Imagining Elon Musk's Million-Person Mars Colony

The greatest thought experiment of all time

Chapter 10

by Marshall Brain

[Quick Overview - This book introduces a new economic system that aims to eliminate all of the poverty, inequality, hunger, slums and so on found on Earth today. This new system is introduced as a thought experiment within the context of the million-person Mars colony recently announced by Elon Musk. This new system will radically improve the quality of life for the vast majority of humans living on planet Earth today.]

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1 - Elon Musk Makes His Big Announcement about the Mars Colony
  • Chapter 2 - The Many Thought Experiments that Mars Inspires
  • Chapter 3 - Why Do We Need a New Socio-Economic-Political System on Mars?
  • Chapter 4 - Imagining a New and Much Better Socio-Economic-Political System for the Mars Colony
  • Chapter 5 - What Happens When We Add a Massive Amount of Farm Automation to the Mars Colony?
  • Chapter 6 - How Will the Mars Colony Produce its Clothing?
  • Chapter 7 - How Will Housing Work for the Mars Colony?
  • Chapter 8 - How Will the Mars Colonists Construct Their Housing?
  • Chapter 9 - How do we provide other services like water, sanitation, police force, fire department, health care, etc. for the Mars Colony?
  • Chapter 10 - What might a typical "work week" look like on Mars? Who gets a free ride on Mars? Who will do the undesirable jobs on Mars?
  • Chapter 11 - What do we do with lazy people on Mars? What do we do with the assholes?
  • Chapter 12 - How would insurance work on Mars? Yes, insurance...
  • Chapter 13 - How will we make chips on Mars? Pharmaceuticals? Medical devices? "Stuff"? Will Mars be an actual backup plan for humanity?
  • Chapter 14 - What Will the Transportation System on Mars Look Like for Mars Colonists?
  • Chapter 15 - What will the political system look like? How will it be organized?
  • Chapter 16 - Building Experimental Cities on Earth Today to Find the Optimal Configuration for the Mars Colony
  • Chapter 17 - How can we apply the Mars colony's principles to the billions of refugees and impoverished people on planet Earth today?
  • Chapter 18 - How will entertainment work on Mars? What types of entertainment will be available for Mars colonists?
  • Chapter 19 - How will children work on Mars? Who gets to have children? What is the colony's stance toward children?
  • Chapter 20 - Starting the process of building experimental Mars colonies on Earth – Mars Colony Simulation 1000-A
  • Chapter 21 - Coming July 27!
  • Interviews with Marshall Brain on the Mars Colony:
  • See also:

[Feedback and suggestions on any part of this book are greatly appreciated. Contact information is here.]

Chapter 10

What might a typical "work week" look like on Mars? Who gets a free ride on Mars? Who will do the undesireable jobs on Mars?

If you take a moment to reflect back on the previous chapter, one thing you notice is that the Mars colony is starting to flesh out into a complete societal model. The colonists are now being provided with a wide range of essential products and services – things like food, housing, health care and education – without it "costing" much in terms of the number of human hours being contributed to the system. We have estimated that 510 million hours of human time per year can provide the one million members of the Mars colony with many of the essentials necessary to live a comfortable human existence on Mars. So far the colonists are producing and receiving:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Health care
  • Education
  • Electricity
  • Internet
  • City services (includes police protection, fire protection, water, sanitation, parks and recreation, etc.)
Colonists receive this bounty in return for contributing their hours of human time to the system. The system is tracking all of the tasks that need to be performed to keep the colony operational, and assigning these tasks to individual Mars colonists.

In addition, by using the framework of Elon Musk's Mars colony for our thought experiments, many of the things that are obfuscated in the American economic system now start to become crystal clear. And this clarity is important, because tens of millions of people in the United States, plus billions of people around the globe, are being severely disadvantaged (to the point of intense, inescapable poverty in many cases) by the current economic systems in place on Earth today. Billions of people on Earth have no way to secure even the bare essentials for themselves or their families, much less the bounty seen as an inherent feature of the economic system being proposed here for the Mars colony. For example:

