TED Conversations

Andre Hoogeveen

Specialist, Apple Computer Inc.

This conversation is closed.

What benefits and challenges might arise as a result of transitioning from a monetary system to a resource-based society?

In other words, if we were to eliminate all forms of money and bartering, what changes - large and small, positive and negative - might we see?

Thus, imagine a world in which there is a comprehensive accounting of the planet's resources, such as fresh water, arable land, minerals, and animal life. Further contemplate that technology and automation have begun to eliminate dangerous, boring, or repetitive jobs. Finally, take a moment to ponder the possibilities if each person were given the opportunity for a quality education and the ability to reach their highest potential.

Indeed, there is a lot to take in, and no single answer could account for the many facets of such a scenario. Nevertheless, from a position of sustainability, I think we must realistically look at what the monetary system has done, and what ever-developing technology will do.

As you consider your possible answer(s), please reflect on the following:

- The effect of education on the birthrate.
- Ownership of the Earth's resources.
- The concept of "usership" as opposed to the "right of possession".
- The inevitability of "technological unemployment".

I thank you kindly for reading this, and for taking the time to answer!

  • Aug 9 2013: A Monetary system Is an accounting tool, for a resource-based society.

    The fact is: money does not exist, and everyone knows it intuitively; but comes back to the reality of “you can’t live without money”.

    A Monetary system & Money are simply a system for measuring Value.
    Value exists only as an opinion of people, and is, as real as the people expressing the opinion.

    “You can’t live without Value” - Many people live without money all over the world.
    Working, is simply an effort taken to create enough value, to balance out the value you must consume to live.

    I think that the dominant Western Monetary system is a “comprehensive accounting of the planets resources”, physical & intellectual. TED is a bank of intellectual resources.

    *Ownership of resources
    In Australian Aboriginal culture the concept of Owning something is non-existent.

    In that culture value is not placed Owning something, value is belonging to & caring for something. Ownership is not, an asset, it is a liability.

    When a young Aboriginal child is educated about their totem, say the River, the child is compelled to spend much time learning about, and caring for, the River. The River is not an asset they own, this is a liability. A responsibility that they invest much time into, the River becomes their contribution to society. They become as valuable to society as the River.

    •Indigenous cultures have existed for 10,000s of years, Western “Ownership” has existed for 5000 or less.
    •Western cultures have increased environmental risks, while Indigenous cultures adapted to environmental risks.
    •Indigenous cultures belong to the land & move through the world. Western cultures cling to hopes of permanence.

    * Usership vs Right of possession
    The desire to use not own, is a growing trend exhibited through the rise of the…
    •“The sharing economy”
    •Peer 2 Peer

    Conclusion – The Monetary system is an accounting tool for a resource-based society. Money does not exist.
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    Aug 14 2013: As the time on this conversation is nearly finished, I wanted to offer a sincere thank you to everyone who participated!
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    Aug 13 2013: I lay dormant in your every thought for I am your freedom. I am your servant and your leader. I am your gluttony. I am your fear. I am your conqueror. I disguise myself as education at times in trade of gluttony. Many have been believing I am their inspiration for I am your drive. I am a conqueror of many generations. I am your guilt. I am your anger. I am highly attached to your ego. I have taken many children from a parent. I am your good health. I have been known to break up homes. I have easily striped people of their innocence. I am a manipulator. I am crime. I oppress. I am your only way to justice. I am your success. I am your failure. I am the only way to your dreams. I am your only chance. I am risk. I am stuck to your ass or in your fanny pack. I am involved in everything. I am ... I am...

    M-O-N-E-Y Now, how do I weigh on your best logic scale morally?
  • Aug 13 2013: Any product developed for the sole purpose of maintaining wealth is man driven for obviously personal gain. Where society values scarce items such as Gold or any new supply starved product to hold wealth is simple manipulation of the system to continue the devastation money had created. Real poverty is Economics driven and wealth of society relies heavily on the creation of poor by starving resources and artificially inflating prices by starving supply. Nothing on earth has any real value outside food, Clothing and shelter. Everything else is just desire driven. Banking system take the money from the poor or the depositors or the tax payers to recover their losses and maintain the financial systems function. How is this or any other element of the monetary system of value to the general population where those in control of the money take huge slices from the funds/deposits etc and then when it all goes wrong call on the same depositors to give them more money without incurring debt so they can recover.

    Society needs to take a good long hard look at itself and remove money and the concept of money from society for it to progress from the pillaging that has gone on over the last century.
    without money we can only trade items of real value. Goods and services do this. Convenience is the only benefit of money but to what degree of penalty to society
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    Aug 4 2013: thank you Andre! I will make a point of reading "Cloud Atlas" Bellamy's book is one of the few books I have read twice. I'll be curious as to what another thinks.
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    Aug 4 2013: has anyone read 'Looking Backward' by Edward Bellamy? it speaks to a futuristic social structure similar to this. It was written in 1888 so does not include present day challenges such as environmental issues. It is a good read.
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      Aug 4 2013: Hi Mary, thanks for your response!

      "Looking Backward" is on my reading list, and I look forward to checking it out! [Incidentally, I just finished "Cloud Atlas," and cannot recommend it highly enough. David Mitchell is a brilliant writer, especially when it comes to period languages and speaking styles.]
    • Aug 13 2013: Fictional utopias (and all utopias are fictions) are fiction for a reason: They cannot exist in the real world.
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    Aug 4 2013: :)))))))))))) Isn't the purpose of the human race is to enjoy themselves. Invading the universe and creating as much as other human fellow as possible is just another point to secure our human future and therefore can enjoy ourselves even more! :))
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      Aug 9 2013: Well, Simon, I think you have hit the nail squarely on its head! [Sorry it took me a bit of time to get around to acknowledging this.]

      One of my principal motivations for pondering the challenging questions I do is to find the best way for each and every one of us to reach his/her greatest potential...and to truly enjoy the life they are living! Sadly, I think achieving this goal is very challenging for an increasing percentage of the world's population. The skewing and concentrating of wealth has locked many out of the opportunity for even the most basic improvement.

