A1: Scarcity Zero Implementation Strategy

While the purpose The Next Giant Leap is to outline blueprints for Scarcity Zero as a framework and describe the technologies and capabilities that make it possible, funding and implementing Scarcity Zero are wholly separate questions. In furtherance of their consideration, this writing proposes a boilerplate implementation strategy that doesn’t wade into the oft-divisive and precarious subjects of partisan governance or partisan economics. Instead, this approach assumes a good faith analysis by mechanisms of economy and state – the world we should live in, and could live in, should we as people look past partisanship-driven self-dealing in favor of solutions that actually improve our way of life and our civilization as a whole.

This implementation strategy will hinge on several factors: how much Scarcity Zero is estimated to cost, the logistics and management of implementation, how it can be funded, and how it can overhaul our economy. This boilerplate strategy is intended to be a proposed path for actionable efforts to implement the framework and a starting point to encourage both commercial and state enterprises to begin investing in a next-generation clean energy future.

First, we will consider how much Scarcity Zero is estimated to cost at full, nationwide implementation – quantified by an energy generation potential of 300% of our present capacity (including current infrastructure). This figure is estimated to be $6.63 trillion USD paid over a period of 10 years ($663 billion annually), a detailed pricing breakdown of which can be found in A4: Appendix

While this figure is substantially less than other energy overhauls that have been proposed by both public and private initiatives, it still carries a degree of “sticker shock” that’s important to dispel in the context of nationwide infrastructural projects. This is all the more true since Scarcity Zero carries myriad social benefits that are not presented by most of the primary consumers of public funds (like endless wars).

In that mention, it’s worth reviewing some of the larger expenditures our time has seen paid, whether we as a people focused on it directly or not:

  • $38 trillion: the inflation-adjusted total the Federal Government (alone) has spent over the past 10 years.[1]
  • $6.8 trillion: the aggregate sum of U.S. Defense Budgets for the past ten years. This figure does not include military spending paid outside of the defense budget (veterans affairs, soldier pensions, homeland security, clandestine operations, interest on war debt, nuclear arms, etc.).[2]
  • $6.4 trillion: the aggregate sum the United States has spent on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001.[3]
  • $3.5 trillion: the total sum we have paid on the interest on the national debt over the past 10 years. Not principal – just interest.[4]
  • $1.5 trillion: the estimated cost of the F-35 fighter jet program over its operational lifetime. That’s for a single class of military aircraft.[5]
  • $6.5 trillion: the total sum the U.S. military is unable to account for in a recent audit.[6]

In aggregate, these fantastical expenses have given our society very little in tangible value, and could have paid for Scarcity Zero several times over. In doing so, it could have instead built the foundations for a world that would consider scarcity – the prime reason for the accumulation and utilization of hard power to begin with – as a relic of a past, and have enacted a shift in circumstances that avoided the need for mass military spending in the first place – a true value, at comparatively modest cost.

Who Pays to Implement Scarcity Zero?

The short answer is a mixture of public and private entities backed by a tax and investment incentives. The longer answer is more nuanced and specific to the areas of implementation, which we’ll go over in more detail throughout this section and Appendix. We’ll begin by outlining the allocation of spending responsibility for the resource sector in question. In doing so, this estimate separates resource production into two categories: public resources and commercial resources.

Public resources. Critical resources that require implementation over a large scale, and/or operation with existing public infrastructure – making them ideal candidates for municipal management: water, electricity, and hydrogen fuel. These systems comprise the $6.5 trillion cost estimate for Scarcity Zero. In this model, the systems that produce these resources are developed by a mixture of public and private enterprise (explained below), yet purchased and implemented by public services, delivering their produced resources as managed-profit municipal functions.

Commercial resources. Commercial resources are not considered as appropriate for implementation as a public function and are intended to be delivered by private enterprise in a competitive commercial market, with companies operating in resource production enjoying attractive tax benefits both in operation, employment and investment. These resources include food, building materials and materials for next-generation infrastructure.

The systems that provide these resources: indoor farms, prefabricated manufacturing facilities and advanced material synthesis should be funded primarily by the private sector as a commercial service that is aided by tax incentives that we'll discuss within the upcoming sections of this Appendix. The resources they produce would remain a function of the private sector, regulated by the public sector, and sold to the public in a regulated free market which would have increased purchasing power as a result of the social improvements discussed herein.

Waste management is assumed to function as either a public or a private function, depending on the locale, powered by systems developed by joint public-private enterprise under attractive tax incentives. The energy they generate could be sold on a regulated commercial market or used for supplementary resource production as deemed prudent by the operating entity in question, but is not focused on within this model.

