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.