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geoffrey douthat

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this is an open letter to all those that believe in and want to help create a better world for all of humanity within our lifetime.

I have concerns over the social repercussions of the actual end of industrial revolution, being unemployed and near homeless I already know hardship like a ever increasing number of blue collar workers throughout the western world as well as the countless poor of the rest of the world.
Now when robots take the majority of jobs from all people within the next 10-20 years what will happen to the people who have no jobs? Not to mention the capitalist system? No jobs, no money, no consumption, no capitalism, what then, social collapse, war, death?

I have a solution to this unrecognised problem, end hunger and poverty and secure humanity into the future. If the Governments of the world along with the U.N. agree to the principles of this proposal and the outer space treaty-1967.

Create a organisation that is Not for Profit, Non Government Organisation dedicated to the depiction, design, dissemination and delivery of global solutions to the endemic civil poverty and conflict on earth.

continued in part 2 below

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    May 25 2012: Humanity has a simple problem. Greed and the seemingly insatiable desire for silly pleasures and silly luxuries. More wealth, more power, more comfort; like salt water, the more we drink, the thirstier we become.
    But its much more complicated than that, because humans, have individual complexities of view. Unity has hardly ever been our strength. Sometimes it is not the systems that are failing. It is humanity.
    Your idea is great in theory. Practically, how will humanity unite to make this happen?
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      May 27 2012: i hear that, the weakest link is humanity itself, how to unite, thats the question, this plan must be all inclusive to work, if a criticial mass of humanity is on board, industrial heads, media, politicians, UN, then a rollout can happen, it needs a super human effort but it all starts with one step.

      Thanks for feedback n support mate
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      May 31 2012: Practically, how will humanity unite to make this happen?

      You, sir.

      Make those films, spread the word! It only takes five, ten little humans to make a super human by acting together!
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    May 28 2012: Anticipating the future is a perrilous path.
    We cannot even perceive the present with total exactitude.
    Part of your solution seems to be in progress right now, as currencies fail around the world.
    The blame is being layed at the feet of rapacious usury and financial gambling such as derivatives, hedge funds and .. maybe even futures beyond the limits of teh risk curves.
    Not to worry - all that is crashing down as we speak.
    We will all be forced into currency reform one way or another.
    Massive debt write-offs are inevitable, this is going to leave those who are exposed to instant bankruptcy.
    What is important is what we do after that? DO we simply do it all over again? Or do we separate speculative investment from the real economy?

    And .. who are "we" anyway?
    After all the high-sounding talk of the nobility and primacy of humans, I have come to conclude that we are no more than simple animals with a comms bolt-on. And that bolt-on has not fully integrated in our species.
    All proposed solutions have to recognise that.
    A big downside of the partial integration of comms is that we remain stuck at a tribal limit of about 200 individuals. No matter what you do, humans will form-up into tribes and potential conflict will persist at the boundaries of those tribes.
    Automation is only an issue in an economy based on psychopathy. This promotes the ponzi-scheme of competition (aka: divide and conquer).
    It redefines the exertion of human expression into units called "jobs".
    Jobs are done for a single thing - to get "money". Hence, all those exerting in jobs are granting their expressive life to a thing called money - they stop living and money starts living.
    Some (like me) do not have jobs - we have work.
    Work only uses money as a convenient tool, the true worker's expressive exertion remains the property of the person, that person remains alive.
    The destruction of jobs is a good thing.
    People will then be free to find their work.
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      May 31 2012: Okaaaay, but you work for money right? The question for you that everyone else needs to know is, what do you need that you would SPEND money to get?
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        May 31 2012: Well .. no. I don't work for money.
        I work for my contribution to the musical community.
        Money is a tool like my lathe.
        I "spend" far more of my lifes energy than I spend money.
        Often the transaction does not involve money at all and my needs come to me directly.
    • Jun 2 2012: You would make an excellent teacher!
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        Jun 2 2012: Thanks Sandra.
        I can see a time when teaching returns to a ballance with objectives.
        The classroom model has its place, but gets bogged down in broadcast one-way communication.
        I was a terrible student at school, I asked too many questions for the teachers to get through the day's quota of fact regurgitation. Perhaps it's a matter of style, but it would be refreshing for the teacher to start out each lesson with "what do you want to learn?".
        I observed my autistic son learn how to read by asking about car badges, number plates and street signs. He was reading books by age 2. At school, all he learned was fear, frustration and profound unhappiness. He is now home schooled .. which means we let him loose on the internet - he has most of the curriculum nailed, and well in advance of his age. He is strange and he is happy.
        I realise that I am a fringe dweller, my comment about work is quite obvious from where I stand - you can see the contrast in the difficulty some have to see it. The primacy of money is a clear danger to humanity..
        • Jun 2 2012: Aha! I knew you would be a good teacher! I was once a teacher & cherished each discovery w/ & by my kids. Great, exciting fun! Can't say I was as loose then as now, but life loosens us, if it doesn't break us. (Testing mandates & teacher evaluations based on regurgitation are all but destroying education. Facts & more facts. It's wrong headed & getting US education nowhere fast.) Then I moved to social work, at a time when we knew NOTHING about autism. Our errors made me shudder then & even more now. You've read Michael Moore? He also asked way too many questions - thankfully. Best regards. I hope your son continues to do well. Make good music!
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        Jun 3 2012: Hi Sandra,

