The Third Place: Household Appliances (Pt. II of II)

The second half of this Entry is split into four areas. First, I will continue the discussion from the end of Part I by discussing about how Technology can be combined with the Equipmentality concept to create new “techniques” of getting things done. Next, I discuss how that combination is capable of yielding Meaningful Work through the establishment of new Professions. The rest of Part II will consolidate the implications by addressing how they are also related to the possibility of having to deal with an “Informal Economy” under MTEP (Mission-Type Economic Planning) and its integration into either the VCS Economy to the SSE. This includes explaining why the Presence-at-Hand of the Informal Economy cannot be discerned from relying on the TPP (Total Productive Potential) equation of the Work-Standard but solely from developing an intimate understanding of the Work-World and its Domains.     

How to Devise Technologies from Equipmentalities

In Production for Dasein, the Equipmentality concept fits neatly into the framework of Presence-at-Hand and the duality of Readiness-to-Hand/Unreadiness-to-Hand. This becomes more apparent when presented with the decision of having to choose between different technologies, different “techniques,” designed to achieve the same purpose. Put another way, applying the Equipmentality concept to a given Technology only occurs during a Presence-at-Hand and thus an Unreadiness-to-Hand. We begin by identifying the specifications of the Technology and determine its inherent capabilities.

For the purpose of this demonstration, I will be referring back to the Presence-at-Hand of having to choose between squeezing lemons by hand or using a lemon squeezer from the empirical case study of the Kitchen Debate.  Imagine standing in front of a table with a ripe lemon atop a cutting board. The table next to the cutting board is a kitchen knife and a lemon squeezer, the two items situated across from a glass measuring cup. The table inside a Household kitchen. As stated previously in Part I, one could slice the lemon in half and squeeze the lemons into the measuring cup or use the lemon squeezer to squeeze the lemon juice into that same measuring cup. With this mental image in mind, apply the Equipmentality concept to the two devices, the kitchen knife and the lemon squeezer.      

An Equipmentality has three consistent characteristics, its “Reference,” “Relevance,” and “Repurposing.” The Reference entails evaluating the specifications of an item and how it functions. The Relevance involves determining where and when this item becomes applicable. And the Repurposing concerns asking why this item should be used in other applications beyond the original purposes intended by its designer and manufacturer. Note that Repurposing only becomes valid once one has found another way to use the item.

Going back to the kitchen knife and lemon squeezer, the Equipmentality concept will tell us that the kitchen knife has the potential to be Repurposed, while the lemon squeezer does not have any. A kitchen knife, if sharpened and handled correctly, can slice through other things besides lemons. Other fruits, vegetables, meats, and bread are all well-known examples. A lemon squeezer by contrast does not have any other purposes outside of its initial one, which is to squeeze lemons.

This conceptual framework can be replicated to fit all kinds of different contexts, in addition to being reapplied to other Household Appliances. Those squeezed lemons could be Repurposed with some water and sugar to make lemonade. If one is ambitious enough, one could build a lemonade stand and generate Actual Geld from the transactional sales. Someone’s PC can be Repurposed into a way of creating Digital Arbeit on the National Intranet. The gardening tools can turn the backyard of a Household into a garden where fruits and vegetables are grown, which in turn can be serve as additional sources of Actual Arbeit for a small Cooperative.

Those are just a handful simple examples of how the Equipmentality concept can be used to Repurpose any Technology into serving at least two or more functions. I am certain that there are plenty of other examples where Household Appliances could be employed as part of a Domain within the Work-World. Doing so is unfortunately beyond the aims of this Entry, however. What I can say is that Equipmentality concept rewards skillful creativity, originality, artistry and mastery of Household Appliances in the Work-World. But should a Technology become capable of changing the Work-World and its Domain, its Presence-at-Hand must be accounted for by the Economic Planners and Inspectors while conducting MTEP.  

Technology and Meaningful/Meaningless Work

The introduction of any new Technology in the Work-World is capable of causing significant changes to the VCS Economy and the SSE. Some have been integrated into Work-Standard because they enhanced the capabilities of the Work-Standard rather than detract from them. For instance, automation technologies enabled the conceptualization of the Mechanization Rate, whereas information technologies gave rise to the conceptualization of LERE Process. It is possible that the advent of any new technologies could alter the dynamics of how the Work-Standard will function in practice. More importantly, it is also possible to envisage certain technologies giving rise to new Professions and rendering old ones redundant.

