Crazy Fringe Party of the day: The Money-Free Party claims they will solve unemployment and inequality by “ditching the monetary system and installing a structure where everything is free and all work is voluntary.”
Markets do not value abundance – humans do.
If you doubt that – consider oxygen in the air. It is arguably the single most valuable substance to human life, yet under normal circumstances has no monetary value (because it is abundant).
We possess the technical capacity to deliver an abundance of a large and exponentially increasing range of goods and services in similar abundance to oxygen, but we don’t because there is no money to be made if things are really that abundant.
So while there are a range of views within the money free party – there is certainly a sound basis in logic to look seriously at alternatives to our current societal domination by market values (aka money).
Certainly, some things really are scarce, and will always remain so, and most things have substitutes that most people would happily accept that could be delivered in abundance.
And there is an aspect of responsibility involved, in that we need to be conscious of our effects on the wider ecosystem. There will need to be checks and balances, and these can be worked out.
How would scarce resources be allocated?
I imagine that there would be a vast rage of mechanisms that would evolve in different situations; ranging from social voting, to lottery, and many hybrid forms with different functions of community service measure and or prior use and or need and or desire.
We certainly have enough storage and computational resources to develop a wide range of different systems applicable to different situations.
I’m not attached to any particular system.
What seems very dangerous to me is that we have the technical capacity to deliver abundance of all necessities to everyone, but we don’t. We don’t because of the monetary incentives involved. The injustice this creates seems capable of vast destruction. Humans are very complex entities, and we all have highly developed senses of injustice.
It is actually quite difficult to find things that really cannot be quite easily substituted in most instances (the exception being land). And most people seem to not actually want much land.
For the last 9 years I have been involved in the Te Korowai coastal management group in Kaikoura – a very interesting exercise in bringing competing interests together and creating understanding and trust (www.teamkorowai.org.nz), and agreeing measures.
The point of the exercise is to empower freedom and diversity, not to impose any sort of centralised order.
There is of course an underlying requirement for respect for life, for liberty, for the products of the labours of others, and for the ecosystems that sustain us all.
Authorised by Ted Howard – 1 Maui Street, Kaikoura