TED Conversations

Kieran Sharp

snowboard coach, blue mile snowsports

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Can we change, can we live without money?

Ancient civilisations achieved a great deal, when focusing their efforts upon whichever problem needed to be solved. Energy, water, food etc.

Where previous civilisations failed to meet the needs of their people we now have the opportunity to learn from them and with greater numbers than has ever been on this planet before.

However we have been distracted for generations.

Our efforts are focussed on acquiring, chasing, and losing money, while real issues such as providing fresh drinking water, food, and energy to all humanity are ignored by the majority of us.

The problem with money has become so complex and yet its source energy is greed, and we know this to be destructive in all forms of relationship.

Why would we continue to face the world’s problems using the biggest source of distraction in humanity to get us there?

It is insanity to believe that we need “new world order” and world currency to solve these issues.

A thought:

Imagine everyone today who’s role in human civilisation is to protect and serve money (bankers, accountants, so on and so on) where to be suddenly un-employed.
What figure would that be?
How many working hours would there be available for other more productive tasks in society?

Imagine there is no money. What do we need? How much of it do we need?

Can we meet our needs as a civilisation with the quantities we require vs the amount of time and human energy we have?
Can we stand as ONE to achieve this?

There are more questions, there are more problems, change is coming one way or another, and time is running out.

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    Oct 15 2012: We see everything around us in terms of property. The more we own, the more we are. "I own therefore I am". We place almost no value on virtues like integrity, empathy, open mindedness, discipline, reliability, etc. Sadly, in this world of us, humans are disposable, property is not. Money however is only necessary as a means to transact property. You can't grow or acquire your inner values by means of money. If we learn to value those things over property, money will become obsolete. Until then the answer is no, we cannot live without money.
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      Oct 15 2012: " We see everything around us in terms of property. The more we own, the more we are."

      you see things that way?
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        Oct 16 2012: I personally don't but we as a society do. "We", the society is not necessarily all of us, it is the majority, in this case an overwhelming majority. Me and a few others that think differently must conform to this majority and compromise a great deal of what we believe because the paradigm shift is so great that otherwise we would be squashed out of existence. What we can do is small steps, which I do, talk to people, find other like me or similar believes and when we will be many than we can take ever greater steps. And if we are successful, maybe not me but generations down the road, the majority will adopt the model and the world changes. I really cannot know which is the correct way to go, but what I know is that what it is today is wrong.
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          Oct 16 2012: you see, this sounds much more honest. you are a victim of other people's greed, you say. that a valid position, though i think not true. i don't think majority of people would focus too much on material wealth. mostly they don't focus on anything. but to some degree many focuses on nonmaterial things among materials. i'm not convinces we are out of balance in that regard.
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        Oct 16 2012: I am not a victim, I am sorry you sensed that in my reply. I am actually doing ok, in this materialist world. That does not stop me from seeing that things are not alright.

        You say people are not focusing on material wealth? Everything is about material wealth. People work, cheat, steal, even kill for it. And I am talking literally not figuratively.

        On my last trip to Budapest, I happened to sit on the tram exactly where the ticket puncher was positioned. A person climbed on the next stop and positioned himself closely to the puncher. I found him to be uncomfortably close to me so I couldn't help but look at his actions. From the way he was holding a ticket in his hand that he was not going to punch it, unless the controllers climbed aboard. This would not be so interesting to this topic, but then his phone rang and he picked out a brand new iPhone from his pocket. Even if I give this guy the benefit of the doubt and say that the poor guy is hitching a free ride because he cannot afford to pay for it, I have to place him in the "poor bastard" category who will spend his last dime to pay for an expensive gadget so that he could present himself as having more than he actually has.

        This guy is not alone, the vast majority of people are like that. I am sorry but I have to radically contradict you: their heads might be empty, as in they don't focus on anything, but they sure focus on at least on thing: having more and being able to show it.
        • Oct 16 2012: Stefan the points you made here ctually worth for is it.
          But can you say something from the name of society?
          Can you say we but not be part of it?
          I think, the ideas your are presenting here is coming from your experiences and and people you see around you. I do think you should say people or perssonally instead of we.
          Best wishes,
          Andrey
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          Oct 16 2012: did i say people don't focus on material wealth? i said they don't do that too much. we don't want to live in a world in which material things don't count at all. i personally don't want, at least. i do want computers, cellphones, medicine, fast travel, heating, proper clothing, space exploration, science museums, bridges and the list is endless.

          as you probably aware, i'm kind of well informed about the situation in budapest. so i can also inform you that it is much more a cultural issue than material. the same people are very happy to pay one euro for a farting app for their iphone, approx the same sum as a ticket. not buying a ticket is basically a form of defiance, a personal revolution against the powers that be. so in fact it is a nonmaterial thing, and you should be proud of it.

          but if people are so much material, how do you explain the success of kiva, for example?
  • Oct 10 2012: Our planet is more then rich enough in resources to provide high quality housing, food, health services and access to technology to everyone on the planet

    But our current financial system encourages the exact opposite en pits people against each other in a race for money. Which is strange because unlike actual resources money is something we can endlessly produce since money is nothing more then some numbers in a banks computer system and yet we always seem to have to little of it.