Due to these considerations, it is vital that Economic Planners and Inspectors anticipate how the implementation of Technology in the VCS Economy and SSE will affect State, Totality, and Self. In addition to its specifications and functions, the Technology’s Reference and Relevance must be identified and its potentiality for Repurposing determined. Important in the observations of new Technology is how it will affect the Readiness-to-Hand of existing Professions and Enterprises that operate as part of the various Domains in the Work-World. A new Technology’s introduction could cause some Professions to become redundant or some Enterprises to change how they conduct their everyday economic activities.

Consider the two technologies that I just mentioned in passing, automation technologies and information technologies, and how both grew up together since the Death of Bretton Woods. In Production for Profit, the argument was that automation technologies would allow the Manufacturing Sector of a Market/Mixed Economy to employ fewer people to work on the assembly line, assuming it has not yet been outsourced because of Globalization. The effects of deemphasizing the Manufacturing Sector would then be cushioned by information technologies introducing a new Information Sector that came in the wake of Deindustrialization of the Western world. Production for Utility, despite viewing automation technologies as a way to promote fewer hours in the workweek and information technologies in promoting new ‘Incentives’ for Kapital and Schuld vis-à-vis an emerging “Knowledge Economy,” actually followed a similar pattern as Production for Profit. In both Modes of Production, Technology was consistently understood as always replacing anything that came before it, instead of complimenting the existing ones.

This same mentality also occurred whenever a Technology proved capable of introducing new Professions and Enterprises. When the “Knowledge Economy” emerged, the two Modes of Production insisted that the future of economic life in the 21st century would involve changing the national economy to conform with the capabilities of the emerging technologies. Professions which did not require having to learn new skills became ‘obsolete’, forcing those who found themselves newly unemployed to either work in another Profession or return to the university and obtain an educational background in other fields. But the national educational system of most Liberal Capitalist regimes, the OECD-Type Student Economy, proved incapable in ensuring that its Custodial-Care Function would be adjusted to the technological changes after the Death of Bretton Woods. Entire disciplines found themselves oversaturated by so many people that it was impossible to employ even a sizeable majority, resulting in a Credentialism where having a university degree entitled someone to a job related to their field. And instead of eliminating the Unemployment caused by those technologies, the two Modes of Production created Underemployment and the Debt Slavery of being constantly overburdened by Schuld.  

Even though Production for Dasein was able to properly harness automated and information technologies toward beneficial ends under the Work-Standard, it is still a Legal Duty for Economic Planners and Inspectors to determine how any new Technology can be integrated into the framework of MTEP. If a new Technology is introduced into the VCS Economy, the Council State must ensure that the Student Government of the SSE will be able to adapt to the effects of that Technology’s implementation. If it is necessary for any Technology to become widely adopted in the VCS Economy whatever Intent, then the Council State should see to it that the SSE will be brought up to speed on those technological developments. The Council State’s efforts rests on the Economic Planners and Inspectors of the SSE coordinating their endeavors with their superiors in the Student Government and their counterparts in the VCS Economy. But should there be any Intent for the continued operation or even readoption of an older Technology, the Council State will leave that decision to the Economic Planners and Inspectors of the VCS Economy and SSE. Not every new Technology is going to always be better than what came before it.    

The Work-World and the TPP Equation

The implications from earlier have led to another trend related to the Death of Bretton Woods, only this time it involves the developing countries outside the Western world. It has everything to do with the Work-World, its interactions with the TPP equation from The Work-Standard, and an important obstacle that needs to be overcome. This obstacle is related to a limitation in the TPP equation whose solution involves the SSE working together with the VCS Economy. While the obstacle may seem to be something that can only happen in the other two Modes of Production, its impact on Production for Dasein is still related to the disturbances created from introductions of a new Technology.

We begin our overview with the finer distinctions between how economic activities are calculated in mainstream Neoclassical Economics and how they are done under the Work-Standard. The former determines the extent of economic activities with the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and the GNI (Gross National Income; previously known as the “Gross National Product”).

