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Technocracy
Posted: 18 May 2009 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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isenhand - 18 May 2009 05:45 AM
Hawkfan - 18 May 2009 05:30 AM

Economics as a science

It has the characteristics of a pseudo-science. But the economics is not too important, its the physics that matter. The economic system drives exponential growth and no physical system can sustain such growth. In the end the system will collapse. The interesting question then becomes; what type of system can we sustain? I suspect we have many answers to that and the form of technocracy we have worked on Europe exemplifies one such answer.

ui

I disagree, economics is the crux of the matter.  Most physics experiments are more predictable because they control all the variables.  If I agree, for the sake of the argument, that economics is a science then I see one of its main failings being the lack of control over variables.  Human behavior is not infrequently irrational and not readily predictable, and that muddies the entire picture.

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Posted: 18 May 2009 05:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Hawkfan - 18 May 2009 05:55 AM
isenhand - 18 May 2009 05:45 AM
Hawkfan - 18 May 2009 05:30 AM

Economics as a science

It has the characteristics of a pseudo-science. But the economics is not too important, its the physics that matter. The economic system drives exponential growth and no physical system can sustain such growth. In the end the system will collapse. The interesting question then becomes; what type of system can we sustain? I suspect we have many answers to that and the form of technocracy we have worked on Europe exemplifies one such answer.

ui

I disagree, economics is the crux of the matter.  Most physics experiments are more predictable because they control all the variables.  If I agree, for the sake of the argument, that economics is a science then I see one of its main failings being the lack of control over variables.  Human behavior is not infrequently irrational and not readily predictable, and that muddies the entire picture.

I suppose that can come down to perspective. Lack of control and experimental data mean to me economics resembles a pseudo-science not a science. To me, its the physical reality that holds importance. In the economic system we have we try to control a physical system with made up variables and subjective value rather than the actual physical states of the system.

ui

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Posted: 18 May 2009 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I know that we have already had this argument, but I’d like to register my continuing surprise at the notion that, since economics is not a hard science, it must be a pseudo-science.

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Posted: 18 May 2009 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Chris Crawford - 18 May 2009 07:56 AM

I know that we have already had this argument, but I’d like to register my continuing surprise at the notion that, since economics is not a hard science, it must be a pseudo-science.

Kill the messenger.

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Posted: 18 May 2009 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Hawkfan - 18 May 2009 05:30 AM

Economics as a science has such large error bars that I think it highly unlikely that one could in any way predict how a radically different system such as this would act in actual practice.  Assumptions like no one owning any property seem like non-starters.

I’d trade my private property for the guarantee that all my basic needs are met and for more leisure time. I’m a hobbyist artist, so I enjoy creating stuff in my leisure time and wouldn’t mind giving it away for free if my basic needs were met. It’s the interaction of all the different aspects of Technocracy that make it seem more viable than if you just consider all of the different aspects separately.

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“What people do is they confuse cynicism with skepticism. Cynicism is ‘you can’t change anything, everything sucks, there’s no point to anything.’ Skepticism is, ‘well, I’m not so sure.’” -Bill Nye

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Posted: 18 May 2009 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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domokato - 18 May 2009 11:41 AM

I’d trade my private property for the guarantee that all my basic needs are met and for more leisure time.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that you are in a very small minority in the US who would agree with that statement.  We like our stuff, for good, bad, or otherwise.  Eliminating essentially all private property is just not going to go anywhere.

Yes, I did follow the “Is economics a science” topic.  My take is that it is a science in that the attempt is to see if theory fits observation.  I just think it does a very poor job of making predictions, and that theory doesn’t match observation all that well.

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Posted: 18 May 2009 03:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Hawkfan - 18 May 2009 02:29 PM

We like our stuff, for good, bad, or otherwise.  Eliminating essentially all private property is just not going to go anywhere.

I’m not entirely sure why this is necessary for Technocracy anyway. Technocracy Inc. seems to think it’s important, but I’m curious if NET proposes the same thing, and if so, why.

