Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Key to the Survival of the Human Race (A Green Revolution)

If you ever read anything I write at all, I hope it's this.

I believe our current economic system is broken, and we need a completely new way of doing things. Before I start to explain this, I'll have to say that what I'm about to write is going to completely challenge the currently established systems of government, economy, commerce, and even personal values that we have. Not only will this proposal call for a complete redesign of our culture, but it will call for a total overhaul of the entire global economy and the monetary system as we know it. No world leader in recorded history has ever completely redesigned a culture to sustain the people in light of crises before, so this proposal will undoubtedly raise some questions, many I will probably not be able to answer on my own. While reading this, you will most likely stop several times and scoff. Read through this entirely before responding.

That being said, I came across a very exciting and very unique set of revolutionary ideas called The Venus Project. This is something that is currently in the works as we speak, and it could be the answer to our economic, sociopolitical and bio-social problems. You can read all about it here. The man who wrote it and whom I will cite in this writing is named Jacques Fresco, a Research and Development expert. He has been a technical consultant and engineer for several military projects, authored 13 books, and has invented/designed state-of-the-art technology used in transportation and medicine today. This writing is merely my attempt at simplifying his essay and informing as many as I can. Awareness is the first step toward change.

Why Such a Change is Necessary
In Jacque Fresco's essay (linked above), he mentions several prominent thinkers who dreamed up ideal egalitarian societies far ahead of their time like Plato, H.G. Wells, Karl Marx, Edward Bellamy, and others. These men all had plans to redesign their culture to meet the needs of the future, but lacked the technological resources to do so. After all, these men were writers and thinkers, not innovators and scientific experts. Along with the controversy of radical new ideas proposed to change our way of life, the established interests of the power elite were preserved as the populace had been conditioned for thousands of years to resist all radical change. However, just because past attempts at social change have failed before doesn't mean we shouldn't stop trying to find ways to do it. Fresco cites the cure for Syphilis as an example; more than 600 attempts at finding a cure took place before a cure actually worked. But we're all the better for it. Same thing with airplanes, or nearly any other life-changing innovation.

Despite changes in our energy use, technological advances, medical innovations, communications, ways of travel, and incorporation of computers and the internet in daily life, our social structure and way of government hasn't fundamentally changed in centuries. Why not? Proverbs 29:18 says, "Without a vision, the people will perish." Fresco aptly states that attaining a vision requires change. However, the main obstacle stopping change is the established interest, as it is threatened by change.

So what kind of change am I talking about?

In my previous note, I presented a theoretical plan that entailed new ways of taxation, along with other proposals that ultimately shrank the size of government, got our public schools back on the right track, gave us a competitive edge in green energy, helped reverse climate change, ended the war, and provided a universal health care plan for all. This plan also created a $600 B+ surplus and delayed the budget bust until 2070, assuming the figures and research used were factual.

However, that's exactly the problem. Even with a reformed way of leadership and government, our free enterprise system and monetary-based economy will fail within the century. This is unacceptable if we want to survive in and adapt to a rapidly-changing world. But this change will not be easy, and could unfortunately come about through violence without a smooth transition.

Fresco's essay says the ideal vision for a better world is one that maximizes the efficiency of technology, and utilizes that technology to enhance human life and protect the environment. As our economy is now tied globally, this would mean an entirely new way to do commerce, and privatization and competition would be rendered obsolete in the long-term, along with the money system. However, this is reminiscent of just under 200 years ago, when the Industrial Revolution began to take hold of the economy and the country.

When the Industrial Revolution first came about, there were many hardships that had to be overcome. Children were exploited for labor, people were forced into long working hours with little compensation, mining conditions were extremely hazardous, and women and minorities had to fight prejudice on a daily basis just to get their fair share. Still, the industrial period is still regarded today as one of the biggest and best social experiments in history, and completely reshaped our country for the better. Architecture and manufacturing were streamlined and efficient, and our rise to hegemony was exacerbated by such measures.

Now more than ever, the human race is faced with innumerable hardships; famine, overpopulation, poverty, water shortage, genocide, war, disease, climate change, replacement of human workers with automation, downsizing, and debt are some of the biggest obstacles we face today. Adding to that is the failure of our elected officials to overcome these problems. Fresco proposes that in times of great crisis and catastrophe, people are able to put aside their differences and work together for the common good and the need to do what is right to survive. One example is World War II, where the people invested in war bonds and American companies set aside their competitive differences to contribute to the war effort. In the face of such a massive cooperative effort, our enemies were defeated and the Allies won the war. He also reminds us that after the war, Americans enjoyed economic prosperity and an abundance of consumption due to the war effort.

