Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Three reasons to scrap GDP

It's easy to hear the words "economic growth" and think it sounds good, but it's the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This article


Has a nice three point critique.

This quote from Robert F Kennedy is used to crystallise the argument:

"The gross national product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. GNP (a slightly different but related measure) includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm, and missiles and nuclear warheads… it does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, or the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Defenders of it say "that GDP was never intended to be a catch-all measurement for quality of life or the overall success of a country. But that’s precisely what it has become."

Monday, 28 June 2010

New ideas sought by UK Prime Minister and his Deputy

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have asked Public Sector employees to contribute money saving ideas to help reduce the deficit / government debt.

This is an opportunity to put forward planet saving ideas like A Resource Based Economy and other ideas from The Zeitgeist Movement and The Venus Project.

Eventually, they will ask the general public the same question.


Saturday, 26 June 2010

Zeitgeist Movement Newsletter


Edition 1, 10 pages. It's laid out for reading off paper - so quite a bit of scrolling up and down the doc to read all the articles - and it looks like they could use a proof reader!

Those cavils aside - it is an excellent primer into The Zeitgeist Movement and The Venus Project.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Making life difficult for ourselves on purpose is good - ?

In Rail magazine, issue 646 (16-29 June 2010) 'Industry Insider' (pseudonym) writes that because of the recession/cuts "there will be some gains [in rail use] from people who have to travel longer distances to find work". Not sure if he really means to find work - perhaps he means to get to their job, with there being fewer jobs, but what a perversity of the current system!

It seems pretty basic that all the things that need doing should be in a database, along with all the people that can do them, so that the two can be matched. The idea of "finding" vacancies is quite ridiculous in a technological age. Why are we hiding them? Do we not want to find the best person for the job? Why do job seekers - even the name suggests the wrong-headedness of the system - have to trawl through umpteen separate sources of vacancies, some advertising the same posts. It's just a waste of resources.

But the idea that it is somehow good to waste time and resources travelling further because it benefits the railway is just absurd. I am not criticising 'Industry Insider' particularly, but a system in which we apparently make it deliberately harder to do the things that need doing to be done and wasting resources is OK if it makes money or creates jobs. I am assuming for the sake of argument that these people are doing or seeking to do things that need to be done - ie things that have a social return. If not, it's worse still. Further true progress would be to get machines / computers ("cybernation") doing as many of the things that need to be done ("have a social return") as possible. Whyever not?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

10 Ways Technology Can Cut Costs And Boost Efficiency In The Public Sector


Very nice article, but 2 problems:

1) The savings we seem to be looking for are upfront savings - it doesn't seem to matter how much it night save in the longer term. In fact, we see the government shutting things down, saying this will save £x as if all it was doing is wasting £ rather than investing it, which must have been a possibility. Investment in tech may well be better in the long run, but how do we pay for it now?

2) Efficiency = fewer jobs, either as a euphemism, or because technology achieves greater efficiency and less need for humans. Fewer jobs is seen as bad, making efficiency bad.


Make the workforce more effective

#1 Allow location-independent working

Work should be an activity, not a place. Virtual office solutions will free employees, allowing them to work from any location as effectively as in the office. Location-independence also means being able to work anywhere within a building – wireless networking can improve access to information and boost worker efficiency.

#2 Unify communications

From Voice Over IP (VOIP), voicemail and instant messaging, today’s unified communications technology can reduce costs by consolidating telephony into an organisation’s ICT. Unified communications results in lower equipment costs, reduced operational expense and simpler management. Using a hosted model will allow Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) savings and efficiencies to be realised in the shortest time possible.

#3 Embrace web-based collaboration

Collaboration is key to creating a modern, flexible organisation. Adopting the latest online collaboration tools will enable virtual meetings and training sessions and enhance cross-team working. By reducing employees’ need to travel, governmental organisations can save time and money, as well as lowering their impact on the environment.

#4 Exploit video

The human voice provides just ten per cent of information exchanged in a meeting. Video can provide the remaining 90 percent. From desktop-based webcams to full-scale TelePresence suites, there are now a huge range of affordable, flexible video options available that enable organisations to have in-person levels of communication without the need to travel – leading to lower costs and faster, better decision-making.

Create a more efficient workplace

#5 Redesign and relocate

A modern, flexible workforce is no longer dependent on physical buildings or on many of the traditional facilities within them. The public sector needs a new approach to office space built upon the concept of operational efficiency. This is clearly a complex process and will take time to implement but the potential cost savings are substantial.

#6 Manage estates intelligently

Many organisations have already seen the benefits of taking a connected approach to building management. Using networking technology to apply easily managed and measured energy policies and centralised security systems makes managing large, complex estates simpler and more cost-effective.

Get energy efficient

#7 Introduce power management

Advanced networking technologies, such as Cisco EnergyWise, manage the power consumption of every device on the network, giving organisations the ability to measure, monitor and therefore reduce the amount of energy they use.

Deliver support through ICT

#8 Consolidate datacentres

With data storage requirements for the average organisation increasing by 50% per annum, virtualisation holds huge potential for cost reduction. Moving data storage and applications to the cloud eliminates the need for capital expenditure, reduces energy consumption and improves hardware utilisation levels.

#9 Manage the ICT lifecycle

In a typical legacy network, 80% of ICT costs have to do with lifecycle operations and just 20% with product acquisition. A structured review and “spring clean” of the existing architecture can reveal significant potential savings through reducing duplication, unnecessary complexity and out of date, inefficient equipment.

#10 Develop a virtual desktop environment

A virtual desktop runs on a network connected user device and communicates with a central, virtualised server. The user operates the computer as normal but the virtual desktop device does not execute the application. Rather, this is carried out on the central server. The simpler end user device, and the fact that all applications run on central, virtualised servers, means that capital and service costs are greatly reduced.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

News sources recommended by Peter Joseph

How to explain. The Zeitgeist Movement gets characterised as a conspiracy theory proponent. I see why, but do we really think that a company that makes weapons of war (perhaps for both sides) and also owns a TV company is likely to allow its news coverage to be critical of its arms trade involvement or the war it is equipping. It's definitely a case of vested interest, and the (natural) self-preservation of institutions. Where do you go for news that avoids this problem? Well here's PJ's answer to that question (more-or-less).

Raw Story
Global Research
Huffington Post (tentatively)

(I thought he also mentioned one called Global Search, but I can't find it or any reference to it)

An Introduction to Peter Joseph and the Zeitgeist Movement


This is a good interview of Zeitgeist movement founder Peter Joseph on a school bench somewhere in England. Some of the interviewer’s questions are a bit inane but PJ manages to use them to make his important points. It’s about 35 minutes.

Natural Capital - saving nature saves money too

One of the key points in the book Natural Capitalism is that we are "liquidating our natural capital and calling it income". This is a way of stating that we are using up the earth's resources too fast in the language of economics. It is part of the book's argument that capitalism is not following its own rules.

The Telegraph recently reported on a UN report that tries to cost the services nature provides (also a theme in Natural Capitalism)  - the current system seems to treat these services as free and unlimited a lot of the time. The estimate was £40 trillion - equal (interestingly) to the combined income of all the world's nations.

Geothermal to benefit from Gulf of Mexico disaster?

Impax invests in environmental markets. One of their pundits "likes" (= believes he can make money out of) Ormat Technologies - a firm that specialises in geothermal energy.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Disaster

In the last 3 years US Health & Safety regulators have cited a number of companies for "egregious, wilful safety violations: Exxon - 1; Citgo - 2; Sunoco - 8; BP - 760.

BP, called "a recurring environmental criminal" by lawyer Jeanne Pascal, also was criticised in 2001 for neglecting emergency shutdown equipment in Alaska and intimidating employees who raised safety or environmental concerns [there may have been other things, I don't know]. At Prudhoe Bay in 2006  the pipe that BP had allowed to corrode through let out 200,000 gallons of oil.

But never mind - this has an upside. The Sunday Times pointed out that investors can make money through firms that specialise in cleaning up BP-style incidents. I suppose that counts as economic growth.

Five Steps


This extract gives an idea of this writer's take on the world. It rather tunes in with the ideas of Natural Capitalism, which I was advocating years ago, and which I think could help especially in the transition between the monetary system and an RBE. The idea of needing the service of things like cars and washing machines, rather than the thing itself, is a key one in Natural Capitalism. Of course, if someone is selling you the service of a washing machine, it is in their interest as well as yours that the machine is efficient, effective, reliable and economical, whereas in the buy-sell model, once you have bought the machine and the manufacture has your money, the other costs are down to you. There's littl incentive to sell you a machine that will never break down as the "first cost" (selling price) will be high and put you off, even if the lifetime costs would be lower.

"Consider the automobile. We don't have to list the ways in which car owners have begun to feel that their need for mobility is in conflict with their desire for a convivial, healthy world. But rather than declare the car the enemy, we would suggest that it's just not serving our needs very effectively. It's ripe for innovation.
A designer might respond to this challenge by creating a more efficient car that has a minimal impact on the environment, such as a hydrogen-powered hypercar free of carbon emissions. One could also employ a preference for a safe, organic upholstery fabric, or begin to reassess each material used in the making of automobiles. Ultimately, manufacturers might optimize their vehicles by using positively defined biological and technical nutrients and creating a coherent system for the retrieval and reuse of the cars valuable materials.

Each of these solutions reflects one of the values on the step-by-step path of eco-effective design. Together, they add up to revolutionary changes-changes that we are actively working to bring about with car manufacturers and auto parts suppliers. But we think there's yet another crucial step: What if we thought of the auto industry not simply as a maker of cars but as a provider of mobility? How might the industry best provide the service of mobility to meet the wants, needs and loves of its customers? Could we design new kinds of mobility systems that serve a rich social agenda?

Well, yes. If we explore not just the car but the many needs it fulfills, we can begin to imagine the re-invention of the whole paradigm of transportation. As a mobility provider, for example, a manufacturer might offer customers access to many different kinds of vehicles rather than selling them a car. Why own and maintain three cars when you could use the service of a big, spacious vehicle for family trips, a sports car for a weekend date, or a public community car to transport your children? In each case you'd be provided the service of mobility by an automaker that owned and reused the vehicles' valuable materials-and utilized them effectively by keeping their resources in motion.

Take the community car. As part of a broadly defined local or regional transportation plan, a fleet of community cars could provide people a range of services throughout the day. Responding to electronic calls, the cars could deliver people to transportation hubs in the morning; ferry groceries, laundry, and prescriptions during the day; deliver children from school to violin practice or their grandmother's house in the late afternoon; and take couples to the movies at night.

Built and used within an evolving system of coherent material flows, the community cars could manifest a wide spectrum of positive effects. People formerly excluded from transportation-children, the elderly, the handicapped-would have ready access to mobility. The retirees operating the community cars would be able to maintain their sense of community and their ties to the young. The system's effectiveness-its ability to both optimize the use of materials and conveniently move people to the places they want to go-would generate wealth for providers and satisfaction, free time, and peace of mind for customers.

The re-invention of mobility illustrates a key principle of eco-effective innovation: products are essentially packaging for services. With this in mind, designers can begin to apply the Five Steps to all products of service, conceiving effective, intelligent systems for meeting the most basic human needs-like washing one's clothes.

A designer developing an eco-effective laundry detergent, for example, might follow Steps One-Four to progressively create a product with only safe, nutritious ingredients. A Step Four soap might be defined by the chemistry of the local water supply. It might also be produced locally in dry pellet form and sold in bulk, obviating the need for packaging and the expensive long-distance transportation of heavy, liquid concentrates.
At Step Five one might build on the reformulation of soap to develop a strategy for delivering an effective laundering service to the home. This strategy would include the washing machine itself, which would be conceived as a product of service designed for retrieval, disassembly and reuse. The machine would be delivered to a customer's home pre-loaded with detergent for 1000 loads of laundry-the customer pays not for the machine, but for the service. After the last of the machine's micro-filtered detergent has been dispensed, the appliance would be serviced or replaced, and its valuable materials would enter the technical metabolism to be used again in new machines.

An innovative commercial venture might focus on providing a community laundry service. Laundry could be picked up from customers in a community vehicle and delivered to one location, where washing machines would run on the power of the sun and wastewater would be purified by a system of botanical gardens. The service might even provide a social venue, where those who chose to wash their own clothes could relax in a pleasant courtyard among the garden's flowering plants. Washing clothes, long considered environmentally unfriendly, suddenly begins to generate community wealth."

New hospital turns to robots to deliver services


'Electronic robots commonplace in industry for moving goods around large warehouses and factories could become commonplace in hospitals. A new Scottish hospital is to use a fleet of robots to carry out day-to-day tasks.

The robots will carry clinical waste, deliver food, clean the operating theatre and dispense drugs.

They are currently undergoing final tests ahead of the August opening of the new £300m Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert, Stirlingshire.

The robots will have their own dedicated network of corridors underneath the hospital.

NHS Forth Valley chairman, Ian Mullen, said the new hospital would be "packed full of design features to improve patient care and improve the life of staff".

He added: "Members of staff will use a hand-held PDA to call up the robot to move meal trays, or linen, or whatever.

"The robot will come up in the service lift by itself, pick up the item and go back into the lift."

Tom McEwen, the project manager for manufacturer, Serco, said a series of pre-programmed routes would be set out for the robots to follow.

"The robots will follow the system using a series of laser beams which will tell it exactly where it is," he explained.

Computers on board the robots will be able to tell doors to open, and sensors will tell the robots to stop if anything - or anyone - is in the way.

Among the benefits will be infection control.'

Excellent example of not only using technology to relieve humans of chores, but also reaping the benefits. Robots can't catch germs. 

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Financial 'musical chairs'

The cut backs in the public sector are only of course to deal with the government debt (aka National debt), which is reduced by cutting spending and/or increasing increasing taxes. But governments have tried various ways to get spending of their balance sheets - most famously privatisation in the 1980s and PFI in the 1990s (roughly).

The thing is all money is owed eventually to a bank, with interest. This is the same in the public and private sectors. There isn't enough money in existence to pay back the loans and the interest, so someone has to go bust. It's financial musical chairs as we chase money around in ever faster in cyclical consumption.

National debt is a bit of a misnomer - it should include all the money everyone owes.

Radical, hi tech libraries

Stemming from discussion of cutbacks comes discussion of how to deliver services more cheaply - and one such service is libraries. Many people suggest having commercial coffee shops in libraries, as the object seems to be to get people in the libraries - it seems not to matter why. Some of the money made selling coffee would be paid in rent to the owner of the library buildings, one presumes. this is not really running libraries more cheaply, but a form of privatisation.

Nay, nay and thrice nay. It's hard to choose where to start. What are we trying to achieve? Access to the books we want people to read, possibly. All books published recently must surely be in electronic format - all the others just need digitising. So do that, then put all the books electronically on the internet, preferably in one file format (the different formats are only for commercial advantage). The book could be 'pushed' onto the e-reader the next time it connects to the internet, though it could be more or less continuously connected if everywhere had wireless internet. Certainly every home should have an internet connection down which information can be pushed as well as pulled.

Then everyone has an e-reader (which can hold thousands of books). Then they just download the books they want onto their e-reader. In many cases people will know which book they want, so they just need the means to find it, which they can do on the internet if not on the e-reader itself. Something like Amazon should do the trick.

For the more library like experience, there could be a virtual library, possibly based on digital images of the actual library, through which people could walk in virtual reality, touching a book spine to open it and browse it.

Some people won't be able to use this technology? Hmm. Some people can't read, either, so we teach them. Ultimately, there could be a human in real time voice/video call helping people to access all the information that comes down their internet connection, but we already have You Tube with videos showing you how to do practically anything you can imagine, so why not how to work your e-reader, or any other thing you need help with? And others more adept at e-reader operation would be on hand to help.

I don't know how many would object that they want the physical feel/smell of the paper. I don't know if that has to be from the book they are reading. I daresay haptic technology can already simulate the feel of paper (or parchment, papyrus, slate, clay tablets or whichever archaic technology people want) , but these elements are secondary to the actual words and information. If people want to read their e-book whilst drinking coffee, they can go anywhere there is coffee and a chair.

All the hoohah about libraries being silent could  be solved by having silent coffee shops, bars, restaurants or whatever - assuming people want to sit with others.

I suppose there is a way of monetising all this, but that is not what books and libraries are really about.

Of course all this would have start up costs in our current system, but we have to ask what it is we're trying to achieve. Where human input may be best deployed could be on grading the material on the internet to show what is educational, and to what level of difficulty - and what quality delivery, etc. There's no reason why the e-reader should be limited to books.

Efficiency vs employment

With the public sector required to make massive cuts in expenditure, "efficiency" is on the agenda. One suggestion is outsourcing and a typical outsourced job is the call centre. But how should call centres be paid? By the number of calls they take? By their speed of handling calls. Both have problems.

People calling a public sector organisation have a problem. Therefore if the call centre is paid per call, it is in their interest for there to be more problems. And if operators are measured on call handling times, will this lead them to sort out the problem? It won't, because there's a powerful incentive to keep the call short and if the problem's not solved, the customer will call again and the call centre will get paid more, which is inefficient and annoys the customer, but keeps people in work.

Another example of an efficiency I heard was combining the various welfare offices so the customer has a one stop shop. Yes, but if the system is more streamlined and efficient people will lose their jobs as we'll need fewer to do the same work. Again turkeys voting for Christmas.

Needless to say, the more people are unemployed the more people are needed in the "unemployment industry" to deal with them, paradoxically.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Soldiers on parade

Soldiers paraded through Barking town centre this week. A fair few people came out and waved union flags. A group of Muslims protested against the wars the west has fought in Muslim countries and some right wingers including the English Defence League showed up to counter the Muslim group.

I don't wish to denigrate or dishonour these soldiers (or those who have died in service) for doing what they believe to be right, but as Jacque Fresco says, sort if, how can we call ourselves civilised if our highest achievements - celebrated - involve killing each other?

One woman, commenting on the protest, said on the BBC that her son had just come back from Afghanistan and he was "doing his job". That's not enough. This doesn't just apply to the forces, but to any job. We should be able to do what is right - has a social return - for humanity and the planet and not be constrained to do 'any' job just to access the necessities of life (via money).

ZM/TVP from first principles

Why does The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) appeal to me and so many others:

(1) It recognises that the creatures on this planet have to live within the finite resources of this planet. This is a plain, unalterable fact, though you wouldn't think so from the waste we produce and the lie that is continual growth and continually increasing consumption. This is the starting point of the idea of a resource based economy.

(2) It embraces technology. We were all told that technology would give us more free time. Hmm. Some are unemployed because of technology - and therefore poor. Those working in the information economy are working just as hard, if not harder, but just producing more. The idea of technology freeing us up to do what we're good at and want to do is - frankly - wildly exciting. Jacque Fresco and thus TZM refers to cybernation - a slightly quirky word meaning computerisation, automation, mechanisation combined (probably).

(3) It clearly denounces the perversity of money. People have to have it. If you go into a shop to buy something, it is unlikely that the shopkeeper will tell you that you can get a better and/or cheaper equivalent in another shop. If you work in a tobacconist's you want more people to take up smoking. If you work in the arms industry, you want more war. [I say "you want" in each case - more precisely I should say "it is in your interest for there to be"]. I'm not sure that this perversity can be cured by monetary reform, even if the problem of money supply and money as debt could be. All the while we have to compete for the necessities of life through the proxy of money we have a problem.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Monetary Reform

The Money Reform Party wants to see drastic reforms to stop banks creating fiat money out of thin air under the Fractional Reserve Banking System. They propose the Bank of England Act -

"This is a reform that could prevent a future financial crisis, clear the national debt, and restart the economy.

It cures the sickness in our economy and financial system by tackling the root cause of the problem, rather than just the symptoms.

It would make the 'inevitable' cuts in public services completely unnecessary, reduce the tax burden by up to 30% and allow us to clear the national debt. It takes control of the UK's money supply out of the hands of the commercial banking sector and restores it to the state, where it can be used to benefit the economy, rather than providing a £200 billion annual subsidy to the banking sector."

The Zeitgeist Movement would go further - the abolition of money - but a reform like this might be useful in the transition period before a Resource Based Economy is fully established.

Cuts and more cuts

The public sector organisation I work for is of course discussing the impending cuts. And my bit of it was discussing them at a planning meeting today. A Banx Cartoon in the FT I saw later showed a pollster asking "what cuts would you like to see imposed on someone else?" Very apposite.

Naturally, people look for cuts ("efficiency savings") outside their own department - ie as far away from them as possible. They don't want to lose their job, of course.

When times are good, the tendency is to concern ourselves less with efficiency and more with employment. The inefficiency keeps people in work. We haven't got robots - for an example - sweeping the streets partly because it would deprive a person of a job. When times are bad, and the cuts come, we cut jobs and risk cutting essential services with them. If we were truly being "efficient", we would have had our robot road sweepers in place and they would carry on sweeping the streets, but if we cut human road sweepers, the streets don't get swept.

Robot road sweepers are an example of technological unemployment which is a good thing in a resource based economy, as the cybernation (machines and computers doing things) is more efficient and frees up humans to do what only they can do and/or what they actually want to do. The main thing getting in the way of this is our monetary system.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The future of economics

Ben McLeish, one of the leading lights in the UK Zeitgeist movement has given rousing concluding speeches at his talks. I'm including the text of one here:

Perhaps you think that surpassing the monetary system is too radical. It’s pie in the sky. It’s too “futuristic". You know what I think is radical? Designing and presiding over a system based on infinite growth and which relies upon inefficiency and duplicated efforts and inferior throwaway products in a finite world. We have to sell more, buy more, accrue more debt, and produce more and more tons of waste in order for this system to function, and not only that – the successful function of the current system inherently means the few get richer while the many get poor.

Who will buy your products when there is so little work that the majority of humanity is unemployed? Who will use your services when most of us are starving? Yet we cannot keep producing more and more in a world with ever shrinking resources and limited societal development, developmentally hamstrung by the need for every institution to preserve its status quo. That is the most radical thing I have ever heard of. It is demonstrably unsustainable. It is inhuman. It is anti-human.

And while we have heard the word “unsustainable” over-used and abused by the media many times, let me remind you again what exactly it means. It means that our global society, based on deliberate inefficiency, waste, pollution and massive social stratification - the things we do right now, will reach a point where it will not support human life. We must re-orientate our structures to support the population we have, and are about to have. We are only a successful society if we take a hard look at the only thing which has ever been important, and that is the survival of the species as a whole, and align our operations within the necessary laws and balances that nature requires. That is the true meaning of evolution.

I refuse to live in a society like this. I refuse to sit in the top 10% of this world, standing by while billions of mirror-images of myself suffer and die for no good reason other than profit and artificial boundaries. No longer do I quietly tolerate the suffering of almost all of the only race I am a member of, on the only planet in the known universe I can presently inhabit. I do not accept that this is as good as it gets. This is as bad as it gets. I call upon you to roundly reject this paralysing, limiting, divisionary [sic], fraudulent mess we laughingly refer to as economics. It is irrelevant and in fact in direct opposition to our survival and it is stunting to our staggering and subtle, [expletive deleted] fantastic, unlimited potential creativity. I’m sorry. It’ll have to go.

You know, if you consider yourself forward-thinking you have to learn to be able to [look] back at the present from the future. The future population of this earth can look back one day at our present tense [sic] and see one of two things. They could see that we recklessly destroyed ourselves and each other, or they can see that we made it. In the future they are already looking at our living group. And I want them to see that we did make it. We have to make it.

Thanks Ben!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Motivation in an RBE

In the system advocated by the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist Movement, there would be no money. Critics jump on this and say that without money there will be no motivation. The argument comes back that many people are altruistic and do things as volunteers - and amy more people would be able to if they weren't "chained to the desk". Furthermore, inventors and scientists such as Tesla and Einstein acted altruistically. Tesla for one died poor and the progress his inventions would have brought humanity has been set back by the fact that there was no way of monetising some of them so they didn't happen.

Let's think through the motivation of money. Money is worthless in and of itself and is only useful for acquiring the goods and services that people need/want. So money itself does not motivate, only access to goods and services. In a truly abundant society people could have access to whatever they want or need anyway, but we don't know for certain if we can have an abundant society ir not because we are in a system with waste built in. The scarcity we have may not in fact be an attribute of the planet on which we live, but of the very system that purports to deal with the scarcity we think but do not know we have.

So in fact people motivated by money are in fact motivated by getting either more than their fair share of available resources, or simply by getting more than others get. This means that having starving people in the world is what motivates people to earn money for themselves.

OK, some people on seeing the starvation may give to charities that try to deal with it, but why take the food from people's mouths through the monetary system and then give [some of] it back through charity? The motive here might be being better in a moral sense than someone else, but if someone wants to be better than someone else, why can't they directly help people, like Tesla tried. Why the complex monetary system mediating all this?


I've watched a series of you tube videos that show how money evolved from a convenient way of dealing with gold to a system of accounting which relies on faith in the US government. (The videos are from a US perspective, but it's not too different elsewhere). The US government is "reliable" in this sense becuse it represents the land, labour, food, mineral resources, etc, of the USA itself.

It's odd, because one of the key Venus Project ideas is the big database showing what tangible resources we actually have. The money that exists ultimately is supposed to represent these things, but apart from the fact that we can't measure the true worth (utility) of (say) a tree, compared to (say) a bus we don't actually know in total in one place what we have. If we did know this we would have better information on how much money there should be to represent it, instead of letting it grow arbitrarily.

The idea of coupling money to gold is unhelpful as the price of gold does not relate to the utility value of the actual resources we have and neither does the amount of gold that exists.

If we did know in total in one place what useful things we actually have, we could perhaps try to denominate it all in one unit, but would there be any point? If we direct ourselves to producing sustainable abundance, rather than getting money, we reduce and/or eliminate the vary scarcity that the free market is supposed to allocate out to everyone.

Modern money mechanics


This is a reference work that crops up in most Zeitgeist Movement presentations. It contains an explanation of deposit expansion that is so crucial to the fractional reserve banking system.

The FRBS, simplified, is the system by which a bank can lend out more money than it has as deposits - typically it has to have 10% of the value of its loans as deposits, but that 10% can be a loan from another bank, and thus under the FRBS itself.

Not a very good simplification - Google it - but you get the point.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Social Pathology


This is Peter Joseph's brilliant New York lecture for "Zeitgeist Day" 2010. It os also available on you tube split up into shorter sections - the full lecture is 104 minutes - but worth watching.

Take the Venus Project Challenge


I really recommend the three short videos made by Brandy here. She makes some powerful arguments in favour of the tenets of The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement.

Two have stuck out in my memory.

(1) The change to an RBE will probably take more than our lifetime, but if we never start something that can't be finished in a lifetime, it'll never happen.

(2) Whichever way you look at it, the "9-11" attacks were human beings killing other human beings (both in the planes and in the twin towers). Brandy says that's an 'inside job' whoever planned it and/or carried it out.

This new blog

I started this blog as my other one - stibasa.blogspot.com was supposed to be about Sustainable Transport in Barking and Surrounding Areas, but I've been writing more and more about subjects rather abstracted from that, meaning people would have to search through my musings for the more practical information on the site.

How to help people into employment in rural areas


I only saw the header for this article and it prompted me to write to Idea about Resource Based Economy and the ideas of The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM). I'm writing my response here in the public domain, rather than just on the closed discussion boards of Idea.

My first point is practically verbatim from The Venus Project (TVP): It is not jobs/money that people need, it is access to the necessities of life. Peter Joseph, founder of TZM says that if a job does not have a 'social return' it should not be done. A 'social return' is something that benefits humanity / the planet - that is it helps us in - or at least does not hinder us from -living sustainably on this planet within the resources available to us as we quite plainly must do - hence Resource Based Economy (RBE).

In an RBE, it's only jobs with a social return that get done - and they get done the most efficient way possible, which means automation / mechanisation as much as possible - 'Cybernation' in TVP language. Remember, it's not jobs/money that people need but access to the necessities of life - so we must access 'the necessities of life' as efficiently and sustainably as possible. Such jobs as can't ever be cybernated- which would be few - would be done by humans.

In the current system, people have to get a job to get money to access 'the necessities of life'. This may take them away from doing something with a social return - bringing up children, say, to doing something with no social return, say giving out leaflets at the station. In our value system the second is worthwhile as it's a job earning money but the first is undesirable as it's not (unless it's a paid child carer, paradoxically). It's plainly nuts.

To step it up several levels, does anyone really accept that it's OK for millions of people to be starving - even die of starvation - because they haven't got enough money to buy food, because they haven't got a job? This is an utter disgrace. Some people argue that the planet is overpopulated - but who says it's the people with the money who get to say who lives and who dies?

Or take it from a political stance. Working in the armaments industry is a job, but to use arms, we need wars. Therefore there's an incentive to start or escalate wars to generate jobs in the arms industry. How sure are we that the fighting our forces are carrying out is entirely to rid the world of 'evil dictators' or 'terrorist organisations' and not at least in part to generate work in the arms industry?

The need for people to work to get money to access the necessities of life is completely opposite to the need to be efficient as only 'cybernation' can bring efficiency - look at automation in the car industry and agriculture for obvious examples. Also the need to keep people in work means that companies need to compete with each other to sell things. Those things must not be as reliable and durable as possible because that won't keep people in work repairing or replacing them. This means they land up as waste - maybe even in landfill - but no matter, the waste industry creates more work.

If you work in a company that produces anti-cancer drugs, you need people to get cancer so that you can sell your product and stay in work.

On a more human level, people doing jobs with no 'social return' are wasting their lives "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers" as Wordsworth put it. People doing jobs with a negative social return are wasting other people's lives.

To add to all this, the money system is totally broken. Practically every country owes money and not enough money exists to pay back all the debts. Therefore one or more countries have to go bust.