Archive for September, 2015

We should turn education into a paid occupation

September 26, 2015

We want answers to the economic riddle but before we can have those we have to ask the right question and before we can ask that we have to be some what on the same page. I would like to start with the idea that your money only belongs to you in the sense that no one else should have a say in it.

Money is an inanimate object. If you put a stack of it in front of you it wont grow legs and start building things.

Legitimate economic processes aside for a moment. We could simplify the situation down to 2 people: One holds up a type of contract and claims the other guys labor doesn’t belong to the other guy but is in fact his property. He claims the interest on his 1 million not just makes him the owner of the other guys labor but also that of his children, his grandchildren and so on, until the end of time.

While the victim worker doesn’t have to sign anything, clearly this is already a very reasonable contract? no? It says right here in writing that I own you. Things couldn’t be more obvious?

There are also natural resources that one can purchase with money. We can simplify this to 1 guy and a forest. Here the contract makes him the owner of the trees. As he can chop them down (we assume he is doing the work himself for sake of simplicity) and exchange them for new ownership contracts (money) the size of his budget only determines the speed at which he gets to cut down the whole forest. When all the trees are gone the terms of the contract are not satisfied but after the deed society as a whole owes him even more. If our guy has enough money the interest alone allows him to do this entirely without risk or contribution.

A long story short, money is a contract between people. It only has value if others agree it does. One should wonder if the deal is any good? Keep that what you personally look at as legitimate gains from investments aside for a moment. If those exist or not doesn’t change that people worked for an untold number of generations without accumulating any wealth while natural resources simply run out. After you eat the last cookie the cookies are gone, you might feel you are entitled to 2 boxes of new cookies as the reward for eating the whole box but if we have no more cookies it cant happen. This is not intended to mock anyone, there simply are no cookies left – reality doesn’t care what we think we are entitled to.

Therefore: what should be done with your money is up to everyone involved in the contract. We all want to honor it but there has to be the question if we can. Even in finance, eventually reality does come into it.

This brings us to point 2, that seems best illustrated with a quote:
“They worry, in part, that [welfare] recipients will waste the money spending it on, say, flat-screen televisions, cigarettes, and alcohol rather than nutritious food or school supplies”

Of course it is easy to point out that the poorest people spend their money much more carefully than anyone who has more money than them. If you live on 1 Euro per day and extra 20 cents makes a huge difference. If we ask wealthy people or say top economists what they would do with 20 cents extra they are not even able to give a serious answer. (and neither are you or me)

But there is something much more ridiculous to this *worry*. It strongly suggest we should strip everyone from their money to avoid them “wasting” it on a television. If this was true we should of course start by stripping the most wealthy among us, those who waste <s>their</s> the money on fine wines, boats and private jets. Would we really be that worried what people spend their money on it would be laughable to start implementing MAOism with people who don’t have any. It mocks the (already silly) concept proposed. It would be easier to stop making TV’s because people might buy waste their money on them.

The big “worry” is of course that wealth redistribution of any kind (like say a basic income guarantee) would dramatically cut into the modern slavery scheme. The scheme where one is to work like a slave or face the ultimate punishment. Not sudden death or a bunch of lashes (if only!) but a process of slowly dwindling away, losing friends, your cat, the car, the house and many years of your life if you can call it that and if you still want to live that is.

If we toss you a few bucks at that point you too would want to get drunk asap. What else is there to do for the slave? Buy school materials while living in a card board box by the side of the road? You too would punch the guy who would say that to your face. Smack him with your bottle until he behaves properly.

Much like when government jumps onto your yacht, points at your whiskey and screams: “what?? are you getting drunk now? how dare you! What is that a plasma TV? Have you no shame? how dare you try to enjoy life!” You smack him with the bottle until he shuts up.

The process of excommunication is intentionally slow so that you can contribute to the economy by showing working people what happens if they cant find work anymore. Other civilizations used ritual sacrifice for this.

I would however suggest that there is a real problem with simply providing an income to everyone who doesn’t work. It is not that there is not enough food or that we cant build houses for everyone. The real problem is that a growing percentage of the population would completely uninvolved themselves with that what sustains them. We would end up expecting a tiny group of technocrats sustains us simply because we demand it. Our concept of problem “salving” would deteriorate into waving our fist at it. We already have plenty of that, it hardly qualifies as a solution (if at all).

