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   Author  Topic: Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics  (Read 20132 times)
Kolzene
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Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« on: 2010-11-30 00:53:54 »
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This appears to be the best forum for this, for there doesn't seem to be one for economics, and this is about a scientific study and development, even if it is not terribly "new" exactly, it will still likely be new to most people.

I have been studying Technocracy for many years now, and find that CoV is very much like it in many ways, so I thought that I'd share it here. My hope is that the advocacy and understanding of each can perhaps work together, as I think that they are not only merely compatible, but could also be mutually supportive.

I won't go into great length about what Technocracy actually is here, partly because it is a very large topic and this is a forum, but also because there is plenty of material here: www.technocracy.ca. But I'll start with a little so that you know why I bring it up.

Technocracy was initially developed in response to a scientific study done in the 1920s that showed that the productive capacity of North America at the time was capable of producing an abundance of goods and services to every citizen. In modern parlance we call this "post-scarcity". It was designed to be a completely scientific, objective system of organization. Not a government per se, but more of an economic system. In fact, the kind of environment that Technocracy could provide would require very little if any actual "government".

The reason I see compatibility between Technocracy and the CoV is that both attempt to bring a rational, objective, and scientific approach to a field (economics and religion respectively) that was previously fraught with superstition and myth. By using purely scientific analysis, the developers of Technocracy discovered things that no one had known before. Also, by doing so, their findings could be scientifically verified, thus leaving out the endless philosophical debating between factions of both politics and economics. While many people have criticized Technocracy, to my knowledge no one has ever disproven their findings on purely scientific grounds.

There are a couple of reasons I think that these two ideas could be mutually supportive.  Technocracy can give people looking at the Church something to look forward to, and work towards. What would a society run by rational, objective people look like? Perhaps this is it. Not only that, but I think that such people would enjoy the benefits that Technocracy could give them. However, Technocracy as an idea has been around a long time, and is having quite a difficult time getting its message out there. Having spent years analyzing the problem, I have more recently turned to things like meme theory to try and help with that. I have been also thinking about how successful memes, namely many religions, manage to get so successful, in particular when it comes to training their followers in tasks and behaviours that help spread their meme. I have been contemplating how to build some kind of "lifestyle", for lack of a better word, that people could (and would want to) engage in that would have the same effect for us. This is because I see too many people "losing faith" as it were in their ability to accomplish change, and thus giving up. Even many of those that do support the idea simply don't know what to do, and what little they do do tends to be very disorganized and ineffective. Many of our best people had the problem of being too busy with other parts of their lives and simply couldn't find the time to do anything, which was unfortunate because they were often our most skilled and productive members.

Now I am thinking that perhaps a "religion" based on the same principles of science and critical thinking may be just what we need. Thus I am trowing this idea out here to this community to see what you think. If there is interest in Technocracy, I think that the two projects could easily work together, and both benefit. So what do you all think about this? I will be here to answer questions about Technocracy, and to talk more about how we might work together.
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #1 on: 2010-11-30 18:22:51 »
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Given that 20 percent of the population has Sociopathic tendencies and 20 percent of them have a Psychopathic bent, this seems a little hopeful at best.

Could you explain how the system deals with an individuals self serving tendencies at the expense of the system. Since so much is not black and white how is the grey area, I might consider 'consensus' managed ?

A little more on no property rights would be useful as well.

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Source: Technocracy.ca FAQs

<snip>
b) Social Relations

The nearest comparison in present day society to a Technate's Social Relations sequence would be that of the judiciary. It would be responsible for the maintenance of harmonious relations between all people on the continent. While its purpose is similar to today's judiciary, its methods would not. None of the outworn devices of the present legal system, such as the sparring between scheming lawyers or the conventional passing of judgement by "twelve good men and true" would be used. Instead, questions to be settled would be investigated by the most impersonal and scientific methods available. Of course, this won't be nearly as needed in a Technate as today, for two reasons. The first is that the need for most modern legal activity, namely litigation over property rights, will already have been eliminated. The second is that for nearly the same reasons, most crime in a Technate would disappear, but more on this is discussed in questions 5.2.4.c, 6.11, and 6.25.
<snip>

