Imagining Elon Musk's Million-Person Mars Colony

The greatest thought experiment of all time

Chapter 23

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 1000A
  • Chapter 21 - Can the economic system proposed for the Mars colony significantly improve the Welfare situation in the United States?
  • Chapter 22 - How much land will the Mars colony need?
  • Chapter 23 - Thought Experiment: What If Everyone Makes the Same Wage?
  • Chapter 24 - Coming August 17!
  • 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 23

Thought Experiment: What If Everyone Makes Minimum Wage?

One thing that is so helpful about the new Mars economy described in this book is that it makes many, many things in the economy crystal clear. Stripped down to its essence, many things in the economy are now very easy to understand. First let's quickly summarize how the new Mars economy works as described in this book:

  1. The goal of the one-million-person Mars colony is to create a complete, independent, self-sufficient, modern economy on Mars. If planet Earth were to be completely destroyed, the Mars colony should be able to carry on as the sole instance of the human species and human civilization.
  2. As such, this means that all of the technological achievements seen in the modern world on Earth should be duplicated on Mars, and they should also be advancing through research and development. Microprocessor chips, laptops, tablets, smart phones, TVs, consoles, electronics, appliances, vehicles, farming, farm equipment, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, robots... all of it should be happening on Mars at the same level as the most modern societies on Earth, and Mars research efforts should be independently advancing these technologies as well. See Chapter 13 for details.
  3. To make everything in the new Mars economy happen each day, there is a set of tasks that human beings need to perform. In order for the people in the colony to have potatoes to eat, some of the people in the colony need to plant, cultivate and harvest potatoes. In order for there to be microprocessor chips for the colony, some of the people in the colony need to do the tasks of designing, manufacturing, packaging and testing the chips. In order for there to be MRI machines for medical imaging, some of the people in the economy need to design and build and operate the MRI machines. In addition, a set of researchers needs to be exploring how to make MRI machines better, as well as coming up with new tech that creates the next advances in medical imaging possible. And so on...
  4. A task allocation system lets the Mars colonists input their preferences, and then the system assigns all of the colony's tasks to the available colonists each day.
There are two remarkable features of this new Mars economy that are radically different from economies like the U.S. economy on Earth today:
  • First, everyone gets to participate in the wealth and productivity of this Mars economy. Everyone in the colony gets abundant, high-quality food, clothing, housing, health care, etc. By adding your hours to the system through the task allocation system, you gain access to the abundance of this Mars economy.
  • Second, when automation, technological advances, robots, etc. eliminate jobs, everyone in the colony benefits from it. If some aspect of the economy becomes completely automated, the task allocation system simply assigns the colonists who used to do those tasks to other activities. The arrival of new robots means that everyone in the colony has to do less work. Everyone directly benefits from new technology.

Using this model of the economy, there are a number of things that become immediately and transparently obvious about how any economy works. Here are several examples:

  1. The economy needs a wide variety of skills, capabilities and specialties. There need to be people who know how to grow and harvest potatoes and other farm crops. There need to be people who know how to design and manufacture chips. There need to be doctors who know how to perform brain surgery. And so on. See Chapter 13 for details.
  2. All of these skill sets and specialties are going to initially arrive in the Mars colony via the one million colonists who immigrate to Mars from Earth. Then the colony's education system will need to train up children to learn and master these skills themselves. As the original wave of skilled Earth immigrants age out and die, Mars children will be educated to take their places. See Chapter 13 for details.
  3. Assume that we want the Mars colony to maintain a steady-state population of one million people (see Chapter 19 for a discussion and other options), and assume that there is no further immigration from Earth. Then every pair of people in the Mars colony needs to have 2.1 children on average [ref]. Any less and the colony starts shrinking and eventually collapses. Any more and the colony starts growing. All of these children are trained/educated (including cross-training) to fill all of the roles/specialties in the colony.
  4. In other words, children and their education are incredibly important to the economy - much more so than we give credit for. See also Chapter 19, Chapter 20 and Chapter 21.
  5. There is a finite limit to what the Mars economy can do. There are only so many colonists, and they can together perform only so many tasks in a day. So if the colony decided that it wanted to build a Giza pyramid by carving stone blocks out of a quarry with copper chisels, it can do that, but there are other tasks that may be pushed out of the way by these pyramid-building activities. And there is a Kickstarter-like mechanism that helps the Mars colony decide if it wants to start building a pyramid – see Chapter 18 for details.
  6. All of the people who perform these specialties are equals. A farmer who needs brain surgery is the same as a doctor who needs food to eat. Neither the doctor nor the farmer can exist without the other. See Chapter 10 for details.
  7. A person who does not do tasks in this society is getting a free ride, and all of his/her tasks get pushed off to other colonists. Someone else is growing all of the food he/she eats, building the housing he/she lives in, etc., and the free rider is doing nothing in return. The idea that a 65-year-old can simply stop working (retire) and ride for free until he/she dies 25 years later at age 90 is going to be unpalatable. A person who is 65 can easily perform tasks that make sense for a person this age. See Chapter 10 for details.
  8. Concepts like "farming", "manufacturing", "transportation" and "insurance" are all extremely easy to understand in the context of the Mars colony. For example insurance: people in the colony agree to cooperate if one colonist experiences a catastrophe like a house that burns down. See Chapter 12 for details - there is no need for any large group of executives to extract billions of dollars from the economy through insurance.
  9. The general idea that executives should be paid tens or hundreds of millions of dollars per year is completely absurd, irrational and unsustainable. See Chapter 3 and the remainder of this chapter for numerous examples.
  10. And so on...

Some of these ideas may seem foreign if you have been born and raised in an economy like the one seen in the United States. It can be easier to understand the Mars economy if we think about a thought experiment that goes like this: What if everyone in America were to make minimum wage?

What if everyone in America makes minimum wage?

Imagine that we ran the following advertisement across America: “Would you like to become a player on an NBA team?” How many people would like to be a NBA player? Millions. Millions of people who play basketball would potentially respond to the ad.

Now if we said, “We are only going to pay you $10 an hour to be in the NBA, because we are going to reduce the salaries of all NBA players to $10 per hour”, what would happen? There would still be millions of people who want to play in the NBA. Why? Because:

  • Where else are you going to get to play basketball in front of tens of thousands of ravenous fans, and a TV audience in the millions?
  • Where else are you going to get to play basketball at the highest level in the world?
  • Where else will you get to play basketball with and against the best basketball players in the world?
  • Where else are you going to get the incredible fame of being in the NBA?
  • Where else can you get a shoe named after you?
  • Where else do you get to play basketball all day for your job?
  • Where else can you get the best trainers, coaches, doctors and facilities to help you advance your basketball skills?
  • Where else do you have a shot at being on the NBA all-star team, or being in the NBA hall of fame, or being on the U.S. Olympic basketball team?
  • [See Chapter 18 for details of how sports teams and other forms of entertainment will work in the Mars economy.]

Even for only $10 an hour, there are millions of people who would gladly take a job in the NBA because of all these perks and benefits. These benefits are real – they have real value and the value is tremendous.

What if a player came along and said, “I am a great player, but I refuse to play in the NBA for $10 per hour. I deserve $20 million a year for my skills!” That's fine – there are thousands of other truly great players who would gladly take his place in the NBA. And now this so-called great player is out on the street, no longer able to play basketball at the highest level.

As soon as you understand this truth, and understand that the NBA could pay its players nothing and still have the players, you begin to understand one fault in our current economy. The economy is supposed to be driven by supply and demand. There is tiny demand for NBA players. There are only 30 teams, with a maximum of 15 players on each team [ref]. So there are only 450 NBA players in the entire world. This is tiny demand. But there is a supply of millions of people who would gladly take one of those 450 slots in a heartbeat, even if it paid very little. The law of supply and demand dictates that NBA players should get paid minimum wage.

When they create the U.S. Olympic basketball team, they can pay those players nothing, and they would still play. It's the same thing.

