Chris Anderson

Curator, TED


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We need a political party devoted to maximizing the value of people's TIME.

Most of politics is about money. "It's the economy, stupid." But as the world gradually (painfully) gets wealthier, we're discovering what we should have known already: that money does not buy happiness. The resource that matters far more than money is time. All of us, rich and poor, only have so many hours, so many years to live, to love, to enjoy our lives. A political party whose stated goal was to honor the peoples' time might be on to a winner. Instead of its obsession being the eternal growth of GDP (and all that ultimately means in terms of planetary destruction), it would obsess about reducing the amount of time stolen from us by government departments, bad urban planning, taxation form-filling, health system complexity,complexity generally. "This year, your government is proud to tell you that it consumed 1 billion FEWER hours of our citizens' time. Thank you and good night."

It's time for the Time Party!

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    Feb 15 2011: No no, not a Time Party, but a Happiness Party. Why are so many political decision based on economics (it's NOT the economy, stupid)? Goverments assume money is the key driver for happiness. Goverments should measure the state of the country and there selfs by creating a "happiness Index". If it's money that makes people happy, ok. But in most cases it's not. If it's time that make people happy, put that on the agenda.

    It's time for the Happiness Party!
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      Feb 17 2011: This was brought up in the debate about measuring GWB (General Well-Being), sparked by David Cameron's speech. While I agreed with the concept as it represented an important change of government opinion of measuring money as the basis of success; there were many well-stated opinions as to whether or not it was the role of government to best be the judge of people's happiness.
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      Feb 17 2011: Here's a novel idea;

      How about a FREEDOM PARTY?

      Its sole raison d'etre would be the return of all of the individual freedoms and liberties that the American people have had stolen from them by the arrogant elitists who run our government, academia and our media, and who think that they're entitled to tell everyone how to live their lives.

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    Feb 12 2011: Literature has tackled the issue reflecting people's concern on the use of time. I can relate to Carl Honoré’s book In Praise of Slowness: How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed about the slow movement. That's people's pressure worth considering for politicians.

    Political think-tanks also have particular conceptions of time and relationship with nature. Itcomes to my mind Prof. Serge Latouche at University of Paris-Sud and his idea of ‘degrowth’. Another emergence in Western's policy, President Sarkozy's happiness index --I know, I know, he then was trying to extend the retirement age which certainly affects the happiness index and demonstrates that time is a thorny issue in political terms.

    Finally I'd like to make a reference to Nic Marks' TEDTalk on The Happy Planet Index, which is not directly related but is linked to American politics in the late 1960s, showing his vision on how money does not buy happiness at high political levels. Here's a fragment of this talk:

    «But as early as 1968, this visionary man, Robert Kennedy, at the start of his ill-fated presidential campaign, gave the most eloquent deconstruction of gross national product that ever has been. And he finished his talk with the phrase, that, "The gross national product measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile."»

    Link to the talk:
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    Feb 16 2011: I agree that we need to fundamentally change the benchmark for valuing people and institutions. Time is a good one. I think time is particularly valuable to TEDsters because most of us have enough money and basic needs met.

    Time by itself wouldn't do it; people also need freedom to pursue happiness, the ability to choose what we do with our time. Again, in our society, money tends to solve that problem to a large extent. But I believe we're at risk of losing some of the freedoms we now enjoy.

    The benchmark or bottom line I hunger for is responsibility - maximizing choice while helping ensure that people are responsible for their actions. I celebrate the increased access to information and transparency that internet technology has produced, and worry about attempts to tamp down, limit, or thwart it.
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    Feb 15 2011: This is great! Maybe we can look at implementing a movement focused on our current government parties and ask them simply to do just that: hire staff and faculty (or consultants) geared towards the design aspect of processes.

    The book "Change by Design" by Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO (fascinating guy) outlines some principles about the focus on designing better "experiences" (in a very creative way). We could ask him to donate some of his books and send them to key decision makers at the government centers, with a letter stating, "The Citizens of [Fill in country here] demand that you design our government departments, urban planning, taxation systems, health system, and the beuracracy with us in mind. Simply make us love working with government".

    I saw a great TED video by Thomas Goetz from TEDMED. He outlines what Wired did for some complex medical documents: I loved it, I think he is one of the reasons I am starting to look at taking up a hobby of making infographics.

