A couple years ago I got fed up with the self-righteousness of political hacks. And trust me if you're not Winston Churchill, Dag Hammarskjöld, Nelson Mandela and King Arthur combined, you're a political hack in my book. Which is to say I don't trust much, and I'm ok to say I have trust issues. So anyway I'm wondering in particular where Leftists get the nerve. So I read enough of George Orwell to give me a clue. You know. Wigan Pier and all that. The basic lesson that I learned was that socialists and communists got their moral impetus from the obvious intransigence of the capitalist class. What they didn't anticipate was that the capitalist class would get so much larger after 50 years or so that there would be no more bullies to bully, or as I said:
If England faced socialism because the permanent unemployment of coal miners (due to a small monoculture of capitalist investors), America would not because of it larger, more diverse class of capitalist investors. This, in turn establishes a social momentum that keeps a larger literate class - the upper middle class..
A few weeks ago I finished Kevin Kelly's book, and I have finally become convinced that I should just go with the flow of every post-industrial thingy imagined up by millennial hackers and consumed by iPhone walking dead. Here are my magic words:
What the Marxists could never see coming was that there could be a nation with a million millionaires. So they figured that the could vanguardify the means of production. They had no idea how many means means meant. What we can't see is a planet with a million billionaires. Right now there are about 1900. But what if?
This afternoon while I was chilling in Manhattan Beach enjoying a U2 tribute band, it occurred to me that I should check to see if Bitcoin has dipped under 4000 USD. While I checked out the MACD on Cryptowatch, I realized that there are some 18 exchanges where Bitcoin is traded. If I wanted stock in Hewlett Packard I'm pretty much stuck buying it on the NYSE. Bitcoin's net value right about now with 16.5 million BTC out there at 4000 a pop is worth over 65 Billion USD, which is more than double the value of HP. But I suspect, well I'm betting a lot, that Bitcoin will easily triple in price by this time next year. Once enough people get a sniff of that, and ETH and all the next coins, there's going to be a lot of money in the world. New money. Fast money. Young people's money. Digital money.
Why do we think that there can't be more markets for more things more people think is valuable? Who would have thought, even when we had Dick Tracy cartoons full of the idea, that the average American would not only pay $300 bucks for the wrist radio (on credit) but another $100 a month to watch TV on it? It would have sounded preposterous. Like the valuation of Google. Like the number of satellites in orbit. Like the number of IOT devices we'll have, like the number of warehouses of massive servers Amazon and Microsoft have for rent to anybody.
What if the huge income inequality we're seeing right now is like the income inequality of the '49ers at Sutter's Mill as compared to the Conestoga kids still trying to make Colorado into a state. Maybe everybody gets richer and we're just second guessing, Maybe this first 2000 billionaires are really fairly brutal and simpleminded as compared to the many hundreds of thousands to come. Think about it. You played Monopoly. You pay more rent for your house now than for Boardwalk with one hotel. Why can't there be more money? Why can't there be a band better than the Beatles? Why can't there be a car better than the Ford Mustang?
I'm still pursuing the stoic, barbell theory. I am preparing for great wealth and great tragedy. But I'm beginning to think that the upside is way more up that I ever thought, and in fact that upside only exists in the post-industrial market for intellective work, production and consumption. In other words, movies, music, text, video, graphics, vr sculpture, videogame skyboxes and all that. That's where the next generation of consumers are going to spend a lot of time and money. Seeking experience.
The question is whether or not all of this is sustainable. I can't answer that question. I think there will be flash markets that will bring wealth of a gig-work variety to mass market consumers, and I think that when those markets crash, they will crash in a downhill cascade across a demographic slope. When those on the Upper East Side of NYC get bored with posterized Campbell soup cans, then they will be parodied and put on skateboard stickers. Different market, different coin, same content. There will be efficiencies to be gained in feedback loops that are much more quickly and easily financed. In other words, with all of these exchanges there will be a new kind of financial liquidity than the world has ever known. Think of it as an evolution of crowdsourcing, of VC money of a shotgun variety for more businesses than VCs ever thought possible or profitable.
With regard to that sustainability, I'm optimistic if I'm not making a fundamental economic mistake. But I think there are things that people will like to do and are quickly trainable to do that have never been called 'labor' before. And I think this new cryptocurrency liquidity will fund a greater portion of human activity than ever before, because there are new markets of human activity that have never before been considered, and ways to monetize behaviors in ways never before possible. So long as the distance between the market makers and the participants is not too great, or opaque, this can be liberating.
My model is television. There is a new vocabulary of television across hundreds of channels that could never have been envisioned even 30 years ago. MTV changed everything. That was just the beginning.