      Nevertheless, I remain ever optimistic that the greater good within each of us will see that a different and better way exists!
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        Aug 9 2013: :))) Reduce the world population for what? to increase the happy quality of each individual (physically)? :)))) May be enjoying ourselves is not such a good idea :))) Just look at the son and daughters of the richest man is the world, they are not very happy as I see it. It's the contrast that make it look better than others. :)))
        here you should watch this :))) This is the battle which will never able to win. :)))) If to have every thing you want is your highest goal :)))) be careful, when you rich that point, you will have a different goal. :)) which make you be as much as miserable as before.
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        Aug 9 2013: :))) It's rather the mental attitude that directly affect our happiness. But in order to achieve that , you have some physical need, such as eating, and ......pooping.
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    Aug 4 2013: Market-Monetary system: An ideology, created hundreds of years ago where scarcity was real, and where certain people having more than others was a sort of normality at the time. Therefore principals and theologies, justifying this inherent inequality, were proposed. Wealth consolidation and scarcity are in fact created and amplified. Not matter what ideology (socialist, communist, capitalist, fascist), the underlying mechanisms are still money, labor, and competition; which creates wealth gap, resource exploitation and consolidation (scarcity), inequality, and most importantly, a rich ruling class. (if you want more details, try studying the information presented by; The Zeitgeist Movement)

    Resource based economy: The scientific method applied to society. This is remind you is free of human opinion. Conclusions are arrived at, not made. Where strategic safety, preservation, efficiency, and allocation are the foundations at which resources, and hense human well being, is calculated. Not by the "invisible hand", labor, money, and profit. A resource based economy recognizes the advantages of using technology to free humans of useless labor (which is needed in our current system; in order for cyclical consumption to continue, and money to be continuously circulated), which can in turn create an abundance of human needs. We will end up in a RBE one way or another, how we get there is a different story.

    Ive left ALOT out of this, so for more information on a RBE, type in "the venus project" or "the zeitgeist movement" in google. Or watch the "zeitgeist moving forward" documentary (highly recommended)
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      Aug 12 2013: Thanks, Huey, for your thoughtful explanation of these two systems!
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    Aug 2 2013: I see the idea of 'no money' pop up over and over again... And it always makes me wonder why.
    There is so much good use of money, and it can be coupled to a resource-based system, where you calculate earth's produce and use that as the 'gold standard'. Each coin would represent a fraction of the wealth.

    That said: I do think we need to take the limitations of our earth into account in any Economics 101 class... and start thinking from that point onwards. One can estimate the produce we can make without earth degradation, and then go and figure out how we can optimize towards more abundance.

    C2C and system-thinking would be needed, as well as a good and comprehensive mapping of the supply and waste chain.
    The distribution of the wealth should be partially equal (where everbody gets a minimum wage for example, and all the other coins are the playing field for those who wish to innovate or go to market or do research or just wish to get more wealth &c) This also evades technological unemployment, as we'll all get more and more time to do as we want (withing the limits of our earth)...
    • Aug 2 2013: The ultimate problem with money is that it seems to have lost it's original meaning. Back in the days, it was a currency for exchange. Now? It's something that defines your life and most of it's aspects.

      That being said, while I find the idea of resource based economy amazing, it's just unrealistic. Much like true democracy, where we would have idols-esque voting system for new laws and such - it's unrealistic as long as people are willing to give their votes for things they do not understand and are not willing to take a deeper thought about how big consequences their vote might have.

      I like the the C2C part, however. I'm a big believer for "transparency", which I find that we really lack in the age of globalization. And unfortunately, that's why there's 50 different answers when you ask from 50 different economists about why did the last recession occur. The further away we get from the recession and it's direct cause, the more different answers you'll get.
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        Aug 2 2013: But buy in large, money is still needed for exchange, is it not? How would you propose another idea for efficient exchanging?
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        Aug 2 2013: If the problem of money is it define our life; In your model we can get a car with out money, so then it come again, who has the most car define his life , is it not?
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          Aug 2 2013: Public transportation, greatly improve pubic transportation; it is absolutely horrible in this country. no need for a car unless you want to go joy riding or rent one.
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        Aug 2 2013: There is no need for personal car? are you sure? so each time a family want to visit their grandparent house, they have to carry all the food and take their child and wait at the bus station?

        Finally, a modern woman knows what the hell I am talking about. :)))) ALRIGHT! :))) KICK THESE GUYS ASSES :))))
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          Aug 3 2013: I did happen to say greatly improve public transportation to where your child wouldn't know what the hell a bus stop ever was.

          There is an edit button at the top right corner by the way.
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          Aug 3 2013: Hi Simon (and Victor)! Here are a few examples of how transportation might change:

          - Driverless cars. Numerous companies - most notably Google - have been working on this, and this could be a way to move toward more "shared" vehicles. Imagine that no one "owns" their own personal vehicle, but rather calls one up from a pool of vehicles that are stationed in various lots around any given metropolitan area. Perhaps there are three or four models of high-quality vehicle to choose from: four-seat compact, 6 to 8 seat van, two-passenger cargo hauler. Using your home computer or smart phone, you call up the type of vehicle you require, and input the use period. The vehicle shows up as scheduled, drives you around, drops you back at home, and returns itself to the lot. If it breaks down while you are using it, the vehicles computer calls up a replacement. Finally, each vehicle is inspected at the lot prior to departure to make sure that it does not go out dirty or damaged.

          - Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). PRT consists of four-passenger driverless pods that ride along a guideway at, above, or below grade (ground level), and take you directly to your destination without stopping (which driverless cars still may have to do). The pods are air-conditioned, feature solar glass, and offer access to the Internet. Furthermore, stations would be set up on a grid, separated from each other by no more than a quarter-mile in any direction. Finally, the seats can fold up to accommodate bicycles, wheelchairs, and luggage.

