper labor and real estate or,
worse, as private game preserves for rich white hunters.

Generally speaking, things have gone about as far as they can possibly go
when things have got as bad as they reasonably get
              - from "Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead" by Tom

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