●The more budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes.
●Austerity is the government’s method for widening the gap between rich and poor, which leads to civil disorder.
●Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
●To survive long term, a monetarily non-sovereign government must have a positive balance of payments.
●Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
Here we are talking about the economics of tomorrow, while mainstream economists have not yet caught up with the economics of today.
For new readers of this blog, the economics of today recognizes that the U.S. government has the unlimited ability to create its own sovereign currency. The government never can run short of dollars; it doesn’t need to ask you or me for dollars.
The U.S. is Monetarily Sovereign. Illinois, Chicago, Cook County and Greece are not. But, mainstream economics has not progressed past August 15, 1971, when the U.S. went off the gold standard. Today’s economists, media and politicians still claim the U.S. must “live within its means,” and that the federal deficit is “unsustainable” and the debt must be reduced.
In short, the economics taught in most college and universities does not recognize the fundamental differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty. Ignorance is passed down the generations.
Like a traveler who relies on connecting flights, if you miss the first flight (today’s economics) you will miss the next flight. An article in the November 10, 2012 issue of NewScientist magazine provides a few hints at what will be tomorrow’s economics:
It’s Thursday morning and 7-year-old Devon Carrow-Sperduti is meant to be starting school in 5 minutes. His mum is getting impatient. Devon is like any child his age – in all but one respect.
When Devon gets to Winchester Elementary School in West Seneca, New York, he chats with his friends between his classes, he sometimes gets told off by his teachers for not paying attention and, occasionally, he bumps into walls. It is an inevitable consequence of attending school as a robot.
Devon has allergies that prevent him from physically being at school. Instead, he stays at home and logs into a two-wheeled, 1.5-metre-tall Segway-like robot called VGo, which is waiting in the school grounds. He navigates between classrooms by peering through a camera, and talks with classmates and teachers via a real-time video screen displaying his face. “He’s treated the same as everyone else,” says his mum.
Devon attends school by proxy. The children view Devon’s robot as Devon himself. One day, another child also might attend Devon’s school by proxy. Then presumably, the two robots, or rather, the two children, will talk and play, face to face, video screen to video screen.
Devon isn’t the only one routinely transporting himself to another location like this. He joins surgeons, soldiers and an increasing number of other workers who are turning to an army of surrogates often hundreds of kilometres away. These virtual travellers can hold down nine-to-five jobs, fight wars and perform life-saving operations.
This year, you’ll be able to buy one for the same price as a laptop, and eventually they will be controlled by thought alone and will transmit a sense of touch back to their pilot. It means our senses will become immersed in another location like never before. Researchers, legal experts and ethicists are realising that the way this technology will be used over the next decade and beyond is not only going to affect the way we live and work, it is also going to disrupt economies, challenge laws and may even transform social norms.
Today’s economics describes today. But tomorrow’s will be far different. Yesterday’s economics already has caused, extended and worsened the Great Recession, by limiting GDP growth. Try to imagine what will happen as economists and politicians, steeped in obsolete beliefs, try to cope with the future.
Marvin Minsky, one of the pioneers of robotics, coined the term “telepresence”. He used it to refer to the suite of technologies that allow a person to feel as if they are present at a place other than their true location. In his futuristic vision, these robotic systems would pave the way for a “remote-controlled economy” and would transform society.
If you’re in the US and need part of your prostate removed, for example, it is likely you will experience the skills of a telepresent surgeon using a robotic manipulator – 90 per cent of these operations are now performed this way.
Scalpels have even been wielded across oceans: in 2001, surgeons in New York removed the gall bladder of a woman in Strasbourg, France. Meanwhile, soldiers today routinely control aerial drones and robots for surveillance, bomb disposal and even attacks.
In fact, their use is now so common in the US army that some commentators argue that remote-controlled warfare could come to be seen as a defining trait of Barack Obama’s presidency.
Today’s economics is based on the inefficiencies of human output and wealth creation. We spend much of our working lives preparing for work, traveling to work, traveling for work and traveling from work. We search for information, file information, convey information to someone else, forget information and die with our information.
So far, the signs suggest that people have been using telepresence to visit family and friends, tour buildings like museums, work remotely with distant colleagues or, for doctors and nurses, to check on patients from afar.
The next wave of telepresence under development in laboratories suggests the technology will become significantly more immersive. For example, a team led by Mel Slater at University College London (UCL) has built a surrogate robot whose actions mirror a person’s body movements. Hold out your arm for a handshake, and the robot’s arm follows suit.
Early this year, a student called Tirosh Shapira controlled a robot using only his thoughts – he was at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, inside an fMRI brain scanner, and the robot was in France.
“It was mind-blowing,” [Shapira] says. “I really felt like I was there. When the guys in France surprised me by placing a mirror in front of the robot I was like ‘oh I’m so cute, I have blue eyes’, not ‘that robot is cute’.”
