If we are going to do this right…
If we are going to make it to a healthier, more sustainable, more fun future for the world, we’re going to have to let go of the old ideas that got us into this mess, and come up with new ideas.
For one, we are going to have to let go of the idea of “independence” and the idea of “dependence”, and instead start working from the idea of interdependence. We need to share our extra (currently unused) resources as much as possible, starting with those in our own circles of family and friends, and then expanding outward to the rest of the community at large and the rest of the world.
We need to set up simple, easy to use systems, which support this kind of peer-to-peer sharing of physical resources, in addition to the digital peer-to-peer networks such as social networking and file-sharing. For example, I have tons of stuff – books, lettuce, art materials, and seeds – which I’m not presently using that other people might find very useful right now. But I don’t have an easy way to share those things. If I don’t need them at all, I might be able to offer them on Freecycle, or bring them into the local library to share, but even that doesn’t work well because Freecycle only covers a huge geographical area (either a whole town, or, up here in Maine, a whole county), rather than focusing on just my neighbors or friends who I’m likely to see in the next day or so, and the library doesn’t have many hours it’s open, and has limited storage for most stuff. So it’s inefficient, and doesn’t cover things that I definitely want to use again.
The new Zeitgeist: Moving Forward movie suggests that there should be a government run global computer system to do this, but that isn’t the most efficient way to do it, as we know that the most efficient way to move resources is the way living things do it, using smaller local networks (organs) to do most of the work, unless there’s some emergency, or something totally unavailable in an area.
My suggestion is that each individual will have their own unique network “circle” for communication in which there will be a simple, easy to access list of “offers” and “wants” prominently displayed, with each item labeled as either “temporary” or “permanent” or “either”. It will be easily updated (as opposed to the one I have over in the rightmost column of this blog that takes ten minutes to update, making it really out of date, and not useful for stuff I need or have to offer periodically). The best way to do it is for people to find it easy to add and subtract things on their list daily or even hourly (permanent offer: lunch leftovers! temporarily wanted: someone to bring mom and I to see Harry Potter). Checking people’s lists will become a standard form of interaction, with people exchanging and sharing things with those in their own circle (and sometimes outside of it) as a normal part of their day. Larger organizations and government can be a part of your circle if you want it to be, so that you and they can also share resources.
Money can still be used in the world, but because it is artificially limited and takes extra resources just to make and use it, it’s generally an inefficient way of getting valuable resources from where they aren’t needed to where they are, so it’s only there as an alternative, mostly only used for anti-social things, such as personal products that don’t increase one’s health, and could be heavily taxed. The real economy will be natural, non-linear, qualitative (rather than quantitative), and freely flowing as the whole system moves the best quality things around efficiently, with no taxes that would drag down all the socially beneficial exchanges.
The question is, who will create this simple system? Not me. I’m no code geek! It will be someone who has vision and an interest and skill in creating a very practical communication tool.