Great post, Gungnir.
Not really. It’s more a case of: we all like the idea in theory – we just don’t think it can work in reality.
Your suggestions, while altruistic and appealing, don’t take into
account the ugliness of human nature. I once read all of Ayn Rand’s
books and thought what a wonderful concept she put forth. Subsequent
years showed me that Ayn Rand was also an optimist. Her characters
exhibited fine morals and ethics and would always do the right thing.
The reality of today’s world (see Wall Street and the automakers)
proves that her stories were just that – stories. The real world is
much, much crueler, greedy, and vicious.
Futuo stated in part: "Now, this could possibly work in a perfect sized community isolated
from the world, but not for long. It’s a very utopian world that I
wouldn’t mind living in, that definitely could be done. The annoying
part is, it won’t happen."
In one of Ayn Rand’s books, she had a number of her characters slip
away to a hidden village where everyone was ethical and the village
lived on a gold standard. It has been so long since I read that story
that I don’t remember the name of the book (was it "Atlas Shrugged" ?)
nor much of the details. What I do remember was that it sounded just
like what Futuo described.
Maybe that’s what we should all do – start our own version of Shangri-la![/quote]
Ayn Rand is my favorite author and Atlas Shrugged is my favorite book, so please allow me to attempt to address your claims:
Ayn Rand, both in interviews and other writings, openly admits that her characters are based on the "ideal". This includes both her villains and her heroes. She does not claim (in interviews and writings) that such people exist. She claims the purpose of creating such characters in her novels is to illustrate a point.
In Atlas Shrugged, the villains are government beaurocrats, attempting to rid the world of all its evils by taking control over all production. Her heroes (Henry Reardon, Dagny Taggert, John Galt and others) are the producers – those who risk everything to produce things others deem valuable.
In the book, the villains wind up controlling everything, so the heroes, robbed of all incentive to produce, go "on strike" and retire to their own secret enclave, where they only trade amongst themselves. Pretty soon, all the world’s industries collapse because the villains are too incompetent to run them and those who are competent are gone.
Again, this is a story written to illustrate a point, with characters drawn at the extremes to easilly make that point. Rand was born and raised in communist Russia, so she had lived through what it means to have the incompetents control production. Her book was written in the 1950’s as a warning to Americans about the dangers and evils of socialism and communism.
Today, we see capital fleeing the United States to places where it can be more productive. Our lack of a gold standard has devasted our currency. Regardless of whether you think her characters were realistic, her conclusions were solid and her warnings are becoming true.
Sadly, we never listened.
[quote=JK121]Matrix Sounds like a pure resource based economy. True, this could
work, but we are not mature enough as a society. The world would need
to see the complete failure of the money system in order to see a new
emerging type of resource economy where abundance in created, and
scarcity is a thing of the past. I made a few of these points in other
forum. You are correct most crimes would end because a lot of the
crimes we see today are all money driven. Only in a world of scarcity
would crime happen. We would also use many of our resources in a more
meaningful way without a money system and have clean energy, but as
long as people want market share and profit/control this will not come
true. Over time it will though because people are realizing this old
outdated system must go eventually. Check out the book "THE BEST
THAT MONEY CAN’T BUY" you’ll love it. [/quote]
Scarcity of resources is a function of physical reality, not of human organization. Each human being needs a certain minimum amount of food, water, and shelter. That’s a minimum. It would also be nice to have medicine and education and even nicer yet to have leisure time for entertainment among other things.
Either way, scarce resources are extracted and/or converted into useable commodities via the application of human labor. All human labor is valued upon the extent to which it can convert a scarce resource into useable water, food, or shelter (i.e., commodities). Once there is an excess of food, water and shelter in a society, it can support higher-order wants/needs like medicine, education, and leisure. However, in the end, all human labor is valued upon the degree in which it produces commodities from scarce resources. Higher-order labor can only be supported by previosuly exisiting labor structures that produce an excess of these commodities, so while the computer programmer who originally posted this may make 100X more than the hamgurger flipper, it may take 1000 hamburger flippers to support one whiz-programmer.
