Although we no longer need full employment to provide
goods and services, we still need full employment because
most people's only income comes from work. In our
capitalist economy unearned income is available for some
people. Capitalists and people on welfare get unearned
income. Other people are dependent on wages. They need a
job to get money.
We have been able to make a lot of jobs by increasing the
amount we produce beyond what we really need. Is the goal of
cooking to produce food or to keep the cook busy? It would be
foolish to open cans just to keep the can opener and the cook
We have been slow to see it, but the consumption growth
that stopped automation from causing unemployment became
unacceptable once the scale of human resource consumption
reached levels high enough to upset the delicate natural
systems we depend on. Unacceptable inflation due to
resource scarcity can not be avoided if we try to
increase the scale of our resource consumption without limit.
A robot economy is on the way. We must learn
how to accept the unemployment machines tend to cause,
instead of speeding consumption enough to create full
We lost our perspective when we replaced the proper
economic goal of providing goods and services with the
foolish goal of providing jobs. Jobs should return to
being just a means to provide goods and services. We
should do all the needed work and not do any busy-work,
any unneeded jobs, or any jobs can could be avoided by
doing them right the first time.
We will not need to consume all the energy we are using
today after we replace the goal of staying busy with the
goal of providing what we need. We can use increased
durability to conserve, and we can allow inheritance to
provide the physical wealth of future generations only if
our goal becomes "having" instead of "producing." That
will allow a low rate of consumption to support a vast
stock of wealth.
Capitalism has unearned income, so a capitalist economy
doesn't really need to provide jobs for people for them to
have an income. "If you don't work; you don't eat," was a
Russian law. President Nixon had the right capitalist
solution. We should provide an unearned income for
everyone. Wages could still be an income supplement and
motivation to work.
Owners and workers may both think of the other group as
parasites, but we are all parasites on the planet. As
takers (prenures), we might expect that income will be
mostly unearned income after robots eliminate wages.
Without wage costs all income would go to owners .
We don't have a fully robotic economy yet, but still some
sharing of ownership's free-ride is needed to fix our
partially robotic economy. Don't wonder why we have
unemployment and welfare. It is not a mystery. The
consumer economy that created jobs has cancer; or maybe it
Wage dependence can end, but our dependence on nature
will never end. Unearned income is the natural form of
income, because it reflects our consumption of the
unearned wealth we take from nature.