Dilbert founder, Scott Adams, proposes “Creating a Low-Cost Life“.
“Candidates for President of the United States talk about taxes and budgets and social services. But no one ever talks about lowering the cost of living. And that could be a big omission because American society has no way to take care of all the under-employed, unemployed, and retired people of tomorrow,” says Adams.
Creating a low-cost life “isn’t the job of government. And private industry is focused on keeping profit margins high, so don’t expect any solutions from that group”.
Adams’ vision is “some sort of massive open-source engineering and design project.”
Adams proposes using “a swarm of builder-robots that work all day and night, using super-simplified building methods, and cheap materials” to create truly affordable housing.
Doing so would get the cost of living to “an amazing life, down to about $2,000 per month per person.”
“We know robots will be taking jobs from the lower and middle class. The only way society can survive is by dropping the cost of living for those same people.”
Adams’ finishes eloquently, with a simple question “Am I wrong?”
Mish Response “Do it for the Kids”
Let’s assume we could get volunteers to do all kinds of things, for free, as a group project, to lower the cost of living.
- Let’s do it for the kids.
- Let’s have retired teachers, teach part-time in schools for free.
- Let’s have people agree to mow school lawns and make school repairs, for free.
- Let’s have volunteer cleaning crews come in on weekends and clean schools for free.
These kinds of activities would be far simpler than the massive robotic schemes Adams proposes. But we cannot even do those, can we?
Public unions would kill every one of those ideas upfront. And if we cannot do even those, what can we do?
The Khan academy is the model for non-taxpayer sponsored, free education. I praise Khan. The problem is accreditation.
Schools and the unions do not welcome low-cost education alternatives and fight them tooth and nail.
Enter the Fed
The Fed, hell bent on creating inflation, would fight this idea tooth and nail right from the start.
The Fed seeks 2% in a technological and age-demographic deflationary word.
By insisting on inflation in a price-deflationary world, we have lost countless jobs to Asia and also to robots.
Enter the Activists
It’s quite difficult to envision a low-cost life when today’s activists clamoring for $15 an hour will insist on $25 an hour for flipping burgers in 2020.
Enter the Lobbyists
“Corporations are People” according to US supreme court. They can donate as much money as they want for any purpose.
It is very hard for someone running on a platform that would cut military spending to get elected. The defense contractors can and do pour countless millions into elections to make sure it doesn’t happen.
A government that blows trillions of dollars on <s>defense</s> offense, meddling in the affairs of every nation on the planet, making tens-of-thousands of terrorist enemies in the process, is not going be a “low-cost” society.
Enter Local Governments
Local governments love rising prices, especially rising real estate prices because of all the taxes they collect on property. These taxes support wasteful pet projects, throwing money at the politically well connected who get these local officials elected.
What isn’t immediately siphoned off as blatant graft to friends and families goes to local government pensions.
In general, most of academia, as well as most of mainstream media promotes Keynesian insanity that we need inflation.
Of course, professors have a vested interest in promoting inflation, their pensions depend on it. And those pension assumptions are a mere 7.5% to 8.5% per annum in a 1% inflation world.
The only way to pay those pensions is to tax the hell out of the middle class or inflate another bubble in the stock market (both of which have been done).
Mish’s Idealistic Proposal
I congratulate Scott Adams for his idealistic vision of how to create a “Low-Cost Life”.
However, before we can begin discussing his idealistic vision, we need to discuss a realistic starting point.
Realistic Starting Point
- Eliminate the Fed
- Eliminate Fractional Reserve Lending
- Eliminate Public Unions
- Undertake Massive Campaign Finance Reform
Mike “Mish” Shedlock