REALITY BASED ECONOMICS
SPECTACULAR ECONOMIC NEWS….
MOSTLY UNNOTICED IN A WORLD PREOCCUPIED WITH MONEY AND EARNING A LIVING
(and UNTANGLING THE CONFUSION THAT EXISTS BETWEEN FINANCE AND ECONOMICS)
The purpose of this work is: To expand access to true wealth, for all humanity. There is a saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. The meaning of this is that if I have access to the right people, I can gain access to something desirable. Access is the key to wealth. True wealth then, is measured by the amount of access that one has to goods and services that support a high standard and quality of life, indefinitely.
In this writing I have made a number of bold statements and assertions. I am making four Declarations. I am not trying to say: “This is THE TRUTH”. I am trying to reveal ignored facts that show a different and far better economic reality than we see currently, and that illuminates unnoticed and unprecedented good news. I am gathering seemingly unrelated facts and bringing them together into a cohesive whole. I am aware that you or I or others can pick around and find fault with one point or many. Even so, facts are facts, and this work is based on looking at facts. My intent is to share something wonderful with you, and to invite you to share and participate with me, and all of our billions of sisters and brothers.
I ask for your patience. We, all of us, me included, are used to looking at life and relating to life and our activities, according to how much money it costs, how much money we can make, or how much money something is worth. It takes some mental discipline and commitment to get beyond this engrained and now automatic approach to life. Individual ideas from a new perspective sometimes seem nonsensical or irrelevant, until a moment is reached when a new and viable whole is perceived.
This work is a generalized look, a way of seeing broadly. Buckminster Fuller pointed out that we humans have become very specialized. We are experts in a narrow range of activities, work and research. While this approach produces useful results, it is incomplete. It fails to take into account both the larger and smaller patterns of what is happening in the world and universe, but also the side effects, problems and opportunities that arise from human experience. We have explored and gathered data from almost everywhere on earth and are exploring the surrounding universe. It is now a critical need, that we the people give ourselves a generalized education.
Bucky Fuller looked at the Universe and the world as a single system, and humanity as a single family. Inherently, when we look from this perspective we desire to have everyone be successful. If I look at my body and say: “Everything is important, except my little toe.” well, if my little toe gets cut off, and I ignore it, I could bleed to death.
Bucky Fuller is most known as the inventor of the Geodesic Dome. That is only one of the tools he developed. He asked: “What tools do we need, what strategies do we need, what information do we need, for everyone to be successful?”
I worked with Bucky Fuller briefly, and studied his work quite extensively. He, and his work, and his relationship with his wife, Anne are the inspiration for this work that I am engaged in.
Reality Based Economics is rooted in common sense. You do not have to go to school, enroll in any special or expensive courses or be particularly smart to understand fundamental principles of the Universe in which we live. However you must be willing to have an open mind. Humans, all of us, are used to thinking in ways that we don’t question or examine. We have a notion early on in life and never stop to consciously examine it to verify its validity. We grow up in a world that has money and uses money and assigns a money value to almost everything, and never ask the question: “Is there a better way?”
To experience a wonderful new way of perceiving the world and your relationship to it and to all our brothers and sisters, you must be willing to consider the un-thinkable. You must be willing to consider the possibility that some ideas we have about the way the Universe works are wrong or, at minimum, incomplete, and that the facts of the human experience on Planet Earth today have never been faced before, and they call for a new approach to address them. You must be open to an expanded sense of relatedness and caring for our world and all our brothers and sisters that are on it.
My intent is to point us in a direction, to follow a path of simple logic that reveals to us the FACT that we have MADE IT, in terms of our capacity, our capability to provide a very high standard and quality of life for All humanity.
Many people are uninterested or intimidated by economics. They feel that it is complicated or boring. Economics, when understood properly is neither complicated nor boring. It is what children are engaged in when they learn about weather, planting seeds, caring for animals and playing music. It is what everyone is engaged in. If you exist, you are engaged in economics. The basics are simple and understandable by almost everyone. When it gets complicated or boring, it is almost always because finance has been confused with economics.
IF you are willing to look at economics completely independently of money and finance, you too will see a far different Economic Reality than what you see when you make no such distinction.
DATELINE 2009 U.S.A.
There are programs to bail out banks, builders and homeowners, make loans to car companies, create more jobs, cut taxes, raise taxes, rebuild infrastructure, re-regulate financial companies and give taxpayer rebates. AND, NO ONE can say for sure if or when any of it is going to work. We don’t know what will work because we don’t: recognize basic facts; understand basic definitions; know how to appropriately and efficiently measure and manage economic activity; and stand and act from the highest, life-enhancing ideas and ideals. It is well known that water flows downhill and that it follows the path of least resistance, in other words, the easy way. It can hardly be said that humanity’s economic systems are the easy way to support human life. Are we going to repeat the same old and tired routine of fixing and rebuilding financial systems that still again go through cycles of growth, recession, depression, inflation, deflation, bubbles, crashes and frauds, etc.? Are we going to continue with systems that regard caring for the “house” we live in, called earth, a “cost”, that might be too high to pay? Are we going to continue valuing all human activity in the same way, whether it be for war, reconstruction after the war, art, music, prison building, farming, building a skyscraper, rebuilding after a hurricane, stock trading or environmental cleanup, they’re all just part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), just different ways of making a living? This is what humans have been doing for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.