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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #2 on: 2010-12-01 08:05:01 »
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Perhaps my objection is somewhat similar to Fritz's. It would seem to me that some people already well invested in the price system would be reluctant to give it up. Many would want to preserve their advantages hoarded in the price system rather than give it up for a more egalitarian energy certificate system. They would likely see the prospect of technocracy much in the same negative way they view communist revolution.
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #3 on: 2010-12-01 08:12:52 »
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ps. - It's not really my objection, of course, but I can see how overcoming it would be a challenge in transition to a technocratic system. Personally I'm more of a socialist than your typical North American, but collectively we seem to have a mythical belief in competition and other sociopathic fairy tales in the US and allergic reactions to anything smelling like socialism.
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #4 on: 2010-12-01 08:28:05 »
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That is a good question, and really a complete answer would take some time, but I'll give a (relatively) short answer and leave it for any further questions/concerns.

First of all, those numbers seem a bit high to me, but I'm not basing that on anything but my personal estimation. Regardless of what they actually are however, I would say that the main reason for these numbers being so high would be the fact that our economic system encourages and even rewards such behaviour. One fact I can tell you is that according to the FBI, 95% of all crime in the US is classified as crimes against property, or directly related (having financial motives for murder, for example). The rest mostly consists of pathological reasons. This 95% of crime however would be either quite impossible to perform in a Technocratic society (such as, stealing someone's money), and/or simply not profitable, and usually a combination of the two. Given this, the only kind of anti-social behaviour that could happen on any scale significant enough to cause serious problems to the system would be simple non-participation. However, given what we already know about human motivation, the fact that most of the "work" that will need to be done in the Technate will be jobs that people will want to do anyway, a system that encourages helpful behaviour rather than stunting it, and the ability to project these pro-social values into a universal education system, it seems highly unlikely that this would happen.

Ah, I see someone has posted while I was writing this.

Of course, this is talking about a fully-functioning Technate here. The issue of the transition phase, or even the promotion phase before that (trying to convince people), are almost entirely different subjects. If you want to discuss how (or even if) we can convince people of this, I have many thoughts on that I can elaborate on over time. A few of them would be these though: Firstly, I like to keep the subject of whether Technocracy would work and be a good idea separate, because if we can establish that, then we can view it as something very much worth working towards. Yes, it will be difficult, and success is by far not guaranteed, but would not the effort be worth it? Especially when one considers the direction that we are headed as a society, and a species? To the Technocratic viewpoint, it is absolutely essential for the survival of technological society.

Second, the challenges of promotion are a large part of why I am here. I think that the study of memetics, and perhaps the design of a memeplex to counter the prevailing paradigm that sustains the current system, may help significantly in this regard. It is not the only strategy we are considering, but a potentially vital one.

I think that by studying the problem scientifically, and making use of the vast amount of knowledge out there concerning psychology, sociology, how organizations and social movements succeed and fail, and then coupling that with the dedication and organization that other religious institutions are able to rally, that this problem is indeed solvable. Again, I can get into this in much more detail if you like, but we should perhaps keep these different topics separate, perhaps even in separate threads. That's my recommendation anyway.
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #5 on: 2010-12-02 15:59:02 »
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Though I admire the ambitious goals and scientific methods of Technocracy I'm skeptical of the stated conclusions.

From the FAQ...

Quote:

5.  What are the conclusions of Technocracy?

There are three basic conclusions. The first is that there exists on the North American Continent a physical potential in resources to produce a high standard of goods and services for all citizens, and that the high-speed technology for converting these resources to use-forms in sufficient volume is already installed, and that the skilled personnel for operating it are present and available. Yet we have unprecedented insecurity, extensive poverty and rampant crime.

Even 80 years after Technocracy started North America is so far from post-scarcity I don't know where to begin. It is hard to imagine there ever being an infinite supply of nice restaurants, beach-front property and everything else anyone could possibly want.


Quote:

The second conclusion of Technocracy is that the Price System can no longer function adequately as a method of production and distribution of goods. The invention of power machinery has made it possible to produce a plethora of goods with a relatively small amount of human labor. As machines displace men and women, however, purchasing power is destroyed, for if people cannot work for wages and salaries, they cannot buy goods. We find ourselves, then, in this paradoxical situation: the more we produce, the less we are able to consume.