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“What people do is they confuse cynicism with skepticism. Cynicism is ‘you can’t change anything, everything sucks, there’s no point to anything.’ Skepticism is, ‘well, I’m not so sure.’” -Bill Nye

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Posted: 28 May 2009 11:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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domokato - 18 May 2009 03:57 PM

but I’m curious if NET proposes the same thing, and if so, why.

As experts manage all the means of production its actually irrelevant who owns the means of production. So, we don’t have ownership just usership.

(NB, we make a distinction between “private property” and “personal property”)

ui

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Posted: 29 May 2009 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Yes, but what about things like TVs and couches? Those are personal property according to Technocracy, but how is that different from private property? I assume there will still be laws which forbid stealing of personal property and a police force to enforce those laws, right?

EDIT: Nevermind, I get it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_property#Personal_vs_Private_property

Yeah, that doesn’t sound so bad at all. I’d totally be willing to give private property up. It’s not like I really own any anyway.

[ Edited: 29 May 2009 05:48 PM by domokato ]
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“What people do is they confuse cynicism with skepticism. Cynicism is ‘you can’t change anything, everything sucks, there’s no point to anything.’ Skepticism is, ‘well, I’m not so sure.’” -Bill Nye

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Posted: 10 August 2009 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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I did look at the North American site and found it without credibility after a brief review.  The chief assumption, as far as I could tell, is that there are unlimited resources and its a only a matter of re-distributing.
I fail to see how this differs from any other form of collectivism or communal society.

There is no assumption that resources are unlimited, but it has been *conclusively demonstrated* that our present society is orders of magnitude more wasteful than it needs to be to perform all of its various functions. Let’s take cars as an example. Today, most people will argue that they *need* a car, and can’t see it any other way. But you have to ask yourself: what function is being performed by the car? The obvious answer to that is transportation, and we know from experience that there are far more efficient methods of transportation, hence the Technocratic plan for transportation which would include high speed rail networks, canal networks, and a few cars to reach remote spots where rail lines couldn’t be justified.

You might also argue that cars provide pride of ownership, to which I would reply that this is largely the result of Price $ystem conditioning through advertising.

Pure collectivism always fails because of parasites.  It would be wonderful if everyone contributed everything they could to the community and took only what they needed, but there are always a few who take without contrbuting.  They can expend their energy procreating and passing on their behavior to their progeny.  Gradually, their number increases to the point that the workers are overwhelmed, and the society collapses.  A pricing system where each person gets credits for his/her efforts based on their value and can trade them for his/her needs makes it more difficult, but not impossible, for the parasites.  So, a pricing system is essential for any community of any size.

Occam

Pure collectivism has *never been tried before*. Therefore, you cannot make any conclusive statements regarding collectivism like you do here. This seems to be a popular argument: “communism can’t work, just look at the USSR”. Well, the USSR *never used* pure communism, they had socialism and were on their way toward communism when free-market reforms were introduced in the 1980s (so that the bureaucracy could enrich itself), which ultimately caused the collapse of the USSR. Contrary to popular opinion, it was *free market reforms* (Glasnost, Perestroika), not any inherent quality of socialism, which brought down the USSR.

It should also be pointed out that Marx based his theories on a social analysis of class struggle. Technocracy is derived from a scientific analysis of the problem of how to distribute an abundance. It has been shown that not only is money *incapable* of distributing an abundance, but that the Price System itself *requires* scarcity in order for it to function. Example: destroying food during the Great Depression despite the fact that millions were starving so that prices could be kept high enough for farmers to make a profit, a practice which we continue to this day. It is *impossible* to distribute an abundance using money. Furthermore, the very *definition* of abundance makes any differentiations in incomes between individuals *pointless*.

Although communism and Technocracy might share some surface similarities, I think you’ll find if you do a little more research that the two are radically different from each other.

As far as exponential growth being unsustainable, I will not attempt to paraphrase what has already been written in better words by others. I suggest you read this essay by M. King Hubbert, and if you can refute anything in it, I (and others) would be very interested.

http://www.energybulletin.net/node/3845  (The Nature of Growth)

Here is another good one to get you started:

http://www.technocracy.org/man hours and distribution.htm (Man-Hours and Distribution)

edit: it looks like that second link isn’t working, but if you just copy and paste it, it should work fine.