This is where we are and we are floating towards technological unemployment. Where should we to steer the boat to? What is the answer to the riddle of the ages? Most of our political ideas come from a time that was so different from ours that we can hardly blame the authors for getting something wrong. 200 years ago 99.9% worked on the farm. No one was thinking what if all this is done by robots? 100 years ago people pondered the question but they could hardly envision what we have today.

We all get to take a swing at the puzzle but the requirements your answer must meet are quite unreasonable. It has to be something short and simple so that everyone may understand it while people really don’t have time to listen nor the mental state to ponder the proposal.

My answer would be:

We should turn education into a paid occupation.

Don’t let the simplicity of the answer fool you, it was a requirement.

The idea offers a long term vision as well as short term gains and both poor and rich people should be able to agree about it. We have far to many people competing at the education free bottom of the job market. Many of them could have done better which strongly suggests they don’t belong there. There is no reason to expect physical labor to make a comeback (on the contrary) but would we ever run out of people there we can simply import them from less fortunate places or move production overthere. As long as our citizens are doing well for themselves this isn’t an issue.

As one republican guy rudely noted: if you have to compete for jobs with people who don’t even speak the language you really suck. I would argue that if people have to compete in the job market with people who don’t even speak the language our education sucks. The evidence is overwhelming.

I’m sure many kids think of education as something they have to sit though. They perceive it as something temporary that one just has to survive. We have madly outdated systems that follow methods from ancient militaristic regimes. Imagine a business with the desks positioned like that, with everyone listening to the manager all day. Taking notes etc A platoon of marching soldiers comes much closer to the formula. We do have systems (like khan academy) where the worse student scores 100% while in our schools the best are expected to know about 80% of the material.

The applied formula is just bad then we also put the student on a tight schedule. The schedule begins to divide the citizenry into those who succeed and those who did not and will not. Ohhh that guy who got the flu at the wrong time, he barely made it! To bad for us, now we have to pay for him the rest of his life? It would be cheaper to give him that extra week he needed. Then on the other end of the spectrum we have students sleeping though school. By the time they graduate with high grades they forgot what hard work is. Sure, they work hard compared to everyone else but they cant reach their own potential by sitting there waiting for the slower guys to catch up.

Look for laughs at memory athletes, thanks to simple training they are able to absorb many thousands of times as much information. Look for laughs at speed reading, thanks to simple training they are able to read faster and faster. People doing these 2 sports, much like in any sport, reach a level of ability so high that it looks fake to the rest of us. Why don’t we teach this? If there is any reason it must be some pseudo academic clap trap riddled with lack of expertise about the fields. We’ve all seen them, people who know nothing about a topic but declare themselves an expert on why it cant work.

Sure, it may take a bit more time for some but there is reason to think everyone can reach what is currently considered the highest level of education.

Public discourse, the media, politics, the internet, it will all transform beyond recognition.

How about a diet that contains the necessary resources to actually build a brain? There are no real world examples of building something without the necessary materials. If food should have entertainment value it should come second to nutrition. If one skips things like exercise or exposure to sunlight we cant expect good performance. Do a blood test, take the blood pressure. It should be easy to tell if someone is growing a brain.

As we have phones and internet, teachers can be there for us when we need them. I imagine the right to study at home can be earned. If you fail the trials for some reason you have to show up at school every day of the week until the next trial.

We could argue about the amounts and age but to slap some numbers on it. Above 16 or so we can start paying people for getting educated depending on market demand for their field, as they get older the payments can increase to a decent living wage for good performance (slackers get a bit less) Then at some point a real job should be easy to find where one earns more and doesn’t have to work as hard. If people want to stay in school we can gradually turn them into teachers or homework assistants.

I for one look forwards to a conversation with average people that involves more than just last weeks media propaganda, drugs, alcohol, football, video games, movies, sex, financial drama and 1000 variations of how much [their] life sucks.

It is not by magic that those are the common topics, the media is essentially the enemy of education. Knowingly or not their goal is to keep people dumb so that they can translate things written by professionals into dumb language and sell products in the process. Opinion journalism by nature hates scrutiny. Skilled journalism successfully appeals to the most primitive of emotions to keep the audience as broad as possible. You can’t do much inside the format beyond sensationalism, there is no step by step agenda to teach you anything. You are learning about things by reading articles but any knowledge that doesn’t serve you is part of the problem not part of the solution.