Six Philosophies Which Enable a Resource-Based Economy


The resource-based economy has become a popular topic of discussion, and this paper is the author’s inaugural foray into the field. Far from being an easy convert to social movements, I am inherently distrustful of them. However, a hard-won ally is a hard-lost one. Perhaps it is time for me to endorse the movement and attempt to illuminate some vital needs such a movement may need to embrace in order to succeed in implementing its views. This paper is intended to be an initial exploration of concepts for further definition. 

Discussion of the idea of a resource-based economy (RBE) is becoming increasingly popular, yet the exact technical specifications of such a society have remained somewhat elusive. This paper attempts to address certain fundamental concepts which may allow the idea of the RBE to solidify into a working piece of social technology. Six core philosophies are presented in no particular order to be explored, compared to existing social behaviors and evaluated for usefulness.

Transparency

On the way towards a resource based economy, the philosophy of transparency calls for all economic transactions to be recorded and made public instantly. Thereby, the wealth and resource holdings of each individual and each company becomes completely visible to each other member of the society at all times. In this case, the philosophy of transparency applies to economic interactions exclusively. However, broader social implications are present in the philosophy.

Clearly, this transparency is a radical departure from the economic structure we are accustomed to using on this planet at this time. The idea of discussing one’s monetary holdings is considered rude by both the haves and the have-nots–for different reasons, of course. The poor would rather not discuss a sensitive topic which can create worry, while the rich don’t want the poor to realize just how much economic power they weld, for fear of losing it. The lack of transparency allows for untoward hoarding of resources. It allows companies to purchase less-than-ideal components for manufacture and it allows politicians to surreptitiously receive payment by lobbying councils.

In contrast, the benefits of applying the philosophy of transparency in a society are manifold. Theft of all types will become increasingly obsolete. Unusual hoarders of resources can be immediately identified (such as the gargantuan wealth of certain royal families or industrialists), and it is unlikely that such massive hoarding will be allowed to continue in the face of universal and exacting public scrutiny. In the RBE, transparency serves the further purpose of allowing an accurate accounting of which resources are available, and resolves concerns over an usurping force seizing the reigns of the society by undue accumulation.

The philosophy of transparency further answers the plaguing question of “who will decide who gets what” in the RBE. Based on limited research, it appears that most RBE supporters will say that “some kind of supercomputer” will make the calculations. However, as pointed out by Stefan Moleneux, computers merely run programs as defined by the programmer. Therefore, the question becomes “who will program the computer” and is equivalent to the first question–no answer has been presented. By applying transparency, the correct answer to our questions becomes “everybody”, which is a simplified way of saying that open-source communities can present calculations on which resources exist and how they can be utilized, and these calculations will be available for immediate scrutiny by all members of the RBE.

Custodianship

The philosophy of custodianship replaces the philosophy of ownership in the RBE. The difference is subtle, yet profound. Custodianship assures individual rights over items one has accumulated, yet impedes misuse or wanton destruction of those items. The underlying theme is that in order for most resources to have value, there is a transactional nature inherent in their use. Given that an item has entered one’s sphere of influence from elsewhere, and that that same item will eventually leave one’s sphere of influence, it becomes apparent that a person is, at best, temporarily in command of the item. Thus, the philosophy of custodianship recognizes the transient nature of “owning” a thing and prepares the individual adherent for that thing’s continued functioning after it has left the individual user’s sphere of influence.

This philosophy differs from our contemporary mode of thinking in that it does not respect the right of an individual to wantonly destroy that which he finds himself in command of. Thus, if one were custodian of a plot of land, that individual would be prevented from dumping toxic waste on the land on the simple authority that the land was “owned” by the individual; on the contrary, the individual would be required to understand that he is, at most, transient force upon a plot of land that has existed, and will continue to exist, for spans of time generally inconceivable to an individual. It becomes the duty of the transient custodian to prepare for the graceful transition of custodianship to the next user–a thought that seems to be lacking in a ownership based society.

The benefits of custodianship include an increased attention to preservation of land and resources, a reduction in waste of perishable products and provides a further impetus for the elimination of undue hoarding. Consider, for example, the story of the grocery store that went out of business. The previous owners wanted to simply give away the food that remained inside; however, the new owners saw no profit in doing that and instead ordered all the food to be disposed of by transporting it to a landfill. The new owners were enabled to undertake this incredible act of wastefulness because the food became “owned by them”, and therefore they were free to do whatever they wished with it, including simply destroying it. Under the philosophy of custodianship, the “new owners” would be aware that the food had only temporarily entered their sphere of influence, and their primary concern would be to facilitate the proper dispersal of it, not the wanton disposal of it. Only by streamlining the use of resources can the RBE become feasible, and by applying transparency this streamlining will be assured by an open-source accounting by multiple parties.

Renewability

The philosophy of renewability addresses the continued survival and success of the RBE. Since resources are one of the definitions of wealth in the RBE (joy, fulfilment, happiness and creativity, for instance, are others), renewing, preserving, optimising and expanding those resources is the only way to achieve (resource based) economic stability or growth of abundance in society.

In comparison, the modern economic practice of creating “fiat currency”–a mathematical construct which has little, if any, relation to actually existing resources–does not require renewability. The illusion of stability or growth can be artificially introduced into the economy by simply adding numbers which, when not linked to actual resources, have no value yet give the illusion of value. The result is that practices which are inherently destructive to the actual wealth of a society, its resources, are routinely praised as valuable and continued even to the final depletion of a once abundant resource. Furthermore, re-use or recycling of useful resources is often ignored, allowing valuable resources to be discarded in favor of maximizing fiat currency holdings. Holdings which, as resources diminish, have an inherently decreasing value.

The benefits of renewability to the RBE are apparent on the surface: it allows the resource-wealth of a society to be preserved and expanded upon. Furthermore, the philosophy of renewability promotes creation of complex resource abundance over that of simplistic consumption or outright destruction. It does this by valuing the retention of available resources above all else in economic practice.

Local Production

The philosophy of local production has two main purposes. One is economic: to reduce the amount of resource-use during transportation. The other is social: to decentralise the method of resource-production to the maximum extent. While the economic purpose is straightforward, the social purpose is more complex. Taken generally, the social purpose of local production is a safeguard against various problems such as natural disasters, infrastructure disturbances or resource-domination by certain groups. At it’s most basic level, the idea that anyone can provide themselves with all of life’s necessities personally, unilaterally and sustainably will serve to free each individual to pursue more lofty ideals and complex undertakings.

Comparisons between the philosophy of local production and philosophy employed in contemporary modes of production are telling. Our planet currently discards millions of pounds of food yearly while at the same time allowing millions of people to starve daily. As with all famine, the problem is not with production but distribution. Quite simply, the food is too far away from the hungry people. There is further complication due to current economic system which considers the destruction of real resources to preserve the fictitious resource of fiat currency as reasonable. A parallel can be drawn between most, if not all, situations of human lack faced by modern society, and these situations are highly likely to be reduced substantially by the philosophy of local production.

Thus, the benefit to the philosophy of local production is first and foremost the elimination of lack of access to basic needs. However, the economic advantage to the RBE is unmistakable: it allows the conservation of resources and thus a decreased load upon producers, eventually leading to resource based economic growth.

Technological Advancement

The philosophy of technological advancement anticipates and celebrates the invention and implementation of new technology as rapidly as is safe and logical. The purpose of technological advancement is to increase both the economic production of the RBE as well as fostering social development.

While it may seem that contemporary society embraces the philosophy of technological advancement, in truth it does exactly the opposite. Take for example the historical evidence which was Nikola Tesla’s project to provide free wireless energy to the world. Although the technology was superior to that being used at the time and the technical application of the technology was well within the limits of human ability, the project was forced to be shut down. The reason was overtly stated: it would be impossible to meter out this energy for fiat currency and the technology was, for this reason alone, abandoned. It becomes obvious to even the casual observer that the failing and outmoded technology which IS fiat currency has become the only technology which truly is freely expanded, at the expense of all others. Furthermore, potentially dangerous technology, such as GMO crops or nuclear weaponry are quickly developed and deployed beyond the limits of what is safe–assuming, of course, that they are likely to advance the accumulation of fiat currency. Thus, according to the philosophy of technological advancement, fiat currency technology (along with other outdated technologies) should be abandoned in favor of a more advanced one.

Technological advancement offers a vast array of potential benefits. Advances in energy production, food production, communication and transportation are only the beginning of what is possible when the philosophy of technological advancement is applied.

Voluntary Participation 

The philosophy of voluntary participation respects the right of the individual to choose among varying forms of ‘work’ and social interaction. It announces that the only social structure that is appropriate for the thinking human is one in which all members have voluntarily agreed to the interaction. It rejects the outright annexation of huge masses of land and the idea of force-based compliance to subjective rules.

It is simple to see the fundamental contradictions between modern society and the philosophy of voluntary participation. In all countries, there is no option given to reject the benefits of the State, and therefore it’s requirements. All land on the continent is annexed by a government, including areas of land which have not been given any attention at all–no people are living thereupon and no resource management has been effectively introduced. By annexing all land, these governments seek to impose an involuntary participation in their social technology. The philosophy of voluntary participation respects the right of each individual to migrate away from the forms and structures of a certain society and encourages a free space for new social technologies to be experimented with.

