Monday, 13 July 2015

Transitioning to a post-scarcity world

Futures Forum: Peak oil, peak soil, peak water... peak everything

... OF LAND:
Futures Forum: 'The rent is too damn high' >>> tackling affordable housing
Futures Forum: Green Belts: the Seaton-Colyford 'green wedge'
Futures Forum: "Sometimes the parched topsoil of the Sahara settles on London and the whole of England": How the results of intensive farming in Africa are felt thousands of miles away

Futures Forum: How sustainable is the construction industry? ... 'Concrete is responsible for 7-10% of CO2 emissions' ... 'The industry must shift its emphasis beyond recycling and towards reuse'
Futures Forum: Peak oil: There's only so much oil in the ground
Futures Forum: "The real-life Mad Max will be about water"

> A circular economy:
Futures Forum: The Story of Stuff: "You cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely"
> Fewer subsidies on shifting stuff:
Futures Forum: We are all truck-drivers now ... The free movement of goods, increased carbon emissions and the destruction of manufacturing industry
> Localisation:
Futures Forum: Decentralized Manufacturing
> Bottom-up governance:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Power: The New Localism
> DIY and P2P:
Futures Forum: Open Source Ecology >>> Homebrew Industrial Revolution >>> Do-it-yourself sustainable development
> Common management of resources:
Futures Forum: The triumph of the commons
> Human ingenuity:
Futures Forum: Frugal Innovation: on BBC Radio 4's In Business
> Design:
Futures Forum: Reducing flooding through sustainable drainage systems >>> Water Sensitive Urban Design in the South-West
> Deregulation:
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: free up the market for truly affordable housing
> Eminent domain/compulsory purchase/expropriation:
Futures Forum: "Allowing fracking companies to drill on private land without first requiring a landowner’s permission." or... "Neighborhood Environmentalism: Toward Democratic Energy"


Commons Transition - Commons Transition
Futures Forum: Transition to the knowledge commons
Futures Forum: Towards a commons-based society


Transition design - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cameron Tonkinwise, Transition Design, Konstfack 2014 from ID Konstfack on Vimeo.
AIGA | Video: Terry Irwin, Gideon Kossoff and Cameron Tonkinwise
Welcome | Transition Network


Fear that we are running out of important resources like agricultural land is perpetual, but in most cases, this fear is baseless.

The overarching thesis on why there is no resource crisis is that as a particular resource becomes more scarce, its price rises; this rise of price creates an incentive for people to discover more of the resource, ration and recycle it and, eventually, develop substitutes. The “ultimate resource” is not any particular physical object but the capacity for humans to invent and adapt.

The work opens with an explanation of scarcity, noting its relation to price; high prices denote relative scarcity and low prices indicate abundance. Simon usually measures prices in wage adjusted terms, since this is a measure of how much labor is required to purchase a fixed amount of a particular resource. Since prices for most raw materials (e.g. copper) have fallen between 1800 and 1990 (adjusting for wages and adjusting for inflation), Simon argues that this indicates that those materials have become less scarce.

The Ultimate Resource - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Julian Simon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Ultimate Resource II: People, Materials, and Environment
The Ultimate Resource 2: No. 2: Amazon.co.uk: Julian Lincoln Simon: 9780691003818: Books
Economists and Scarcity : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education

Artificial Scarcity And Artificial Abundance: A One-Two Punch

by Kevin Carson JAN 2, 2014

I write a lot about artificial scarcity as a source of rents for the propertied classes, and the role of the state in enforcing it. But the other side of the coin is the role of the state in rendering naturally scarce things artificially abundant to the privileged classes. We can see this in recent news of the politics surrounding oil and natural gas pipelines in North America.