          With either of these transportation systems, "commercial" vehicles could be part of the system, solely designated to deliver supplies and packages.
        • Aug 12 2013: Victor Delta: I wonder if you have ever tried to operate as a family in the modern world using Public Transportation, no matter how elegant and improved?! It is a nightmare. You are severely limited as to what you can carry, impossibly limited if you have to stop for children's , (or adults) emergencies, or stopping off for a snack , or a view, or a great many other reasons. I was a great admirer of the New York subways, but such uses have severe limitations.
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          Aug 4 2013: If you had something to say better than this to support your argument I would continue to read your posts.
          Happy trails.
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        Aug 3 2013: Dear Ted Blair,

        While I do think a switch towards resource based economy is very difficult, it is not impossible. I don't have all the answers (nor do economists), but once you start taking it into calculus, you ought to see the effects on the system, and think about it explicitly... and maybe we can start to drift in that direction. There are a myriad of mixed models (probably the current reality is one), so there are directions that can be taken ... and in my opinion should be taken.

        As for democracy... a bit off topic but I'm more of a defender of the wikipedia model of democracy; a way to use group intelligence and leave mass stupidity out. This means that only improvements can be made (with scientific and other evidence back-up); as we have right to our opinions, but not right to our own 'facts'.
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        Aug 4 2013: to -
        Victor Delta

        Well, if we can build greatly improved pubic transportation, it still cost a lot of money, and time, and it may fail. And if it fail in many way, it's probably put the country into chaos. :))) China just build a country length sub way , costing 300 billion U.S dollar, they fail miserably, they double the ticket cost to balance the budget, which make it more acceptable to use. Lucky, :))) china has its way with its citizens, or at least, that's what I heard. We should build a similar system then. Cooler too :)) a trillion dollar sub way will be at your services, sir! If only there was supper man to help us build it.

        Like communism? Good intention, but doesn't work very well. If there is no money or bartering involve, does we still have ownership in this one ?. If there is still is ownership in your system, what good is that if you remove money from the system. Every one has very different need, if there is no bartering system, it would be a lot of inefficient in the economy system. If there is no sense of ownership, then we will have big problem. The two things above is the backbone of our economy.
        Well, this only can able to apply in the real world if and only if every one is well educated, under the influence of Confucianism may be, but if it can be that way, there is no need to change our economy system.
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          Aug 6 2013: Hi Simon,

          Perhaps you misunderstood a key element of transitioning from a monetary system to a resource-based society: there is no money or bartering to speak of. There would be no arbitrary or market-based price tag on anything.

          With the best understanding that we can muster at the moment (knowing that our knowledge and technology are always expanding), we prioritize the use of resources to their greatest potential benefit.
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    Aug 2 2013: The greatest challenge is the fear of change. Such a change would be good for society and a positive step in the right direction. The people most dependent on the monetary system are very powerful and will resist any such change. It is something we should be preparing to implement if the financial system eventually collapses.
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    Jul 31 2013: Positive- More free time to do the things we like doing. A better social structure. Being able to help a team do something or an idea with out fighting for the opportunity. Less stress in society. Better honest team work. A step closer to freedom for everyone. New technology can be used by everyone. The earths resources would be well spent economically. Tools would be used rather than owned and mass produced. Poverty is eliminated. Mental health would increase. Better family structures. Job searching would end. Equality. No one will have a reason to go to a gym as exercise could be put to positive means to benefit people as well as the individual :)

    I keep editing and adding to the list.

    Negative- If the technology is not there people, all people, will have to share work the majority may not like doing (others may see this as a negative, I don't because it will be on a small scale of time. However, it can be organized as which chores someone would rather do). Controlling the birth rate without taking away rights.
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      Aug 2 2013: Thanks for responding, Victor!

      Indeed, this is a paradigm shift of epic proportions. In adding to one of your "negative" observations, even if automation developed at a steady clip, it could take decades before the majority of people were completely free from work. However, as every able-bodied person could be trained to participate in a variety of tasks, the hours "worked" per week would (and should) be *much* smaller than it is now.
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    Aug 14 2013: i'm starting to formulate my theory about the venus project, but also other proposals, like world government, world currency, election reforms and many other things.

    the core of my theory is that the essence of these sentiments is to find excuse for not thinking. all these have one thing in common: they are explaining all the irrelevant aspects in great detail, while dealing with the actual problems by waving a hand, simply dismissing them, or claiming that it should not be hard. therefore i suggest the name "somehow proposal". we rearrange the problem, and then claim that it will be solved "somehow".

    as an example, my plan to get to paris is: "pack my clothes, get some cash, get tips what restaurants to visit there, get a book to read on the way, and then find some vehicle or something that gets me there". i covered a lot of things except the solution to the very problem i set to solve.

    and another example is the venus project crap. the real problem is to acquire how much natural resources, distribute them to what production lines, and distribute the products how. the vp's answer is something like build futuristic cities, get rid of money, etc etc, none of which are actually solve the problem at hand. then they say: "computers!", and we are done. computers will somehow solve the problem. it shouldn't be hard.

    except that is the actual problem. on what basis computers decide? that is the problem we solve today with the free market. the free market is a self-organizing system, in which individual's valuations set things in motion and direct resources to the most wanted ends. it is a system composed of 7 billion consumers and 7 billion supercomputers making economic decisions on the spot, with field knowledge, with introspection, in the given moment. this is a working system, and we understand how it works.

    and the alternative from the vp is "somehow!", "A.I.!". but they have nice pictures of futuristic cities.
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      Aug 14 2013: Much of what you say here makes very little to no sense in relation to what I have been talking about throughout this entire conversation.

      The main purpose of my question was to look at the benefits and challenges of eliminating money from our current system. Tied closely to this was the idea that we might come up with some concrete solutions (to the challenges) instead of abstract, meaningless criticisms.

      Anyway, thank you for participating in this conversation!
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        Aug 14 2013: wow, you didn't read your own opening statement? it is not about abandoning money. it is about abandoning money *and* transitioning to some "resource based society". which is, we all know, means the venus project.

        eliminating money is an idea in line with "we don't exchange, there is trade, ownership, etc, and we organize the economy ... somehow!"
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      Aug 14 2013: I have never read the materials on the Venus Project website, so I cannot speak to that as you can. But I have recently noticed the same propensity you have in other sorts of proposals for economic or social reorganization.

