J Thomas wrote:If there's nothing in there about them getting a profit, how is it a business plan?
That's the point of the joke. They are pitching their "business plan" to investors. Investors who give their company money, in the hopes that the company will use that money, and its business plan, to make more money, which it will then give back to the investors. Instead, the company pays its employees -- the people pitching the plan -- then, having no business plan, goes out of business, leaving the investors holding the short end of the stick.
I think your interpretation is better than mine. If they just had it set up so they extracted money from the system, how would that be unusual?
J Thomas wrote:It's a dilemma. On the one hand, capitalism has no theory for dealing with a post-scarcity society. On the other hand, communism has no mechanism to create a post-scarcity society.
The problem to be solved, then, is how to make a free-market socialism work; to avoid capitalism without instituting a command economy. It's the only way that we can keep going forward, together; instead of us all staying behind together, or a select few running off to leave the rest behind.
In theory, capitalism is an evolutionary system. By rewarding success and punishing failure, the system breeds further success.
And in theory, giant corporations do the same. The top executives don't have to understand all the details of their divisions. They can reward the successful divisions and punish the failures. But they do more. They take resources from their cash cows and invest them in divisions that look promising, that might someday become cash cows themselves. They do this based on their understanding of their divisions.
So -- nobody knows ahead of time what will be successful. With an evolutionary system a man could start a small business making a product that's new or better, and if successful then repeat the process on a larger scale, and a larger one, and his success at each stage makes him eligible to try for the next level. The Peter Principle can stop him at any stage. But we set up various methods to allocate extra resources to people we expect will succeed, so they can succeed faster. To the extent that we pick the right people, we improve on evolution this way.
But the result is that one way or another, the hottest developments get most of the resources. Whole regions of a nation or of the world get essentially no development money, because they do not look like the best places to invest. People who live in those places who want to succeed must travel to the best places and somehow make themselves look like they are the best people there.
Currently we have no system in place to make large-scale long-run decisions. That may be just as well -- what track record could we use to judge the people who would run such a system? But if we did have something like that, I think that going forward together should not be the primary goal. Our first task must be conservative, we must work to avoid the extinction of humanity.
One important step would be to set up a reserve of at least a billion people who would not be exposed to modern chemicals. We have more than 5 million new chemicals that are not found in nature. None of them have been adequately tested, except a few that we know are actively dangerous. We do not know what they are doing to us. We need for a core of humanity to be safe from them. At present we leave that to chance, by having places that are too poor to get much stuff. We musn't depend on chance for this.
We should have at least a second billion who are selectively exposed to modern chemicals. Perhaps divide them into smaller groups who get exposed to different combinations, in higher concentrations than the mass of the population. We might find out about some of the biggest threats in time, that way.
If the public realizes why this is necessary, they might refuse to allow most modern chemicals to be used except under carefully controlled conditions. Then we might not need the billions of people for backup and for testing. It would slow economic growth somewhat, though.
A second important step would be to limit our random mating. Most mammals are divided into relatively small breeding groups, with limited exchange among them. And in some populations -- rats, mice, fruit flies, corn, etc, all the ones that have been studied the most -- we have found genes that take over populations even while they tend to drive them extinct. (For example, imagine a Y chromosome mutation that kills all sperm that have an X chromosome. Males with this mutation will father only male children. Other things equal, the mutation will double each generation until the number of females gets too low for it to keep doubling....) Suddenly we have a global population with random mating. This is unsafe. We need a backup population of at least a billion people who are divided into groups of 10,000 to 100,000 who mostly do not get pregnant by outsiders. It's OK if a few people leave these groups each year, provided the groups stay large enough. We should keep a billion or so people who do random mating too, so we can document what happens to them. As we learn more about genetics we may find ways to reduce the restrictions some, but to be safe we should continue at least ten generations past the time we're pretty sure we have it solved.
A third step is to limit travel and limit transport of biological materials. With our large population and quick travel we set ourselves up for epidemics. We desperately need to at least slow that travel. Also, when we have a global economy we more than lose in diversity what we gain in economy of scale. So we must much reduce travel between separate populations, and much reduce transport across ecotones,
People won't care so much about getting "wealth" distributed to them when they notice how risky that "wealth" is. But they also will not tolerate people who gain great power while leaving *them* the risks.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.