Alternative Vision to Capitalism

Men dig tons of earth

to find an ounce of gold

Heraclitus — “Fragments”

I often put our hyper-focus on economics, capitalism, and money on the chopping block, but I really haven’t offered an alternative vision with the exception of broad outlines in Utopian constructs.  But, I felt like throwing out a thought I had today.

Capitalism is focused on maximizing profit, cash flow, and stock price relative to assets employed (not including people for people aren’t classified as assets on financial statements), beating the competition, and rewarding those at the top (or the owners) of an enterprise with a great deal of money.  In general, people working for a capitalistic entity spend at a minimum forty hours a week on the job.  During the five weekdays, that minimum time commitment equates to approximately sixty percent of our waking hours.  If we take out approximate time for commuting to work, eating, and doing mundane errands, perhaps we have an hour per weekday of “free-time”.  Indeed, we have two days on the weekend where we can enjoy free-time during our waking hours, but there are many errands and mundane tasks to complete.  If we are honest with ourselves, the work week consumes most of our energy and often the weekend is simply a means to recover and re-charge.  Our lives, in general, are geared for the work week, and most people are living pay check to pay check.

My spontaneous and undeveloped alternative vision is that we create a structure where the goal is to maximize our free time.  As such, the motivation to work efficiently and diligently is not money and profit, rather the reward is FREEDOM.   In order for this to work properly, we would have to change a major dynamic and make some additional radical changes in our “currency”.  Rather than create goods and services (to feed us, shelter us, and entertain us) through competition, we would engage in these activities through COOPERATION.  And rather than treat money as the currency of exchange, we would replace that concept with the same currency used in all of nature with the exception of the human being – ENERGY.  And our energy would be measured by time spent working.  Depending on the level of responsibility or the quality or value of an individual’s output relative to that time spent working, a multiplier would be applied to the amount of time worked.  Thus, an individual’s “currency” would be a combination of time spent working and the value created, which would equate to the productivity of an individual’s energy expensed.  The productive use of energy each week would be calculated and stored on a type of debit card (no credit, for energy not yet spent does not create any value).  Through this debit card, the individual could then purchase the same things we purchase today.  The cost of “things”, whether they are products or services, would be measured in terms of energy expensed to create them.  Therefore, there wouldn’t be any inflation or prices that exceed the true value of the energy used to create them.   

Although there are still inherent problems with subjective assessments of value created per individual, at least we are basing this system on a more honest and accurate language than the current construct.  Money is paper, whereas our energy is our life.  And, it would be very difficult to create any type of Ponzi scheme when there is no credit, debt, or speculation for energy not yet used.  The beauty of this concept is that the talented individual is still rewarded, and the free-rider has no place to hide.  A talented individual also still has options.  He or she can decide whether more free-time is desired or more things.  They still have the freedom to make this choice.  They can choose to work two days a week, or three hours a day for five days, or take one week off and work the next week, or work ten hours per day seven days a week.  The free-rider, or the less talented or less productive, will of course have fewer options.  But, given the consensus is cooperation as opposed to competition to create our products and services, and the idea of FREEDOM is at the forefront of our priority, everyone’s energy is worth something, as opposed to nothing.  And therefore no one is going to be starving or homeless.  For all human beings have energy that can be put to use for something, as opposed to nothing.

14 thoughts on “Alternative Vision to Capitalism

  1. “… the reward is FREEDOM.” – I wouldn’t use this as the campain slogan as it instantly made me think of Roman Gladiators! haha

    The idea of energy-based economics is, as I expect you know, an idea that’s been around for a while. The original Technocratic idea of 1920s America was almost the same. I’ve came across many arguments calling Technocracy too clinical and wavering on Nazism – personally I don’t think that the 1920s Technocracy is the way forward, but I do agree with the ideals of your proposal.

    I am, however, unsure on the application. It is from what I can tell computer-based, cryptocurrency is already in existance and development but it would always be viable to attack via hackers (I guess like bank robbers).

    Are solar/wind/fusion scientists the 1% or does the government (energy overseers, I presume) pay them exstencively?

    I think the biggest and most important argument against a non-monetary system is the transfer between money and energy, how would you tackle that?

    Great post and fantastic quote at the top!

    • Thank you for informing me about the Tecnocratic movement of the 1920’s. I just read a summary on Wikipedia. I had never heard of this movememt before, but I am very interested to learn more about it. I think my undeveloped thought is quite different and I will return later to discuss after I have read more about this movement. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    • Neural Outlet,
      I found a good document where Howard Scott, the head of the technocratic movement, exchanges comments about the history and purpose of the movement via multiple letters with an economics professor that was writing a dissertation on the movement. I always enjoy learning about a movement through documents written by those in the movement as opposed to second hand accounts. Check out this response from Scott to the professor regarding what other engineers or scientists might have influenced his ideas: These letters were written and exchanged in 1964.

      “They never realized that human toil was the last thing in the world you had to be efficient about; the only way to be really efficient is to eliminate it entirely, and this would have been heresy to any of the Taylor, Gant,Barth, Cook efficiency crowd.