Evidently Technocracy failed to anticipate a service-based economy let alone a knowledge based economy. It is simply not true that the more we produce the less we are able to consume. I'd wager that consumption is at an all time high today along with GDP.


Quote:

The final basic conclusion is that a new distributive system must be instituted that is designed to satisfy the special needs of an environment of technological adequacy, and that this system must not in any way be associated with the extent of an individual's functional contribution to society.

I don't know where this conclusion came from except possibly from reading Marx. Or am I misunderstanding?
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #6 on: 2010-12-02 22:43:23 »
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Yeah, a lot of Technocracy looks weird until you have seen all its parts and how they work together. It's kind of like a new machine that way, except that I can't present you with a working model first and must rely on theory. And unfortunately forums aren't the best medium for learning this in. I hope I can shed some light on your concerns here.


Quote:
Even 80 years after Technocracy started North America is so far from post-scarcity I don't know where to begin. It is hard to imagine there ever being an infinite supply of nice restaurants, beach-front property and everything else anyone could possibly want.

That's true about North America being far from post-scarcity, but you have to look at why, and what Technocracy means by that. First of all, they are not saying that we are currently are producing an abundance. If we were, we'd either be running a Technate, or have no need for one. Instead, what they are saying is that we have the capacity to produce an abundance. However, we have chosen not to, because to do so would destroy our economic system which is based on scarcity. When you produce things in abundance, their value drops to below the point where you can sustain a business, businesses then fail, and then nothing is produced. This is a big part of what happened during the Great Depression, overproduction caused the value of goods to drop, coupled with the fact that machines were putting people out of work, and thus unemployment was high. Thus supply was high and demand was low, both at unprecedented levels, and both caused prices to drop. Thus what the second conclusion is saying is that a technologically produced abundance is incompatible with a scarcity based economic model, and thus one of them has got to go. Since the Technical Alliance determined that people would rather live with a higher standard of living than a low one, they created Technocracy as a model to replace the Price System, one that wouldn't collapse under conditions of abundance. However, instead of getting rid of our obsolete scarcity system, we got rid of the abundance. We destroyed surplus stock, burned crops, poured oil on stocks of oranges, and sank ships full of cargo. Now we do things like subsidize farmers to produce less than they can because if they produced enough to keep their farms working, the price of food would drop to below the point they could all operate. It's a classic case of what is good for a company is generally bad for the economy. Thus, the reason we are not producing an abundance is not because we can't, but because we chose not to in favor of maintaining an obsolete system. This is what we call "artificial scarcity" or even "enforced scarcity".

Also, you seem to have a common but inaccurate idea of what abundance means. That's o.k., most people do. It means "more than enough", not "infinite". The best example right now is air. Air is abundant because there is more than enough of it for everyone to breathe (polluted areas notwithstanding). However, there is not an infinite amount of air, it is most definitely finite. And thus the value of air is nothing. If I offered you a can of normal air, I doubt that you would buy it, because you already can get all the air you need, thus the air I am offering is worthless to you. This is in spite of the fact that air is absolutely vital to your ability to live.

And in terms of how many restaurants and whatnot, what you need to look at is not what you can own, but instead what you can consume. Sure, a person can own a theoretically infinite amount of anything, but they can only consume so much. There is only so much food you can eat, there is only so much time in a day you can travel, or talk on the phone, or watch movies. Thus, the abundance that we can produce is not "more than enough" of what people can own, because that is impossible (as standard economics likes to say as their argument for why scarcity can never be solved), but what we can do is produce more than enough food for people to eat, transportation for them to travel on, good places to live, good health care, good education, etc.

So while we have been able to produce this abundance for around 90 years, we do not because of the harmful effects it would have on the economy. What we need to do is recognize the harm that continuing to use this obsolete economic model will do in the face of advancing technology, and throw it out, allow machines to produce the abundance that we want and do the work we don't want, before we are no longer capable of doing so and the opportunity is lost to us for a very long time (more on this later).


Quote:
Evidently Technocracy failed to anticipate a service-based economy let alone a knowledge based economy. It is simply not true that the more we produce the less we are able to consume. I'd wager that consumption is at an all time high today along with GDP.