If you think about it further, you realize that the same thing is true of every high-paying job in the economy. Think about actresses – there are a million women who want to be an actress in a major motion picture and are qualified to do it. They would gladly do it for $0. Why?

  • The fame
  • The talented people they get to work with
  • The fame
  • The crowds of adoring fans
  • The name recognition wherever they go
  • The fame
  • The ability to be on national talk shows and interviews
  • The hobnobbing with other actors and actresses in the best clubs and parties
  • The romantic opportunities that open up
  • The fame
  • The opportunity to win an Oscar
  • Etc.
  • [See Chapter 18 for details of how actresses and other entertaintainers will work in the Mars economy.]
There would be no need to pay actors and actresses anything, and most would still do it because of all of the other perks and benefits. Many simply love the opportunity to act, and to work with other talented actors, directors, producers, etc. If some famous actor refused to act for $10 an hour, that's fine. There are a million people who would jump at the chance to take the role. Again, it is pure supply and demand. There is no reason to pay an actor anything in a major motion picture.

[Pick any famous actor. There is a train of thought that says, “this actor is worth $20 million.” But that is a piece of faulty logic that is pushed to the point of brainwashing by the elite. Take the first Star Wars movie as an example. When it appeared in 1977, no one had really ever heard of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, etc. There are tens of thousands of qualified, eager actors who could have been slotted into any of those roles, and the movie would have still been a hit, because of the story and the special effects. If anything, putting a "famous", $20 million actor in for Harrison Ford or something like that would have hurt the film, not helped it. No one had any pre-conveived notions or memories about Ford when he appeared on screen – he was a fresh face. This is true of any movie – there are thousands of actors or actresses who could fill any role, and would do so eagerly and without pay if necessary. It would be possible to logically argue that any given person should be allowed to act in only one major motion picture, because there are so many people who would like to have the opportunity. The demand for actors is tiny, while the supply is gigantic.]

Let's say that, across the whole economy, we paid every single person only one wage, and that is minimum wage. What would change? Nothing really would change, except that prices for everything would drop gigantically.

No one is spared: The president of the United States, all the politicians and bureaucrats in federal, state and local governments, CEOs and executives, business owners, lawyers, doctors and dentists, actors and actresses and directors, sports stars, team owners… everyone. If you get a paycheck, you get minimum wage. No exceptions.

What would happen to highly paid people like TV/movie stars, corporate executives, sports stars, radio personalities and so on? Their salaries would go from millions of dollars a year to $20,000 a year. Would it be a catastrophe? No. In all likelihood, absolutely nothing would change. Is Rush Limbaugh going to give up his soapbox if he got paid less? Probably not. He likes the fame and influence his show gives him. He is going nowhere. But even if he did choose to step down, there are thousands of people who are qualified to take his slot and would gladly do it. Are famous TV personalities going to quit? Probably not. They like the fame too. The stars of popular movies? No… they cannot get into the best restaurants, have adoring fans or get awards unless they appear on screen.

But if they do quit, it is not a problem. Johnny Carson left the Tonight Show, and we got Jay Leno, and when he left we got Jimmy Fallon. It was not a catastrophe. Steve Jobs died and what happened? Nothing. Tim Cook replaced him. It worked out great. Tim Cook could die tomorrow and he would be replaced too. There are thousands and thousands of people who would love to have these high powered jobs.

Would CEOs making $50 million a year leave? Maybe. But good CEOs love what they are doing building companies and leading thousands of people. If some CEO doesn't want to do it unless he/she gets paid $50 million a year, that probably tells us something about him/her. We probably don't want him/her leading a company anyway if they are only in it for the money. If we replace him/her with someone who actually cares about the job and the company and the employees and the company's products, we would all be better off. The gigantic 2008 stock market collapse and ensuing recession was caused by greedy, ridiculously payed CEOs and executives. If we had had good, honest, competent people filling the CEO and executive roles in these companies, we would have avoided this catastrophe. You can see the point: Getting rid of people who are motivated by money like this would be a win. The CEOs who step down because they do not want to make minimum wage can go plant potatoes or do some other task like this needed by the Mars task allocation system.

