If Everything Were Free

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by spidergoat, Nov 21, 2016.

  1. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    How would the economy work if everything were free? Say we discover cheap fusion power combined with the technology to replicate anything on a molecular level. Like Star Trek replicators. How would society function? Would there still be an economy, or would that concept become obsolete?
     
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    The laws of economics would still apply. Things with a high demand and low supply (say, live concerts from top entertainers, or beachfront real estate) would be valued highly, while things that were ubiquitous and easy to obtain (i.e. things that could be replicated easily) would become very cheap.
     
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  5. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    "Cheap" and "free" are entirely different animals.
    The operating principle of the technology would also drive the economy: technical-sounding, fictional gibberish.
     
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  7. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    people and dogs and mules?
    I had an old hound named thumper. 1st university and army and I came "home" Thumper was laying on the front lawn, 10 feet away was a rabbit that was a crossbreed from my old rabbits and wild lying down in the sunshine on a warm spring day. I opened the door and stood out on the porch, and thumper looked at me than at the rabbit then back at me and got up and "chased the rabbit". He liked his job(or it's memories)
    Old mule
    As a child I rode on the mule's back down in my uncle Nick's coal mine. 25 years later, I went to visit Nick and he took the harness out and shook it. The almost 40 year old mule perked up his ears from the other side of the pasture, and trotted over, ready to go back to work(one more time)

    It would seem that dogs and mules need to feel that they have an important job to do. So too, I would guess, "Humans".

    The economy may change, but we remain the same.
     
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  8. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Actually, it's sort of happening and has been happening for the last 100 + years.

    If technology were to the point we did not need to interact with other humans, then yes, the economy would end at that point. But, as long as there is some sort of interaction, then there's some sort of economy. Which is where phased like: banked social trust, or political savings, etc... come from. These abstract concepts would become our new economy.
     
  9. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Economics is all about how resources are distributed based on the premise of scarcity. If the basic economic problem of scarcity no longer exists, then economics become irrelevant.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_problem
     
  10. AshtonAsh Registered Member

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    Not everything can be free, but the four essentials to life, i.e.: air, shelter, water and food should be, or at least people should be permitted to "grow their own" where possible. Those who can do so should be permitted to exchange their produce for what-have-you without the need to pay taxes to people who really don't earn or deserve them (the taxes, levies, assessments, charges, fees, tolls, etc., etc.) while others would provide their expertise for whatever remains. It would be a straight "barter" system, where each person provides whatever they can, or have, in exchange for whatever anyone else is willing to swap for it. We would probably be without much of the junk foods we have today, we would certainly have a damned sight fewer politicians (if any) and education would be less complex and devoid of brainwashing.

     
  11. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    It would be nice if there were no conflicts, no diseases, no accidents, too. But that's not the world we live in. The irony here is what you are advocating is a communist-libertarian ideal. You should read Karl Marx. But here is the thing, people aren't going to stop being people. That's why your ideology is deeply flawed. It's a dream that can never be. It's why communism failed and it's why libertarian societies have failed.

    People are social animals, and as social animals they need and want social structures and those social structures have a cost and they need organization. That's why we have taxes and politicians.

    If you really want to live out your communist/libertarian utopia, you can do so today. In remote sections of Alaska you could be free to live out your dream: no taxation, minimal government. But in order to be true to your ideal, you would need to refuse medical care when you become ill or are injured, and you will become ill or injured at some point, because to do so would make you a beneficiary of government regulation and funding.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
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  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    You realize those two things are very, very different, right? I agree that "people should be permitted to grow their own where possible" - and they are. I don't agree that food should be free.
    Here in CA there is no sales tax on food, so that works. And if you grow all your own food - and don't work for a salary - you don't have to pay income tax. So that works too.
    So a barter economy. That's fine. It's just hard to pay for a tractor (or a house) with chickens or beans.
    Why do you say that? People would still want junk food, and would be willing to trade their chickens for it.
    Those really aren't supportable.

    We will still have politicians (of course) because we will still need all the stuff that government affords us - a military, roads, water (even more important now) utilities, environmental protection etc.

    And we will still need education. The idea that "farmers are dumb and don't need much schooling" is pretty narrowminded IMO.
     
  13. AshtonAsh Registered Member

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    I will read Karl Marx necessarily. I don't need to refuse medical care when you become ill because I can make something useful for government. About your thinks that people are social animals- I agree.
     
  14. AshtonAsh Registered Member

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    It shouldn't be free, you can pay for it your service or product. Like barter
     
  15. wellwisher

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    An interesting historical example were the Pilgrims who settled at Plymouth Rock, USA. Originally the settlement was supposed to be a commune, where all the fruits of labor went into a pile to be distributed. That first year, the Pilgrims almost starved. The leaders decided to do an experiment and allowed everyone to keep what they grew. This led to the first Thanksgiving.

    People need incentive to give it their best effort. Incentive can be fueled internally for a while, with an abstraction; ideal. But incentive can last longer if there is tangible positive feedback from the environment; rewards. The original Pilgrims lost their ideal due to no rewards for working hard. Once rewards were added to the group ideal, the group thrived.

    How many people would go to work each day, without being paid? Once you get paid; reward, you can justify going to work even if the job is low in terms of its enjoyment/effort ratio. Or how many people will go to work and do twice what everyone else does for the same money? Most people will if they can make twice as much.

    If everything was free, people would need incentive to stand around and be bored. They will need to seek reward for no effort, since no effort can be tiring; boring. The reward may be overeating and over partying, to make standing around, more worth while.
     
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    OK. That's legal now - so sounds like there's no barrier to doing what you want to do.
     
  17. AshtonAsh Registered Member

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    Barriers should be. It will be war if there won't barriers.
     
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    In general, the less barriers the betters. Most wars are OVER barriers.
     
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  19. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    We would be hard pressed to supply whatever it would be that couldn't be replicated by a machine. I guess people would search for emotional satisfaction in ways other than consumerism. It might be the death of manufacturing and a rebirth of artistry.
     
  20. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    As usual you have your "facts" screwed up. The enterprise was a commercial venture from day one. The colonies were funded by merchant investors. The colonists came because the venture offered them religious freedoms.
     
  21. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    I still think there would be a need for tradesmen--plumbers, electricians, engineers, etc. What incentive we could offer them to pursue those prefessions, I don't know.
     
  22. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    If cars can drive autonomously, tradesmen are not far behind.
     
  23. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    You would think that if we had the technology to create product out of thin air, we would also have the machinery to replace the technician. It really is an intriguing idea, the possibility of people designing products and releasing those ideas to a giant database where anyone could download and produce it for their own personal use--somewhat like open source software. Yet I wonder whether such innovations might kill individual creativity, where we might become lazy and less productive without the natural incentives of a capitalist economy. What do you think?
     

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