|Rainwater is cheap.|
That idea relies on political and social will, which may not emerge. If it does not, then we may see unrest from some ("you promised me a six-figure salary, and all I got was this lousy law degree") but withdrawal by others. This post is about those who might opt out of the market economy.
Here's the scenario:
- Increasing automation drives down wages and employment*
- Workers are forced to consume less on less income and/or work time
- They begin to spend more time on "self supply" of goods and services, to save money and increase their satisfaction as consumers (quality) and producers (useful effort)
- Some of these people see the advantage of "going back to the land" where the rent is lower (or non-existent), food production is easier, neighbors are available for company and exchange, and so on.
- The monetary economy shrinks (and taxes on income and spending fall), thereby reinforcing the loop from #1
When it comes to teaching, for example, I can see a lot of self-guided learning via videos and text for the masses but "face-to-face" education for those who can afford human tutors.
Bottom Line: The hipsters are setting a good example of how to be happy and productive when you have little money and much time. Your interesting hobbies may be your future wealth.
* It's a basic fact in economics that your wages reflect your marginal productive capacity. Wages of humans will drop anytime they face bot competition. (More on these implications next week.)