There are three methods of calculating GDP, which are “Expenditure,” “Income,” and “Output.” All three are depicted below:  

GDP = Consumption + Investments + Government Spending + (Exports – Imports)

GDP = Total National Income + Sales Taxes + Depreciation + Net Foreign Factor Income

GDP = Gross Value of Output – Value of Immediate Consumption

But generally speaking, most calculations of GDP are done with this simple equation that applies for the Expenditure and Income methods:

GDP = C + I + G + (X – M)

Regardless of the method chosen, the GDP value will be equal to the values of all three methods:

GDP = Income Method = Expenditure Method = Output Method

Once the GDP is obtained, the GNI can then be calculated, which is as follows:

GNI = GDP + Kapital from foreign nations – Kapital to foreign nations

Both the GDP and the GNI correspond to the Quantities of Kapital and Schuld created by any nation that is not relying on the Work-Standard. The GDP and GNI equations can also be used to determine, based on available economic data, the Kapital Accumulation of Socialistic countries within their Planned/Command Economies. This is because of the fact that Production for Utility has much more in common with Production for Profit than it does with Production for Dasein.   

By contrast, the Work-Standard relies on its own set of equations to calculate how much Arbeit and Geld are being through various economic activities. Instead of GDP and GNI, the Work-Standard’s equivalent is the Total Productivity Potential (TPP) equation. The first equation below is how the TPP equation is formatted by everyone outside the Central Bank, whereas the second equation is how it is formatted by the Central Bank.

TPP = (State Budget + People’s Geld) + (RTEP + RTFP) + (NSFIs + State Investments)

TPP = TPP Account + LER Accounts + SI-EF Accounts

The TPP equation will tell us how much Geld is owned by the State and Totality, how much Arbeit and Geld are being created from all known economic activities, how much Arbeit and Geld comes from issuances of NSFIs by the Kontor, and all State Investments going to the VCS Economy. The key difference that distinguishes the TPP equation from the GDP and GNI is that it rejects the idea of promoting economic growth through reckless forms of Consumer Spending and Government Spending. Instead, it promotes the need for implementing grand strategies of trying to live within one’s own means of production.

Granted, there were other differences described in The Work-Standard (2nd Ed.) that set the TPP equation apart from the GDP and GNI equations, but there is another aspect that was never covered in any of its Entries. It is true that the TPP equation, like GDP and GNI equations, is designed to record the extent economic activities, but I must stress that the TPP equation will only convey the official ones. In other words, there is a blind spot in the form of an Informal Economy which exists alongside the official VCS Economy and the Socialist Student Economy (SSE). Just as how the GDP and GNI equations are incapable of recording the economic activities of the Informal Economy, we also cannot ascertain its Presence-at-Hand through the TPP equation. Ergo, we must evaluate it from the standpoint of the Work-World and its Domains.

The Informal Economy

Recall earlier that while every conceivable form of economic activity related to a Profession can exist anywhere in the Work-World, only the ones attached to a Domain are capable of creating Arbeit and Geld vis-à-vis the LER Process. Economic activities which are unattached to any Domain will not reap the full benefits of the LER Process. Any Arbeit created outside of a Domain cannot be converted into Geld because they will not be registered at all in the Life-Energy Reserve. And because there is no Arbeit being contributed, there is just a simple transactional sale of an item for Actual Geld. Moreover, if the economic activity in question is being conducted as part of an Enterprise and is probably unrelated to illicit activity, then the Enterprise is also straddling the fine line between Productive Property and Personal Property.

To reiterate, there is an economic activity somewhere in the Work-World that is not being done as part of any given Domain. This economic activity is not contributing any Arbeit to the Life-Energy Reserve, preventing any conversion of said Arbeit into Geld. It is only generating Actual Geld from its transactional sales in the Tournament. The Enterprise in question occupies a murky area somewhere between Productive Property and Personal Property. And the economic activity itself is not illegal nor is it related to organized crime. All of these are genuine characteristics of an Informal Economy existing alongside the VCS Economy and the SSE under the Work-Standard.