The philosophy of voluntary interaction is vital to the birth of the RBE and to its continued development. Clearly, without a free space in which to design and experiment with the RBE, it is impossible to implement it. Yet even further, the continued success of the RBE will defined by its ability to metamorphose to suit different climates and social expectations. The philosophy of voluntary participation will streamline the social-evolutionary process by which the RBE will become useful and robust.

Conclusion

What has preceded has been an initial foray into concepts which may prove vital to the actual implementation of the RBE. The subjects discussed are by no means an exhaustive compilation. However, with further development it may be possible to come up with a “social platform” which is sufficiently robust to be applied yet flexible enough to meet the needs of the great majority of people. In this time of great social unrest, great solutions are emerging. It will be up to each of us, individually, to define where we would like to take our society.


Economic Calculation in a Resource Based Economy – A Defence


INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER [1]

The ideas of Ludwig von Mises, an economist of the Austrian School, have been resurrected by critics of a RBE in an attempt to show that a moneyless economy is impossible. Despite numerous attempts to disprove the criticism, the spectre of von Mises still hangs over the social movements that support a RBE. But my defence here is not merely yet another attempt at disproving von Mises, but emerges also from the frequency of misunderstandings and misuse of his critique, and some issues regarding the proposed solutions from RBE supporters. I wish to set the record straight on what the true challenge of von Mises’s ‘calculation problem’ is, but also offer internal critique against some rebuttals against von Mises by RBE, such as the idea that computation solves the calculation problem.

It must first of all be pointed out that the general idea of a moneyless economy is not new, and that versions of it have been presented and criticised before, most often in connection to some version socialism. This is an unfortunate consequence of the constrained way in which the debate on the issue has been held since the 1920’s. The Venus Project and Zeitgeist Movement in fact, to my knowledge, represent the first attempts to have the discussion outside of that particular box. Yet the situation creates the potential for misunderstandings, and since the last thing I wish to do is add to the accusations of ‘secret socialism’ against the organisations, there is a need to clarify a few things.

The main opponents of my article, von Mises and to an extent von Hayek, where critics of the idea of a moneyless economy and involved in what was to become known as the ‘Socialist Calculations Debates’, after von Mises’s main book on the subject, ‘Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth‘ which he wrote with the USSR in mind. Getting rid of money and markets was, at the time that the Debates began, the avowed goal of many who called themselves socialists. History has of course shown us that no serious effort to do so was ever attempted, and that no iteration of ‘actually existing socialism’ ever came even close to ridding itself of the need of money[2].

Nonetheless, I wish to make it very clear that my use of such sources is in no way an implication that the Zeitgeist movement, or Venus Project for that matter, is any kind of socialist endeavour – and most certainly not something reminiscent of the USSR! It just so happens that some of the points raised by von Mises and von Hayek, and their opponents, can in general be directed at any society that wishes to rid itself of markets and money. This is precisely what has been done by critics of the RBE. Rather than ignoring the challenge due to its roots, I intend to re-deploy it in an updated way such that it is relevant to the RBE.

My intent is to show that von Mises’s challenge is surmountable and his criticism ultimately futile – that a moneyless society can indeed become a reality. What stands in our way is no ‘real and true and literal impossibility’ of the sort that von Mises and his ilk imagined (Salerno, in von Mises, 1990:49), but merely politics and ideology, and the inability of some minds to think outside the box.

THE CALCULATION PROBLEM & VON MISES’S PROPOSED SOLUTION

The way that von Mises presents the calculation problem in his classical text on the matter is as one of choices in production. It is not, as is sometimes misunderstood, a problem of distribution of that which is produced, or deciding exactly what to produce. Even scholars who are positive to the idea of a moneyless or non-market economy sometimes misunderstand this. David McNally (1993, 2010), for example, attempts to argue against von Mises by pointing out how there is no difficulty in the absence of market prices to determine how many schools or hospitals a society needs. While McNally in entirely right about this, that fact does not contradict von Mises. Even von Mises acknowledges that a moneyless economy could estimate the approximate needs of the population (1990:5), such as “whether it desires 1,000 hectolitres of wine rather than 500 of oil” (1990:16). Nor is it challenging to conclude “that 1,000 hectolitres of wine are better than 800” (ibid.).

Rather, von Mises’s critique deals with the possibility of rational decision-making regarding the allocation of resources in the production process, when faced with limited resources. This limitation of resources should not be confused with the artificial scarcity and misuse of resources under the current economic paradigm, and is thus not solved by the concept of “abundance” that is sometimes referred to by supporters of a RBE. Instead it is the practical fact that we do not have an infinite amount of resources, space or time – and likewise face other constraints such as not wanting to damage the environment or waste resources for future generations. We simply have not world enough to realise all potential goods we can possibly imagine, and therefore we are forced to make choices and prioritise. As has been covered, the issue is not insurmountable in the realm of deciding what to produce, even according to von Mises – the choice can be made based on need, and need can be determined by simply asking or observing people. Yet in the realm of production, the hurdle becomes more challenging. It can be illustrated by the following example:

Let us say that we are manufacturing a product, and that we can produce it in three different ways, all of which require differing amounts of the particular resources x, y, z. We assume in this case that the result is otherwise the same, i.e. that the outcome of production has the same qualities regardless of what resources are used or in what combination.


Method 1: Method 2: Method 3: Method 4:
5x 10x 10x 4x
10y 5y 10y 4y
3z 3z 5z 2z

As stated before, even von Mises admits that a moneyless economy can conclude that Method 4 is superior. Let us therefore discard it, as it cannot illustrate the issue at hand, and assume that we only have the methods 1, 2 and 3 available to us. Again, even von Mises admits that a moneyless economy can clearly see that Method 3 is inferior and should not be used. The problem von Mises wanted to show is in the choice between Methods 1 and 2. How does one choose which one is better, without a way to compare the value of x and y? Of determining how many x each y is worth, and vice versa, so that their total cost can be expressed as a single number? In a market economy we can easily make a decision, because we can compare the price of x and y. The price is determined by supply and demand, and thus the cheaper of the two will be the one that there is the most supply of, or least demand for. Nor does the individual person or firm need to have any other information than the price; by selecting the cheapest method they will choose the best allocation of resources, and this without doing anything other than just trying to maximise their own profits – this is known as economising on information (see Hayek, 1945: 6).

In other words, von Mises argues firstly that rational decision-making requires commensurability; a single unit of value by which different options can be compared. Choice must be reduced to a matter of calculation in order to be exact, and is otherwise just an estimation (von Mises, 1990:22). Secondly, he argues that market prices are the best such unit, since they contain in a sense all the information needed by being the result of the aggregation of many individual decisions, and hence carry objective information on resource availability.

THE FLAWS OF THE “SOLUTION”

Concerning the first point of von Mises’s assertions, political economist John O’Neill follows von Mises’s old opponent Otto Neurath in rejecting the above position, and calls it pseudo-rationalism. “Our knowledge”, O’Neill argues, “that informs our decision making is uncertain and the rules of rationality rarely determine a single answer given what is known. A rationalist who believes in reason must recognize the boundaries to the power of reason in arriving at decisions” (1998:115). To believe that there exist a single rule or procedure, such as the price mechanism, that determines the answers to all decisions, is for him the clear mark of pseudo-rationalism. Instead, x and y in our example would have to be compared directly, taking all of their properties and weighing the pros and cons against each-other on a multi-dimensional grid of criteria. This is because their different properties are incommensurable – they cannot be reduced to one another so that we can express the quantity of x, n(x) as n(y), or vice versa. Environmental impacts cannot be expressed in the same terms as product safety or ease of recycling or repair. Even the category ‘environmental impacts’ is internally incommensurable, since CO2 emissions do not have the same consequences as soil erosion or release of lead. To reduce the entirety of two different things to a single, one-dimensional value by necessity means that other aspects of the things are being ignored. In focusing on price, we must by definition ignore everything else. von Mises’s first point hence rests on his second; the belief that price, unlike other properties such as weight or volume, is a conglomeration of all relevant knowledge, and can thus carry all the information need to make rational decisions. There are three reasons that this assumption is incorrect.

Firstly, money is actually a very poor carrier of information. Market prices do not measure externalities, and companies can actually gain competitive advantages by externalising costs and passing them on to society in the form of pollution, increased job insecurity, potentially harmful products, etc. The real cost, not in money, but in the effect on individuals, society and the environment, is hidden by the market price. Resource cost is also greatly shaped by the monetary cost of extraction, and not the environmental or health costs involved. Even if one assumes that such externalisation is balanced out by penalisation, such as the Pigouvian tax[3] suggested by reformists who hope to “fix” the market, issues remain. Price can be influenced by the market power of individual actors, and competition itself can be another hurdle; there is an inherent incentive to keep information from competitors, as not to lose competitive advantages. The most relevant example is information concerning plans and strategies for the future, which are most often kept secret. Patents and trade-secrets can also hide scientific and technological knowledge from the public, which could be relevant to decision-making.

The only information that the market relays to each actor is, potentially, the relation between supply and demand at the time the plan is made; each actor is blind to how their competitors plan and react to the same information. Therefore, no actor has adequate information to construct a plan that suites future levels of demand, even though every actor can be said to act rationally given the information they possess. Individual actors whom are not in deliberation, all behaving rationally, can produce an overall sub-optimal result; this is a central understanding of game theory (see also O’Neill, 1998:99, 134-138).