  1. In the previous chapter, we have discussed how the new economic system proposed for Mars abolishes the absurd idea that the CEO of Nike makes $14.7 million per year ($7,350 per hour), while a worker in Bangladesh who actually assembles the shoes makes $1 per hour.
  2. Why is #1 able to occur? First, our thought experiment lets us now see that the real "cost" of any product in the Mars economy comes down to the amount of human time needed to make the product, nothing more. And now everyone in the colony is allowed to contribute their human time in a variety of ways in order to receive the products/services they need.
  3. The second reason why #1 is able to occur is because the enormous concentration of wealth being perpetrated by corporations, executives and "the wealthy" in Earth's prevailing economic systems has been eliminated in the Mars economy. See Chapter 3 for a discussion of how ridiculous the inequality situation on Earth has become.
  4. We can also see, for example, why a building is "more expensive" than a shirt. A building like a house might contain a thousand hours of human time (using current technologies), while a shirt might contain five minutes of human time.
  5. If the economy is designed properly, then new robots, new software, new automation, etc. that come online benefit everyone in the colony. Everyone in the Mars colony works less when automation reduces the human time required. So, for example, if engineers in the Mars colony invent a robot that can cut the time to make a house in half, then everyone in the Mars colony needs to contribute half as much time to get the same housing as before. Everyone wins in this system.
As we think about all this, what happens is that we come to a very simple question: If we are going to design and implement a new economic system for the new society arising on Mars, why not design the economy to make sure that everyone in the new society benefits? Why not make sure that everyone is able to access all of the essentials they need to live comfortable lives? Moreover, why not make sure that everyone is able to live life luxuriously? This is what the new economic system proposed in this book for the Mars colony allows. Simply by contributing human time into the system, every Mars colonist gains access to the products and services he/she needs from the economic system. Food, clothing, housing, city services, education... it all becomes available by contributing human time into the system.

And then, immediately, the next question is: having conceived of a spectacularly better economic system for Mars, why not implement this system on Earth right now? Why not eliminate, for example, the absurdity of a billion fellow human beings being trapped inside of slums?

Having made it this far, we begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel. We can see that it is possible for everyone in a society to thrive if the economy is designed correctly to benefit everyone in society. The economies that dominate Earth today are decidedly NOT like this. But it is possible to eliminate them and replace them with systems that are far better.

We can also use the thought experiment to answer several basic questions about the economy and look at these questions in new ways. For example...

What might a typical "work week" look like on Mars?

When the Mars colony actually occurs, something its economy will offer the colonists are new ways to reconceptualize the idea of a “work week”. But here on Earth, right now, we largely have a uniform way of thinking about the “work week” in the developed world. A “work week” (at least in the United States) is generally thought to be 40 hours per week, in the form of five 8-hour days, along with two weekend days on Saturday and Sunday. There are tens of millions of Americans in salaried positions who work this way, or with minor variations.

Since this is how we think of a work week, let's use it as a framework to think about a work week for the Mars colony. What might a work week look like on Mars?

We might start by backing up one step. If we think about the Mars colony with one million people living there, we might ask: what is the total available productivity of the colony as a whole? How much work can and should the colony be able to do per day, per week or per year to provide for the needs of all of the Mars colonists?

What if we assume that the one million people sent to Mars are hand-chosen, cream-of-the-crop kinds of people around age 30? They are all healthy, well-trained, well-educated, and ready to work. Therefore, everyone inhabiting the Mars colony is able to work. In this framework, there are no children, no senior citizens, no disabled people, etc. Everyone on Mars is fit to work. How much work could the colony produce in a year in this configuration?

At the very high end of the productivity scale, everyone could work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. It is likely that most people would be unhappy working like this, but it could be done. And in fact there are many people on planet Earth today who work this much on a routine basis, or nearly so. This is 84 hours a week – not an uncommon situation in many of the world's sweatshops [ref] in places like China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh. With one million workers working this hard on Mars, this is 4,380,000,000 hours of productive labor a year available in the Mars colony. We might consider this to be the maximum possible productivity of the Mars colony.

But of course no one wants to live this way, at maximum possible productivity, given a choice in the matter. This would be completely un-fun, and exhausting. So what is a more reasonable option?

