II - CLAUSE #1
6. THE DISCREET ANGEL
As our Civilization counts its centuries and prepares to move out of its teens, the Guaranteed Income Amendment (GIA) will be a milestone: it will mark the end of the millennia-long Age of Toil and be the symbol that we are coming of age. Will it close the deal on Clause #1, and solve all the problems between State the Father and its spoiled children? Not quite, since most of what we really want will have to be obtained through work that cannot, or should not, be fitted into jobs and certified. State will have to cope also with the growing mass of these unique, interdependent, self-employed workers who are about to replace most of the salaried workers still busy with tools and machines.
Machines brought the greatest migration in history from the countryside to the cities, and a massive transfer of manpower, from agriculture first to industry and then to the sector of services. Now, as Helots impose the new imperative, we will face once again a massive transfer of manpower; out of the job framework, this time, into self-employment, professionalism and entrepreneurship. Self-employed professionals, in the traditional sense, will gain in number and importance while, simultaneously, the very nature of the work to be done will have even those who remain in the job framework adopt new behaviors and priorities and become more "professional".
Then, as G.I.A. will give the common worker enough security - and therefore self-confidence - to focus his day-to-day interest on something else than a mere job, the number and importance will increase of those encouraged to "fly the trapeze" after hours, and whose interests will coincide with those of the full-time entrepreneurs. Moonlighters will join the new entrepreneurial class to strive for more dynamism in society, a higher ratio of change, more risk-taking, faster social turnover and a fluid pecking order. The greatest gift of GIA is not security in the job framework; it is the confidence to expand work beyond that framework.
Thus a new effective majority will coalesce and emerge, taking over from the crumbling majority that now runs the show, the majority of machine-owners/employers supported by the mass of their employees. The new entrepreneurial majority will consist of those who will have learned to accept as normal the constant changes inherent to a creative society and who will feel at ease riding the ups and downs of fortune that come with these changes: the managers who, even when employed, remain basically on their own; the professionals, both the traditional self-employed "high professionals" and the new professionals in the employment structure... and the entrepreneurs, both full-time and moonlighters, including all the self-employed creators, facilitators and dealers in good, services, thoughts and feelings. The different viewpoint of the professionals, managers and entrepreneurs will eventually prevail, because theirs are the ways and objectives that best obey the creative imperative.
Professionals, managers and entrepreneurs of all kinds may be about to become the new effective majority, but where will they stand, immediately after GIA, in a society that will bend over backward to care for workers in the job framework? What will be the State's attitude, first towards the workers that defect to the realm of the unprogrammable to become "professionals" - and will not take a job for an answer at all - and then towards those moonlighters ,swinging after hours on the flying trapeze of entrepreneurship and creativity, the "4 to 3 for leisure" workers, who will room and board in GIA but whose heart will be elsewhere?
Let us be very clear on this point: as much as the State would like to extend a net below the "workers of initiative", not only out of benevolence but to keep some control on their activities and further ease the change in our ways to work and to rule, the whole field of entrepreneurship, both full-time and part-time, must develop outside the GIA system. The GIA net cannot be spread outside the job framework and, even within the job framework, GIA cannot be spread as a net below everything that is done, but must rather exclude specifically what calls on entrepreneurship.
This is vital, because GIA must rest on certification and to certify
initiative would lead to "certified initiative". This would mean
nothing new could emerge unless it had first been blessed by the criteria
of the present, and this is certainly the most direct way to instantaneous,
permanent stagnation. For entrepreneurs of all types, it is not some "GIA-for-initiative"
but the job framework itself that should play the role of the net below:
let those workers who fail and fall out of entrepreneurship... fall into
a job. State should be wary lest it interferes with initiative, it should
remain discreet and preferably invisible, be as a guardian angel...
The elevator ride
Guardian angel to managers. Certification and guaranteed income are for all those who are employed in the job framework; will managers be certified? Yes and no... It is not for the State to certify Chairmen of the Board, or Junior Vice-Presidents, for we don't know what a "junior vice-president" is to start with... and what is a manager anyway?