I have no idea what you mean by a "resource-based" economy. They’re ALL resource-based! Even Japan, a country with few natural resources, uses the natural resource of labor to add so much value to goods that the additional costs of shipping the raw materials to Japan, plus the costs of Japan shipping those goods to the rest of the world, is outweighed.
Society can get as mature as you deem it necessary, but it will still need to till soil, plant seeds, and harvest crops; it will still need to find water, transport it, and keep it clean to the point of consumption; it will still need to lift walls and top roofs; and it will need labor to do all these things. The extent to which one’s labor accomplishes the resource-to-commodity-conversion task it has been given will always be measurable, whether you get rid of "money" as we know it or not. That "measure" is what you are worth, not as an individual, for what you’re worth as a good person, etc, but what you are worth to society, as one who converts raw materials into goods that are necessary for survival.
Again, all higher-order labor requires an excess of first-order labor to support it. In all cases, labor is measurable, whether you like it or not. The system of measurement we use today is money. I find the height of inmorality to be not money itself, but rather a system that allows the dilution of one’s labor, and essentially one’s life, to take place via the perversion of the money supply by elites. It is that, the control of money by those who produce nothing at all, which you should direct your ire at, not money itself.
I have no idea what you mean by a "resource-based" economy. They’re ALL resource-based!
A pure resource based economy is a way of supporting society without a price tag. All economies use resources based on money to measure value. I think what matrix is getting at, is that instead of watching the same cycle of bubbles, booms and busts happen over and over again, society will eventually emerge into a better understanding of what is important. But it would take a total collapse of our political and monetary system to do so. Like I said we are not ready yet. The book "The Best that Money Can’t Buy" is a great read on how to understand how a society like that would function.
Gotta ask you, where do you see this economic crisis going? Hey if all else fails we can always use the HDFC card lol.
Thank you to those of you who emailed me in person to let me know this thread was active again. One of the problems I have is you guys post while I’m asleep, and by the time I hit the keyboard your few posts are swamped in other things like the hacking episode which is all that appears on my task bar showing the latest posts! So I wasn’t ignoring you…
yoshhash: I am NOT advocating you give up your job, merely asking you to it for free! Then YOU could get all the things you need for free too. And that house you’re renting (are you renting?), well….. it’s YOURS!
Thank you DTM…. You’re welcome, enjoy the NWO.
Gungnir, I think we’re on the same page….
JK121, don’t you think the current monetary system has to collapse?
The next 20 years will be nothing like the last 20. I think collapse, of whatever magnitude it occurs in, will have much to do with that!
Thanks for referring me to this forum. (BTW, have you looked into Buffalo Grass?)
While I don’t think that the work-for-free concept will work for many of the reasons cited above, I do think that it is a good starting point for a meaningful conversation.
One of the problems of tit-for-tat is that we are competitive tit-for-tatters. Tit-for-tat on a local basis is mostly harmless –although oftentimes exhausting — but on a national or global basis it can be dangerous. Witness the revolving door between Wall Street and the Government.
We can make inroads into a more comprehensive system, but it will require a higher level of discourse.
In a symbolic show of support for Free Open Source Software and the OpenDocument Format, Brazilian President Lula da Silva recently attended the Linux-related FISL 10 conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where he gave an address underscoring the importance of Free Open Source Software to Brazilian national interests. He appears here wearing a hat with the ODF logo (the OpenDocument Format is a legally unencumbered document format upon which any company or community project can easily build.)
Illustration 1: Brazilian President Lula da Silva dons an ODF hat. Credit: paulohenrique.net (Flickr)
President da Silva toured the conference floor, gave a public speech in the general conference hall to the thousands assembled there, and later gave a smaller address to a private group which included Free Software movement founder Richard Stallman, Free Software community leader Jon Maddog Hall, Brazilian Free Software community leader Pablo “spectra” Lorenzzoni, former Brazilian IT head Sérgio Amadeu da Silveira, Hewlett Packard Open Source Director Bdale Garbee, and Red Hat Vice President Michael Tiemann.