In the United States, as mentioned, a standard work week for salaried employees is 40 hours a week. Some say this has now stretched to an average of 47 hours because of computers and email that allow workers to be interrupted at home, on evenings and weekends, etc. [ref]. But let's stick with 40. 40 hours a week represents 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. For salaried workers there are are usually some paid days off each year– holidays, like the 4th of July and Thanksgiving. People who get these days off typically get ten of them a year. And, if you are lucky in the United States, you get paid vacation time as well, and some sick time [ref], [ref]. Under this protocol, we might imagine that the average person is working 46 weeks out of the year (52 total weeks minus two weeks of paid holidays, two weeks of paid vacation, and two weeks of paid sick days), times 40 hours per week, or 1,840 hours per person per year. Multiplied by a million people in the Mars colony, this works out to 1.84 billion available hours of human time per year of worker productivity.

What if we wanted to relax things a bit in the Mars colony? We might do this because we consider the standard American work week and vacation package to be rather stingy relative to the rest of the developed world. We might also do this because we want the Mars colony to be better than Earth in every way possible. What if we gave everyone in the Mars colony an extra 10 weeks of vacation time per year? For example, what if we went to a 4-day work week instead of the standard 5-day work week? Now colonists are working 32 hours per week rather than 40, so they get a 3-day weekend every working week. And we throw in another week of paid vacation time to boot. So the package now looks like this:

  • 10 paid holidays per year
  • 3 weeks of paid vacation time per year
  • 2 weeks paid sick leave per year
  • 45 work weeks per year at 32 hours per week (four 8-hour days per week, so 3-day weekend every working week)
Under this scenario, total productivity for the Mars colony now works out to 45 weeks times 32 hours a week times a million workers, which is 1.44 billion hours of productive work per year.

Let's imagine that we settle on this. Everyone in the Mars colony will work for four 8-hour days per week, for 45 weeks per year. They will each be receiving 2 weeks off for paid holidays, 3 weeks off for paid vacation, and 2 weeks off for paid sick time. This seems like a generous package by standards on planet Earth today. 45 weeks times 4 days = 180 days of work per year. In other words, weekends and vacation days per year now outnumber work days in this scenario. This certainly is a milestone.

And with 1.44 billion hours of productive work time available to the colony, it looks like it is far more than needed to operate the colony. Recall from Chapter 9 that we only have allocated 510 million hours of time needed to provide a comprehensive array of goods and services for the entire colony. We have not accounted for everything in the 510 million hours, but we have accounted for the majority, and 1.44 billion hours is nearly three times as many hours as we need.

There is, however, one thing we haven't accounted for yet. We have not accounted for the people who need, or think they need, a free ride. So now we can ask...

Who can, or should, get a free ride on Mars?

As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, the Mars colony creates an excellent context for a thought experiment because it makes several things about the economy of Mars crystal clear. One of these things is the concept of the free ride.

It is a fact that not everyone who lives in the Mars colony will necessarily be working. If we assume that the colony has been around for awhile, it will reach steady-state in terms of demographics. This means that some people will be old, some will be young, some will be disabled, and so on. In other words, not everyone will necessarily be fit to work on Mars.

Here are some demographics for the normal population of the United States to help understand how this works. This is what the population of the Mars colony might look like if we use a lottery system to choose the Mars colonists rather than cherry-picking prime 30-year-olds to live in the colony:

  • 14.9% of the U.S. population are age 65 or higher, typically thought of as retired, collecting Social Security and not working (2015 data). [ref]
  • 22.9% of the U.S. population are age 17 or lower, in elementary school or high school, and typically have not yet entered the adult working world in a serious way (2015 data). [ref]
  • 6.3% of people in the U.S. are in college, typically age 18 through 23, and typically are not working in full-time positions. [ref]
  • 2.7% of people in the U.S. are working-age people receiving long-term disability payments from the Social Security Administration [ref]. Diagnoses range from strokes and mental illness to things as minor as high blood pressure. [ref]

If we add into this all the long-term sick people (e.g. cancer patients, and therefore outside of what can be covered by a “sick day”), people in prison, mothers with newborn children, etc., we can see that roughly half the colony may not be “working” at any given time. This is how it works in America anyway.

