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The Zeitgeist Movement - Three Questions: What Do You Propose?

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Hi! I’m Peter Joseph and welcome to: “3 Questions - What do you propose?” This thought exercise is intended as both an address to the average person concerned about global problems along with those who are confused about or even in opposition to The Zeitgeist Movement. I'm going to pose three basic questions here. If you disagree with the answers I provide or perhaps even the premise of the questions themselves I encourage you to respond with an alternative solution or a counterargument. If you choose to do this, just make sure that you have reviewed the sources listed and keep focus. Again this is about the three questions, only. Now, before I begin, the term 'market economy' will be used here throughout. And since people are quick to get lost semantically about what 'capitalism' or a free market supposedly is or isn’t, I am going to define my context now, bypassing any semantic confusion. When I use the term 'market economy', I am simply referring to the core attributes shared by every major market system variation in the world today. And only three basic characteristics are needed here. The 1st is labor for income. Obviously the whole global economy is based on employment; this is how people gain money to survive and spend back into the system, keeping it going. The 2nd is that all resources, goods and services retain property value transferred by means of monetary exchange. Obvious enough. Everything is bought and sold through the use of money mediated by the market itself. And 3rd, the overall incentive strategy is based upon competition for demand whether person-to-person or institution-to-institution all oriented around the interest to (a) save money on production and (b) maximize profits upon final sales. Again, this is the most basic gaming logic present in the market. That’s it: very simple and again these characteristics are universal to all economies functioning in the world today. So on to Question 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?" The most basic mechanism of the market is the movement of money. And like the gas pedal on a car if monetary circulation slows, it means demand and turnover slows, and the average effect is a loss of jobs, loss of income and a loss of economic growth. Therefore, consumption is the fuel of the market system and the more we consume, the better the 'health' of the overall economy. Yet this necessity for constant, cyclical consumption is in complete contradiction to what is needed for basic, long-term species survival. Wouldn’t it seem responsible to conclude that the goal of any viable economy is not only to meet the needs of the population, but to do so in the most strategic, efficient and conservative manner possible? Yet the market incentivizes the exact opposite behavior due to this need for constant turnover. In fact, the entire basis of the market can be summarized in one paradox: “The market justifies its existence by the recognition of scarcity but due to its structural mechanics actually promotes and rewards infinite consumption." If this confuses you, it might be because this contradiction remained rather hidden in the past. Two hundred years ago, our technical means were primitive and the idea of being able to produce as rapidly as we do now, accessing major resources virtually at will, was a pipe dream. We simply didn’t have the technological efficiency back then. For example 300 years ago a shoemaker could produce maybe a few pairs of high quality shoes a day. Today a common automated shoe factory can produce a pair every 30 seconds or about 4,000 a day. So, the level of production efficiency has increased so dramatically that we are no longer having a problem overcoming any 'scarcity of means'. The problem now is keeping people consuming. By the way, if you are wondering why, in the wake of this great productivity, there are still billions of people who lack the most basic goods that is the result of a different market mechanism which will touched upon in question 3: the inevitability of market generated poverty and inequity. Anyway, back on point: The modern economy is no longer scarcity-based on this level, it is consumption-based as it needs high levels of turnover to keep people employed and growth going. And obviously the side effect of all of this is ever-accelerating resource depletion, biodiversity loss and destabilizing pollution. Now, there are now countless corroborating studies that confirm how the world is increasing in its deficiency to meet the needs of the future population. Some estimates find that humanity will need 27 more Earths by 2050 to meet demand, for example. The rampant, severe biodiversity loss is not only disrupting basic biosphere functions it is now a fact that virtually all life support systems are in decline with 50% of all wildlife having been destroyed in the past 40 years alone. As far as pollution, these issues are nothing but accelerating – both water and atmospheric - creating tremendous destabilization and ongoing environmental damage and negative public health outcomes. And keep in mind, as explained at length in The Zeitgeist Movement's materials, these problems are not immutable. They can be fixed, if an economic and industrial reorientation away from market economics was achieved. However, those specifics are not the subject of this essay. For more information on that please read the free online book: 'The Zeitgeist Movement Defined.' Now, as a final point of evidence, a cursory review of all recent historical attempts to stop overconsumption, slow biodiversity loss and reduce pollution, have been met with virtually a stonewalling mentality by the business community. Of course, there is no mystery to this tendency because the fact is: acting in a conservative, truly efficient and sustainable manner is literally the opposite of what the market requires to function