Money Free Party

Money Free Party

I first proposed the idea of dis-inventing the concept of money about 30 years ago (I’m certain many others wrote about it long before me – that was just when the idea took hold in my mind).

I cannot agree with Richard that it is as simple as just stopping using money; and it is something that needs to happen.

I see two distinct classes of activities and products:

There is the class of products for which we can currently fully automate the technologies of production and distribution. This class of goods and services will grow over time. This class of goods and services can be freely distributed to everyone, and can, right now, include all the essentials of survival (certain sorts of food, water, sanitation, education, communication).

Then there is another class of goods and services that are genuinely scarce, and require some mechanism to determine who gets access when. Land is one example. My wife Ailsa is into photography, and good photographic gear is scarce. A really good large diameter f2.8 telephoto lens is about $20,000, which is more than we have (the one she really wants is over a million dollars, and less than 20 of them exist). Tamron have released a much cheaper f5.6 150-600mm telephoto, but we have been on awaiting list for 3 months for delivery. Not our first choice but the one we can afford. Ailsa takes bird photos every day – many times a day – so the lens needs to be with her all the time – for the few instants that the birds appear (not an option to share it).

Similarly, I have a good collection of tools, and have had for many years. When I use them I keep track of all the bits. Often when I have loaned them out, they have come back with pieces missing, which I have either had to follow up or replace. People tend not to look after commons property as well as property they own themselves, and that can change with education.

At a deeper level, the incentives of the market place tend to drive anything to a level of abundance that seems like total abundance to those with lots of money, but appears like scarcity to the rest of us.

So – I totally support the idea of moving to a money free society over time, but do not agree with Richard that it is simply a matter of stopping using money. It really is much more complex than that, and it is something that we can start moving towards, and can start doing some serious planning and small scale experimentation with possible options.

I cannot support saying to people that it is simple – it isn’t.
To me, making such a claim, without a fully worked out set of examples of how it would be done, is out of integrity.

There is only one way I am willing to get back into politics – and that is with total integrity.

Integrity does not mean being right all the time, it means always being truthful to the best of one’s ability, which includes admitting one’s mistakes when they happen (and all human beings make mistakes – none of us is infallible).
Integrity means never intending to deceive, and always doing one’s best to make one’s message clear to everyone (even while knowing that some people just won’t get it).

So I cannot support the literature that says the transition will be simply a matter of using money we don’t have – it is so much more than that.

Before we can move to a society without money, that has at least as much freedom as we have now, we must move everyone’s level of awareness of the outcomes of their choices to a much higher level than most are showing at present.
Freedom of choice does not mean freedom from consequence or responsibility.

So I am totally aligned with the movement to a society free of money, but not at all aligned with the path outlined in the literature Richard is currently using.

[followed by]

That sounds fine at large scale but it doesn’t address the details. I am an engineer, scientist and computer programmer – the devil is always in the detail.

Evolved systems are amazingly complex.

Our existing technological systems are extremely complex.
Production of microprocessors for example is currently done only in a handful of places world wide, hard drives in other places. Many of the people working on these things would be doing something else if they had the option.

I agree that it needs to be done, and I cannot see a full transition in less than about 15 years. The technologies involved are not trivial. The social changes involved are not trivial.

For the last 9 years I have been involved in the Te Korowai process here in Kaikoura – it has been a very interesting process, and it has taken a lot of time and commitment.

I agree we need to start doing serious detailed investigation of various options, and starting trials at various levels, and we have a lot to learn – many mistakes to make.

I do agree that we must move away from the dominance of market values.
I agree that we need massive redundancy for security (the exact opposite of the economic drive to capital efficiency).

Some aspects of the change are easy – other are not.

Having trained as a biochemist 40 years ago, and having run a software company for the last 28 years, I have some practical experience of the levels of details involved.

[followed by]

Good analogy.

The Wrights were interested in heavier than air flight.
They had to concern themselves with lift and power and control.

We are trying to make an idea fly.
We need to give it the lift and power to get off the ground, and we also need to be able to retain enough control to prevent it crashing and causing a lot of damage.

The analogy is actually a very good one.

Stability in the realm of concepts is all about using associated strategies. You and I are both pilots – we understand a little about flight and control.

I am not talking about autopilots at this stage, just the most rudimentary of controls, like the Wrights, handlebars and wires.

Let us not try and pretend that the first version of this thing will fly safely with all of humanity on board.
Let us start small, slowly, and try and avoid getting anyone killed.

[followed by]

Hi Richard

That analogy doesn’t work.
The flight analogy was much closer.

The difference between walking and cycling doesn’t threaten lives like flying does.

We are proposing major changes to very complex and interlinked systems, that if it goes wrong – people die – possibly a lot of people.

The great depression was just a matter of beliefs, when all is boiled down, yet it caused mass starvation.

Never underestimate the power of ideas.

I want this to work – at least as much as you do – possibly much more; and it has to work for everyone – the richest and poorest alike!

We need to be responsible for how people are likely to interpret what we say and write.

Right now I am very concerned that you do not appreciate the dangers ahead. It feels to me like sending a trainee pilot up into clear air rotor conditions on his first solo – not likely to end well.

I honour and applaud your efforts thus far.
I have stood for parliament on this basis once before, as an independent, but I did not take the step you have to form a party. You have my deepest respect for doing that.

I just cannot agree to support some of the things you have written, because for me they occur as untrue and misleading.

[followed by]

Hi Nick,
I certainly believe that to be a possibility, otherwise I would not be here.
I see all sorts of ways it could go seriously sideways – with death rates 100x those you quote.

And it is my intention to have the death rate from starvation at 0, similarly for pollution related diseases.

And getting there, from where we are now, is not a trivial exercise.

I agree that it wont happen under a money based system, I have proved that in logic – check my blog – http://www.tedhowardnz.com/money – so we agree about that.

40 years of writing computer code has convinced me that the devil is always in the detail.

I have spent a lot of time involved in politics, local, regional and national.

I have a strong interest in evolution theory, and the ways in which life has evolved the stability that it has.

[followed by]

In order to take it slowly, we need to avoid making statements that will be misinterpreted – like “its easy”.
And I know how hard that can be, when from a certain perspective it does seem easy. We need to make sure people are aware that there are perspectives from which it is not simple – and we need to learn how to navigate safely.

That is all I have been saying.

I see it as possible – beyond all reasonable doubt.
I see it as necessary – beyond all reasonable doubt.
I just see great danger in going too fast too soon. It s definitely not all simple. There is some very complex stuff to be done to maintain stability in transition – much worse that flying a Robby

[followed by]

Hi Richard

Right now I am sitting in a chair typing one handed because I went into a situation a little too fast, and lost control, and ended up putting my shoulder into a large rock at 20km/hr. Had I been going 10km/hr I could easily have retained control, and not suffered a broken collarbone and whatever else is cracked in there.

I have no doubt that there is a viable path to where we both want to end up.
I have great doubt that the path can be navigated at the speed you want to take us. In fact I’m 90%+ confident it would end badly (like my last cycle ride) if taken at the speed you are advocating.

I am just saying we need to take it a bit more slowly, as there is some very difficult (strategic) ground to navigate through. I’ve had a very timely reminder of the danger and consequences of going too fast. At the scale we are proposing it won’t just be one person’s collarbone but a few billion lives.

[followed by]

We all agree that the goal is a world where all individuals experience freedom, security, and abundance of all the necessities of life; without money being part of the system.

It seems to me that such an outcome is possible, but not at all simple.

It seems to me that there are far more ways to fail, and revert to some form of fairly low tech feudalism, than there are to succeed.

I do see it as both desirable and possible and I don’t see it as simple.

[followed by]

That [hands-on care] is one of the most difficult questions at present, and one of the major drivers of robot development in Japan in particular.

Part of the answer is in people having more time given that they are free from paid employment;
Part of the answer is improvements in medical technology (including growing replacement body parts from your own cells), meaning less need for care;
Part of the answer lies in general rejuvenation technology that removes the debilitating effects of aging;
Part of the answer is in new forms of social networking where we agree to look after each other in the unlikely event of the need.

And all of those things need further development – none of them is quite here yet, and there is promising work on each theme.

[followed by]

I’m not sure it is in the genes. It seems more likely that it is in the contexts they have learned and chosen. It is almost certain that the context they are living in will be one based in scarcity, and from within that context, meanness happens.

And without knowing specifics it is very hard to comment on any specific case.

It often seems to me that up to a point, the more people have, the more scared they are of losing it, and the less generous they become; then beyond a certain point, generosity returns. That “point” varies a lot between individuals.

[followed by]

Hi Richard

I agree in a sense, we don’t have to work out the specifics of every situation, and we do need to be confident that there are stable sets of strategies available to deal with all the reasonably predictable scenarios. We are not there yet. That is fine, as long as we are straight about that, and don’t pretend that the issues are solved. That way we encourage people interested in designing and implementing those strategies to join us and contribute.

We need those people.

I see the strategy you are using a present being interpreted by the people we most urgently need as meaning we don’t need them.

