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Mmm… I think there's still a disconnect. I may be reading thoughts into posts that aren't there, but Cliff, all the examples you list are ogliarchies that imposed order on the masses (and retained a "money" based system, in each example, with all it's benefits and foibles), and not in a gradual way (executing farmers for excessive profits is not a gentle change, nor was the holocaust, nor the Maoist revolution, etc). Lara, I believe, is talking about gradual and systemic change in the way people approach having their wants and needs met in life, and not one that is violent or imposed by an ogliarchy, military, dictator, or Dear Leader. I believe Lara is also talking about an intentional change, rather than (what I believe to be) the accidental development and flourishing of a money based capitalism.
I don't mean to put words in people's mouths, but it sounds as though Cliff, you believe that human beings as a group will not be willing to make the systemic, intentional, and gradual change that we're supposing would be necessary for the elimination of money – though we may be able to, we won't? Lara, are you then saying that as a species living on this planet, it may actually be necessary and in the end the least painful way to solve the global warming/poverty problem, and that if enough people are willing it can happen? It just sounds to me as though two parallel arguments are being set forth: willingness, and ability. Or perhaps the issue of necessity is what ties the discussion together?
I am profoundly lousy at determining people's motives, but I'm getting better at figuring mine out. I'm completely in love with the idea of eliminating money because I'd rather work AT living than work FOR a living (perhaps this is due to my admittedly privileged point of view). I'd rather try my hand at feast and famine than sit at a desk all day long, and I think I'm capable of surviving it. But I'll still have to play along with the money game for the taxes on the land I'm going to buy to live off of – taxes that pay for the services that will keep me alive and well should my neighbor's forest catch on fire, should all my crops fail and I can't find a temporary job, to pay for the fuel I'll need to transport myself to medical facilities, which I'll then have to pay for. Payment made affordable if eked and saved for over time. I guess it's a question of whether we can convince enough people experiencing good times to plan for bad times – pay the firemen (food & lodging or money for same) when there is no fire so they exist when fire rages. The existence of the various insurance industries indicates that we are willing to do so in the private sector, other countries have absorbed portions of it into the government sector – is that kernel of an idea enough of a beginning to act as a starting point for the changes we're discussing?
What if we look at what people consider their priorities?
We could ask them about it, but that wouldn't be reliable. Talk is notoriously cheap (I give myself as an example :).
People put their money into what they most value. If something is worth more to a person than the price that is asked, that's where a purchase will be made for whatever purpose. Money allows the transaction as a medium of value; something that allows a person to say, "this thing is worth X units of value to me"
How much do people value the ideals of the Venus Project? Maybe that is a way to gauge the probability that it could make progress.
I like to give money to the Nature Conservancy because they buy land to reserve it for wildlife/ecosystem support. I figure that is one way to buy the kind of future that can be enjoyed by those who come after me. But I bet the entire amount of money that goes to the NC and all environmental groups put together isn't a fraction of the money that goes for iPods and the music for them. Spending habits indicate the vox populi.
People vote with their dollars; the way they spend tells us what they will make an effort to obtain.
How could money be eliminated and still allow people to obtain the things they indicate they are very eager to get?
“Compared to any other system before it, capitalism is a raging success.”
Even if it was, that doesn’t mean there can’t exist a much better system
“How would the millions, billions who are finally at the threshold of the lowest rungs of wealth react to a plan to get rid of money?“
And how would the billions of poors react to the idea of having free education, free health care, free food, etc?
“You mentioned debt and that can be a terrible thing”
The debt I refer to is not avoidable in the system we’re living in. I’m talking about the debt that is produced in the process of creating money. This is explained very detailedly in Zeitgeist and Zeitgeist: addendum.
“Stalin decided that the kulaks (capitalist farmers) in Russia were unfairly profiting and a wave of executions started. Hitler pointed his finger at the Jews who as entrepreneurs had benefited from businesses large and small.”
As Ewjm said, I’m not talking about that kind of things. Actually, he defined it better than I did: “a gradual and systemic change in the way people approach having their wants and needs met in life, and not one that is violent or imposed by an ogliarchy, military, dictator, or Dear Leader. I believe Lara is also talking about an intentional change, rather than (what I believe to be) the accidental development and flourishing of a money based capitalism”.
“I guess it's a question of whether we can convince enough people experiencing good times to plan for bad times”
Yes, maybe it’s a bit like that. There’s also many, many people experiencing the bad times right now, who are more willing to jump on board with a plan like this, which promotes equal access to all the Earth’s resources. So all this people can join and start this project… slowly… I hope so :)
“How much do people value the ideals of the Venus Project?”
As it happens with many of the world’s problems, many don’t even know them. Some know the problems, but don’t care. Others feel bad about them, but not bad enough to do something. Others, feel bad enough to do something, but think it’s too late or too difficult. Others, actually try to do something. So the first step would be to get people to know the problems that the Venus project is trying to solve, and introduce the idea of the project. It is not very famous yet but the values (like equality) are widely spread. I believe it has potential…
“Spending habits indicate the vox populi”
I think they actually indicate the effect of the media on the populi itself, rater than their true values. If the same amount of publicity as the music industry was displayed for environmental causes, the effect would be huge.
“How could money be eliminated and still allow people to obtain the things they indicate they are very eager to get?”
Like I said in my first post, I don’t think humans are greedy by nature. I think if all our basic needs were met, and we lived in a peaceful environment and not being harrased by publicity of all kinds all the time, we would be eager to get other things, like knowledge and spiritual fulfillment.
Jacque Fresco has a wealth of experience, including the Great Depression, which shows the downsides of financial collapse, then and now. Offering an alternative has value and creating a working example would be a more persuasive approach. This may require backing to start off.