In the high spheres of Government and the corporate world, the State will mingle little with things and do its best not to confuse the intricate rules of a game that has been going on for decades. Certification must not become a constraint upon employers, and any company must keep the right to hire whom it wants, to promote the elevator boy straight to Chairman of the Board, or to pay its Marketing Vice-President five times what his qualifications would suggest; this is no concern of the State, it is the shareholders' business.
But GIA, in a sense, will provide a net for managers, since managers also may be competent in Business Administration, Economics, etc... and the State will gladly certify M.B.A.'s and Economists. Managers, however, share these skills with other professionals that are not managers; we must conclude that there is a little "plus" that makes them managers. The manager, as such, is a dealer in initiative. The State will not certify the little "plus", it is a matter of entrepreneurship.
Should he be fired from his Chairman's job, the elevator boy will be in the same position, no better no worse, than a painter whose canvas does not sell, but who also happens to be certified as a clerk. He will receive the guaranteed income of an elevator boy, like the would-be Picasso will be paid as a clerk, unless meanwhile he has succeeded in being certified at a higher skill-category as Economist, Administrator, or what not, in which case he will be paid accordingly.
It will be up to the manager to upgrade his skills and be certified, like anybody else, or to gamble it all on his talent as a manager, as a "dealer in initiative". If he makes that second choice, the stakes will be high, of course, because GIA will not vouch for his initiative, just for his certified skill, and it may bring small comfort to the loser if he has to go back to the elevator cage. Certified at a higher skill level though, he may simply roll with the punches and brace himself for another great leap forward in the corporate structure.
GIA will have a marginal impact on managers. Managers, in archetypal
situations of "security with leisure", were those who first developed
hyperjobs; it is normal that GIA should have less impact on the behavior
and welfare of these precursors in the corporate world who, in terms of
security and freedom of their time, already "have it made".
The Second-Shift Syndrome
GIA may be marginal help for managers but, for the present 9-to-5 worker that it will turn into a "4-to-3 for leisure" worker, another world will open up. For so many hours of work a year, the average worker will hold the job that fits the Matchmaker's plan to optimize our human resources; in exchange for that, he will receive from an employer, or from the Provider itself, a compensation that corresponds to his skill certification. A drastic change in his life, because it will give him ample time, on his own and at his leisure, to work out of the job framework after hours, to put his i factors to use and to really get down to business. Since entrepreneurship is a 24-hours a-day commitment, a lot may be achieved in these four days a-week of leisure. The "4-to-3" workers will moonlight and invade the markets.
Firemen of yore, who could spend days or nights without an alarm, would talk, play cards, or just daydream through their work shift. Periodically - when it was not expressly forbidden by their contracts, we may presume - firemen developed a great urge to just sleep through their shift... and to wake up after work to go out and do something more inspiring, like getting another job on the side, for instance. Just watch for the Fireman's Second Shift Syndrome - (which is the blue-collar's equivalent of a white collar's jump into hyperjob) - to appear spontaneously in most "4-to-3" production workers.
Just like playing cards in a Fire Station eight hours a-day could create a great longing for action, so will working an average of three days a-week at a job, when the whole world of Creativity will be there, waiting to be conquered after hours. Once they are skill-certified for a job that provides income security, most workers will look at this net below and will dare become entrepreneurs of some sort in their four days a-week of "leisure". What must we do to encourage initiative in the "4-to-3 for leisure" worker?
First of all, leave him in peace. Trust the tedium of the job to make him restless, and the GIA to be enough of a shot in the arm to have him jump. It will be sufficient that the State desist from trying to suppress moonlighting practices; the human drive for ambition and recognition will soon push almost everyone into his own enterprise on the side, through which he will realize himself as a creator, communicator and entrepreneur. For it, however, the worker will not be certified, nor should he enjoy GIA protection. This is entrepreneurship.