In early December, US President Barack Obama approved a pipeline project to carry liquified gas or ultra-light oil from Illinois across the Canadian border to Alberta, where it will be used to dilute tar-sand oil which will then flow through the Keystone XL pipleline back south into the United States. A couple weeks later, members of an anti-Keystone group called Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance were arrested on trumped-up charges of “terrorism” (glitter that fell from their banners supposedly caused a “biohazard” scare) after chaining themselves in the headquarters of Devon Corporation to protest its ties to TransCanada and the Alberta tar sands industry.

If anything illustrates the principle of artificial abundance, it’s Alberta tar sands oil and the level of government intervention required to make it profitable. It’s a classic bubble economy, with huge capital outlays up-front to get wells flowing and a rapid drop-off in productivity (the first-year decline in output alone is 38%). It’s a bubble that never would have inflated in the first place without government tipping the balance. The pipelines are built on land stolen through eminent domain (much of it stolen from First Nations in violation of treaty rights, sometimes even defiling sacred burial places). Oil pipelines are exempt from contributing to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (although, as we’ve already seen, even oil tankers and offshore drilling rigs have their liability capped at a tiny fraction of likely damage from a major spill). The EPA’s politically determined, least-common-denominator pollution standards preempt traditional common law standards of tort liability for harm to surrounding communities from air and water pollution. And “anti-terrorism” legislation is used as a pretext to ramp up the penalties for traditional civil disobedience tactics by environmentalists.

The dominant corporate interests in the global economy depend as much on artificial abundance as they do on artificial scarcity. The American economy of the 20th century was built on an extensive growth model, achieved by adding artificially cheap and abundant resource inputs rather than by using existing inputs more efficiently. So we have an agribusiness industry that maximizes output per labor hour rather than output per acre, and uses land far less efficiently than traditional soil-intensive forms of production like raised-bed horticulture. We even have capitalist “farmers” paid government subsidies to hold enormous tracts of arable land out of use (a sweet real estate investment, that!), much like the owners of Latin American haciendas and latifundias hold most of their enclosed land out of use while their land-poor neighbors hire themselves out for agricultural labor.

We have an industrial and retail economy based on inefficient, high-overhead, capital-intensive production technology, overuse of subsidized highways for long-distance shipping, and car-centered communities with sprawl development and monoculture suburbs.

In the Third World, we see agribusiness operations engaged in cash crop export production on land stolen from the native peasantry, and natural resources controlled by the same extractive corporations that originally stole them in the colonial era (Shell in Indonesia and Nigeria, the mineral industry in South Africa, the copper industry in the Andes, etc.).

This artificial abundance, like artificial scarcity, is absolutely necessary to prop up the declining rate of profit under corporate capitalism. As James O’Connor noted in The Fiscal Crisis of the State, a larger and larger share of the operating costs of big business are socialized at taxpayer expense.

But while the state puts a ceiling on corporate input costs, it’s putting a floor under their revenues through artificial scarcity. Regulations that mandate artificially high capital outlays for production, effectively counteracts the competitive danger from cheap, ephemeral production technologies that small cooperative shops and self-employed workers could use to produce more efficiently than the corporate dinosaurs. The most important form of artificial scarcity is “intellectual property,” by which the rents on the conditions under which others are allowed to produce exceed the actual costs of production.

The good news is that both artificial scarcity and artificial abundance are unsustainable. The “intellectual property” monopolies on which artificial scarcity depends are becoming unenforceable, as the music industry can tell us. And as O’Connor himself pointed out, subsidized production costs result in big business’s demand for subsidized inputs outstripping the state’s ability to provide them, and to states bankrupting themselves in the process of trying. Between them, these two parallel crises will destroy the corporate-state nexus.

Artificial Scarcity And Artificial Abundance: A One-Two Punch - Resilience

See also:
Artificial Scarcity - P2P Foundation
Herman Daly on the Tragedy of Artificial Scarcity - P2P Foundation

Manufacturing Scarcity

Dawie Coetzee | January 30th, 2013

The techniques of mass production are both model-specific and capital-intensive, and therefore offer an advantage over artisanal or other techniques only when the rate of output is sufficient to cover the costs involved. That is, if the saving on unit cost multiplied by the number of units produced within a given time exceeds the costs specific to the technique: the so-called economies of scale.

