I have spent a great deal of time and effort over the years contemplating economics, privilege, have’s vs have not’s, and why some once proud and wealthy nations live in poverty. Like so many other human constructs, the current dominant and global economic paradigm does not allow for maximum self-determination, it values certain endeavors and wealth over others, and those who do not fit the dominant paradigm suffer as a result. There are genotypical populations and cultures that heavily favor certain ways of thinking as their dominant paradigm, and those who diverge from it suffer. One may say that desire is the root of all suffering, but that is minimizing the vast array of possible ways one can suffer, cessation of desire is not going to be a fulfilling path for all. The problem as I see it is the failure to maximize self-determination while limiting the threat to one’s survival. In the US the term “Welfare State” is derogatory, an insult, steeped deeply in a mindset of grounded do’er’s, who fail to realize the entire purpose of a democratic society is in fact for the welfare of the people. Folks talk a great deal about hand outs, anti-communist sentiment runs high, though many are unable to see the difference between communist ideology and a command economy. The sad thing is, for all the talk of charity, good works, and a host of other ideals, we still expect individuals to survive on their own, but if the dominant paradigm is not inclusive to difference, does not teach to that difference and allow for self-determination and thus true liberty, then the deck is stacked against certain inherent ways of thinking. We often hold up the exceptions to the norm as evidence that anyone can succeed, but once again we fail to understand that in any culture or population there is always variation, some will succeed in the dominant paradigm even though they were born into a culture or subculture or economic situation that many of those around them would never thrive.
So I want to attack and expand upon the very notions of economics and how the current economic system is damaging to difference, and damaged difference is a great source of mental illness, it may not be all, damaged people impose their trauma upon otherwise healthy and well adapted people everyday, but if we can expand our understanding of difference and craft an economy that maximizes the potential for human endeavor, then we may actually stand a chance. In Star Trek they reference money being gone, but they still often have material possessions of wealth, see money is not the “root of all evil” it is simply a means of exchange that simplifies what was a cumbersome system of bartering. Likewise, supply and demand when not hijacked to cause harm to self image via modern marketing tactics (Propaganda for Consumerists), is a very logical and sensible choice for distributing limited and finite resources (at least as long as we are grounded on this oblate spheroid together). The command economy fails, bogged down in shortages and surpluses because it is not capable of accounting for individual tastes, interests, and desires. Some folks want creature comforts, some folks want to be able to construct an ideal environment, some want novelty and excitement, there are a host of different motivations for human action, economics is not the pure, rational, and logical use of resources as seen from an academic perspective; why I enjoyed economic sociology so much, because irrationality, feeling, and even base desire can all influence our economic decisions, marketing often capitalizes on this very thing.
Yet, we get bogged down in the notion of a dog eat dog world, and then we blame those who are maldaptive and cannot possibly thrive in the current environment for their failure, a failure often rooted in the wiring of their brains, the trauma inflicted on them, their education levels and socio-economic status, or their biological traits such as sex, skin color, and ethnicity. It is a form of victim blaming writ large, and as the system becomes more entrenched, more rigid, well I’m gonna paraphrase Lao Tzu here, when you create more laws you create more bandits. See, the rigid and black and white system does not allow difference to thrive, we take in stride that an artist must starve before they can be successful, some would even call it character building. But that mentality is the artificial winnowing out of difference, more have not’s than haves, forced to compete against others to find something innovative, which in turn stifles the very creativity we want from our artists. So the welfare state does need to exist, historically it could not, but we have reached the technological capability, just lacking the societal will and understanding to say clearly and simply, no human being in the future should ever fear for their basic survival. That is the greatest act of charity possible, to create an economic system focused on human endeavor as having more inherent value than just the accruing of wealth. But, as I stated above, supply and demand economics makes sense, after all there are finite resources. So, we must distill this down to the basics, I find Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to be of great value here, that certain needs must be met, or else an individual cannot thrive and do greater endeavors than just trying to survive. It is funny how many disdain being compared to animals, but to allow individuals and even entire cultures to founder and fail to thrive simply because the dominant paradigm does not make room for them is a very animal thing to do, amoral in it’s inherent nature. Creating a system that ensures all humans do not have to fear for the most basic essentials of life is a important step towards creating a better world for everyone, for increasing self-determination through a bit of capitalist generosity.