We, all of humanity, are in a new paradigm. The triple combination of: 1) technological accomplishments, 2) their poorly managed side effects, and: 3) population growth, present us with an entirely new set of problems and along with them some amazing new opportunities, that have been considered unrealistic, and unattainable. We need to look from a different perspective on the entire subject of economics. And as is true with all paradigm shifts, things that seem unsolvable and unconnected and are little recognized and contradictory, suddenly reveal a new reality that resolves the previously un-resolvable. Climate change, extremes of wealth and poverty, working just to pay the bills no matter how unsatisfying the job, the capacity to produce more than what is needed, “saving money is good for the consumer, but might not be good for the economy”(from a CNN news broadcast), jobs for everyone, productivity increases, illegal immigration and free trade are some examples.
The Industrial Revolution began the rapid development of two types of machines. The first type of machines are the ones that can do what human beings can not do: concentrate large amounts of power, work much faster, work almost non-stop, perform in adverse conditions, quickly produce great quantities of an item, and pieces that are identical from one to the next.
The second type of machines are designed to do what human beings can do: math calculations, assemble parts, clean things, move things around, and perform repetitive functions. The purpose of these types of machines is to increase the standard of living and to enable people to spend less time doing it. However, the standard of living is being reduced almost everywhere now (2009, 2010) and for most people. Also the time that people spend working is not going down in many places, but in fact is rising. Every tool and every machine that does what a human can do is a type of “labor saving device”. Why then are we not laboring less? Why bother inventing these machines if we are not going to labor less?
It sounds good and holy to be constantly going for high employment numbers. We elect politicians when they promise to increase employment. We form or join unions in part to protect jobs, once they are created. But what if we have been so darn successful at harnessing nature’s energy sources and discovering nature’s processes, so that we could invent machines, to do our work for us, that we don’t need to work much anymore? What if our continued insistence on working and “earning a living” has now become a problem, a major problem? Why? How could that be? Because we are using our resources to do things that don’t need to be done. We are using resources in a competitive, wasteful way rather than a cooperative and efficient way. It’s not only not necessary to have everybody “gainfully employed”, it’s now counter-productive. We do anything that makes money, no matter how unnecessary or damaging to other people, other creatures, or the environment. Our major focus is on what I can do to “make money”, “make a living” and not on “What do I love to do?”, “What is in the best interests of all humanity?”, “What is in the best interests of the environment?”, “What is the most efficient way to deliver a particular product or service?”
If full employment is a truly desirable goal, there is a simple way to accomplish it: pass one six word law everywhere: “All tools and machines are outlawed”. Instantaneously every human being will be employed.
In his 1981 book “Critical Path”, page 223, R. Buckminster Fuller states: “…60% of all the jobs in the U.S.A. are not producing any real wealth - i.e., real life support”. If this is even half way accurate, then it is quite clear that simply “putting people back to work” is not a genuinely desirable strategy.
We have a financial crisis that is becoming an economic crisis in large part because we don’t understand the actual problem. The actual problem in this new paradigm is: How do we produce and make available to every human being the highest standard and quality of life support, in the shortest time, in the most efficient manner, while restoring the environment?
We are in the midst of an unprecedented opportunity for human beings and this planet. The technical hard part is complete. The single fact that we are sending people and machines into space for extended periods is proof of that. The stage we are now in is a matter of education and choice, both individually and collectively. The following four declarations are fundamental to this new opportunity/paradigm.
THE CONDITION ON PLANET EARTH IS ABUNDANCE
It has been said that it is because humanity’s know-how has increased at a much faster rate than population, we are finally able to produce enough to provide for all humans and at a far higher standard than ever before. I tend to feel that it has always been possible to provide enough for all. We now have non-human and non-animal power sources to drive our tools and machines and do a great deal of our work for us. Today, thanks to communication and information that is available on a world around basis, if we look at the information holistically, it is inescapable that we can produce enough for all. However, how or when we got the ability, to provide for all humanity is not the most important issue, for this moment. What really matters is that we have it, now.
WHAT IS ABUNDANCE?
Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1972, defines abundance as: “an ample or overflowing quantity.” We should add: “to meet a particular need.“ Abundance is not just an unlimited supply of any and every particular thing. Abundance is a condition or a state in which results can be produced that are sufficient to fulfill all needs, indefinitely. In this state, there is no waste. Everything is recycled. All aspects of the environment are maintained in the most pristine condition possible.