Secondly, only the subjective willingness to pay of those with purchasing power has any effect on the market. Nor does the market care from where purchasing power originates; any given sum of money has the same power, regardless of whether it comes from a single billionaire or a million of the most impoverished. Thus the poor are not only unable to participate, but the frivolous fancies of the wealthy will often weigh much higher than their most basic needs (Mujezinovic, 2013).

Moreover, by marginalising and excluding actors lacking purchasing power the market does the same to the knowledge they posses. Only the market value, i.e. profitability, of knowledge matters on the market; but such knowledge is far from the only knowledge relevant to rational decision-making (Ibid.). The obvious example is the scientific knowledge concerning human caused global warming and other environmental issues, which is continuously ignored by capitalists who opt to continue ‘business as usual’.

Reformists have argued that a more fair distribution of wealth can be achieved through changes in policy, which would alleviate this problem and allow everyone to participate in market exchanges. That, however, ignores the fact that the incentive structure is not altered by redistribution. It is not for a lack of money or the inability to participate on the market that the knowledge concerning environmental limits is ignored. It is ignored because it is not profitable, and because if taken into account it would actually act as a hurdle to both profit in general, and to the dominant paradigm of constant economic growth[4]. Additionally, there are people and entities that lack, by their very nature, the ability to participate on the market; such as future generations, non-human animals and Nature herself. If we acknowledge these things to possess any form value or meaning beyond just what those able are willing to pay for them, the market is insufficient to our ends (O’Neill, 1998: 112-129)(O’Neill, 1993: 161-171).

Thirdly, a market-based system also assume that the outcome of all production is things which are to be consumed by individuals, rather than things to be enjoyed by the entire human family, such as clean air or drinkable water. To quote Iain McKay: “[i]f the market measures only preferences amongst things that can be monopolized and sold to individuals, as distinguished from values that are enjoyed collectively, then it follows that information necessary for rational decision-making in production is not provided by the market (2008:2130)”. That which may be rational for an isolated individual given a competitive, or even antagonistic, relation to other individuals, may not be rational for a group given a cooperative relationship between its members. The chief premise of the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma is after all that the prisoners in question are sequestered from each-other and make their decisions individually. Where they to collaborate and arrive at a joint decision there wouldn’t be a dilemma!

Conclusively, not only is rational economic decision-making possible without money, a rational and above all sustainable economy practically demands decision-making based on something other than market price. Only then can we take into account all the facts needed for truly rational outcomes to become possible. The truth is that von Mises’s so called ‘solution’ is no more a solution than sweeping dirt under the rug is ‘cleaning’; it simply conceals the problem. The environmental, social, ethical, etc. consequences of decisions do not cease to exist because one decides to ignore them – all that does is exacerbate the problem since the main system of decision-making is unable to take into account the vast majority of negative consequences. As long as there is a profit, the system appears to be working fine by its own standards.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS WITHIN A RBE & THE ISSUE OF COMPLEXITY

Although von Mises’s proposed solution has been shown to be futile, his arguments still present us with one final problem: that of complexity. Let us return to the example given with the four methods. When dealing with such a simply example, it is not difficult to image non-monetary ways of comparing x and y – perhaps their environmental impact or total availability could be the basis. It would, for example, be conceivable that a cannery that makes their cans out of one of two potential metals could easily explore which one would be most suitable.

But for von Mises, it is above all when it comes to so-called ‘intermediate products’ that the real problem reveals itself; i.e. goods that are themselves components of other goods. Goods such as computers, which have potentially hundreds or even many thousands of intermediates. “The human mind” von Mises claims, “cannot orient itself properly among the bewildering mass of intermediate products and potentialities […]. It would simply stand perplexed before the problems of management and location (1990:17).” The essay I, Pencil by Leonard Read, although stemming from a pro-free market ideological basis, remains a good illustration on how even such a simple product as a pencil might have a very complex production chain. How do we solve this problem of complexity, given that we now know that von Mises’s proposition merely ignores most of what is actually relevant for truly rational decision-making?

Could not a potential solution lie in simply relieving the human mind? To merely detail all the properties of all the intermediates involved and use a computer to find the optimal method? Computer aid in decision-making is certainly an integral part of helping us ‘orient ourselves’, but we mustn’t assume that computers can simply resolve the entire issue for us through straight-forward calculation. That would be to repeat von Mises’s own mistake and assume commensurability between different values. It would be to assume that all problems have a solution in the form of Method 4 in the example given; one that is clearly superior in every way. Yet we may very well encounter situations where one method is better in the sense of using less resources, but another is more sustainable; where one uses less energy but the other is safer, and so on; i.e. methods 1 and 2. This is illustrated more clearly in table 2, showing an example of how resource costs could potentially be presented in a RBE.


 

Method 1 Method 2 Method 3
Resources used Copper, tin Aluminium Iron, Platinum
Environ. impact of resource retrieval[6] 3, 2 1 2, 4
Resource scarcities[7] 20%, 15% 5% 10%, 60%*
*resource very rare!
Energy use 1000 kWh 3000 kWh 1500 kWh
Environ. impact of energy use 2 3 2
CO2 equivalent    emissions 500 m3 700 m3 600 m3
Other pollutants SO2, 1 ppb Pb, 0.002 µg/m3 NO2, 2 ppb
Est. product lifespan 4 years 7 years 5 years
Environ. impact of total production process[8] 3 2.5 2
Recyclable % 85% 95% 70%
Energy requirement for recycling (total) 3500 kWh 2000 kWh 1000 kWh
Environ. impact of recycling 1 3 2
Potential alternative uses[9] 22 16 19

Table 2: Example of a resource cost array detailing some aspects of three methods of manufacturing an equivalent product. It is not an extensive list but an example of what might potentially be taken into account in a RBE. Note that the table only details a one time cost; ‘products’ such as hospitals or machines would have to have a year-by-year account of their cost through-out their estimated lifespan. As this table is meant as an example only, the numbers are just invented and no attempt has been made to reflect real world conditions.

 Note that no straight-forward calculation can be made that finds the optimal method, and the different properties and aspect of each method are not all reducible to each-other or to any single unit. Numerical expressions and mathematical tools are indispensable aids in giving us a proper overview of the issue, and computation is necessary to help us orient ourselves among the many options (some of which are not shown here). Yet, in the end, an informed judgement must be made on which method is the most suitable in this case.


An ordinal scale is a possible solution, where we simply arrange aims from the most to the least important and prioritise aims of a higher order, so that any given aim is only worked toward once the one above it has been satisfied. For example, we could decide that environmental sustainability is always the most important goal, and that only when sustainability has been assured will other matters come into play. The current proposed solution of Peter Joseph and the Zeitgeist Movement utilises such an ordinal scale (2013). Yet even this solution has a small problem attached to it. Even when we find one method that is valid in a given context and scenario, there is no reason to assume it is a universal solution that is equally validity for every context and scenario, and can be applied across the globe[5]. To prioritise sustainability could be a good general rule, but in some cases one would have to make exceptions – what if one faced a scenario where trading away a tiny bit of suitability would immensely improve product safety, or use a resource that is far more abundant? No universal procedure can be applied here, no rule where x amount of sustainability trades for y amount of abundance in every situation, because the two are incommensurable both with respect to each-other and internally. That is, environmental impact cannot be expressed in terms of resources saved; just as different forms of environmental impact are qualitatively different and cannot necessarily be expressed in terms of one another, and different resources differ qualitatively and cannot be expressed in terms of one another.

How we go about applying our reason to achieve the best possible solution must change depending on the given setting. Unlike a capitalist society, a RBE cannot give an answer that is always applicable, such as “maximise profit”. We regard the various possibilities and use the scientific method to assist us; every scenario must be considered on its own and what we do in one case may not be what is done in another case. Value becomes dynamic, and based on current information so as to realistically and rationally find the best possible solution for whatever problem is faced. A part of this is the development of rules of thumb, standard procedures, overall aims, etc., but these are guidelines and not straitjackets. The process also includes making use of computers, which both assist us by giving us overview and sometimes ‘make the decisions on their own’ – there is no need to reinvent the wheel every time, after all. If we’ve arrived at a decision it would be a waste of time and resources to repeat the process of decision-making over and over. It is better if it be handed over to computers until such a time that the need arises to change something in a way that is beyond their abilities. Using computer aid in decision-making frees up our time so that we can focus on deliberation and debate where it is really necessary.

A further clarification of what I mean can be found in an exchange between von Mises and one of his main opponents, Otto Neurath[10]. von Mises asserts that when we “choose whether we shall use a waterfall to produce electricity or extend coal-mining and better utilize the energy contained in coal […] the processes of production are so many and so long, the conditions necessary to the success of the undertaking so multitudinous, that we can never be content with vague ideas. To decide whether an undertaking is sound we must calculate carefully” (1981:89). And, he finishes, “computation demands units” (Ibid.) Neurath, however, responds (quoted in O’Neill, 1998:116):

“The question might arise, should one protect coal mines or put greater strain on men? The answer depends for example on whether one thinks that hydraulic power may be sufficiently may be sufficiently developed or that solar heat might come to be better used, etc. If one believes the latter, one may ‘spend’ more coal more freely and will hardly waste human effort where coal can be used. If however one is afraid that when one generation uses too much coal thousands will freeze to death in the future, one might use more human power and save coal. Such and many other non-technical matters determine the choice of a technically calculable plan… we can see no possibility of reducing the production plan to some kind of unit and then to compare the various plans in terms of such units.”

