Since we all seem to have a moment or two to think about what sort of a post viral world we want to re-engage with, perhaps a bit of planning is advisable, and I thought I’d irritate a few people by using lockdown as an opportunity to consolidate a few thoughts. Some of them might take a bit of habit changing when / if implemented.
Work. It was already becoming more automated and will result in jobs disappearing and wages with them. It is time we had a proper basic or living wage so that the employed can decide how much work they want to do and the unemployed can regain a measure of self worth. Not having to be hungry and / or cold would be nice too. If a car or washing machine is built by robots, who does the buyer pay? The designer should get something and if it is for the planet then I don’t see the point of taxing it or anything that helps us all, it would be like charging rates on hospitals and VAT on syringes. Obviously public services would need paying for, but it’s just a matter of setting the tax rates. No more billionaires, no tax havens and as a result, no food banks. An author friend of mine, Tony Harmsworth, pointed out - there would be little point in owning a gigantic yacht if nobody wanted to be a deck hand, and who wants to polish somebody else’s marble floor? I’d have difficulty in passing myself off as a socialist but the world is going in the opposite direction at the moment and we are getting too unequal. If the poor didn’t have to work several jobs and more hours than most of us would countenance then they wouldn’t be taking menial and low paid jobs. Those two categories shouldn’t be locked together. Personally I would take lower pay for easier work and expect more for harder more unpleasant work. Some hard work, like splitting logs, you can enjoy or not, it still needs doing, but the splitter should be able to sit in front of the fire too. In the meantime we will have to work, so how about we get rid of the 7 day week and go to a 4 / 4 sequence. Two alternating ‘shifts’ of four days of work followed by a four day week-end. Only half the population would work each day thereby cutting a lot of commuting time, rush-hour traffic and office parking. Nurses, shift workers and firemen use a similar system now. Leisure parks, shops, hospitals and similar would always be open and only half the population would use them at any time. Free public transport, electric of course. Health, care for the elderly, education and communication. These services are needed by most of us at some time, so having private companies tapping profit out of the communal barrel is not helpful. As automated vehicles and other robotic ‘servants’ become more effective so there are going to be lots of unemployed ex drivers, typists and similar. They’ll need access to the expanded equivalent of the Open University. I don’t believe most factory workers go for the joy of it, but lots of us like making things so the creative ones will do so and the robots can do the boring bits. Writers would still write, musicians play and teachers teach. Engineers, architects, archaeologists and astronauts would still want to do those things, and those that don’t shouldn’t be forced to. They’ll need a good education so they can find their niche though, otherwise you’ll just get couch potatoes. Believe it or not I think National Service is part of the answer there, but without any guns and with a new name like ’Inheritors’. Electronic money. Well the banks have started that, mainly to make more profit, but the properly monitored flow of money would pick up unauthorised transactions, laundering, and off grid employment. Gig workers would be properly protected from ‘deductions’ and other poverty traps. Company money that can only be spent at company stores is a classic example. Remember ‘Sixteen Tons’? Stocks, shares, and investment. It really is time we got away from the idea that if you have a lot of money you can make more by having it compete for more while you sleep. The value of currencies, businesses and ‘holdings’ (heaps of material possessions) are constantly being changed by computers and people with no benefit to the planet or people. Banks don’t actually make anything so why are they so rich? How on earth can they ‘borrow’ at 0% and lend at 32%?
Monopolies and co-operating corporations tend to remove nascent rivals using financial tactics rather than simply being better at the job. Time for a bit of meritocracy.
I would expect an increase in leasing, it’s only a lack of security that makes it necessary to own something and as long as modifications to leased property can be reversed they can be personalised. Leasing is getting quite popular with cars, houses and can be seen as a sliding scale from hiring a car or bed for a few hours to renting a house for 20 years. We are all used to renting coffee, beer and food (if you think of it the right way). If the cost is acceptable the person ‘borrowing’ has fewer worries and the owner or landlord, (an archaic term with overtones,) can save by being able to bulk buy in a known market, with contracted workmen of proven quality. Another upside is once you feel secure in the system you are free to migrate to wherever you want, and you could take your rights and personal ‘treasures’ with you. I suggest war should be made illegal. Wars are usually money trying to protect itself or make itself stronger by investment, ie that which you put at risk in the hope of making a profit.
The driving forces, typified by military force are essentially fear or greed, the two ends of the motivation spectrum. The reserves and lives being ‘invested’ or risked are to gain control of oil reserves, land or property. Both, if lost, are referred to as sacrifices although the ‘sacred’ part of the word can be difficult to identify. The lost lives of course are inevitably classed as brave, heroic or tragic if you ignore concepts like right, wrong and stupid. Cowardly unpatriotic back-sliding traitors look very similar physically to heroes, differing only in a few principles, so they usually get pushed or coerced. The financial losses of the rich are rare as the money is made back by arms sales, land grabs, and compensation.
Wars from the aggressor's viewpoint are usually promoted as a self protective measure either ideologically or religious, but are generally just the process of stealing gold, land or slaves in one form or another. The war mongering or guilty parties should be self identified as any who make a profit from or after the war. Properly monitored money should make profiteering impossible. The investor could be fined once the source of the profit was detected, be it the sale of arms or the sudden gaining of unexplained resources. The current problem is fining rich but obviously guilty men who can afford lawyers sycophants and politicians. A few wars are conducted on a religious basis. Strange when almost every religion espouses peace, tolerance and forgiveness. However they are generally much the same, attempted theft and grudge settling. The warriors may believe in some religious imperative, but the leaders generally want more power or money, being largely interchangeable. Again proper money monitoring should resolve that. Religion. Well, you will either be religious or not. If you are I just suggest you act according to your beliefs (as opposed to somebody else’s) and if not then ignore it and use the secular laws. Where they conflict you can risk going to hell or jaiI, your choice. Churches and charities could be better regulated. I would remove any automatic charitable status of any ‘church’ or religious status of any charity and tax them accordingly. Churches may be charitable and some charities have a distinctly religious feel, but they are not one and the same thing. Perhaps guilt and gilt, profit and prophet sound similar for a reason.
Properly registered charities, be they secular or religious, should be and generally are, carefully monitored. While giving food to the poor is acceptable, promising heaven is dubious without a hand written note from God and preaching hatred is unacceptable. The profit driven evangelical churches preying on the gullible poor should be burned to the ground with their pastors inside, but we may have to vote on that in case my opinion is biased.
Politics. It is generally recognised there are two kinds of politician. Those who want to better humanity and the world and those who just want to better themselves. Simple examination of beliefs and actions should sort the two types out, and not paying them much would help, as would less celebrity.
'Big' business. Actually just people with a lot of money, not necessarily good or bad.
You might think all this socialistic stuff is going to make you poorer. Fair enough, it certainly would me. The question is;- is it logical that one person should work 18 hours a day and still be hungry while others can feed themselves in a couple of hours and then play on the private beach? Consider if you would:- Is there the tiniest smallest or faintest chance that through terrible unfairness and unlikelihood your positions could be reversed, and would you like to ensure that not happening?
Questions and objections will be considered.