s into the New Economic Paradigm
We are experiencing the final breakdown of the illusions that have held the economy together for so long. The majority of people no longer believe they can become rich through hard work. George. W. Bush said we should keep shopping to combat terrorism. Unfortunately, with so many homeowners having their equity drained when the real estate bubble burst, and with the subsequent recession where employees were told the economy just wasn’t looking good for raises this year, no one has the money to keep on spending. Many are surviving on government aid or credit cards simply to eat. What we’ve learned is that the issuers of debt are far more dangerous than some guys in caves. Everyone is in debt, hard work is neither recognized or rewarded, and even those with jobs are often only 1 paycheck away from homelessness. Go to college, get a job, work 40 hours/week for decades, pump out some kids you don’t have time to engage with, and indoctrinate them with the same hollow and unsatisfying ideology? No thanks, let’s try something new.
As we transition into a new economic paradigm we want to incorporate good aspects of capitalism while avoiding the problems we have uncovered. In my Critique of Capitalism blog entries, I address the inherent problem of citizens not having capital. If capital is having money, then not having capital means starving. But let’s look at capital in different contexts than strictly as money. In the current internet age, retweets, facebook likes, and itunes reviews are ways for people to credit the content-provider by non-monetary means. Social capital is built by support from your audience. The combination of having social capital and crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter allow for micro-loans from fan to artist that benefits both parties and avoids bank loans. Having a fan base and solid backing is essential for those looking to transcend the mundane 9-5 corporate job by pursuing their art.
Productivity is at an all-time high. Less workers are doing more work than ever in history. Technological achievements and automation should have ushered in the 10-hour work week and the leisure lifestyle. It’s great if machines replace 1,000 factory jobs, but if those 1,000 factory workers then lose their homes we have problems. Our technological evolution cannot remain chained to a failed economic ideology. Jacques Fresco, designer of the Venus Project, advocates for equality of access to goods rather than private ownership. Why does a neighborhood with 16 lawns have at least 16 lawn mowers? If goods had shared access, the community saves money collectively and spends less on goods individually.
Another idea that will still serve us during the transition is currency. I am very interested in alternative currencies to the Fed-owned dollar. Local currencies may be difficult to establish, but once adopted they circulate wealth within a community efficiently . Bitcoin is a digital currency looking to compete with all other currencies by honoring anonymity and cutting out middle men. Communities are setting up hour exchanges where 1 hour of work equals 1 time-dollar. They trade favors and get repaid with favors from others. These alternatives and others will become channels for peer to peer exchanges where we can still share our labor with each other without interference from groups looking to extort profits from us. No government, no central bank, and no corporate exploitation. It’s a beautiful thought. It’s already happening.