Mar 18

I just read an excellent summary of a Keynes-based economy. Here is my favorite exerpt:

“Remember that money is just a kind of illusion. In reality, there are just people who want things and people who make things. But we’re stuck in a completely ridiculous situation: there are lots of people who desperately want jobs making things — they’re literally not doing anything else — while at the same time there are lots of people who desperately want things made. It seems ridiculous not to do something about this just because some people have all the little green sheets of paper!”

This, to me, is EXACTLY the question! What are we to do about this? My proposal was to abolish money altogether and count productivity instead. However, Keynes has presented a workable formula already. And that’s not all. The formula that Keynes presented wasn’t even originally his. Keynesian economics is akin to SABBATH economics of the Bible!

The Bible declared every 7th year that debts would be cancelled and everyone would start from zero. That’s basically the wealth distribution that Keynes describes. Once the poor were no longer in debt, they would spend their non-owed money to keep stimulating the economy. In essence, to keep buying new things instead of paying off things already bought.

Instead of a new solution to the economic crisis, maybe we should just go with the old one.

Keynesian article here: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/keynes

Feb 25

I read an article on the Huffington Post yesterday that highlighted the psychological toll of not working.  Many on unemployment feel the government is wasting money by paying them to do nothing, and they are going stir crazy at home.  So, why don’t they just take a job?  Money.  They can’t find jobs that pay them more than unemployment does, and they are afraid that if they take a low-paying job, it will do permanent damage to their future earnings.  They have a point – if we need money.

But what if we don’t?  What if the criteria for the passing of resources from one person to another was simply that you had a job, but no one was paid?  Using our current infrastructure, this could happen.  We could freeze everyone where they are – you live in your same home and keep your same job if you have one.  Then, we would just need a registry.  The registry would simply record your home and your job.  An established job would then allow you to get groceries, gas, clothing, personal items, medical care, etc.  by swiping a card.  We use credit cards now, all we would need is one card that identifies us and our job.  The type of job doesn’t matter, only that you are working.  Those without jobs would simply log on to Craigslist or some jobs site to find out where people are needed.  Then, they would show up and interview.  If they have the right skills, they get hired.  No salary negotiation necessary, because it’s about having a job and not an income.  Once they have a job, they get access to all of the resources they need.

Under this system, a job would simply be defined as “performing a necessary service”.  Some people would be drifters who go around doing various jobs – as long as they swipe in to get a record that they showed up, that’s fine.  Some people would be homemakers with children.  Kids under 4?  We’ll take your word for it.  It’s obvious that they need to be cared for.  School-age kids?  Register as a homemaker with children and then swipe your card at parent-teacher conferences, open-houses and other school events.  That establishes that you’re actively involved in raising your kids and not just slacking off while they’re at school all day.  Changing jobs is easy.  Find someone who needs what you do and go do it.

Changing homes – not so easy.  The best way to handle this is to just register homes and have people sign up for them.  The only criteria for getting a home is that you have a job (or are a registered retiree) and you need the space.  This makes sure everyone gets a home, but also allows people with several children to get larger homes while singles can grab smaller homes and condos.  Want a home office?  Sure.  One “extra” room is allowed with no justification necessary as long as there isn’t someone with a child who needs the room that is ahead of you on the list.  Once you get your home, do you need remodelling? Then you put an ad on a jobs website and you become an employer, and get people to come work on your home.  They get a job and you get your home remodelled.  No money necessary.

Supply and demand would still be in play.  It’s just that if something is demanded, more people will be recruited to supply it.  Being educated for different work would be considered a job, and it would be easy to get enough teachers and enough students to create a supply for whatever types of jobs we needed to get done.  On the other hand, there wouldn’t be much incentive to steal anything because you could get anything you needed based on the fact that you have job. 

Would some people attempt to game the system?  Sure.  But there is value in teaching people to have a work ethic.  Not meaning to work long or hard, but to find something productive to do that benefits society in some way.  A lot of people long for something meaningful to do, so if everyone could contribute and everyone’s contribution was equally valued, there wouldn’t be much incentive to cheat.  With the energy it took to cheat the system, you may as well have gone out and done some work.

Of course, there are other nuances that would need to be worked out, but this is a pretty good start. Without money, we wouldn’t need a tax system, but we would have a strong infrastructure because the government c0uld hire people right now to go out and pave the roads, renovate bridges, etc.  Farmers could get hoards of young people or just active people to work the farms and care for the animals so there would be enough food.  People who like being outdoors would work outdoors.  People who like being indoors would work in buildings.  People would do what they were drawn to and what they were passionate about without worrying about how much the job payed.  For everything that is produced, whether food or fashion, there is someone who will want it and find it useful.  There would be enough of everything for everyone.

Will there still be greed?  Of course.  Human nature is still what it is, but how would greed play out if productivity was valued over money?  Everyone has the same 365 days a year.  Everyone could get what they needed as long as they contribute work to society.  What is there to hoard?

In essence, there are plenty of jobs to be done and a psychological incentive for people to do them.  Do we really need money?  I think not.

Dec 12

In 1993, homeless activist Ted Hayes founded the Dome Village in downtown Los Angeles.  The Dome Village was comprised of 20 metal domes that were used as community facilities and individual dwellings for the homeless.

The owners of the land the Dome Village inhabited raised the rent in 2006 and the Dome Village closed, but a new initiative is here to help the homeless in Los Angeles – and it’s portable enough to go nationwide and beyond.  Meet the EDAR.

The EDAR (which stands for Everyone Deserves A Roof) is a shopping cart by day and a tent by night.  It’s the ultimate “transformer”.  It was developed by media mogul Peter Samuelson.  Samuelson often rode his bicycle along the beach and noticed the myriad of homeless people there.  He decided to interview them to see how they lived and what they needed.  He noticed that several of them lived in cardboard boxes.  Buildings and shelters are often time consuming and expensive to implement, but Samuelson felt there should be a middle ground.  Those unable to find traditional shelter should not have to resort to a cardboard box.  According to Samuelson, we can do better than that.  So he did.  And the EDAR was born.

For more about the EDAR and how you can help, go to http://www.edar.org/index.html.

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