The belief in either scarcity or abundance determines how financial, legal, political and military systems are set up or even exist at all. Scarcity and Abundance are foundational/contextual ideas. They each give rise to a distinct system of thought and a number of rules, characteristics and measures, which only make sense within their own system. Only one of them can be the condition in which we exist. All current systems are based on the premise that the condition is scarcity. “There is not enough for everyone, therefore I am going to earn a living for myself and my family. I am going to be loyal to my country and my country’s allies. The rest of you are on your own. There is nothing I or we can do about it, that’s just the way it is.”
Looking at the pre-existing condition, before human beings lift a finger, we can see that nature (the universe) is extraordinarily abundant. In his 1980 book, “Critical Path”, page 199, Buckminster Fuller states: ”The quantity of physical, cosmic energy wealth as radiation (sunlight) arriving aboard planet Earth each minute is greater than all the energy used annually by all humanity”. Air for breathing has been available without effort for all human history. Plants produce plenty of seeds to expand their numbers. Plants provide nuts, fruits, berries and vegetables as nourishment for animals and people. Human beings then observe and arrange the technologies of nature to produce even more of certain desired results.
HOW FAR AND FAST WE’VE COME
Right around the year 1900, there were a few thousand people who were the richest, most powerful people on the planet: kings, queens and heads of international businesses. Not one of them could: flip a switch to get clean, safe light; speak instantaneously with their top generals, governors and managers in the field; hear and see events happening live in other parts of the world; travel 3, 4, 500 miles in a single day using a vehicle sitting at their residence; fly to a place where they wanted to vacation; process data rapidly; access large amounts of all the information known to man, from their desktop. No one had gone to the Moon and back. Humans were not living in space, on a continuous basis. Now, only 110 years later, humans have: harnessed electricity, invented radio, telephones, televisions, moving pictures, automobiles, airplanes, computers and the internet, nano technology, bio technology, genetic technology, robotic technology among many other things. We have been to the Moon and back, and have humans living in space, full time. Not only have we invented and done all of these, we invented mass production, such that these goods and services are available to a growing portion of all humanity.
As Bucky Fuller pointed out, know-how, the ability to do more with less, made this possible, and in a shorter and shorter period of time for each successive item. The rate of growth of know-how is much greater than population growth. That is why the average standard of living for human beings keeps on increasing.
Since at least the 1950’s studies have been done that have compared the number of people on the planet with the amount of food being produced. As far as I am aware, all of these studies have shown that we produce enough food to feed every single one of us.
In the U.S. there is the Pez Museum, the Museum of Spam, the Barbed Wire Museum, the Museum of Trash and a registry where one can name a star after someone as a gift. A group of people in The Netherlands spent 8 weeks setting up 4.3 million dominos in order to break 8 world records when knocking them down. If all of these exist, if human beings have the time and resources to engage in these endeavors then clearly the Condition is Abundance, at least for some.
Applying the rules of scarcity in a condition of abundance actually causes scarcity for many people in the midst of abundance for others. It causes undesirable side effects for everyone, such as pollution of the air, land and seas. There are billions of tons of no longer financially viable, partially processed materials, that we ignorantly call trash, and then incinerate or bury in overflowing landfills. We lose the beauty of the natural terrain. These discarded materials leach chemicals into groundwater and gases into the air, and thus become pollutants. There is nothing inherently polluting about them. They are simply used in a way that is not supportive of life. Pollution at the core is much more a life-threatening process than a product.
Advances have recently been made in the development of prosthetic limbs. The research and development was instigated by the military in the United States. Advances had already been made in battlefield medicine, so that many soldiers who used to die of injuries are now kept alive. These injuries frequently result in lost limbs. The new generation of prosthetic limbs are quite remarkable in their capabilities.
Many other technologies have been developed either to fight wars or to correct the consequences of wars. Some of these technologies are then used for genuinely helpful purposes. The idea that war has some upside is then bandied about. This idea is very seductive. It is also immature, self-serving, short-sighted, vicious and un-loving. The unsaid presumption is that these advances could only be made as a result of war.
It would be far less costly, and more fulfilling, to devote our economic activity toward the success of ALL humanity, from the get-go, rather than great expenditures of energy, materials, time, labor and know-how, being used to destroy first and then fix-up later.
Population has grown to the point where these merely undesirable side effects are now catastrophic side effects. The recognition of the true condition (ABUNDANCE) will ease the task of making changes, that will continue increasing everyone’s standard and quality of living, despite population growth.
FINANCE IS NOT ECONOMICS
DEFINITION OF ECONOMICS
Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, defines economics as: “a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services”. Today a better word than “consumption” is the word “use”, reflecting the necessity to drop the idea that any material is throw-away-able, with the idea that all materials need to be recycled, and used continuously. There are other definitions of economics. In everyday use by we the people, politicians, and economists, almost everyone uses the words finance and economics interchangeably. However, by using this definition and by looking at economics and finance independently, and then comparing them side by side, some quite remarkable facts become apparent.
So, production, distribution and use of goods and services. Contrary to popular belief, none of these take money. Nature has never demanded money for sunshine, oxygen, crude oil, water, trees, food plants or ANYTHING else that humans use in our economy. In fact, the universe, the stars, the solar system and the earth itself, and everything on earth, collectively is an economy, THE economy. Nature produces stuff.