in the long term keeping this profit machine going. For example: America’s Environmental Protection Agency has constantly been attacked by interests worried about a loss of income and growth. Just last month the Wall Street Journal ran the headline 'The EPA's Latest Threat to Economic Growth.' attacking the EPA for its interest to improve air quality standards. And they are right! If the EPA does push forward many jobs and billions of dollars will be lost. That is simply what happens when waste reduction and technical efficiency and conservation is applied to this system. If you need a more visceral example look at what the developing nations are doing as they struggle to gain economic growth and raise their standard of living. It's all being done at the expense of the environment. China’s push for massive industrialization and growth has been enabled by keeping low environmental standards and now it has 16 of the world’s most polluted cities. Again if you look carefully, all developing nations are doing the same thing. They simply can’t afford more 'green' industrial methods at this point. As far as resource overshoot and biodiversity loss, perhaps the most clear description of this clash was made in the 2010 Convention of Biological Diversity report. In 2002, 192 countries got together and agreed to slow biodiversity loss only to come back eight years later completely defeated, stating: “None of the twenty-one sub-targets accompanying the overall target of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 can be said definitively to have been achieved globally. Actions to promote biodiversity receive a tiny fraction of 'funding' compared to infrastructure and industrial developments... Moreover, biodiversity considerations are often ignored when such developments are designed... Most future scenarios project high levels of extinctions and loss of habitats throughout this century.” And of course, why would we expect anything else? Our economy literally has no structural incentive to adjust; there is no direct market reward to preserve resources, habitats or reduce consumption in general. All it knows is that people need to keep buying stuff and the more they buy, the better everything is supposed to be. So back to the question, I ask again: "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?" The answer is 'No'. There is only the external incentive – meaning the frustrated outcry of concerned citizens, demanding this or that change – which, in truth, simply won't do anything in the long run. Why? Because it goes against the most basic premise of the market's functionality itself. The only true solution is to overcome the structural flaw, not by fighting it with legislation, but by changing the system. To do that, we must replace the current economic model with one that structurally incentivizes and rewards conservation, true technical efficiency and overall sustainability. And on a final note, right now it is safe to project that due to this habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, resource overshoot and CO2 pollution, we very well could be entering a period of what's called the '6th Great Extinction' on Earth. And unless thing change rapidly the next generation will be one of great suffering and disorder. Question 2: "In an economic system where companies seek to limit their production costs 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?" The long standing defense of those who claim there is no problem with machines replacing human jobs is that overall technological innovation will simply balance everything out by eventually creating new human occupations, absorbing anyone who is displaced prior. And while this perspective may have seemed viable given early periods of slow technological change, the ever-exponential advancement of automation potential is now far outpacing the creation of new, human-exclusive labor roles. And as the trends show it is simply a matter of time before it becomes most cost effective, reliable and productive, in all major economic fields to automate. First, let’s consider the potential. Today there are numerous corroborating studies showing the capacity of automation including the conclusion that right now over half of the world’s jobs can be mechanized. Second, we need to consider (A) the trends of employment shifts by industry (B) the staggering rise in productivity related and (C) how automation costs are undercutting human labor costs. I’ll be using the United States as a statistical base, a proxy if you will. For if it applies to the US, given its advanced technological state, then it applies to the rest of the world in the context of trends and potential. Sector Shifts There are three core economic sectors: Agriculture, Industrial and Service. In 1870, about 75% of Americans worked in agriculture while today it's about 2%. Why? Well, there certainly hasn’t been a loss of agricultural demand, right? And while food imports in the US have grown to about 17% that obviously doesn’t balance the near 98% drop in its related employment sector since 1870. And neither do increases in textile fabric imports and the like. This drop is almost entirely a result of machine automation. Where did the jobs go? The Industrial sector and the Service sector. US Industrial labor reached its peak around 1950 dropping from almost 40% to about 20%. Why? Well, the common assumption is that globalization and labor outsourcing in manufacturing is the cause. And while there may be short term and regional relevance to this on the global scale, in the long term, it is completely irrelevant as virtually all nations, especially the developed nations, are experiencing the exact same trends. The reason hence is the same, as with agriculture: technological application displacing human labor. Now we come to the Service sector. Today over 80% of jobs exist here. It has been the safe zone given this kind of work is less physical and more about mental focus and thought. It is more versatile and difficult. And up until