What this means is simply that comparability need not assume commensurability; we can and must compare different options directly, taking into account all their complex properties. Nor is there one rule that can be mechanically adapted to produce a determinable decision regarding which plan to adopt, in part because uncertainties always exist and our beliefs and expectations form a part of our reasoning. There is thus an ineliminable role for non-technical judgement even in technical decisions.

Nor does von Mises’s complexity problem pose an issue: in a RBE, the complexity of production in an industrially advanced society is laid bare. Complexity is shown to be something constant in any technologically advanced society where manufacturing is done via convoluted chains and networks of production forming a global grid, that alters and is altered by our society and environment. This is the whole point – to reveal the actual, real, tough choices that prices hides. To allow scientific knowledge, academic debate, evidence-based reasoning and ethical concerns a place in decision-making. We need not solve the ‘problem’ of complexity because complexity is not the problem; the concealment of it is the real problem!

The same is true of the difficult choices and trade-offs in production; it is a constant companion of decision-making in any society. In any situation where you do not have access to an infinite amount of resources, time and possibilities, a trade-off will be necessary when faced with several valid, yet mutually exclusive, options. As long as you can’t have everything, choices need to be made – these will always involve ‘opportunity costs’ and forgone alternatives in some form. In a moneyless society the ‘calculation problem’ becomes transformed into the continuous challenge of what the most rational and beneficent method of making trade-offs is, and what needs to be prioritised in any given situation. In other words, the lack of a price mechanism does not mean an inability to make rational choices, it means that for once we get to make actually rational choices! We get to disregard what The Market says and use our reason and judgement to try to find the best possible way to do whatever we want done – selecting the highest quality, greatest sustainability and overall biggest benefit to everyone that we can; and not the cheapest or most profitable way.

Tools such as multiple-criteria decision analysis, natural capital accounting, material balance planning and input-output modelling are all potential sources of aid, that can help us in that endeavour. Yet they are all in various ways flawed and burdened by the politics and ideology of currently existing or dead economic systems. The same can be said of the methods of post-normal science, cybernetics and systems theory; there is a potential in each one, if only it was developed further in a way that is relevant to a RBE. Unfortunately, the efforts to do so have been hampered by the nearly century-old arguments of von Mises. Recognising them as incorrect is the first step towards building actual alternatives and, as O’Neill (1998:128) puts it, “entails a need to rethink the ways we make decisions without a single measure.” The possibility of a RBE has been shown. The real work remains to be done.

 



 

1 Note that this particular piece does not go into the epistemological arguments concerning centralised or decentralised forms of economic planning. For more details on that issue, see O’Neill, 1998:129-159, where the scientific community itself is held up as an example of decentralised, non-market, multi-dimensional global coordination. See also Mujezinovic, 2013 for a briefer overview.

2 The use of ‘need’ is intentional, as for instance the bloody regime of the Khmer Rouge did attempt to simply ban the use of money without overcoming the need for it, with disastrous consequences.

3 See Baumol 1972:307–322 for more information.

4 Exposing and arguing against this paradigm is a crucial element in the school of economics known as Ecological Economics. See the work of Herman Daly, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen or Joan Martinez-Alier, among many others, for examples.

5 The ecological disasters caused by large-scale factory farming, both of the capitalist and USSR-style command economy varieties, serve as a real world example of the consequences of neglecting local conditions and attempting to apply the same approach globally.

6 Assume that a qualitative judgement based on ecological research is expressed on a 1-10 scale for easy overview.

7 One presumes that such a thing would be measured as the total world need / know total world availability. Thus a number of 10% means that the total world need is 10% of the total known world availability.

8 This would be an approximation, expressed numerically on a 1-10 scale, based on the inclusion of intermediate products. Other tables would detail all such intermediates and their respective Resource Costs. This value could thus be altered for each method by altering the choice of intermediate products; and the same value for each intermediate product could be altered by a different choice of its constituent products, and so on.

9 Resource tables for the alternative uses, alternative means of producing them, and all the urgencies of need for each would also have to be taken into account.

10 Caveats must be made regarding the context, and that the technological references are outdated in respect  to what the Zeitgeist Movement (or the Venus Project) wishes to accomplish. It is rather the principle of the matter that I wish to illustrate through these citations.

 


 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baumol W J 1972, ‘On Taxation and the Control of Externalities’, American Economic Review, 62(3)

McNally D 1993, Against the Market, Verso

McNally D 2010 Against the Market, talk held in Fall of 2010
audio file available through the Havens Center for the Study of Social Justice:
www.havenscenter.org

McKay I 2008, An Anarchist FAQ: Volume 1, AK Press

Mujezinovic D 2013, ‘A brief analysis of Hayek’s Epistemological Critique Against Central Planning and in Support of Markets’, unpublished
avaliable at lancaster.academia.edu/DavorMujezinovic

O’Neill J 1993, Ecology, Policy and Politics, Routledge

O’Neill J 1998, The Market: Ethics, Knowledge And Politics, Routledge

Peter Joseph 2013, Economic Calculation in a Natural Law / RBE, talk held on November 12 of 2013 in Berlin
video available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9FDIne7M9o

Read L 1958, ‘I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read’, the Freeman December Issue

von Hayek F 1945, ‘The Use of Knowledge in Society’, The American Economic Review, Vol. 35, No. 4

von Mises L 1981, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, Liberty Fund

von Mises L 1990, Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, Mises Institute

 

 

 


Starting a Gift Economy


By Maja Borg
www.futuremylove.com

It took us over five years to complete the film FUTURE MY LOVE.
In those years, awareness of economy changed dramatically.

In 2007, ‘economy’ was not really a hot topic and was mostly left aside for those who ‘knew what they were doing’. This surprised me because I feel so passionate about the subject. As if the economy – the way in which we arrange our physical existence together – didn’t have much to do with our daily lives! I had started to understand how much our economy affects us, not just in our day-to-day affairs, but also in how we think and feel, and even how we deal with the way we love each other.

Then things started to fall apart. The economy crashed, my relationships crackled, and the film I set out make was no longer the one I could finish. The economic crisis became a crisis for the film, but as these things go, it also became an opportunity to discuss ‘economy’ for what it fundamentally is – a human relationship, not just a banking system.

Making this film, it was soon clear that the problem is not lack of solutions. There are many brilliant thinkers proposing transitional models on how we could ease ourselves out of these destructive cycles towards an economy that stands in balance to our modern reality. The real problem, I believe, lies in us and in our fear of the unknown. The structures we have created have also shaped us, and the destructive mechanisms we see in the monetary-based system are reflected in our very own psychology. To challenge economy is to challenge ourselves, which is far harder than to complain about the banking system.

FUTURE MY LOVE
FUTURE MY LOVE

I often hear the argument that humans are inherently greedy.

This is used as a way to express that a different kind of economy would never work. Such grand assumptions of what ‘we are’ and what ‘we are not’ should perhaps be made more carefully. Instead of viewing the existence of capitalism as proof of the egotistical, competitive nature of human beings – could it be so that capitalism makes us that way?

Capitalism does not offer any grand moral statements (more than perhaps the protection of an illusive freedom which gives us the right to choose between the same salad dressings in every restaurant all over the world). It’s not a preaching philosophy but, however unspoken, it has direct consequences if you try to challenge it. Serve capitalism right and you are rewarded, serve it wrong and you will be punished. The ‘right’ thing to do in capitalism can mean making war planes or speculating with someone else’s savings – anything that makes money. The ‘wrong’ thing can be buying fair trade produce or taking care of your elderly mother – anything that costs you more or earns you less.

In order to change such a system, we have to understand the system as a part of ourselves. There is no fight for good or evil at the top – we are all part of this system. We have to recognise the way economy shapes our own psychology and make the silent ways in which capitalism shapes our morals loud and clear.

Should we give the film away for free?

The film explores the possibility of a world without money or barter, so instinctively the ‘right’ thing to do would be to give it away for free. However this is not how the film industry works, and if we want to reach an audience who are not active pirates on the web, or who are already interested in the topic (which has always been the hope with the film), we had to find some middle ground, or better still, a third option.

Even if we kept working on the film for free, we would still have rents to pay. We are as trapped in the system as the rest of the 99% of the world’s population who are not completely economically independent.

People have different opinions about pirating, and I have to say I agree with multiple sides of this argument: it is ‘just’ and ‘right’ to pirate and share important films for free, and it is ‘just’ and ‘right’ to respect copyright, because this will allow the creators to keep working and enable the film to reach out to people who would otherwise not get a chance to see it.

There are three known forms of economic transactions: exchange, gift and theft. So these basics are what we suggest to those who might want to see FUTURE MY LOVE.

  1. Exchange: If you believe in paying for a product you can simply buy a VOD stream, or a DVD, or a screening license. We give you the film we’ve been working on, and you give us money.
  2. Gift: We give the film for free to an initial number of people and then give them the option to give it, or pay it forward, to someone else. You can find out here how it works (www.futuremylove.com/forward):  YouTube Preview Image
  3. Theft: You may choose to disregard what I have just said and ‘steal’ the film in one way or another. But that would of course not be great for our plan, as we would rather see whether gifting could make a difference to people’s perception about economy. However, we decided not to protect the film through digital rights management since we trust you to make your own decisions and don’t believe in restricting its usage across different platforms.

The philosophy of the film is to think about things from different perspectives; to relate things that are not usually put together, creating new thoughts. Because we need new thoughts, in fact we need a whole new way of thinking to get out of this bad spiral of our physical existence – before it gets rid of us like any other virus.