This is part of what I mean when I say we need integrity at all levels.
For me, it is fine to say “we are confident that stable solutions exist to that problem, but we have not yet worked out the details with people passionate about the details of that issue”, while it doesn’t work for me to say “that’s simple” when it isn’t at all simple.

We need to be scrupulously and explicitly honest – admitting ignorance wherever it exists.

[followed by]

Hi Richard,

Pure physical power can intimidate and control (even destroy).
Bullies are a problem at all levels unless there is very strong cooperation and a lot of people willing to risk a serious beating to prevent bullying.
And it is not a simple answer to institutionalise bullying into any sort of army or police force.
The only really stable counter to force is a willingness by the vast majority to confront it at all levels. We are certainly not there yet.

There are a lot of issues in this process.

And certainly we can move to guaranteeing the essentials of survival to everyone quickly. Going further is going to take a little more time.

I am totally aligned with you that it needs doing, I just see a lot more detail in the process that is essential to manage well if we are to avoid serious life threatening issues in the highly inter-connected world in which we live. We cannot entirely ignore Beijing, Washington, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, London, Moscow, etc.

This needs doing, and it needs doing well !

[followed by]

Almost everything in our society is to get money – including most of medicine. Even much of the voluntary work we do has a money component – one of the required posts in all charities and incorporated societies is “treasurer”.

There is so much more to dairy farming than milking. And there are already fully automated milking machines where the cows decided when they want to be milked, and just stroll over to it. They work well where cows are housed indoors, not so well where cows live on paddocks.

As you know, I spend most of my time in voluntary groups, and have lot of experience with that side of our humanity. It is powerful, and most people resist if they feel they are being exploited. The issues around maintaining a senses of justice, and the motivation to show up, are complex. Right now I have at least as much undone as I manage to get done.

[followed by]

Hi Richard – I’m not ignoring the pointless work that is done.

You ask, how important is dairy farming?
The answer, judging from the amount of money people are prepared to pay for dairy products – is pretty important.
If you’ve ever been near my wife if she doesn’t have milk for her morning coffee, you might think it one of the foundational substances of the universe

And dairy farming is an all consuming job – 12 hours a day for months on end – with so many aspects to it. A hugely complex task involving knowledge of plant and animal welfare, weather, water and soil ecology, complex machinery of the milking shed, and so much more.

I grew up on dairy farms, milked before and after school for some time. I know a little bit about it. Currently chair the Kaikoura Zone Water management committee, and the impact of dairy farming on water quality is subject which has taken me to many field-days and workshops – really complex.

And I am vegan, as you know – so don’t use milk myself, and think it quite probable that other peoples’ health would improve if they stopped using dairy products; and that is their choice, not mine. I may persuade, not command.

That is the key dilemma – how to ensure essential tasks are done when there is no incentive structure, no way for people to rate their preferences.

The only way I can see that is stable for more than a few months is to ensure we can automate all essential services (which includes the production of all essential goods). Doable, and not trivial – decadal if we choose to devote substantial social resources to achieving it.

[followed by]

Have you asked them if they would be prepared to climb into a blocked sewer in a storm if no one else would?

Or if they would work on sewer repair while everyone else is at the beach?

The context of the question is really important.
Not many people actually do what they say.

[followed by]

“But people will continue to do their work. Voluntarily”

On what basis do you make such a claim?

Where is your evidence?

I am about as altruistic as they come, and I almost gave up in the face of the injustice of my bludging mate. The temptation to do what he was doing and exploit the system was strong. And I was doing jobs I liked, just for many more hours than I wanted to.

Getting some of those jobs done takes real incentives – we remove them to our peril if we do not have the automated systems to do the job if no one steps up.

Justice and injustice are powerful motivators at many levels.

[followed by]

That possibility is close, but not yet with us.
most of the foul tasks are still done by people.

We are almost, but not quite, where we both wish to be.

Let us not destroy the path by being just a little too over eager.

Integrity is our only real tool at this time.

How much automation have you actually worked with?
It has been my profession for a quarter of a century.
Trust me on this assessment, if you trust me on anything!!!

[followed by]

24years ago I was a solo dad, running 3 businesses. I hadn’t had day off in almost a year, and all I was making was going back into the businesses. A friend of mine was making as much as I was through the social welfare system, did nothing for it, and took overseas travel each year.

The point is that we have not yet automated the tasks that no one wants to do. If we break the current system before we achieve that level of automation we are very likely committing a form of species wide suicide.

Authorised by Ted Howard – 1 Maui Street, Kaikoura

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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