As you start to think about this new minimum wage reality, you begin to realize something. Most people – especially the ones who are highly paid today – would stay in their current jobs. The perks of fame and power would keep them there. So here's the question: Why isn't supply and demand governing the pay of CEOs, TV celebrities, sports stars and supermodels, driving their wages down just like everyone else?

Here is the fascinating side effect that a purely minimum wage economy would have. It is subtle, but it is something to consider. If all the jobs paid the same, many people would go do things they've always wanted to do. For example, some people would love to teach, but they can't stomach the fact that teachers make such low amounts of money. Now the stigma would be gone -- teaching would pay just as much as everything else. A minimum wage economy would give people a lot more freedom in choosing their career paths, and might lead to a lot more job satisfaction.

It is fascinating actually. It shows you how strange the economy has become. If supply and demand were truly regulating wages, the people with the best jobs would get paid the least, and the people with the worst jobs would get paid the most. So why is it the other way around? The only reason the rich get paid any more than the rest of us is because they are in the position to write themselves checks. They are handing money to themselves in ever-increasing amounts. This process is concentrating wealth at an ever increasing rate. [ref], [ref]

Our world would actually work much better if we all got paid minimum wage.

Taking the thought experiment to the next level

Let's continue this thought experiment one step further. Imagine that we have created a nation where everyone is getting paid the same wage. The nation has settled into this new reality and it is working surprisingly well.

Now a person stands up and says, "I am more ____ than everyone else, so I deserve more. I deserve a 30,000 square foot house in the nicest location, and I want a private airplane to fly me wherever I need to go, and I want my own private vacation areas so I don't have to mingle with the riff raff." The blank could be filled in with almost anything:

  • "I am more intelligent than everyone else, so I deserve more."
  • "I am more beautiful than everyone else, so I deserve more."
  • "I am more athletic than everyone else, so I deserve more."
This is the norm today, but under this new reality we would look at such a person in a completely different light. What, exactly, do we do with a person who has become a conceited asshole like this? See Chapter 11 for more details on assholes in the Mars colony.

Why do we accept a statement like, "I am beautiful and you are not, so I deserve more than you," or, "I can run fast and you can't, so I deserve more than you," or "I can sing and you can't, so I deserve more than you"?

Think about the American Declaration of Independence:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Can the majority of people have liberty and pursue happiness if the richest 10% of the population makes half the income and owns half the stock market? [ref]

We all understand that some people work harder than others, and therefore they tend to make more. If person A is willing to work 8 hours a day, and person B is willing to get a second job and work an extra 4 hours more, then person B makes more than person A. That's not what is happening today, however. Today we have CEOs paying themselves hundreds, even thousands of times more than rank and file workers for no reason other than the fact that the CEOs control the check book (the CEO of Nike makes 4,000 times more than the people who assemble Nike shoes - see Chapter 3 for details)[ref]. It is a pathological concentration of wealth. A corporation charges its customers more money in order to pay the CEO millions of dollars, and there is no rational or economic reason for the CEO to receive all of that money. It is theft, plain and simple.

Concentrated wealth of this magnitude tends to destroy liberty for the population as a whole.

  • The wealthy gain the ability to have a much larger voice in the media than anyone else because they can buy ad space and media access.
  • The wealthy gain the ability to have a much larger voice in court than anyone else by hiring large groups of the best lawyers.
  • The wealthy gain the ability to have a much larger voice with the government than anyone else through large campaign contributions and lobbyists.
Extreme wealth corrupts the democratic system. Wealth gives a small group of people the power to disrupt the lives of many others. [ref], [ref]

The way to solve these problems is to eliminate the wealthy and give everyone the same access to the productivity of the society. The economy proposed for the Mars colony accomplishes this. When people contribute their human time to the society through the task allocation system, they directly receive the fruits of their contributions. Everyone is able to access the bounty.

