Tagged with " economics"
Dec 20, 2011 - Podcast    1 Comment

Abundant Maker Driven Culture

I may not know you. I may not agree with you. In fact, I probably don’t agree with you or many of the things that you believe in. But I will fight to my death that you have a life where you get to do what you want to do and in return you will do the same for me

According to Leifur Thor, member of the press team for Open Source Ecology (OSE), that is the mindset of someone living in a world of abundance and something sorely lacking in our society that holds scarcity as its’ most deeply held belief. OSE has an ambitious plans in the Global Village Construction Set to open-source the blueprints of 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch, and they aspire to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village for under $10,000. If you haven’t already, watch the fantastic TED.com video on the GVCS with OSE instigator Marcin Jakubowski. This open source hardware project is one of the first of a coming wave that wants to foster an abundant maker driven culture.

Show Notes

  • Leifur Thor’s OSE wiki page– pronounced like “safe” except with an L, not like a leaf on a tree (which I do an admittedly and apologetically bad job on during the intro and outro)
  • Global Village Construction Set 50
  • Current status of items in current development including the Compressed Earth Block Press, LifeTrac skid steering tractor and PowerCube.
  • Factor e Farm: Where Marcin is working on the GVCS and aims to be the world’s first replicable post-scarcity resilient community.
  • The successful GVCS Kickstarter Campaign and opportunity to become a True Fan.
  • “GVCS is the hardware & OSE is the software piece. The hardware piece is pretty straight forward. Provide open source hardware, make it less expensive than what industry would charge & then engineer it in such a way that it is harder to skim the profits off the people that are producing. But the software piece is harder to explain & educate people on because it is contradictory to the operating model of capitalism.”
  • Capitalism has scarcity as an inherent principle of its operation.
  • A little bit of history and the impact of Thomas Malthus
  • The mindset of someone living in a world of gift economics – “Whatever comes into my possession must be temporary to hold any value at all. I must either use it or pass it along to someone else. To withhold giving is withholding breathing or being apart from the world. People who hold onto as much as they can are considered sick and separate. If they can’t and it gets really bad, we have to annex them. This is also how communities stayed healthy. If you weren’t a contributor to the community in some way, you were given the boot.”
  • Sacred Earthonomics
  • Our belief in scarcity is the biggest barrier to living abundantly
  • The magic of digital economies and how people are waking up to the fallacy of the Internet destroying the financial safety of artists. This is just a natural extension of “learning to do ever more with ever less”
  • City-state culture was created out of growing complexity and creates an opportunities for people to take advantage of the lack of direct connection between all members of a community.
  • How much changed in 5,000 years from 3,000 BC to 10 years of 1980 to 1990 and the creation of the Internet.
  • “We’re just now leaving the model A stage of the Internet where we are beginning to communicate with each other using the Internet in really beautiful and nutritive ways that it is designed for.”
  • The Stop Online Privacy Act and American Censorship
  • Patterns of Control: Top 1% own 40% of wealth and top 5% own 75% of wealth
  • Open source software reduces company costs but not price – good thing money is not the only option
  • “Things are changing at such a rapid pace that it is going to be hard to keep up to it. One example is when we go to a search engine and plugin a search, ‘I want to see jumping monkey videos’ and you get a list of jumping monkey videos. What most people don’t realize is you’ve just approached that search engine exactly like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz approached the great wizard behind the curtain. You’ve stepped up to the curtain, asked your question and are waiting for a reply. You’ve just treated a computer exactly like you treat a person.”
  • People are starting to see the power of the Internet as a response to de-evolution that comes from the corrupting influence of power
  • “When you look at the Internet now you may notice a lot of people have a lot to say. Comments. You can find comments on anything; everything. People are participating. They are throwing in their 2 cents. It’s as if we are all in this giant auditorium and everybody has no problem with sharing their opinion on something. And that is all great. Now, we all need to share our opinions, but what we really need to do is turn that into a vehicle of change. Turn it into a vehicle that people can co-ordinate change rather than simply talking about change.”
  • How to motivate someone to dig a ditch
  • How intellectual property is antithetical to innovation and what are reasonable alternatives
  • Alternate definitions for wealth beyond financial. The great example I provided comes from Extraenvironmentalist Ep #29: Creating Wealth with Gwendolyn Hallsmith, “The measure of wealth is the situation in which our needs are met and we have a sense of well-being”
  • How do we reboot society where money is not the dominant means of exchange and scarcity is not the strongest belief system?
  • “Those who hold the throughputs control the power
  • “When we control the throughputs, we put an end to the tyranny of the city-state culture and taxation which is that pattern that has beat every odd for the last 5,000 years. The Internet has finally provided for the first time a realistic tool that the population can use to self-govern and make city-states irrelevant. By doing so they can also make federal taxation, at a minimum, irrelevant so that it is only done at a local level”
  • The automotive industry influence on urban design as example of industries working to maintain their control on throughputs, not because it is necessarily the best course of action for society, but because it makes the most profit for them. See End of Suburbia for a good summary of the history in this capacity.
  • Waves of abundance vs scarcity
  • 4 minute clip from Cory Doctorow from Command Line Podcast including the great tag, “There is no copyright policy; there is only internet policy and there is no internet policy there is only policy”

Music Notes

Aug 4, 2011 - Podcast    8 Comments

Sacred Earthonomics

Charles Eisenstein wrote Ascent of Humanity in 2007 about the history and future of civilization from the unique perspective of the evolution of the human sense of self. As we pass through what he describes as the convergence of crises that is birthing the societal transition into the Age of Reunion, his latest book Sacred Economics seeks to change the story of money and gift.