Heh, GDP is not a true measure of anything, in a scientific sense. It instead relies on the concept of "value" which is something that fluctuates wildly and unpredictably, due to being based on human subjective desires.

And no, the movement of the workforce from industrial to service and knowledge sectors of the economy does not invalidate the basic premise of Technocracy, it is only delaying the inevitable. Both of those sectors can be automated as well, and indeed have been for a long time. Even early in the 20th century, telephone operators were replaced by machines, today you won't find one even to ask for a directory look-up (let alone that you can do this with a phone book or online). Bank tellers have been partially replaced by ATMs, and now online banking as well. You can often see cashiers in stores being replaced by automated checkout machines. Many products have been sold by vending machines for decades, and today even movies are being rented by them. If you want to look at the "knowledge" industry, the one I was trained in, computer tech support, has some rudimentary automation in place already. Many companies and websites prefer that you go to their online self-help services to troubleshoot your problem before coming to them. Even Windows itself has such a "wizard" built-in to its help files.

Sure, there are still people in most of these industries, and yes, it will be hard to replace them all for a long time simply because some of the problems they deal with require human intelligence to figure out. But you have to look at two facts here: One is that you don't need to replace everyone in a field to get the effects on the economy that Technocracy is talking about. During the Depression, unemployment was only at about 25%. Second, once a technology is mature enough, it becomes far cheaper and less of a hassle for any company to use machines instead of people, and given an economy that relies on competition to keep prices low, they have a very strong motivation to do so. Thus, they will when they can. This trend has been slowed somewhat thanks to our fear of what will happen when too many people lose their jobs, but competition will see to it that it does happen. This is why the Three Curve Chart called these trends "irreversible". And once people are automated out of the service and knowledge sectors, where do they go from there?

More on the GDP below.


Quote:
I don't know where this conclusion came from except possibly from reading Marx. Or am I misunderstanding?

This is largely explained by my above comments. To summarize, companies do and will continue to replace people with machines. This will have the effect of reducing purchasing power (and hence demand) while increasing production (and hence supply). Under the very basic rules of economics, this will cause prices to drop until we have another Great Depression. Except that this time we won't be able to get out of it, and it will only get worse. What got us out of the last one was moving people to these other sectors, and massive debt used to restart the economy (not to mention a World War on which to effect this change). We have nowhere else to put our workers, and debt creation cannot last forever. Hence, collapse is inevitable. Technocracy remains the only viable solution I've seen proposed so far.

But this isn't our only problem either, it is merely the first one we ran into. Now we have the problems of resource depletion harming both our ability to live healthfully (from pollution, soil erosion, water table depletion, fossil fuel depletion, among others). We also have our infrastructure being destroyed in the interests of making a profit (such as railways, which are far more resource efficient than trucks, being torn up and sold for scrap to China). One of the main reasons our economy is still even running today is because the "problems" to society are a boon to business. Take clean water for instance. People in an increasing number of cities (like in California and Florida) can no longer drink their own tap water. However, rather than fix the problem, businesses just pop up selling them bottled water, which is far more resource intensive, and thus wasteful. Waste equal profit in the Price System, thus it is sustaining itself like a vampire by making our system ever more wasteful. Why else do you think it's easier to get simple products like butter from other countries rather than domestically? Because the true "cost" of butter is virtually nothing, thanks to technology, and to keep it up to inflationary prices need to keep businesses going, we need to add in costs, such as transporting it long distances, increasing the amount of packaging used, etc.

Getting back to the GDP thing for a moment: The reason why "consumption" appears to be at an all time high is partly due to a higher standard of living, but far more-so it is due to the waste involved in that consumption. With all the extra packaging, chemicals, and transportation involved in most products today (most of which is really unnecessary), while it may seem like you are consuming the same amount for an individual product today as decades ago, all the resources wasted in making it and getting it to you make the real "cost" far higher. And again, money is not a measure of anything, since it's value can fluctuate, and thus cannot be used as any scientific understanding of what is really going on. This is why Technocracy's research deals with things like units of energy, units of production, etc.

And then there is the simple fact that every Price System has a life cycle anyway, where it eventually collapses, there is some kind of revolution, and it is started again. Only we have the problems of technological disemployment and resource depletion to worry about as well. Soon we will lose our capacity to operate a technological society, so whenever any of these things begins to fail, it all goes like a deck of cards, and many people will die as a consequence.

