csdx brought an interesting concern too bear on the last post, namely, that if we all dialed back our 9–5 what would happen to technological progress. Would we become a world of luddites? On a related note, what if people decided to work less?

Well, no.

The Soviet Union and the Western World had about the same level of technological development. The Soviets were able to command the full resources of their country for the arms race yet they lost to a system of government that did not? Why? Because under a communist system, the incentives to work just aren’t there(*). In the Western world, people are allowed to work as much as they want and then only after wards does the government go in an tax people. They are post-taxed, rather than pre-taxed. This increases the resources the government can take beyond that of a pre-taxing system like communism.

(*) And under a capitalist system, after a certain point, they just aren’t there either, unless infinite wants can be generated.

This is all great, if you’re the government. You pick a post-taxing model. What if you’re an individual? What if you’re interesting in developing a futuristic world. Is our current wasteful behavior really the optimal model?

Consider that much of the internet infrastructure runs on open source which is NOT developed during 9–5 jobs. We could have been sending rockets to Mars right now if that had been a priority. It is not.

On a side note, we see the first problems of the western world model (the communists would be encountering the same problems) in the Gulf of Mexico. All the easy oil is now gone. Hence people have to drill in precarious places and you will have accidents there which are harder to avoid. Same story with many other resources.

Hence, is an economy which main goal is to generate waste and cheap junk for the vast majority of its citizens so that part of this money may be skimmed up for weapons and research really the best model going forward?

Originally posted 2010-06-07 09:56:27.