This is a continuation of my post The trouble with AFFEERCE—the preface. Again, the source of the quoted passages is AFFEERCE A Business Plan to Save the United States and Then the World (pdf) by Jeff Graubart. As before, “emphasis mine” in quoted passages.
I’ve dispensed with “the trouble with” in the title for now. I’m troubled enough with the proposal to have deep reservations, but do recognize that Jeff Graubart has thought these things through, let’s say, at least as extensively as I have my pet project anagorism. There is a process at work in this synthesis that deserves respect.
Bringing AFFEERCE to backwards countries will probably require thirty years of communism or restored colonialism first, but I’ll say no more of this for fear of unnecessarily alienating my readers on the right and the left. There will be plenty of necessary reasons to alienate them later on.
I’ve waded far enough into multiculturalism and egalitarianism-in-general to have an inevitable knee-jerk reaction to the phrase backwards countries. Graubart, I’m guessing, isn’t oblivious to the fact that there are any number of ways that could have been phrased. I’m inclined to wager that this choice of words is not an oversight. At this point I’ve read enough to know that provocation is part of Graubart’s rhetorical toolbox. That’s OK. After all, it could be worse. At least it doesn’t say “backward cultures,” so I’ll give Graubart the benefit of the doubt and assume this is a statement about political or economic, and not cultural, characteristics of nations. What I’m doing here is merely pointing out that this is one of my pain points (in Graubart-speak, “the kicker”). Likewise, colonialism is a practice that I see as having no redeeming value. I am, among other things anarcho-communist, but I’m guessing communism in the sense Graubart (who is explicitly a non-anarchist) means here is at least as repugnant to me as colunialism.
If it helps, at the time of the beginning of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and later Iraq, part of the mindless chatter of the talking heads on the teevee kept going back to a certain talking point about “you can’t expect regime change to result in Jeffersonian democracy.” I must confess that once or maybe twice my thoughts drifted to the idea that maybe using military occupation to impose Scandinavian-type social democracy on a country might be an end justifying even militarism as a means. I didn’t entertain this thought for long because I’ve always been far more opposed to hawkishness, including liberal hawkishness or even that oxymoron called neolibertarianism, than I am supportive of sombunall key features of social democracy such as moderately high (by the real world’s standards) levels of economic security and personal freedom.
One advantage I think less wealthy countries might have over, say, the United States (which Graubart seems to be saying is necessarily the starting point for AFFEERCE) is a location where the present value of a lifetime of support would probably be well, well south of the US$600,000 that comes up in the AFFEERCE literature. Another feature that might come in handy would be the opportunity that exists in some countries to “leapfrog” some “legacy” technologies. I’m creeped out, however, by use of less wealthy countries as political laboratories, especially for non-democratic forms of politics, such as the so-called charter cities some ultra-elite interests are trying to establish in Honduras, which is in the aftermath of a coup d’état.
At least, the solution calls for eugenics of the marketplace, and not some horrid racial or ethnic eugenics. And it will be a democracy, so the taxpayers could decide by a super-majority to foot some of the bill for each person’s entitlement, taking some of the burden off parents.
Eugenics of the marketplace sounds to me like social darwinism. Hopefully the universal entitlement part of AFFEERCE dulls the cutting edge of this darwinism from survival of the fittest to propagation of the fittest. Still, the market economy is the yardstick of fitness in this particular creepy eugenic agenda, so expect traits selected for to include salesmanship, assertiveness and opportunism. Hopefully the alternative families part of AFFEERCE (particularly if adoptions become the rule rather than the exception), parentage can be statistically dissociated from genetic endowment, and the feerce edge of darwinism can be further dulled from propagational eugenics of the marketplace to “eumemics” of the marketplace. The goal of anagorism, of course, is find non-market metrics for human achievement and progress.
(here ends the intro and begins Chapter 1)
One of the less obvious things worth remembering from this period is that due to better environmental conditions and multiple wives, children were disproportionately more likely to be born to wealth and power. Thus our species became hardier and evolution moved forward.
Child labor laws, a great humanitarian step forward, by their very nature served to decrease the value of children as members of the labor force.
