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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 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.

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