Productivist Manifesto – January 21st, 2018

Prelude and Purpose

I am putting together my beliefs into this manifesto to best find like-minded individuals.  To find people who have similar beliefs, have considered them, are willing to consider them, or potentially have even expanded upon them.  In finding such individuals I hope to accomplish the following:

  • To further discuss and refine my beliefs.
  • To share these beliefs, to influence others, and put them into practice.
  • To develop personal and business relationships.

I wish to state a set of beliefs that I currently think are novel and useful.  A novel set of beliefs, that even though I believe them to be true, I haven’t found individuals or bodies of work that completely encapsulate them.  A useful set of beliefs, that put into practice, will best help myself and others.  The scientist/entrepreneur in me tells me that this is the time to now make these beliefs subject to the marketplace of ideas, and is why I am reaching out.

For sake of conciseness, I am quite blunt with stating my beliefs.  I do not try to take much time to justify them, since that can take volumes of work to do (and still not be enough).  Of course, upon finding people interested in some of these beliefs, my hope is to further discuss in as much detail as is necessary.  Perhaps this manifesto can serve as a basis to stem discussion from.

I separate the manifesto into three categories: Individual and Personal Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy, and Business Philosophy.  I want to appeal to a large range of people, who may only be interested in one of the three.  Perhaps the religious, spiritual, and philosophical will be most interested in the Individual and Personal Philosophy; while the economists, politicians, and legal theorists may be most interested in the Social and Political Philosophy; while the businessmen, managers, and investors may be most interested in the Business Philosophy.  However, there is one unifying principle that guides all three, namely the title of this manifesto, productivism, achieving productivity and producing wealth.  In my self-reflection, all three categories of beliefs have been heavily influenced by the others.

By no means do I want to offend people who read this, especially when I am the one seeking discussion from others.  However, I think offense is only natural and inevitable when discussing or questioning our core beliefs, depending on how committed we are, or have been to them.  A challenge to beliefs is almost always a challenge to authority, and those individuals who use their beliefs to justify their authority will usually be apt to resist an evaluation of their beliefs, just because it’s our nature to maintain our authority, even in the face of the truth.  In the face of this though, I hope to change my beliefs to the extent that those changes get me closer to the truth, if they are more logically consistent and better match reality.

My hope is to find the truth and act on it.

Personal and Individual Philosophy

Productivism: Living a life of productivity, not consumption

I believe that life is about what you produce, and not what you consume.  How do you best measure what you produce?  Capitalistically.  Your income is the best measurement of your productivity, and your expenses are the best measurement of your consumption.  The difference, profits, is the net value that an entity creates for society.  The productivist believes in the greatest creation of profits, manifested as wealth.  It is through the attainment of wealth can we as individuals best decide what to do with our lives and property within a society.  The attainment of wealth guides what jobs and careers we pursue, what products we consume, and what assets we invest in.   How do we choose to buy a Mercedes or a Toyota?  Well, is our increase in personal productivity (income) by owning a Mercedes vs a Toyota greater than the cost between the two?  If yes, then we buy the Mercedes, if not, we buy the Toyota (let’s be honest, 99.9% of the time it’s a Toyota).

Living a life of profit is a choice.  People can live their lives for other purposes, most often a subset of their emotions and feelings.  They may be productive so that they can purchase things that make them feel good.  Productivity is the means, consumption is the ends.  They can purchase the Mercedes, not because it makes them more productive, but because they will enjoy it and it will make them feel good.

I don’t deny that making money, producing wealth, and being productive makes you feel good; but I am claiming there are many other actions and lifestyles that appeal to our emotions that are not consistent with the growth of wealth (e.g. drugs, luxuries, sex, video games).  The fact that being productive makes us feel good, happy, and fulfilled is a fortunate blessing (besides, our species probably would have never evolved as far as we have if we didn’t feel good being productive).

The accrual of wealth is the net productivity that an individual has given to society, while the loss of wealth is the net productivity an individual has taken from society.  If one wishes to best help society, the accrual of wealth is the best validation.

The pursuit of knowledge conditioned on the pursuit of productivity

Out of all the knowledge we can choose to learn from, I believe in the pursuit of knowledge that improves our productivity.  Knowledge of how to use property improves our personal value of said property, which includes our bodies as well as our material possessions, increasing our overall productivity.  For example, the more we understand thermodynamics and mechanics, the better we can design an efficient and useful engine.  The more we understand what people want and need, the better we can engineer a product to be more valuable to consumers.  The more we understand how to use excel, the more productive we are in calculations and data analysis.  The more we understand gastronomy, the better food we can prepare.