The line between “me” and “it” and between “here” and “there” is blurring. If all your senses tell you you’re in a remote location, and if you can move your arms and legs in that remote location, where are you, really?
Many researchers have begun to explore the looming economic, legal and social impacts. What might be the consequences of it becoming easier for everybody to move about remotely?
For a start, telepresence could disrupt labour markets. One plausible scenario for the technology is to allow low-wage foreign workers to be employed for jobs that were impossible until now.
After all, it has happened before – more than a decade ago, improved internet speeds and coverage meant nations like India became prime targets for Western companies to outsource online and telecommunication services at lower cost.
Consider how a retail business like Home Depot or Tesco might use telepresent workers. It could stop employing as many local assistants to do jobs like directing customers to products in-store, or potentially even operating machinery, and hand those tasks to employees overseas instead.
“One remote worker could be responsible for 10 stores and 30 robots,” says Matt Beane at the MIT Sloan School of Management, who has also been investigating the impact of telepresence technology. “I’d be very surprised if in 10 years, 10 per cent of that kind of work wasn’t being performed by remote workers.
Or take the implications of medicine continuing on its path towards remote procedures. It is bound to trigger legal and regulatory headaches if it spurs a new wave of medical tourism, for example.
What happens when a dentist in Cuba offers cheaper procedures through teleoperation to people in England? “Where is the service taking place, and who regulates it?” If something goes wrong during a procedure, or if an unqualified doctor practises remotely, for example, it is unclear which court or medical board would be responsible for investigation or punishment.
“If I throw a punch in England and it hits someone in another country, is the offence committed here or there, and which country’s law should take precedence?”
In economics, Gross Domestic Product is a common measure of economic growth or shrinkage. But what if the word “Domestic” loses its meaning?
Modern economics is based on pay-for-work. The faith is that wealth is created by people, and that those who do no work, deserve no wealth.
But what if telepresence machines not only do your job, but almost everyone’s job? What happens to economics when most of the workforce is composed of machines?
The makers of telepresence technology ultimately aim to fully immerse our senses in a location far from our own. And this may inevitably raise the question of how we anchor ourselves in reality. When we can walk, talk and work in a distant land while our body resides at home, where do we exist at that moment in time? In the world that holds your body, or the one that holds your mind?
I ask Devon a similar question: when he uses VGo, does he feel more like he’s at school or at home? He answers with the matter-of-fact simplicity of a 7-year-old. “Oh yeah, I’m definitely at school,” he says, before running off to brush his teeth.
Many people believe reward should be based on work, and that government provided benefits actually reduce the desire to work, as witness the sneering references to “food stamp mother.”
Today, unemployment is seen as a problem for the individual, because it reduces his monetary income, and as a problem for society, because the individual does not contribute work.
The role of government is seen today as encouraging a working society. Tomorrow, unemployment will be acceptable, even normal, as fewer people work. What then will be the role of government?
I believe the government will assume a more socially supportive role. Today, the government punishes work (via income taxes), while it encourages work (via project spending. Can that continue in a world where the implications of work change dramatically?
If you go to the bottom left-hand corner of this blog, you will find a search function. Use it to search “Watson” and you will find seven posts describing the possible futures of economics. All ponder the possible roles of government and of economics, itself.
We are at the proverbial fork in the road. To the right lies a government whose primary purposes are to protecting the haves from the have-nots. To the left, a government whose primary purposes are to protect the have-nots from the haves.
Will the government provide Medicare for everyone, Social Security for everyone, housing and clothing for everyone, justice for everyone – or will these be allocated to the strongest and those judged most valuable?
Today’s governments lean to the right, focusing on productivity. They frets over “dis-employment,” as being deflationary if too high and inflationary if too low.
Governments anguish over money creation (aka “deficits); they war over national borders. Economics lags behind, encouraging needless anguish and excusing needless wars.
The world will change in ways we cannot even imagine. And economics will change with it. But, the economists, the politicians, the media and the public, first must begin understand the reality of today’s economics.
The world is racing at us like a high speed train, as blithely we ride old Dobbin across the tracks.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Nine Steps to Prosperity:
1. Eliminate FICA (Click here)
2. Medicare — parts A, B & D — for everyone
3. Send every American citizen an annual check for $5,000 or give every state $5,000 per capita (Click here)
4. Long-term nursing care for everyone
5. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
6. Salary for attending school (Click here)
7. Eliminate corporate taxes
8. Increase the standard income tax deduction annually
9. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99%
No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia. Two key equations in economics:
Federal Deficits – Net Imports = Net Private Savings
Gross Domestic Product = Federal Spending + Private Investment and Consumption – Net Imports