TED Conversations

Mats Kaarbø

TEDCRED 10+

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Is There a Future for Money?

In our digital age, where banks and even nations fail through reckless monetary spending and policies, it seems that our monetary system is becoming the big elephant in the room, yes even obsolete. Automation replacing humans seems to be one of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and may be the demise of the system itself leaving the looming possibility of fascism or military dictatorship to arise and flourish if we fail to arrive at any alternatives.

While some believe taking us back to the gold standard will fix things, and others believe that debt forgiveness is the solution, we hear talks about access/resource based economies, where we simply declare all of Earth's resources as the common heritage of mankind and make goods and services available to all without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude, through technological abundance.

In fact, let's rephrase the question. At what point in the future do you think that our technology will make automated systems possible and allow us to move out of a monetary system?

+11
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Sep 7 2012: can someone come out with idea of how to live life without money........ can basic necessity in this world could be made available without money? can multibillion or trillion companies across the world come together and make plan with help of brilliant ceo to help this world with basic necessity??
    if answer is yes, why they dont do it? This will allow them to rationalise use of natural resources of our planet and this world could be saved from global warming.........
    • thumb
      Sep 7 2012: We could do all this today through science and technology, but our current socioeconomic doesn't allow global sustainability and abundance of natural resources thus the needs of the people. The monetary system requires economic growth which deems the necessities of life secondary. If you are not familiar with technologies that can make us sustainable and abundant, I invite you to take a look at this interview from a former Space Shuttle Systems Engineer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YF3v0n8zlEk
    • thumb
      Sep 8 2012: Since Adam Smith's Invisible Hand idea, there is a narrative in free-markets that Social Welfare will just naturally be taken care of i.e. maximized if self-interested people just do their thing--the market will necessarily weed out the bad guys and consumers will buy up only things they deem beneficial to society. The truth is that there is no math, empirical evidence or logic to prove that this is true. The intersection of the demand and supply curve where such balance exists is actually based on unrealistic, obtuse, simplistic assumptions. Economists just suppose it to be so, without any scientific evidence--Economics is NOT a science. Self-interested, profit-maximizing individuals just seek to, well, profit maximize for their own self-interest! Social, ecological, moral sustainability takes a WHOLE 'nuther set of work and thinking, NOT conveniently included as a by-product of profit seeking.

      The reason why companies and inventors don't get together more often to produce master products, instead of Chinese Torturing us with $600 iPhones 1,2,3,etc. and their obsolescence is because they have not been raised in a society that educates around life networks and longevity of community.
      • thumb
        Sep 8 2012: "The intersection of the demand and supply curve where such balance exists is actually based on unrealistic, obtuse, simplistic assumptions."

        can you name some of those assumptions?
        • thumb
          Sep 8 2012: the demand curve false assumptions: that the behaviour of an individual consumer can be extraploated to represent a whole market; that consumers view all products as being neutral in terms of preference; that people will necessarily buy more of something if its price is lowered (that marketing and branding of things to persuade people to buy things regardless of use or price doesn't exist); that different levels of income doesn't cause people to change their purchasing habits; that the income disparity in a market has no effect on the scarcity of products and therefore their prices

          supply curve false assumptions: that individual firms have no affect on their industries or that they don't react to each others' strategies; that factors of production like labour and machines are all the same; **most importantly that an individual firm's actions on a market has no affect on the price of goods (=that the supply curve is independent of the demand curve; that only society/consumers determine the price of goods--just by rationally "knowing"); that firms look to this mythical price as a benchmark for their marginal costs (no empirical evidence shows that this is what firms actually do--they use trial and error and produce as cheaply as possible and sell for as high as possible)

          each set of assumptions cause the "shape" of the demand curve and the supply curve (if it even exists, seeing that it is not really independent of the concept of price--which economists say is related only to consumer market demand) to be the neat lines intersecting at a convenient, "x", but reality says that they are rather a much more complicated relationship of squiggly lines.
      • thumb
        Sep 8 2012: here is the list of things you got wrong:
        "that people will necessarily buy more of something if its price is lowered" - there is no such claim. the claim is that they won't buy less.
        "that different levels of income doesn't cause people to change their purchasing habits" - no such claim
        " that the income disparity in a market has no effect on the scarcity of products" - no such claim, and it does not even make sense to me

        but this is not my real with your argument. the real problem is the following. the other claims you listed are claims of modern mainstream economics. but mainstream economics does not endorse free market. followers of these theories never stop calling for more and more government interventions to fix market failures.

        the free market guys, including me, never say things like you cited. and of course none of those are needed to justify free market capitalism.
        • thumb
          Sep 8 2012: Well, I won't bother getting into a war of links. It would also be more edifying if you can show what IS a "correct" claim of the free-market, then. For now, I'll address this thing you claimed to be incorrect:

          You wrote: ""that different levels of income doesn't cause people to change their purchasing habits" - no such claim"

          Yes, there is. In fact, that is the MAIN claim in order for the demand-supply equilibrium to even get further discussion.

