Under Fully-Automated Communism, Your Wage Is $90 Per Hour (Says Math)

August 26, 2018 (johnlaurits.com)

Wages Under Fully-Automated Luxury Communism

Recently, a reader responded to two posts of mine — one that used macroeconomic data to show how much of the nation’s income ends up in workers’ pockets and another that looked into how long a US workweek might be if the US automated as many work-hours as existing technology allows —  and the response seemed worthy of publishing here (with permission, of course). The numbers used below are sourced from the posts “Working Class w/ No Living Wage” and “If Work-Hours & the Value of Automation Were Distributed Fairly Today.”

What follows is the response — the author wished to not be named.

Another great article. If we add in the stats you wrote about in “Working Class w/ No Living Wage: The Absurd Math of US Income,” then we should be able to see what the real value of those distributed work hours are. If the current average work week is 38.7, and the average annual wages are $49,630, then the current average value of an hour of work is:

\mathtt{\large \$49,630 \div 52 \div 38.7 \approx \$24.66}If the hours were split evenly as you suggest above, then we’d get:

\mathtt{\large \$49,630 \div 52 \div 30.7 \approx \$31.09}And if we add in automation, then we’d get:

\mathtt{\large \$49,630 \div 52 \div 1 9.23 \approx \$49.63}$49.63 for an average hours worth of work.

But the more interesting part of the article on US Income is that $9.8 trillion is unearned (i.e. not acquired by doing work). If we got rid of that, and moved all of the GNI (minus government benefits) to earned income, then we’d have a very different picture.

Total US income minus benefits:

\mathtt{\large \$18.75 \text{ trillion}\ – \$2.0393 \text{ trillion}\ = \$16.7107}If the mass workweek is 5.66 billion hours, the mass work year is 294.32 billion hours. So if all income was based on labor we’d have an average rate for an hours work of:

\mathtt{\large \$16.7107 \text{ trillion}\ \div 0.29432 = \$56.78}And if we throw automation in the mix than people on average should be working for an hourly wage of:

\mathtt{\large \$16,710,700,000,000 \div (52 \times 3,545,798,057) = \$90.63}End of Response ]

The final figure presented by this reader is what a US worker’s wage could be if (1) the full value of all US goods, services, and information was paid to the people who actually produced them and (2) if already-existing labor-saving technology was fully utilized to reduce the total US work-hours. In principle, there is nothing to prevent US society from simply paying its working people the full value of their labor and using public funds to gradually implement labor-saving tech in order to increase the productivity of all its industries. It is only capitalism that holds such a world in abeyance.

So long as the means to produce wealth remain in private hands — so long as public funds are directed in the interest of capital and not of the public purpose — people like Jeff Bezos will keep appropriating the fruits of labor and automation will never liberate but only un-employ people. There is no problem with scarcity — there is a problem with humanity’s social organization and with its institutions. There is no failure in our production of economic values — even now they are being produced to abundance (maybe even over-abundance). The math above shows that, if it could be allowed, this country can afford to pay a wage just shy of $100 to every human being who is willing to work.

It is only the obscenely wealthy whom we stretch and strain to afford…

In solidarity,
John Laurits

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