David Brin has posted a lot online about the outsized influence of alpha males and their harems on humanity’s current collective genetic endowment. Thing is, Brin treats it as more of a bug than a feature, and I’m inclined to agree. The idea is that much of what some call “rent seeking” consists of attempts by those who are both economically and reproductively successful to “lock in their gains” and pass social advantages on to their descendants. This inevitably makes society as a whole less competitive and, in Brin’s view, less accountable.
I don’t buy that child labor abolition has either the intended or actual effect of decreasing the value of children as members of the labor force. Rather, it is necessary in order to make children a long-term rather than short-term investment. I happen to believe that long-term investment in children is ultimately more lucrative than short-term investment. But perhaps I’m unfairly nitpicking because I’m interpreting “value” above in the sense of “present value.”
The result of the conflict between Children=Wealth vs. Children=Poverty is that educated, middle class families are having fewer children and the impoverished are having more, and that imbalance can only grow more acute.
I’m not that Malthusian, which is to say, not that inclined to write off impoverished people as non-agents, or not authors of their own lives. While income and education both correlate negatively with fertility (and of course parental age), so does urban residence, which is trending strongly upward among the poor almost everywhere.
Free Enterprise means laissez-faire. It means government keeps its hands off business. It means no minimum wage and no inflation. It means no corporate income tax of any kind. It means the marketplace will determine if monopolies should form and the effectiveness of collusion.
It also means no civil rights protection and no right to a job.
Those are scary propositions in today’s world, but in an AFFEERCE economy you will discover they are of no consequence at all. Even occupational safety requirements will be tossed out. However, full disclosure of any unexpected hazards is the law. Violators will see the inside of a penitentiary. Consumers are likewise protected by full disclosure even as merchants are free to sell any products they wish. Honesty is valued above all else in business and law. Merchants, employers, police, prosecutors, and even lawyers will be legally accountable for dishonest practices. Volunteer standards groups will set service and product standards. However, enforcement of these standards beyond disclosure will apply only to children under 14 years of age.
I’ve been influenced enough by Keynesianism to believe that inflation favors debtors and deflation very strongly favors creditors. I’m also “leading edge Generation X,” which means I reached working age during the Reagan years. Reagan, confronted by a particularly cruel combination of economic problems called “stagflation,” very decisively chose to prioritize inflation-fighting over unemployment-fighting. This is an economic policy I considered basically inhumane at the time, and still do. Inflation chips away at a working class person’s standard of living, while unemployment pulls it out from under them in one fell swoop. Now one group of people, in addition to creditors (i.e. bankers), who benefit from low inflation, are people on benefits; on “fixed income.” In America, these are mostly retirees, some fraction of whom were obviously a key Reagan constituency. Perhaps I must keep in mind that in AFFEERCE, everyone is on benefits, so maybe counterinflationary policy is no longer inherently reactionary.
Regardless of cost, if the parents cannot pay, the child will be placed with a family that can afford the child. Some will consider this tyranny. They should ask themselves who’s freedom are they defending; the parents’ or the child’s.
I’m have admittedly tribal tendencies when it comes to stands on issues. The inventor of what you describe (at least in terms of the politically-aware part of my lifetime) is none other than Newt Gingrich. Can non-tyrannical ideas come from tyrannical people? I have my doubts…
(10) Competitive Advantage – Universal entitlement enables family business to compete with big business by making low wages practical.
Can’t argue with the logic. I have a very, very hard time thinking of low wages as a good thing. Universal entitlement notwithstanding, in a market economy, a low wage can only be interpreted as a price signal that’s saying your contributions are nearly worthless; that you’re not a contributing member of society. The complete abolition of wage floors strikes me as a frank acknowledgement of a belief on the part of the AFFEERCIONADOS that some people are “worth more than others.” This is also a pain point for me.
The freedom to travel the country comfortably without a nickel to your name, to have a workforce more mobile than any that has ever existed in the history of humanity, to travel without keys, wallet or any physical identification, to not be a target for thieves, to have instant access to your own money and the free entitlements coming your way wherever you might roam, to sign contracts, transfer funds, vote, shop for your family, go almost instantly through security checkpoints, and much more, probably scares the hell out of some readers.
No doubt. Those freedoms aren’t what scares the hell out of this reader, though. Mainly the level of centralization of the VIP scheme. Having separate accounts for entitlement money and money earned (or should I say won?) in the market economy seems accentuate the distinction between contributing and dependent members of adult society.