          William Gorman, the first economist to find the ONLY mathematical condition where assumptions of the demand curve wrote could possibly be true-ish IF AND ONLY IF:

          "the Engels curves for different individuals at the same prices are parallel lines" this means that "an extra unit of purchasing power should be spent in the same way no matter to whom it is given" (1953, pg 63).

          So, economists have had to assume: if you gave $100 to a rich dude and if you gave $100 to a poor dude, they would spend it exactly the same way--that the idea of income disparity and distribution is so fair, people all react the same way to every product in a market, and it is not an issue. And that's the biggest thing that needs to be held constant for the math to prove that an individual can represent a market; that income distribution is fair and equal. That, in fact, is the main fundamental false assumption that is held by economists who have tried to model the economy based on the actions of one rational, self-interested individual.
      • thumb
        Sep 8 2012: engel curves work in a household only. there is no such thing as rich and poor within one household, that's the point.

        but anyway, i'm not happy that you reacted to the less important part of my criticism. i regret putting it in.

        the important thing is that these are keynesian and neoclassical arguments, and those guys are not pro free market. if you want genuine free market economics, study the austrian theory. they don't have such silly claims. and no surprise, if you takes these claims, you end up not supporting free markets, but if you take a good theory, you will. smith himself adventured into silliness from time to time. a genius nevertheless.
        • thumb
          Sep 9 2012: Mr. Pinter, you're being misleading on 2 things.

          First, Gorman was NOT just talking about just within a household, he meant society-wide. And even if it were only one household, the theory would have then been applied to ALL households in a market spending their money all the same way--which has the SAME problem that rich and poor households would not do so, in reality.

          Also, Neo-classicists TOTALLY support the free-market, what are you talking about? Austrians just have added more realistic assumptions to the base model. And Keynesians actually oppose neo-classicists, but in their own twisted way, having assumed the neo-classical models are true, in the first place.

          The point is, a free-market does not inherently beget social welfare, any more than seeking social welfare would necessarily beget profit. They are two separate things, that require separate attention to develop. And each are things required in society. However, one can eat up the other if left to balloon out of control. Free-marketers are always complaining that Keynesian government intervention infringes on economic growth; and oppositely, bloated government proponents demonize capitalists. Both are wrong. The idea at all that social welfare or happiness is rooted in economic prosperity / activity is a narrative developed since the invention of an economy with money. They are separate concepts. We've all been so focused on the economy and think that there's an answer in that. But really, we need critical thinking in civics, ecology, philosophy and life systems.

          I think you think I'm anti-free-market. I'm not. I just think that it cannot claim to necessarily be tied to social welfare, or happiness. It is a profit machine, for profit's sake, which has economic value, not moral etc. Period. To have added value, it would require the humane conscious effort of people to assert that. And without education on how to do that, the economy is void of human values as it is.
      • thumb
        Sep 9 2012: would not go into that any more, wikipedia is there for everyone. the claim you are citing is nonexistent even in classical economics. not important point though.

        there is no mainstream economist today, let him be keynesian or neoclassical or whatever that would not admit the role of market failures and the necessity for government intervention. they come to that conclusion using the crazy model you described. drop the crazy model, and you lose all the reasonable arguments against the free market.

        "a free-market does not inherently beget social welfare"

        depends on what welfare means. if you define it as "equal healthcare to everyone", than surely, free markets don't provide that. nor "uniform school system". on the other hand, it offers economic progress. it offers rapidly increasing life standards for the masses. it offers schools and hospitals and consumer goods getting better and getting cheaper, more affordable for everyone.

        "It is a profit machine, for profit's sake"

        profit comes from serving people's wants. a want can be just a piece of meat, but also can be a piece of art, or healing a sick child. you mistake the tool for the actor. profit seeking entrepreneurs do not have to care about morals and values. their task is to deliver what the people value according to their desires and morals. entrepreneurs allocate resources to fulfill the most wants. this has nothing to do with morals, it is just an optimization task. if they do evil things, it is because people want them to.
        • thumb
          Sep 9 2012: well, then we basically agree! i don't "mistake the tool for the actor"--i asserted the same idea as you that:

          "this has nothing to do with morals, it is just an optimization task. if they do evil things, it is because people want them to." I wrote: "the economy is void of human values as it is".

          and why, if we could have a more conscious and humane system, would we want to continue doing evil thoughtlessly, when as thinkers and feelers, we are capable of SO much more? Why don't we examine if humanity really needs more nail salons and Chinese souvenirs if the caustic fumes assoc. with them are neurotoxins? Why not think whether tasty pork rinds are really something we need to buy if they make us fat and end our lives sooner, when there are easily laterally, better substitutable things?

