Thursday, May 4, 2017

Another Challenge That A Cost Based Economy Cannot Hope To Address

The linked article below from Citylab concerning the truly discouraging economics now facing our crumbling sub urban population centers is just one more notch on a measuring stick that's getting pretty ragged looking these days.

As the article details, poorly thought out sub urban sprawl, once the great engine of economic growth, is now sputtering, leaking everywhere, and clanging with all of the noises of a motor about to seize up. The facts of a knowledge based form of commerce don't make much sense any more for widely dispersed concentrations of people; especially as transportation and energy are so inextricably connected as a cost factor. What is desired now are centers of knowledge and skill concentrations where the right people live close to where the much more technical work is. And so the question then becomes what's to happen to the rest of us?

What I think is missed in this sort of discussion is recognition of what ought to be an abundantly clear absurdity. An absurdity just as plain as the idea that human labor can still compete effectively as a commodity. And that absurdity is the notion that social spaces must continue to be organized around commercial endeavor in the first place now; especially as we are in the age of ever more quickly effected "disruption" in one market or another. Whether that "disruption" is brought about via increasing competition, and even more technological change, or from the social disorder that no competition, and rampant inequality create, hardly matters. The rest of us are usually left out in the cold in either case.

The bottom line here is that rapidly changing market factors as a way of life, and the need for dependable, long lasting infrastructure, which can then create durable generational stability for people to grow up in as self motivated actors, who can then make good choices, are mutually exclusive of each other. Which is to say that, any more, there cannot be factory towns, and outlying suburbs if we want to have stability. At least where the factory is an entity trying to sell something in an ever more complex world market. If we turn that around, however, and think instead of what it takes to create nearly self sufficient communities who make what they need to prosper themselves, then we have an entirely different situation.

And all of this revolves around the recognition that Capitalism is, fundamentally, and completely, obsolete now. It simply just doesn't make any sense any more when information, properly organized, and energy, properly clean and renewable, are brought together with cooperating groups of people, a money, commercialized form of mass production for mass consumption, economy is just not required at all. We can manage production and distribution ourselves equitably simply through the process of participation in keeping things going (and accepting that we have to make our own end use items -- something we'd have a lot more time for with a better kind of work definition). We just need to sit down and negotiate how we better define this new type of economic operating system,  and then how we go about setting it up.

This is not rocket science. Any more than it is some new subversive propaganda. It is simple common sense. We've radically changed not only the idea of instrumentality, but what knowledge can do applied to that instrumentality. And yet the operating system we have now was invented when everything was done by human hands, and the skill it took to acquire it took years of living with the right people. Where scarcity was still a matter of fundamental ignorance, and tribalism still a necessity for survival. Where even the perception of space, and time, were fundamentally different (where oceans were as vast as galaxies are to us now, and time moved one hell of a lot slower). All of these things made having Capitalism at the time quite logical. And in case you haven't noticed, those times passed quite some time ago. How can it not be time for a new operating system?

As always, think about these things. Dig into it as deeply as you can and come to your own conclusions. Something has to be done. Everybody knows that. I think this is a good place to start. If you don't think so come up with something better.

The New Suburban Crisis