So we ask for your help to spread these thoughts and provoke debate about real change wherever you can! Let us know if there is anything we can do to help.


What can we learn from the Internet?


Internet pioneer Danny Hills has a TED talk about the early days of the Internet. On that talk we see that the Internet, on its early days, was essentially an obscure network based on trust.

Today, the Internet is much bigger, and much more important. Despite its massive importance, governments and corporations are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to mess with it, reducing its usefulness for their own profit and power gain. They get away with this because it is technically feasible to do so, and it is in the reach of their power.

The technical reasons behind this vulnerability are not particularly interesting for this post. The interesting part are the responses the Internet community is deploying to this perceived threat of control. These responses seem to fall into the following three categories:

The first kind of response is to fight in the political space to keep the Internet open. This essentially means that, as members of our societies, we get together and complain to those in power and to each other until they change their minds. This has stopped the progress of bad laws such as “SOPA” and “PIPA” in the U.S. We will call this approach “begging.”

The second kind of response is to start designing an alternative to the Internet that would not be controllable. Designing theoretical alternatives, or prototyping these designs, is not really too difficult. The harder part is seeing how these alternatives would grow beyond isolated localities adopting them and into a global mesh that would, eventually, be easily accessible by anyone, like the current Internet. We will call this approach “forking.” Not really “forking,” as these networks would probably end up talking to each other, but it has to be conceived as to stand on its own, as if it were a fork.

The third kind of response is to build a network that’s better than the Internet in some sense, but on “top” of the Internet, that is, an application using the Internet, as opposed to beside it, as a “physical network” like the Internet. That’s what the “peer-to-peer networks” do. They are not “networks” in the same sense that the Internet is a “network.” In academia, you would say that these peer-to-peer systems, such as BitTorrent, FreeNet, Napster, Bitcoin or GNUNet, are “logical networks” or “overlay networks.” They are networks “overlaid” (built on top of) an existing “physical” network such as the Internet. We will call this approach the “overlay” approach (sounds simpler than “if you can’t beat them, add a layer on top of them that makes it do what you want.”)

So, in the case of transforming the system known as the Internet, what is the correct approach? The answer is, of course, all of them. When a system is as important as the Internet, then it is not a matter of “which is the right way,” but which is the right way for you. All of them are valid, and we’re going with whatever works.

I have a hunch that these paths can be translated to the paths we have available to transforming “The Economy” into a “Resource-Based Economy” or “Love Economy” or “Gift Economy” or whatever it is that we would call it. That problem is, similarly, very important and worthy of all kinds of response we can come up with.

We have many people enacting the first response, of “begging” the current governments and corporations to do things differently.

The second response, of “forking” the current systems, is similarly receiving lots of attention. Simple and small-scale designs, such as designs for specific villages or communities, have been working for decades. Some communities even cut economic ties with the rest of the human world, essentially creating a private “world” where they can claim to exercise a “world-wide” and pure resource-based economy — but you still have to at least negotiate land ownership with some existing country, last time I checked. Larger-scale designs, on the other hand, if not deployed, at least are the focus of much discussion and study.

The third path, I think, is where we would start making some interesting progress.

Consider the following: given any criteria for allocation of the existing money tokens in circulation, which one of the following two entities would be more likely to be capable of capturing more of it?

The first entity is a group of people who each live on their own apartment, and drives each day, on their own car, to the same job site where they work. When these people meet, they pay each other for things, and every transaction is taxed by the local government.

The second entity is the same group of people, but now using a gift economy of some sort between them. They not only share things, being more physically efficient, but they also avoid having their internal economy be implemented using taxed government tokens. Whatever government money they hold in total, it disappears slower from each individual’s bank account simply because they are not taxed for circulating it internally.

Yes, money is a fiction, a convention. But so is any economic game. Even if you have a global network of computer processes monitoring all world’s resources, the representation of these resources is still a model, still a game, still a fiction. An error in modelling of the world’s resources would produce sub-optimal allocation, much like the current government money systems produce sub-optimal allocation. A much better model is still a model.

What this means is, instead of abolishing the fiction of money, why not just satisfy it? Get together with some people, and agree to collectively play the game better than those who won’t build their own gift economies and who will live physically inefficiently. Then just watch the cash pile grow. The government will have no rule it can design to not reward the people who actually want to build something different. And the more “money” you have… well, let’s just say that, in the current system, having money is not exactly a bad thing. Want to build Jacque Fresco’s futuristic town? Amassing a few hundred billion dollars couldn’t hurt. It is all fiction anyway. Gather the fiction, then give it to people who still want it. These people will give you access to the land you need to build a town, as well as deliver all the resources, material and mental, that you need to build it for the first time. Since it is a sustainable town, once it is built, you have one place that doesn’t need money.

The “overlay” path is not without its own difficult challenges, however. When you design an overlay, be it for the Internet or for the human environment sharing problem, you have to keep two worlds in your head instead of one, and constantly remember which kind of thinking goes where. If you are not careful while designing your peer-to-peer system, you may end up recreating its supporting layer without intending to. Having money may cause us to exclusively “buy” our way into simply surviving on the fruits of the global unsustainable production machine, instead of taking whatever first step, even if small and feeble, towards freeing ourselves from depending on these unsustainable (destructive and violent, really) systems. I can “have” a million “dollars,” but that shouldn’t stop me from personally spending part of my day trying to grow some tomatoes.

Final note. Becoming a billionaire solving practical problems and then donating it to charities that also solve practical problems, or funding start-ups that want to “innovate,” is not what I’m talking about here. That’s simply trying to do good within the current economic and financial system, and validating and reinforcing it in the short term. This would be simply using the existing network as it is presented, not using it in a way that makes it emulate what a competing network would be. It is certainly possible that this alone — a “correct” application of business as usual — may bring about sufficient “real” transformation that problems disappear on their own through sheer business, technological and scientific ingenuity. That is, the beautiful communities based on trust and gifting that we envision are actually just around the corner — if only we would let the great Capitalist dance finish its performance on this planet, then we would see how wonderful things could and will be. Then again, it is also possible that trying to grow a new system as a mere “product” of the diligent application of the current system will continue to not work.

Original Post : thinking.nfshost.com/wiki/index.php?n=Main.OnResourceBasedEconomies


Do Angels carry cash?


What do you think the value of the sun is? In terms of energy output, converted to dollars per BTU, what is the sun worth? On any given day, how much do you pay for the sun’s warmth and light? Should some people get more sun than others? If a person is unwilling, or unable to work, should they have to sit in the dark?

If we took our whole financial system and replaced it with one that

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The Past and the Future


Imagine that the time is somewhere in the 12th or 13th century in feudal Europe. You are a traveler from the future, coming into that time. Your base is, perhaps, the late 19th century. You are meeting with people of different social locations, and your task is to introduce them to the absolutely revolutionary and radical idea that the world could be organized on the principle of competition and merit.

In case you are not familiar with medieval history, the people you would be talking with in this imaginary scenario knew a different sort of arrangement. In their world, whatever your station in life was when you were born determined to an extremely high degree what your life would look like. The idea that one could end up in different social locations would have been unimaginable to them. They could likely imagine that for a few rare and exceptional situations, not as an organizing principle.

In response to your proposal they would pooh pooh you, they would tell you that you were naïve or dangerous or both. They would tell you that no one would ever do anything if they weren’t compelled to do it based on the strong coercive structures that existed at the time on all levels. Chaos would ensue, nothing would get done, and expertise would get lost. They would dismiss you and ignore you.

And yet that exact transformation happened. The industrial revolution and the political revolutions that arose in tandem with it created an entirely different social order which would have been impossible for our ancestors to fathom.

I truly invite you to stretch and imagine what it would be like to live in that world and have someone come and tell you that something else is possible.

This is exactly what happens these days when I attempt to invite people into my vivid picture of a fully collaborative world order based on need satisfaction and willingness, without external incentives, without money, without exchange, and without coercion.

I am told, repeatedly, that my vision goes against human nature. That no one would do anything without external incentives in the form of money. That competition is what drives excellence and that generosity and kindness are not sufficient to run the world.

A fully collaborative society is just as unthinkable in a world based on competition as competition was for an authority-based society.

Perhaps it is, after all, possible to create a collaborative future?

Let’s imagine it for a moment, even if you think it’s impossible. Let’s imagine that we can create social structures and institutions organized around caring for everyone’s needs through willing collaboration. To be able to imagine this would require some understanding of human needs and how they differ from the almost infinite range of wishes, strategies, whims, objects, relationships, and anything else we have devised to satisfy those needs. Quite simply, needs are anything required for a human being to have a truly satisfying life. This includes physical needs, emotional/psychological needs, relational needs, social/communal needs, and spiritual needs. This understanding of needs follows the trailblazing work of Marshall Rosenberg, who came forth with the radical proposal of putting human needs at the center, more so than any other aspect of human life.[1]

With this understanding of human needs, imagine putting human needs at the center, and organizing life around them. Feel your way into what it would be like to have an economy in which the needs of all were the driving force. No longer would we be focused on profit. Instead, we would be, collectively, prioritizing attending to everyone’s needs, including the natural world. What if, for example, instead of investing in technologies of destruction we would invest in figuring out how to feed all of us without destroying the biosphere?

