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Post Scarcity

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Post Scarcity

"What will we do when the jobs are all automated" is a common worry in articles the internet over. The predictions range from "we will live in a star-trek like utopia where everyone writes opera and discusses philosophy all day" to "a handfull of capitalists will live like kings and the rest of the population will strave in the streets".

Taking the long view, the UK is already a post scarcity society. People do not starve to death in the UK. The poorests of the poor have living standards which are quite delightful compared to the poor a few hundred years ago.

Luckily for the economy, most of what humans want are positional goods. (For the rest, while there are diminishing returns to comfort, variety of food, experiences, etc. we can still consume a whole lot more before we are satisfied. We are not really in a post scarcity society therefore, but our basic needs are very much taken care of).

For any purchase with a signalling component, we will always want more of it, since these positional goods are zero sum. If you have 20 cars, I want 30. If you have 20 years of education, I want 30. If you drink coffee hand roasted, bean by bean, by a blind sociologist, then I want the two kilo bag. I think humans will always find something to do therefore, ways of trying to create value, to gather respect and honors.

After all, the UK will not let you starve, you can live fine, but people do not choose to do so. Very very rarely do people live in a storage facility and eat dog food. They prefer to work to have more than the minimum, and this will always be the case.

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Last modified 2019-05-16 Thu 10:20. Contact max@maxjmartin.com