Let’s assume that thanks to advances in technology, it is sufficient to support the basic needs – food, clothes, shelter, medicine – of a 1,000,000 people population by the efforts of 10,000 people working normal work weeks.
This leaves 990,000 people unemployed. Applying the current economic model of requiring people to work in order to get goods and services would mean that 990,000 people would die of famine or illness even though there are resources to keep them alive and well. There are possible good and bad solutions to the problem, and several of them were used, to varying degrees, and for better or worse, in the world’s economies:
- The 10,000 people are made slaves of the entire population. They are forced to work and support the other people. For example, by means of high income tax and high sales tax (or VAT) – accompanied by generous welfare handouts to people without jobs.
- Make work. People without jobs persuade some of the 10,000 job holding people to part with some of their money, to buy doodads and fake services. This can be carried out by means of religious brainwashing, advertisements, and educating children to consume.
- People who have a job – work. People who don’t have a job go to school and study yet another occupation. Some of the studies are from books and other people. Other studies are performed on nature itself and known as ‘research’. Someday they may have a job which utilizes what they learned. But even if not, they get paid for the time they study. Today’s universities are an example of this.
- Special kind of make-work: deploy smaller manufacturing plants, which need more labor per unit of produce, but can be operated by more people. An example: small high-labor organic farms operating next to big farms, which save labor by using all kinds of agricultural machines. People who find a job work for a large concern. People who don’t find a job – operate their own farm and sell its produce. The disadvantage is that the extra labor leaves them with less time for studies.
I believe that the best system is the one in which people either have jobs or study or mixture of both. However, I don’t see yet a good solution how to construct an economic system, which transfers value from the 10,000 workers (in the above example) to those of 990,000 who study and who exercise wisdom in their choice of subjects to study.