However, none of these benefits will matter in a monetary-based economy where a few nations control available resources, as these resources will only be available to a privileged few while the rest of humanity continues to languish.

In times of crisis, many may depend on the government to provide leadership and aid. Indeed, Fresco aptly states that those who believe governments will provide the changes necessary to survive are mistaken; true change can only come from the populace. For example, should my hypothetical plan for the budget be enacted, we would only delay the budget bust until 2070, rather than today's estimated date of 2031. In the event of such a colossal breakdown, the existing powers could only declare a state of emergency to maintain the slightest shred of order in the face of impending chaos. Fresco states the vested interests and power elite may implement measures to solve immediate problems, but in doing so, may instead just work to preserve existing systems, despite these powers actually being a chief cause of catastrophe.

Fresco proposes the current political and economic system is obsolete, and that the cumbersome bureaucracy of politics is now simply an impediment to progress- especially in today's technological age, where decisions can be enacted through the simple and quick entry of data into a computer. Social change can only be brought about when the existing power structure no longer has the support and trust of the people; when what once worked is widely acknowledged to be irrelevant. That time is now more than ever.

Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles in the way of necessary social change is the traditionalist way of clinging to the old values and mindsets of the past. Fresco states many have placed the blame for world problems on minorities, immigrants, a rejection of traditionalist family or religious values, or the influence of an inexplicable supernatural force. These beliefs are backwards, irrelevant and regressive. The only way forward is through progressive means, rather than a retreat to traditional values.

Why a Money-Based Economy Won't Work in the Future
To bring about new ways of governing requires planning on a global scale; nations all over need to recognize the problems that all of us face, and work together to attain a global society. An internationally-accepted blueprint would be the beginning foundation, and a plan to lay out the infrastructure for a resource-based economy would be the logical next step. If the human race wants to prosper mutually, then resources need to be universally accessible.

Side note for all of my conspiracy theorist readers: I'm not calling for a "New World Order." This proposed global governing body has nothing in common with corporations forming a world government with the power elite in control over the populace.

Besides, the nation/state is all but a formality today anyhow. The world isn't driven anymore by politics, but through the global economy, the stockmarket, and multinational corporations. The money that gets traded in the market every day isn't with cash or gold, but through numbers in cyberspace. Even now, our global monetary system has been reformed into a system of arbitrary credit for trading purposes. For example, our recent government bailout of the multinational banking interests was done with this same system of credit, not cash deposits. Why not overhaul this for a better, more reliable system with tangible resources?

If we were to wake up one day and find that our money system was gone, we would still be able to build anything we wish and fulfill any human need as long as our topsoil, natural resources, and factories were still intact. Right now, in our current monetary economic system, the driving factors behind industry are competitive edge, profit, and the bottom line of wealth and power, not the enhancement of human life. As more people lose their jobs to more efficient technology, the problems that arise are largely ignored by the power elite, if they are even acknowledged at all. This has to change.

Thus, in a profit-driven free enterprise system, it doesn't serve the vested interests to drive to produce goods and services for the enhancement of human life. The bottom line is that the majority of the human race is in crisis and is unable to meet basic needs because resources are becoming more expensive. Rather than the availability of resources, our standard of well-being is dictated by money. This has to change.

People don't need money to survive, they need access to basic goods and services. Thus, we need to replace our money system with something that directly provides these resources to all. This can't happen if the world's resources are under the control of those out for the highest political and financial gain. People should be able to prosper without that prosperity coming at the expense of the lives of others. All of the problems a monetary-based system could be bypassed if the world's resources are viewed as the common property of the global population. Through a completely self-sustained resource-based economy, everyone could have a limitless supply of goods and services without debt or taxation.

Fresco's proposal doesn't call for Utopian Socialism. Indeed, all of the world's current systems are inherently flawed; communism, socialism, fascism, and even capitalism all create social strife, elitism, racism, and nationalism based on one's economic status. When societies such as these can't meet their need for necessary resources in light of all the world's aforementioned problems, and when peaceful talks and treaties fail to meet these needs, these countries will try to meet those needs through violence. Thus, a resource-based economy would render war obsolete as a means to gain a specific need. Fresco rightly calls war the biggest waste of lives and resources ever devised by humankind.

