Money and happiness
Anna enjoys her life, found a job that perfectly matches her skills, a perfect balance between her work and private life.
Brian is a successful entrepreneur, with great ideas, business skills and enthusiasm, a respected member of our society.
Cecilia’s life is a continuous struggle, but she keeps up and makes progress over time, with many happy and less happy episodes.
David is stressed out, lives from month to month, he is burnt out but needs the money, he has a mortgage, and he is worried that he will not be able to find a new job or a place to stay if he quits and his family will fall apart.
Emilia is also stressed out, but for different reasons: she finds her life depressive and hopeless, years passing by without finding her place in the world.
Frank gave up on his dreams. He lives on the street, follows his instincts, which usually suggest that life is insufferable if you are sober; he is surrounded by tough people, so he have learnt that life is a pain and not a value, there are no moral limits when you fight for survival, theft, killing are viable options.
Gina was born in a very rich family, she has everything that she would ever need, but find her situation an obstacle that keeps her from living a full life.
Henrik was born as a multimillionaire, he enjoys all and every aspect of this, and it inspired him to inventions and start ups that made him a billionaire with a balanced life.
In pure capitalism, Anna, Brian, and Cecilia are the role models, who give hope to David, Emilia, and Frank, and all of them are dreaming to have Henrik’s life one day (poor Gina’s role is kind of inexplicable). It’s a motivating system, but also a catch-22: there should be people like David, Emilia, and Frank to make it work.
In a socialist utopia, there are no billionaires or homeless people. But why would you work in a world like that?
For a long-long time in history, basic resources like drinkable water, food or shelter were in high demand but low supply. It was logical to have a selection process, imitating natural selection, to give more to those who deserve more. But does the same logic work for, let’s say, smartphones and SUVs?
Technology has changed a lot of things. At the same time, as humanity populated almost all habitable regions of Earth, it’s clearer than ever that even the most basic resources are limited. Most of the people are wealthier than ever, but we also have scarier outlook on the future, while we have a flood of information and more time to think about the meaningless of life.
Enough negativity for this post — let’s see how this works in our fantasy world! In this optimal society, people spend their time on activities that best fit their skillsets. The assumption is that this maximizes happiness in the society — this theory, just like everything else in this blog, is up to debate, of course.
So, all the eight bits in our byte of a sub-society, from Anna to Henrik, can use their skills in a way that their own and the community’s best interests usually coincide. All of them has a job: to share their own ideas and to assess others’ ( the way this works is detailed in another post). It can be just a quick daily routine, like watching the news on TV in the morning during breakfast; or it can be someone’s main profession and hobby.
In return for their contributions, money is issued. It’s like today’s money (in a sense that it can be used to determine prices, for purchases, or can be saved), but it’s also very different: a fixed amount (let’s say, $10,000 per person) is printed every month and the unused amounts are discarded when the person (to whom it was issued) dies. $10,000 per person is only an average: those who share and assess more ideas, and their ideas are more popular, get more.
How much more? That’s up to the community’s decision. For example, the range can go from $2,500 to $17,500, or from $7,500 to $12,500 — the first range is certainly more motivating for diligent folks, while the second promises a more predictable income to everyone.
Cecilia, David, and Frank are much better off in this system. For Emilia and Gina, it gives hope to live a meaningful life. Henrik starts from the same level with the others, but that just adds to his inspiration. For Anna and Brian, it’s a hobby that adds more color to their life.
To summarize, there are three ways to earn money: by contributing to the collective intelligence, by starting your own project, or by being employed at a project. Think about the first one as replacing the work that is done today by the bureaucracy and administration (traditionally concentrated at governments, but corporations as well). We will explore the last two in a separate post.
It’s nice to have a reliable income, but what happens with all the public services that are provided by the states today, from your taxes? Your community withhold a certain percentage of your income for purchasing stuff that is available to all members of the community. The most obvious examples would include health insurance, but it’s up to the community: the package could contain, for example, free beer as well.
Let’s say that Cecilia, David, and Emilia are all members of the “wonderful life” community. If their preferences are to spend 15%, 5% and 10% on public services, 10% of their income (the average of these numbers) will be deducted. Some notes:
- They can change their percentages at any time, impacting the actual deduction rate.
- They can propose ways to spend this money, and vote on such proposals (the most supported wins).
- They can be members of multiple communities. If “wonderful life” has only 5% weight in Emilia’s portfolio of communities, only 0.5% of her income will deducted for this community.
We have learnt about two key parameters of the land of dreams: one that balances between motivating people and being humane (let’s call it premium rate), and the other one optimizing taxation (redistribution rate). Today, these are influenced mostly by institutions like governments, central banks. In our little world, the situation is much clearer, and both the decisions and consequences impact the individuals and their voluntary communities directly. What do you think, are there optimal values of these rates, or will these always vary among different groups of people?
Homework: List public services for which you would be ready to sacrifice a part of your income (assuming that there are no taxes otherwise). Use your imagination, there are no wrong answers!
Originally published at https://coin-pardun.com on December 30, 2021.