Nature distributes stuff. Nature uses, and then re-uses stuff, continuously. That’s what’s happening. We are smack in the middle of, and are a part of, one giant economy, that we call the universe. The universe, which is nature, which is the environment, which is reality, and the economy are synonymous. Universe = Nature = Environment = Reality = Economy. Finance and economics are NOT synonymous.
No matter how much we reform financial/monetary systems the fact remains that economics and finance are based on opposing principles. The fundamental principle of all barter and medium of exchange systems is: “What I have (what I can control) I am withholding from you, unless you give me something that I value equally, to what I have”. And we frequently add: “I’d prefer you give me something that I value more, because I want to make a profit”. Finance is a “withholding from” system.
Nature is a “sharing with freely “ system. Nature doesn’t demand money or payment of any kind, for anything, it allows access freely. Nature allows everyone to pick fruits and vegetables, absorb sunlight, have rain fall on them and breathe air. Nature allows airplanes built with U.S. dollars to fly equally well over countries using Yen, Marks & Yuan, and over oceans with no money system at all. When humans landed on the Moon, there was no tollgate. There was nothing and no one there to collect a landing fee.
The Universe does require that we observe it’s laws, the way things work, and the way things work doesn’t change. For example, crops need a certain amount of sunlight, moisture and nutrients to optimize their yield, and airplanes require a specific amount of lift for each ton of cargo. There is constant and recurrent upset in financial matters because it is not fact based. The rules are made up to begin with, and then are changed and violated continuously. Among other systems, humans have tried barter, slavery, feudalism, communism, fascism, socialism and capitalism. None of them have nor can work long term. They are all out of sync with nature and therefore obsolete.
Monetary systems provide a “medium of exchange” that have become largely detached from the production, distribution & use of goods and services. Making money with money is a blatant example of this detachment. Placing zero monetary value on parenting is another. Is not caring for children providing an extremely valuable service, one that all members of society benefit from, when it is done well? Does it not use energy and materials, time, labor and know-how? The practice of paying women a different wage than men, and of paying people in China a different wage than people in
the United States are obvious examples of detachment. Doesn’t a Chinese welder require the same degree of expertise as an American welder, if he is to produce the same results, reliably? The practice of each country’s money itself having continuously fluctuating values is blatant detachment from reality.
Supply and demand are always hot topics, especially among economists. In 2010 in the U.S., there are millions of vacant houses. Some of them are vacant because it is no longer financially viable to live in the cities in which they are located (Detroit and Cleveland, for example). Some of them are vacant because the individual owners didn’t have enough money to pay the mortgage, and they were foreclosed on and forced out. At the same time the U.S. has millions of vacant houses there are millions of homeless or poorly sheltered people. So, there is plenty of supply, and plenty of demand. Any common sense solutions you can come up with?
WHAT IS MONEY AND FINANCE?
If money and finance are not economics, then what are they? Money is a management tool. Finance is a management system. We use them to manage an economy, to manage economic activity. And they are used to determine who gets access to goods and services, and how much access that one is to get.
This tool has become the purpose for and the reason why we do things. Money is the primary goal of most of what humans engage in. If it has no monetary value it is not counted as economic activity. We have almost completely lost awareness of the clear distinction between the tool and the thing being worked on. It’s as if you and I went to a fine restaurant. Everything about this establishment was oriented toward us having an exquisite dining experience, the softly covered floors, the comfortable temperature and lighting that made it relaxing. We sat down. The aromas stirred our anticipation. We selected a page of the menu with exquisite pictures. We listened as our waiter described the delicacy, and we started to eat …the menu. The menu is a tool. Money is a tool. When we confuse money with economics it is the equivalent of eating the menu instead of the meal.
For the most part, when we ask: “What is the most economical way of obtaining or doing this, that or the other?” what we mean is: “What will cost the least amount of money?”
Reality Based Economics starts from a different place entirely. It starts with the premise that the production and distribution processes must have zero, net negative environmental impacts. The Reality Based Economic approach then asks: “What will use the least amounts of energy and materials and human labor? How much time is available for production and delivery? And finally Reality Based Economics requires that there is an existing infrastructure (except in the case of emergency) to deal with recycling all the materials in the product at the end of their use in this form.
We use money to gain access to goods and services and to make it easier to trade unequal things, for example, artwork made by one person for a car made by 1000 people. Money is also used for “winning”. People who are successful at amassing a lot of money commonly report that money, itself is not so important anymore. It’s now much more about the game, the game of winning. And in the money game, for every big winner, there are many losers.
Win-Win business transactions have become popular and gotten a lot of attention. However, the winning in most of these transactions is still extremely limited. What is called for, and is now possible, is to give a win to everyone: the people directly involved, all the people directly affected, all the people in the neighborhood, all the people in the city, all the people in the state, the country and the other countries……. and to the environment in which we all live.