The Forcing Function of Starvation

Here is another way to think about it. The current economy in the U.S. has a forcing function that works like this: If you are poor and you do not work, then your only option is to starve to death. [Yes, there is a safety net provided by Welfare for some – see Chapter 21 for details. However, that does not change the basic nature of this forcing function.] Starvation is used as a tool to force people to work. And for the people on the low end of the Totem Pole, this means a crummy minimum wage job - living in poverty with no economic upside. The employees of Walmart do work, but they get economically crushed in the process - see Chapter 3 for details. This is what we do with Walmart employees and anyone else on the low end of the economic spectrum – we tell them: do your job for minimum wage or you starve to death.

So the logical question is: If we are going to use starvation as a threat on some, why not use it on everyone? If Rush Limbaugh says, "if you don't pay me $50 million per year, I won't do my show...” then great. The task allocation system says to Rush, "Please report to Field #1647 to pick cotton today." Rush Limbaugh, like everyone else, has to perform tasks in the Mars economy to earn his keep. He is no different from anyone else – this is how an economy works. He is not a special snowflake who deserves $50 million a year because he talks for 3 hours a day. The whole idea that an economy would pay millions of dollars for 3 hours of talking is utterly absurd. See Chapter 18 for details on how entertainers like Rush Limbaugh will work in the Mars economy.

This is one of the things that the new Mars economy makes so brilliantly clear: everyone is in this boat together, and by rowing together equally, we all get a great result. We all get to participate in the colony's incredible bounty.

Let's address the objections

Since this is a serialized book, people inevitably write in with objections. So let's examine them and address them as they come in:

Objection #1 goes something like this: "Famous person X will not fill role Y unless he/she gets paid $Z million per year!" Great - then famous person X can go plant wheat in Field #23165 (or do something else that needs to get done and is more to his/her liking). We will let someone who is far less conceited and who enjoys role Y have the role. If Rush Limbaugh will not do his show unless he/she gets paid $50 million a year, there are thousands of other hugely qualified people who would enthusiastically jump at the chance to do Rush's show for $0 per year.

Here is another way to see the situation with absolute clarity: If Rush Limbaugh dies of a heart attack tonight, there will be someone new in his seat tomorrow, and there is a very good chance that the show will get better as a result of the replacement. This is exactly what happened when Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer. People are replaced all the time. No one is irreplacable, often the replacement is better, and there are thousands of hugely qualified people begging to have a juicy, high-visibility role like this in the economy (which by the law of supply and demand means that the person who has the role should get paid $0).

"But Wait", some might say, "If Rush Limbaugh is replaced by someone making minimum wage, even if that person is more qualified, Rush can just go start another show. He has a devoted audience. His audience will follow him!" This is true. Rush Limbaugh can go start another show. In the context of this chapter however, Rush Limbaugh will then make minimum wage in his new show. Everyone makes minimum wage. See Chapter 18 for a discussion of how entertainment works in the Mars economy.

"But wait", some might say, "Rush Limbaugh won't do his new show unless he gets paid $50 million per year!" Please jump back up to Objection #1.

Objection #2 goes something like this: "No one will work if a task allocation system is telling them what to do!" This objection is absurd if you simply look at how the world works for the vast majority of "normal people" working in the U.S. economy today. Just about everyone is already working under a task allocation system. If a person works at any major corporation like Walmart, McDonald's, Kroger, Amazon, FedEx, UPS, Target, Walgreens, Starbuck's, Mariott, and so on, these people are all being told what to do by either a piece of corporate software that builds their schedules, or a manager who builds their scehedules in a spreadsheet or on a paper form. Even for a doctor working in his/her office, the day goes like this: "OK Dr. Johnson, today you have Mrs. McGuillicuty at 8:00AM, and then Mr. Miller at 8:10AM, and then Mrs. Jones at 8:20AM, and then Mr. Smedly at 8:30AM...." The vast majority of people working in the U.S. economy are working this way already.