If half of the Mars colonists are “not working”, they depend on the other half of the Mars colonists to support them by working. If a person is "retired", or "disabled", or "in college", and is therefore getting a "free ride", he/she needs someone else to grow his/her food. And to make his/her clothing. And to provide his/her police protection. And so on. What this means is that the 50% of the colony that is working now needs to do twice as much work. Specifically:

  • If the colony needs to do 510 million hours of work, and there are one million colonists doing the work, it means that each colonist needs to do 510 hours of work per year, or approximately 10 hours per week on average.
  • If the colony needs to do 510 million hours of work, and there are only 500,000 colonists doing the work, while 500,000 are getting a "free ride" (no work), it means that each working colonist needs to do 1,020 hours of work per year, or approximately 20 hours per week on average, while the 500,000 non-working colonists do zero hours of work per week.
This is exactly what is happening in the United States today, one way or another, but it is not nearly this obvious or in-your-face. It gets chopped up or hidden in a variety of ways. For example, most working people in the United States have a big chunk of their pay (~16% when we include the employer match) taken in the form of Social Security and Medicare deductions (FICA/FUTA) [ref].

So now, for example, the 220 million man-hours needed to grow and serve the food for the one million residents of the Mars colony do not get spread across one million workers. Instead it gets spread across the 500,000 people who are actually doing work in the Mars colony. So these workers need to spend 8 hours per week rather than 4 hours per week on food production.

Is this fair? If you are 30, and able-bodied, how would you feel about doubling your personal workload and doing the work to grow all of the food that a newly-retired 65-year-old needs to eat? The retiree is sitting in his recliner doing nothing, while you are spending 2X your time every week growing and serving the food he eats. Depending on who you are and how you approach the world, this might feel great (“He has been working hard for 65 years, and now he really deserves to rest in his recliner!”) or awful (“Lazy good for nothing leach – he is perfectly capable of growing his own food at age 65! My father is fit as a fiddle at age 85!”).

This brings up some great questions when it comes to the societal norms that will be used by the citizens living inside the Mars colony. Everyone in the colony needs food to eat every day. Someone has to produce and serve the food that the one million colonists need to eat. Typically a person contributes the labor to grow his or her own food, as seen in Chapters 4 and 5. But what about these scenarios?

  • Should a person who is “retired” at age 65 be relieved of the responsibility of growing his or her own food? Does a 65-year-old person get to sit idle in the Mars colony and eat food produced by others? Or should a 65-year-old person be asked to continue helping with food production as he/she is able, potentially right up until the day he dies?
  • As human life spans increase and people are healthier in retirement, how might these ideas change? If there is an age of retirement, what should that age be if people are commonly living to be 90 years old? Is retirement age 65? 70? 75? 80? 85? 90?
  • What about a 10-year old child? Are children exempt from food production?
  • What about a 16 year old teenager? 16-year-olds are certainly capable of working in some capacity, and many 16-year-olds have jobs on planet Earth. Do we ask 16-year-olds on Mars to work in some capacity in the Mars colony, or not?
  • If a person is an adult (age 18+) in college, are they exempt from food production?
  • When a mother gives birth to a child, is she exempt from food production for a week? A month? A year? 10 years? This gets to the idea of maternity leave: how much is appropriate? How long does the mother get a free ride? When is she reasonably able to resume, for example, growing her own food (which only requires a few hours of her human time per week)? And what about the father? Does he get paternity leave, or no? If so, how much leave do one or both parents get? (See also chapter X on children)
  • Once a child is born, who is responsible for growing the food for feeding the child? Is it the parents alone (this is, in essence, how it works in America today)? The other workers in the colony alone? Some kind of hybrid?
  • If a person loses a leg in a tragic meteor strike, and is now “disabled” to some degree, does that person get to sit by and watch as everyone else produces the food that he will eat? Or should he be required to work in some capacity as he is able, for example peeling potatoes in one of the restaurants? Why or why not?
  • What happens to a person in a deep depression, or who has gone insane for some reason? Are these people exempt from work, or not?
  • Do prisoners grow their own food, or do they sit in solitary confinement doing no work all day?
  • If a person is long-term sick (e.g. cancer, recovering from a heart attack, recovering from a transplant operation, recovering from an accident, etc.) are they exempt from food production?
How do we answer all of these questions? How do we get everyone in the colony to agree on and be happy with the answers? For example, some people in the colony will believe that people should work just like everyone else up until the day they die, without any form of "retirement". Other people will have different ideas, perhaps reducing the expected workload at a certain age, or completely eliminating work at a certain age. See Chapter X for a discussion.