        You might find Marvin Minsky's website valuable.
        He is a great hero to me - his work contains great insight in the neural and topological fields - mostly applied to artificial intelligence, but he also has some critical observations on public education.
        http://web.media.mit.edu/~minsky/
  • May 26 2012: Geoffrey, I think it would be a good idea to separate money income from work. In making money the central force of production of goods and services, I believe we get services and goods that are not as wonderful as they would be, if they had been created out of other positiive motivational sources. I think people want to work and I know people want enough money to meet their needs and desires. I do not see the correlation between work-for-money and the desire and need of people for the things money buys. Work-for-money can be a modern-day, socially accpetable form of slavery. We are all born to be free and to be who we are. Work-for-money situations tend to interfere with that. People in the workworld oft times feel a need to be phoney, to prevaricate. Only truth makes for a happy, healthy humanity. I guess a good starting place would be for one hundred percent of our world's population to express truth only. I think that would lead to healthy, happy consequences for all.
  • Jun 12 2012: In the process to ensure the successful continuation of our species we formed civilization. Somewhere along the way we have allowed for the survival impulse to hoard and obtain resources, to take the throne of our reasoning and decision making. Of course you could argue that greed is essential to survival and everyone is selfish. There is some truth in both of those statements, but then why did we bother starting a civilization in the first place? Better yet why then put a system in place that tells us to indulge in our primitive drives for greed and alpha male status?

    Technology is currently being used like religion, drugs, alcohol, and materialism. They all keep you content and mindless. So long as the vast majority of people are to busy fighting amongst each other for scraps thrown down from the ivory tower, in which the rich elite sit, then the masses will never have the fortitude to make legitimate lasting change.

    The pleasure principle always applies and must be understood when attempting to control a population. Until we as a people can understand and apply the results found by Walter Mischel when he ran "The marshmallow experiment" will there be any hope for justice and peace in our current world. I pity these large executives who have had their altruism hijacked by the almighty dollar. I see the consequences of these survival instincts when they become over developed and all i can say is, I hope one day people will stop seeking instant gratification and put in the long term effort to make for a more fulfilling existence for all.

    I am no better than anyone and struggle with certain aspects of myself that can be destructive. But with enough steadfastness and self awareness I hope I can meet my ideal self and in the process make life more meaningful for all.
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    May 27 2012: thanks for the link Geoffrey

    I agree with the post of Krisztian that automation itself isnt a problem, though i do not agree with his stance that you have posted a non-solution to a non-problem... because whether you worded it well or not, i can understand your sentiment... perhaps it would have been better to say this:

    As technology, systems, politics, economics, and other things change in the world over time... there is an inequity that arises where people and other animals, and plants are marginalized, because they did not gain the resources to be ahead of the game before the game changed... in the case of non-human animals & plants, one distinct species of them goes extinct every 20 minutes on average, in much the same way as so many people enter poverty.

