First Perspective

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 busy.

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 employment.

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 is one.

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.