4. The VIP reader will send the voice, iris, and palm information, with VIP identity, sequence, date, and GPS information, encoded with its private key, to the central identity computer. Also in the transmission will be the VIP reader’s public key, encoded with the public key of the central identity computer.
I’d have thought public-private key pairs would mean there is not a need for a central computer. Admittedly I have scant understanding of public-private key encryption, so I’m not sure what the implications might be of using it as the standard protocol in both identification and accounting. I also can’t help but wonder how the currently hot topic of Bitcoin might be somehow relevant to the proposed VIP reader network. Bitcoin seems to be (among other things) intended as a proof of concept that a currency can be decentralized; not under some public or private party’s control. One of Bitcoin’s most attractive features, extreme (or not so extreme, in retrospect) anonymity, is also (to me) one of its most unattractive features—extreme opacity. While my own philosophy is generally anti-market (or at least, market-negative) there’s one feature of market economies that deeply appeals to my sensibilities; that being the so-called law of one price. This, I believe, results mainly from market transparency, although of course market competition (which I see as a minus) is also a factor. One thing that could bring VIP closer to my comfort zone, relative to the status quo or to competing visions of the future of money, such as Bitcoin, would be a demonstration that it facilitates price transparency and other aspects of market transparency.
On a less technical user level, a typical grocery store VIP reader session might go like this. Your total will appear on the screen. You put your palm an inch from the glass, look into the camera and speak your magic word and hit the default button. Transparent to you, the retail VIP application will download the food entitlement account(s) associated with your identity. The app will debit the account or accounts for qualified food purchases. If the entitlement has been exhausted, or if there are non-qualified items, the app will download access to your personal spending account (PSA). If the PSA is exhausted, the app will access and move funds from your personal corporate account (PCA) to your PSA. In the process, the 70% flat tax for money moved from a PCA to a PSA will automatically move the taxes from the PCA to the central bank. If the PCA is empty, it will check for a default credit account. If credit is available, money will be moved from there. The store will also collect a 1% (national sales tax) NST on the non- entitlement portion of the purchase. This will go to the central bank via their accounts, not yours. Of course, there will be options where you are in more control of the transaction.
This reveals that the entitlements are (1) earmarked and (2) annuitized, or “doled out.” In short, the food portion of entitlement is, from an accounting standpoint, indistinguishable from the United States’ SNAP (food stamps) program. There seems to be an assumption that there are adults and children among chronological adults, and that the competitive market economy is what “separates the men from the boys” (and of course the women from the girls). This can only beg the question of whether supporting and supported adults have, say, the same number of votes in the government, which has been described in these early chapters as democratic. It also leads me to wonder what sorts of effects the “bragging rights” of competitive economic viability might have on cultural norms, in- and out-groups within society, the presence of pack hierarchy or dominance in interpersonal behavior, etc. I’m at least hoping that this VIP reader rings up purchases in a way that doesn’t broadcast to the room that someone is spending entitlements!
AFFEERCE and the VIP don’t work well without each other, but together they are magic. It might be reasonable to consider the VIP a pillar of AFFEERCE, along with free enterprise, entitlement, and reproductive control. However the VIP, fifty years down the road, could be replaced by a far better technology. Free enterprise, universal entitlement, and reproductive control will hopefully remain for eons to come.
Interesting. Perhaps further along in my reading I shall learn if any particular replacement technologies have been speculated.
In AFFEERCE, a government agency, The Bureau of Standards, through volunteer standards groups, will coordinate industry standards, and require that industries either adopt the standards of the industry, or display in a consistent way across all industries, those standards that are violated, the VOS. Omission of violated standards from the VOS and failure to properly display or get customer sign-off on the VOS constitutes fraud. The VOS is a legal document that protects against liability, so businesses will pay inspection agencies to certify their VOS. The VOS is covered in greater detail below under Regulation and Deregulation.
I haven’t gotten as far as Regulation and Deregulation, so I’m not sure. As far as standards go, the ISO (perhaps the most authoritative establisher of standards) certainly seems to be an NGO (non-governmental organization). The US Government’s standard-setting agency, NIST, has an operating budget barely over a billion dollars, or less than $4 per American.