    This problem is not due to those people plants & animals being useless or redundant or obsolete in any way... it comes solely because the economic systems of the world driving consumption do not care for their welfare, and this system has been oblivious to any loss of those marginalizations & extinctions, because the only things it cares about, is the needs of those who already HAVE.

    Anyway... let the fight begin :-)

    Remember, the one rule on the internet: How to start a fight = express an opinion, then wait
  • Jun 3 2012: Have you heard of:
    World Development Movement
    Friends of the Earth
    Greenpeace
    People and Planet
    Amnesty International
    Transition Towns
    World Wildlife Fund
    Barefoot College
    End Poverty Now
    Make Poverty History
    Never Again International
    Occupy (Take The Square)

    MANY MANY MANY more Charities, Social Enterprises, Coalitions, Movements, NGO's etc to be added

    If one wants change then make change happen: get involved
    Only society can bring around social justice, are you part of society or an observer?
    Freedom comes with responsibility, if one relinquishes responsibility then freedom too is relinquished.

    I could make more statements along those lines but I feel it may be patronising and the point is already made, this is all meant in good faith.
    I am sure there are many people who have current NGO's resonating powerfully in their lives.
  • Jun 2 2012: I've nothing to contribute that would advance this conversation, but I commend you for posting an idea that has elicited such interesting dialogue. A brilliant man named Ted Kaczynski believed technology to be destructive, & he had a point. Tragically, it (or something) drove him mad & to destroy others, while technology marches on. I doubt there's a way to block it. The human brain is inventive, if not altruistic. I think our species will not continue: we are too gratuitously vicious to endure. Best regards. I hope your situation improves.
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    Jun 1 2012: How cool that must be!

    They never let me leave the grocery store without paying money: paper or plastic as they say. My landlord seems to have this recurring need for the stuff too.
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    May 31 2012: Hi Geoffrey,
    I really admire your vision. I can only suggest you not to go by only your emotions/gut feeling , its best to go by your intellect too . I too have a vision of global reform .Let me know if I can help. I am hoping you have a blue print of your vision too.

    Wishing you all the very best!!

    Regards,
    Bharath
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      Jun 10 2012: I would love to hear about your vision for global reform. bjhfrog@gmail.com
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    May 31 2012: Geoffrey, way to go!

    The same idea crossed my mind before, or maybe I read it somewhere. The idea of financing a massive job-creating space effort by monetizing expected mineral wealth in asteroids, the Moon, etc.

    We need to get past the current monetary nightmare first.

    Do you have many unemployed in your immediate vicinity that you are in communication with?
  • May 26 2012: Advocate for sustainable development policies that will boost employment opportunities and economic development.
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    May 26 2012: 1. your solution consists of some committee solving the problem.

    2. the problem itself is nonexistent. automatization and tool use is at least 10000 years old. machines and tools are replacing human labor for ten millennia. back then, majority of the work went into food production. it could have been a valid question at that time, if machines take over the food production, what will people do? but it happened, today 3% of work goes into food production, and it includes managers and drivers too. but we don't have 97% unemployment, do we? so what other people do? a bunch of other stuff. that is the answer to the so called "problem" of automatization. the number of workers won't decrease. the amount of stuff they produce will. and so we can not only have food, but also clothing, houses, cars, televisions, cellphones, computers and one day spaceships, life extending medical treatments, VR and whatnot.

    so in short, you have a non-solution to a non-problem.
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      May 27 2012: agreeded in part, some committees and for that matter democracies are inefictive, but are the best system we have, if you had a committee representive of all stakeholders and experts in there fields, with clearly defined goals and realistic timetables you can make progress.

      ok, so in the next 10-20 years when robots like asimo "http://youtu.be/R8UeT9r4cmg" are stronger, smarter and more robust than humans, and dont have to be payed wages, you dont think that they will be in all the shops selling goods, driving all vechiles, caring for the elderly, and yes, doing your taxes? Im not sure were all these new jobs will come from that you talk about, we already have massive un and under employment, targeted at low skilled workers in the west, coupled with non accessable retraining/education and with a ever increasing user pays world its hard for me to see how.

      Even before the GFC hit, it the profitable days, there was never enough money to properly fund social programs, healthcare, education and the like or even begin to address poverty and enviromental degeration so i dont understand how you see this as a non problem to a non solution.