I know this all sounds very "sky is falling" scare-mongering, and it's not my preferred topic, but these are what the conclusions come to, and they are scientifically valid, unlike economic theories based on subjective concepts, or philosophical ones that can't be proven. I much prefer to talk about the benefits of Technocracy, and how it is possible. Unfortunately it is sometimes hard to untangle the two. 
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #7 on: 2010-12-03 13:07:54 »
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Based on what I read on this board, I would say that Technocracy is at risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  I agree with Kolzene and other Technocrats that the adoption of fiat money and fractional reserve banking is bad, but that doesn't mean that using a commodity as a medium of exchange is bad.

Different people value things differently.  So I don't know how it is possible to remove subjectivity from the system of exchange.  Technocracy suggests that we use other commodities (like units of energy)  as medium of exchange and measure of production.  Nothing wrong with that, but we need to realize that all it means is that we are replacing one commodity (gold or paper) with another (energy).  The subjective valuation of each unit of energy will also be impacted by supply & demand. 

I'm hopeful that one day, technological advances will allow us to live in environments (either virtual or physical) that approach a post-scarcity society.  I like Ian Bank's vision of such a universe as laid out in his Culture novels.  But to claim that today, we have the means to bring about "more than enough" of anything to anyone on the continent stretches my imagination.

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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #8 on: 2010-12-03 16:21:44 »
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Quote from: Ophis on 2010-12-03 13:07:54   
Based on what I read on this board, I would say that Technocracy is at risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  I agree with Kolzene and other Technocrats that the adoption of fiat money and fractional reserve banking is bad, but that doesn't mean that using a commodity as a medium of exchange is bad.

Different people value things differently.  So I don't know how it is possible to remove subjectivity from the system of exchange.  Technocracy suggests that we use other commodities (like units of energy)  as medium of exchange and measure of production.  Nothing wrong with that, but we need to realize that all it means is that we are replacing one commodity (gold or paper) with another (energy).  The subjective valuation of each unit of energy will also be impacted by supply & demand. 

I'm hopeful that one day, technological advances will allow us to live in environments (either virtual or physical) that approach a post-scarcity society.  I like Ian Bank's vision of such a universe as laid out in his Culture novels.  But to claim that today, we have the means to bring about "more than enough" of anything to anyone on the continent stretches my imagination.




Good points Ophis. I'm going to step out here a bit and try to sum up what I think I see. A lot of the problem I have with Technocracy isn't so much the ideas themselves, but rather the lack of simplicity in presentation. How about simply saying in sum that Technocracy seeks to create a currency based not on gold, or government trust (the Federal Reserve), but rather energy accounting. In theory we could even make it based on a basket of objective measures - we can include carbon emission credit accounting in the mix as well, for example.

And so instead of getting ourselves caught up in some sort of political ideology argument, we can simply say technocracy only seeks to introduce a new kind of currency. Perhaps at first it doesn't supplant our regular currency, but merely supplements it. Maybe it never replaces the dollars and pesos, but instead creates a dual currency economic system for North America, unlike the way the Euro did.

All three North American countries would create a common Amero currency based on this objective basket of "goods" (kilowat hours - carbon credits - etc.), while each nation can make their own decisions about their more speculative/reserve national currencies. Perhaps the US decides to maintain a dual currency, while Canada and Mexico go straight Amero. Or maybe everyone goes Amero, or everyone stays bi-currency - each nation making their own political decisions regarding that - but the objective measure of the Amero would keep the continental currency honest without these ponzi-like trust-reserve schemes, and probably more so than even the current Euro.

PS - another possible part of the basket of goods to base the currency on could be agricultural - perhaps a food/calorie - kilowatt/hour - carbon emission basket, since all of these things are fairly fundamental to human existence. I note how Kolzene says we can't use the actual commodities themselves as the currency, but perhaps we can use them as the basis for a more objective reserve system that is at least based on something much more important than shiney metals and government trust. Since the near term issues are much more closely tied into sheer human survival issues, everyone (collectively and individually) would have much greater incentives not to play the same silly financial games they otherwise might consider for more the much more speculative currencies.