Objection #3 goes something like this: "Famous person X or corporate executive Y deserves to make $50 million per year! They have earned it!" There is no logical basis for this claim, and the logic breaks down on at least three different levels. First, any person can be easily replaced. If any person making $50 million a year (like a CEO or a talk show host) dies suddenly, watch what happens the next day. The next day, a replacement is in place, and the dead person is already being quickly forgotten. Second, for any role that is paying $50 million a year, there are thousands of hugely qualified people who would gladly take the role for minimum wage. The supply is high, the demand is very low, so by the law of supply and demand the job should pay minimum wage. Third, paying anyone $50 million is highly corrosive to democracy, as described previously in this chapter. Conclusion: There is no reason to pay anyone more than minimum wage, and doing so harms our society. Therefore, we should pay everyone minimum wage.

Objection #4 goes something like this: "Highly talented people will not work unless they receive millions of dollars in pay!" This argument is silly, because there are millions of examples that prove it false. Think about the vast majority of famous scientists who have changed the world while not requiring millions of dollars in pay to motivate them. They are motivated by discovery, solving problems, advancing society, etc., not by money. Ten examples:

  • Albert Einstein (discovered general and special relativity)
  • Jonas Salk (discovered the polio vaccine)
  • Marie Curie (discovered radioactivity)
  • Francis Crick, James Watson (discovered DNA's structure)
  • Alexander Fleming, Ernst Chain and Howard Florey (discovered antibiotics)
  • Werner Heisenberg (discovered quantum mechanics)
  • Robert Koch (discovered the bacterial causes of tuberculosis, anthrax and cholera)
  • Enrico Fermi (discovered the nuclear chain reaction)
  • Linus Pauling (chemical bonds)
  • Norman Borlaug (discovered high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat)

Think about the hundreds of thousands of people who worked on the Apollo moon missions - one of the greatest human accomplishments in all of human history. These scientists, engineers and technicians were not making millions of dollars. Many of them would have worked for free, just to be part of the program.

Think about the millions of U.S. soldiers who fought in World War I and II, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives. They were paid very little, yet served with valor.

And so on. Normal people who are highly talented, and who go to work every day by the millions, are by and large not motivated by money, but are motivated by doing a good job and having the chance to make the world a better place. Yes, of course they need money - this is the way the current economy is wired up. So, in the current economy, they need to be paid some amount of money for their work. But they are not motivated by money [ref]. 90% of people in America make less than $160,000 per year, and the average wage is $32,000 [ref]. The people who do make millions of dollars are a disease - if we eliminated this disease, society would be significantly improved in a number of different ways. Most importantly, everyone else in the society would have access to far more of the wealth generated by society. This is one of the key principles underpinning the new Mars economy: let's give everyone in society access to abundant, high-quality food, clothing, housing, health care, etc. by eliminating the cancerous concentration of wealth that has infected the U.S. economy and the U.S. government.

Here is a way to understand how the concentration of wealth can destroy a society. Imagine that we have one million colonists living on Mars under the new Mars economy described in this book. The task allocation system allocates tasks to all of the Mars colonists based on their preferences. Everyone is equal - when a colonist works for an hour, the colonist receives one hour's worth of goods from the economy. Now imagine that 1,000 people (0.1% of the population) annoint themselves as super-wonderful elite executives and celebrities who "deserve" 1,000 hours of goods in return for one hour of their work. If that happens, everyone else in the Mars colony essentially becomes enslaved to these 1,000 elites. When the 1,000 elites work one hour, the rest of the colony has to work 1,000,000 hours to satisfy their demands. You can see that this situation is utterly absurd, but this is exactly what is happening in our world today. The Mars economy simply makes the problem transparently obvious as described at the beginning of this chapter.

You might think, "This is impossible", but look at the CEO of Nike as described in Chapter 3. He makes approximately 4,000 times more than the workers who are assembling Nike shoes. These workers are living very much like slaves. If the Nike CEO and all of the shoe assemblers make the same wage, as described in this chapter, society is better off in many different ways. This is one of the key principles responsible for the amazing abundance produced by the new Mars economy described in this book.