As our economy continues to teeter and as jobs continue to disappear, it's obvious we need a new bottom line and new economic and political strategies before its too late. Not only is this a plan for a new economy, but also a strategy for eliminating the chief causes which cause such strife. This means as we phase in this new system, we need to phase out old value systems and irrelevant ways of thinking.

Advantages of A Resource-Based Economy
Using resources instead of money through an equal means of distribution, and technology humanely and efficiently for the good of all is Fresco's ideal vision. Through this system, the global population would be unified as all natural and synthetic resources would be available without the need for exchange- this includes money, credit, and bartering. This would be maintained through infrastructure made for maximum efficiency and through sustainable and renewable energy. Through this system, we could easily produce all the needs of humankind and provide a higher standard of living for everyone, from Eastern Africans to the Western power elite.

Some would argue that a system such as this is practically impossible, as traits like greed, lust for power, and corruption will always exist. However, Jacques Fresco theorizes that as these traits aren't inherent, but rather learned from one's environment. He believes living in a profit-driven society encouraging the selfish accumulation of money and power encourages selfish and destructive thinking. In Fresco's essay, he goes on to say capitalism provides incentive for success, but it also fosters greed, corruption, embezzlement, crime, stress, economic hardship, and insecurity. In an environment where all available resources are cared for in a sustainable way through the common good, these traits would become obsolete, and would thus be phased out as new generations are born.

Fresco notes it is clear that our current system is broken when the US Department of Agriculture, responsible for finding higher crop yields per acre, encourages farmers to not produce at full capacity while people starve. Other examples include companies choosing to discard their waste into the environment, despite the availability of sustainable methods- or factories discarding waste into the atmosphere despite sustainable electrostatic precipitator technology (green technology) having been available for nearly a century. These problems could all be eliminated with an overhaul of the money system, which doesn't always serve the best needs of the people and the environment.

Spending his professional life developing and researching new technological innovations, Fresco says we have the available technology to hand over all manufacturing, distribution, and inventory jobs to automation. Indeed, it is a rarity in today's economy for a person to earn a living for such a task. Perhaps the most revolutionary statement Fresco makes is that in this new, resource-based system, the principles of "work" and "earning a living" would be rendered obsolete. He compares it to the days of the Greek thinkers, when slaves did the necessary and mundane work while free men were free to cultivate their minds and broaden their own understanding. However, in this scenario, instead of slaves, we would have automated technology performing these mundane tasks, which could perform much more efficiently and sustainably than man.

This form of economy could provide the highest possible standard of living with no cost or labor. We would have unprecedented leisure time; time we could spend playing with our children, building and inventing new things, reading or writing books, traveling, or visiting with friends. In times of economic disparity, it is necessary for both parents to work sometimes up to two jobs just to make it through each day and meet the family's needs. Money is needed for high costs of living, medical bills, car payments, rent, and the like. With free access to resources, home would be infinitely more pleasant, as families could spend more time with one another. Imagine the limits of human potential if education and resources were available for all, or if we could instead use the time we spend working countless hours to pay bills in favor of self-fulfillment and creativity!

Implementing a Resource-Based Economy
When fully realized, this system would be completely self-sustainable. As stated The technology currently exists for manufacturing, distribution, and inventory to be fully computerized and automated. Healthcare and Education would be of the highest quality and available for all. This means the gathering, maintenance, and supply of resources both synthetic and natural would be at a constant maximum. These machines would run on completely sustainable and renewable energy sources; geothermal, solar, wind, tidal, photovoltaic, and controlled fusion could easily replace our petroleum-fueled society with the application of the right technology. Indeed, Fresco states the process would be relatively painless if we went about solving social problems in the same way we do problems like war and, well, the economy- in a united, controlled, thoroughly planned-out effort.

