Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Last Psychiatrist: Hipsters On Food Stamps, Part 2

The Last Psychiatrist: Hipsters On Food Stamps, Part 2: So start with an interesting hypothetical: does everybody need to work anymore? I understand work from an ethical/character perspective, this is not here my point. Since we no longer need e.g. manufacturing jobs-- cheaper elsewhere or with robots-- since those labor costs have evaporated, could that surplus go towards paying people simply to stay out of trouble? Is there a natural economic equilibrium price where, say, a U Chicago grad can do no economically productive work at all but still be paid to use Instagram? Let me be explicit: my question is not should we do this, my question is that since this is precisely what's happening already, is it sustainable? What is the cost? I don't have to run the numbers, someone already has: it's $150/mo for a college grads, i.e. the price of food stamps. Other correct responses would be $700/mo for "some high school" (SSI) or $1500/mo for "previous work experience" (unemployment). I would have accepted $2000/mo for "minorities" (jail) for partial credit.
Another blogger thinking along the same lines as J Gordon (pseudonym) at Gordon's Notes:
Would Stephen Hawking have been disabled in 1860? Yeah, for the short duration of his 19th century life.
Disability is relative to the technological environment. Once a missing leg meant disability, now it rules out only a small number of jobs. Once a strong back meant a job, now it means little.
Technology changes the work environment; it makes some disabled, and others able. It's an old trend, automated looms put textile artisans out of work 200 years ago.
This idea of 'mass disability' is a really good one, but maybe a better label could be invented for discussing the fluidity of the worth of labor and knowledge. The internet made the near cost-less replication of ideas very profitable for the few owners of the nation's communication systems. (Every idea that leaves your brain is profitable to Google.)

This is a minor divergence - the article at the first link is really worth reading in all its parts.