Comment: Far from it

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Far from it

I'm not saying the free market capitalism is THE culprit, it's a factor. THE culprit is the hoarding caused by money (true wealth, if you will) scarcity. Note, I'm saying that the hoarding is the problem, not the scarcity. Hoarding happens when people think something will be more valuable in the future than it is to them now. All scarce resources follow this principle when monetary scarcity rules the day. There's no denying it. There's no econ 101 textbook explanation that makes it go away. In fact, they don't even address it. And just because the price goes up, doesn't stop people from hoarding it. It actually increases the overall rate of use.

Price is definitely a good signal for a majority of things. It just doesn't work out so well for that last existing white rhino on the resource side or for the unfairly poor villages in 'forgotten' countries. It doesn't have mechanism to cover those problem areas that aren't so common. It tries and I will give it credit for that, but things break down quickly when people rely too firmly on it.

The fear of this is actually the basis for some other 'isms. People think the government has to step in and stop this evil from happening. All I'm saying is that there's another way.

You keep suggesting that some central computer (like it's some single, evil entity) will be making decisions under an RBE. I don't know what it will take to convince you that doesn't need to be the case. Perhaps if you simply pictured a modest web site where every resource holder inputted what they had left. Then the site would total it up and compare it to the use. Then people could go there and see them ranked. They would see, for example, "Helium is expected to run out in 15 years at current projections." Would that do it for you? That's basically all that would be needed. With that capability, advocacy groups would spontaneously form to 'save the helium' from extinction. Party balloons would be socially chastised as wasteful and become politically incorrect. The result would be a dramatic reduction of helium use and the online estimate would now display that we have 150 year's worth. Crisis averted.

This is the entire function of the big bad central computer. Only fear mongers like Jacques and Peter, and emotional non-scientists believe that we can't avert every resource crisis if we focused on them early enough. And without actually running out (or predicting it), rationing never even comes into play.

In the capitalist market of today, people would see such a shortage as an opportunity. They would fudge the resource numbers and bet on the outcome. While some would spend money looking for an alternative to it's supply, many would spend money to create new processes to get all they could before the price went too high. In doing so, they would want to cash in and sell it at some point. And since the price was higher and they owned, they would definitely get it sold and used. The result is that the world now has much less going forward than it could have.

Regarding your weekly survey suggestion... That would work, sure, but the piece you're missing is that when you look at the overall use of something on a global scale, nothing changes very fast. Everything changes according to a very smooth, predictable trend. So, if you actually forced the computer to produce the goods for us, it could predict next week very closely based on last week and this week's numbers. Now if you wanted it to also predict exactly where to pre-ship those goods, that's a problem more like what you're describing. The difference is like predicting the movement of a single salmon vs. the seasonal movement of the entire population. The former is impossible while the latter only requires 3rd grade common sense.

The last thing you fail to address is that by making these products readily available all the time, the need for them actually drops dramatically. People would not feel they had to personally own one of everything. From snow-blowers to yard equipment and even on to cars, if it was easy to borrow it for 30 minutes and then not have to maintain, store and secure it, people would definitely borrow it. The utilization of most major items we own often ranges from 3% all the way down to .05%. (My rototiller has around 12 hours on it in 15 years.) What would the global resource use look like if everyone shared the things with low utilization rates even half of what they could?