[ Edited: 10 August 2009 12:13 PM by PatrickMc ]
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Posted: 10 August 2009 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Wow! There are some serious misstatements in your post. Let me focus on just three:

1.

“Let’s take cars as an example. Today, most people will argue that they
*need* a car, and can’t see it any other way. “

And you proceed with the assumption that people don’t really need cars. But who decides “need”? It appears that you are arrogating to yourself that decision. There’s a broad range here, from people who absolutely DO need a car, to people who absolutely DON’T need a car—with everything in between. Where do you draw your fine line between those who do need and those who don’t need? By setting up a bureaucracy? I don’t think that will work.

Well, the USSR *never used* pure communism, they had socialism and
were on their way toward communism when free-market reforms were introduced
in the 1980s (so that the bureaucracy could enrich itself), which ultimately
caused the collapse of the USSR. Contrary to popular opinion, it was *free
market reforms* (Glasnost, Perestroika), not any inherent quality of
socialism, which brought down the USSR.

This is the classic “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” argument. It is undeniable that the the Soviet economy was in worsening straits during the 1980s. It was not keeping up with the Western economies and its people were growing restless. Moreover, Glasnost was a program for increased transparency. How could increased transparency in government lead to failure? And when you read the justifications offered for perestroika, it is clear that the program was sold to the public because the economy was already failing.

It has been shown
that not only is money *incapable* of distributing an abundance, but that
the Price System itself *requires* scarcity in order for it to function.

Well, it may have been shown, but it’s still wrong. A term like “abundance” is vague. Does “abundance” mean “supply exceeds demand”? If so, at what price? Or does “abundance” mean “supply exceeds demand even when it’s free”? I suppose that you could then argue that salt water is abundant. Ice in the arctic is abundant. Sand in the Sahara is abundant. But I don’t think you can argue that cars, tools, or food are abundant.

The price system presumes that demand exceeds supply for all goods that people want. That presumption doesn’t work for seawater, ice, or sand, but it sure works for most other things.

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Posted: 10 August 2009 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Chris Crawford - 10 August 2009 12:41 PM

And you proceed with the assumption that people don’t really need cars. But who decides “need”? It appears that you are arrogating to yourself that decision. There’s a broad range here, from people who absolutely DO need a car, to people who absolutely DON’T need a car—with everything in between. Where do you draw your fine line between those who do need and those who don’t need? By setting up a bureaucracy? I don’t think that will work.

You seem to misunderstand - no one is defining your needs for you. Most people claim to *need* a car for various functions, functions which could be more efficiently performed through other methods. What is there to dispute here? We are talking about functions, not needs.

This is the classic “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” argument. It is undeniable that the the Soviet economy was in worsening straits during the 1980s. It was not keeping up with the Western economies and its people were growing restless. Moreover, Glasnost was a program for increased transparency. How could increased transparency in government lead to failure? And when you read the justifications offered for perestroika, it is clear that the program was sold to the public because the economy was already failing.

“Trotsky defended the Soviet Union against attack from foreign powers and against internal counter-revolution, but called for a political revolution within the USSR to bring about his version of socialist democracy: “The bureaucracy can be removed only by a revolutionary force”.[35] He argued that if the working class did not take power away from the “Stalinist” bureaucracy, the bureaucracy would restore capitalism in order to enrich itself. In the view of many Trotskyists, this is exactly what has happened since the beginning of Glasnost and Perestroika in the USSR. Some argue that the adoption of market socialism by the People’s Republic of China has also led to capitalist counter-revolution. Many of Trotsky’s criticisms of Stalinism were described in his book, The Revolution Betrayed.”

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trotskyism)

So, contrary to the popular line endlessly parroted here in the U.S., it was *not* socialism or communism that caused the downfall of the USSR.