If the worker wants to play golf, that's is business. If he is ambitious and wants to do something more lucrative in his spare time, it should be his choice and nobody should interfere: there are no reasons to limit someone's freedom to work in one's own time and at one's own leisure. If the State wants to take him away from selling silverware door-to-door, or from putting his fingers in real estate deals, then let the State offer the worker something more interesting or more lucrative to do with his time and energy.
It will be an open market and, if the worker is so successful doing whatever he does with his leisure that he can afford to turn down the jobs that the State offers him, then three cheers for the successful entrepreneur: he has been properly helped through the rite of passage and has proven that there is a demand for what he has to offer in the realm of the unprogrammable. Nobody should stop him but, to the contrary, the State should encourage him to join the ranks of the fully self-employed.
With 4-to-3 workers also, the State should be content to play the role
of a guardian angel; to remain invisible but to keep in the background,
ready to pick them up in the GIA net if they trip. If the would-be entrepreneur
fails, he should merely have to knock at the door of the local Employment
Office, put his skillcard on the table and say he is now available: the
State should be ready to give him back both a job and the income that goes
with it at his highest level of skill certification. No complaints and,
if he ever should feel like taking another jump in entrepreneurship, so
much the better. This is the kind of people we need in a creative society:
State should be a Guardian Angel to managers and all the 4-to-3 workers who will change the production system itself from the inside, but it should remain even more aloof from the "high" professionals, these different and all-important workers active outside the industrial production system. Who are they and what makes them different?
High professionals differ on three counts from all other entrepreneurs. First, we know up to a point what they need to know, while we ignore what makes a good entrepreneur; second, self-employment for professionals is only one of the social options open to choice, while "employed entrepreneurs" is nonsense; finally, we can do with more or less entrepreneurs, but no civilized society can do without a certain ratio of professionals... We simply cannot do without them.
We know what a professional should know... up to a point. Like any factory worker, his work consists in gathering data and assessing a situation on the basis of his knowledge, after which he must make a decision and act. There are simply more data to assess, more knowledge to have, and his decisions are somewhat more crucial. So many more data and so much more knowledge that, although the professional may be taught routines and algorithms, he will still have, more often than not, to follow his "judgment" when comes the time of the crucial decision.
We do not know everything that a professional should know: his work is unprogrammable. We know pretty well the bare minimum that he must know though, considering the state of the art in his given profession. For this bare minimum, professionals undergo years of studies and training. and, for this "minimum", they must be skill-certified. Even today, most professionals are certified; certification already exists for physicians, lawyers, engineers, etc. Electricians and plumbers are also certified, lest houses burn and basements be flooded and, with affluence and technology, more and more unprogrammable services rendered by self-employed workers will be declared of public interest and certified. For our present discussion, it is irrelevant where we draw the line to include or exclude a specific profession.
The important point to make is that skill-certification for professionals is here to stay. Actually, it is in this sector of manpower that skill-certification is most necessary, to make sure that the services that are offered to the public are up to standards. Presently, skill-certification is a process in which universities and professional associations participate; universal skill-certification by the State would not substantially modify this process. The high professionals would still acquire knowledge and undergo practical training before they really mastered their skills... and would still be certified by the State on the recommendation of their peers - who else but their peers? - on which the State would put its stamp of approval.
Skill-certification for high professionals is no problem. The problem is certification for income. It is possible to give employee's status to a high professional, and therefore to put him on the Provider's list for guaranteed income. But, as we said before, high services are not gum-drops to be counted and chewed. Although the professional will have to be skill-certified and certification will impose a constraint upon him, the proper social choice is not to fit him in a job and pay him an income, even related to what he "produces". Though "certified", a high professional must remain self employed.
Self-employed, because we want the public to be the final judge of the quality of the services it receives. This is possible only if the high professional's reputation and material being are closely related to the client's satisfaction . As we said before, we must not break but rather reinforce the link between the suppliers and users of services. Another good reason for having self-employed high professionals is that his profession should be to him his own hyperjob and full-time enterprise, a vocation calling for 24-hours a day dedication: real entrepreneurship. Who wants doctors and lawyers working half-time on a full day's salary, while they get interested in fishing or real estate? High professionals are like entrepreneurs: their activity cannot fit the job framework.