PPS - hell we could even throw in some shiney metals into the basket just for nostalgia sake, that's still objective on some level even though its not so strictly a survival issue. In any case, I accept that the currency will necessarily be a derivative, but really a kind of retro-derivative much like humanity's first real currencies were before everyone simply placed blind-trust in the "guvment". But if we give each nation the open choice of being a dual or single currency, we can potentially keep whatever benefits there may remain to keeping a simple national reserve currency in addition to experimenting with a more objectively based reserve system.
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #9 on: 2010-12-03 16:46:21 »
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There are lots of talks of alternative currencies these days.  Fortune recently ran a good article about it (http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2010/fortune/1007/gallery.Alternate_Currency.fortune/2.html)

"a growing number of policymakers and economists say Special Drawing Rights (or SDRs) should replace the volatile U.S. dollar as the world's main reserve currency. SDRs were developed by the International Monetary Fund in 1969. It's neither tangible like cash nor used by everyday consumers to buy goods or services. (...) Because the value of SDRs is linked to the average value of key international currencies (U.S. dollars, yen, euros and pounds), they argue that SDRs can counter the volatile highs and lows that the U.S. dollar has undergone during the past few years."

A few pages down in the article, they mention another alternative currency called the "Ven":
"In the digital age, it seems that so-called social currencies have naturally followed social networking circles. Ven, developed in 2007 by a group called Hub Culture, is used among a global network of mostly business jet-setters (although Hub Culture says membership is not necessarily restricted to corporate executives, but also the highly mobile). Unlike most other alternative currencies, Ven's value fluctuates depending on the values of a basket of international currencies, commodities and carbon futures. At today's exchange rate, $1 could buy approximately 10 Ven. "
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #10 on: 2010-12-03 16:54:45 »
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Quote:
Based on what I read on this board, I would say that Technocracy is at risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  I agree with Kolzene and other Technocrats that the adoption of fiat money and fractional reserve banking is bad, but that doesn't mean that using a commodity as a medium of exchange is bad.

Different people value things differently.  So I don't know how it is possible to remove subjectivity from the system of exchange.  Technocracy suggests that we use other commodities (like units of energy)  as medium of exchange and measure of production.  Nothing wrong with that, but we need to realize that all it means is that we are replacing one commodity (gold or paper) with another (energy).  The subjective valuation of each unit of energy will also be impacted by supply & demand.

The important point of difference here is that Energy Accounting is not a medium of exchange, but instead is a method of distribution. People do not exchange goods and services to each other using units of energy instead of money. Instead, the system works like this (simplified): The production sequences produce goods and services. Consumers consume them (by taking them from distribution centers or having them delivered). The Distribution Sequence measures this consumption via Energy Accounting, because energy is the most universal component of all production and service, and provides an accurate unit of measure not subject to fluctuating factors. Based on this accurate information, they are then able to tell the production sequences how much of the goods and services to make during the next cycle. This happens in near-real time, and the cycle repeats itself. The end result is that production very nearly matches consumption, leaving no shortages, and little to no waste, both of which are in 'abundance' today. It is in fact this balance between production and distribution that is symbolized by Technocracy's symbol, the Monad.

So nothing of value is lost. The objective measurement of energy consumption is used only on the administrative end in order to accurately gauge how much is consumed and how much to produce. Human subjective desires are reflected in the amounts of each product and service actually consumed. If people decide that they want 20 units of Style 54 shoes this cycle, then that is how much is produced. If people decide that they want 30 next cycle, then more are made. If they only want 12, then less are made. Thus, everyone gets what they want.

If you want to consider what would happen if money was used in this type of system rather than energy units, check out the sections called Why Not Money? and Money Is Inadequate in this article: http://www.technocracy.ca/tiki-index.php?page=IB29  So not only is money not necessary, but it is also a problem. As I've shown, the ability to account for and respond to human desires is already built-in as a necessary requirement, and without the corresponding problems associated with using subjective concepts of "value" during the accounting process.


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I'm hopeful that one day, technological advances will allow us to live in environments (either virtual or physical) that approach a post-scarcity society.  I like Ian Bank's vision of such a universe as laid out in his Culture novels.  But to claim that today, we have the means to bring about "more than enough" of anything to anyone on the continent stretches my imagination.

