Monday, December 23, 2013

Mere Income

One of Anglican apologist C. S. Lewis’s favorite concepts (and snappy book title) was “Mere Christianity.”  Don’t worry.  This is not a “religious” posting.  It’s safe for everyone to read.

Last week we had a posting on “A Guarantee of Nothing.”  We “shared” it on Facebook, and got a few nice comments, and a couple of extremely depressing ones that demonstrated in the most graphic terms possible that people still aren’t “getting it.”  They insist absolutely that new capital formation is impossible unless it somehow involves redistributing existing wealth (which isn’t new, then, is it?) or redistributing tax monies . . . which also isn’t “new.”

The idea fixed in people’s heads continues to be that capital formation is impossible until and unless current income exceeds current consumption.  Only in this way can the unconsumed production be accumulated in the form of “money” in order to finance new capital formation.  Out of old capital formation.

Only when people free themselves from this “slavery of past savings” and realize that genuinely new capital (not recycled capital) can be financed using future increases in production instead of past decreases in consumption will they understand the solution to the income problem.

This brings us to the tie in with pensions and “Mere Christianity.”  It’s time to start talking about “mere income.”  Not retirement income, unearned income, earned income, or any of the other incomes.  Just income sufficient to meet people’s material needs.

That’s why we cheered up when Mark R. sent in a comment that we can use for the rest of this posting.  As Mark quoted us,

"Perhaps instead of carefully dividing ‘income’ into ‘work income’ and ‘retirement income’, we should have been looking at mere ‘income’. 


It is something very close to exactly this wording that fleets through my mind with a combination of amusement, head-shaking frustration and anger every time I watch news reports of desperate fast food workers striking for higher 'wages', every time I hear of yet another instance of unions having had to make more concessions just to maintain 'jobs' in the face of the relentless forces of globalization and outsourcing, every time I listen to astute, but paradigmatically clueless, book tour academics wringing their hands at what can possibly be done about 'jobs' as the future of increasingly powerful and self-reinforcing artificial intelligence, autonomous nanotechnology (or, alternatively, "atomically precise manufacturing") and advanced robotics bears down on us with the prospect of fewer and fewer island sanctuaries remaining viable for 'labor/jobs'. 

For knowledgeable proponents of binary economics, this is so transparent and obvious that being confronted with the fact that it is generally publicly neither - especially politically - amounts to a kind of slap-in-the-face astonishment that such lack of vision and imagination can actually be so pervasive; even (or especially) among otherwise highly intelligent people.

Given how long delayed broad recognition of the importance of the core conceptual tenets of binary economics has been, if Victor Hugo was correct that nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, then the Richter Scale displacements that can reasonably be anticipated for their eventual recognition may be one heck of a tectonic doosie.  And I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it was exactly this highly artificial and anachronistic schism which proves to be the inciting subterranean slippage.   To invoke the well worn adage that, "it is bloody well about time", would be an understatement of monumental and epic proportions.



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