Creatives are finding it increasingly difficult to earn money doing what they love. A recent United Kingdom Independent Article chronicled the struggle of writers who increasingly are asked to contribute their work free. A recent New York Times featured another writer also expressing dismay that people expect him to offer his craft – and his valuable expertise – for no compensation.
Painters, singers…artists of all kinds are finding themselves with the same struggle. Even digital artists – people who create websites for others, as well as digital visual artists face the same challenges.
The online world is making it more difficult. With so many blogs out there and many people willing to provide content, capitalism’s supply and demand dynamics is pushing the value of artist work to near-zero in some cases and especially online.
Does the Internet foretell the future?
Markets on the Internet may foretell futures not only for artists and other creatives, but for nearly all jobs. With tech advancements, efficiencies, increased productivity of organizations and offshoring everything from manufacturing jobs to engineering jobs, there are fewer opportunities for people to earn decent salaries. Many of the jobs created in the post-recession recovery are service sector jobs. Barely paying enough for people to meet their needs.
Where does this all lead?
It may be possible for some displaced by technology, efficiencies and offshoring to retool – learn new skills, go back to school, and yes, take less-paying jobs in the service sector. These pathways are likely to be unfulfilling. They also, in the case of retooling or going back to school, require amassing more debt. Meanwhile, our money is buying fewer things, and earning a living is increasingly costing more.
A few people are beginning to speculate of a coming technology age where a lot fewer people are needed to make things go in the economy. That may not be such a big deal for those who have amassed huge amounts of wealth. But for those struggling to earn a living, facing a future where being deprived of the means to earn a living is harrowing in the extreme. And I’m not just talking about artists.
One way or another capitalism is ending
A future where most paying jobs are history is probably far off. Even so, we’re already on the path leading to that future. That road is getting increasingly bumpy. Somewhere along that road, we’re going to see an end of capitalism. The system is increasingly becoming unsustainable. More and more people are beginning to realize this.
What will replace it?
The gift economies touted by Charles Eisenstein, TZM and others sound Utopian. But they aren’t. What is missing is the transition plan as well as the process or interim steps needed to get us from here to there. That’s where Copiosis comes in.
There is no unemployment in a Copiosis economy. No matter what you do, so long as what you do benefits another person, you earn income. But that’s not all. You don’t have to earn a living in Copiosis economies because all your necessities are provided to you without having to pay for them. With all your basic needs provided, that frees you up to take your time figuring out what you’d like to do with your time.
I’ve spoken with many people about what they would do if they could do anything they want. Often, their first response is superficial. A lot of people say they’d do nothing, or play or pursue a hobby. But when pushed, these people and everyone else I’ve spoken with invariably say they would do things that align with a personal passion. Whether it’s music, art, environmental restoration, teaching or inventing things, everyone has something they would love investing their time. Those things are also something that these people are passionate about sharing with others.
Work then in a Copiosis economy becomes less about “working” and more about doing something you enjoy. Even if you like welding or manufacturing, those things you can do and get paid. Since your materials, are provided to you at no cost to you, and since the organization you might do the welding for doesn’t have to pay you, you suddenly become in great demand.
One challenge creatives (and even welders or skilled manufacturing workers) face is the learning and development curve. It invariably takes some years before one’s skill is at the level others could appreciate. It’s difficult to make it through these initial years in capitalism. You still have to pay the rent, get around, repair your car, buy food and clothing. And if you get sick you still need to pay for healthcare.
In Copiosis, it is easy because you aren’t having to earn a living. So in time, even newbie artists, creatives and yes, welders, become highly skilled. It doesn’t take a long time, because all of your time is spent on building skills, not working a job to make ends meet.
As a Copiosis economy matures, it naturally results in the gift economy others endorse. Over time, payments to people for their contribution becomes automated. As generations pass, they increasingly realize consuming material goods has nothing to do with self-actualization and happiness. We’re already seeing more people discovering this truth for themselves. Over time the desire to give the best of oneself as an expression of their passion overtakes the exterior motivation of earning an income. At that point people will freely give even with no expectation of receiving in return. We’re not there yet, but we’re heading in the right direction. That is, if we don’t destroy ourselves first.