      It is this part of your post that rings true to me as a common phenomenon: "explain all the irrelevant aspects in great detail, while dealing with the actual problems by waving a hand, simply dismissing them, or claiming that it should not be hard. "

      I am not referring here to the proposals in this thread, which I have not followed, but rather to the approach many people have in formulating utopias or new economic systems. I have noticed a reluctance to think through the fundamentals- a real simulation in the mind of how things would work at the most fundamental level.

      The disposition really to think things through at the most fundamental level is, I think, perhaps the most important disposition education should cultivate and a key attribute of those who have successfully implemented fundamental change.
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    Aug 14 2013: Why should we forsake a system that has relentlessly and continuously decreased the scarcity of resource availability. (http://www.masterresource.org/2010/04/population-consumption-carbon-emissions-and-human-well-being-in-the-age-of-industrialization-part-i-revisiting-the-julian-simon-paul-ehrlich-bet/#more-9145)
    That has provided us with a near perfect mechanism to let supply meet demand, one that incorporates our best (wisdom of crowds) estimate of future supply and demand, so that impending shortages are caught early on and dealt with as fast as possible. And a system that has without exception broken through any Malthusian plateau ever encountered
    How many bureaucrats in ‘resource accounting’ could ever come even close to resource estimation abilities of the ultra dynamic market system, of resource amounts that are seriously in flux and changes, due to technological development, economics, social political events and the weather among things, every second.

    My best guess for the greatest challenge for a resource-based society, would be the billions dying because of the scarcity it will cause. Because incentives will lack for suppliers to meet demand, and the shared ideology, which is needed for it to work, will not be ubiquitous, some will abuse the system (just like in communism).
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      Aug 14 2013: What about the hundreds of millions who are suffering in poverty NOW, Victor? As more and more jobs disappeared due to technological development, when will our money-bound system finally work for them? Rest assured, wealthy industrialists and factory owners have no problem displacing people with machines and robots.
  • Aug 13 2013: Assessment of value to resources, objects, skill sets, and property would be one hurdle. Every exchange would be a bartering experience.
  • Aug 13 2013: Oh, let me be more specific.

    A capitalist form of a fire department is stupid. We used to have that in this country.

    A capitalist form of health care also has serious drawbacks. Do you really want to share the bus or train with someone who can't afford to get a cough checked out? People sitting in the same car with viral infections they can't afford to treat? Do you want kids going to school who are sick? I think it is obvious that it is in societies best interest that we have a social form of medical care.

    A third example would be public schools. It is clearly in the best interest of society that every child is educated, regardless of whether the parents can afford it or not. Since this "public" education represents the largest sector of society by a large margin it is also in the best interest of society that they protect this institution from changes that would erode the effectiveness of public schools.
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      Aug 13 2013: I don't know what country you are from...
      We still have capitalistic fire departments in my area, they are volunteer departments and as nonprofits receive funds from contributions, fundraisers and some have fees from potential users.

      All most all of our healthcare is capitalistic, some pay for care as they go, most people have health insurance that they pay for or receive as salary compensation. Some have insurance through the government, but mostly health care is a capitalistic system and we have the best medical care in the world.

      Our public schools are governmental operated, however, these local governments (school boards) have capitulated their responsibilities to the federal government and now the quality of our education has slipped to 30th place in the world and the cost of education per pupil has risen 4 times the rate of inflation, so this social endeavor has gotten us a poorly educated young adult and great cost... so much for social governance.
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    Aug 13 2013: What's the difference between paying someone a set amount of money to preform a job or them doing it because they were assigned to accomplish the task? Everyone in the Military makes almost the same salary each month and they accomplish much more work than the civilian sector. What you are describing is similar to how a military complex is run.

    Large groups of people could make a claim for more resources and validate it on the size of their organization or their importance considering the current overall situation. This is mirrored in the behavior of the differing branches of the Military as the Navy competes with the Army for more resources.

    Before anything could be done, we would need to index and measure all the available resources and decide how they would be used to maintain a technological, progressive society and do so for the whole planet. Right now all our data concerning the earths available resources are mostly estimates. We would also, have to establish a median baseline for maintaining the current population with food, housing and transportation, which the military has already done.

    To get everyone on board we would have to launch a world war. That is, it would be easier to rebuild to such a civilization than to convert to one. That is what happened in Europe after WWII. It is how their health care system came to be. They had many people hurt and no jobs or money. Once established, it is easier to maintain than to restructure.
  • Aug 12 2013: Andre: I don't see any apriori reason why money has to lead to abuse. My relatives were Quakers, and they used to make deals with a handshake, and honor them. I've heard that various Jews, Chinese, and others did the same at various times.
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      Aug 14 2013: I think it's fair to say that most people do not abuse money, and the vast majority of the people I know are honest and fair. However, I think it is also fair to acknowledge that there is enough large-scale waste, fraud, and corruption in the world to warrant long-term global change.

      Many of us have heard the phrase, "too big to fail". We should also contemplate the saying, "too big to go to jail". All to often it seems that corruption at the upper echelons of many institutions - the corruption that affects thousands to millions - goes unpunished and sometimes uncorrected. This is criminal, a shame, and - I think - holding us back from creating a far better world.

      Thanks again for all of your comments!
  • Aug 12 2013: How would usership be established? In the Army , there was no particular ownership, or money required, but there were certainly supply procedures. How could this idea be made to work? Surely it would not be very stable to just give everyone a "share" of whatever it is. Many people would not even want their share, so some sort of trading or barter, would start immediately, leading to reinventing money, no doubt. Either that , or setting up some logbook of transactions, which would be awkward and annoying . Then there would be also feelings of "ownership" ; have you ever tried to take an old bone away from a dog?
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      Aug 13 2013: I think the baseline or starting point for usership would be whatever it is we have in our possession at the moment. The car I am driving now is mine as long as I want it until I give it to someone else; then they maintain possession until they decide to give it away. The same paradigm would apply to your toaster, CD collection, and house. Through this method, no one would feel that they would have to share everything immediately, or that something will be arbitrarily taken away.

