Rather than universal basic income, how about craft spirits?

More than any one thing, MicroShiner is focused on the future. Yes, we love craft spirits and cocktail culture and, yes, we are passionate about the small batch lifestyle, but what we are most interested in is charting a path forward. To put it simply, we’re committed to creating the world we all know is possible.

This is not to say we don’t believe in enjoying the moment. In fact, just the opposite - we’ve made it a tenet of our philosophy. We believe in striving for the pure moment, the flow state, of investing yourself completely in a craft, a cocktail, an experience. And then sharing that with others.

We belong to the avant-garde, those who look forward to a world founded upon a collaborative commons, where decentralization and peer-to-peer relationships are the rule, rather than the exception. We believe that our economic system should be based on purpose and outcome, not the single-minded pursuit of profit, and we have structured our company and tailored our business to align with this belief.

Evolution is imperative, and to think that this is the culmination of humanity’s political and economic development is to ignore the lessons of the past. It is no more likely that our current system of organization will continue indefinitely than it was for that those it replaced. Which is to say, it is an impossibility

What that future will look like is for anyone to guess. We only know that we would rather be an active participant in that process than a passive observer.

Personally, I subscribe to the school of thought advanced by Jeremy Rifkin, that we are moving into a new epoch marked by automation and zero marginal costs, a third industrial revolution driven by the internet of things. But automation, as we’ve seen with outsourcing, leads to a hollowing out of the working class. Only this time it isn’t limited to the developed world. It is global.

It is wonderful to imagine a market filled with 3D printed, robot assembled, AI optimized goods that are essentially free. But if robots make everything, where will people derive the income to pay for these necessities? And what will they do to occupy their time?

There are many answers to these questions being kicked about, the most prominent being UBI, or universal basic income, which is basically a tax on the profit margins created by automation that is then disbursed to the displaced workforce as income. This is a fine concept, and applicable in many circumstances, such as underwriting research science or the arts. However it fails to solve one of the third industrial revolution’s most pressing concerns - how to occupy people’s time.

An idle workforce has long been a bane of civilization. There is a great scene in Soylent Green, a film ripe for reinterpretation, where the people are all lying about in the street, waiting for their ration of Soylent. This is what the dystopian version of the Third Industrial Revolution looks like.

In another thirty to fifty years, the demand for cheap labor will have produced even more machines over the employment of actual humans. And in that time frame, humans will have lost their voice, their power, all freedoms, and all worth. It is inevitable that machines will one day become the ultimate enemies of mankind. We are not evolving or progressing with our technology, only regressing. Technology is our friend today, but will be our enemy in the future.
— Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

For me, the answer to this question, of how to occupy significant numbers of the population with meaningful employment, is craft.

Craft production fills nearly every niche left empty by the rise of automation and a move to zero marginal cost. It is skills based and labor intensive. It takes time. It utilizes intermediate technology and requires relatively little capitalization. It is decentralized. It’s marginal costs are high, but it pays well.

I see a divergence. A market filled with commodity goods that are essentially free - a toothbrush, for example - as well as craft products that, while expensive, are personal, of exceedingly high quality, and made to last. Well, except for the spirits. Those we’ll go through pretty fast.

cultureCobey Williamson