    So why are we fighting for something that doesn't even exist is beyond me. In my opinion our goal as humanity as a whole should be technological advancement, not money.

    It sickens me to my stomach to see good and intelligent people work insane hours a day often at multiple jobs just to get even at the end of the month. People working in factories putting together devices or plucking fruits it's 2012 god sake's! Didn't we invent machines to do just that sort of work for us?

    People should either do work that advances our technology, do sports, arts or nothing at all. There is no sane reason why anyone should be forced to do work that can be done by a machine.

    Our minds are one of the most complex and amazing things on this planet and I think its an insult to our species to enslave them like we do now.
  • Oct 9 2012: We can live without money when we change. I mean to say we have to treat every individual equally then definitely there will be a change and we can live happily....Cheers!
  • Sep 24 2012: In short, yes. We can live without a monetary system. But only if we declare all of Earths resources as the common heritage of all mankind and put science and technology in the forefront of societal decisions. Only then will we be able to feed, clothe and shelter everyone on this planet and make a quality of life beyond ever imagined.

    Are you familiar with the book "The Best That Money Can't Buy" by Jacque Fresco? If not, I highly recommend it and hopefully the book will answer a lot of your questions. Happy reading!
    • Oct 10 2012: I fully agree with you Mats.

      This may not have been possible 50 or more years ago but we are now at a point that our technology has advanced enough to provide us with anything we need for everyone on this planet.

      But the only way we are going to get there is if we (the people) put a stop to it. Because the people in charge of the monetary system have no reason to change they already live in a world without any shortages.

      I wonder how long we will sit around and suffer just so that a selected few can live the life everyone is entitled to.
      • Oct 10 2012: You know Robert, it's really up to us, who are aware of such technological possibilities, to raise the awareness of people. Our future is dependent on what we do today.
  • Steve C

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    Oct 20 2012: Can we stand as ONE to achieve this?
    No, but we can stand as 7 billion and achieve it.

    Many sorely lack inner strength, and so depend on the value proffered by others.
    Mitt was right when he said that 40 or 70 or 100% of people were hopeless & dependent on the government. But we've been bought, brought and taught that way. Few believe there is a way out.

    If you believe that work that needs to be done can be done without money, then do the work you think needs done and I'd say, "do it for your own 'reasons'," (no "logic" necessary); don't barter it for acceptance & poilitacal maneuvering.
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    Oct 12 2012: Eliminating money won't stop people being greedy and competative. Given a free supply of all our needs we will overindulge in everything. Few humans are content with sufficiency. There are plenty of criminals who don't need the money. Just because you have a government issued car doesn't mean you won't want another one if you can get it.
    • Oct 12 2012: "Eliminating money won't stop people being greedy and competative. Given a free supply of all our needs we will overindulge in everything. Few humans are content with sufficiency."

      To really answer that we need to define where greed and competitiveness comes from. Behaviorists believe all values, behaviors and actions stem from our environment coupled with epigenetic behavior, where certain genes turns either on or off determined by the environment you inhabit, and therefore in an abundant society, where money doesn't exist, behaviors such as greed and competitiveness would not occur because there would be no basis for those behaviors.

      Robert Sapolsky did an experiment on this issue with a group of chimpanzees in which he discovered that the one chimpanzee, originally raised in a scarce environment, that he put in an abundant environment with a group of peaceful and sharing chimpanzees, wore off his greedy and competitive behavior in around 6 months. The chimp eventually realized that these behaviors wasn't necessary, in an abundant environment, and became as peaceful and sharing as the other chimpanzees.

      "There are plenty of criminals who don't need the money."