In a way, knowledge increases our liberty, because it increases our natural rights with regards to property (i.e. what we can do with our property).  What good is a car, if you don’t know how to drive it?

Profit and productivity is the proof that we understand natural law and society’s needs.

Entrepreneurs are the scientists of the marketplace, where their experiments are business ideas (a specific arrangement of resources), and the proof of their experimental ideas is determined by the profitability.

Even if we may not be entrepreneurs of the marketplace, organizing capital and labor to best produce wealth, we are at least entrepreneurs of our bodies, seeking knowledge and truths to best figure out what is the best way to spend our time and labor to best produce wealth for ourselves and others.

The pursuit or maintenance of liberty conditioned on the pursuit of productivity

Just like how knowledge allows us to increase our productivity and actions of property, a productivist still believes in a limited government, because any infringements of individual liberty (what we can do with our property), infringes upon our individual productivity (what we can produce with our property).  The laws are put in place to maintain the value of current property (security).  If there was a state of anarchy, then an individual’s wealth and property would be much at risk and diminish significantly with time as others damage or steal that individual’s property without consequence or recovery.

End Game: Procreation, Education, Family, and Technology

Unfortunately, we are not immortal, so the productive person must plan for an end game (i.e. how they are to pass on their wealth).  What good is spending a life of productivity, if it is to go to waste upon death?  A natural extension of living a productive life is to produce individuals who will also go on living a productive life.

Once you have accepted this principle, how you transfer/transform your wealth then becomes more a discussion of strategy rather than moral principles.  However, regardless of what strategy you choose, the end goal remains the same, “What can you do with your wealth such that future humanity on the whole becomes the most wealthy and productive?”

Just as the entrepreneur tries to figure out how to most profitably utilize resources they control, the productivist passing on wealth must figure out how to most profitably utilize the wealth they are passing on.  In a way, this can be a significantly separate set of skills to the industrial entrepreneur.  For example, the skills required to raise a business will no doubt be different (but perhaps in many ways similar) to raising a family.

Just as the entrepreneur must learn and become a master of their industry to produce a productive business, they must also learn and become a master of parenting, education, mentorship, and/or research to produce productive individuals.  The physiology, strength, knowledge, skills, and ethics they have received from their parents, teachers, mentors, and role-models in becoming who they are, must now guide them in now becoming those very actors for the next generation.

The production of productive individuals is not free, there is a cost.  The goal is that the wealth produced in other individuals will be greater than the wealth lost by the productivist.  The productivist cannot expect to own the individuals they create or influence, just as they have not expected to be owned by their forefathers.

Of the potential strategies, a few are listed here: raising a family, sponsoring children’s education, funding research and technology and it’s publication, passing your wealth onto productive persons, passing your wealth onto productive institutions, sponsoring public goods (e.g. free library), or the reduction of public bads (e.g. cleaning up waste/pollution).  Andrew Carnegie is a great resource to begin thinking about these strategies, but the optimal strategy will be dependent on the individual, society, culture, physiology, and technology, which is and always will be dynamic.  Unfortunately, many of these strategies are not measurable (e.g. how much wealth does the discovery and publication of new technology create within society?), which should no doubt caution the investor, but regardless the aim is clear, the increase in wealth and productivity.

The inevitability of productive beliefs for a civilization is a natural law of social evolution

Individually, it is a choice to live a life of productivity vs consumption, however collectively, the beliefs consistent with productivity are the inevitable beliefs in a civilization, because those individuals who believe in a life of profit (consciously or unconsciously) will ultimately overwhelm (economically, demographically, and/or forcefully) all other individuals who believe anything else.

Even if individuals choose a non-productive set of beliefs, by whatever justification, their beliefs will perish with them.

Why certain beliefs or belief sets (e.g. religions such as Christianity) have survived so long, because their beliefs are consistent with productivity.  For example, the ten commandments outline a set of ethics through which individuals can form a productive society, albeit conditionally.  Namely, thou shalt believe and recognize God and his authority, shalt not murder, steal, covet, or bear false witness (fraud/lie).  These codes of ethics establish, more or less efficiently, law (property rights) and the rule of law (belief in God and God’s servants and their retribution), allowing people to cooperate, while still maintaining security of their property and persons.

Social and Political Philosophy

Government as a natural law and constitutions are the technology to deal with them

Governments (institutions that establish law and the enforcement of law) are not a moral choice of individuals, but a natural inevitability of societies, a force of nature.  It is irrelevant if an individual consents to a government for that government to affect them, just as it is irrelevant to consent to gravity for gravity to affect them.