For the sake of an example calculation, let's assume that half of the colony – all of the children, all of the retired people, all of the college students, all of the long-term sick people, all of the new mothers, etc. – get a free ride. We do not ask them to do any work at all in the Mars colony because of their various situations. This means that only half of the population of the Mars colony will be doing the “work” that supports the rest of the colony. With a 32-hour work week for 45 weeks a year, we now have 720 million hours of available human time to run the colony (45 weeks * 32 hours a week * 500,000 able-bodied adults).

For the sake of a second example calculation, let's assume that a quarter of the colony – all of the young children, all of the long-term sick people, etc. – get a free ride. We do not ask them to do any work at all in the Mars colony because of their various situations. And let's assume that a quarter of the colony – all of the retired people, all of the college students, all of the teenagers, etc. – work half time. This means that only half of the population of the Mars colony will be working full time, and a quarter with be working half-time. With a 32-hour work week for 45 weeks a year, we now have 900 million hours of available human time to run the colony (45 weeks * 32 hours a week * 500,000 able-bodied adults + 45 weeks * 16 hours a week * 250,000 half-time adults).

The second case will likely be much more palatable to a lot of people. It is pretty easy to understand that 2-year-old child, or a person who has had a severe stroke (and who can no longer talk or move effectively), can't work. But the idea of a perfectly able retiree doing zero work at age 65 would likely be aggravating to a lot of people. And moving the retirement age up to 75 or even 80 might be completely appropriate for the Mars colony. Fun fact – When the Social Security system was first enacted in the United States, the retirement age was 65, but the average lifespan in the U.S. was 61.7 years [ref]. Therefore not many people ever received Social Security. Now with the average lifespan at 79.3 [ref], nearly everyone receives Social Security as they retire around age 65. The Mars colony should likely take these changing demographics into account.

So let's make an assumption: The million-person Mars colony will have 900 million hours of available human time from its colonists. 500,000 colonists are working 4 days a week for 45 weeks per year, or 180 work days per year. 250,000 colonists are working at half that rate. And 250,000 colonists are getting a free ride (e.g. pre-teen children are in this group).

What is the colony going to do with that 900 million available hours of human time? Let's make some additional assumptions:

  • 510 million hours are already accounted for in Chapter 9, producing all of the food, clothing, housing, health care, education, electricity, police protection, etc. that the colony needs.
  • Add to that 100 million hours of human time to produce all of the other products the colony needs in modern, automated factories: things like the furniture, electronics, accessories, etc. of modern life, along with basics like toilet paper, light bulbs and so on. AKA "manufacturing". [ref]
  • Add in another 50 million hours for construction [ref]. We have already covered housing construction in Chapters 7 and 8, but lots of other things (e.g. factories, schools, hospitals, fire stations, etc.) still need to be constructed and maintained.
  • Add in another 50 million hours for transportation. [ref] More on this is Chapter X.
  • Add in another 50 million hours for retailing. [ref] More on this is Chapter X.
  • Add in another 50 million hours for a very strong research and development program to significantly and swiftly advance the technologies available on Mars. [ref]
The total here is 810 million hours. There are still 90 million hours of available capacity for "other".

Think about how amazing this is – all of these products and services, provided with maximum variety and in shocking abundance to all one million members of the Mars colony – and the most that anyone is working is 180 days a year.

In addition, understand that the amount of time that the colony needs to spend on "work" will be declining over time. As robots, automation, new software, new advances, etc. take over more and more of the work, colonists on Mars will be spending less and less hours working. It will only get better from here. Soon the work week will fall to three days per week, then two...

When you compare this economic system to the economic systems that prevail on Earth today, the differences are surprising. Keep in mind that 80% of the people on planet Earth make less than $10 per day right now [ref] – they live in shocking deprivation compared to the salaried employees living in modern, developed countries. The economic model proposed for Mars would be an absolute miracle for at least 80% of the people on Earth today.