          People who stick to the inhumane void of the free-market dogmatically, are the Dead Weight that would still have kids working in factories instead of going to school; have 18 hour work days with as few breaks as possible; would raze the Amazon down to every last stump to appease hamburger lovers, if there were no busy-body activists. There is no profit in things like public education, employee downtime or preserving aboriginal rights or clean air etc. There is no profit in so many things that make life bearable, and even lovely--often BECAUSE they have stayed out of mad machine of profit. As a self-preserving race, we need to hurry up and identify what those things are.

          I agree that many thoughtful people in the producer class have brought about higher standards of living through the free-est market the world has ever known; but I don't believe a free-market can enjoy an upward sloping trajectory (i.e. be free). Especially on a finite planet, on limited education, limited time, limited cooperation between people--and even the high-standards of living eventually cause a complacency to think and act rationally as before. So a linear dogmatic approach is not realistic.
      • thumb
        Sep 9 2012: we do not agree on one important thing. and it is that i don't even want business to be moral. not more than a knife. a knife just cuts whatever it is pushed into. let it be ham or a human. but we don't want to reform the knife, for its lack of care. i don't want to make business ethical. i want people to be ethical, demanding ethical things.

        so i don't want a system that does not give people poisonous or unhealthy stuff. i want people to care. or not, it is not my business after all. i'm just saying how it is. pork rinds give some people satisfaction. who am i to weight it against the risk of health problems? it is their life, they have to make it right. i can only suggest or inform. pork rind production will drop to zero as soon as people understand that they don't want that.
        • thumb
          Sep 10 2012: Ok, well then why not relegate all decision making to machines? That must be the goal of the free-market then. Why, as a person, get involved at all? As a human, you'll just make stupid non-optimizing errors. The free-market will pinch you out too.
      • thumb
        Sep 10 2012: freedom to do something includes freedom to delegate that something to someone else. someone or even a machine or organization. delegation is just another way of getting the job done.
        • thumb
          Sep 10 2012: Hi Krisztian, I see that you are still arguing tirelessly in defense of laissez faire capitalism. Certainly one must admire the passion that you put into it, and why not say it, the brilliance of some of your arguments.

          But just a couple comments here (since i cannot reply to your level 3 reply below). You say that famine is as old as mankind, as if that was a justification to accept famine as "this is the way it is". head lice are also as old as mankind and i don't think people accept them just as "this is the way it is", but rather battle them fiercely.

          Hunger is not what it used to be a few hundred years ago and life expectancy has doubled, i agree with you completely. But I would not be so quick to attribute it to capitalism. Technological advances I would say. And I would not be so quick to attribute technological advances to capitalism, since the science behind most of these technological advances came from all kinds of countries: Mainly Italy, France, England, the USA, Germany, the USSR, although there have been contributions from all over the world. So I doubt that technological advances are a monopoly of capitalism.

          Now, as the example of China and Latin America can show us, capitalism does not cause poverty, just makes it bigger and moves it from one place to another.

          cheers
        • thumb
          Sep 10 2012: Ironically, I'm sure the free-market doesn't "care" about values like freedom either. Its existence runs roughshod over anything non-optimal.
      • Sep 10 2012: hi,

        yeap but it looks like that all agrees that few people in this world uses most of the resources to maximise profits which people like us including banks/stock exchange etc) happy & all over the world everyone appreciates without realising that one day all this profits will not have any value...... if some one cant eat food , how he or she can survives?? thats what is happening in this free economy world...i am not against it and i am for it but at what cost?.... if these balance sheet of companies shows profits to make every investor happy and at the same time they make millions of people unhappy (of-course they don't realise it) because what they consume to generate profit has no value in terms of money...why cant balance sheet of a company values the usage of these natural resources and their shall be one institute which validate that based on how many people really gets basic necessity.......we have beed living in glamorous world and most of us value science and technology based on what tracts us as individual nation and not as one human of this planet.
        • thumb
          Sep 10 2012: famine is as old as mankind. capitalism has put an end to it a few hundred years ago. today, hunger is virtually nonexistent in the western world. it seems that capitalism does not cause poverty, but instead, solves it.
      • thumb
        Sep 10 2012: "Ironically, I'm sure the free-market doesn't "care" about values like freedom either. Its existence runs roughshod over anything non-optimal."

        exactly! only people have values and moral. the free market can support anything people support. btw this is not even theoretical. we observe that the strongest states emerge in countries where at one point the market was the free-est. like in the US. that is because the free market brings huge economic growth, and this economic advantage and strength can be the basis of an oppressive, power hungry, expansionist superstate. but the same thing happened in the colonialist nations. britain was a forerunner of limited "government" (aka king at that time), then it became the main culprit all around the globe as a result of it.

        that is why i don't want free market first. i want people to want free market. i want them to understand why it is good. only then it can serve the people.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.