Socialism, Capitalism, and the Terminator.

This is a very strange blog post for me, but I wanted to put this out there to see what your response is to it.  This weekend I watched this whole documentary about manufacturing in the U.S by PBS.  It was called America Revealed. So this documentary had great stats they were throwing out there about America and manufacturing (U.S. is the largest manufacturer in the world by far.  We manufacturer more now then we have ever in the history of America.)  The images they kept playing on the TV were of people watching robots manufacture.  How great is that!  We can do a lot more now because of our innovation as a humans.  I was so pumped after watching that show that it reaffirmed that we as Americans are Great!  We are great!  We are the leading innovators in the world.

So all weekend I was thinking about America Revealed and how manufacturing effects us.  Then on the way to work this morning while listening to Morning Joe on MSNBC I began to worry.  Who owns these robots?  Who should own these robots?  What if I could buy a robot to do my job?  How do robots fit into a capitalist society in 2040, 2100, 2200?  How do robots fit into a socialist society in 2040, 2100, 2200?

I consider myself a capitalist.  I love competition, I love working hard and reaping the rewards.  But, this whole thought process had me thinking.  What if we as humans could have robots do most of our work, or all of our work for that matter? If they were owned by the people as a whole, and all of us could benefit and relax  we could then work on more innovative ideas furthering human kind.  Would we be better off  that way?  Or would we be better off having a few of us owning the robots, while the rest of us have no reason to exist other than to serve those that own the robots?  If it is the second, would we tax the owners of the robots to try to give a minimum quality of life to the rest?  What reason would those few owners have to further human kind at the point they have full power?

At some point when we can afford to provide a high quality of life for all, we must transition to a socialist type of system.  I do not think this point is now.  I think we can not afford to provide everyone a high quality of life.  I think our government is there to to make sure that we progress towards that point as we as a society become more and more wealthy.  OK, that is my completely random sci-fi/politics induced thought of the day.  I would love to know your thoughts on this!  Please post a comment and let me know how off base I am.


Unknown said...

I enjoyed the post and share your concerns. I too enjoy competition and see capitalism as having provided the greatest engine for growth in human history, but that's because of the relatively infantile state of our civilzation. Capitalism and competition are useful tools, but they aren't ethical principles, unless your ethics are cruel and ultimately stupid.

I think someday (probably a few hundred years off) we'll have educated women to the point where population growth isn't an issue and longevity is greatly increased. Technology will have made vast leaps forward and individual lives will be considered much more valuable as there will be a lot less of them and they will last longer.

In such a world, the idea of unmet needs and even wants or required work will seem as small minded and self-loathing as witch trials and self-flagellation of the medieval period seem to us now. In other words, I think the issue will resolve itself naturally, but we should certainly use the "capitalism as engine, wealth redistribution as steering wheel" methods we employed pretty successfully from 1950 to about 1980.

Rob Colvin said...

In the end, socialism isn't about compassion or equality, it's about coercion and control.