It has been shown
that not only is money *incapable* of distributing an abundance, but that
the Price System itself *requires* scarcity in order for it to function

Well, it may have been shown, but it’s still wrong. A term like “abundance” is vague. Does “abundance” mean “supply exceeds demand”? If so, at what price? Or does “abundance” mean “supply exceeds demand even when it’s free”? I suppose that you could then argue that salt water is abundant. Ice in the arctic is abundant. Sand in the Sahara is abundant. But I don’t think you can argue that cars, tools, or food are abundant.

Yes, air is abundant. Abundant simply means when supply = demand. Under classic economics when supply = demand, market prices cannot be used *at all* (the price would be 0). Market prices are a way of rationing *scarce* items. Therefore they cannot be used at all to distribute an abundance. I wasn’t arguing that cars, tools, or food were abundant *right now* under present conditions. Let’s take food as an example. Food could most certainly be abundant - we could supply all the food the U.S. requires in a little less land than is contained in the state of Illinois, if we used the most efficient methods possible - but we don’t. I already pointed out how we *throw food away* to keep prices high.

Check this out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_scarcity

Also this:
“Some writers have gone on to suggest that with detailed use of real unit accounting and demand surveys a planned economy could operate without a capital market, in a situation of abundance,(19)(20) The purpose of the price mechanism is to allow individuals to recognise the opportunity cost of decisions: in a state of abundance, there is no such cost.”

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_calculation_problem)

[ Edited: 10 August 2009 02:12 PM by PatrickMc ]
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Posted: 10 August 2009 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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“Abundance (Technocracy)

Abundance economics deals with situations where there are more than enough resources for everyone (i.e. an abundance). Such a situation (as in digital content) is termed a post scarcity economy.

Technocrats believe that classical economics cannot properly deal with abundance, since it only deals with the distribution of scarce resources. The Technocracy movement is of the opinion that, if faced with a situation of potential abundance, the Price system will practice Artificial scarcity or face economic collapse.

In classical economics, scarcity is said to exist because human wants are unlimited, but resources will always be limited. Therefore, wants can never be completely satisfied; using this model, abundance can never be achieved.

Under a Technocratic system, however, abundance and scarcity are not defined by human wants, but rather the ability of human beings to consume. While it is theoretically possible under a standard economic system to “own” any amount of goods, there is still a limited amount that a person can actually physically consume. For example, there is only so much food a person can eat, only so much time they can spend travelling (and given any existing set of technology, only so far they can travel per time period), only so much education they can partake of, only so much time spent in recreation, etc. Given these limits, it then becomes theoretically possible to satisfy all these needs and desires.

A closer look at the example of transportation can better illustrate this idea. Under a classical economic system, it is theoretically possible to own any number of cars, airplanes, and/or boats as a person can pay for or otherwise acquire. Thus, it is possible that they will never be able to own all that they want to have. Under a Technocratic system however, the entire transportation industry would be designed to provide every person with the maximum amount of service possible given available technology and resources. Thus, a person living in such a system would have access to various modes of transportation any time they wanted, and for whatever time period they would like. Travelling between cities (see Urbanate) could be easily accomplished with a high-speed rail system. For faster travel between points, air travel could be accessed when desired as well. For travel in less common ares or routes (such as off-road or camping sites), personal vehicles would be made available and could be “borrowed” when needed. However, no person would ever “own” a car, train, or aircraft. So while their ownership “wants” under classical economics remain unsatisfied, their transportation needs are completely fulfilled.

It would be the job of the Technate (or Technocratic administration system) to provide these services. It would use a resource-based method of accounting (such as Energy Accounting) to determine the exact needs and desires of the populous by carefully measuring the consumption of these services. It could then determine the most resource-efficient way of providing these services while keeping production up with consumption and avoiding waste. It is this concept that is central to Technocratic thought and the meaning behind its symbol, the Monad (Technocracy).

The only remaining question after this is whether or not a given area (such as the continent of North America) has the resources and technology to provide such an abundance. This was the point of the research performed by the Technical Alliance, and was called the Energy Survey of North America.” (Wikipedia)

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Posted: 10 August 2009 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Patrick, this stuff is looney. For example, I live out in the country. The nearest house is 3/8 mile away. Are you suggesting that I walk the five miles into town to borrow a car? OK, so maybe I could have a car on long-term loan. What’s the difference between that and just owning the car?

