TED Conversations

Andre Hoogeveen

Specialist, Apple Computer Inc.

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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!

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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.

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