My interest, alongside other UK Zero Waste enthusiasts, is in sustainability where countries look to self-sufficiency in energy, for example. Renewable energy has a role in this and many countries, UK and USA included, are looking to this technology.
Third World countries need this outlook as well to end the dependency culture, so destructive of development.
John, you bring up an interesting point. Someone much more knowledgable than me, with a better memory than I have, once presented some ideas about "third world" (I hate that moniker) economies that, while I may reproduce poorly here, struck a chord with me.
Developing countries would take out loans (IMF? other nations? I'm fuzzy on that point) to fund development projects, like infrastructure building (sewage, electrical grids, etc) and educational development (construction and creation of higher education facilities, funding a ministry of education, etc). We'll pretend that a fraction of that borrowed money got where it was meant to go. To pay for those loans, taxes are levied against the populace, who theoretially benefitted. To pay the taxes, the populace now has to acquire more income than before or risk losing the land/animals/resources by forfeiting them to the government (I lived in a country once where bicycles had an annual tax – as an aid worker I was exempt and didn't know it until I'd been there a year, when I found out I was shocked, it was almost a month's income for most people there. But they had to have a bicycle to get their goods to market to earn money for… taxes.). Well to get that income, the (mostly) farming populace then plant cash crops instead of food crops. Often they'll plant their entire field with a single crop. And if that works, and they get the money they need (and usually enough extra to buy the food they didn't raise), they then do it again. Year after year. One good cash crop? Cotton. What happens when you plant cotton year after year? Something like the 1939 Dust Bowl in the US.
But the good citizens got their education and hospitals and sewage treatment to show for it, right? And the governments of these countries never got excited at the prospect of levying higher taxes to provide themselves higher incomes, right? I had a theory while I was in my particular developing spot of the world, that a middle class shields an upper class from blatant corruption; a nicely stratified society is more amenable to transparency than a society in which a person can go from Big Shot to starving to death at the drop of a hat, either by coup or some other means. The farther away I get from that place in my life, the less sure I am.
I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that, if (assuming it is true) you told them that they could have healthcare and food source security and education if you abolished money (via whatever method), they'd agree wholeheartedly, it's better than what they know. But are there a lot of people out there that would say no thanks, because they've seen what excessive amounts of money and power can bring, and that's more what they're looking for? Maybe those are the dividing lines – optimist vs. pessimist?
I sure don't follow the logic.
If you speak of things that are desirable and want those things to happen, the investment has to be made. When you invest in one thing you can't invest in another and that means choices have to be made. Right now, people make choices for themselves with their money.
Right now, there are many choices for folks that would do much to improve things in the future. I used the Nature Conservancy as an example. People are not flocking to those choices, though they know they exist, in anywhere near the number that are continuing to consume as always.
To say that money must be eliminated is a back-door way of saying that people should invest differently. To say that people need to be educated to awareness sounds benign but how often have we seen "re-education camps" in the 20th century?
Someone must make the decisions for the Venus Project, and someone must decide how investments will be made regardless of the existence of money. Money represents work done. Eliminate money and people will still have to decide where the result of their work, their effort, goes. What if they don't want the vision of the Venus Project?
Dreams can turn into nightmares when the imagination turns to what should be over what is. Those who dream can, if in a position of authority, turn from suggestion to coercion. Ideals can come to seem so important that individuals cannot be allowed to stand in the way.
The tragedy of communism was that an ideal of equality for all ended up in a dictatorship. It had to because there was no way of evaluating social goods, or any goods, without prices. Someone had to say what things would be worth by setting production goals. It was a disaster and, in desperation, even Lenin turned to capitalism with his New Economic Plan.
It won't work to simply say things can be better and should be different than they are. There has to be a specific plan for getting from what is to what is desired. Any democratic body is evidence of how difficult it is to put through plans in the face of many competing interests.
How to get to what you want is fraught with danger and at each point of danger, someone must decide what to do. Will it be a democracy? How will you respond to those who like things as they are, imperfect though that may be, and do not want to see the elimination of money? How about those who have lots of money? Do they get a say in what happens or is their wealth simply taken away to be used for better purposes – who decides?
The Venus Project doesn't appear to deal with specifics of redistribution of wealth, beyond a kind of magic that will follow the elimination of money. There's the danger. Redistribution plans have failed again and again unless they are supported by absolute authority – and even then they have failed as we've seen in China. It's working for the time being in North Korea where, with the exception of a very few at the top, all are equal in poverty and ignorance.
It's good to dream, but best to remember that others have dreams as well and all do not share one dream. If I have only $100, there is a chance I can change my life. The odds are against me, but it has happened. Ask those Indian women who have their own businesses now. Capitalism does not promise success, but it offers a possibility of it. Money is a wonderful thing in that it represents anything you want. It is value that can be spent in a myriad ways and, most important, it is yours to spend without anyone ordering you to use it for one purpose or another.
Every day I see behavior on the street I don't approve of, littering for example. How in the world can it be that Tiger Woods gets millions for hitting a little white ball while so many are in dire straits? Why is it that car companies decide that smaller cars are the future when consumers continue to want large vehicles…isn't that backwards? How can people be so obtuse!
But behind all this is freedom. To hold up the a person who has little, and there will always be such, and ask with indignation "what freedom has he?!" is to imply that the freedom of another who has more is not so important and must be abridged to bring equality of means.
Humanity may go down in flames. Let it do so if the alternative is to compel each person to do the right thing. To put it another way – I hate litter but I fully appreciate that littering is an aspect of freedom, even as it is left to me, in my freedom, to pick it up.
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