Now, in the interest of fairness, we should answer one last question about the Mars colony...

Who will be doing the undesirable jobs in the Mars colony?

Who should grow the food you eat? Who should make the shoes you wear? Who should build the smart phone that you carry with you?

An argument could be made that you should do all of that work. In other words, the person who eats the food should be responsible for growing it. The person who wears the shoes should be responsible for making them. The person using the smart phone should be responsible for constructing it him/herself. Why should someone else have to waste their time growing your food? Making your shoes?

For a variety of reasons, we have decided as a society that there is value in people specializing:

  • Different people are "good at" different things. A person who is good at writing software is different from a person who is good at farming corn or maintaining sewer systems.
  • Similarly, different people enjoy different activities. The kind of person who loves nursing, for example, probably is not the same as a person who loves repairing car engines.
  • Most jobs require certain levels of training/experience, and cross training everyone in a society to do every job is not very efficient.
  • There are also geographic hurdles. If tomatoes are grown in California because of the climate, and smart phones are made in an industrial area of China because of the proximity to hardware vendors, it simply is not possible for a person to do both jobs.
  • And so on...
But in this specialization there is a certain level of evil that can develop, and it expresses itself like this:
    "I don't want to make my own shoes. I don't ever want to work in any garment factory. That sort of work is beneath me. And picking vegetables? That is ridiculous. Let dirty migrant farm workers do that work. I should never have to get MY hands dirty. And assembling my smart phone? Let slaves in China do that. And pay them 60 cents an hour to do it. I don't want the price of my phone to go up. That would be robbery. I don't care if the Chinese are starving, cowering in slums and living like slaves – I want my shoes and my smart phone now!"
Then, people who have this mindset, and the power to make it so, impose their will upon billions of people across the globe.

Truly, this is evil incarnate. This is the absurdity of the current economic systems found on Earth today. We try to rationalize the evil with economic mumbo jumbo about "supply and demand curves" and "macroeconomic policy". But this is a moral issue here, not an economic one, and the proposed economic system for the Mars colony exposes the evil for what it is.

For one human being to say to another, "You, and millions like you, are going to make my phone for 60 cents an hour, and if you refuse to do so you will starve to death, because this is the only job and the only terms I am offering you," is evil.

What the new economic model of the Mars colony described in this book shows us, starting with the very simple examples in Chapters 4 and 5, is that this evil is not only unnecessary, but it is also morally bankrupt. We actually can create an equitable society where everyone gets to share equally in the economy's bounty. As stated in Chapter 3, here are the design goals for the Mars economy:

  • Everyone has high quality, healthy food
  • Everyone has clean water and sanitation services
  • Everyone has high quality, safe, secure housing
  • Everyone has high quality health care
  • Everyone has high quality clothing
  • Everyone has high quality education
  • Everyone has high quality transportation
  • Everyone has 24x7 electricity and Internet access
  • Everyone has a computer and a smart phone to access the Internet
  • And so on...
  • And everyone has these things in a way that is sustainable, so that we do not destroy the planet we live on.
This is so obvious... Obviously we want the new Mars colony to work this way. Why would we go off to Mars and create any other kind of economy there? Do we want slums and poverty and hunger and disease in our shiny new Mars colony? OF COURSE NOT. This is as obvious as the sky is blue. Yet it is also obvious, from direct experience on planet Earth, that we must create a new Socio-Economic-Political System for Mars if we hope to accomplish anything close to this reality for the Mars colony.

The system laid out in the previous chapters of this book creates an economic model that makes the above goals not only achievable, but guaranteed.

How is this possible? It is possible because setting prices and wages with "supply and demand" is complete nonsense. The economic elites on Earth have brainwashed us with thousands of references to the idea of "supply and demand curves", but these curves are completely imaginary and serve only to facilitate the concentration of wealth and impoverishment of billions of people around the world. "Supply and demand theory" is the reason why 80% of the people on Earth make less than $10 per day.

What really and fairly sets the "price" of any product or service? As demonstrated in the previous chapters of this book, there is one thing and one thing only that sets the real price of a product: The amount of human time used to create the product. Therefore, if it takes ten minutes of aggregated time* to create a shirt, then the price of the shirt is ten minutes. Therefore, anyone with ten minutes of time that they can contribute to the system can own the shirt.