Traditionally, an Informal Economy refers to any economic activities that, while still being capable of generating Kapital and Schuld, are not considered part of the official Market/Mixed Economy or the OECD-Type Student Economy. They are not always subject to taxation and regulatory system of the Parliament, and the range of Professions that an Informal Economy covers can vary.   It could be a street vendor selling cheap designer knockoffs or a garment worker making fabrics inside their Household. It includes people working in the privatized commercial firms of the Gig Economy like Uber, Airbnb, or DoorDash. And it even includes the Kapital earned from doing odd jobs outside of the Market/Mixed Economy like fundraising at a bake sale or running a lemonade stand in front of one’s Household. All of these are well-known manifestations of the Informal Economy because each one is not always going to be regulated enough and the Parliament will not always be able earning a lot from imposing taxes on their activities.

An Informal Economy can also occur in Planned/Command Economies, particularly in circumstances where certain goods are unavailable. One relevant example in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries was the idea of driving an unlicensed taxi and being paid by the tourists in their currencies as opposed to the domestic currency. Another involved the smuggling of Japanese VCRs, Levi’s jeans, and even US Dollars past customs and selling them informally. I have covered this particular topic before in The Work-Standard, including how this was related to the idea of the Soviets and Eastern Bloc countries running Specialty Stores for the sole purpose of maintaining foreign currency reserves. What has yet to be discussed are the other ways in which an Informal Economy can be dealt with because the Specialty Stores alone will not be enough. There is another way for MTEP to deal with them and it does not involve passing market reforms.

Let’s return to the Presence-at-Hand of juicing lemons by hand or with a lemon squeezer. Suppose for a moment that somebody decided to run a lemonade stand to sell the lemonade to people passing by the Household. Since this is a part of the Informal Economy, the person running the lemonade stand will not be contributing Actual Arbeit to the Life-Energy Reserve. Instead, they will be receiving Actual Geld based on the Price that they are selling lemonade. The question to be asked here is whether the Economic Planners and Inspectors should intervene and have this economic activity be attached to a Domain in the Work-World. It is one thing to run a lemonade stand as a temporary endeavor for a day or two, but making the lemonade stand a part of one’s Profession is another matter altogether.

Assuming the activities are not illicit (which is a whole different matter altogether), how should the Economic Planners and Inspectors intervene under MTEP? There are at least five different ways in which this matter could be resolved:

  1. File a Letter of Complaint with the State Commissariat of Wages and Prices that somebody is running an Enterprise in the Informal Economy. The State Commissar will get involve and see to it that any further economic activities will not be allowed to continue until they obtain an “Economic Organization Permit.” By obtaining an Economic Organization Permit, the recipient will be able to move their economic activities away from the Informal Economy and create a legitimate Productive Property that exists as part of either the VCS Economy or the SSE. This will only happen if someone’s activities happen to be very successful and causing harm to the livelihoods of Small Businesses, Cooperatives, and Workshops.
  2. Alternatively, if the economic activity in question happens to be very similar to another Profession which is a part of a Domain in the Work-World, the State Commissariat might persuade them to consider working in that Profession and receive a Fief from the Kontor. In exchange for that person promising to cease their activities within the Informal Economy, the State Commissariat will cover the Service Fee of their Fief.   
  3. Negotiate with the members of a Guild and have them recruit the person still working in the Informal Economy to join their Small Business, Cooperative or Workshop. Compared to the first option, this one is more likely if the person conducting themselves in the Informal Economy is struggling to find Meaningful Work.    
  4. If an economic activity needs to be conducted within the Informal Economy, it is either a fundraising campaign or donation drive by the SSE, a community-organized charity event overseen by the Guilds, a sanctioned activity by political parties and organizations, or a volunteering endeavor. Should that be the case, no Actual Arbeit will be contributed to the Life-Energy Reserve because these activities are being done for non-economic purposes. I will be discussing this particular topic in a relevant Entry within Section Three.  
  5. Let the Council State send them a notice for either Work-Conscription or Military Conscription. Since employment in the Informal Economy has never been truly recognized by most governments, it is only natural for the Council State to at least send them a Work-Conscription notice because the Service Record of that recipient will state that they are, legally speaking, unemployed.  

Categories: Third Place

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: