This section of FAQs compiles the answers to these questions that are already in other chapters, into a resource for quick reference. More questions and answers will be added as patterns of repetition emerge.
What qualifies you to come up with an idea that the established experts have not come up with?
Some would say 25 years of career experience across technology and finance is a sufficient qualification by itself, but I do not, for there are thousands of people worldwide with comparable resumes. Instead, my 10 years of successful predictions at The Futurist, and proprietary research into this subject is where the intricate connections between seemingly unrelated topics began to emerge.
One truth of the ATOM age is that a ‘credentialed’ person is no longer the authority on his subject, as the Internet always contains more knowledge than any one person can have. Furthermore, orthodoxy creates blindspots, within which a disruptor can operate unnoticed until the disruption is already underway.
Refer to every prior instance of a major disruption to an established order. The disruption always originated from the outside, and from someone who was not shackled by existing assumptions of ‘what cannot be done’, particularly when what may have been impossible at a certain technological level often does become possible with further technological improvements.
Most great innovations have been by outsiders undeterred by the ‘conventional wisdom’ of that particular moment. I am quite certain that policies similar to my ideas will be the norm in most major nations by 2025.
Why are productivity gains so sluggish? Is that not evidence of slowing technological change?
Chapter 4 addresses this in detail. Technology leads to productivity gains, but with Nominal GDP (NGDP) so low, there is not enough of a tailwind in economic growth for technology startups to receive valuations as high as they might. Valuations for ambitious technology ventures are heavily dependent on the trajectory of the stock market, which depends on earnings growth, which is a function of NGDP, not 'Real' GDP. Hence, low NGDP indeed leads to less technological progress and thus lower productivity gains.
Technological progress may return to the trendline rate by forcing central banks to increase NGDP through more monetary creation, which may be forced via a major stock market correction and deep recession. To avert this crisis, policymakers must focus on elevating NGDP in the US from the current 3% back up to the 6-7% seen prior to 2006. The increase will not merely be comprised of inflation, but rather a rise in 'Real' GDP as well simply due to a restoration of the trendline rate of technological progress.
Isn't inflation always bad, and deflation always good?
Economics is far more nuanced that that. First of all, if you have debt (such as a mortgage), inflation is your greatest friend, and deflation your greatest terror. If your income keeps up with inflation, then inflation is not a problem. But if you have no income and live on savings, then deflation is better for you.
Countries like the US have forced too many people into too many types of debt (mortgage, student loan, auto). Each debt payment may be fixed, which means the borrower's ability to service it with increasing ease depends on a rising income. Hence, inflation of 2-3% is better for the US economy than inflation of 0% or less.
Economic growth may have grown exponentially, but what if we have reached some fundamental limit at this point?
Bottlenecks to economic progress are often attributed to factors such as finite natural resources, human intelligence limits, and political will. The first two of these three are not going to be obstructions, because of the rise of artificial intelligence.
Artificial Intelligence is quickly subsuming many laborious tasks that humans used to do, generating the same output for far lower input. Furthermore, the rate at which AI improves is much faster than human learning, so that continues the matching acceleration of economic growth rates.
Regarding the third factor, that of political will, the Direct, Universal, Exponential Stipend (DUES) combined with an elimination of all income tax (and associated processing and disbursement wastage) will re-align incentive structures towards productivity and entrepreneurship, allowing technology to return to its trendline rate of progress, bringing economic growth with it.
It is possible, however, that once AI can advance entirely without any human assistance, technologies that increase human living standards may plateau. This is unlikely to happen before mid-century, and is a topic beyond the scope of this publication.
How do technological disruptions in one area increase the strength of disruptions in other areas?
Technology is about lowering costs of something that was too expensive, either through replacing or bypassing the existing obstacle. When technology succeeds in one area (such as lowering oil prices), the money saved by those who paid too much for oil instead creates new demand elsewhere, enlarging a previous market and attractive more competition, and hence innovation to it. This is explained in Chapter 3.
It may appear that there is no connection between oil and natural gas fracking innovations in the central US, and an e-commerce revolution in India that modernized banking, retail supply chains, and high-speed Internet access, but the former was absolutely what accelerated the latter.
How on Earth can income taxes be gradually phased out?
Consider the following three points.
- 75% of all US Federal government spending (if you exclude deficit spending, it is 87.5% of all income taxes collected) comprises of payments to individuals.
- Federal Reserve QE has to be permanent and rise exponentially.
- The only way for this QE to be fully effective and enable technology to have enough fuel to progress at the trendline rate, is for these funds to be given directly to people.
When these three points are combined, replacement of current spending with QE money becomes natural, and with it, the gradual cessation of income taxes to fund this government spending. The phase-out of taxes will provide an immense boost to economic growth, even though the safety net is far more robust than existing programs. Read Chapter 7 for full details.
