Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Compensated Time Use is a Leap of Faith

Why so? It's not something that a society necessarily has to do, by any means. Only the best...please! Even discussion about compensation is generally an exercise in limited context: i.e. tending to abject poverty, etc. Which makes the idea of general income for everyone seem all the more odd, except perhaps in the context of robots taking over employment in general. What if time use might actually be a valued product in its own right? One way to gain time value perspective is this question: What don't robots provide...that we want? Are a lot of answers quite different? That is really good.

All too often, the fact that compensated time use could go beyond alleviating poverty may not be considered. How to think about different applications for wage subsidies, for instance? Either a subsidized wage or basic income could still impose the limits of a fixed income, because of other limitations in one's environment. While this may not be problematic for the older worker who has already learned how to make do with less (and has plenty of previous experiences to lend to present circumstance), it could definitely pose problems for the younger worker. Here is a Wikipedia explanation regarding basic income:
A basic income is typically intended to be only enough for a person to survive on, so as to encourage people to engage in economic activity.
Yes...but is there already local economic activity to be had? One reason why recipients need this is the fact economic activity exists elsewhere. The local setting is a vital part of any compensated time use consideration. For instance, the fact some versions would be offered to all is impractical, in the sense of growing an entire equilibrium to benefit an ill defined margin. If there is to be agreement on some form of compensation, it needs to be considered as more than a corner solution. This is why I suggested working within "tiny" (replicated) equilibrium in yesterday's post, so that additional compensation need not stretch the whole.

Social security in the U.S. has worked somewhat like a basic income. The fact that Social Security might not offer the same advantages for seniors in the years ahead, points to problems with basic income for similar reasons. In some zip codes, local tax requirements are already approaching existing levels of government compensated Social Security. While this may not problematic for those with additional retirement preparation, many are not in this category. Therefore compensated time use is not just an issue for individual needs, but also the ability of municipalities to plan for their own futures.

This is why local means of production and services need new frameworks, so that consumption needs can once again be an aspect of local resource capacity. The limited compensation of time use would go much further under more inclusively designed regulatory environments, even without substantial personal investment for retirement. Coordinated settings for new consumption/production potential would provide greater flexibility for basic time use compensation (in this instance, time use arbitrage) than would otherwise exist.

Just as important, locals who are investing for (human capital) time use gains, would be investing in the technology of their environment at the same time. The real leap of faith is taking advantage of what technology has already provided for freed time, and what it could still offer if given the chance.

Should individuals regain confidence in time use as product in its own right, technology would no longer be perceived as something which holds back human potential or economic access. Such good fortune would be nothing short of a revolution, as to how many non tradable goods would eventually be defined. If people are able to regain trust in the abilities of others in their own midst, such a revolution is possible.

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