[* The term "aggregated time" is simply an acknowledgment that there is both direct and indirect time that goes into making the shirt (or any product). Someone sewed the shirt together using human time. This is direct time spent making the shirt. The shirt is made of cotton fabric. The cotton contains some amount of human time to grow, harvest, spin and weave the cotton. The shirt is sewn on a sewing machine. Human time went into making the sewing machine, which is then apportioned across the thousands of shirts sewn on the machine. The sewing machine exists inside a factory building, which contains human time, again apportioned across millions of shirts. And so on. All of these little slices of time together add up into the ten minutes of aggregated time that go into the shirt. This ten minutes of aggregated time is the real "price" or "cost" of the shirt, not some random point on a "supply and demand curve".]

As you begin to unlock your thinking from years of brainwashing, you will realize that "supply and demand" for pricing is nothing but a scam designed to impoverish billions of people. The "price" of any product is actually a defined, calculable number: It is the amount of human time invested in the product. And since most human beings have human time to offer, they can participate in the abundance of the Mars economy.

Understaning impoverishment

The funny thing is, pretty much everyone who can afford Nikes and smart phones in the developed world is complicit in this evil, even if they do not realize it. The fact that you own a smart phone means that you have enslaved someone in China for 60 cents or a dollar per hour. It is frightening when considered in these terms. But it is a fact that, by participating in the economic systems in place on Earth today, the result is that 80% of people on Earth make less than $10 per day currently [ref]. We are all complicit.

Think about it this way: If we want to shop in Target or Walmart, or we want to eat in restaurants, or we want to wear Nike shoes or talk on smart phones, fellow human beings need to provide the human time to make these products and services possible. Right now, all of these tasks, by and large, are being done by impoverished people:

  • In the case of Target, Walmart, Starbucks and McDonald's, all of the workers are being paid minimum wage or close to it. This is poverty in the United States. This reality has decimated millennials, who simply cannot find better jobs in many cases, despite earning college degrees. [ref], [ref]

  • In the case of shoes, clothing and smart phones, people halfway around the world are manufacturing these products for $1/hour or so. Again, these are the best jobs they can find.

If these people were not filling these jobs, the rest of us could not shop at Walmart or Taget, eat at Starbucks or McDonald's, or buy shoes, clothes and smart phones. Just think about it. If people do not fill the jobs, these products and services cannot exist. In the future, all of this work will be done by robots, but today all of this work requires human help.

If we want to partake of these products and services, why should the people providing these products and services be impoverished?

Here is another way to think about it. Say that all of the doctors in the United States banded together and declared, "We are special. We demand a 2X pay increase starting today. Pay it, or we will stop healing you. Everyone will begin dying from their illnesses." This is blackmail (and is to some degree how the medical-industrial complex in America really does operate today [ref]).

The obvious answer to the doctors' blackmail would be for farmers to band together and say, "Great. We will no longer sell food to doctors. Doctors can start dying of starvation right now." Doctors would then need to start growing their own food, or starve. You can see the point: farmers are just as valuable as doctors. Doctors need what farmers produce, and farmers need what doctors produce. It is a symbiotic relationship. Society has agreed that different people will specialize in different things for the sake of efficiency (e.g., doctors do not need to grow their own food), but in making this bargain, it does not mean that suddenly a big chunk of the population should be impoverished because of the decision.

This is the beauty of the Mars economy. No one is impoverished on Mars. Everyone participates in the bounty.

But the question remains, who will work in places like the shoe factory? Let's actually walk through this.

What if the shoe factory is not a disgusting, hot, cramped sweatshop in a slum in Vietnam, but instead it is a great place to work? A modern, clean, fun, happy place where people are making the coolest shoes in the world? What if spirits are high because the work is easy and stress free? What if the factory experience is something like this:

Or this:

One group of people gravitate toward and specialize in making shoes. Another group specializes in farming. Another in constructing housing. Another in doctoring, another in nursing, another in software development, another in engineering, and so on. They are all equals, participating equally in the bounty of the Mars colony, each playing their role because all of the roles are essential. This cooperation, and this fairness, is the moral core of the Mars colony's economy. Everyone in the Mars colony participates in the bounty of Mars.