    A simple grassroots approach asking for our governments to design their beuracracy...that may be a good place to start.
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    Feb 15 2011: Fortunately for you, we in Indonesia are still battling for poor public service, slow administration (even for making ID or driving license). Some of the politicians has launched bureaucracy reform, but to me, it's no more than meaningless slogan. It's been a public secret that the bureaucrate have a creed: "if we can make it difficult, why make it easy?". Because the officials has power to "slow down" the administration, they, in some ways, can extort money from you to make the process faster. It's not fair at all.

    I agree that time would be the ultimate resource in the future. It can't be stored, it can't be bought. But In Indonesia, it's still a long way to go. First, we need to tackle down those corrupt officials, making bureaucracy reform (with the techies, of course). And uniquely in Indonesia, we don't need that kind of party. We just need visionary leaders that believe in the importance of time and can change the administration he is supervising.

    Just my 2 cents
  • Feb 12 2011: I think this is a great idea!

    Now it has been over 80 years since Henry Ford started to shut down his factories on Saturdays and Sundays, giving his employees more free time. After that everyone in the US followed and implemented five workweek.

    We (in developed countries) are getting wealthier and we can definitely buy more stuff than people did 80 years ago. So lets have another adjustment to the workweek so that we have more time to spend with our families and friends?

    I then suggest that the Time Party will implement government incentives given to companies that will voluntarily allow employees to switch from 40 to 35 hour week.

    Certain organizations and companies in North America and Europe started to offer 35 hour week so this is not a completely new idea. However most employees in developed countries do not have the choice to switch to 35 hour week.

    (A recent TED talk from Nigel Marsh on "How to make work-life balance work" touches this idea a bit)
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    Feb 25 2011: There is the Work Less Party in canada. A cliff note version of its ethos is as technology improves products decrease in price resulting in less capital for a company. Traditionally industrialized cultures dealt with this by finding a way to increase consumerism. The flaw being the environmental price we all play. Their solution to this is a shorter work week for all would counteract manufacturing gains.
  • Dan F

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    Feb 21 2011: Perhaps this idea is one that could best exist outside the box. The political status quo has a huge advantage over competitive ideas and innovation via existing gatekeepers and political machines. Why not create a political poltical party that addresses TIME and perhaps other issues by playing the game differently? Perhaps make it strictly electronic as in Webblicans (creative enough?). TED operations and members interact on this basis now and who knows this may be an effective means of providing an undeniable voice for the "silent majority" and more moderate types around the world to offer constructive ways to counter self serving and misguided politics and do so in true democratic fashion.

    I'm ready to register!
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    Feb 21 2011: Good idea, but in parliament, other parties would filibuster to prevent any measure,
    which would cut waste of time.

    Only solution is to replace physical parliaments with electronic forums.
    Then people (we deserved the trust of others by good service), can summarize
    the arguments and representatives, and public can e-vote on laws and regulations.

    Eliminate paper forms and waste of time in selection of jurors as well.

    Book to read is Bill Gates: 'Business at speed of light'
    and apply it to government.
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    Feb 15 2011: I want to shout immediately, YES!
    I would vote for them.

    For a political party to understand how detrimental the loss of time to interactions with the government is, they would be on the right path (to make their citizens happy).
    To fully comprehend this and champion it, by implication they would be I think a citizen-centric, libertatian party.

    Having recently left my home country Greece, significantly because of the continual drain of time and energy I was being subjected to, by one of the most inefficient and bureaucratic governments (present & past), your proposal Chris is very close to my heart.

    Perhaps I should run in Greece under that banner. I know many Greek people would vote me in with this!
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    Feb 15 2011: While Time Party does seem like a small contribution to the act itself, it's still not enough in my opinion. If we could move away from this anti-economy towards a resource-base economy, we could let people spend time the way we're suppose to, with our families. One who got it right is Jacque Fresco, with his Venus Project. Surely worth a look if you haven't heard of.

    By the way Chris, you should consider sending Jacque an invite to speak, surely TED would be his ideal venue.

    Jacque Fresco's vision:
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    Feb 11 2011: Not necessarily a new party, in my view.
    A new party may suck up even more time on media channels.

    Maybe a more strict separation of duties between Politicians and Civil Servants will do.
    As Barry Schwartz said :

    "People want to be allowed to be virtuous. They want to have permission to do the right thing. They don't want to feel like they need to take a shower to get the moral grime off their bodies everyday when they come home from work."

    That "moral grime" may come also from Politicians interfering with Civil Servants activity and may cause lot of time wasting on our side. At least that's happening where I live, an infant democracy.
    Hopefully it's not happening is USA.