If we focus on need satisfaction then leaders would act as servants, and decision-making would be based on dialogue, full willingness, and participation. Can you imagine how much more joy and willingness everyone would have to get up in the morning and go to work if everyone knew that their needs mattered, that their voice and opinions counted, and that their concerns would be taken seriously? What would it be like if leaders saw themselves as guiding a decision-making process rather than the ones making the decisions?

If we truly embraced human needs as the primary organizing principle, then we would radically change the way we treat each other and our children. No one would be controlled, manipulated, coerced, shamed, or guilt tripped. We would trust that nurturing all of our needs and supporting each other in fulfilling our dreams would lead to peaceful sharing of resources and to productive use of conflicts. All our human relationships would be based on autonomy and interdependence.

Under such conditions, human beings can grow up to be people who are able to balance their well-being with that of others and of the planet spontaneously and gracefully. Imagine what that would be like. If it were possible, wouldn’t you love to live in a world where all of us embrace giving without receiving and receiving without giving? Can you imagine what it would be like to trust that there is sufficiency of resources and that we have enough collaborative and imaginative problem-solving to allow us to let go of attachment to outcome? Or how much less stress we would have if we can all celebrate and mourn the mysterious and unpredictable flow of life with birth, growth, death, and decay?

Yes, I know we have been told that such a life is impossible; that our human nature is to hoard, to be suspicious, to only look out for ourselves and perhaps our immediate family and friends; that we can only be motivated through reward and punishment; that our needs are ultimately insatiable; and that war is inevitable.

This grim picture, resting on a fundamental despair about who we are and what life is about, has been the dominant thread for millennia in the Western world. It isn’t the only picture possible. We try to protect children from reality for as many years as we can, because we know that their picture of life is not so grim and we want them to hold on to it even as we think of them as naïve. Are they? Is it possible that our children know better than adults?

My mother still remembers her utter astonishment when I asked her, at five: “Why is it that we have to pay money to get our groceries? Why can’t we just go into the store, get what we need, and go home? Why can’t everyone just get what they need? Why do we need money?” My mother had no response that satisfied me, and neither has anyone since. I grew up bewildered by the discipline of economics. Something never computed for me, not even after I read Samuelson’s infamous Macroeconomics – the classic textbook still used in universities – and passed an advanced placement exam with flying colors in my early 30s. I understood the equations. I could manipulate the numbers and produce the desired results. None of that presented any challenge to me. It just never made sense.

I was 40 when the lightning bolt struck and I got it. It was so simple and so painful: the field of economics as we know it is defined by scarcity. So much so, that many sources define economics as the study of the allocation of scarce resources. Scarcity is built into the field: whatever is not scarce is not included. Since I didn’t share in the assumption of scarcity, everything that followed from it was puzzling to me.

The dream of a moneyless society I have carried since being a child has never left me. I still trust that there can be enough resources for everyone’s basic needs; that there can be enough willingness to do all that needs doing without coercion; that there can be enough love and understanding to resolve all conflicts; and that there can be enough creativity and goodwill to work out a global system of resource allocation and coordination that is neither market-based nor centrally planned, and is instead based on voluntary participation.

I am, indeed, called naïve, idealistic, utopian.

Still, I ask: regardless of how likely you believe a collaborative future is, or how impossible you think that such a vision is, wouldn’t you rather live in such a world than the one we have?

 


[1] A similar approach, from a different perspective, has been proposed by economist Manfred Max-Neef.

 

This article is a passage from the book “Reweaving Our Human Fabric: Transforming the Legacy of Separation into a Future of Collaboration” by Miki Kashtan (Editors note). 


Pleiadian Gift Economy – an Equal-Value System of Economics


The equal-value system transcends the dichotomy of wealth and poverty as well as alternative money systems. It is a system for truly advanced civilizations in which everyone is valued and able to freely do what they love to do without contorting or selling themselves in order to “make money”.

The following excerpt from Millennium — Tools For the Coming Changes (ISBN: 0-9631320-3-2) by Lyssa Royal, pp. 113-115, provides the seed idea of the equal-value economic system (EVES). It is cited with permission from the authors.

Most people have not yet learned how to step into this state and let it serve them. Let us say that you could have everything you wanted whenever you wanted it. How then is wealth defined? There can be no wealth because it is only measured against a state of lack. Wealth is a measure of what you have compared to what others have — lack.

Some extraterrestrial societies (such as on several Pleiadian planets) have a system called the equal value system, which is a reflection of their beliefs about abundance and the free state of their society.

The equal-value system might sound simplistic, but it actually requires tremendous spiritual and emotional evolution to master. As an analogy, if you need food in that society, you simply walk into the supermarket, get the food and leave without paying. When someone comes to you for your service, you provide it without charge. This system reflects a balance of wealth that has no arbitrary, constantly shifting values. The foundation of thier wealth is a deep sense of value for each member of society. Everyone is eager to keep their world evolving by constantly following their creative excitement. [Bold face added — editor]

This type of planetary economy is a holistic unit. In criticizing this type of society, one might ask obvious questions such as, “Who takes out the garbage or performs the unpleasant tasks?”¹ In a society where creative freedom is encouraged and not suppressed, there are many inventors who create technology to deal with every challenge, garbage included. Free-energy devices have been created to handle all of the planet’s energy demands.

Without a government or a corporation hoarding profits and controlling new discoveries, the best interests of the society as a whole or as individuals are never overlooked. The spirit of the society is expressed through constant achievement and creative freedom rather than constant profits. This is a symptom of a healthy holistic organism. Where there is a need there is someone to fill the need. This might sound alien to you, but look at the many enthusiastic inventors in your world who want to promote alternative fuel sources but who are stopped by big business.

Any planet can eventually develop this type of society. However, it cannot happen now on Earth while you are in the present level of fear. If one day all the world leaders said, “Okay, now on we have the Pleiadian equal-value system,” there would be chaos! There would be tremendous hoarding, because you would not believe you deserve it. You would feel as if you had to grab as much as you could before someone changed their mind. Your planet is simply not emotionally ready for this type of system. There is too much invested in lack and victimhood. There is too much invested in the polarized belief of the have and have-not mentality.

There must be a deep internal transformation before you can embrace the Pleiadian equal-value system or your own version of the equal distribution of wealth. Communism was an immature attempt at an equal-value system. So is capitalism. A true equal-value system that supports society will not have any oppressive control, rigidity or constraints attached to it. Because society is tiring of the old game of lack and wealth and you are moving toward ideas that reflect self-responsibility, a precursor to an equal-value system will appear when the time is right.

Freedom begins at the individual level. However, you must remember that freedom and equality are inherent properties of your spirit. Once recognized, you must then begin exercising your freedom, otherwise you will continue the cycle of dependence and corruption in a downward spiral.

If you become more self-responsible and affiliate yourself with others who are making the same choice, you will always have what you need when you need it. Always. It is a very different way to live. These words do not convey the true depth of the meaning of freedom of the spirit, because words always fall short in such matters. Be aware that bondage is a state of mind and a state of heart.

Choose freedom, live that freedom, and watch your lives and your planet transform before your eyes.

Editor’s comment: The issue of “who takes out the garbage” need not be dependent on having technology take care of it. The cultivation of a spirit of service or “karma yoga” goes a long way to handling unpleasant tasks and is inevitably necessary — in any society. To discover more about the authors of this book, go to www.lyssaroyal.com


The Trust Economy


Summary:

Something big is coming. It can be really good or it can be really bad. This is a detailed outline of the good. The Trust Economy offers:

• A simple, elegant, fast, and peaceful solution to the world wide financial crises.

A workable answer to the demands of the 99% that can be implemented by the 99%

• Leverages existing models and available tools to manage and distribute resources in a fair and equitable manner.

• Easy to understand and implement.

• Creates a system that can not be stolen from or manipulated by a few at the expense of everyone else.

• Automatically aligns itself with the whole, without diminishing personal property or responsibility.


Background:

In the nineteen sixties and seventies, when technology was growing up, it was often said that technology would solve the worlds ills by making more abundance, shorter work weeks, and less toil and struggle. Robotics and computers were supposed to make life better for everyone.

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How The Monetary System Works


This blog is mainly about focussing positively on a resource based economy, how it works, and how it can be implemented. Still, there seems to be a dire need to address the workings of our present monetary system, since some people doesn’t seem to grasp how detrimental this system is to our society, our health and the wellbeing of the planet in general. I think most people reading this blog ‘gets it’. This article is overemphasized towards those who don’t.

All of the elements below are self evident and clearly present in today’s world.

Our wonderful monetary system

Banks, loans, bills, taxes, bankruptcies, corruption, products that stop working right after the guarantee runs out. Competition, profit, buying, selling, trading, shopping, fashion, TV, advertising, cars brake down. Pollution, tar sands, oil spills, wars, nuclear disasters, asthma, deformed newly borns. Grades, neurosis, pharmaceuticals, doctors paid by them, prozac, more corruption, politicians, drug abuse, drug trade, financial crisis, unemployment, ingenious inventions that never see the light of day because they are bought up and shut down or outcompeted by the big corporations so they never reach The Market. Financial crisis, scarcity, inequality, injustice, greed, prostitution, pollution, clerks, meaningless jobs, police, military, terrorism, sell, sell, sell, sell, the media, homelessness, problems and crisis making the richer richer and the middle class into poor and the poorer even poorer. Overfishing, waste, consumption, bureaucracy, red tape, accounting, fraud, depression, suicide, crime.

Don’t you just love it?