      It is sad to contemplate that men of the technical ability of the names mentioned in this paragraph were so lame in their thinking and social outlook that they missed the boat so completely. Who in hell wants to be efficient with a shovel, and what sense would there be even if you succeeded? They should have had their heads opened with a shovel; it might have been more effective.”

      LOL. Based on what I have read, Scott and the movement wanted to use machines and technology to free the human being from physical labor. They were not concerned with the environment or philosophical or artistic or political matters. It was all about maximizing production and freeing the blue collar man from the toil of hard labor.

      My undeveloped idea is quite different. I have no problem with the idea of physical labor if it is performed within reason and doesn’t abuse the individual. For instance, I would be happy to spend four hours five days a week picking up peoples garbage if that meant I could have free time and could trade the energy I expensed during those twenty hours to live in a warm apartment, drink a bottle of wine, and enjoy some decent food. And I would have plenty of free-time to pursue activities that I am interested in.

      I am not interested in measuring the energy used by machines for the production of goods and services, I am interested in measuring and assigning a value to the energy used by people to provide eachother with goods and services. Indeed, I have on occasion thought that if we took the right view, we could use machines to perform much of our work and therefore we could enjoy more free time. But under the current construct, machines simply take jobs and people become poor.

      The idea to measure people’s energy spent is simple for people to understand within the current construct…nothing but the idea of what “true” currency is changes. Of course the idea of cooperation is quite different than competition. I don’t have a problem with compeition in certain endeavors, but when it comes to providing eachother with food and shelter it is here where I believe cooperation is more desireable. Just as the Orca, lions, wild dogs, and the wolf cooperates as a pack to obtain food, so I believe the same should apply to the human being in the realm of food and shelter. Of course the big juggernut (within the status quo) is over-population and ignorance (poor education) and poverty, which I address elsewhere within this blog.

      As far as transforming from money to “human energy”, that would require not only a fully blown development of this idea, but also more energy to discuss how to implement. I would however, begin this concept in phases…phase in the new in pockets and expand outward.

  2. “What is the object of human society? Is it to dazzle the eye with an immense production of useful and elegant things? Is it to cover the sea with ships and the earth with railways? Is it, finally, to give two or three individuals out of each 100,000 the power to dispose of wealth that would suffice to maintain in comfort those 100,000?”

    • Thank you for the quote! I don’t know much about your family…but I have a feeling you grew up in a good environment as did I. I find it very strange that you and I and perhaps a large number of other people (students at OWS) are thinking about capitalism in such a manner. If we wrote such things during the cold war…we might be called communists and thrown in jail.

      • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Big Brother is keeping an eye on you my friend–and I’m not talking about Tom Cruise. 😉

  3. I like where you are going, but as a race we are too obstinate.
    I worry that you idea, like communism and other government forms, is only good in theory.
    Don’t think I’m comparing you idea to communism, I’m not.
    I’m just cynical of society 🙂

    • And your “worry” is the correct and realistic worry…which is why I don’t think I will be going any further with this thought to enter into practical applications of it. But, I am sure I repeat myself in future posts on the heart of the matter at hand.

      Communism doesn’t appeal to me at all probably because of my early upbringing and its failure and our view of it as American’s. I think capitalism has some good cconcepts, but as we see before us today, it too is just a theory that appears to have gone awry.

      • I’m rather fond of anarchy, but knowing humanity it would not work.
        I have a friend who want to organize people into classes based on their IQ’s
        I think that’s a little much, but he argues his case exceedingly will. But then again, so did Hitler.

      • I left you a similar question on another post regarding anarchy. As I said, I don’t know much about the thought behind it so I am interested in your theory and what the benefits of it are. Perhaps you have already created a post or two on the topic that you could refer me to.

        Your friend’s theory is interesting but I think an I.Q. score probably misses a myriad of other important qualities of an individual. The idea in my opinion is to establish a structure where everyone’s intelligence and knowledge is lifted up and of course there will be those rare individuals that reach higher peaks.

  4. I agree, he’s the biggest elitist I have ever met
    I guess you could say I prefer theoretical anarchy (I made that up, unless somebody whom I don’t know beat me to it :() because in theory, we should all have strong enough morals and enough respect for others that a form of government is not necessary. I do realize, though, that being humans we are not capable of such an existence. But think about it, assuming all humans has impeccable morals, no government means that everything is essentially fair, not even democracy can compete with that. No one would be suppressed by laws such as the anti-Semitic ones of Nazi Germany.
    I have not written anything about anarchy, as it has such a bad name. Nor have I read much on the topic, I want to delve more into the intertwined world of government, religion, ethics, and philosophy a little more before I become influenced by the ideas of others
    Vogons are a race from the book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams.
    They write terrible poetry.
    I like your idea, education is the key to a better society. Not only a more prosperous one, but a more considerate and respectful one.
    I also have issues with religion, I’m an atheist, but that’s another story…..

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