      With regard to naturally-occuring resources (i.e., un-mined iron or uncut trees), these would belong to everyone, and would be acquired and divided according to a universally-declared global agreement (based on a list of fundamental priorities).

      Moderately refined resources, such as gold or diamond jewelry, could remain in private possession for as long as the "user" wishes, but larger quantities of these items (i.e., gold reserves) would also be redistributed based on the previously-established global agreement.

      Of course, this process would be difficult as people have become accustomed to "ownership" over the course of centuries. On the other hand, once such a system is well-established, I think people will enjoy the opportunity to "escape" their possessions to travel more easily, live in different parts of the world, and experience new items without having to save for purchasing them.
  • Aug 12 2013: Andre : I think you are right, and luckily there are signs in the scientific world that this change in "Consciousness" is real, and really happening, I wouldn;t be surprised to see a development of Jung's "Collective Unconscious" , via a sort of neo Buddhist Theory , coming around to the idea that all Consciousness is a "Field" , in Physics, similar to the ElectroMagnetic Field Theory. That would neatly explain a lot of otherwise puzzling paradoxes in both Religion and Science.
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      Aug 13 2013: That is interesting, and good to hear.

      I think it is important to acknowledge that we do not have to agree on every aspect of life, but as long as we can agree that we largely share the same basic needs and desires (clean water, healthy food, safe shelter, peaceful companionship, and the opportunity to reach our greatest potential), then we can eliminate the artificial barriers that separate us.
  • Aug 12 2013: Andre : I sympathize with you general goals, but I still do not have a plausible vision in mind of how it might work. Perhaps you know of the many experiments along these lines, from the Soviet Union, Brook Farm,, Israeli Kibbutzes., and many others.; They usually start with some Charismatic leader. but run afoul of ordinary life. Most people tend to let the enthusiasts do most of the work, unless there is some strong "shaming" going on, or some overly organized administration. It comes down to "Fairness". In times of crisis, many people are willing to pitch in, even to an extreme degree, but after he crisis seems over, people tend to relax (let others do the work). This attitude undermines the whole scheme, and leads to calls for "Privatization" Something similar happened in England in the Middle Ages, when the Common Land custom broke down, by "Enclosures". How do you plan to deal with that?
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      Aug 13 2013: Shawn: I do not think there is a simple answer for any challenge related to transitioning to a resource-based society. Any one problem will likely have a multi-faceted solution.

      With regard to work/labor, technology and automation will play an increasingly significant role, much more than they did in any "utopian" experiment. I think that "technological unemployment" is a very real - and growing - phenomenon, and needs to be addressed head-on. Naturally (one might presume), the owners and operators of businesses and factories will be attracted to further cutting back their overhead by replacing human workers with machines. Why not embrace this trend and stay ahead of the curve, so that people may be freed from danger and drudgery, and at least given the option to do something meaningful?

      As to laziness, there may always be a subset of any population who choses do to little to nothing, and - short of public humiliation - I do not know if there is a simple solution to rectifying this. However, I am confident that most people either have or will develop a desire to do something with the time they have. Furthermore, I see education and training being entirely different in a resource-based society. With no artificial cost structure limiting access, people will more easily train or re-train in a variety of fields. Education will become more hands-on and real-world, with technology making learning more engaging and interesting.

      Finally, as we progress further into a resource-based society, fewer and fewer people will have to work "traditional" jobs. For those jobs that do remain, there should be a large enough well-trained populace so that no one person has to work more than a few hours per week.

      I remain optimistic that this is possible if we "work" together in coming up with solutions!
  • Aug 11 2013: Do you mean eliminate all forms of currency? Money refers to a medium of exchange of assets, currency refers to the paper or coins used to transmit perceived value (even if there is no real asset).

    Gold is an asset, if it is stamped into a coin with the seal of an issuer then it is currency, but it is the form of currency known as "money" because it has an asset value. If they use a copper coin and keep the gold in a vault it is still money if you can at any time redeem your copper coin for gold. But, if they say you can no longer trade in your copper coins for gold it is no longer money, now it is currency.

    The use of money has been a critical component of Man's development from a hunter gatherer. The excess and greed are associated with currency much more than with money.

    In my opinion we currently use a fiat currency as a method of keeping score in a purely capitalist society. There are three errors here. First, get rid of "Fiat" currency and return to a standard (gold, etc.). Second, get rid of the "purely" capitalist society, it is inhumane. Third adjust the method of "keeping score" to include the stewardship of natural resources.
    • Aug 12 2013: There are no purely capitalist societies and never have been. Government has colluded with and/or exerted direct control over the producers in every organized society. In a capitalist society, no business, no matter how big, would get any special favors from government.
      • Aug 12 2013: "No business, no matter how big, would get any special favors from government."

        I think that is something that has never been.
        • Aug 13 2013: Exactly--just like capitalism has never been. Thus, only a fool would whine about what happens "in a purely capitalist society".
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    Aug 10 2013: Dude, I've already seen this episode of 'Lost'.
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    Aug 9 2013: You mention ownership that is where the biggest problems would arise and make things no better than the way they are today. We live in a society based on written laws that are subject to interpretation and/or the right lawyer. We would need to change are thinking to that of true justice instead of broad pre-defined definitions of what is right.
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      Aug 11 2013: Hey Ray, I believe ownership should begin at whether the product is produced with the use of technology doing the work in the place were once took many labor jobs to produce. The more technology used to produce the product the lower the price should become. Then slowly to the point of owning the product is not beneficial in relation to tools. All other products are taught how to be made with a share in the resources to make them or like a chief that enjoys to cook cooks for more than just a dinner for two. It's almost what we have today with the amount of information at our fingertips.
      She seems to be enjoying what she is doing and not forced to doing it 8 hours a day. Moderation.
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    Aug 9 2013: I believe the disadvantage of where this idea comes from is it is not a non-profit organization. It works against the whole idea, don't you think? Is it just like the preacher emptying his buckets at the end of the week? I don't know, kinda weird. If we only knew how much and where it all goes.
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  • Aug 9 2013: I'm not clear on what you mean by ending barter. Seems to me that bartering is a natural form of sharing of resources practiced on very small scale as part of the relationships between individuals. Is this what you mean and why and how would one end this practice?
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      Aug 9 2013: The concern I have - and perhaps it is misplaced - is that anytime we weigh the value of one item against another, easily manipulated "market forces" come into play, and a warping of the true value of the resource(s) occurs. In addition, the situation can become even more complex when we begin to barter objects for services.