According to Free Software community leader Jon Maddog Hall, who sat in the front row for da Silva’s speech, the Brazilian President’s remarks lasted about 15 minutes, and was delivered without a teleprompter or prepared notes, which tends to indicate that Free Software is a topic with which he is personally familiar. President Da Silva’s speech to the conference has been translated into English here, and the video for his speech is available on YouTube in three segments, here, here and here.
In his speech, President da Silva spoke of the need to create Brazilian IT initiatives and for greater independence from Microsoft. He said that Free Software would provide Brazilians the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to create high tech jobs on par with other countries, a step that he felt would enhance Brazilians’ image of themselves:
“We’re discovering that we can do a lot of things. We´re discovering that nobody is better than us. Maybe equal, but not better: they don´t have more creativity than us. What we need is an opportunity.”
Brazil is the fifth largest nation in the world by both population and land mass, and is the largest economy in the Americas south of the Rio Grande border between the US and Mexico. The fact that the head of state of an important country like Brazil lent his symbolic clout to Free Open Source Software is a digital tipping point, a sign to Brazilians, to proprietary companies like Microsoft, and to world leaders elsewhere that Free Software is ready for mainstream adoption. As a consultant to businesses weighing the adoption of Free Open Source Software, Jon Maddog Hall had this to say of President da Silva’s speech:
Just as Obama’s election reset the expectations of young black people in the United States, Lula’s speech reset the campaign for Software Livre (Software Freedom) in Brazil and everywhere else. Now when students want to use Free Software in their classes, they can point to Lula’s speech and say that Free Software is important. When government employees want to use Free Software to solve a problem, and their boss says to ‘use Microsoft’, the employees will have a new argument to use. And as I go around the world talking to government leaders, university presidents, and company owners, I can point to this speech on YouTube and say ‘This is what the president of Brazil had to say about Free Software.’
BY PAUL KEDROSKY
The best way to restart global growth is with debt. We need both more and less of it. Bear with me here.
We need less debt now: Developed-world debt is holding the recovery back. Individuals are cutting what they owe as fast as they can, especially in the United States and Europe, and governments aren’t picking up the difference. After briefly loading up on debt — in part because of stimulus, but now mostly because of bailing out broken banking systems — they now have the deleveraging bug, too.
Cash diverted to paying off bills must come from somewhere, however, and that somewhere is consumption. With the United States and Europe together accounting for half of global GDP and with consumption making up 70 percent of U.S. GDP, we have a math problem: No matter what innovations are introduced, no matter what entrepreneurial ideas are tried, there aren’t enough customers for the United States to export its way out of the self-imposed austerity that comes with deleveraging. Consumer demand is the most precious product in economic life, and the United States, normally demand’s biggest provider, is rationing its supply. A deleveraging U.S. consumer is not reconcilable with a speedy global economic recovery.
So, here we are. We need to get deleveraging done quickly if we are to restart the global economy. We can’t wait until China becomes a country of consumers, and we definitely can’t wait until the developed world works through the massive overleveraging of its real estate, the root cause of the current malaise. We need a debt jubilee: an organized and massive deleveraging in the developed world. Call it First World debt relief, if you will. (Paging Bob Geldof.)
The original debt jubilee idea comes from the Old Testament’s book of Leviticus, which (by some interpretations) decrees that every 50 years we should forgive all debts. It is doubtful that such festivals of debt deliverance ever happened regularly. After all, who would lend to anyone in Year 49, knowing full well that in Year 50 you would have your debt repudiated? But the idea is the thing: the notion that societies steadily accumulate the dead weight of debt until it becomes too much for the economy to bear, at which point it must be sloughed off.
Sometimes that happens slowly, as it did during the near decade of the Great Depression, but it can happen quickly, too. The history of debt deleveragings tells us that doing it slowly is painful and prone to causing multiple recessions. The cure is a debt jubilee: a sharp and systematic reduction in overall debt, at all levels, from countries to individuals. Call it mass default if you must, but it will be organized default that runs along predictable tracks.
A jubilee alone won’t restart growth — for that we will eventually require, among other things, more consumer debt. Capitalism needs debt and always will, and the lesson of bankruptcy is that lenders come back quickly afterward. But first we need a fresh start, and we need it now.
Paul Kedrosky is senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation.