Thursday, 10 June 2010

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.

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