      By the way i think you got this line wrong too: "that is the answer to the so called "problem" of automatization. the number of workers won't decrease. the amount of stuff they produce will."
      Because i thought automation meant that less workers produced MORE stuff, im sure you meant that too, only it dosnt read that way to me. Thanks for feedback
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      May 31 2012: but we don't have 97% unemployment, do we? so what other people do? a bunch of other stuff. that is the answer to the so called "problem" of automatization.

      no but we do have around 15% unemployment and I would bet over 50% of work is unnecessary.

      There you are in a comfortably socialist country projecting your grief to folks like us who have little or no safety nets. Here in California? If you don't have a job or substantial savings to pay hundreds per month for health insurance, you have only the health care you can pay for out of pocket. Not the same where you are I am sure. You have a real socialist party, the entire U.S. with over 300 million people have a socialist party of just a few thousand. Most people here aren't even aware it exists. We USED to have a welfare-state, but it was decimated over time down to a Catch-22 pretense.
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        May 31 2012: your estimation is not correct. since mankind survived in 10000BC, and since we have established already that today 3% does what everyone did back than, we can conclude that 97% of jobs are unnecessary. this is not interesting, though, in any way. we do these jobs not because they are necessary, but because we want all the products and services. we want not only some grains and possibly cooked meat, but also frozen pizzas, hamburgers, ice creams. and we want clothing, heated houses, medicine, computers, cars and fridges. we also want television programs, theaters, bathhouses, banks, shopping malls. so 3% works on producing agricultural goods, the rest is working on all the other things.

        the 15% unemployment has nothing to do with automation. in 1850, automatization was rampant, but unemployment was largely nonexistent. the causes of unemployment are taxes, red tape, minimum wage and similar state interventions to the economy.

        i'm in a comfortably socialist economy, earning slightly more than the poverty limit in your country. and i have a high paying job. i bet you don't dream of living here, do you?
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      Jun 1 2012: Old cities and real weather often bring me down, but if it came with steady work at a computer, I'd love it. Will they let you go to college and feed you at the same time?
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        Jun 1 2012: it does not come with any of it. it comes with a check from the government that says something like 200 bucks every month. plus of course free crappy healthcare, free roads, except highways, semi-free schools for your children (also crap quality), free national defense (joke category), and such things.
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    May 25 2012: I like the scale of your thought. A private-sector, non-profit with initial funding of $18,000,000,000,000,000 would not be strapped for cash.The cost of designing, manufacturing, deploying, and operating these mining operations on other planets could be higher than you think. Also do not overlook the cost of transporting the raw materials back to Earth. Thank for sharing your idea. Good luck finding a place to live and a job Mr. Douthat.
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      May 27 2012: i have a design for low cost space vechile too, cost to orbit would be as low as $10000. Big problem is getting criticial mass for project to work. The amount needed will probable change but is just a working figure for 8 billion 1 million dollar trust funds, plus cash for global infrustructure rollouts.

      thanks for your positive feedback n suport mate.
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    May 25 2012: Part 2.

    Deliver sustainable, environmentally sound infrastructure on a global level, unifying all nations of earth in peace and prosperity through self determination, mutual consent and commitment. Funding the biggest capital investment in the history of civilization to the benefit of all life on earth as we reach for the stars.
    The main core objectives of this organisation can be described by these sayings "there's nothing money can't buy", and "we can't afford it". Simply meaning that with the right amount of funding most of the worlds problems can be fixed. Of course the right amount of funding needs to also have mutual commitment from all involved to succeed.
    OK, so the big question is were you are going to get all this money from, easy, sort of, by using a small portion of the mineral wealth of the solar system, traded on the Futures Market and stabilising the worlds currencies from inflation buy this action, an amount of U.S. $18,000 Trillion dollars is projected to be needed for this plan. The aim is to develop key Infrastructure programs for Power, Water, Food, Health, Education, Housing, Transport and Jurisprudence.

    Once security of basic infastructure and production has been accomplished in the majority of the world then currency and law can be standardised and a Universal Trust Fund can be rolled out ensuring that we all have access to capital in perpetuity, thus saving humanity from a ugly mess.

    I look forward to your input.