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 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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