Or think about it from the opposite angle:

  1. Do we want half of the people in the new Mars colony to be living in abject poverty? This is what we find on Earth today.
  2. Do we want there to be vast slums and ghettos on Mars? This is what we find on Earth today.
  3. Do we want lots of Mars children to be dying of easily preventable causes every year (things like hunger, thirst and cholera)? This is what we find on Earth today.
  4. Do we want half of the new Mars citizenry to be cut off from health services? This is what we find on Earth today.
  5. Do we want hundreds of thousands of new Mars citizens to lack access to basics like clean water, sanitation services, adequate food, etc.? This is what we find on Earth today.
  6. Do we want inequality and the concentration of wealth so extreme that two or three people on Mars own more wealth than all of the other citizens of Mars combined? So that the concentration of wealth is accelerating and seems to be unstoppable? This is what we find on Earth today.
These questions are silly because the answers are so obvious to any rational, thoughtful person. Of course we do not want ANY of these things happening in our shiny new Mars colony. All of these things are ridiculous. Yet this is what we find on Earth today because the economic systems on Earth today are predetory and morally bankrupt.

The Mars economy seen in this book solves all of these problems. The Mars colony is designed to work for everyone living in the Mars colony. Poverty and inequality have been eliminated on Mars, as they should be.

>>> Go to Chapter 11

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1 - Elon Musk Makes His Big Announcement about the Mars Colony
  • Chapter 2 - The Many Thought Experiments that Mars Inspires
  • Chapter 3 - Why Do We Need a New Socio-Economic-Political System on Mars?
  • Chapter 4 - Imagining a New and Much Better Socio-Economic-Political System for the Mars Colony
  • Chapter 5 - What Happens When We Add a Massive Amount of Farm Automation to the Mars Colony?
  • Chapter 6 - How Will the Mars Colony Produce its Clothing?
  • Chapter 7 - How Will Housing Work for the Mars Colony?
  • Chapter 8 - How Will the Mars Colonists Construct Their Housing?
  • Chapter 9 - How do we provide other services like water, sanitation, police force, fire department, health care, etc. for the Mars Colony?
  • Chapter 10 - What might a typical "work week" look like on Mars? Who gets a free ride on Mars? Who will do the undesirable jobs on Mars?
  • Chapter 11 - What do we do with lazy people on Mars? What do we do with the assholes?
  • Chapter 12 - How would insurance work on Mars? Yes, insurance...
  • Chapter 13 - How will we make chips on Mars? Pharmaceuticals? Medical devices? "Stuff"? Will Mars be an actual backup plan for humanity?
  • Chapter 14 - What Will the Transportation System on Mars Look Like for Mars Colonists?
  • Chapter 15 - What will the political system look like? How will it be organized?
  • Chapter 16 - Building Experimental Cities on Earth Today to Find the Optimal Configuration for the Mars Colony
  • Chapter 17 - How can we apply the Mars colony's principles to the billions of refugees and impoverished people on planet Earth today?
  • Chapter 18 - How will entertainment work on Mars? What types of entertainment will be available for Mars colonists?
  • Chapter 19 - How will children work on Mars? Who gets to have children? What is the colony's stance toward children?
  • Chapter 20 - Starting the process of building experimental Mars colonies on Earth – Mars Colony Simulation 1000-A
  • Chapter 21 - Coming July 27!
  • Interviews with Marshall Brain on the Mars Colony:
  • See also:

[Feedback and suggestions on any part of this book are greatly appreciated. Contact information is here.]



You may also enjoy this in-depth interview, "Marshall Brain on Singularity 1on1: We're approaching humanity’s make or break period":

On the coming Singularity and Artificial Intelligence:

A Conversation with Marshall Brain from MIRI on Vimeo.

See Also

About the Author
Robotic Nation
Robots in 2015
Robotic Freedom
Robotic Nation FAQ
Robotic Nation Evidence
Basic Income
Discard your body
Manna - the book
Science on the Brain
Careful Parents
Star Wars
How God Works

How to make a million dollars

Reviews
Salon
Wired
LiveScience
LATimes Editorial
Geek of the week

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