In the United States, the University of Michigan and others, constantly measure consumer confidence. National economic policy is then set, in part, based on consumer confidence. That is the equivalent of me taking you to the airport for a flight. You board the airplane and get comfortable. The pilot taxis out to the runway. Then he gets on the intercom and says: “Ladies and gentlemen, we were planning on flying to New York this morning, but I have no confidence that the laws of physics are working today, therefore I’m canceling this flight”. Flying airplanes doesn’t depend on confidence in the laws of physics, it depends on conformance to the laws of physics. Disobey the laws and the airplane doesn’t fly, obey them and the airplane flies. The same requirement holds true for all activities. Confidence is a useless measure when used in this way.
But far and away the most destructive use of money is when it is used for control. Once most everyone is convinced “it takes money to live”, those who control the money control people, on both the societal and the interpersonal level. Some monetary “get rich” teachers and authors explicitly reveal that the “golden rule” of money is: “He who controls the gold, rules”. And, lest we place responsibility solely on “those rich people who are controlling us”, is there anyone who hasn’t used money to control their partner, child, sibling or friend? Almost every human is participating in using money for control.
We have a space age, fact based, super abundant economy being managed, manipulated and suppressed by ages old, confidence, speculation, and fear based, make-it-up-on-the-run money systems. This way that humans interact with each other, has never been fundamentally or substantively changed. Thousand-year-ago mule caravaners would
feel right at home with our money systems. We can get humans to the moon and back, alive. We have humans living in space, full time. Great, fact based, technological achievements, and we still manage them with such erratic and unreliable tools. Certain “economic” policies were labeled “voodoo economics” in United States politics. What Reality Based Economics makes clear is that ALL money based economic management is “voodoo economics”.
FINANCE SUPPRESSES ABUNDANCE, DELIBERATELY
Humanity produces enough food to feed everyone. This is a purely economic function. Economics allows us to produce abundance. Finance values scarcity. When a thing gets too abundant, we cut the supply, in order to keep the price up. Just follow the price of oil and The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). When there is a glut of oil in the market, the price goes down. When OPEC wants to make more money, they cut the supply in order to raise the price. So, we are in the position of having an abundant economy being deliberately suppressed by the financial system. Humanity produces enough food to feed all 6 ½ billion of us. About 20 million of our brothers and sisters starve to death every year. They don’t have money to pay for that food, that is available, so, too bad.
Look at how money and finance only value scarcity from the flip side. Has anyone ever said to you: “I am going to start charging you for the air that you constantly breathe, the sunshine that you soak up and the rain that falls on you”? No, and there are only two reasons, why no one has: 1) There is too much of it, it’s too abundant; and 2) It’s too difficult to suppress the supply and make it scarce. A place you will have to pay for air is if you go scuba diving. Air is scarce there, and you’re going to pay, because it’s scarce.
COST OF A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT?
There is constant conversation and debate about the “cost” of cleaning up the environment or the “cost” of not polluting in the first place. This is absolutely
nonsensical when one understands that the environment is the economy. The very idea that there is a “cost” in having a pristine environment is proof positive that finance has been confused with economics.
TECHNOLOGY VS. THE ENVIRONMENT?
The human developed economy is a subset of nature and is composed only of technology. Technology: “the totality of the means employed to provide objects necessary for human sustenance and comfort” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). Think: Sun, fish, lettuce, eggs, almonds, caves, trees, iron ore, sand, granite, aloe vera, as well as tractors, factories, phones and massage tables. The universe, nature, the environment, reality, the economy and technology, are all virtually one and the same, essentially synonymous, simply different ways of looking at one thing.
ACTUAL ECONOMIC RESOURCES
The components of the economy are Energy, Materials, Time, Human labor, and Know-how. The purpose of the economy is to support life. Buckminster Fuller looked at life support from seven aspects: Food, Shelter, Health care, Education, Communication, Transportation and Recreation. The only appropriate measure of the economy is: “maintaining access to an equal standard and quality of living for ALL human beings”. Economic progress is measured by increases in efficiency and in the capacity to transcend limits, for example: communications satellites are more efficient than copper cables, and: flying enabled us to transcend travel limits in both time and distance.
Instead what we currently measure is how much money is made in various separate financial systems and what the (GDP) Gross Domestic Product is in these systems. GDP includes making money with money and life taking activities. Can we do better than this? The answer is: YES, we absolutely can do better than this!
If the sun stopped shining or seeds stopped sprouting, the human economy could not continue. Life itself would end. The reverse is not true. If money suddenly disappeared from the entire world, the economy could go on as before. There is a very revealing example that we can look at. The United States started a war with Iraq in 2003. There was no money to do it so it was not included in the budget. But this is a perfect proof that it doesn’t REALLY take money. It takes resources: Energy like electricity, gasoline and nuclear power for ships; Materials like bombs, guns, airplanes, tents and food; Time to move material and people around in order to accomplish the goal; Labor to develop all the weapons and strategies and carry them out; and Know-how to do all these things better than the enemy in order to win. Wars aren’t un-fought for lack of money, however they are un-fought for lack of resources.