Governments are inevitable outcomes due to the economies of scale of violence.  A trained fist is many times more effective than an untrained fist, a gun is many times more effective than a trained fist, a tank is many times more effective than a gun, and a nuke is many times more effective than a tank.  If there is a disagreement on property, the individual(s) who specialize in violence will naturally win and be able to claim said property, rather than the individual who specializes in civility or productivity, i.e. they produced the property or have rightful claim to property.  Because of the economies of scale of violence, an individual who specializes in productivity cannot defend themselves from individual(s) who specialize in violence.  These violent individuals naturally become the institutions that establish law, and the enforcement of law, regardless, more or less, of the will of the people who are affected by them.  When governments collide, those who are better masters of violence, will win, assimilating their authority.

There is a natural tyranny that forms where those who specialize in violence take wealth from those who specialize in productivity.  Without constitutions, there is no accountability or control on the tyranny.

Constitutions are technologies invented by productive persons, to take back control of the law and the enforcement of law.  These constitutions hold to account the government officials to best serve the people, rather than themselves, establishing laws in accordance to the people’s will and best preventing tyranny over the people.  There’s always going to be some tyranny, such as laws that some disagree with, as well as taxes.  The purpose of constitutions is to minimize tyranny and maximize liberty and productivity.

The fallacy of egalitarianism, a prelude to the framing and purpose of a constitution

Egalitarianism is not universally true.  Unfortunately, the founders are wrong in stating that all men are created equal.  I think they were somewhat religiously motivated in that sentiment, and also that it was good rhetoric for people to ascribe to in order to push for a revolution and subsequent support of a new government.

Clearly, not all men are created equal.  We all have diverse levels and types of intelligence, athletic ability, health, parental influence, education, culture, ambitions, etc.

Also, are we just ascribing to men?  What of women?  What of animals?  What of property?  What of children?  What of corporations?  What of future generations?  What of objects?  Who or what gets to be equal?  Egalitarianism inherently says nothing on the scope of its equality.  As such, egalitarianism has always been conditioned with another moral principle for it to make any sense.  For the most part, historically, it has been culture (and not some universal truth) that has influenced the laws that define who or what is entitled to equality, as long as those laws didn’t conflict with the productivity of the society to the point of deterioration and collapse.

Government outcomes are egalitarian because the distribution of political power (voting) is egalitarian

I believe many of the inefficiencies of government and the growth of entitlements is due to the equal distribution of voting power among citizens.  It’s not surprising that people will vote for free stuff (welfare), if they are not the one’s paying the bills (taxes).

Universal suffrage is premised on egalitarianism, which is a fallacy.  The fallacy of our forefathers in being charitable with their surplus wealth, was that they forfeited their political authority along with it.

The distribution of political authority (voting) is the critical connection to what a government achieves.

Libertarians and conservatives can be biased towards having the belief that much of government action (i.e. laws and the enforcement of law) are inherently bad, because for the longest time, we have had an egalitarian political system, which has led to ineffective government action.  Some libertarians become anarchists based on this belief.  However, government action is not inherently bad, it is only accomplishing action compliant to the framing of the constitution that governs it.  Government action compliant with egalitarianism is obviously not always going to be compatible with capitalism, libertarianism, or property rights.

Productivity is the best measurement/definition of utility

In doing economic analysis, the best way to understand if an action (e.g. a law), will be beneficial to an individual/company/sovereign, is to calculate the expected increase in productivity/wealth of such an action for that person.

The difficulty in trying to measure a person’s preferences (and correspondingly utility) is in trying to understand that person’s feelings and instinctual desires.  This is very subjective.  However, I believe we as humans have evolved most, if not all, of our feelings and instincts because they have made us more productive through our evolutionary history.  So, rather than attempt to try to increase emotional utility, it is more efficient to simply measure increases in productivity instead.

Some Improvements to Constitutional Framing

The proper quantification of political authority is taxation

It is the moral principle of “whoever pays the bills, makes the rules”.

Political authority (votes) should be distributed to an entity proportionally to how much that entity pays in taxes.  It was a fallacy of the founding fathers to not specify the details of voting, instead leaving it to the states to figure out.

This is simply an extension of property rights.  For common property, we grant authority over a good to the purchaser of that good.  Sponsorship of government through taxation should grant respective authority to the taxpayer over it, as the consumer to the good.

Property rights derive from productivism in that those who produce wealth, own the wealth that they produce.  Those who are productive in society will control more resources, and those who are consumptive control less resources.