We don’t want to force people through a survival linked money system to abandon their gifts and do something else; that is what is happening today and the ecosystem and society are suffering greatly because of it. He believes that money is like a signaling molecule in the body that should direct resources or gifts towards needs in a positive direction. The philosophical tide of the times is indeed to understand nature as part of ourselves and the internalization of costs then is one dimension of this growing philosophical or spiritual reunion with nature.

Show Notes

  • Ascentofhumanity.com
  • Sacred Economics (Reality Sandwich)
  • Sacred Economics (North Atlantic Books)
  • The converging crises identified in Ascent of Humanity (environmental, financial, political, energy, water, soil, medical, etc) have intensified since it was written in 2007. Charles presents the converging crises as a birth crisis propelling humanity into a new kind of civilization.
  • How to avoid, as Douglas Rushkoff put it,  confusing the map for the terrain?
  • Humanity has retreated into the realm of the symbol and the result is the financialization of everything
  • The virtual economy has taken precedence over the primary
  • Current money system is a lubricant for growth-based economy for further monetization of the earth, not for doing beautiful work the earth needs
  • Money is meant to be a token of societies’ gratitude; to reward & encourage behaviour that contributes to the good of all.
  • How can we eliminate / disincentivize planned obsolescence & externalization of costs so gift economics is on a level playing field?
  • Finding ways to align profit and the public good
  • Scarcity is an illusion or an artifact of our perceptions?
  • Subsistence or organic agriculture is 2 – 3 more productive PER ACRE than hi-tech chemical agriculture, but it is the unit of labour that is the financial interpretation that has become the standard by which we measure food delivery capability.
  • Suburban sprawl & per capita energy: Most of the energy we consume doesn’t even really serve a fundamental human need
  • Don’t seek answers within the existing solution space; change the questions as to what the right way to create an answer might be.
  • Digital economies and artificial scarcity where there need be none
  • Helping humanity thrive in community through the sharing of gifts (digital example: Contributing to WordPress)
  • Social Wage / Dividend – Philip Jose Farmer and equality of contribution in hunter/gatherer societies
  • The societal peril of adopting a debt-based education system that forces people to contribute solely to economic growth because that is where the jobs are rather than how they can apply the skills they learn in a meaningful way for society.
  • Discussions of various methods of stepping away from dependance on the money economy towards a gift economy
  • “I do think that for many centuries hence there will still be something recognized money, globally, but it will have pretty much the opposite effect of money today. It will encourage generosity, conservation, restoration of the commons, of the ecology, it will encourage caring for future generations, it will have the negative of interest”

Towards the end of the interview, I asked Charles about how we can get to the point of existing in a gift economy without relying on the monetary economy to get there using the gift-oriented environment of Burning Man as an example. The unfortunate fact that in order to get to such an environment which has no commerce or transactions and is all about the immediate experience, people have to cover their food, shelter and travel costs to get there.

Skeptics or critics will say that gift economy is just being subsidized from the outside. It’s kind of piggy-backing on and it wouldn’t work if people weren’t bringing things in that they had purchased. But on the other-hand you could also look at it as kind of a laboratory for the future. Where yes, you are creating special conditions but part of whats happening is these new forms of human dynamic and new psychology that goes along with it are being tried out. An energetic template is being tried out that will become relevant and dominant perhaps even when the current system falls apart.

Burning Man as a laboratory of the future? I like the sound of that. Since laboratories are generally measured by the results that they produce, following the interview I went in search of unique large-scale gift-oriented efforts that have grown out of the Burning Man community. I was looking for projects that take a different approach to solving an existing challenge and bring some of the passion that Burners have for living on the playa to solving that problem. After getting happily lost in Black Rock City Year Round, I found three tremendous examples which have bold visions and are trying to live Burning Man’s ten principles 24/7/365 and summarize some of their initial successes to wrap-up this episode:

  1. Burners Without Borders (Documentary: Burn on the Bayou)
  2. Black Rock Solar
  3. Xara Garden School and the Xara Learning Institute

Mindful Media

DanO – Riding the Banshee
19:30 – Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot Remix
42:30 – Undercover Hippie – Global Recession
59:30 – Seasunz and J Bliss – Sunnyside

Jul 4, 2011 - Podcast    8 Comments

Thriving During Challenging Times

As the metaphorical waves of globalization crash hard upon the beachheads of peak oil, climate change and unsustainable economic growth we need to prepare to be able to thrive during challenging times. Cam Mather is an author and speaker who lives off-the-grid and enjoys “showing others that the best thing for the planet is now the best thing for your bank account”. During the interview with Cam you will learn about the cost and complexity of so-called “alternative” forms of home energy, the delusions and dangers of living a corporately structured lifestyle and why embracing change voluntarily or living locally is a step all of us should be taking to prepare for the challenging times ahead.

Show Notes

Music Notes