On the other hand, their skill does not depend mostly on creativity, but rather on extensive and expensive knowledge and training, and their "enterprise" is not one that we can take or leave: it is vital to us and in short supply, which brings us to the third "difference": we need them. The creative society will have to cope with a huge demand for high professionals, maybe even a demand for more "high professions", as many more unprogrammable services will be deemed essential to individuals or to society as a whole. There must be enough high professionals certified in each high profession as in each "skill-category".
We want more professionals and more professions and yet... Entrepreneurship with constraints ? Certification without guaranteed income ? Looks like the Age of Toil once again doesn't it? What will be offered as a "net below", in lieu of GIA, to doctors, lawyers and other high professionals? What will the State do for them and for us? How will we increase the quality and quantity of high services, make them affordable to everybody and, simultaneously, maintain and encourage self-employment for high professionals, as the only proper framework for unprogrammable activities? The professionals' status should rank high in our creative society. How will we guarantee proper income and status to high professionals who will still be certified for skills... but not for income?
First of all, let's consider that high professionals, today, are unlikely basket cases. Have you met any bankrupt Dental Surgeon or Physician lately, unless they really had tried to make it big in business deals? We have a bull market in high services, a lengthy curriculum to separate the men from the boys, and a working twin-system of private insurance and Social Security that picks up the tab; the situation that prevails now may require little improvement, and maybe the high professional who cannot make it in these conditions should simply find a job.
Maybe. On the other hand, though, as their number must increase to meet demand, whether or not we have all the high professionals we need may depend a lot on whether or not they are offered a better net below. So, let's impose no changes that are not essential on a society that will have to cope already with all the changes it can take, but let's make sure we do whatever is necessary.
Let's regulate the number of high professionnals to make sure that an adequate number of students and trainees are admitted to study and are trained for high professions. To achieve this goal, Teacher and Trainer must see to it that the compensation for future high professionals, during their preparation years, be in line with the commitment and hard work expected of them, and with the real services that they render during the final stages of their training. The other concrete move we should expect from the State, for the time being, in the field of high services is to guarantee that all of the high professionals' bills are paid.
Then, there is the case of the "not-so-high" professions, which
one may practice better on his own but for which employment is an acceptable
second choice. Here the worker might have the best of two worlds, since
the number of trainees certified will be adjusted to demand, and so as to
give the plumber or electrician a fair chance to make it as an entrepreneur...
while skill-certification will allow those who prefer the security of GIA
to remain in the job framework. Practically, the competition "after-hours"
from the 4-to-3 workers should soon reduce employment in trades to a marginal
role: the net below.
Dealers in things and thoughts
Next to professionals, in the new majority to come, we find the real honest-to-goodness entrepreneurs whom it would be unproductive to certify, and who cannot be certified anyway, because we do not really know what makes them run. Often, we will deal here with the successful moonlighter and the basic policy should be to let the job framework be the net below.
Take suppliers, retailers and providers of personal services for instance. We have no real way to judge the total impact of their activity on the production system and on our real welfare. We can work statistically and say that there should be so many gas stations per square miles of urban area, or per so many miles of highway; we can make it a target to have that many grocers, cleaners or tailors per hundred-thousand of population... and be partly right. We may well be right, insofar as that many customers may provide, with a decent living, that many workers supplying such and such services. But, when the question of income for the supplier of services is settled in the job framework by GIA, what do we know of the real value of his enterprise in terms of the real welfare it procures? Maybe the new gas station gives a much better service; maybe the new grocer simply needs the human contact with the clientele, and is giving something intangible but invaluable in return.
Then, take intermediaries in the distribution chain, agents, takers of cuts and agios, five-percenters of all kinds; maybe more intermediaries are just a waste of energy..., but then, it may be great for the global dynamism of our society. Who knows? It is not the State's business to pay the worker to do such things, nor should GIA be extended below these types of enterprises... but, unless he endangers public safety, makes false claims as to the services he offers, or otherwise acts improperly, it is not the State's business either to decide whether or not the worker, full-time or at his own leisure, should or should not spend his efforts doing something he likes and considers productive. This means he does not have to be certified and cuddled, but the State should keep its tentacles off him. Entrepreneurship.