      James Gilligan who is an American psychiatrist and author, best known for his series of books entitled Violence, where he draws on 25 years of work in the American prison system to describe the motivation and causes behind violent behavior, has said that at least 90% of all criminal acts or violence are motivated by money and that the rest has either been extremely abused as children or have brain damage.
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        Oct 12 2012: Greed and competitiveness come from the desire to pass on your genes at the expense of everyone around you. Now that we have money the richest wins. before we had money the biggest guy beat all the others into submission and took all their stuff. ie greedy, he wanted all the females not just enough females to pass on his genes. Most male animals will actually kill the offspring of subordinate males. (especially chimps) that sounds like greed and competitiveness to me. It's what drives evolution.
        • Oct 12 2012: "pass on your genes at the expense of everyone around you."

          What does that even mean?
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          Oct 12 2012: Oddly enough, I've heard of animals - monkeys, squids, - where smaller, gentler, and kinder males are far more successful in passing on their genes than the alpha-males. They are busy mating while the "alphas" are busy with their power struggles. Being bigger and stronger or richer does not ensure passing the genes on. If this were true, our society would be full of rich and successful people. We have quite the opposite.
        • Oct 14 2012: A new study published last month in Nature Journal suggests that humans are naturally good. This study adds to the mounting evidence against the popular misconception that corruption is a trait of human nature. In ten experiments using economic games, scientists observed that faster decisions result in more cooperation and generosity, while slower, calculated decisions show a decrease in cooperation and generosity. The conclusion is that the automatic reaction is to be friendly, generous and cooperative, and only upon further consideration do humans become greedy or violent. The study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22996558

          The first time this issue was brought up in the mainstream scientific community was in 1986 when scientists from around the world got together to discuss the psychological and biological evidence proving that human nature is no excuse for violent behavior. The findings that were released came to be known as “The Seville Statement”. This statement made 5 propositions, which are:

          1. “It is scientifically incorrect to say that we have inherited a tendency to make war from our animal ancestors.”

          2. “It is scientifically incorrect to say that war or any other violent behavior is genetically programmed into our human nature.”

          3. “It is scientifically incorrect to say that in the course of human evolution there has been a selection for aggressive behavior more than for other kinds of behavior.”

          4. “It is scientifically incorrect to say that humans have a ‘violent brain’.”

          5. “It is scientifically incorrect to say that war is caused by ‘instinct’ or any single motivation.”

          Since the Seville statement there have been many more studies reconfirming the propositions put forward. Just this past February a new study by a biologist named Frans de Waal showed that animals are naturally prone to cooperation when in the right circumstances.
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        Oct 14 2012: pass on your genes at the expense of everyone around you."

        What does that even mean?
        Its called "Natural Selection" one of the most effective strategies used in nature to ensure my genes are passed on is to do everything I can to stop other Males passing on theirs. Whether that involves stopping them from mating or killing any offspring produced or just keeping a very close eye on your harem the outcome is the same. The alpha male tries to corner the market.
        And Arkady The only compelling example of the effect you describe that I am aware of occurs in certain species of African cichlids where there is a successful underclass of small males but it is an extremely rare technique so you would assume a not very good technique generally speaking.
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    Oct 10 2012: We need to change our values. We are addicted to materialism and consumerism. Addicts can change. It is difficult; but not impossible.
    • Oct 15 2012: The question then becomes, how do we change our own and peoples values?
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        Oct 15 2012: indeed ,the real me is very important ,i always think there are two me .the real me and the out me .

        there ia a big difference between the two ,different values different behaviors
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      Oct 15 2012: you say "we", but you actually mean other people. i don't think that you want to change your own valuations, do you?
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        Oct 15 2012: I try as much as possible to focus on the things that really matter in life; I value change and embrace it. Maybe someday you will know more about me and know that I do practice what I preach.
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          Oct 15 2012: then stop referring to "we". be honest, and say, most people or you. it sounds a little different, isn't it? "you need to change your values". sounds like preaching.
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    Oct 10 2012: The Venus Project - check it out.
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    Sep 28 2012: ..... listen this song return to innocence of .... feeding "we are not canibals to kill other humans in hidden ways to feed ourselfs" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rALVgdoMHk&feature=youtube_gdata_player
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    Sep 28 2012: Read my post about my idea to have an almost ideal way of making business. I can not rewrite here everything i posted. Thank you and wait you to get friends and gather for discuss and put in practice the idea of goods and service exchange like in old times.
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    Sep 24 2012: I think we assume a lot about money. We seem to target money when the human mind-set causes all of these problems.

    If we continue projecting our problems onto objects....we will just run out of objects to blame.

    Money is currency. Without money humans would attempt to find other forms of currency as they have throughout history.

    I don't think it's enough to just look at the problem. We have to break it down.

    1) Business ethics
    2) Integrity
    3) Realistic views
    4) Budgeting

    The list goes on and on. We cannot sit around and blame money...as money has no real value.

