L.W. Nicholson 1990 Published in: The Northwest Technocrat, 1st quarter 1990, No. 318
Judging from information provided by the news media across the Continent these days, a breakdown of existing methods of decision making is rapidly approaching. It has been more than a half- century since Technocracy first stated that a time would come when the Price system would become inoperable. This means that the country’s increasing problems would become so severe that they couldn’t be solved by Price system methods.
So, what is happening? Everything that is done in attempts to solve the country’s major problems costs money. And these problems are already beyond the Price System’s ability to pay. As a result, the nation is now burdened with a total debt of $11 trillion. This debt is increasing at more than $1 trillion per year. The Savings and Loans are in serious trouble and require a $166 billion bailout by the taxpayers. This is the first round of bailouts; the second round will be more expensive. The banks are developing a case of the same disease, and when defaults of foreign loans get underway, they will need a larger bailout than the savings and loan institutions. Obviously, the whole financial structure is approaching a state of crisis.
The increasing debt is proof of this crisis and proof that the efforts to reduce spending have been a failure. However, it is fair to say that without these efforts the deficits would be greater than they are. On the other hand, in order to slow the growth of debt, many important projects have been postponed or cancelled.
The infrastructure has been allowed to deteriorate until now, according to the NATION’S BUSINESS magazine, $1 to $3 trillion will be required to repair it. With the usual cost overruns and profiteering, this estimate will, not doubt, be far too low. American educational standards haven’t kept up with foreign competition. Billions are needed by the educational system. Nuclear wastes continue to pile up with no permanent storage facility available and with no assurance that there will be any time soon. This problem will increase with the normal use of more than a hundred reactors now existing in the United States, and the problem will expand rapidly as these reactors continue to age and increasing numbers require decommissioning. Shippingport, a small 72 megawatt plant built in the 1950s at a cost of $125 million, cost $98 million to decommission in the 1980s. The cost of decommissioning any of the large 1,100 megawatt plants, each some 15 times the size of Shippingport, is not known. However the costs would certainly be in the billions. A plant which cost $5 billion to build 10 years ago would likely cost at least that much to decommission.
Hospitals are being overwhelmed by drug and AIDS patients who can’t afford to pay for their treatments. These crushing numbers are limiting the ability of many hospitals to care for other patients and may lead to the rationing of health care. The financial load resulting will require increasing taxpayer bailouts.
Poverty and homelessness continue to increase as the incomes of the majority of North American families decline at the same time that living costs increase. Among young families, the decline in income has been 26 percent since 1973. During this same time, the average income for a top executive of a Fortune 500 company has risen from 41 to 93 times the income of the average factory worker.
The ongoing failure of the Price System is causing such an increase in crime, including crime stemming from illegal drugs, that the criminal justice division is already overwhelmed. In some cases, the courts will require months to handle the cases stacked up and waiting. Criminals must be released to allow room for new ones in the prisons. Officials of crowded prisons look for space all over the country and some prisoners are shipped 2500, even 3000 miles to prisons with extra space. And the cost to keep a criminal in prison is more than it would cost to send him to HarvardUniversity. (If he went to Harvard, he could study law, become a politician, and take our money legally.) One must wonder how much crime would decrease if every North American were assured an income equal to the cost of keeping him in jail.
Environmental conditions are becoming dangerous. The beaches are fouled with medical wastes, garbage, chemicals and sewage. Ocean contamination is making fish inedible in some areas. Pollution of the air is reducing the ozone layer, increasing the greenhouse effect, and acid rain is killing trees.
The costs of correcting any one of these major problems would be in the billions. The costs of correcting all these problems would be staggering. Trillions, perhaps as much as the present total debt, would be required. Have you calculated the amount owed by each American as his part of the present $11 trillion debt? It is $44,000, and the interest at 8 percent would be $3500 per year. The Price System is becoming unable to cope with this magnitude of problems — both the debt and the physical problems, and the people can’t cope with them by Price System methods. Therefore, the Price System is even now becoming inoperable.
An organized society is necessary, and the more highly complex that society becomes, the more efficient its operating design must be. When a highly technical society has a method of social operation so inefficient that millions of people can’t afford a place to live, when 37 million in the U.S. have no health insurance and another 70 million are underinsured at the same time that health costs are skyrocketing, it is high time for major changes in that social operation. This Price System is so inefficient, so obsolete, and provides so much incentive for crime that in the United States more than a million laws have been passed in an attempt to make the system socially tolerable. The very idea of supporting such a system should be repulsive to every North American; it has more resemblance to a cancer than to a design for a technological society.
Technocrats find themselves in a unique position because they alone recognize the job that needs to be done. That job can’t be done by those who don’t know how to do it. Since no other organization is even attempting to provide an alternative to the failing Price System, Technocrats must either accept the responsibility or see our society go down the drain. Those who have the intelligence will do something about the problem. Those who haven’t can’t.
Only Technocrats, trained in the Technocracy Study Course and Technocracy’s Technological Social Design know why this job must be done, and only seasoned Technocrats know something about the nature of the social operation required. How to get from here to there is a big problem. The more complex a problem becomes, the fewer are its possible solutions. The transition process from the present Price System to a Technate includes so many variables, uncertainties, so many superstitions and prejudices to overcome that only a scientific approach makes a solution probable. However, it is possible that with sufficient knowledge a course of action can be determined as events continue to unfold and variables become obvious trends.
When push comes to shove, the present political and economic leadership could take the appropriate action at the proper time. That would be great, and the possibility can’t be ruled out entirely. Unfortunately, to-date, this source has only offered interference, and improvement is very unlikely.
In any case, it is doubtful that there will be any assistance from any source that will be as knowledgeable concerning fundamental social and economic operations as from the members of Technocracy. Technocracy has maintained its position for the past half century and stands firm today. It is our good fortune that Technocracy’s founders had the foresight to place Technocracy on the firm base of science.
Under the dictates of the Price System, there is no unified direction, no common goal for intelligent individuals or for society as a whole to work toward. Of the thousands of organizations now existing on this Continent, only Technocracy has made any effort to design a method which is any different or any more efficient than the one which is now in a process of becoming inoperable. All other organizations support the system which has caused the problems which they are trying to correct. For that reason, any activity in those organizations, except for recreational purposes, is a waste of time.
As social conditions continue to get worse, social stability will also deteriorate. The number of people looking for an escape from their Price System trap is bound to increase. This past year has seen a rapid increase in conditions which cause social instability, so Technocracy can anticipate an increase in interest.
Already some columnists are beginning to question the Price System and its leaders. A Washington Post article suggests that both political parties are “brain dead”, and that Washington, D.C., is “dead from the neck up.” Time magazine asks, “Is Government Dead?”
North American citizens who are not yet members of Technocracy may join in this constructive effort. Never before has humankind found it necessary to make such a great change in social operations in such a short time. Never before has so much depended on the educational efforts of such a small number of people. And never before has it been so important for our own education to be continued.