An interesting discussion on the Open Manufacturing group asks the question: in the future when personal manufacturing equipment is widespread, what happens to the traditional consumer-manufacturer-wage earner cycle? In other words, if everyone can easily build things, what happens? Will good salaries disappear because there will be fewer buyers for traditionally manufactured items? Patrick Anderson asks:
As the overhead to participate is reduced, the number of potential workers is increased.
As capital-outlay approaches zero, all peers will have the chance to reverse-bid for any job for which they have skills.
This will cause wages to fall to the minimum since there will then be nothing to stop consumers from hiring the lowest bidder.
P.M. Lawrence proposes the following scenario:
Essentially, if people owned (enough of) their own resources, distinct wages would be a smaller component of what they would need and would get for a living, so that would become a non-issue. The first stage would act to provide them with the equivalent through wages, by assisting wages.
However, Kevin Carson says:
Cheaper means of production means lower capital outlays to be amortized, a smaller revenue stream required to retire the outlay, and the ability to ride out longer periods of unemployment with little revenue without going in the hole from the cost of servicing debt. The increased number of needs that can be met cheaply through self-provisioning, as household-scale tools become affordable, will also reduce short-term cash flow needs and increase workers’ ability to ride out short periods of unemployment — and hence their ability to walk away from the bargaining table.
We’re definitely not sure how this will play out. However, we are certain *something* will play out over the next decade.