The Phaserl


Top-Down “Solutions” = Institutionalized Serfdom, Bottom-Up Solutions = Reviving Opportunity

from Of Two Minds:

If the “solution” doesn’t enable the accumulation of capital in all its forms by individuals and households, it isn’t a real solution–it’s just another top-down scheme that institutionalizes subsistence serfdom.

Phrases like reviving the American Dream emit the lingering stench of empty political rhetoric mouthed by bought-and-paid-for candidates. But if we wave aside this foul smell, we’re left with a very profound topic: reviving broad-based opportunity.

Longtime collaborator Gordon T. Long and I discuss what it will take to revive opportunity in a new 27-minute video Reviving the American Dream.


The status quo “solution” to the decline of opportunities for meaningful work is predictably top-down: guaranteed income for all, a.k.a. “welfare for all.” This is of course a re-hash of the Keynesian Cargo Cult’s 1930 fix for the Great Depression, except on a far grander scale.

There are three completely unsupported assumptions in every proposed “welfare for all” scheme:

1. The trillions of dollars/ euros/ yen etc. required to fund “welfare for all” can be raised from taxing profits and wages. Yet wages and profits are both set to decline sharply in the near-term as the global recession tightens its grip and longer term from the unstoppable forces of automation.

2. Paying people to do nothing will free people to become artists, entrepreneurs, etc. This is a noble ideal, but if we look at communities that have become dependent on top-down central-state welfare, we find despair, social depression and the collapse of real community.

“Welfare for all” debilitates the community by stripping away the sources of meaningful work and positive social roles. I explain this further in my book A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology and Creating Jobs for All.

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