    We place a value on (x) as (x) has no inert value. If we take the value of (x) away (x) still exists as a "function to be filled'.

    We must still meet (x) and not cause other factors to be impacted.
    • Sep 24 2012: What you fail to realize, however, is that the profit motive, which is inherent in the monetary system, is the root cause to behaviors such as greed, the desire for power and every other negative aspect of the financial world which causes human suffering. Environment shapes human behavior.

      Let's make an example on my claims. If it rained gold for thirty days, people would take whatever gold they could get, fill their house, drawers and cabinets with it, throwing out their clothes and accessorizes. Now, if it rained gold everyday, people would throw out the gold from their house and just leave it on the ground, because there is an abundance of it and it would only be burdensome to have it in their house.

      So as you see, peoples values undergo change when the environment changes and human behavior is therefor shaped by environment, not the other way around. And as we agree that it is the profit motive that is causing all the destructive behavior we see daily the question then becomes, what do we replace the current socioeconomic system with? It seems that collaboration, sharing of resources and arriving at decisions instead of making them is a good start.
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        Sep 26 2012: No the human mind is greedy... naturally... and money has just proven it. Sex drive, and the desire for security, are the root of our greed, and they aren't going anywhere. Nowhere in the world does gold rain from the sky... It is earned by hard labor.

        "He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither" Benjamin Franklin
        • Sep 26 2012: "No the human mind is greedy... naturally... and money has just proven it."

          Human greed, lust for power and ownership evolves in a scarcity society. If you live in the South Pacific islands, you wouldn't steel coconuts because there is so many of them.
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          Sep 26 2012: i dont live in South Pacific islands .but here in hainan island you can also get free coconuts.
          many many coconuts just to be leave out every year ..it is a problrm
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        Sep 27 2012: That's great if the only thing you want in life is coconuts... Would money not existing, make that the only thing you want in life? 80 years, just sitting under the trees... didn't think so.
        • Oct 10 2012: You missed my point. If you apply my train of thought to everything, creating abundance, you will not have stealing, because there would be no reason to do that. There would also be no reason to sell or own anything, because if there's abundance for all, who are you going to sell those coconuts to if everybody has access to them?
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    Sep 24 2012: Oh yes! We are going to have to, wait and see. Only those who follow Hopi prophecy and have taught their children the art of tending gardens and purifying water will live comfortably. But, again, Yes! We are going to have to...some just not as comfortably as others. I for one am anxious for this day to come, this disease of posession and consumer-ism is constantly challenging my central hope and vision for our future.
  • Sep 24 2012: Yes, we can change. We can change today. Each of us has the power to re-program ourselves in positive ways, if we choose to do that. Acknowledge truths. Express truths. Act in any positive way all day, every day and watch the dramatic positive changes you can cause. Money is neutral.
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    Oct 21 2012: our world on the very thin wire because of capitalist relations of production.Big corporations shape our lives whatever they want.therefore money ihave a crucial role of our lives ....We can an another world but firstly we should change
  • Oct 12 2012: I completely agree Mats but unlike the politicians, bankers and corporations we have no real plan for doing so.

    I believe we need a plan to steer the global population in the right direction.

    Even though we have the internet as our medium we share it with them but they also have most of the other media under their control such as radio, tv and newspapers.

    And sadly enough the majority of the western world still comes home from their slave job and sits down on their couch and turns on the tv to watch the news.

    For us it requires an immense amount of effort to even convince one person while they are convincing people by the millions and those people don't even realize it.

    I'm afraid the only way to get the masses to notice the destructive path humanity is on is by hitting them where it hurts and that is in their way of life.

    For the majority all the world problems just seem far away and don't happen to them.

    But that really makes for huge problem because such actions would one a terrorist in the eyes of the state.

    Then again it does seem like the banks lost control over their system and its dragging them and the politicians down with them. But I'm not sure if we should wait for it to collapse with the fear they might just "fix" the system before people realize whats going on.
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    Oct 10 2012: No you need money to exchange things unless you want to barter which would quickly become unwieldy.

    One of the truths of a happy life is to stay out of debt.

    The definition of economics is the study of scarce resources that have alternative uses. Think about that definition...
    • Oct 10 2012: "No you need money to exchange things unless you want to barter which would quickly become unwieldy."

      In Samoa food is there for the taking. Coconuts and fruit grow without cultivation, fish are available in the nearby sea, little or no clothing is needed, and it doesn't take long to put up a thatched-roof hut from materials that grow on all sides. There is no money or barter. Since there is abundance of everything, they only take what they need. There is no reason for stealing or owning anything.