the late 20th century the idea of 'thinking machines' and advanced machines that could replace these variant labor roles was pretty much deemed science fiction. Yet, this sector is now quickly being threatened due to the exponential advancement in programmable intelligence and robotics. Bank machines, automated phone systems, point-of-sale kiosks, processing programs for general software, restaurant automation, automated transport of course-... If you can think of it, someone is working to automate it. And just like agriculture and the industrial sector the use of automation is also ensuring: (a) higher productivity and (b) lower costs for the businesses. Trend statistics prove this without a doubt. (a) Productivity: Human employment is now actually inverse to productivity in most cases meaning that in all instances of automation it not only removes jobs, it actually increases output efficiency. Here is a classic chart example from manufacturing. The blue line is the increase in production and the red line is human employment. It's a staggering diversion. (b) As far as cost reduction, what needs to be understood is that all technological innovation is now becoming what’s called 'information-based'. Whether it is literally the digital programming, such as the program running a machine, or the very process of creation of the physical machine itself. And what is the developmental trend of information-based technology in the 21st century? Exponential. And this is not only relating to the advancement of the technology itself making things smaller, stronger and more powerful, it also reduces resource needs and the cost of emerging technology invariably becomes cheaper. As a classic example this is why the chip in a common cell phone is thousands of times more powerful and less expensive than the supercomputer of the 1970s. Hence it is simply a matter of time before a great many of currently out-of-reach automation tools, such as thinking cybernated robotics, can perform virtually any basic human role and become so affordable, that not to automate becomes a detrimental business decision. And by the way, if you are one of those techno-capitalist apologists that says this price decrease in cost will simply make consumer goods that much cheaper as well, and therefore compensate for the loss of income generated by the use of automation, you are overlooking one critical function of the market system: The market needs scarcity to function. Abundance has no role in market mechanics. And the profit structure itself does not view reducing costs as a means to simply increase affordability of the end product in and of itself. It does it, first and foremost, to increase profits! The only reason you see the price reduction is because of the competition occurring in industry, as each company works to one-up each other’s cost efficiency basis via similar methods. The point being, regardless of how cheap things become at some point the consumption deficiency resulting by the number of people unemployed by automation will override whatever degree of affordability is being generated by the lower cost products created. It is inevitable. And keep in mind - and this is really critical - all it takes is 20-30% of human unemployment to destabilized society into disorder and outrage. That’s it. So the question isn’t "will we automate everything?" The real question is: At what point will the cost efficiency of applied automation produce 'just enough’ unemployment to cause social destabilization and a debilitating loss of economic growth? So I ask again: "In an economic system where companies seek to limit their production costs in order to both 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?" The answer is that there isn't such an incentive, at least not structurally. Some kind of general incentive may exist given the common sense awareness that people do need jobs for the market economy to function. But that recognition implies that employers would bypass such cost savings and efficiency and safety-increasing technology just to give people jobs. The reality is that if a business has the choice between a human and a machine and the machine is more productive and affordable they will choose machine, as per market logic, every time. If they didn’t they would lose a competitive edge as one of their more ruthless competitors certainly will make that move. Therefore, the only true, logical and responsible solution in this scenario is to remove the labor-for-income system itself hence removing the market and evolving to a new kind of economic interaction. Question 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?" Many today talk about the horror of unnecessary death and suffering from dramatic accidents to psychopathic behavioral violence to historical genocides, wars and other atrocities. In this, we might notice a kind of moral relativism in what society prioritizes as most condemnable most often highlighting visceral, human vs. human behavioral violence rather than taking a more objective view. Statistically, if we really wish to be comprehensive in locating the most prominent, ubiquitous, and unnecessary causes of death and suffering in the world, we would discover one main catalyst: class inequality and low socioeconomic status. Class inequality and low socioeconomic status trump every other form of violence and public threat, hands down. The leading cause of death on the planet Earth is relative and absolute poverty. Period! Every single year, the near equivalent of two holocausts - nearly 20 million people - are killed by the inefficiency inherent to the market economy and its mathematical inevitability to create large class divisions and resulting human deprivation. In this, there are two types of deprivation to note: Absolute and Relative. Absolute deprivation is what the billion people currently not getting their basic nutritional needs are experiencing. This kind of deprivation is about basic physical needs not being met and hence the manifestation of sickness