For love or money…

The expression is "for love or money."  Of the announced hopeful candidates for the 2020 presidential election, Marianne Williamson promises love, and Andrew Yang promises money: a thousand dollars a month for every American.

Normally, neither candidate would merit serious attention, but in the Trump era, nothing is normal.  Politically speaking, Trump came out of nowhere, was not considered seriously by the political establishment, but is now president of the United States of America and the most powerful man on the planet.

If future presidents are those who, as Trump did, break the mold, then perhaps candidates like Williamson and Yang deserve a closer look.  Of the two, Yang seems the more credible — mind you, not credible, but more so, than the "love" candidate.


Caricature by Donkey Hotey.

What Yang has hit on is that we are on the cusp of a radical revolution in the way economies will work in the plausibly foreseen future.  That revolution may be every bit as transformative as were the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution of previous millennia.  The next leap may be the Robot Revolution, the Artificial Intelligence Revolution, and/or perhaps what some call the Technological Singularity.

Even if the most dramatic predictions concerning these developments do not come about as published, the potential for vastly increased automation is certainly in evidence already.  Computers, artificial intelligence, and the highly advanced technology they drive, will eventually displace workers in traditional occupations, and on a grand scale.  Emerging nanotechnology portends vastly increased manufacturing productivity, flooding the market with high-quality, inexpensive goods.

In short, try to imagine a near-future world in which unemployment is at ninety percent or more but also in which the material needs of everyone can be supplied.  The new technologies and scientific advancements, expected to occur, can make that possible.  Work may, for most people, become both unavailable and financially unnecessary.

This is not science fiction, not wild speculation.  We are moving toward that day.

Will such a utopia be a blessing or a curse?

The blessing aspect needs no further explanation.  Who can argue against adequate nutrition for all, free medication, comfortable housing, safe and swift transportation?

The curse aspect is much more difficult to comprehend.  What happens to people who wake up every morning with no important tasks set before them?  What happens when no reasonable demands are placed on us?  What happens when the search for purpose becomes hopeless?

Of course, many people yearn for such an existence and scoff at the notion that discipline, rigor, and commitment are necessary foods for the soul.

Anecdotal experience has, however, shown that while many retired people redirect their lives to honorable and productive pursuits, many other people, those who have never worked for a living, waste their lives on drugs and debauchery.  In between are people who dabble in recreational arts, find satisfaction in personal relationships, but often struggle to stave off boredom.

Perhaps the greatest casualty of indolence is that of commitment — the kind of commitment  needed in the rearing of healthy children.

A future society in which maximum industrial productivity provides abundant wealth for everyone without effort will also be a bifurcated society, a two-tiered system.  There will be those who simply consume wealth, but there will still be a need for a small portion of the population to do the necessary work of producing the wealth and sustaining the system.

In all likelihood, the "working class" will be volunteers, people who feel the need to work, especially as such work will be safe, comfortable, and well rewarded.  The rewards need not be material, since everyone will have adequate goods.  Such people seek prestige and power.  Instead of a cottage, they will demand, and receive, castles over which to rule.  They will seek control.  They will make demands.

Beyond that, we need not speculate further about the details of future society.  Perhaps the Book of Revelation narrates that.

What we should speculate upon, is what kind of future presidential candidates will, as did President Trump, see the reality that few others see, and then masterfully fill the niche?  What can we expect?  Can we even imagine such a person?  Could a President Marianne Williamson be in our future?

The expression is "for love or money."  Of the announced hopeful candidates for the 2020 presidential election, Marianne Williamson promises love, and Andrew Yang promises money: a thousand dollars a month for every American.

Normally, neither candidate would merit serious attention, but in the Trump era, nothing is normal.  Politically speaking, Trump came out of nowhere, was not considered seriously by the political establishment, but is now president of the United States of America and the most powerful man on the planet.

If future presidents are those who, as Trump did, break the mold, then perhaps candidates like Williamson and Yang deserve a closer look.  Of the two, Yang seems the more credible — mind you, not credible, but more so, than the "love" candidate.


Caricature by Donkey Hotey.

What Yang has hit on is that we are on the cusp of a radical revolution in the way economies will work in the plausibly foreseen future.  That revolution may be every bit as transformative as were the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution of previous millennia.  The next leap may be the Robot Revolution, the Artificial Intelligence Revolution, and/or perhaps what some call the Technological Singularity.

Even if the most dramatic predictions concerning these developments do not come about as published, the potential for vastly increased automation is certainly in evidence already.  Computers, artificial intelligence, and the highly advanced technology they drive, will eventually displace workers in traditional occupations, and on a grand scale.  Emerging nanotechnology portends vastly increased manufacturing productivity, flooding the market with high-quality, inexpensive goods.

In short, try to imagine a near-future world in which unemployment is at ninety percent or more but also in which the material needs of everyone can be supplied.  The new technologies and scientific advancements, expected to occur, can make that possible.  Work may, for most people, become both unavailable and financially unnecessary.

This is not science fiction, not wild speculation.  We are moving toward that day.

Will such a utopia be a blessing or a curse?

The blessing aspect needs no further explanation.  Who can argue against adequate nutrition for all, free medication, comfortable housing, safe and swift transportation?

The curse aspect is much more difficult to comprehend.  What happens to people who wake up every morning with no important tasks set before them?  What happens when no reasonable demands are placed on us?  What happens when the search for purpose becomes hopeless?

Of course, many people yearn for such an existence and scoff at the notion that discipline, rigor, and commitment are necessary foods for the soul.

Anecdotal experience has, however, shown that while many retired people redirect their lives to honorable and productive pursuits, many other people, those who have never worked for a living, waste their lives on drugs and debauchery.  In between are people who dabble in recreational arts, find satisfaction in personal relationships, but often struggle to stave off boredom.

Perhaps the greatest casualty of indolence is that of commitment — the kind of commitment  needed in the rearing of healthy children.

A future society in which maximum industrial productivity provides abundant wealth for everyone without effort will also be a bifurcated society, a two-tiered system.  There will be those who simply consume wealth, but there will still be a need for a small portion of the population to do the necessary work of producing the wealth and sustaining the system.

In all likelihood, the "working class" will be volunteers, people who feel the need to work, especially as such work will be safe, comfortable, and well rewarded.  The rewards need not be material, since everyone will have adequate goods.  Such people seek prestige and power.  Instead of a cottage, they will demand, and receive, castles over which to rule.  They will seek control.  They will make demands.

Beyond that, we need not speculate further about the details of future society.  Perhaps the Book of Revelation narrates that.

What we should speculate upon, is what kind of future presidential candidates will, as did President Trump, see the reality that few others see, and then masterfully fill the niche?  What can we expect?  Can we even imagine such a person?  Could a President Marianne Williamson be in our future?