      "One of the truths of a happy life is to stay out of debt."

      Taxes are debts...

      "The definition of economics is the study of scarce resources that have alternative uses."

      And how does the monetary system take the biosphere and its resources into account? It doesn't. It looks at resources as externalities in the economic equation, which is nuts. Instead of counting money, we should be counting the balance of the Earth’s resources on a scientific basis.

      There is no evidence whatsoever to show that the monetary system seeks efficiency, balance or sustainability of natural resources, which we all are dependent on. Instead corporations depletes the resources in a rate that is soon at the point of no return, uses inefficient energy sources that pollutes the air and contaminates our drinking water, all this in order to keep the price up on the products they sell. And you call this an economy?
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        Oct 10 2012: Are you saying that people don't exchange with each other on Samoa?

        As the resources become scarcer the price goes up which economizes on those resources. Currently oil is going up in price so alternatives become viable because of he higher price. As people say you must be a green company or I will not buy from you the scarce resources must be processed in a alternative manner or the company will have no customers.
        • Oct 10 2012: "Are you saying that people don't exchange with each other on Samoa?"

          Yes, because there is no need for exchanging anything when there is abundance. Everybody has access to what they need. What exactly don't you understand by this statement?

          "As the resources become scarcer the price goes up which economizes on those resources. Currently oil is going up in price so alternatives become viable because of he higher price. As people say you must be a green company or I will not buy from you the scarce resources must be processed in a alternative manner or the company will have no customers."

          Resources only becomes scarce because companies and corporations make them scarce deliberately in order to keep the price up. This is the main incentive for any corporation that wants to maintain a competitive edge. Efficient use of resources is the enemy of the profit game and is therefore an unsustainable and utterly stupid way of allocating resources.
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        Oct 10 2012: What I don't understand is that it would be one of the few places that does not use money. The other thing that I don't understand is that this website contradicts what you are saying:

        https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ws.html

        The thing about making something scarce to keep the price up is that competition comes into the market with a lower price. In other words it doesn't work. Efficient use of resources is the name of the game in the free market.

        You are going to come back with another of your delusions of which let me say in advance that I don't agree but do no have time for this.
        • Oct 10 2012: I am sorry you feel this way. And I am sorry you don't have the ability or capability to want to learn other concepts, which is quite ironic when you continuously comment on a site which explicitly explores such ideas for a better tomorrow. It's a shame that some people only come here to superimpose their values without any critical thought to as why they have them in the first place.
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        Oct 12 2012: Mats Samoa is a very bad example. The Australian government supplies millions of dollars in aid to Samoa each year and more than half os the samoan population lives in either New Zealand or Australia so they can work and send money home.
        $45.5 million this year in aid
        • Oct 12 2012: I was obviously talking about Samoa in a historical sense, before the industrialization happened globally. This was actually the case in Africa as well. Africa was never a poor continent, before it got industrialized and people had to start working for money to survive and receive slave wages in return. Land was just taken from the inhabitants in Africa and therefore they had to submit to labor in order to survive. The same could be said for Samoa.
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          Oct 12 2012: Mats I hardly recognize you, until of course I read what you said, as your words are uniquely incredible.

          Surely the Samoans retained enough coconut trees and fishing grounds in the cornucopia to get by?
    • Oct 10 2012: "No you need money to exchange things"

      You need something to use as a medium of exchange but it doesn't follow that you can repackage that medium of exchange into complex derivative products or that the people who have the most of it can sit back and let it multiply itself.
  • Sep 24 2012: Money is a symbolic exchange for the barter system. What it has become now is a perversion of its purpose. The question of can we change is almost irrelevant I fear. I think the US economy will collapse in a manner that will leave us no choice BUT to change. However, having said that we will be faced with a decision on what that change will look like. I personally fear a Somalia type setting.

    Are humans capable of surviving without money - of course! Are we likely to make that choice? I doubt it.
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    Sep 24 2012: If there is no need to make more money, then it is logical to assume the things we need will become higher quality and more durable. We won’t need to save money on creating with cheaper materials, and because they last they will rarely need replacing.
    If we don’t need to sell cheaper products because they don’t last then how many more humans will be out of employment?
    How many more working hours would there be available for other more productive tasks in society?


    By doing this eventually we will be wasting less so there will be more material available for creation. If there is less waste in the world, how many more humans will be out of employment?
    How many more working hours would there be available for other more productive tasks in society?


    If there is no money and the things you need can be created it is logical to assume that less crimes will be committed. In light of this how much less authority would we need?
    How many more working hours would there be available for other more productive tasks in society?