and premature mortality due to a lack of resources and options. Relative deprivation has to do with the mental, emotional and physical disorders that result from the stress of simply existing in the lower tiers of a wealth imbalanced society. For example: Numerous studies that compare public health outcomes from one country to another, based on the level of inequality in that country, have found that those with the least amount of behavioral violence, the least amount of general crime, infant deaths, drug addictions, heart disease, many cancers, obesity, high blood pressure, low-life expectancy, depression, general mental illness and other reduced problems, also have lower wealth inequality by comparison. Put together, these two forms of deprivation, Absolute and Relative, constitute what is called 'Structural Violence' which is a systemic form of violence, that is typically not what many think of when we consider the idea of violence in general. I’ll put it this way: If I put a gun to your head and kill you we would all agree it is a direct act of mortality producing violence. If I run a company that decides to save money by covertly dumping toxic waste into your town’s water supply and then three years later a group of you in town get cancer and die from that pollution, I think we would all agree that it is also an act of mortality producing violence but more indirect and less obvious in intent. Likewise, it is now well established that people with low socioeconomic status are much more likely to die of heart disease than those in upper classes. It is a known fact that the toxic condition of simply being poor both in absolute and relative terms, manifests this disease, amongst many others. And yet, when people do die as such, rarely does someone bring up the idea of indirect violence or more accurately: Structural Violence. Why? Because the outcome can only be measured by statistics across a population and not deduced from any singular case. So it is counter-intuitive to our education. But yet, there is no principled difference between being killed by a gun shot to the head being poisoned by a company's pollution or dying of heart disease because of the causal chain reaction set in motion by the economic system: a system that artificially generates economic inequality and poverty invariably forcing some people to exist in the toxic condition of low socioeconomic status. Now you will notice... I said the word 'artificial' because this poverty is not inevitable or some immutable natural law of human society just as shooting you with a gun is not inevitable and just as polluting your water supply is not inevitable. The class system we endure today is a product of the market system and it can be removed along with the two holocausts occurring every year because of it. This may not have been the case in the past but it is definitely true today given modern technological capacity to create a global abundance. The fact is, low socioeconomic status is the leading cause of death on the planet Earth. And what does that mean by extension? If economic inequality and inevitable poverty is technically unnecessary and merely a structural outcome of the market economy itself then it means the market is the leading cause of death on the planet today. So back to the question: "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 answer, of course, is it can't be removed. It’s built-in system effect, and the longer we have the market the more holocausts will occur. And we will see three and four holocausts a year as time goes forward given the extreme rise in economic inequity and this statistic shows no sign of slowing. As far as being minimized, yes, I guess some kind of wealth reallocation could emerge but the effect would be minimal as it still does little to address the true structural source of the problem. It would be just a patch. Not to mention, the odds of that occurring at all is deeply improbable as any such direct action would inherently be a violation of the very nature of free market theory, right? which assumes market action itself is self-regulating and any type of state imposition is wrong. And by the way, if you are one of those people who says that we don’t have a free market today and we have state coercion or crony capitalism please watch my lecture “Origins and Adaptations Part II” from the University of Toronto in 2014 along with my Berlin lecture "Economic Calculation in a NLRBE" in 2013 where I counter this nonsense specifically. We have only a pure free market in the exact sense of those terms meaning the freedom to compete and restrict the freedom of others in that process. Now I'm going to stop here. These three questions are my challenge to you. Each question poses a challenge to the very basis of the market system itself and if any of you out there can answer these questions and explain long-term resolutions, without the removal of the market economy, I certainly want to hear it! Simply make a video response, post it, and send it to the link below. And please everyone, share this video. These are the questions that every news show and every socially conscious media outlet or activist personality should be addressing. Again, if you support The Zeitgeist Movement take the time to post this via social networks, forums, blogs, email lists, whatever. I especially would like to hear from the anti-zeitgeist movement community as well. What do you propose? One way or another until these questions are answered and the problems resolved the world is on pace to increasing disorder and breakdown. I appreciate your time. Thank you. See full transcript link with sources in text below.

Video Details

Duration: 25 minutes and 23 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: The Zeitgeist Movement
Director: Peter Joseph
Views: 235
Posted by: ltiofficial on Oct 24, 2014

Can you resolve these three questions/problems logically, without realizing the need to remove the Market Economy?

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