To recap: the provision of public resources are the responsibility of the public sector. The provision of commercial resources are the responsibility of the private sector, even both will use technologies developed in large part by private enterprise.

A fundraising approach to reach $663 billion per year to pay for Scarcity Zero’s initial deployment would come from several sources: government spending cuts (with intensive, honest and public investigations on wasteful programs and expenditures), mitigation of social problems requiring government expenditure and additional revenue generation from modest tax increases.

Who Manages Implementation and Operation?

In this model, Scarcity Zero’s implementation and operational management is performed by “The Public Interest Company,” (PIC) which is a new type of corporate entity that’s a unique mixture of private enterprise, government agency, the non-profit sector and the American electorate.

To explain exactly what that is, I think it would be helpful to first illustrate why The Public Interest Company is different from other business entities – especially entities that resemble some form of marriage between the public sector and private business. To that end, let’s consider some of these entities, and more importantly why they are not capable of managing Scarcity Zero’s implementation or long-term operation:

Corporate entity. The primary goal of a corporation is to profit. Its purpose is to make money and grow to a point where it can maximize profits by any legal means necessary – with all other concerns as secondary. Corporations are excellent innovators that increase job growth, but in the absence of significant competition and effective regulations, they ultimately grow to a point where they monopolize their market sector and seek to increase profits at the expense of ever-diminishing services.

This is why, for example, telecommunication companies in the United States have a virtual oligarchy for mobile, television and internet service, which is why we pay significantly more than the rest of the world for those services at significantly reduced quality.[7] We cannot have this happen with something as important as Scarcity Zero.

Therefore, as corporations are profit motivated as opposed to service motivated, they are unsuitable for managing the operation of Scarcity Zero’s systems over the long term. However, as corporations have superior engineering prowess due to the competitive nature of capitalism, they are the natural entity The Public Interest Company would contract to develop Scarcity Zero’s systems, even though they wouldn’t manage the services these systems would provide to the public.

Public entity (bureaucracy). A public entity is a function of government, generally the executive branch. It may provide abstract services that most of us never interact with (FDA, EPA), services we know about and hope to never interact with (FBI, Department of Justice), and services that we know all too well about and dread interactions with (Internal Revenue Service).

However, bureaucracies can tend to look dimly upon the notions of efficiency and accountability, even if what services they provide are ultimately of ostensible social value. This is rooted in the fact that there is no competition for a bureaucracy, and they are relatively insulated from outside audit to hold their performance accountable or change the regulations they write by themselves.

Because of this, bureaucracies have little motivation to improve or adapt, as even the admission that they might need to do so carries the implication that they are operating at substandard performance. These are problems that can be reformed in a regulatory capacity, but it is much harder to reform the ability of bureaucracy to undertake a large-scale project in an operational capacity. Scarcity Zero needs to be implemented with efficiency and effectiveness as paramount considerations, leaving bureaucratic agency as an unsuitable candidate.

Not-for-profit company. Many organizations of “nonprofit” operation have made marks on the world: The Red Cross, World Wildlife Fund, Salvation Army (and the NCAA, interestingly enough) being well-known examples. However, not-for-profit designation is largely a tax determination and non-profits do not necessarily funnel money back into themselves for internal growth – nor do they necessarily raise sufficient revenue to do so as a core competency.

For non-profits centered around charity work, much of what money they raise is simply given away or spent to mitigate social problems. For other “non-profits” that are set up for pass-through income (like the NFL used to be), proceeds go to various stakeholders or administrative functions as opposed to expanding the organization’s scale.

But The Public Interest Company is different – its goal is to expand the reach of Scarcity Zero and ever-improve the quality and value of the service it provides. It needs to profit to some extent because systems will eventually need to be repaired, upgraded and replaced over time. Also, the scale of Scarcity Zero’s implementation will need to increase as wide as possible to effectively end resource scarcity and climate change – both of which cost money.

To this end, whatever profits raised will need to be directly re-invested into The Public Interest Company, making the traditional non-profit model less than ideal.

Public/private hybrid. In the past, our government has jumped into bed with various private businesses to create conglomerated, state-owned entities, and in many cases, the results were monstrosities. Indeed, the marriage of “big business” with “big government” frequently ranks among the finest examples of government buffoonery, even among the other resident experts in this department (see: The Pentagon). But while the execution is lacking, the idea is ostensibly well-intended.

Yet the reason this model fails on execution is because it is fatally flawed from the onset, as the entity is run in the same capacity as a bureaucracy: seeking not to rock the political boat, resisting accountability and efforts to self-reflect, self-reform and self-advance. Scarcity Zero’s implementation needs to be performed by an entity that shares opposite traits and yet still retains all of the positive aspects of corporate business and not-for-profit companies – which brings us back to The Public Interest Company.