You don't need to imagine it, because it can be measured. But if you want just a general sense of this kind of thing, take a look at how much an average modern factory can output compared to an entirely human-run operation. The factor will often be thousands of times larger. Several more examples can be found in this article: http://www.technocracy.ca/tiki-index.php?page=Why+believe+it

Also, if it helps, keep in mind that this only accounts for, as I've said, most things. Right now it would not be possible to provide everyone with all the space travel in the solar system they might want. Items and services that are scarce like this would obviously be handled very differently. However, the main point is that given our technology and resources, we can provide an abundance of food, shelter, clothes, education, health care, communications, continental travel, entertainment, etc., and all at a very high quality. Technocracy doesn't claim to be able to satisfy every human desire because as we know that is impossible. Instead, it offers the ability to be able to satisfy far more of them than is available today. It is not "utopia", just far, far better than what we have now.

Issues like this are one of the reasons a proper study of Technocracy (as opposed to just q&a on a forum) can give people a better understanding of how our current system works, its flaws, and how it can work better, all from a scientific perspective. It does take some time, but it is well worth it I think. The two most in-depth resources for this would be Man-Hours and Distribution by M. King Hubbert, and the Technocracy Study Course book, available in the File Gallery section of www.technocracy.ca as a PDF file. If you don't have the time or desire to read the whole thing, a condensed and updated version has been produced that I can send you, also as a PDF.
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #11 on: 2010-12-03 17:08:26 »
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I may be missing some issues here, but I'd encourage Kolzene to check out my PS in my previous message as I wrote it after his last posting.
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #12 on: 2010-12-03 17:52:55 »
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I'll have to read more about Technocracy before I make up my mind, but I must say that I'm very afraid of planned economies that attempt to predict how many shoes of a particular style I'll want to buy next month.

I'll give it a try though, and will take a look at the PDF files. 

I'll also share a story.  It is a story that illustrates the amazingly beautiful complexity in play behind the production of even very simple goods.  Dawkins' new book "The Greatest Show on Earth" discusses the wonders of how natural order evolves without the need of a central entity coordinating everything.  Likewise, this story demonstrates that production of goods, can follow similarly miraculous-looking processes.  If you've never read it, it is well worth the 10 minutes; if you've read it before, it's worth another 10 minutes as well:

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/I,_Pencil

"Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me?"  -- Mongol 482

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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #13 on: 2010-12-03 20:48:38 »
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Quote from: Ophis on 2010-12-03 17:52:55   
I'll also share a story.  It is a story that illustrates the amazingly beautiful complexity in play behind the production of even very simple goods.  Dawkins' new book "The Greatest Show on Earth" discusses the wonders of how natural order evolves without the need of a central entity coordinating everything.  Likewise, this story demonstrates that production of goods, can follow similarly miraculous-looking processes.  If you've never read it, it is well worth the 10 minutes; if you've read it before, it's worth another 10 minutes as well:

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/I,_Pencil


Great story. And welcome back, Ophis! 
« Last Edit: 2010-12-03 21:01:44 by David Lucifer » Report to moderator   Logged
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Re:Technocracy - a scientific approach to economics
« Reply #14 on: 2010-12-03 21:01:16 »
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Quote from: Kolzene on 2010-12-02 22:43:23   

Also, you seem to have a common but inaccurate idea of what abundance means. That's o.k., most people do. It means "more than enough", not "infinite". The best example right now is air. Air is abundant because there is more than enough of it for everyone to breathe (polluted areas notwithstanding). However, there is not an infinite amount of air, it is most definitely finite. And thus the value of air is nothing. If I offered you a can of normal air, I doubt that you would buy it, because you already can get all the air you need, thus the air I am offering is worthless to you. This is in spite of the fact that air is absolutely vital to your ability to live.

You seem to misunderstand what I meant by "infinite". Since we are talking about goods and services I thought it was obvious that I meant more than we could possibly want, not literally infinite.

My objection still stands though. Once you admit some properties (beach-front) are more desirable than others (desert, flood plain) and that some kinds of education (prestigious university) are more desirable than others (community college) then you are back to scarcity economics and pricing systems. Does Technocracy offer a way to make all commodities equally desirable?

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