It is not that all men are created equal, but instead, all wealth is created equal.  Governments, companies, or individuals don’t discriminate the value of money or wealth based on where it came from.  A thousand dollars of taxes from a wealthy individual is equivalent to a thousand dollars of taxes from a poor individual.  As such, a hundred thousand dollars of taxes from a wealthy individual is a hundred times more valuable than a thousand dollars of taxes from a poor individual, and so on.

In order to achieve productivity rather than egalitarianism (i.e. all people are equal), capital and wealth must be represented equally rather than individuals.

Constitutional Capitalism is the structuring of a constitution based on the equality of capital, rather than the equality of humans.

When political authority is derived from taxation, there will be a natural tendency towards fair taxation across the populace.  If an individual or group is taxed disproportionally, they will have a disproportional amount of political authority, inclining them to reduce their own taxes and raise taxes on others.  When other groups become taxed more so, they will then receive more political authority, and counter balance any more increases in taxation, and so a natural equilibrium of fair taxation will be achieved.

Representatives should proportionally represent the votes they receive

A citizen should be able to transfer their votes to anyone they believe best represents them, regardless of geographical location (but within jurisdiction).  After an election, representatives then represent all the votes they received during the election.  For example, Representative Smith receives 10 million votes, and Representative Gerald receives 1 million votes, Smith has 10 times more voting power regarding legislative action compared to Gerald.

This should hopefully abolish the party system and reduce the problem of democratic factions.  Since your votes aren’t lost if your representative is unpopular, you can then vote for the person who best represents what you believe, rather than voting for the least detestable person of the two factions.

In the modern age, when you can understand and critique a person’s opinions and policies regardless of where they live, there really should be no geographical limitation to who you can vote for, as long as who you vote for is within jurisdiction of the government they are representing you for.

Productivity is the test of sovereignty.  Property rights are earned, not self-evident. 

An entity is entitled to sovereignty (has authority to do what it wants with its own body and property) if it is productive (produces more than it consumes).  An entity that consumes more than it produces is entitled to ownership by the sovereign entity sponsoring their life (the one paying for their surplus cost).  The greatest example of this being children.

The government recognizes and protects the sovereignty of productive beings.  Taxation is the price of sovereignty, it is the price of property rights and their enforcement.

You can only tax productive beings, since if you tax consumptive beings, you are effectively just taxing the productive being sponsoring the consumptive being.

The enumeration of rights in the constitution is to establish political rights, not natural rights

There is no need to enumerate natural rights in the constitution (actions that you can naturally do with your property, for example the right to eat your food, or dance with your body).  Besides, all laws infringe upon natural rights in some way, so to enumerate them would make all laws unconstitutional, which would be nonsense.

Instead, the point is to enumerate political rights.  These are a subset of natural rights that maintain the political authority of citizens and their political control over government officials.

As examples, the right to free speech is important so that citizens can voice their opinions and critiques of government officials without being punished.  If laws or government actions are put in place that infringe upon the citizens ability to communicate their political opinions, these would effectively take away their political authority.  The right to habeas corpus prevents the possibility of political prisoners, where political commentators or candidates can’t be detained or harassed from current officials without cause approved by an independent judiciary.

Constitutional Improvements: Objectives and Strategy

I don’t expect to amend the US constitution within the near future (or constitutions of other larger countries), however I do expect to improve upon the science and understanding of constitutions, so that it and others can be improved on in the future, when the political or economic climate is ripe.

Constitutions can take effect at many different levels.  Constitutions are all around us.  There are constitutions for states, companies, sports, games, and organizations (called by-laws).  Constitutions are just a manifest of the rules of such organizations.  Constitutional science is the understanding of how constitutional structure will effect and control the organization it governs, and subsequently, the individuals that the organizations governs.  Successful constitutional structure applied at the lower levels will be prone to spread to all levels.

A hope is to take the learnings from effective corporate governance and by-laws, and be able to apply that to an effective constitutional framing, and perhaps even vice versa, to improve upon some inefficiencies of corporate governance.

Organizations like the Sea-Steading institute are trying to establish new governments.  However, many of the enthusiastic individuals are anarcho-capitalist libertarians, who tend to reject constitutions, since they establish governmental authority.  An understanding and proper execution of constitutions will make such an idea of new governments feasible and easier for investors to make the commitment to start businesses within their jurisdiction.  We should convince libertarians and anarchists that the inefficiencies of government are not due to it’s existence, but the fallacy of political egalitarianism.

Business Philosophy

To be added soon.

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