      Of course, this type of system could work very well on a small, person to person scale, but I am concerned that we would simply revert back to abuse should it grow too large.

      As to ending the practice of barter (or using money/credit), it is difficult to say exactly how this might come about. Global catastrophe? Gradual, decades-long transition? Either way, there will need to be a shift in global consciousness to an acutely shared sense of common goals. Anyway, though this is grossly oversimplified, I sometimes find myself thinking back to an earlier Nike advertising campaign: "Just Do It"!

      Please let me know if you have any other thoughts!
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        Aug 9 2013: :))) In short, it's communism that you are looking for. It has good intention, but....You have the right intention, :))) only focus on the wrong matters :))))
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        Aug 9 2013: And no :)) we should not live just to enjoy ourselves :))
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          Aug 14 2013: Simon, I think we should strive for a world where each of us has the opportunity to achieve his or her greatest potential, and - through this - the ability to truly enjoy their life. I certainly do not suggest that people should perpetually "live it up".
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        Aug 9 2013: I don't think we will able to achieve maximum happiness through your ideology. :)))) When we are done with physical resources, then comes the fame part :)))) fame is a limited resource that create by people and only few can have it :))) YEAH!
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        Aug 9 2013: barter is stupid. i want you to show up at my house, mow the loan, and i don't give you anything in return. deal?
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          Aug 12 2013: Though, in a resource-based society, one person could do something for another in exchange for some thing or service, it certainly would *not* be required.

          Haven't you ever given something away simply for the pleasure of doing so? Similarly, have you ever performed a service just because you wanted to?
      • Aug 12 2013: Andre : I have always thought of money as an inspired , automatic bookkeeping system , to keep track of "value". Of course, as with any great invention, it is subject to abuse. But without it, how could we make any trades, or exchanges? Not everyone has the same needs, interests, etc. Barter is just a crude first approximation of fair exchanges of value. How could you even have Yard Sales without either money or a substitute for it? As to environmental stewardship, that is of course of great importance,, and our society has been very negligent about ignoring social costs in business. But how would getting rid of money help?.. As to "Fairness", it a matter of education, and a growing realization that all People are a Family, since there is only one "Race". This realization in Science is very recent, so the deniers have had a case, but not much longer. As to the idea that a certain Elite is entitled to "own" valuable assets that they did not personally , actually create, that seems merely a primitive superstition, quite incompatible with the complex inteconnected realities of modern production of "Wealth".
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          Aug 12 2013: "But without [money], how could we make any trades, or exchanges?"

          Consider the proposition of "usership" as opposed to "ownership". In an established resource-based economy, people with no longer own anything. Rather, they would *use* anything in their possession for as long as they would like to, until they are ready to give it away (by their own choice). Under this paradigm, people would more easily be able to move about (living in different places, for example) without being "weighed down" by ownership of their possessions.
  • Aug 7 2013: This idea has already been tried many times and has always failed (see communism). What would be different this time - how exactly would you put it into practice?
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      Aug 8 2013: One of the differences would be the complete abandonment of any form of money or bartering. Even those nations under Communist rule used money.

      The idea is to bypass the corruption, fraud, and abuse that seems to be inherent in a monetary system; simply look at any single problem in our world, and it usually leads back to something having to do with money. During the Great Depression, everything needed to operate the factories was there...except money. It's a tool that I believe has outlived its usefulness in our ever more technologically advanced world.

      Indeed, how to initiate a resource-based society is a good question (and one that I have no qualms acknowledging). Some believe it will require a global catastrophe before it can come into existence, while others think it is an inevitability that we will slowly transition to.

      Take some time to think constructively about how the entire world might benefit by sharing in the bounty of the world through thoughtfully developed technology. What would you do with your time if you did not have to "work" more than a few hours per week, and could pursue what it is that you would really like to do? How might your family (or your community) benefit?
      • Aug 12 2013: In other words, government confiscates all value and property. Government assigns all work. Government assigns all materials and outputs. There will be no compensation for anything, merely the government assignment. After all, if you give access to a "resource" based on that person's "labor" or based on ANY OTHER CRITERION than that person merely existing, then you have barter and you will have competition for people to get to those situations that obtain the most resources. All against all. And what of those who husband vs. those who squander? Does there have to be another redistribution to make sure everything stays "even"

        Go read "Harrison Bergeron".
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          Aug 12 2013: in another conversation (out of the many) i got the answer that it would be voluntary. there is no government, but computers that tells what to do, and it is up to the people to follow or not.

          there are many problems with that, but the most problematic for me is that it is never like that. first, all such ideologists tell you that they just propose. they are explaining what is good. but there is a logical followup to that. anyone not following the good way is obviously following the wrong way. it does not take long for people to start to force the good behavior. the thinking that X is bad, but we allow it because we value freedom is just not working. intentional or not, the VP is just another communist manifesto. only the wording has changed.
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          Aug 13 2013: Bryan, thank you for your response.

          Transitioning from our current system to one that is based on the optimal use of resources and escalating use of automation is - admittedly - very complex, and wrought with challenges. Consequently, one of the purposes of this conversation is to work through some of these challenges.

          While I do not think any one form of government would necessarily be the best or only method of exiting a monetary system, some form of central organization would probably help.

          Also, I don't think there would necessarily be a need for any form of (forced) mass exchange or redistribution. If we were to transition from "ownership" to "usership," people would be able to keep their existing property for as long as it is in their possession. For example, as long as you want to continue to use your current car, you may do so. However, once you decide to give it away, or trade it with someone else, then it falls within the sphere of "usership" of the recipient.