Adam Smith in his wealth of nations, heck even Ayn Rand, were overly optimistic in the expansiveness of human altruism, and did not see all of the possible avenues and routes, twists and turns that relying solely on the generation wealth would cause. Likewise, Karl Marx saw the pain of the common worker, but failed to engage the producers in a way to realize, that many firmly believed their actions benefited everyone, when for some it was soul numbing, denigrating, and unfulfilling. Two very different approaches, all see benefit in their world view and view those who view differently as evil or selfish, but the simple truth here is that there is never a one size fits all, be it in an economic system or an educational system, we need to expand our understanding and create more space, more room for self-determination to allow human endeavor to move us forward.
So, at this time, I have been working on a two tiered economic system, one focuses on ensuring that all humans can eventually stop fearing for their basic survival, a social safety net applied so broadly that none can fall through the cracks. But likewise, a system that utilizes supply and demand, can be integrated in along side the dominant global economy in some form, not overthrowing the establishment, expanding it, not forcing any class to commit suicide, but possibly forcing them to open their heart a bit. It is funny, folks talk about efficiency, the cost of universal healthcare and education, but fail to see how much wealth is hemorrhaged out on a daily basis, attempting to treat so many symptoms, what we need here is metaphorical preventative economic care. And yes, that is in some form that of a welfare state, but in the truest sense of the word, an economy that understands humans can value and endeavor differently, the do’ers will still thrive and excel, but the nurturers and thinkers too will have space, and in the case of thinkers and artists, many who’s great ideas and works can take decades to develop, there can be time to do just that. I do not believe that idle hands do the Devil’s work, unfulfilled hands do, so wealth and privilege as well as being mired down in poverty and stuck in a rigid welfare system, without hope or understanding, but this is a mental health issue, not a laziness issue, I do not believe in mentally healthy laziness, I believe in damaged folks unable to act, or highly dis-associative folks who naturally do not live in the here and now, but just because you cannot see someone’s endeavors, especially in the case of highly dis-associative introverts like myself, does not mean that is not the case. Playing for example is learning, I could go on at length the value and lessons learned playing online games, but I could also go onto long tirades about how the veil of anonymity allows the continued devaluing of difference with impunity, we must expand our understanding, we must equip people with the tools needed to get beyond scrabbling for basic subsistence, and instead embrace a system that allows all to endeavor.
Before I lay out a basic armature of what I am struggling to conceive of, and it is not complete, remember I have stated many times that no one person can ever take in all the data and knowledge to be found in object reality, I continue to try to do so as much as possible, it is how I am wired, I aim high, because to do anything less is to be dishonest to myself. I am not one to plunk in a few pebbles to grow a giant tsunami, I would much rather collapse a cliff face in to get the same result, delayed gratification has never been my strong point =). The idea behind endeavorist economics is the notion that wealth is only generated through human endeavor, that our economy is an artificial construct, though many see it as being almost a natural force unto itself. And as a human construct, we can actively change it, we can stop assuming it is a rudderless behemoth outside of our control and instead actively construct a system that allows for the benefits of multiple economic systems, first and foremost by understanding all wealth is fiat, even gold has value only because of the perception of it’s value. I have spent a decent amount of time messing around with and even mining cryptocurrency, it has a value, I enjoy the Ripples protocol because it allows for near seamless financial transactions in different currencies with the added benefit of denial of service style attacks on it forcing the attacker to go broke in the process, it is a well protected system and it has vast potential. Crowd Sourcing also has vast potential, a new way to gather capital online, though in all honesty an old method, pitch an idea and people who support it, will contribute to it. So right now our economy is evolving in new directions, so why do we not then start to steer it?
So, no human being should fear for food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, or an education that teaches best to how they learn, these are the five needs upon which human endeavor can flourish, we must find the collective will, through conversation, debate, social media, and a host of other sources to discuss how we can assure those 5 things, and everything after is human endeavor. Of course, at this time, those things cost a great deal of money, let alone dealing with entrenched attitudes and systems they fear and dislike change, that are too inflexible with current leadership and thus see this change as a threat to themselves, big pharma might panic a bit at this, but at the same time, big pharma can and will adapt, and if a corporate model is outdated and struggling, then the moral thing is to help transition into new modes of operations, too big too fail causes a great deal of angst in some circles, and I too do not believe in it, but I do not believe that because a model is faulty that it must come crashing down and trampled underfoot, folks losing access to basic necessities, we, as human beings work to transition things into new directions, we recycle the old and ensure all people can continue to endeavor in ways that are meaningful to them. The homemaker has great value, the nurturer has great value, and we cannot assign a value to such things in the current single tiered economic system, and thus we have failed greatly to understand just how much we need such things, the cornerstones of our mentally healthy lives.
