The Three Questions:
1) Given the market economy requires consumption in order to maintain demand for human employment and further economic growth as needed, is there a structural incentive to reduce resource use, biodiversity loss, the global pollution footprint and hence assist the ever-increasing need for improved ecological sustainability in the world today?
2) In an economic system where companies seek to limit their production costs (“cost efficiency”) in order to maximize profits and remain competitive against other producers, what structural incentive exists to keep human beings employed, in the wake of an emerging technological condition where the majority of jobs can now be done more cheaply and effectively by machine automation?
3) In an economic system which inherently generates class stratification and overall inequity, how can the effects of “Structural Violence” – a phenomenon noted by public health researchers to kill well over 18 million a year, generating a vast range of systemic detriments such as behavioral, emotional and physical disorders – be minimized or even removed as an effect?
The fundamental issue is:
Human beings value an abundance of certain life sustaining essentials.
Markets value any abundance at zero.
Once human beings develop technology to the point that technology is able to deliver an abundance of a substantial and growing range of goods and service (precisely where we are now), then the above two facts put market values directly in opposition to human values.
Markets are extremely powerful tools at allocating scarce resources.
Markets fail completely where abundance is involved, because markets are fundamentally founded in scarcity (unmet demand).
If you doubt that, just consider the human demand for oxygen, arguably the strongest demand that human beings have, yet because it is met, in abundance, oxygen (in the air) has no market value.
While it is true that evolution can be characterised as competition in action, it is also true that it is possible to characterise all major advances in the complexity of life as the emergence of new cooperative forms (stabilised by attendant strategies to prevent cheating).
It is possible to characterise automated production as a strategy to prevent cheating (as it removes the need to take anything from anyone else).
There is no shortage of matter – we have huge balls of it (planets, moons, asteroids). Just a few hundred feet of matter from the surface of the far side of the moon would allow us to build space habitats with a surface area equivalent to the earth.
There is no shortage of energy. The sun converts over 600 million tons of hydrogen to helium every second. That is roughly a kilogram of matter per person per second. To put that in context, the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima converted about 0.6g of matter to energy, so the sun is producing about 1,000 Hiroshima bombs of energy per person per second – that is a rather radical abundance.
We could easily develop the technology to allow us access to these things, but not from within a system that values scarcity over abundance (market based thinking).
I make the clear assertion that market based (scarcity based) values are now the single greatest existential threat to humanity.
Humanity has the option to adopt abundance based thinking, and to move beyond scarcity to abundance, using automation as a tool to empower every individual to do whatever they responsibly choose (and responsibility in this sense means acknowledging the rights to life and liberty of every other self aware entity, and the needs of the biological ecosystems that we share this planet with and that support us all).
Universal Abundance cannot naturally emerge from the incentives of the a market alone.
Human beings can make the choice to move beyond market based values, to value all human life, and to develop technologies and systems that deliver abundance and freedom and security to everyone, and this will never come out of market incentives alone – it takes something else – a choice of a new set of values, a choice to see that our own personal long term self interest requires us to make some reasonable effort to care for everyone else. A choice to create a new level of cooperation.