Objection #5 goes something like this: "There is no reason to pay everyone in society the same wage!" This too is incorrect, and the reasons why it is incorrect are obvious. First, the concentration of wealth is turning the United States and other countries into oligopolies, to the detriment of the vast majority of human beings. Second, the future that should unfold for humanity leads us directly to a place where everyone makes the same wage and everyone is equal. As automation and robots do more and more of the work, it will eventually be the case that human beings no longer need to work. Every factory will be completely automated, as will every store and restaurant. Even doctors, engineers, lawyers and scientists will eventually be replaced by robots. In a world where no one needs to work, everyone is equal. The Mars economy described in this book simply takes that inevitable reality, eliminates the concentration of wealth that is so corrosive to society, and moves the timeline forward to today for the benefit of the vast majority of the world's citizens. See the Preface for more information.

Objection #6 goes something like this: "Doctors deserve to make $500,000 a year! There is no way you cannot see this! Doctors have to repay gigantic student loans! Talented doctors are rare!" The first thing to understand is that a doctor making $500,000 is completely different from the utter absurdity of executive salaries in the United States today. As pointed out in this article:

    The highest-paid executive for 2016 was Marc Lore, CEO of e-commerce at Wal-Mart, who made $243.9 million, according to S&P CapitaIQ. The CEO of Alphabet's Googe, Sundar Pichai, brought in $199.7 million, while Robert J. Coury, chairman of Mylan, made $136.8 million. They were followed by Thomas Rutledge, the Charter Communications CEO, at $98.5 million, and CBS CEO Les Moonves, at $69.5 million.

    "Regardless of how it's measured, CEO pay continues to be very, very high and has grown far faster in recent decades than typical worker pay," Mishel and Schieder wrote. "Exorbitant CEO pay means that the fruits of economic growth are not going to ordinary workers, since the higher CEO pay does not reflect correspondingly higher output."

The other thing to recognize is that the two reasons just cited for paying doctors more (student debt and scarcity) will both be easily eliminated on Mars. One easy way to lower doctor salaries is to release doctors from funding their own educations, and therefore the student debt that they carry. In the new Mars economy described in this book, doctors will receive their training for free as part of the normal course of business for the colony. Second, the reason why doctors are rare in the United States is because of artificial scarcity imposed and enforced by the American Medical Association [ref], [ref]. This ridiculous scarcity obviously will not exist in the new Mars economy.

Also note that doctors will be increasingly replaced by robots and software that will do a much better job of health care. For example, robots and software will go a long way toward eliminating the very large number of medical mistakes that occur in the United States:

    Nightmare stories of nurses giving potent drugs meant for one patient to another and surgeons removing the wrong body parts have dominated recent headlines about medical care. Lest you assume those cases are the exceptions, a new study by patient-safety researchers provides some context.

    Their analysis, published in the BMJ on Tuesday, shows that “medical errors” in hospitals and other health-care facilities are incredibly common and may now be the third-leading cause of death in the United States — claiming 251,000 lives every year, more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s. [ref]

"But wait!", some might say, "There is no way that a doctor and a babysitter should get paid the same thing! Or a doctor and a farmer! That is absurd!" People believe this because of brainwashing that occurs in the current economic systems on Earth. Simply think about it. A sick farmer may not be able to survive without the care of a doctor. But a doctor definitely cannot survive without the food produced by the farmer. A farmer is just as important to the society as a doctor is. And think about a babysitter. As explained in Chapter 19, human children are one of the most expensive "products" produced by any society. Society "spends" tens of thousands of human hours raising a human child to adulthood. So now the doctor is going to entrust an incredibly valuable human life (and additionally his/her own flesh and blood) to a babysitter. The babysitter is just as important as the doctor. Both are entrusted with incredibly valuable human lives.

Chapter 24

Coming soon!

This is a serialized book
with a new chapter each week!
Please mark your calendar and
come back on the evening of August 17, 2017
for the next chapter installment!

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 1000A
  • Chapter 21 - Can the economic system proposed for the Mars colony significantly improve the Welfare situation in the United States?
  • Chapter 22 - How much land will the Mars colony need?
  • Chapter 23 - Thought Experiment: What If Everyone Makes the Same Wage?
  • Chapter 24 - Coming August 17!
  • 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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© Copyright 2017 by Marshall Brain. All rights reserved.