Assuming we went with my ten-year budget plan I presented in my previous note, we would have a $600 B surplus by 2028, and will have delayed the inevitable budget bust until 2070. In this time of brief prosperity in the old system, we can invest in state-of-the-art technology available then to design sustainable, resource-based communities in and around the world's major cities. Combine this with an internationally-accepted blueprint for a global society and the humane application of technology to automate all of society's mundane tasks, and we'd be well on our way to mutual global prosperity. In reality, if we used actual money to trade for the equipment to redesign all of the world's cities, it would be impossible. However, the key to attaining this vision is a smooth transition from the old system to the new. The Venus Project currently operates out of Florida, and an experimental community is in the works now. If this experiment were participated in on a global scale, we could achieve this goal in a relatively short period of time. We would need to redesign our transportation systems and industrial plants along with our cities to maximize efficiency and cleanliness.

For example, food shortages would no longer be an issue in a global society with a resource-based economy; the technology exists for us to embed electronic probes in soil which would maintain a constant watch of water table levels, soil conditions, nutrients, and the like. This system could act appropriately without the need for human intervention. This same type of technology could be used to garner the same benefits to manage a global, resource-based economy.

Raw materials used for manufacturing could be directly transported to factories through intricately timed transportation sequences. Items would be delivered with ships, monorails, trains, pipelines, and pneumatic tubes. Fresco states we have the available technological prowess so these transportation systems would always be used for maximum efficiency; there would be no empty cars on return trips, nor would there be freight trains stored in yards waiting for another business cycle. Inventory would be fully automated between distribution centers and factories- this means demand would always be met along with statistics gathered on consumption rates and evaluation of preferences. Through a balance-load economy, things like shortages, over-runs, and waste would be things of the past.

As we continue to develop all forms of alternative, clean and renewable energy from the Earth, we'll have plentiful and cheap fuel to last us thousands of years at relatively little cost and in great abundance. Electronic processes could be put in use to cut down on waste and harm to the environment. For example, the need for books and newsprint and paper would be obsolete with a method Fresco proposes; placing a sheet of light-sensitive film over a monitor or screen that captures the information and holds it until deletion. In the long-term, this solution would save millions of pounds of paper and trees, and eventually there won’t be a need for paper for things like phonebooks, advertisements, newspapers, and books, as these will be readily accessible electronically.

Some fear that this plan will eliminate the need for individuality and promote needless uniformity. However, this observation is unfounded; a resource-based economy and way of life will instead push people to be the best they can be and live to their fullest potential; the biggest untapped resource today is human creativity and innovation. Thus, in a system proposed here, the individual would be valued above all. The only uniformity would be a united global society dedicated to the preservation of the environment and the betterment of human life for all.

Currently, products like shoes, clothes, and computers are made with a planned obsolescence, made only to last so long as consumers must trade more money to the companies looking for profit in order to replace their outdated products. In a resource-based economy, all manufacturing would instead be tailored for maximum efficiency and durability. Untold amounts of energy and time would be saved as the duplication of competing products would no longer be necessary. And with the overhaul of the money system comes the elimination of non-productive and obsolete jobs and personnel; the waste generated by occupations such as lawyers, accountants, bankers, insurance companies, advertising, salesmen, and stockbrokers would be eliminated as a resource-based system would outgrow the need for these jobs. Planned obsolescence would be a thing of the past.

As all resources would be shared for the good of all, Fresco proposes ownership would be of no advantage whatsoever in a society of abundance.

An Evolution of Incentives and Values
I imagine the critics of this system will have plenty to say in regards to such radical changes such as an overhaul of the money system and the creation of a global society. However, one of the biggest clashes this theory has with the old way of doing things is that it totally challenges the American ideals of capitalism, free enterprise, and entrepreneurship. Critics may also say this system eliminates personal and individual drive to succeed and prosper. I'll address those arguments in this section.

There is no evidence that this system would reduce an individual's drive to achieve. However, there is overwhelming evidence that malnutrition, lack of employment, low wages, poor health, lack of direction, lack of education, homelessness, little or no reinforcement for one's efforts, poor role models, poverty, and a bleak prospect for the future greatly inhibits one's pursuits of achievement. These social and environmental problems that very much exist today are problems that could all be overcome in a resource-based economy.

Other critics might suggest that without monetary compensation, there would be no tangible reward for achievement or success. This assumption is completely false and unfounded. Society's greatest minds like Einstein, Goddard, Darwin, Tesla, Da Vinci, and Galileo were all people who genuinely cared for improving the quality of life and solving social problems rather than mere financial gain. Besides, there has always been a public mistrust of those who are out purely to make as much money as they can; lawyers, corporate executives, salesmen, and others are good examples.