You bet I do.

And the irony of it all; 99% of the ‘99%’ doesn’t even see it.

See what?

The problem. The cause of it all.

For some time I thought that ‘there will always be wars between people’. Sometime, somewhere on the planet, there will always be a war going on. I thought that this was a part of ‘human nature’, and after all, a war served as a contrast to ‘what we didn’t want’.

Now I understand that this is complete and utter bullshit.

Human Nature is not greedy. Humans become what society and their surroundings make them. If their surroundings are 100% greed, they become greedy. When they grow up in a world where the credo is ‘You Have To Make Money!’, ‘You Have To Succeed!!’ and ‘The More Money You Have, The More Successful You Are!!!’ then it is no wonder they become greedy, rip of others in a brown collar, blue collar or white collar way, become bankers, stock brokers and robbers, or simply….take a job.

Humans, when given the chance, are helpful, caring and sharing beings. This is who we really are. And this has been proven again and again.

So, if it is not ‘human nature’ that causes all of the shit we have in the world today, then what is it?

The answer is, it is the system itself. And when I say ‘the system’, I mean both the monetary system and the system of values that comes with it.

So, what came first? The monetary system or the value system? It’s a good question, but not really necessary to answer. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that it is here, and one is reinforcing and strengthening the other.

The profit based monetary system is leading to greedy values, while greedy values again lead to the monetary system. It has been a vicious spiral that has been going on for thousand of years with a culmination in present day.

Profit Motive

The profit motive is the controlling factor in the monetary system.

Today we are all slaves to the profit motive whether we like it or not. All adults has to make a profit, to ‘earn a living’. This goes for companies and corporations too. Without profit, they go bankrupt, people loose their jobs and everything collapses.

The Profit Motive rules the world. It doesn’t matter how good intentions you have. If you can’t reach the market and make a profit, it doesn’t have any value in today’s world.

No matter how much you want to help people in need, you have to buy your own way in this world. If you want to create new sustainable and efficient technologies, you still have to make a profit. No matter how great artist, painter, dancer or singer you are, you have to earn your money. The company have to earn money. The organization have to earn money. The corporation have to earn money. The government have to earn money.

We all have to make a profit.

Trade

Thus, we have to trade with each other. No matter how much you want to simply give your services and products away, you have to get some money back. No matter how much you want to share your skills, you have to ‘make a living’.

You have to trade whatever you have with others and get money back for it to pay your bills, buy your food and all the stuff you need to simply live. So, in this system, we have to trade.

We can of course give something away, but that’s not the point. The point is that we have to trade in this world, or else we die. If we give away all that we have, we won’t have any money to buy what we need ourselves.

We could of course try to live of the land, scavenge dumpsters or rely on kind friends to feed us, maybe in return for our services. And some do this. Still, the majority have to work and use money. If everyone abandoned money, well then we would of course not have the monetary system anymore, but rather a resource based gift economy which is what this whole blog is about.

Property and Ownership

Now, here’s the kicker. In nature there’s no real ‘property’ or ‘ownership’. It doesn’t exist. What exists is usership, possession and access. But in our monetary system, we have ‘property’ and ‘ownership’. What this means is that you can get a paper that say’s that ‘you own something’, making that thing ‘your property’.

These concepts are the basic building blocks of the monetary socio-economic capitalistic system. The concept of ownership and property is what has made it possible for a few in this world to own a lot. It is what makes this whole system go around. Still, ownership is only a concept. Not a real thing.

The more you own, on paper that is (because in reality no one can own anything), the richer and more ‘wealthy’ you are. The funny thing is that if you own 5 villas, 7 cars, 3 boats and 2 farms, you can only use a very small amount of time on each thing. Most of the time, ‘your’ things will be idle. Unused.

Still, you own it. You have bought it with your own money. Or…maybe not. Maybe you bought it with OPM. Other People’s Money. Loaned money.

Money and Banking

Money is the ‘blood’ that nurtures this whole system, and makes the monetary system possible. With money we can charge each other and pay each other. We can fine each other and tax each other. We can invest and become rich, or loose and go bankrupt.

But where does all the money come from? The money comes from the banks, and it is made out of fresh air (as a Bank Of England employee called it). Yes, today money is created by The Federal Reserve and the central banks around the world when needed. And the money is given it’s value in decree, meaning that it is the government that decides the monetary value of each ‘coin’, even though 99% of all the money today is electronic. The ‘gold standard’ that once existed has been abandoned a long time ago. Now, money has no relationship to anything real.

The central banks in turn lends the money out to other banks, who then lends it out to customers. And here’s how this process happens, through fractional reserve banking: 

Bank A gets 100 million dollars from a central bank. It can then lend out up to 90% of this (this percentage varies from country to country, some can lend out up to 100% of these money) to a customer. This loan is then deposited to an account in another bank, or in the same bank (this doesn’t really matter, since most of the banks work together in a cartel anyway).

As soon as this money is deposited, the bank can then lend out 90% of these money to another customer, and on and on. So, from 100 million (which was created from fresh air), the banks can multiply this to around 1 billion dollars through repeated lending. You might ask, ‘but what if the customer want to withdraw his money, and the bank has just lent it out’??? Well, of course, that’s the problem. Here’s where the banks are gambling.

Most of the time the customers does not want or need to withdraw a lot of money. If a customer want to withdraw a reasonable amount, that is no problem. The bank then takes that money from the pool of money it has. The problem comes if many customers want to withdraw a lot of money at the same time. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it might threaten the life of that particular bank.

Interest

Anyway. This is how our money are created from ‘fresh air’. And of course, the loans has to be paid back, with interest. Now, this interest isn’t created in the system, which leads to a larger and larger deficit in the system, which shows up as bankruptcies around the world. And this is what we see today with even whole countries practically bankrupt. There’s simply not enough money to go around. The system is bound to collapse.

What is funny, is that the banks, in addition to interest, demand ‘security’ from the lender, while the bank obviously doesn’t have any security for the money themselves, other than the ‘fresh air’ they were made of in the first place.

If you doubt any of these claims, just Google ‘fractional reserve banking’ do your own research, and you will get it confirmed.

Now, many people are very upset about the banking system and the financial crises. Still, almost as many doesn’t see how the whole monetary system is at fault, not only some bankers or the banking system.

Capitalism

Now, to further elaborate on how our monetary system upholds itself, let’s see how the ingenuity of it makes some people on the planet live lives in leisure, while others have to work by the sweat of their brow, if they are ‘lucky’ enough to have a job, that is.

When the ‘common man’ takes up his much needed loan to buy his much needed home, what happens? Well, the interest he pays on the money he has loaned goes to the bank, who in turn pays another customer his interest on money he has deposited.

So, if you have 10 million dollars, and put them in a bank on 3% interest, you get 300.000 dollars each year from the bank, for doing nothing. But who pays these money? Well, that is of course the man and all the others who took up a loan at 5% interest. And the ones who are taking up loans and paying interest is of course a much larger group than the ones who have money in the bank and gets interest.

This way, the rich can live lives in leisure, while the rest have to work, paying back their loans. Pretty smart system, if you ask me. For the rich, that is.

So, capitalism is really a pyramid scheme. On the very top is a secret group of some very very few people, who effectively controls the money supply in the world, and through a conglomerate of companies, banks and corporations owns and controls most of the planet and it’s governments.

This pyramid is controlled by money and ownership and everyone tries to climb to the top, which is one of the smarts mechanisms of the system. Everyone wants better lives, and better lives is found in more money, more money is found in better jobs, more investments, more ownership and so on, so everybody steps on everybody else to get there, and on the way they pay and reinforce the system through loans and taxes. And this happens 100% voluntarily by the people in the system. They are voluntary slaves, serving the system with their jobs and investments.

On the bottom of this pyramid, we find the population at large. The ones who actually holds this pyramid up by obediently going to work, paying their loans and taxes and buying their products as good consumers.

The ones who are outside of this pyramid are the many jobless and poor who doesn’t have loans or jobs and doesn’t pay taxes, and the very few who have effectively abandoned money and property and tries to live different lifestyles. But these are disparagingly few.

Cyclical Consumption

In addition to the money and banking system, the monetary system needs us to constantly buy new stuff for it to survive. If we stop buying, the system will collapse. This is called cyclical consumption. We have to buy, buy, buy, buy and consume, consume, consume.

Notice how we are called ‘consumers’ without anyone even getting slightly insulted. That is how deep the system have indoctrinated us into believing that ‘this is the way it has to be’. Read with a robotic voice: ‘Yes, I am a consumer. I buy things. I consume. I am important because without me the whole system collapses’.

So, are you a consumer? Or are you a human being?

Planned and Perceived Obsolescence

As a result of the need for cyclical consumption, products can not be made to last as long as they could have. Thus, products are designed to break. The first nylon stockings, for instance, never broke, which made the corporations redesign the stocking to be weaker and have a shorter lifespan, so that they could sell more and make a profit.

This kind of planned obsolescence is designed into most products we buy today. The products can not be made too sturdy and long lasting, and have to be made in such a way that they become obsolete in themselves. Instead of being updated, they have to be replaced.

In addition to the planned obsolescence, we have perceived obsolescence. This is when a product is still working fine, but the customer still wants a new one, because of sentimental reasons, like fashion or perceived higher quality or style in ‘the new’ product. And these feelings and wants are of course produced by advertising and marketing in the media. And the reason for all of this is? To make a profit and uphold the monetary system.

