Impossible Utopia:

You think Utopia will come through “embracing transformational policies and systems like universal healthcare, unconditional basic income, blockchain applications, space exploration, nanotechnology, the shift to renewable energy, automation, etc.”

I don’t claim a Utopia will ever come, because I doubt such a thing is possible. It doesn’t even conjure up real images in my mind. What I’m arguing here is that we should aim in the direction what we imagine a Utopia to be and take action in a pursuit of constant growth and improvement. I honestly don’t think we’ll ever run out of new problems, but surely you’d agree that this world still has room for improvement.

How many impossible things do you want today?

The demand for free universal healthcare would be infinite, and impossible to supply. The Laws of Supply and demand cannot be suspended, and limited resources must always be rationed, one way or another.

I agree that the demand for healthcare is infinite, but not in the way you describe. I don’t think access to free healthcare will mean people spend every waking second seeking medical treatment. In fact, I think it’ll lead to more preventive care, and end up with less time spent in hospitals and less money spent on care. I believe this is what every single other country with universal healthcare system is finding. We spend far more on healthcare per capita, as I understand it, than any of them.

But healthcare does stray from the laws of supply and demand, I agree. And that’s because nobody, no matter how high you set a price, will walk away from their own life. They’ll just accept the bill, if they have no power to negotiate, and try to figure it out later. That’s why so many people are financially ruined by medical problems. “$100,000 for cancer treatment? Um, I guess I have to.” This is exactly why we need a single payer system of universal healthcare. As individuals, we have no leverage, and the drug and insurance companies can walk all over us. The government, if effectively representing our interests (which, granted, is a big if and represents a whole other battle we need to constantly fight), is a giant source of leverage to negotiate fair prices.

UBI is just Socialism in drag. It won’t work, never has, never will.

This is a very simplistic statement, and indicates a lack of understanding of what UBI is. I would argue, and have, that UBI is just as much a fix to sustain capitalism as it is a socialistic policy. It is naive to think in such black and white terms as Socialism vs Capitalism. We have always had and will always have a blend. Capitalism where we want to incentivize innovation and competition and Socialism where we want to protect people from being too vulnerable.

I believe UBI will work, despite your assertions, but it’s true that it never has worked, but only because it has never existed. It has been tested in many situations and places with pretty stellar results, actually, but never yet implemented as a true UBI. The only way to test that is to do it. I’m curious to see which government will try first.

Blockchain has so far given us the criminal cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, whose primary reason for existence is paying for illegal drugs and weapons on the dark web, for money-laundering across borders, and as the payment scheme for ransomware: this one isn’t impossible, but I wish it was: cryptocurrencies should be universally banned, immediately.

I admit I don’t know a whole lot about cryptocurrency, and as a former day trader in stocks the whole thing has the smell of a bubble right now. When all your friends are saying it’s a good time to buy in, that often means it’s way too late. But I don’t know about the future of cryptocurrency. On one hand, the idea of a currency not tied to a government is appealing in some ways. On the other hand, I simply just don’t get how it works, so it’s hard to have faith that it’ll stay reliable. Maybe I’ll get around to learning about it some day.

However, crypotcurrency is not the primary reason I’m excited about blockchain. The idea of a form of transactional ledger that is far safer from hacking presents some wonderful opportunities in my mind. I’m most excited about the idea of online voting. With all the crap that always goes down on election days (I know I’ve personally had my vote deleted in one instance), I already distrust the reliability of our current systems less than I would trust online voting with exit polling to verify. Of course, the idea of hacking scares me a lot, though, so if blockchain can facilitate secure online voting, I’m extremely excited about the potential leap forward in real democracy that would represent. If we had secure online voting and also legislated automatic voter registration, I expect turn out would be much much higher, and that’s an exciting thought.

Space Exploration doesn’t really go with the Socialist agenda which has always been to starve space exploration of funding so the money can be spent on welfare instead. You can’t have Space Exploration and UBI at the same time. Actually you can’t have the UBI at all, but attempting it will run the country broke so you won’t have anything else either.

I disagree. In fact, space exploration has always been government funded (i.e. socialized) only up until very recently with the Elons of the world. I also bristle at you casually labeling me socialist, both because it misunderstands socialism as some sort of pure evil thing, and it also misunderstands me.

Nanotechnology is still mostly smoke and mirrors, but could just as easily be used by Terrorists as weapons, as used by wise scientists to “transform” society. This one’s not quite impossible, but it is too early to make a call on it yet.

I don’t make any calls. Rather, I urge us to pursue avenues of promise.

Renewable energy is useless without a really good solar battery: it just isn’t practical to have no base-load power when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun is down, or it is cloudy. You need to have a massive over-supply of electricity when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining to charge batteries to provide power in the night. Lithium-Ion batteries are the best we’ve got, and they are not very good: they need to be replaced every three years, and are made using rare earths that are mined in environmentally destructive ways. The best Solar Energy storage system we have right now converts solar energy (Light in plain English) into a long-term storage medium that, even after being stored for thousands of years, releases its energy on demand even without advanced technology to use it. As a by-product, releasing its energy also produces a beneficial plant food that is good for the environment. You have guessed it: of course I’m talking about Coal: Mother Nature’s own Solar Battery. Plants in both crops and nature now grow 17% faster than in pre-industrial times due to the Carbon Fertilisation effect: too much Carbon was sequestered underground in Coal and nature really needs it back, so a “shift to renewable energy” is actually not desirable. Burning Coal is beneficial to the natural world.

http://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2013/Deserts-greening-from-rising-CO2

Climate science is not my expertise, but I’m under the impression that the vast plurality of climate scientists would take great issue with what you’re suggesting here. What jumps out to me is that perhaps perhaps the effect of increasing CO2 on fertilization rates of trees in certain areas is not the only thing to consider. Many areas, as I understand, experience serious drought in a warmer world, and so the excess carbon in the air doesn’t do too much good for those trees. Also, it’s quite difficult for human civilization to thrive in a world with rising temperatures, rising oceans, and food insecurity, so a solution that is both beneficial to trees and human kind would be preferable to me than one that’s great for trees but wipes out our species or plunges into global wars of scarcity. Just saying.

Automation has been introduced decades ago, and so far we are inventing new jobs faster than we are automating other jobs out of existence. The one promise of Automation is that it may, by eliminating labour costs, bring manufacturing back on-shore from China and India, but clearly that won’t bring manufacturing jobs back with it.

Funny, wages stopped increasing right around that time even while national productivity kept on going up. And your claim that we are inventing new jobs faster than we are automating others out of existence is contrary to literally everything I’ve ever read on the matter. Do you have evidence of this? My understanding is that more and more people are dropping permanently out of the labor force, that the whole transportation industry will be looking for work in the next 5–10 years, that white collar jobs are losing out to software, and that the new big companies are generating/extracting more and more wealth with fewer and fewer employees.

I conclude that your Utopia is all mirage, not substance, and if not exactly impossible is certainly implausible.

I agree that Utopia is a mirage, and I never predicted we would actually get there. It is a fearful thought to me, as I have expressed, but in the end I don’t believe it is attainable, and if it turned out to be reachable, I’d still want to get a lot closer to it before reassessing the value of continuing to strive toward it. Utopia, to me, is a direction, not a destination.

Writer, UBI researcher (@theUBIguy), Actor, Filmmaker, Engineer

Writer, UBI researcher (@theUBIguy), Actor, Filmmaker, Engineer