The idea that we can’t “afford” (don’t have the money) to feed everyone or provide shelter or health care is simply untrue and nonsensical when we look in this way, at facts. There are many people and organizations that are genuinely and actively working to bring about a higher standard of living for all people. These efforts will become far more successful when the clear difference between money and economics is recognized. It has been well said that: “We don’t ask for too much in life, but far too little”. Some people have fear of “spreading the wealth”. The opportunity we have before us is to “unleash the wealth”. This opportunity is truly about everyone benefiting.
CREDIT AND DEBT
Credit and debt are based on the idea that one can get a result, a product or service today and pay for it tomorrow. Lets examine this from the Universe’s perspective. Lets say that I am a farmer, and I have a field that normally yields 10,000 bushels of corn, at harvest time, the end of the growing season. It’s planting time, now. But a lot is happening in my family. I haven’t had a vacation in nine years. Our daughter is getting married, and we want to participate. My brother needs help building a house, not to mention the second well I need to drill.
I walk out to my field. I look to the sky and I say: “Universe, I’m really busy this summer and don’t have time to do everything. Would you be willing to give me my harvest, 10,000 bushels of corn, now? Next year I’ll rent an extra field and plant twice as many seeds to repay you”.
Ludicrous, isn’t it? No farmer in his right mind would do it. Why? Because the farmer, and you and I, understand, intuitively, that the Universe is a “pre-pay” system. The result comes after the seeds are planted, they are watered and given nutrients, they receive sunlight and warmth, and they mature over a period of time. Everything in the Universe works this way. The result comes after the crude oil is refined, the parts for the television and the airplane are assembled, or the road is paved.
It’s also ludicrous, and tragic, that humans finish building an automobile today and then pay for it over a 3 or 5 year period. We finish constructing a house today, and then pay for it for 30 years. And then the next person to live in it, restarts the process and pays for it again. There are thousand year old buildings on earth that are still being paid for! In terms of the Universe, THE Economy, once a product or service is made available, it is fully “bought and paid for”.
Credit, therefore, is a delusion, with no basis in reality whatsoever. It is a made-up, fanciful idea of how things work. It has no justification in reality. It is not designed to share the benefits of humanity’s great productive capacity. It is only a way to make money, be in control and to gain an advantage over others. Debt is a form of enslavement, pure and simple, sanitized and sanctified to be sure: “You must pay your just debts”. But debt is enslavement, none the less.
MAGICAL, MYTHICAL, ABRA-CADABRA MONEY
From the New York Times, 8/19/2009, by Edmund L. Andrews:
“But economists say Mr. Bernanke’s most important accomplishment was to create staggering amounts of money out of thin air.”
I’m reasonably certain that every human engaged in producing goods and services would like to have Mr. Bernanke’s creative ability. Would Mr. Bernanke share it?
FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/13/2009, by S. MITRA KALITA:
“The net worth of American households was down $11.2 trillion, or nearly 18%, from 2007.”
FROM BANKRUPTCY ACTION.COM:
In year 1997, approximately 1.3 million bankrupt households owed approximately $36,000 in credit card debt, each. This yields a total of approximately $46.8 billion of debt wiped out in personal bankruptcy. This total does not include business bankruptcies.
So, staggering amounts of money get created out of thin air, net worth goes down $11.2 trillion, $46.8 billion of debt gets wiped out. Are you detecting a pattern here? Like the fact that money, net worth and debt have fanciful qualities, they appear and disappear because some person said so, and the rest of us agree to the saying so?
Does the real world work this way? Can a builder and a cook create houses and meals out of thin air? Does the square footage of a house change when it’s worth changes? Does it use less fuel to heat the house when it’s value goes down? Does it take less paint to cover the walls? When a meal gets burned, does the cook disappear the burned food?
The idea of waste has two aspects: 1) this material has no value, and 2) it can be placed in a location that will have no negative impact. This idea is now absolutely wrong on both counts. It is an idea that only makes sense when looking at the world through the lens of money. It only makes sense when the population is small and the negative consequences are also small, relative to the available space. Humanity and planet earth are well past the point where waste is an idea that has any validity at all.
“OWNERSHIP IS ONEROUS”
Bucky Fuller wrote those words. This is what I suspect that he meant: When I own (control) a means of production, a quantity of materials, or a parcel of land, that ownership is specifically designed to limit the benefits so that they go only to me and perhaps a number of others. When I own anything beyond what I personally use, I am doing something absolutely detrimental to the freedom and the well being of others. It is also detrimental to myself, which will be apparent, if I am willing to look from the broadest perspective. It is not a coincidence that the more we claim ownership on every level, from the personal to the nation-state level, the less free we are to move around the planet. Humans have gone from roaming the planet freely, to answering questions at borders, to passports, to body scanning machines to having all body surfaces touched in the search for contraband. …….Progress? …..Freedom?
SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISON
ECONOMICS // FINANCE
Definition: production, distribution, use // management system
of goods & services (self destructive)
Fundamental principle: sharing with freely // withholding from
Motivation for action: support all life, common sense, // whatever makes money
Based on: facts // confidence, emotion, control,
Produces: abundance // scarcity
Earning a living: obsolete as a life long endeavor; // required for those
machines can do most of it for us not in control
Abundance: produces it // suppresses it to keep prices up
Medium of exchange: counterproductive // inefficient management system
that has become the motivation and goal
of most human activity
Values: remain constant // erratic
Environment = the economy: fact // disregard this fact; ok to destroy
and contaminate the environment
in order to make money
Creation out of thin air: ludicrous idea // the norm
Debt: non-existent // “sanitized” enslavement
WORKABLE ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT
The irrational, complex, wasteful and dehumanizing monetary systems that we currently use are not the only tools with which we can manage the economy. Buckminster Fuller recommended that we manage our economy based on energy use. Arthur C. Clarke, the author of “2001, A space Odessey” predicted we would do it.
Technocracy, founded in 1919, has also proposed a system, based on monitoring energy that is viable. By measuring the energy, materials, process time, and human labor that it takes to produce and distribute every product and service, we are engaging in Reality Based Economics. We are dealing with facts, undistorted and unhindered by ever-changing money valuations, what Technocracy calls a “price system”.
The Venus Project, another viable approach, speaks of “resource based economics” and what is possible for humanity when such an approach is adopted.
Computers now allow us to gather, store and process vast amounts of data, and do it extremely rapidly. Communication technology allows us to access and use the data virtually everywhere on earth. These are the final tools that are required to prove the validity of Reality Based Economics, inform humanity, and implement and manage the task of providing for the whole human family. When we manage our economy in the most efficient way, we have direct access to goods and services, no money needed.
In his book: “Agenda for a New Economy” David Korten does not call for an end to money, but he does write that it’s time for “Spaceship Rules”. Excellent model! I haven’t been aboard the International Space station, yet, but I’m quite certain that the American astronauts don’t carry dollar bills and quarters with them. The Russian astronauts don’t carry Rubles. The French astronauts don’t carry Euros. None of them have a checkbook or credit cards, either. Why don’t they? Because keeping track of the “value” of each person’s skills, and then paying each other whenever a meal is prepared, a spacewalk is performed, an experiment is completed or a supply ship is unloaded is extremely cumbersome. It gets in the way of getting things done. Obviously!
Well, the 6½ billion astronauts aboard Spaceship Earth are in a similar situation to those astronauts aboard the Space Station. Money and finance is way too cumbersome and sloppy for today’s conditions, even when done with computer entries and not the physical money in hand.
The Basic Income Earth Network and The U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network both support the idea of a basic income guarantee: “The Basic Income Guarantee is an
unconditional, government-insured guarantee that all citizens will have enough income to meet their basic needs.” This is the same model that universal basic education uses. It is a helpful direction to go in. However, it is still based on mediums of exchange, with all their inherent flaws. To address this issue, from a Reality Based Economics view, we might put it this way: “The Basic Life Support Guarantee is an unconditional, government guarantee that all citizens will have enough goods and services to meet their basic needs.” However, note the words “government” and “basic”.
The real opportunity, from a Reality Based Economics perspective, is this:
“The Maximum Life Support Guarantee is an unconditional, We, the People of Planet Earth guarantee that each citizen will have maximum access to all goods and services that are available.”
In a cooperative system, the more you have access to, the more I have access to, also.
“Are you spontaneously enthusiastic about everyone having everything you can have?” “Critical Path” by R.Buckminster Fuller page xxxvii.
YOU AND I AND EVERY HUMAN HAVE EQUAL VALUE
The Declaration of Independence of the United States asserts: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal….”. Equal in what ways? Our understanding of the word equal has expanded since these words were written. We now understand that it means that slavery is not acceptable. We understand that equal includes women and all races, creeds and colors of people. We are expanding still more to include people of all sexual orientations.
Perhaps it is time to accept the idea that ALL human beings have equal VALUE. Perhaps it is time to accept the idea that all human beings have equal value in all ways and in every aspect of life. This means that every human being has equal claim to all the resources and the highest quality of life support available on the planet. This is the way that Nature has set up the world. Air for breathing, sunlight for energy, warmth and light, water for refreshment and for cleansing and plants that grow in the same way and produce food for everyone equally is the normal and natural way.
Education is one way that developed societies, actually, already demonstrate the equal value of everyone. We strive to give everyone, equally, an education to specific standards. AND, we have found that this is so valuable to society as a whole, that we not only give it we also require that everyone receive a minimum amount of it. The most advanced societies make the highest education available for no cost. This is the perfect model to duplicate for all the other aspects of life support and sustenance and quality of life.
Some will say that “competition” and “survival of the fittest” are inherent attributes that make this idea of equality impossible. Actually, simply redirecting these tendencies will work quite well. Lets compete with previous generations and with the “me” and the “us” of yesterday to see how much better “I” and “we” can be and produce TODAY. Can’t we see that when we don’t value others that they don’t like it and that they eventually make trouble, sometimes big trouble, terrifying trouble? The tools of destruction are becoming more easily available. There are so many ways that individuals and groups can cause trouble and disruption. We will all be far better off to genuinely care about the well being of our brothers and sisters.