The problem for industry arises when there is insufficient demand to warrant the techniques of mass production. The options then are either to fall back on artisanal techniques or somehow to create the necessary demand artificially. With the former the way to create artificial scarcity would be to ensure that one’s output is always less than demand, the viability of which would be severely limited by competition, absent State intervention. But given the opportunity to suppress competition the amount of artificial scarcity that may be generated is still limited by the demand that exists.

With the latter option, artificial scarcity is created by cultivating structures of need in order to ensure that demand is greater even than may be satisfied by the vast outputs at which the techniques of mass production are advantageous. This is not easily achieved without State intervention. Once established, however, structures of need may be built up over time to a scale wholly disproportionate to the original demand. The amount of artificial scarcity that may be generated thus is almost limitless.

It is obvious, then, that given the opportunity, capitalist industry will be more inclined to create scarcity by artificially multiplying and remultiplying demand than by withholding output.

Though there have been historical instances of direct conscious collusion (one thinks of the Great American Streetcar Scandal of c.1936-on) the usual way in which these conditions are created is by means of a future vision, which the State is eager to equip with the requisite hardware and infrastructure, not to mention legislative framework. In this the idea of spontaneous, linear technological progress and its underlying world-view play a large part. Thus the future vision may be presented as inevitable as well as exciting; “This is how we will live in the world of tomorrow!” And hence the task of creating the practical system which brings about the structure of contingent (i.e. indirect) needs, never quite consciously understood as a programme to create artificial economic demand, becomes an ostensibly noble labour of public service. And being established, the vision as built generates the desired plausible projections of future demand, and thus the necessity of adding more and more is not questioned.

Thus the manufacture of demand becomes a normal part of industry, and thus universalized the greater the concentration of industrial power, the greater the output, though this is ever insufficient to meet our needs.

Herein lies the core of a libertarian ecology: industry really does produce too much stuff, but not because consumers have insatiable appetites for stuff.

Center for a Stateless Society » Manufacturing Scarcity


Post scarcity or post-scarcity describes a hypothetical form of economy or society, often explored in science fiction, in which things such as goods, services and information are free, or practically free. This would be due to an abundance of fundamental resources (matter, energy and intelligence), in conjunction with sophisticated automated systems capable of converting raw materials into finished goods, allowing manufacturing to be as easy as duplicating software.

Post scarcity - Technocracy Wiki

Anton Yelchin playing Chekov in Star Trek using a computer.

Star Trek economy: Federation is only mostly post-scarcity.
Captain Capitalism: Why Post-Scarcity Economics is Scary
Achieving Post-Scarcity: One step closer to the future


Does the rise of the robots doom us all to unemployment? The answer is most certainly no. Provocative claims that the United States has reached “peak jobs” and will soon be a “post-scarcity economy” neglect an essential part of the reason why we work.

Post-Scarcity Does Not Mean Post-Work | Big Think

5 Reasons The Future Will Be Ruled By B.S. | Cracked.com
iPhone4 vs HTC Evo - YouTube

Bookchin's "post-scarcity anarchism" is an economic system based on social ecologylibertarian municipalism, and an abundance of fundamental resources. Bookchin argues that post-industrial societies have the potential to be developed into post-scarcity societies, and can thus imagine "the fulfillment of the social and cultural potentialities latent in a technology of abundance".[3]

The self-administration of society is now made possible by technological advancement and, when technology is used in an ecologically sensitive manner, the revolutionary potential of society will be much changed.[4]
Bookchin claims that the expanded production made possible by the technological advances of the twentieth century were in the pursuit of market profit and at the expense of the needs of humans and of ecological sustainability. The accumulation of capital can no longer be considered a prerequisite for liberation, and the notion that obstructions such as the state,social hierarchy, and vanguard political parties are necessary in the struggle for freedom of the working classes can be dispelled as a myth.[4]

The Post Scarcity Mindset

Homesteaders racing to their free land!

