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 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.

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