Fresco's main point is this: The ultimate goal of a resource-based economy is to develop and nurture a new system of motivation and incentive. New incentives would no longer center around the shallow and self-centered goals of wealth, property, and power; this way of thinking is ultimately self-destructive. Our new value system would encourage people to pursue different goals, such as self-fulfillment and creativity, the elimination of scarcity, the protection of the environment, and an ongoing effort to end the suffering of our fellow human beings.

The obsolete money system requires us to waste day after day of our lives in meaningless toil, squandering half of our life simply for the sake of making enough money to survive the next day. This model is reminiscent of the early days of man, where food had to be hunted down for days and killed before hunger was satisfied. Why can't society evolve past this, as we've evolved in every other way? With the need for "earning a living" eliminated, we would suddenly be presented with unprecedented wealth of new wonders to experience, explore, and invent. So much so that the concepts of boredom and apathy would be considered absurd.

Critics of this system should look instead to the faults of our current system, where positive motivation and want for social change is squelched. I don't doubt that many of my conservative and liberal readers both are currently questioning my sanity and/or patriotism. Fresco notes it's an unfortunate state of affairs when a person dare not dream of a future that seems unattainable to him or her.

Rather than a want for power and money, the people of a fully-realized global society would have priority for their fellow man and for the protection and maintenance of the environment- the source of our way of life, energy, and resources. This would be the unifying incentive.

Critics of this system may state that this completely degrades the American way of life. However, Fresco proposes that what degrades our way of life the most is our lack of concern for those who regularly struggle with poverty, hunger, and homelessness. All this society is meant to do is to drive all of us to reach our fullest potential. This wouldn't compromise individuality; rather, it would encourage us to fulfill all of our individual pursuits to our heart's content.

Without the need for a power elite or a money system, this society would render obsolete the silencing of one’s opinion or the deliberate manipulation of information or people for profit. Indeed, this society's strengths would be the free access of information and the availability of goods and services to all.

This idea isn't a final solution, but it is a rough outline for the next necessary step in social evolution. This new culture would be in a constant process of growth and improvement as technology and innovation will continue to improve. Ultimately, success would be measured by the fulfillment of one's individual pursuits rather than the acquisition of wealth, property, and power.

These following measures must be considered and enacted before the end of this century if we want to dig ourselves out of our current mire of social, political, and economic problems. These are Fresco's tenets for an ideal resource-based global society-

1. Conserving all the world's resources as the common heritage of all of the Earth’s people.
2. Transcending all of the artificial boundaries that separate people.
3. Evolving from a monetary-based economy to a resource-based world economy.
4. Reclaiming and restoring the natural environment to the best of our ability.
5. Redesigning our cities, transportation systems, and agricultural and industrial plants so that they are energy efficient, clean, and conveniently serve the needs of all people.
6. Evolving towards a cybernated society that can gradually outgrow the need for all political local, national, and supra-national governments as a means of social management.
7. Sharing and applying all of the new technologies for the benefit of all nations.
8. Using clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal power, etc.
9. Ultimately utilizing the highest quality products for the benefit of all the world’s people.
10. Requiring environmental impact studies prior to construction of any mega-projects.
11. Encouraging the widest range of creativity and incentive toward constructive endeavor.
12. Assisting in stabilizing the world’s population through education and voluntary birth-control to conform to the carrying capacity of the earth.
13. Outgrowing nationalism, bigotry and prejudice through education.
14. Eliminating any type of elitism, technical or otherwise.
15. Arriving at methodologies by careful research rather than random opinions.
16. Enhancing communication in the new schools so that our language and education is relevant to the physical conditions of the world around us.
17. Providing not only the necessities of life but also offering challenges that stimulate the mind, emphasizing individuality rather than uniformity.
18. Finally, preparing people intellectually and emotionally for the possible changes that lie ahead.

Fresco emphasizes the point that The Venus Project is neither Utopian nor Orwellian, nor does it reflect the dreams of impractical idealists. Instead, this set of revolutionary new ideas presents attainable goals which only require the intelligent and humane application of what we already know and have. The only limitations are those we impose upon ourselves.

What are your thoughts? I'll try and answer your questions and concerns to the best of my knowledge.

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