“Economics is about, or should be about, how to employ the available means in such a way that no want more urgently felt should remain satisfied because the means suitable for its attainment were employed - wasted - for the attainment of a want less urgently felt. This is what it means to economize: to allocate scarce resources to their most productive/urgent use. "Most urgent use" is determined by supply and demand as established on the free market. I agree with the criticism that empirical economics seem frivolous and misplaced. But I disagree with the conclusion of this article; the only way to make the world more wealthy is by increasing the ratio of capital to people through investment and savings. Wealth redistribution will only succeed in making us all equally poor. Well written piece, though, thank you for a thoughtful opinion.” - Matt Summers
“Economics is about, or should be about, how to employ the available means in such a way that no want more urgently felt should remain satisfied because the means suitable for its attainment were employed - wasted - for the attainment of a want less urgently felt. This is what it means to economize: to allocate scarce resources to their most productive/urgent use. "Most urgent use" is determined by supply and demand as established on the free market.”The effectiveness of markets in being able to successfully allocate resources to ‘their most productive/urgent use’ is dependent on how effectively the market is able to capture supply and demand signals. Here, we currently have a problem as not everyone has an equal opportunity to access the field of the free market and cast their demand / signal their need. Access to the free market is restricted, and the only way to gain access is by having a ticket – where one’s ‘purchasing power’ is representative of such a ticket that will grant you access.
So long you do not have the money / financial means to back up your demands, your demands will fall on deaf ears and not be catered for. Alternatively, depending on the scope of purchasing power available to you, your demands may only be catered for partially, as you are unable to ‘validate’ or ‘redeem’ all of your needs into demands due to the size and scope of one’s purchasing power – and thus the free market will only pick up one those demands/needs that are backed up by purchasing power, while not registering others.
With not everyone’s demands in effect being picked up by the market, we get a distorted view and picture of what we believe is wanted/needed - and use this distorted picture as a map to allocate scarce resources. To actually be able to direct and allocate resources to their most productive and urgent use, we require a lot more information – information that is missing and not being received simply because not everyone has the capacity to validate their demands through purchasing power.
Whether we like it or not, we currently live in a world with huge levels of income inequality and thus purchasing power inequality – where there is an inverse relationship existent between the size of purchasing power and the amount of people who have purchasing power.
In terms of the mechanics of Supply and Demand, this structure gets translated into the market receiving a big amount of information about the demands of a few people, while receiving little to no information from the majority of the people who have smaller to no purchasing power.
Within providing a Living Income Guaranteed, the goal is not to ‘equalize’ the entire purchasing power structure – but merely to give those at the bottom / those who do not have access to the market mechanisms -- the chance to be heard and recognized within the market. Providing a Living Income Guaranteed effectively provides everyone with a base amount of purchasing power, so that at a minimum everyone can effectively signal their demands to be able to achieve a dignified living standard.
“Wealth redistribution will only succeed in making us all equally poor.”Here I will assume that your statement is based on the same logic Nozick follows, where he perceives a problem in redistribution leading to disincentive for the productive members of the economy who would then produce less and less until they cover only their immediate needs and having no ‘surplus’ to redistribute.
In terms of the Living Income Guaranteed proposal, where we want to ensure that those who are unable to sustain themselves financially through providing them with a Living Income – we are not looking at a massive movement of redistribution. In terms of the capital and wealth that is available within the world, it only takes a small fraction being moved from top to bottom to give the majority of people the necessary ‘bump’ to be able to realize a dignified living standard for themselves.
There will thus still be a wide range of incomes, a wide range of competition and more than enough incentive to be innovative and keep producing.
A more drastic change will rather be seen within the market system within the mechanics of supply and demand being able to capture a lot more information about the needs and wants of people – which will provide society with more effective and accurate guidelines as to where resources should be allocated for their most productive/urgent use. The biggest change will be seen in the living standards of people and the actual realization of having everyone’s fundamental human rights secured.
Here, we can look for instance at the ‘ideal’ many people envisage when looking at the distribution of wealth in society. As you can see from the graph below, it still leaves plenty of incentive for those who are incentive driven to be productive and innovative – while at the same time allowing the bottom two quintiles to have sufficient wealth to live a dignified life (and to have any share of wealth at all for that matter! Since both the first and second quintile barely get registered on the ‘actual’/’current’ graph).
The Nozickian notion that redistribution will ‘leave us all equally poor’, is a very radical and extremist position, which takes on a very rigid and narrow view on human nature and values. It is assumed that we only care about ourselves and within this will go as far as compromising and sabotaging our own living standards just because we don’t want anyone else to reap benefits of ‘our work’ and ‘our effort’. There is no space for relating to one another and helping each other out – even when it comes down to something basic such as having everyone’s fundamental human rights covered. We suggest that humans are not the completely irrationally selfish beings Nozick assumes us to be, and that we are capable of compassion and can realize this compassion in the form of having everyone’s fundamental human rights secured.
“But I disagree with the conclusion of this article; the only way to make the world more wealthy is by increasing the ratio of capital to people through investment and savings.”This statement is not necessarily true – as it assumes that we are currently experiencing a ‘lack’ in real capital and actual resources to effectively provide everyone with a proper living standard. The capital and the resources are already here – but through the market system operating at an inefficient level (due to our current supply and demand curves not capturing the full extent of demand as explained above), the capital/resources are not moving and not being directed towards those who need it most.
This is how we end up with scenarios of food dumping and having huge amounts of food destroyed and thrown away parallel to having high levels of hunger and starvation in the world. This is simply because our economic system is not sensitive and attuned to human needs and instead being irrationally driven by the profit motive. Economics and the market have become all about non-human elements as profit and numbers which have stopped serving the general human interest. By placing in a Living Income Guaranteed system, we are placing the human element back in the center of economics, allowing economics to be the life supporting instrument that it was destined to be. Economics and money are then here to support ourselves in living our life – and not the other way around where are lives are lived in the service of money and the economy, as how the majority of people’s lives are currently being lived.
It’s time to reverse the roles.
 See our blog on the World’s Lorenz Curve, which displays almost perfect inequality “Day 143: The Neo-Apartheid Era”
 See “World’s 100 richest could end global poverty 4 times over”, which is but one example of ‘how little it takes’ to make a ‘big difference’ for many