The Buddhas left their Sutras
Because people are hard to change
It’s not just a matter of saintly or stupid
Each and every heart throws up its barricade
Each piles up his own mountain of karma
How could they guess that what
They clasp so close is sorrow
Unwilling to ponder, as day and night
They do embrace the falsehood of the ephemeral
~ Shih-te

At the root of all the economic problems is money or perceived lack thereof. We have forgotten that money is a token, a symbol of wealth that has no intrinsic value. So the entire fate of the world hinges on an empty conceit. In the 21st century when we have manipulated genes, explored outer space and have instant access to more information than we know what to do with, surely we can figure out a system of accounting to replace the clearly broken system that has been in place for the last ten thousand years?

It is difficult to displace such an entrenched paradigm, so entrenched that most people cannot even conceive that there could be an alternative. The silver lining to the current economic crisis could be that people will be forced, perhaps for the first time, to examine their unconscious assumptions and stretch their cognitive range to allow for a different approach.

The world is in crisis on every front. There are environmental, social and political problems all underpinned by an economic system that skews the distribution of wealth toward the already wealthy while depriving the majority. That system is itself in meltdown and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot seem to figure out how to put it back together again. Alternative ideas put forward under the banner of ecological economics attempt to address one aspect or other of the problem but do not alter substantially the system. Tinkering around the edges is not enough to bring about a transformation of people’s relationship to the environment and to each other.

In the end, those gambling in Las Vegas lose more than they gain. As a society, we are gambling – with our big banks, with our nuclear power facilities, with our planet. As in Las Vegas, the lucky few – the bankers that put our economy at risk and the owners of energy companies that put our planet at risk – may walk off with a mint. But on average and almost certainly, we as a society, like all gamblers, will lose.
Joseph Stiglitz

The prevailing idea of wealth is based on material considerations centered on the production, consumption and accumulation of goods and services. Oil- and mineral-rich nations for example are afforded an enviable advantage derived purely from the accident of their geology. No account is taken of the destruction of the environment caused by the extraction process. Money, originally a token symbol to facilitate trading has become itself a commodity, the supply of which has been made scarce, depriving billions of access to essentials and condemning them to a meager subsistence.

Corporations whose sole responsibility is to make a profit, speculate on perturbations to the system like disasters, weather events and crop failures which affect supply, inflating prices out of the reach of the poor. A perception of scarcity and limited resources, whether real or induced, creates fear, leading to greed, strife and cut-throat competition. It is a zero-sum game, winner-take-all, a volatility exemplified in cycles of boom and bust. The free market is much touted for its efficiency but is this any way to run an economy? It is akin to a householder betting their wages on the horses and the ruinous effect that has on the family, yet the more races run and money bet, the better the economy.

New Planetary Economy

To replace the irrational, inequitable and inefficient monetary economic system which prevails, a new rational, self-regulating system is necessary to meet current and projected global realties. The present model is ultimately based on the barter mechanism which grew into trade and digital exchange. Units of exchange came to be standardized to facilitate trade but the issuing of these units is strictly controlled, creating an artificial scarcity, and converting the currency into a tradable commodity itself. These units are further hoarded and manipulated in such a way as to create debt, inequity and poverty.

The planet can sustain all life on it, though not at the level of consumption that obtains in developed countries. Everyone and everything has value. The sum of all unit values is Net Planetary Value. Value is potential until triggered into manifestation by activity. People realize value by accessing goods and services.

Each entity – individual, corporate, municipal, national, bioregional – is assigned an index relative to its contribution to NPV, which index determines its level of access to goods and services. Particular elements or activities may be indexed positively or negatively as it affects populations, infrastructure or the environment. Indices are computed algorithmically from a matrix of nine criteria: ethical, social and environmental qualified by a time dimension that embeds past provenance, present utility and future impact. Entities acknowledge each transaction by digital and/or biometric means. Data is transmitted to a distributed network which continuously updates all indices using algorithms in a self-regulating feedback loop. Built-in checks and balances adjust indices to mitigate excesses, waste and abuse.

Since it is not dependent or contingent upon monetary values, NPV can be implemented by any functioning economic unit. It will run parallel to the monetary system until that system strangles itself with its own contortions or belief in it is withdrawn, whichever comes first. Increased parity and efficiency are realized with the accession of each additional entity until universal inclusion is achieved. Each person is automatically assigned an index that gives access to food, housing, education and healthcare. Personal index is increased by life stage, training, skills and accomplishments, affording access to levels beyond basic needs.

There are no monetary limits. No budgets, no debt, no banks, no inflation, no price distortions. There will be less government, less corruption, less crime. Land ownership will revert eventually to occupancy rights. With basic needs guaranteed, many will no longer work at jobs. Traditional jobs are becoming obsolete anyway. People will choose vocations. It is a means to advance their indices. Every service rendered is rewarded. Each corporate entity likewise is assigned a base index that allows access to infrastructure and services. All corporate entities are by definition non-profit. Businesses compete and prosper by offering superior goods and services thereby increasing their corporate index with concomitant access to higher levels of goods and services.

