Considering the chaos and disorder in the world – both outwardly and inwardly – seeing all this misery, starvation, war, hatred, brutality – many of us have asked what one can do … One feels one must be committed … When you commit yourself, you are committed to a part and therefore the part becomes important and that creates division. Whereas, when one is involved completely, totally with the whole problem of living, action is entirely different. Then action is not only inward, but also outward; it is in relationship with the whole problem of life. – Jiddu Krishnamurti
What we are going through at the present time is not just an economic-financial crisis, but a crisis of humanity. It seems that for the first time in human history several crises converge to simultaneously reach their maximum level of tension. The dominant economic model is to a great degree responsible for the world’s collision course. – Manfred Max-Neef (2010)
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.
Since the experts seem not to have a clue it’s anyone’s guess and fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Without any background or training in economics and little facility with figures, i venture to offer these musings on a possible scenario. Zen master Shunryu Suzuki (1973) maintains that being unburdened with expertise, offers a distinct advantage – in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few. Bearing in mind also the dictum attributed to Einstein that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler, let us strip matters down to their essence and go from there.
A change of heart or of values without a practice is only another pointless luxury of a passively consumptive way of life. – Wendell Berry
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 realities. 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 tradeable 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 (NPV) tabulated in the Planetary Index (PI). 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.