Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Future History

The normal way for a post-Neolithic civilization to end is for the ruling elite to go decadent, hire the barbarian at the gate to defend them from internal & external enemies, and then have the elite be replaced by those barbarians in the role of military rulers who run the empire into the ground. While Blackwater would cheerfully have played that role, they never got the chance because they were only used on the external proletariat. We do not have clear precedents on what will happen next because nobody has the imagination to look seriously at anything but the present infrastructure even if it is obsolete.

The status-value of money has been so deflated that making things or providing services, the things business corporations used to do, cannot provide enough status to make it worth taking them seriously. That is why the government bureaucrats are more concerned with banks than auto companies.

Only something like trading in derivatives can provide the kind of leverage multiplication that will produce enough monetary value to be worth the effort. The job of the government bureaucrats will be to prevent that kind of leverage being generated, so that the corporate bureaucrats will lose their ability to create status.

The corporate bureaucrats, and their Republican Party, will fight as hard as they can to prevent the regulation of corporations that produce status, i.e., the ones that manipulate money or other paper that represents money. The government bureaucrats, and their Democratic Party, will fight as hard as they can to limit the abilities of corporations that manipulate money or other paper that represents money. They will do this fairly quickly, while they have the emotions of the non-elite internal proletariat on their side and while they have Obama to provide leadership.

This fight will be useful in that it will screen efforts to regulate corporations that have an effect on the environment. They will provide less status than money-manipulation so they will get less defensive effort than the financial industry.

One of the things that can be done to protect the environment is to tax things based on the cost of remediating the environmental damage they produce. This can provide a strong incentive to produce "green" products. As an example if there are two products that serve the same function
and one of them has a greater impact on the environment in its use or manufacture, that impact can be mitigated by imposing a "green tax". This will provide a motivation to produce products that have less environmental impact and to produce them more efficiently in terms of "green values".

The net effect will be to direct innovation toward "green values" rather than simply multiplying monetary values or producing monetary profits, without providing a direct confrontation with the philosophy of capitalism. Regulations that control leverage will take advantage of the antagonism against Wall Street, and a "Green Tax" can be justified by accounting for costs that are now borne by the commons, and thus merely being a form of capitalism that operates without subsidy.

The net result will be that the corporate bureaucrats will lose status and the corporations that produce necessities will be taken over by the government. At the same time anyone who can invent a product better than whatever is currently marketed will have an opportunity for status without having to be concerned about money.

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