Coming soon: Everything will be free

The day is coming when everything will be free.  This is not a utopian pipe dream, but the inevitable result of ever increasing manufacturing efficiency and innovation.  As efficiency rises exponentially, costs will plummet.  Eventually, prices will become so low as to be negligible.  

Before we celebrate, we should remind ourselves of the adage that the one thing that is never free is freedom itself.  The free goods and services of the future economy will cost us not only everything we have, but everything we are.

If one doubts that goods and services will be free, one need only look at food production for the past hundred seventy years.  In 1850, about 64 percent of Americans lived on farms.  By 1920, that figure had dropped to about 30 percent.  Today it is about two percent.

The drastic reduction in farm population in America has mostly been due to innovation and efficiency, two dominant factors at play in almost every major industry.

While the blessings of the new agriculture have included an abundant food supply, reliably produced and widely distributed, there is a surprising downside to this global cornucopia.  America's food production has, in effect, tended to starve out food producers in poor nations.  Because we send free food to poor countries, the local farmers there cannot compete with us.  Their farm lands dry up, making those regions ever more dependent on charity.  Our motives may be pure, but the consequences in future years will be dire.

What this presages is that over time, as fewer and fewer people are productively employed, those who continue producing will become ever more powerful.  It's the phenomenon of monopoly.  With all power in the hands of an elite and driven few, new forms of tyranny will arise.  Instead of taking things away from the populace, or inflicting violence on them, the new tyrants will simply withhold necessities of life from those who resist.

Much of the harm has already been done – not only abroad, but here at home.  The growing welfare state has created a population of resentful donors (working taxpayers) pitted against ungrateful recipients of welfare.  The conflict has been unkindly referred to as one between the so-called makers and the takers.  This is not to vilify the welfare population.  Social engineers have taught generations of youth to embrace the ethic of taking without earning.  Without job prospects, but only with welfare, one cannot blame solely the takers.

Without placing blame on the poor, the ethic of duty and responsibility is gradually being replaced with the credo of entitlement and grievance.

All this is converging on an emerging economy in which, some years from now, almost no one will need to work – nor will he be able to, for there will be no hiring.  Factories will be automated.  Ancillary jobs will be done by computers and robots.   Even the professions are already the target of computerized expertise in various fields.

The motivation to acquire wealth will no longer be an economic force.  It will give way to the desire to enjoy the fruits of automation.  Only one incentive will be strong enough to get people out of bed early in the morning to labor and toil.  Those few who do the work in the future will have enormous power over those who do not.  The lust for power will drive the society of the future.

At first, it will seem to some that the utopian ideal has finally been realized.  What can possibly be better than getting everything for nothing?  By the time the darker aspect takes effect, few will understand what has happened – but ignorance will no longer be bliss.

Vast numbers of people will suffer from so-called "affluenza," the predisposition to extreme irresponsibility that, according to his defense attorney, caused young Ethan Couch to get drunk and drive recklessly, thereby killing four innocent people – and then to show no remorse.  He was sentenced to probation.  Couch is only one of many millions of spoiled brats who will wreak havoc on other people's lives.

Already, entire city blocks in large cities are wastelands in which drugs, prostitution, and violence are rampant on a scale that shocks those who first become aware of the situation.  Those neighborhoods are characterized by high unemployment and government handouts from politicians who benefit personally from the ongoing tragedy they enable.  They are but a sample of what is to come.

The society of the future will at first be one of leisure and comfort, a society in which no one is held morally accountable unless he commits a gun crime.  Otherwise, everything will be free.

Efficiency, however, has its limits.  One day the goods will run out.  No matter how high production is, demand will always increase beyond those limits.

One fine morning the takers will demand even more, and it won't be there for the taking.  The word "no" will be nonsensical to those whose appetite can never be sated. 

They will revolt.  Stay tuned.

The day is coming when everything will be free.  This is not a utopian pipe dream, but the inevitable result of ever increasing manufacturing efficiency and innovation.  As efficiency rises exponentially, costs will plummet.  Eventually, prices will become so low as to be negligible.  

Before we celebrate, we should remind ourselves of the adage that the one thing that is never free is freedom itself.  The free goods and services of the future economy will cost us not only everything we have, but everything we are.

If one doubts that goods and services will be free, one need only look at food production for the past hundred seventy years.  In 1850, about 64 percent of Americans lived on farms.  By 1920, that figure had dropped to about 30 percent.  Today it is about two percent.

The drastic reduction in farm population in America has mostly been due to innovation and efficiency, two dominant factors at play in almost every major industry.

While the blessings of the new agriculture have included an abundant food supply, reliably produced and widely distributed, there is a surprising downside to this global cornucopia.  America's food production has, in effect, tended to starve out food producers in poor nations.  Because we send free food to poor countries, the local farmers there cannot compete with us.  Their farm lands dry up, making those regions ever more dependent on charity.  Our motives may be pure, but the consequences in future years will be dire.

What this presages is that over time, as fewer and fewer people are productively employed, those who continue producing will become ever more powerful.  It's the phenomenon of monopoly.  With all power in the hands of an elite and driven few, new forms of tyranny will arise.  Instead of taking things away from the populace, or inflicting violence on them, the new tyrants will simply withhold necessities of life from those who resist.

Much of the harm has already been done – not only abroad, but here at home.  The growing welfare state has created a population of resentful donors (working taxpayers) pitted against ungrateful recipients of welfare.  The conflict has been unkindly referred to as one between the so-called makers and the takers.  This is not to vilify the welfare population.  Social engineers have taught generations of youth to embrace the ethic of taking without earning.  Without job prospects, but only with welfare, one cannot blame solely the takers.

Without placing blame on the poor, the ethic of duty and responsibility is gradually being replaced with the credo of entitlement and grievance.

All this is converging on an emerging economy in which, some years from now, almost no one will need to work – nor will he be able to, for there will be no hiring.  Factories will be automated.  Ancillary jobs will be done by computers and robots.   Even the professions are already the target of computerized expertise in various fields.

The motivation to acquire wealth will no longer be an economic force.  It will give way to the desire to enjoy the fruits of automation.  Only one incentive will be strong enough to get people out of bed early in the morning to labor and toil.  Those few who do the work in the future will have enormous power over those who do not.  The lust for power will drive the society of the future.

At first, it will seem to some that the utopian ideal has finally been realized.  What can possibly be better than getting everything for nothing?  By the time the darker aspect takes effect, few will understand what has happened – but ignorance will no longer be bliss.

Vast numbers of people will suffer from so-called "affluenza," the predisposition to extreme irresponsibility that, according to his defense attorney, caused young Ethan Couch to get drunk and drive recklessly, thereby killing four innocent people – and then to show no remorse.  He was sentenced to probation.  Couch is only one of many millions of spoiled brats who will wreak havoc on other people's lives.

Already, entire city blocks in large cities are wastelands in which drugs, prostitution, and violence are rampant on a scale that shocks those who first become aware of the situation.  Those neighborhoods are characterized by high unemployment and government handouts from politicians who benefit personally from the ongoing tragedy they enable.  They are but a sample of what is to come.

The society of the future will at first be one of leisure and comfort, a society in which no one is held morally accountable unless he commits a gun crime.  Otherwise, everything will be free.

Efficiency, however, has its limits.  One day the goods will run out.  No matter how high production is, demand will always increase beyond those limits.

One fine morning the takers will demand even more, and it won't be there for the taking.  The word "no" will be nonsensical to those whose appetite can never be sated. 

They will revolt.  Stay tuned.