It would be the job of the Technate (or Technocratic administration system) to provide these services. It would use a resource-based method of accounting (such as Energy Accounting) to determine the exact needs and desires of the populous by carefully measuring the consumption of these services.

So you’re going to have some bureaucrats decide exactly how many goodies each person gets. And they’ll do it by measuring the consumption of those services. But wait: if the consumption is already rationed by bureaucrats, then lo and behold, they will discover that they are providing EXACTLY what each person needs—because the consumption of each person is EXACTLY the same as his allotment! How clever!  smile

But perhaps they’ll measure consumption BEFORE the transition to technocracy. This will induce everybody to go on a consumption binge so that they are measured to be consuming lots of goodies, meaning that they’ll be allocated lots of goodies. How clever!  grin

Look, what you’re proposing has been tried in a number of forms and it just doesn’t work. To argue that the strategy wasn’t properly tested because its most perfect form wasn’t implemented overlooks the fact that in the real world, you don’t get to apply perfect schemes—you have to work with real people, who hold grudges, make mistakes, play favorites, cheat, and all sorts of other things. Your Technate will simply become another Nomenklatura.

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Posted: 10 August 2009 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Chris Crawford - 10 August 2009 02:59 PM

Patrick, this stuff is looney. For example, I live out in the country. The nearest house is 3/8 mile away. Are you suggesting that I walk the five miles into town to borrow a car? OK, so maybe I could have a car on long-term loan. What’s the difference between that and just owning the car

Chris, I’m sorry - you still aren’t getting it. I already said that it is not possible to distribute an abundance given present social conditions. Living situations would be very different in a Technate so that cars would likely not be needed by the vast majority of the population. Urbanates would provide living quarters for most of the population. For the small fraction that still wanted to live in the country, some kind of accommodation could be provided for that as well.

Maybe you should be a little more open minded? Scientific thinking demands an open mind. You have not demonstrated that…How can you have a rational discussion about anything if you have already made up your mind? I will not even continue this conversation unless you can demonstrate that you can actually give these ideas a *fair chance*, which is what is demanded by the scientific method.

You have not addressed any of the actual ideas being presented. You merely equate these ideas with other ideas that share some surface similarities, refute that, and then claim that the original points are refuted. This is called a straw man.

So you’re going to have some bureaucrats decide exactly how many goodies each person gets. And they’ll do it by measuring the consumption of those services. But wait: if the consumption is already rationed by bureaucrats, then lo and behold, they will discover that they are providing EXACTLY what each person needs—because the consumption of each person is EXACTLY the same as his allotment! How clever!  smile

Chris, the Technate administration is not just “some bureaucrats”. You have a lot of misunderstandings here resulting from your prejudices and assumptions, and your lack of an open mind. Energy Accounting is the method used to track production and consumption, and it works more or less automatically. I won’t elaborate on this here since there is more information readily available to you. Just google energy accounting.

Look, what you’re proposing has been tried in a number of forms and it just doesn’t work. To argue that the strategy wasn’t properly tested because its most perfect form wasn’t implemented overlooks the fact that in the real world, you don’t get to apply perfect schemes—you have to work with real people, who hold grudges, make mistakes, play favorites, cheat, and all sorts of other things. Your Technate will simply become another Nomenklatura.

If someone is abusing their power, they will simply be *removed from their position* - what could be more simple?

Please show me where this (Technocracy) has been tried. It has never been tried. That is just simply not true. Even saying that “what I’ve proposed has been tried in a number of forms” demonstrates your basic lack of understanding, since there are *not* various forms for what is being proposed, but one specific set of solutions. Your argument here amounts to a straw man - and also reveals your lack of understanding.

There’s simply too much information for me to cover here, but if you want to give these ideas a fair chance (which you need to do if you are going to refute them in a scientific way) then why not start with the two essays I posted? If someone can come up with a valid refutation of the actual source material, than I would take notice.

[ Edited: 10 August 2009 05:45 PM by PatrickMc ]
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