Same with the production of ideas and beauty. Take all the producers of ethical and esthetic values; who are we to judge what is good and bad art? Who will say how many artists - in the widest meaning of the word - we need in a Creative Society? Artists must develop far away from certification, for to certify artists would lead to "certified art", which is totally unacceptable. Not only artists, writers, moralists and preachers of all kinds and creeds should not be certified, they should not even be subsidized, since subsidy is a certification in disguise. It is the people, not the State, which should pass final judgment on what art it wants; the art that the people want is the art that they patronize. An artist who cannot live by his art, like an entrepreneur who cannot live by his enterprise, is not producing what the people want.
Whatever our society wants to do for the arts should be as neutral as possible regarding form and content, and therefore profit equally all those who try to make a living as artists, whatever the broad definition we are to give to "Arts". For instance, let the State build theaters and concert halls and pay for their staff and support technicians; this is non committal and merely improves on soap boxes for street preachers. But let access to these be obtained partly on a "first come, first choice" basis, to encourage initiative and determination ... and partly on a "highest bidder" approach, to recognize that success and "what the people will pay for" are, for today, the final criteria. As for posterity, why not let tomorrow make its own judgment...?
Want to do more? Then give every citizen five or ten "mastertickets" with which he can have access to any cultural event, and for each of which the State will pay the organizers of the event the normal price for a top price ticket... Or, alternatively, double by a subsidy what the event has been able to draw on its own. Do anything, provided it is done to support, not contradict, public tastes. The principle of democracy is that we do less harm if we give people what they want than if we impose upon them what we believe to be good for them. Why not let it be so with the arts as well?
Because the scales have been so tipped against intangible values in our society, we have a guilt complex towards non-conformists which makes us help the chaff to grow for the sake of the wheat. In a leisure-oriented society though, where each individual will have all the free time to create, undertake artistic endeavors of his liking or to deliver his soul message, to become an artist should be a decision that goes hand in hand with the determination to do it in one's own free time.
The job framework should be the net below. Art per se cannot be certified,
and artists, as artists, will not be protected by GIA, no more than
entrepreneurs as entrepreneurs. Would-be artists will avail themselves
of the GIA to hold a job, to earn a living doing some work for which they
are certified and that has undoubted productive value; they will put their
shoulders to the wheel, like everybody else, for the increasingly smaller
portion of their time that the collectivity will require in exchange for
guaranteed income. They will be certified at the level of down-to-earth
abilities they have attained, being "artists" at their leisure,
until they prove through success that they are producers of values for which
there is a demand. When they do, let them, if they want, opt out of GIA
like any other successful entrepreneur, and free themselves from their "menial"
jobs to dedicate themselves entirely to their art ... and join the new majority.
The new majority
The new majority will rely on its discreet Guardian Angel for a net below, but will call upon its guidance less and less frequently: it will work its own salvation. It will have its own status symbols, some to reflect the growing importance of intangible values - like arts - in a society of affluence. None of these, however, is very likely to create serious problems to top-dogs or to draw much attention from the crowd. We should not fear nor expect too much from the new majority. The new majority of entrepreneurs and professionals is unlikely to denounce the authority of wealth, to renounce money as a symbol of achievement, or to strive hard for more equality.
New top-dogs - just like others before them - will hold to all the wealth/power that they can, and they will part, reluctantly as ever, with as little money as necessary to keep the power game going. We WILL have more equality; but it is the new rules of the game, inter-dependence, creativity, autonomy and the rest, that will have the new top-dogs part with more and hold to less. It will be due to necessity, not to any basic change of attitude. It is necessity also, as we begin to live with the consequences of GIA, that will determine the evolution of the production system. The new majority will develop within and around a newly shaped Cornucopia of its own making.
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