Isn’t the DUES just another ill-conceived ‘universal basic income’ or ‘living wage’ scheme?
The DUES greatly transcends those schemes and removes the primary negative of those schemes. First of all, those programs rely on increased taxes on productive work. By contrast, for the DUES to work, it has to be simultaneous with a phase-out of all income tax, so technology can generate enough productivity to allow a certain level of central bank money creation without inflation.
Secondly, those schemes do not provide for rapid annual increases in their payouts, whereas the DUES is fused with the ATOM and enables annual increases of an estimated 16-24%/year. Other such programs have no provision for rapid annual increases.
Thirdly, those schemes are still seen as a form of welfare or anti-poverty program, whereas the DUES is a complete win-win for all levels of society, since it continues to reinforce the same technological progress that enables an increase in the DUES.
Won't the DUES program merely create a massive leisure class, with no incentive to produce?
Definitely not, as explained in Chapter 7. The reasons for this are :
- The Federal income tax rate will be gradually reduced to 0%. This creates a huge increase in incentives relative to what exists today. The return on productivity is twice as much under a 0% tax rate as under a 50% tax rate.
- The removal of the tax filing burden and a large portion of regulatory complexity creates a far more favorable climate for entrepreneurship.
- A worry about a large leisure class is mutually exclusive with a worry about technological elimination of jobs, and with a worry about rising healthcare costs. For someone to worry the former implies they are no longer worried about the latter.
- The range of professions that exist, and of talents that can be monetized, is ever-rising, as discussed in Chapter 9.
I don’t pay much in income taxes, so why should I be interested in a tax phase-out for the rich?
You may not pay a lot in income taxes, but your first, second, and third level bosses certainly do, and this is money that instead might go towards giving you a raise. Your customers also pay income taxes, which prevents them from buying more of what you sell, instead of being mandated to 'buy' what the government sells. Plus, the hassle of filing and calculating one’s tax prevents employers from creating new jobs, as described in Chapter 6. If you are unemployed, and people who might hire you instead have to worry about taxes, then they are specifically sending to the government the funds that instead should be used to hire you.
Some argue that 'trickle-down' economics has not worked, but the truth is :
- 'Tax cuts' are reductions in published rates, which do not affect the ultra-wealthy, as they have the means to avoid reporting income on their 1040s to begin with. An increase in income tax rates hits the upper middle class, not the ultrawealthy, as explained in Chapter 6.
- Tax complexity remains the same after a reduction in a tax rate, and tax complexity is the biggest drag on this stimulus effect.
- Nonetheless, when tax rates were lowered (such as in the early 1980s and in 2003), there was a sudden boost in economic activity.
Does this program correct the US National Debt?
Yes, it does. Under the ATOM DUES program, we will get to the point by around 2025 where income tax has been phased out and all government spending is funded with Federal Reserve QE instead of taxation (most of it consolidated into a DUES). Hence, there is no spending in excess of taxes, which is where the annual budget deficit and resultant issuance of debt (US Treasuries) arises. For this reason, there is no new addition to the existing National Debt.
From here, we move on to the matter of the existing National Debt, which currently stands at about $19 Trillion and will continue to grow by the time the full transition to the ATOM DUES is phased in. As the existing Treasuries mature and expire, they will, for the first time, not be replaced by newly issued Treasuries since the US government is no longer issuing debt to finance a deficit. Hence, the existing pile of Treasuries will continually expire without replacement, ensuring that the existing bond holders see the debt instrument end after the expected duration even as the debt gradually shrinks. If there is full DUES implementation by 2025, the existing National Debt will shrink to a negligible portion of US GDP by 2035.
I am not a technology expert. How do I begin to improve my life and career through the ATOM?
One does not need to be tech-savvy at all to become an expert ‘lifehacker’ through targeted Internet research. A number of people have already figured out the solution(s) to most of your challenges, and have posted the material online.
The best way to start is to think about all the challenges you have in life, and all the examples of how someone else managed to obtain what you want. Then, begin the metamorphosis into a search demon who reads as much as possible about how others achieved your goal. You will become better at searching once you practice search engine optimization, algorithmic AI, and speed reading. With more practice, you will know how to identify the right blogs, and the right people at message boards who have valuable information, and with your own rising ability to contribute information of value to others, some knowledge will find itself pulled towards you. The more of this you do, the better you become.
The other key component is confidence. Don’t assume that a highly credentialed doctor, lawyer, or financial advisor will always know more than you can mine from the web. See them as components of a solution; beacons to help point you in the right direction of discovery. In this age, knowledge is highly decentralized with ever-lowering barriers to access. This, not coincidentally, is why knowledge is expanding faster than before.