This blog is a sequel to an earlier one I wrote, entitled "The Economy Must Die". That blog exposed the false mythology of the monetary economy. This one will suggest a possible alternative. As I see it, the biggest flaw of a currency based economy is the presence of coercion. Currency use cannot survive without coercion. Any system that institutionalises coercion can never lead to universal prosperity, peace or equality. If we want these things, we need a new economic model.
I've named this economic style MINO (money is no object). It is a gift economy. I'll first outline the system in brief, then switch to Q&A format to fill in the details. Finally, I'll present some benefits of a MINO economy.
SUMMARY: 1. All currencies are abolished. 2. All work is 100% voluntary. 3. An interactive, world wide web based platform is created to allow people to connect with each other and locate opportunities for voluntary service. The platform would be designed so that you could suggest group projects and solicit help in making them happen. It would include a search feature capable of sorting requests by priority (how essential they are), popularity (as determined by a built-in voting system), region, and type of service (ie. infrastructure, innovation, education, hospitality, agriculture, etc.) Once you had decided which requests to respond to, you could schedule yourself into any vacancy. 4. Ownership is determined by use. For example, if you are living in a dwelling, it's yours. If you abandon it, it isn't.
Q&A: Question- What would prevent some people from taking advantage by refusing to contribute?
Answer- First of all, this question is based on the assumption that there would be a labour shortage. In fact, adopting the MINO system would represent the largest lay-off in the history of the world. A short list of occupations that would disappear completely would include: banking and credit, stock market trading, billing, sales, insurance, cashiers, real estate, and taxation. MINO would also massively reduce the need for: 1. Health care. The number 1 cause of illness is stress. Other major factors are poor food quality and poverty. The MINO system would eventually eliminate these causes. 2. Policing. Most crime is undertaken solely for profit, ie. theft, fraud, extortion, prostitution, human trafficking, and environmental destruction. The purpose of police should be restricted to preventing coercive abuse of the vulnerable. 3. Advertising. Most of the energy presently devoted to advertising is aimed at manufacturing want for the sake of profit. MINO would reduce advertising to the promotion of group projects. 4. Manufacturing. Manufacturing for profit leads to poor quality goods, wasteful, destructive use of resources, and planned obsolescence. Also, many of the items are neither needed nor truly wanted. 5. War. Regardless of the reasons officially given, wars are almost always fought for profit. This list is incomplete but substantial. There would be no labour shortage. There would be many things we'd want to change if money were no object, so we'd be busier in the beginning than later on. It's impossible to say what the average service contribution would be, but I would guess about five hours per week or less, and falling over time.
Question- What would motivate people to volunteer for the least pleasant jobs in the absence of money?
Answer- Gratitude would replace financial incentive. In the absence of money, generosity would become the main source of social status. Consider the person who picks up your garbage. Have you ever felt grateful to him/her for his/her service? You probably never have because he/she is receiving a pay cheque. What if he/she was doing it voluntarily? In that case, I expect you would feel very differently. The jobs that are least intrinsically fulfilling would carry the most honour in a MINO economy. I've mostly worked in the hospitality area (cooking, serving, bar tending). The main drawback of that type of work, aside from sore feet and exhaustion due to overwork, is disrespect and mistreatment from customers. If the people I was serving knew that my service was a gift, I doubt that would happen. If I were doing it for 10 hours per week or less, and voluntarily, it wouldn't even feel like work. It would be fun, like hosting a party. This is work I would definitely volunteer for. I'd also make a point of occasionally scheduling myself for one of the grottier jobs because I think it's only fair that I should.
Question- What about scarcity? If demand exceeds supply, and the difference can't be remedied, who gets access?
Answer- This should be determined by each community and case-by-case. For necessities, it would probably be best to ration and/or ask for help from other regions. For non-essentials, raffling might be preferable. In either case, it would be an improvement over the current system where the same people (those with the most money) always have priority access.
I'm sure there are plenty of other questions about MINO. If you think of any, please use the comments area and I, or whoever else wants to, can try to answer.
Benefits of a MINO economy: 1. Quality: If money is no object, there is no reason to produce poor quality goods and services. 2. Sustainability: Improvements in quality will reduce waste. Sustainability and quality are intimately connected and profit is the enemy of both. Take food for example. Small, organic farms produce better quality food and can more easily be made fully sustainable. A great number of people dream of such a pastoral lifestyle. The only barrier they now face is financial. 3. Education: This will be one of the main growth areas in a MINO economy. Everyone will have a lot more free time, and the opportunity to share and acquire knowledge and training will be available to all. 4. Social harmony and connection: The MINO system replaces competition with cooperation. MINO also inspires gratitude towards others. When all work is voluntary, it isn't taken for granted, and appreciation is intrinsically fulfilling. 5. Improved health and longevity: When people lead fulfilling lives, free of anxiety, and with strong positive connections to their communities, they are happier and more relaxed. This has huge physical and mental health benefits. Throw in better food and a healthier environment, and throw out the profit motive in medicine, and see what happens. 6. Research and innovation: Imagine if quality, sustainability and social benefit, instead of profit, determined which research and technology received support. Things like free, clean energy and consciousness technologies would advance very quickly. Weapons development would receive little or no public enthusiasm, and so would decline. In the absence of the profit motive, knowledge would be shared instead hoarded. 7. An end to animal cruelty: The only reason to mistreat animals is because it's cheaper that caring for them with compassion.
Why should we not adopt such a system as MINO? All it would demand of us is maturity and trust in one another. If you need coercion in order to function in a socially responsible manner, you have no right to call yourself an adult. Surely being a mature adult means you don't need to be told what to do. If we adopted a MINO economy, or something like it, we could build a civilisation worthy of the name. The timing for this could not be better. In many countries, the average age of the population is rising. This is a problem in a monetary economy, but an advantage in a MINO system, since education and skills training will be some of the biggest growth areas. The monetary economy is likely to catastrophically collapse in the near future. If we start preparing to transition now, we could avoid a great deal of suffering. Every crisis is also an opportunity. We have only to rise to it. What if money were no object? Just imagine.....