          I would love to hear your thoughts - if any - on this specific matter. Thanks!
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          Aug 13 2013: Krisztián, I would like to respond to your comment regarding the use of computers.

          Based on how I see computers being used in a resource-based society, I do not think they will tell anyone what to do. Rather, they will simply be a tool that is very fast and efficient at compiling and analyzing data. They will present information, which will then provide the user(s) with some options.

          For example, imagine a database that is being compiled regarding global sources of iron, both raw and from recycled sources. Information from around the world is entered via terminals located around the globe into a central computer. This ever-changing information is compared to another (ideally linked) system that follows the worldwide demand for iron. An AI algorithm may be used to help illustrate which source best suits a corresponding need (related to location, ore type, and priority). Those who ultimately set the wheels in motion to distribute the ore may or may not use the information or suggestions provided by the computer. As the database becomes more accurate (because of greater accuracy in measuring both ore supplies and demand), people may begin to rely more upon the computer, but it is not a requirement.

          Finally, I imagine that the priority of distribution could be controlled by a commonly held and agreed to "global declaration of universal rights," (explained further elsewhere in this conversation) where the ore would be used for the construction or rehabilitation of schools and hospitals before it is used for the construction of a roller coaster or dragster. This is just an example, of course, but I think you get the idea.

          Please let me know if you have any ideas for improving this!
      • Aug 13 2013: The first step will be to kill all humans, since this proposal runs counter to all human nature. We all innately value things differently, and it is impossible for these different values to perfectly mesh. What to do with dissidents? Kill them? Send them to the Gulag? If there is nobody with lots of guns around to kill people who don't play by the "no barter, no money" rule, people WILL come up with barter and then some form of money, simply because NO SYSTEM IS INFALLIBLE. Somebody will end up with something they want less than something someone else has. Either the two will barter/sell, one will steal from the other, or one will build up smoldering resentment that expresses itself in antisocial behavior. Money/trade/barter function as social pressure releases. The "fairness" of the schoolyard can only happen if we are dealing only with children and the adult has both no interest in the resources and absolute power over the children. You wish to reduce adults to tyrannized children.
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          Aug 14 2013: "You wish to reduce adults to tyrannized children."

          Far from it, Bryan. Please read carefully my other responses, and you will see that one of my repeating imperatives is to provide everyone with a broad, meaningful education. A well-educated population is one who is better able to prioritize people over things, better able to understand that a reasonably managed set of resources can provide for everyone, and better able to communicate and work through their differences.

          Sure, there will be exceptions, just like there are now. And it is certainly reasonable to think that we will have police, courts, and jails for some time to come...but the idea is that the need for these institutions will decrease as we move further into a society where necessities are more easily met, and the desire to steal or hurt is sharply reduced.

          Instead of assuming that everything will go to hell in a hand-basket, why not come up with ideas to help prevent that type of scenario. Thank you for your time.
      • Aug 14 2013: If an idea is simply blindly stupid, there is no point to trying to come up with ways to "make it work"--it will not and cannot work. This alleged "educatin" amounts to no more than diversions--bread and circuses for the plebes. No system is infallible. Somebody will be dissatisfied. So, you will either have to kill or imprison them. I live in something called "reality". In "reality", centralized control of economies will always end up in greater injustice than even the evils of unrestricted dog-eat-dog competition. No amount of airy-fairy fantasy will change this. What you call "education" could just as easily be called "indoctrination" or "brain-washing".
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          Aug 14 2013: Well, I find it hard to believe that you are truly happy with the current state of the world. Surely you can acknowledge the hundreds of millions who still live in poverty. How will our current system work for them, especially when more and more jobs are replaced by machines and robots? All I know is that this type of situation cannot go on indefinitely.

          Anyway, thank you for participating in this conversation!
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    Aug 7 2013: These are interesting thoughts. I don't feel I know very much either, I just like to think about ideas. ;) This was a thought-provoking conversation to read through.
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      Aug 8 2013: Thank you for your feedback, Jessica!

      As you can tell, I very much like to ponder the possibilities and the challenges. I firmly believe that doing so is the only way to make progress toward meaningful change. While no "system" is perfect, I think that a resource-based society is better than what we have now (at least for a majority of the world's population).

      Let me know if you have any ideas!
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    Aug 7 2013: Great question Andre. The benefits are obvious and the challenges are immense. You bring up education which I see is the foremost important tool of a resource based economy and the society it would need to sustain it. Ownership of recources, I see would be the most difficult hurdle for our present leaders to give over peacefully, unless there was incentive for them that they understand. "Usership" might need to be proven as a dramatic waste and cost reducer. Technological unemployment while a wolf in sheep's clothing to this system will have to be replaced by steadfast ambition to learn or be the same "evil" just by people having too much idle time. As in Candide,"...and we find that the work banishes those three great evils, boredom, vice, and poverty."
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      Aug 8 2013: Justin, thank you for your thoughtful comments!

      I see what you are saying about people possibly having too much time on their hands, and falling prey to the "three great evils"! Perhaps this is inevitable regardless of the system, but I am optimistic that as we move further into a resource-based society, and people see the benefits of group participation, the challenges will begin to drop off.

      Here's another thought with regard to "usership" and duplicitous products: what if there were community tool/equipment depots scaled to the size of the area they serve where someone could order and have delivered the implement they require for a few hours or several days? Of course, the tools would be of very high quality so as to last, and delivery/pickup would be automated. Fewer of these items would need to be made since they are shared, and since they are free to use, no one should feel the need to steal them. I'm sure there are other details that would need to be worked out, but I am sure they can be.
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        Aug 8 2013: Right on. I work construction and have witnessed the waste of materials and the planned obsolescence of equipment, and why, because it turns a buck? While i like your idea of the community tool/equipment depots, I feel, they are already here with all the Lowes and Home Depots around. On the East Coast anyway.
        Short term goals like exposing the systemic waste and offeringcommon sense solutions without the attack on money could start offering faster results.
        Most that I have encountered can't wrap their head around functioning without money, after all, isn't it people's/governments misuse and abuse of this social tool the root cause of the injustice?
        It may still take many years for a sufficient amount of people to leave the monetary system for a resource based economy, and even then I can imagine a money-like voucher could save people a lot of time and resources in the exchange process.
        In the meantime, let's keep the reasoning sound, the ideas coming, and the voice loud.
  • Aug 5 2013: Sorry if i'm being skeptical but there are issues that never be solved by our society, such a religion differences and the man greed. That's became impossible changes like that.
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      Aug 6 2013: Thank you for your response, Carlos!