Competition

Competition is another factor built into the monetary system.

Instead of companies collaborating to make the best, longest lasting, most efficient, smartest designed products of the highest quality, they have to compete for market share, patent their ‘intellectual property’ and keep it away from competitors. So, they are burdened with both competition to ‘stay alive’, cyclical consumption and planned obsolescence.

It is a fine balance they have to keep. They have to present a whole host of seemingly different products in different price ranges to give the so-called consumers (us) a so-called ‘choice’. All in the name of profit.

But, of course, it has to be like this, or else our whole system will collapse!

We must consume and buy stuff. We can’t have long lasting products. We must be brainwashed to buy new stuff all the time. The companies has to make a profit, or else we will be all out of jobs!!! 

Yes, of course, this is how it has to be. In the monetary system.

But, what would happen if we used much less? If we took up fewer loans? If the companies made long lasting products? If 50% of all food wasn’t thrown away? It is obvious. With lesser consumption, which is many people’s goal, the system will collapse. Then, what do we do? No jobs for anyone. No money. What shall we do???

Corruption and crime

Corruption is the result of money. Not dishonest people, not greed, not poverty. No, money, property and the need for profit are the causes of corruption.

When you have a system where the people constantly have to trade with each other, compete for jobs and resources, buy and sell to each other and earn money, corruption automatically arises.

Because in a system with money, scarcity is a needed factor. If something is too abundant it will have no value. Money itself will have no value if it is too abundant. Thus, constant competition is needed and people need to pay each other and try to get as much out of each other as possible. To me, this itself is corruption.

Anything that is not given freely, but demanded money for, is basically corruption. The monetary system itself is built upon fraudulent money designed to enslave the population on the planet, and thus the use of this currencies is itself corruption, except we don’t know it.

The monetary system also leads to crime. Since scarcity is needed and built into the system, this will automatically create big differences between haves and have nots, which leads to crime; poor people wanting to have the standard of living of the rich.

The Benefits of The Monetary System

Hm….can’t think of any. At least not any that serves all of us, and not just a few.

If I should think of one ‘benefit’, it would have to be the possibility to use money as a measurement of gratitude.

In any case, I think this one little benefit can easily be replaced in a resource based economy with true gifts instead. Gifts you have made yourself. Like a song, a dinner, a cake. I am not talking about bartering here, only gifts.

We Know

We know that the oceans are overfished. ‘They should fish less!’ We know that the rainforest is cut down to make room for soy bean plantations. ‘We should save the rainforest!!’ We know that there is a huge drug trade in the world. ‘We should stop them!!!’ We know that there is trafficking, with both children, men and women. ‘They should stop that!!!!’ We know that there are millions of hungry and homeless in the world. ‘We should give them food and shelter!!!!!’ We know that there are more than enough alternative energy sources to fuel the whole world. ‘We should use them!!!!!!’ We know billions is spent on war. ‘They should spend it on health, schools and the old!!!!!!!’

Now, why are they going to war? Why aren’t alternative energy used instead of oil? Why aren’t all the hungry and homeless fed and sheltered? Why are people suffering in trafficking? Why is there a huge drug trade in the world? Why is the rainforest cut down? Why are the oceans overfished? Why? Why?? Why???

And the answer is:   Profit.   Money.   Greed.   Property.

Do    you    get    it?

The System

It is the whole monetary system and the mindset behind it that is at cause. It isn’t the ‘bad guys’ or ‘freak coincidence’. No. It is our system.

We can’t stop these things happening within this system. Why? Because THE WORLD NEEDS TO MAKE  A PROFIT!!!

Every person, every business, every corporation and every government NEEEDS TO MAKE A PROFIT. That’s why.

Everyone needs to make a profit from what they do, and they do everything they can to make a profit. Be it going to war, overfishing, cutting down rainforest, smuggle drugs, traffic children, give irresponsible loans, trade money, trade gold, trade fish, trade, trade trade, trade and kick the ones who can not pay out or their homes. The profit incentive leads to greed which again leads to more want for profit.

We can’t avoid planned obsolescence and cyclical consumption, we can’t make products that last, we can’t feed and shelter all the hungry and homeless, we can’t stop wars, we can’t stop using oil, because these things are non profitable, and if we try to stop it, the whole system will collapse, because there would be no jobs, and no one to buy the products, big corporations would not earn money, go bankrupt and more people will be out of jobs, and so on. 

It is not ‘bad people’ who do these things. It is normal people like you and me. But, like you and me, they are infected with this thought of money, property and profit. Now, can you see the problem?

Now, can you see the solution?

Just imagine for a second, if we simply removed money, profit, trade and property.

Then we replaced it with natural sharing, giving, usership and accessibility.

Wooooooh…………….

Can you see the consequences? Can you reeeaaaally see it?

What would happen if we all shared? Simply shared. Shared our skills and knowledge. Shared our resources.

No competition. No profit. No money.

Instead: Collaboration. Joy. Excitement. Enthusiasm. On a global scale.

For everyone.

We could simply go out there and do what we need to do. Feed the ones who need it. And not only feed them, but build a whole new world for all of us. A world we can all live happily in together. Build up the soil. Make it thick and black and full of juicy nutrients for succulent vegetables to grow in.

Build up our knowledge about everything. And just do it! No need for patents anymore. No need for secrecy. No need for war. No need for money. No need for investors. No need to overfish the oceans. No need for trafficking. No need to drill for more oil. No need to worry about jobs and unemployment. No need to cut down the rainforest or kill the gorillas. No need to. No need to.

If we only let go of money. Property. Ownership. Profit. And greed.

What we are left with are the resources. What we can actually use. What we can actually eat, build houses with, make clothes with. All our common material and mental resources.

Resource Based Economy

What we are talking about is a resource based economy, which you can read all about on this website and on the sites of The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement.

In a resource based economy, we focus on the actual needed resources to produce anything. And we abandon trade, barter, money and ownership. Instead we have giving, sharing, accessibility and usership.

On a personal level, you can call it a gift economy, because whatever you do for anyone, you have to give away for free. But of course, when everyone thinks and acts like this, you will get a tenfold of gifts back as well.

Still, you giving something is also a resource, whether you sing a song for someone, share your knowledge on a subject, program a new application, make a movie or grow delicious food.

When we all live in a giving society, we will also get much more than we give. Why? Because that’s the power of a network of giving. When our mindset shifts from thinking only of ourselves, to thinking of others just as much, everyone will get more.

You giving of your skills and knowledge can be called sharing mental resources. All the other resources would be the material resources, like food, land, houses, transport, tools, energy, etc.

Do you know what the average usage time on a power drill is in today’s world? 20 minutes. In average, every power drill produced is used only 20 minutes in it’s entire lifespan. And the same goes for many other things in our world today. Cars are only used a fraction of their time. So are private boats. Skates. Skis. Etc, etc. Not to speak of all the waste we get from producing all this stuff.

In a resource based economy, we could actually focus on producing long lasting products, and then share them, instead of hoarding them. And we could focus on producing it without waste and pollution.

And instead of ownership, we would have usership. This means that whatever you use and need, you can use as long as you need it. And when you’re done with it, it goes back into the pool of resources. Be it a power drill, a car, a house or a piece of land.

All the resources on the planet would simply be shared and used where they were needed in the most environmentally friendly way. In fact, we wouldn’t have to weigh the balance between environment, jobs and profit. We could actually focus on the environment and ’employ’ as many as needed for the task of those who wanted to contribute to that, and then some.

No need to ‘get funding’, ‘find investors’, etc. etc. As long as we provide food and shelter for everyone who want’s to participate, we are good to go.

And again, we would of course utilize and develop as much technology as needed without the ‘technological unemployment’ ghost threatening. If we were to build a new dam, we wouldn’t need thousands of workers. No, we would construct machines to do, not only the heavy lifting, but the majority of the work itself.

Not that we would have to construct any new dam at all. There are plenty of alternative energy resources today that we can do very well without any new dams on the planet.

And within the resource based economy we could actually take the technologies that work the best and utilize them for everyone, without any competition or greedy corporations trying to ruin it for us, or the market not buying it. Now, we would simply work together, globally, to invent and develop the best new solutions. Solutions that save the environment, rather than ruin it. Solutions that help people, rather than hinder them.

Then, why would anyone contribute to any of this? Because it would be in everyones interest. It would be 100% meaningful and purposeful. It would be interesting and challenging. It would be liberating and joyful. It would be work that actually meant something.

Without the need to set different price tags on everything, we could set one; Priceless.

Many people might think of this as a kind of utopia. Getting all the worlds people in on this sounds daunting. Still, I think it is already in us. Giving and sharing is normal and natural in all of the world’s cultures.

We buy friends dinner without thinking about it. We share knowledge without cost, both on- and offline. People constantly help each other all around the world. Be it doctors, nurses, aid workers, computer specialists, or someone simply helping old ladies across the street.

On Cuba you are considered a taxi driver if you have a car. And that goes for tourists too. You have to stop for hitch hikers and share your car.

On Fiji, they basically doesn’t have any private property. Usership and sharing is the norm. If you are there and comment positively on the TV of your Fiji family, they will feel compelled to give it to you.

I think our basic instinct is to share. Our human nature is not a greedy one, but a sharing one. It has only been buried under layers upon layers of money and property for millennia.

Thinking about a global resource based economy in today’s crazy money world might be a long shot.

Still, I think it is the best shot we have.