So I have conceived of Endeavorist economics, a two tiered system that covers the big 5 needs, not each according to their needs, no simply everyone gets these needs covered. It sounds expensive, and in fact I am currently recommending to allow for maximum self-determination a monthly stipend option. But how would this work without constantly pushing currency into the economic system, how is it taken back out of circulation and re-utilized, what about folks with huge families? Or those who choose to go it alone because they see value in that? These and many more are important questions, and I have some ideas on the matter. First, it is not as expensive as it sounds, we are constantly throwing government and private money at these issues and a horrifically slapdash manner, bleeding out vast amounts in ineffective bureaucratic nonsense. Secondly, it benefits corporations, because they no longer have to worry about the direct costs of employee healthcare, though it may disturb a few who rely on the modern day version of the company store, indentured and indebted, limited in mobility and thus limited in self-determination, held powerless for fear of biting the hand that feeds them. Well individual corporations should never have such essential power over life and death, that is not liberty at all, it is holding in thrall the new peasantry and that is unacceptable morally and economically. See, freeing up our species from the fear of subsistence will force corporations to be competitive again in getting and retaining talent, and this is beneficial, competition is a very powerful tool here and thus we want the corporations to court our talents, not us relying on them just to eek out a miserable existence. Likewise, the 5 needs here do not guarantee an exceptional quality of life, they just guarantee that if you are happy subsistence farming a patch of land, then you are in good shape, but many of us do want things, we enjoy our comforts, our entertainment and our toys and conveniences. So, people will still be working, still be endeavoring, still seeking to have not all that they want, that is unreasonable, a poor use of finite resources, but many of the things they want and value, it is balance between the material desires of many and the existential needs of all. Also, the system helps in the form of not having to worry as much about things like unemployment and social security, the basic needs are covered and there are plenty of solid approaches that can be used to ensure people has income they can still spend on wants, the cost of these things and the bureaucracy that maintains them will go down.
One thing I want to address before I get off topic and forget, is how to get the stipend provided out of circulation, at this time, since folks will still want to own things and credit is still king, you tie the cost of living, healthcare, and education to the interest rates put out by a government’s central banking authority, in a very real way the producers of the world finally will be benefiting all of society, and at the same time we simplify the system by using a stipend people can talk with where they spend that money when it comes to food, housing, and clothing, supply and demand still get’s to apply and still helps cull out the wasteful from the beneficial endeavors. It could be further incentivized via a use it or lose it system each month, but those who do not use all of it each month would get a good percentage of the unused amount back via a yearly tax return, in other words we can encourage frugality without forcing it, the returned percentage would not be limited to the basic needs, it would be free capital for use however they want. And since folks will still want to endeavor, to buy things on credit, financial institutions will still be handling loans, the costs of the system though are kept simple this way, uncomplicated for the majority of folks.
The potential social benefits a huge, often in the US folks bemoan the loss of Church as being a huge part of the malaise that afflicts society, I say it is more the loss of community, and historically it is the Church that has bound many communities together. But our population size alone right now does not make room for this, throw in the folks of certain economic status are both expected to eek out an existence and folks of higher status are discouraged from having, usually the female, from working. We see a connection here, and as technology and industry changes, as robotics and mass productions reduces the need for huge areas of the work force, more folks will be able to work less hours, by working less hours they can devote more time to friends and family, they can nurture a better sense of community, and this has huge implications for mental health, which in turn has huge implications for folks not being afraid of crime, of someone snapping and “going postal”, of being able to free up the internal reserves to focus on raising children with a healthy sense of self identity based on their individual gifts, which can be very different, but everyone has some gifts, most do not burn bright, but there is always a cost for those on the extreme of the curve as well, sometimes burning bright has it’s own complications and problems, the grass is always greener so to speak. So to paraphrase Taoist thought again, a healthy sense of self identity is one at peace with their gifts, their strengths, as well as their weaknesses.
