The job market is never going back to lifetime employments. Industry-critical work such as free software or Wikipedia is not counted as value at all. Today’s economic model has failed at reflecting real value and at promoting industry-critical fundamentals. Job policy and economic policy is based on this faulty model. Are the Pirate Parties the right catalyst to change this?
Apart from the growth of the information society, there is a parallel and strongly related development happening on the job market. Lifetime employments are no more. The information advantage of today’s citizens enable them to become skillful jacks of all trades, never staying at a job longer than three years, and quite frequently entertaining at least one profitable and one nonprofitable job. Often several more.
Just as frequently, the nonprofitable job is a value-enabler of epic proportions, such as editing Wikipedia or contributing free software code to the world. If it hadn’t been for such contributions, we would not have had the Internet nor Android mobile phones. And yet, these contributions to the economy on a global scale count as non-production, just because skilled world-class craftsmen are not paid for them. That is insane.
There is an obvious and strong and growing disparity here between reality and the political model which is used to establish policy. Industry fundaments are undervalued or not valued at all, while specialized work that depends on the fundaments but are useful to only a few people is considered valuable.
At the same time, people entering the workforce are more disloyal than ever and seek out positions where they are able to build something that also develop them as individuals, only staying as long as it does, which isn’t rewarded at all in the current system.
This doesn’t work and the Pirate Parties are in a unique position to champion adapting policy to a new reality, since we have the most experience with the volunteer work that is reshaping our civilization’s industry.
The industrial model is dead and it is not coming back.
The Iron Law of Wages is being dissolved: currently, no employment can pay less than the minimum required to pay food and rent. But imagine for a moment if it could? If we could abolish this law? How can we, as a society, promote all the nonpaid work that creates the fundaments of our next-generation industries?
In addition, there is severe doubt whether we will be able to employ people at the rate we previously had. When Europe industrialized, we “got rid of” the excess people through extensive emigration to American colonies. Where are we going to put the leftovers this time? The moon colony isn’t finished yet, so we’ll need another solution.
It is a very real problem and there is no solution that has been successfully tried in this environment.
It is important that this is not a left-to-right issue; it has nothing to do with socialist-or-liberal policies. Rather, it is an observation that the industrial society that defined those ideologies is gradually ceasing to exist, and something else is replacing it.
One model for the swarm economy could be a basic unconditional income for every citizen. This would solve many problems, such as the Iron Law of Wages, and promote the industry-fundamental nonpaid work. It would not fundamentally change society’s economy model, as everybody is already guaranteed basic food, board and necessities through welfare systems, but making it unconditional would remove a whole lot of costly red tape.
This would enable society as a whole to remove the Iron Law of Wages and allow entrepreneurs to employ people for five hours a week, as well as allow somebody to work five hours a week paid and the rest on nonpaid but society-positive contributions, if they prefer. I don’t believe in doomsday prophecies that nobody will want to work when guaranteed a basic sustenance: again, Wikipedia and GNU/Linux, and case closed.
It is true that about 10% of the population will choose to not work and become “professional slackers”. On the other hand, these are — if I am allowed to be blunt — people that don’t work while employed either, people that employers would rather keep out of the workforce, so it doesn’t really change anything in terms of actual production. They avoid work already where they can.
I am sure that there are other models of making noncounted production count as production. I would be interested in hearing and understanding them. However, my main point is this:
The world’s Pirate Parties are in a unique position to understand the coming Swarm Economy, having firsthand experience with its unpaid fundamental production. We are able to make meaningful policy around this and bridge the gap between the industrial society and its successor, and today’s parties aren’t. My question is: should we?
In my mind, our ideology is a liberty-based and humanitarian information policy. Standing for the society which focuses on the individual contributions (whether paid or not…) and how they swarm together to real, valuable production would be quite compatible with that.