A2: Collective Capitalism

This writing has placed strong emphasis on how resources are linked to the health of a society and its economy, first with how resource scarcity inevitably causes economic hardship and thus conflict, and second, how we can use technology to fundamentally prevent that problem from occurring.

Yet while the scarcity of resources carries negative economic impact, an abundance of resources inversely causes economic growth – all the more so if that abundance is indefinite. To fully embrace that growth, this writing advocates for spending significant sums of money to build systems on a nationwide scale to make unlimited energy and resources a reality.

The model that this expenditure operates is neither capitalism, socialism nor even “social democracy” – an oft-referenced capitalist/social hybrid that’s seen in many European democracies. Rather, this model takes a wholly distinct approach to a society’s economic framework because it establishes parameters outside of a finite resource paradigm.

This model is called “Collective Capitalism” because it hinges on the belief that the systems of capitalism work best when all social sectors are operating from a place of maximum strength. This idea in and of itself is not controversial – few would argue that a collectively stronger, more educated, more prosperous and more healthy society functions at greater performance than not. Yet using an ideological approach (liberal, conservative, theological ) to achieve this status is far more elusive than a technological approach that can help build the foundations by tangible means of indefinite provision. Indeed, it’s much easier to provide water, energy, food or fuel to everyone when you can synthesize them inexpensively to effectively unlimited scales.

But the core resource provisions for our social operation are simply the first step. Collective Capitalism, as a mindset, seeks to extend those provisions to everyone at a low cost so everyone, collectively, can operate from a place of security and strength and engage the mechanisms of capitalism to invest, achieve, discover, invent and, in turn, continue to perpetually improve the collective by virtue of capitalism’s inherent rewards. It’s the system we should have had, and wish we had, but was missing the key component of unlimited energy and resources.

For example, here are some of the more noteworthy aspects of social and economic improvement that can be realized through Scarcity Zero:

More Disposable Income

According to the U.S. Census, the median household income in the United States is $60,336.[1] Not accounting for state and local sales taxes (as well as property taxes if a homeowner and/or extra payroll taxes if self-employed), the average wage earner has a tax burden of 29.6% of their 2018 pre-tax income.[2] That would mean that the median U.S. household takes home roughly $42,500 (rounding up for easier math).

That comes to $816.30 per week, or $3,541.66 per month.

With that broken down, we’ll source some routine life costs:

  • According to the USDA (as cited by USA Today), the weekly cost to feed a family of four ranges from $146-$289.00.[4] The median cost of that range is $218.00 / week. That’s $942.50 per month, or $11,310 per year.
  • According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fuel costs average approximately 11.6 cents per mile,[4] and the average American adult drives roughly 13,476 miles per year.[5] Assuming each household of four includes two working parents with two vehicles, that’s 26,476 miles driven per year at a fuel cost of $3,071 per year.
  • As of 2017, the average U.S. household consumes roughly 10,400 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year (as of 2018, it’s 10,972).[6] While the average national price of electricity is 10.53 cents per kilowatt-hour for all sectors, it’s averages 12.87 cents for households[7] with a contiguous high of 20.60 cents for New England and a national high of 32.47 cents for Hawaii. That comes to an average of $1,155.35 nationally, although New England and Hawaii are two to three times that.
  • According to Rocket Mortgage, a subsidiary of Quicken Loans, the average natural gas bill is $661 per year ($55/month).[8] The company further estimates that the average water bill is roughly $845 per year ($70.39/month) for households consuming the national average of 88 gallons per day.[9] That comes to a total of $1,506 per year.

Adding up the costs of electricity, fuel, water and heat, that comes to $5,732 per year, arriving at $17,042 when the cost of food is added in.

If we were to assume a reduction in the cost of electricity, fuel, water and heat to correspond with Scarcity Zero’s target reduction of 83% to 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, that would present a cost savings of $4,757 per year. Let’s assume further that these cost reductions translated to food in the form of reduced energy / resource costs for irrigation, cultivation and transportation, as well as the advent of vertical farming within urban infrastructure powered by inexpensive energy. If we were to suggest a 30% reduction in food cost, that would come to a cost savings of $3,393 per year. Added to the savings from utilities, and that derives a sum of some $8,150 per year for family of four.

Assuming further that this cost saving could be extrapolated on a per-capita basis, that comes to a total of $2,037 per person of any age. Across a society of 330 million (according to the U.S. census), that comes to a total of $672 billion that can be injected into our economy, saved for retirement or education, invested into real estate, businesses or other financial strategies.

Across our society, that translates to $6.72 trillion per decade.

The scale of such a figure presents massive implications for all income classes, but especially the lowest – for each extra dollar in their pocket in this context is not only tax-free (effectively making its real value 29% higher), it functions as a force multiplier to their financial mobility. Indeed, an extra $500 per month to a family living paycheck to paycheck matters far more than it does to a family that’s independently wealthy.

Yet in this application, the distribution isn’t necessarily weighted to certain economic classes – everyone gets the same bonus based on reduced costs society-wide. It’s not socialism that takes from the wealthy to give to the poor, it simply uses technology to raise the collective floor.