Friday, September 3, 2010

Economic Fantasies

I considered posting about my unemployment situation. (Yes, again.) I considered posting thoughts about the economy as a whole, particularly in reference to Gentleman Pratt's post and this contrasting article. But trying to tackle such economic questions kept leading me to question myself along these lines: just what is the ideal I am shooting for? In other words, when critiquing our economic policy, and talking about what I hope would change, what am I hoping it will change to?

Obviously, I want gainful employment for myself, and prosperity and all that. But what does that really look like?

So my mind went wandery and I fantasized two economic utopias (utopiae?):

1) Pseudo-Anarchistic Agrarian Localized Economic Fantasy

The economy is entirely localized. Food is grown mere miles from your city, and it is expensive and rare to eat exotic foods from around the world - no strawberries in wintertime, no Colombian coffee in the District of Columbia. The same goes for every other small craft, from furniture making and clothes weaving to local filmmaking. There is no complicated global system of number-moving that allows an entire nation's economy to be based on managing the money and information of another nation. Essentially, it's like the way the world just before the Industrial Revolution - everyone is naturally employed taking care of the

The downside? Greatly reduced progress. Hard to organize the major human-race-size projects like a space program without larger infrastructure. Downside/upside, depending on your point of view: instead of cushy office jobs, people tend to work with their hands. Lastly, the only way this could work is if people voluntarily and intentionally avoided the advanced assembly line machinery of our modern age, because otherwise people just don't have enough work to do. It's not capitalistic, but it's healthy.

2) Pseudo-Randian Laissez-Faire Capitalist's Fantasy

There are nearly no taxes, particularly not on corporations or the rich. The government is minimal, essentially only providing the rule of law, a smaller military (unless private donors want to finance it) and diplomatic functions. Everything else is provided by private business. Roads are maintained the same way that water and electricity are - through billing of private citizens by large-scale corporations. Everyone is not only employed, but paid very well because the big corporations, disburdened of taxes, can afford to employ Americans at living wages. Also, thanks to widespread Carnegie-like philanthropy, every town has a privately funded, well-stocked library as well as every other modern public-use amenity.


If you think I find neither of these particularly plausible, you're correct. If you think I find one of them a good dream and the other a nightmare, you're also correct.

So, your turn, readers! What is your economic fantasy world?


ali d said...

What does it mean that I can't figure out which one you think is a good dream and which one is a nightmare?

B.Graham said...

the second scenario is definitely my nightmare, and here's why:

1 - private owner-financed military. ::shudder::
2 - "everyone is not only employed, but paid very well..." HA not if a giant corporation only worried about cutting costs has anything to say about it....