If the Universe, as vast as it is, has seen fit to have you exist, then you must be valid, you must have value. Whether I see it or not, you must have value. Whether you see it or not, you must have value. The same must be true about me.
It is common to think that the bigger the group, the less I matter. That is one way of looking at it. The other way, that the bigger the group the more people I interact with and the more influence I have is far more satisfying and expresses self-respect. I matter, I make a difference, I am important, and so do You matter, so do You make a difference, so are You important. Buckminster Fuller and Mother Teresa both said it, one way or another, and lived it. Are we?
It’s very stimulating to relate to each other as winners and losers (“the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat”). There is another experience available to everyone and that is the profoundly fulfilling experience one has when genuinely caring for ALL one’s brothers and sisters. It is the experience of what it is to truly be a Humane Being.
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
On December 10, 1948, the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This is Article 25: “1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. 2. Motherhood
and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”
Millions among us are intuitively recognizing the value of each and all of us, and the great benefits that then result for each and all of us. This is a call to fully accept and implement the idea, the sooner the better. This is also an acknowledgement that this is what is happening all over the world.
If The Success or Failure of This Planet, and of Human Beings, Depended on How I Am & What I Do; How Would I Be? What Would I Do?
ALL HUMANITY IS IN THIS TOGETHER
Bucky Fuller looked at the Universe and the world as a single system, and humanity as a single family. There is now enough interaction among people on board the planet that the fact of our interdependence and our impact on one another is obvious. We trade more products and have more peoples and cultures involved in the process. We see happenings from most everywhere on the planet and increasingly from space, on television. We experience other people and places firsthand through increased travel. Improvements in life support and life quality spread more rapidly than ever before.
The current multiple crises occurring all around our world, like climate change, financial breakdowns and corruption, food and water shortages and military buildups and their inevitable wars have consequences for all of us, also. Who among us is immune to pandemics, rising sea levels, polluted air, contaminated food or restricted freedom of movement because of security threats?
Bucky Fuller’s commitment was to developing an economic management system in which every human was better off, every human would have a higher standard of living. How could millionaires and billionaires have a higher standard of living? How about the freedom of reduced security for home, autos, businesses and loved ones? If I have all that I need, why would I even consider taking something from you or kidnapping
your children and holding them for ransom? How about the pleasure of travel in a clean and beautiful world? What about the great joy from sharing that is the clear experience of each of us when we do it? Everyone now has the opportunity to share with the whole of the human family.
Key to resolving all of these problems quickly and with great benefit for everyone is to recognize that we are a single human family. We are a single species. We live on a relatively small planet. There is only one team. “All for one and one for all” is how teams achieve greatness. Every person has a different role and every role is important.
Why should I work for the benefit of everyone? Because when I do I have 6 ½ billion people on my team. All of you may not know it or accept it, but it’s a whole lot easier to relate with you when I know it and act accordingly. (Talk about stress relief!) Then I don’t have to placate, avoid, compete or fight with you while I am going around caring only about my interests. I’m always on your side!
A common response and question that people have when presented with a proposal to do away with money, is: “What will motivate people to do anything productive at all?” Well, let’s first acknowledge that money is a motivator, a strong one. Now let’s ask if it is inherent in humans to be motivated by money, or is it learned? Were those early humans that harnessed fire, motivated by money? Were those who developed language, motivated by money? Were those who discovered or invented the wheel, motivated by money? What about agriculture, irrigation, the bow and arrow, boats, bronze and the myriad other discoveries and inventions that preceeded the invention of money? What about all that you do that you don’t receive money for? It might be time to simply drop the idea and the stimulating, implied threat that civilization will fall apart if humans don’t have the carrot of money and the fear of devastation to motivate us.
It is sometimes said that greed and hunger for power are part of human nature, and that we will never be able to fully work together. That may or may not be accurate and is beside the point. What we have now are economic management systems (money, finance) that encourage greed and have power and control being exercised by a relative few. The systems are designed this way. Slavery was once designed into the system. Today there is no systemic slavery. We, the people of the world will not tolerate it. Does slavery still exist? Yes, and not as a systemic practice.
We are certainly capable of designing better economic management systems, in fact we have a great opportunity, because the financial systems are failing all around the world, now. We may even surprise ourselves with how good we can make it and how wonderfully we can get along with each other. From cave dwelling to space traveling to democracy and human rights, that’s what we’ve been doing, one innovation after another.
It’s time for us to “grow up”, as individuals and as a species. Isn’t it?
And, finally, what could have been said first, and what really says it all: Reality Based Economics is a love story. When you and I are in a true love relationship with a partner, child or friend, we “share with freely”. And this is, as noted above, the fundamental principle of nature, of the universe. There is a lot of lip service about love in our religions and our music and our daily lives. How willing are we to discover and demonstrate our love for our 6 ½ billion sisters and brothers?
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