      Indeed, religious differences are a tricky subject, and it may be a long time before there is worldwide respect and tolerance. Perhaps an overall higher level of education may more quickly bring about this desired tolerance.

      As for greed, please allow me to ask: do you think greed is an embedded characteristic of human nature (genetic in origin), or is it rather a learned trait that has developed societally over the course of centuries?

      [Gracias por su respuesta, Carlos!

      En efecto, las diferencias religiosas son un tema complicado, y puede pasar mucho tiempo antes de que exista el respeto y la tolerancia en todo el mundo. Tal vez un nivel general más alto de educación puede traer más rápidamente acerca de esta tolerancia deseada.

      En cuanto a la codicia, permítame preguntarle: ¿Crees que la codicia es una característica incorporada de la naturaleza humana (de origen genético), o es más bien un rasgo aprendido que se ha desarrollado socialmente a lo largo de los siglos?]
      • Aug 7 2013: Sorry for my English, I can understand Spanish but I can't write. I speak Portuguese.

        There are two different answers, one considering religiousness and other not.

        First (Considering Religiousness): Almost all religions believes that there are good and evil, and both are in our essence, depending of our education level, environment that we grow and the proximity of the spiritual things in our live, one of them will prevail, but we always have both, good and evil inside us. Greed, selfish and others behaviour are consequences of this nature, and in this scenario we could believe that greed is an embedded characteristic of human nature (Genetic or Spiritual).
        Second (Not Considering Religiousness): Sometimes when we see a child behaviour, even in their very begging life, seeing some animals’ behaviour and analysing some indigenous culture as well, that even without money they create a society where greed is strong, we can realize that are some genetics information in our DNA that makes some of us more selfish than others.
        But I really believe that is possible minimize this characteristics and build a better world with less corruption through a high level of people education, and this people demanding for justice and the minimization of impunity.
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          Aug 8 2013: Hi Carlos,

          No need to apologize; your English is quite good. I (mistakenly) responded in Spanish as well because sometimes my writing can be very nuanced, and I wanted to make sure that you understood.

          Anyway, thank you again for your thoughts. My sense is that most negative behaviors (greed, selfishness, etc.) are learned, and an effort can be made to either unlearn them (which may be difficult to impossible to do in some/most adults), or - better yet - avoid their appearance in the next generation to begin with. I think it should be obvious by now that a parent's or teacher's or peer's behavior can vastly influence or shape a child's attitudes and actions.

          A smarter society will be more aware of this and its long-term negative consequences.

          [Oi Carlos,

          Não precisa se desculpar, o seu Inglês é muito bom. I (erroneamente) respondeu em espanhol, mas também porque, por vezes, a minha escrita pode ser muito sutil, e eu queria ter certeza de que você entendeu.

          De qualquer forma, obrigado novamente por seus pensamentos. Minha sensação é que a maioria dos comportamentos negativos (ganância, egoísmo, etc) são aprendidas, e um esforço pode ser feita a qualquer desaprender-los (o que pode ser difícil ou impossível de fazer em alguns / a maioria dos adultos), ou - melhor ainda - evitar sua aparência na próxima geração, para começar. Eu acho que deveria ser óbvio, agora, que um dos pais ou professor ou o comportamento de pares pode muito influenciar ou moldar atitudes e ações de uma criança.

          Uma sociedade mais inteligente será mais conscientes deste facto e as suas consequências negativas a longo prazo.]
        • Aug 12 2013: Hi Carlos:
          Because "greed" is such a vague term, it is hard to tell whether it is learned or genetic. But elsewhere in our experience, group characteristics (stereotyped behavior ) seems really to be a combination of both, as evolved in a social setting.
          Because studies of foreign cultures in Sociology reveal such extreme variations in ideas of "Ownership" , or Morality in general, it seems unrealistic to say that Greed means only grabbing all the "Stuff" for oneself, and ignoring the needs of others, as a basic Human characteristic. There are just too many variations for it to be a general rule. Our particular society, because of its Christian background, does apparently tend to get carried away with" Selfishness" what with "Free Will" and all that. The conduct of the Wall St. Financiers shows just how extreme this can get;, stealing people's pensions and calling it Clever. But by no means is everyone like that.
      • Aug 12 2013: Andre: I am having a lot of trouble imagining how a "resource based economy" would work (Isn't that what we have?) I take it that you are trying to get rid of the corruption and cheating that money enables. I am afraid that , like the Founders envisioned, people , politicians, lawyers , and other "Elites" cannot be trusted to police themselves. No system can be produced with guarantees that cannot be thwarted. The only answer is group awareness, education , and vigilance. We are in a semi-civilized condition right now. We have a dim recognition of some of the problems of complex modern life, but are still too primitive to take seriously the idea that NO official has the right to murder people for any reason,for example. This view has attained at the level of many cities of miillions worldwide, whose Mayors cannot even think of having enemies murdered. No so with "Presidents" of whatever Banana Republic you can name, including the US.
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          Aug 12 2013: "I take it that you are trying to get rid of the corruption and cheating that money enables."

          That's it in a nutshell, Shawn, but of course there is more to it as well. Another major facet of moving toward a resource-based economy, in my view, is to create an environment where each person can reach their greatest potential. This doesn't mean no one will have to work, but rather everyone would have the opportunity to make their best contribution to society.

          As you alluded to, being able to do this will require a massive change in societal consciousness. I think this is inevitable, though it could very well take quite some time.