Creating the economic system to allow for the 5 needs to be met may seem daunting, but it is not impossible, it should not be enacted overnight in sweeping revolution, that would be harmful to many who do not thrive in drastic change, instead a conversation should be started on how to roll out these changes, the “developing” world, how I hate the term, but folks know what I mean at least when I state it, could greatly benefit from this. Hell folks, we can grow crops inside under purple LED’s now, it is amazing what human endeavor can achieve, and eliminating abject poverty is a very important part of this, allow all folks to survive allows them to seek out the means to thrive, endeavor, and contribute in ways not always quantifiable to the current statistics heavy world paradigm. We like statistics though, they seem so black and white, to quote percentages and studies, for example Wal-Mart states that it’s employees often support corporate doctrine, and one paper this may seem to be true, but this goes back to not biting the hand that feeds you, when you live on the edge and speaking your mind becomes a very real existential threat to your survival, then you are going to tow the line, and thus those statistics are inherently flawed and biased, I see a lot of abuse of statistics in the world, used for gain or fearmongering or a host of other amoral or even immoral use. But, I digress, so small nations with some assistance might stand a solid chance of rolling out these small changes, Bhutan comes to mind, a nation where the happiness of the citizens is actually enshrined in law, versus in the US where it was given lip service only in the form of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, something that is impossible to do for many under the current dominant economic paradigm.
Now, the current system still has a place, it is a layered system after all, the one the ensures the welfare of all people and the other that uses market forces to cater to difference unless we allow marketing to continue to brain wash us, but the damage from that has been noted and change is in the air, healthy body image advertising is a wonderful thing, the tricks of marketing can also be used to undo some of the damage of marketing. Same with portraying natural bodies, ensuring a realistic view instead of an impossible ideal of beauty that can only exist with digital doctoring, if you want impossible beauty standards, stick to animation, hard to confuse that with object reality. Anyhow, one thing that would have to change is the system of taxation and this is a tricky one, something I have not fully managed to hash out on my own given how local communities in the US are funded, and I support self-determination and therefor support local communities best understanding the unique problems with population and infrastructure. Yet, at the same time, the property tax has to go, it is archaic, it inhibits self-determination and forces individuals into an economic system that may not fit their way of life, communal ownership of land, subsistence farming, a host of human endeavors that industrialists may dislike, but are still perfectly valuable worldviews, and a good example of how folks have suffered as a result of this is the great land grab and genocide of the Indigenous people of the Americas, if folks knew just how badly decimated those populations truly were it would be appalling, upwards of 90% of the Indigenous population of the America’s was wiped out, now genocide is not relative and what happened during the Holocaust was horrid beyond imagining as well, but the sheer loss of life in the Americas is staggering, millions upon millions dying from disease, overt violence, and the loss of the sacred, a wound so deep it has yet to heal. But industrialist manifest destiny determined their worldview and land utilization was not acceptable, so we connived, threatened, and took it by force, we passed judgment on difference, and millions died and the cultural and spiritual wound (metaphorically for me, real for some, all are valid) lingers still to this day, their way of life has value, much like we now try and isolate and keep safe the few remaining uncontacted tribes in the world, difference has value, endeavor has value, we saw only wealth as having value though. So, getting rid of property taxes is an important step in liberty and self-determination, but something akin to the Fair tax on consumer items, ah yes, that makes a great deal of sense, especially for the rarer and high end assets, those with money who want things that are harder to get, more finite in their existence, should pay more for that privilege, and folks will, if they want something badly, they will buy it, if folks who are wealthy desire a rare or treasured object as their personal possession, then they pay for the privilege of ownership, it is a simple and very logical approach. Well, looks like I tied in a US Conservative ideal on taxation with the Liberal desire for a welfare state together, in a two tiered system, yay me!
I have a lot more work to do, this is an outline, not a full road map, it is a nascent idea, and for this I truly do desire feedback, the trolls need to attack, if you are reading this and think it is worthy of debate, even if it is just to tear apart my optimistic utopian idealism (I am none of those things in a true sense, but hey I can’t control whatever labels you want to throw at me). But we need to realize we all have the power to enact change, and through social media and an ever interconnected world we even have the forum for the voices of the privileged and disenfranchised to speak out, but we need to remember to communicate, talk about the pro’s and con’s of the ideas and how to move forward. Man, I wish I knew how to get Pope Francis’s attention, I may not be religious but I really see great parity with that man, his strong humility and earnest desire to raise folks out of poverty. It is time we all realize that we are in this mess together, and that fighting and demeaning each other, making assumptions about what is fulfilling to one, paternalism even with the best of intents, these things will not move us forward, they will not break the cycle of trauma and violence, WE MUST EXPAND. so let us start talking about the merits of these ideas, and they may never take off, but if they can facilitate more conversation on the subject, then I can feel content that I have earnestly tried to find a way to make the world a better place, for everyone, even those folks I don’t particularly like or jive with personally. We…must…expand.