Everyone counts. Everything is counted.

Recent Posts

Why no concern, much less alarm?

Scientists: Human activity has pushed Earth beyond four of nine ‘planetary boundaries’

There is something supremely weird about the environmental crisis. The Washington Post publishes a story reporting essentially that the planet is likely to be uninhabitable within a few decades, and the next day the story is forgotten. It’s not front page news. There’s no follow-up story. There’s no collective warning from Nobel Peace Prize winners. The president doesn’t make an announcement. Nobody does anything other than watch the Al Gore movie while trying to figure out how to cash in on carbon credits. How could that be? No matter how you look at it, it is dysfunction of the highest order. We’re all going to die, but nobody cares? Or there are too many people who don’t believe the environmental crisis is real? If it’s not real, how could it be that we can’t come to agreement on this basic question of survival?

It also seems to me that there’s no middle ground here. Either there’s a crisis and we’re all going to die if we don’t revert to a pre-industrial age lifestyle or find innumerable technologies to resolve every contributor to the crisis, or there’s no crisis. Assuming the crisis is real, a simple reduction in modern lifestyle is not going to be enough. There has to be no more cars, no more factories, no more everything. Back to the 1700s. If carbon is destroying the planet, there has to be no more carbon, not just less carbon. If pesticides are killing the bees and the oceans, there has to be no more pesticides, not just less pesticides. Less pollution, rather than the absence of pollution, will only slightly delay doomsday. Or is the environment crisis like the Malthus population crisis? Something that will resolve itself?

Why is nobody asking these questions? Why is nobody posing the questions in the stark terms they deserve? Why are there no definitive answers and decisions? It’s sheer madness. Yes, we must take this problem out of human hands and place it in the hands of the algorithm.

The nonchalance concerning human survival is nothing new. In the time i was active in the environmental movement it was, and remains, difficult for the majority of people to give it any importance. What crisis? Those in power and at the top of the heap are concerned only with maintaining the status quo and fattening their already obese accounts. It was easy for them to dismiss environmentalists as doomsayers, tree-hugging hippies and commies. At the same time, even the most strident alarm sounders, from Al Gore to Richard Heinberg, Bill McKibben, etal, are themselves inextricably embedded and ensnared in the monetary system. It is the only world view available to them, no fault of their own really. So they say their piece, publish diligently their critiques and continue taking care of business ensuring that all-important income flow.

The middle class is tethered to the wage slavery treadmill, provisioned just enough to function in order to maintain the 70% share of GDP attributed to consumption. They are kept distracted and diverted by Kim Kardashian, NFL scandals, identity slights, conspiracy theories, yada yada, all fed by a compliant media, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue so as not to get the import of the existential predicament but to keep the growth wheels turning.

Those at the bottom suffering from the lack of tokens that allow participation in the game are too busy trying to keep fed, healthy, and sheltered to be concerned about our species’ demise that is not immediately evident. It is a remote and abstract notion that, even if real, is the government’s/somebody else’s responsibility. Not until there is no food in the market, no water in the tap, no lights when the switch is clicked, will they wake up. By then it will be too late.

It is social dysfunction in the extreme, the result of cognitive dissonance, mass hypnotism even. This underscores why it is impossible and unthinkable to proceed by way of public education, consultation and consent. The Enlightenment precedent of benevolent despotism, but of a technocratic elite to re-jigger the system is necessary, and in my view, the only way out. Let us put forward the highest and best of human intelligence and capabilities, not the demographic/democratic average. The effects of PI will be negligent at first, grow incrementally until critical mass is achieved, then explode exponentially until the monetary system is displaced along with the world view it supports.

Wholesale death or reversion to a pre-industrial age is a false dichotomy typical of linear/binary thinking. Not all will die; nor will we revert to a pre-industrial age. Consciousness, awareness, knowledge cannot be undone, reversed or lost, but accumulates in one direction following the arrow of time in layering complexity and higher orders of coherence. Rather, it will be a post-industrial age in which we re-align with the impetus of evolution for the first time since we graduated from hunting-gathering. The invention of mono-agriculture on a wide scale accompanied by forest clearance was the beginning of environmental decline. We now have all those lessons to draw from.

In fact, this is the most exciting time to be alive, present at a crucial moment when we are at a pivot point of whether to continue on our blind descent into extinction (just another of millions of species to disappear, the earth will carry on regardless), or make the critical turn toward ecological integration and wholeness. The few specimens that survive may evolve into our replacement species, just as the Neanderthals and Denisovans were replaced by Homo sapiens. Of course, their DNA would have selected to cope with the toxicity and radiation levels we leave them.

A New Dawn. As the World Turns. (Pity we won’t be here to see it.)

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