>The Scarcity Mindset – By now, if you have been paying attention at all to the environmental movement that has been growing in power since the late 1960s, you are familiar with the scarcity mindset. This is the mindset of the typical left-wing environmental operation. In short they identify a resource that is facing unacceptable scarcity, and use the fear of loss to marshall support for their cause. Of course they have been very effective. While their ascension to power was in some ways a historical necessity, following the scarcity monger’s ideas to their logical conclusion reveals the limits of their paradigm. Ultimately, the end goal that these organization seek is to micromanage the environment down to the molecular level, restrict human behavior from conception to interment, and to preserve the impossible Utopian ideal of a pristine wilderness against the fabricated ravages of human progress.

> The Abundance Mindset – The abundance mindset recognizes that the resources that are available to us are truly and exponentially abundant. Where economics is classically seen as the study of the allocation of scarce resources, this classical mindset has been consistently subverted to the point that it is time to explore shaking economics from this foundation. At the epicenter of this paradigm earthquake is technological change, and most notably the advances in computing technology. While the abundance mindset doesn’t deny the existence of scarcity, it simply admits that a single-minded focus on scarcity is as inefficient as it is destructive. Instead of relying on conservation, restriction, and rationing to allocate resources, an abundance economy relies on innovation, freedom, and sharing to succeed.

At the Post Scarcity Alliance our mission is to relegate the scarcity mindset to the annals of history. Abundance is our future, and the economics of abundance are what will ultimately solve our biggest problems. Energy, health care, immigration, environmental devastation, national security, and fiscal strength are all areas where replacing a scarcity mindset with an abundance mindset will bring wealth and freedom to a nation and a world that desperately need a recharge in these areas. It is time to let go of scarcity. It is time to tear down the walls of scarcity that are built with the bricks of regulation and ignorance that are holding back the flows of abundance that will solve our biggest problems. It is time to boldly move forward to a post scarcity world.

The Post Scarcity Mindset | Post Scarcity Alliance | Allocating Resources in an Abundance Economy


Abundance mentality:

Stephen R. Covey[1] coined the idea of abundance mentality or abundance mindset, a concept in which a person believes there are enough resources and successes to share with others. He contrasts it with the scarcity mindset (i.e., destructive and unnecessary competition), which is founded on the idea that, if someone else wins or is successful in a situation, that means you lose; not considering the possibility of all parties winning (in some way or another) in a given situation (see zero-sum game). Individuals with an abundance mentality reject the notion of zero-sum games and are able to celebrate the success of others rather than feel threatened by it.[5]

Onstage at TED2012, Peter Diamandis makes a case for optimism — that we'll invent, innovate and create ways to solve the challenges that loom over us. "I’m not saying we don’t have our set of problems; we surely do. But ultimately, we knock them down.”

Peter Diamandis: Abundance is our future | TED Talk | TED.com

Abundance and scarcity:

My central point here is to argue that the rhetoric of material abundance masks the fact that the fundamental concept of economics is in reality scarcity. Conversely, although ecologists, confronted with the rhetoric of material abundance, have been forced to argue for a concept of scarcity and self-restraint, the fundamental concept of the logos of our oikos, of life on earth, is abundance. Abundance, from the Latin ab-unda, from the water, the wave, that which over-flows, is the sense of bounty, of plenty, the sense of living things and life itself which flowers and grows. The luxurious growth of the natural forest, the inherent goodness of air and water, the fullness of the harvest (we say: an abundant year), the bounty of vegetable and animal life are indeed the logos of our oikos.

We can simply put it in terms of "scarcity thinking" versus "abundance thinking". Scarcity thinking is linked to fear and unfulfilled needs; abundance is a sense of plenty in life, a sense of the bounty of living.

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