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Author Topic: The nature of money...
Zatamon
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1394

posted 24 June 2002 06:44 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I feel so guilty about starting that "Israeli suicide..." thread, that I must try to provide some distraction for it. This thread is my attempt to bring up another subject that has nothing to do with the Middle East, but probably provides ample fuel for heated (no too heated I hope) arguments. It is another old rant of mine...

I hope to get valuable feedback from all, in particular Dr.C who knows what he is talking about when it comes to money...

...............

"I made a mistake today: I listened to the news. I haven't done this for some time, and was surprised how it sounded. Like a country under siege. Apparently, we can not do anything to help those in need, and even have to stop much of the help we have been giving, because there is no money. I counted: sixteen out of seventeen news items had to do with lack of money (The seventeenth was about rescuing a dog that fell in the lake).

In our culture, the habit of thinking in terms of money is so deeply ingrained that nobody seems to find another topic. It is bloody boring, to say the least, that our entire civilization is stuck in the financial perspective. There were times in history, not even too long ago, when people recognized other values.

I have recently finished reading Ghandi's biography and was deeply moved by the contrast between my world and his. Ghandi proved that big social changes can be accomplished by peaceful resistance, loyalty, humility, concern for the common good.

The history of Canada, until quite recently, is the history of nation building. All the social institutions we are so proud of: medicare, pensions, unemployment insurance, high quality public education all represent ideals not measured by profit.

Now at the end of the twentieth century, all we seem to care about is money and power. How can this culture be so primitive?

There were times when people were ready to die for their country, for freedom and equality, or God, or something beyond the contents of their pockets. Everything revolves around "economics", as if we identified our human selves with our production system; or even worse, as if the system were controlling us and not the other way around.

We are atomized into alienated little islands; suspicious at one another, snarling and baring our fangs at anyone who comes near; clutching our wallets possessively, while eyeing the bulging purses of our rich with envy and resentment.

What happened to patriotism, compassion, generosity? What happened to brave new ideas, vision, enthusiasm? Why are we such boring bastards, without deep convictions, without noble goals?

I think mankind needs a refresher-course in philosophy, to put things in perspective. The ancient Greek philosophers were so much smarter than we are. They knew about balance and harmony and didn't turn themselves into tiny cogs to fit in a big machine. They wanted it all: math, science, technology, arts, sports, politics and religion. Greedy buggers, they were not content to be only merchants and bean-counters.

We have all heard the expression "renaissance man" as stories filter down to our stultified existence about larger-than-life adventurers who had more than one interest and wanted to hog as much life as their energy and imagination would support.

There were times when people wanted to soar above the clouds and discourse with God and experience all the wonders of existence. Now, machines do our soaring for us, while we are stuck with our noses in financial records, groaning and moaning how we can not fix or improve anything.

So what am I talking about? I am talking about money and how boring the subject is.

Money is a human invention to facilitate trade. It is a medium of exchange, nothing more. It is not a law of nature, not a basic fact of existence, not a god, not even an important discovery.

What is important is this marvelously rich planet we live on, with its plentiful resources (until we waste it on heedless gluttony) with its benign climate (until we destroy it with global warming, pollution and acid rain) our accumulated knowledge in science and technology (that could provide plenty for everybody) and the incredible beauty that artists have created for our joy (until it drowns in worship of ugliness and the basest drives to raw sex and violence).

We say, nothing can be done for lack of money. Why? We need time; we need resources; we need manpower. We stand paralyzed, and let our cities disintegrate and our roads crumble and our children go hungry - even though we have plenty of bricks to build houses; plenty of idle people to build roads; so much food that it often rots in our warehouses.

Why?

Because we have no money?

Who the hell cares about money? If this human invention does not do its job, helping us to exchange things, than why bother with it?

Has it become a god that rules our every breath from cradle to grave? Would a sane civilization allow an invention of its own to paralyze it into helpless stagnation, abandon things that urgently need doing, even though it had everything required to do them?

If a group of us were shipwrecked on a desert island, would we starve to death because we had no money to facilitate trade? Of course not. We would get busy building huts and planting crops to make our lives as comfortable as we could.

Why can we not do it now? What is the difference? The unmanageable size of the group that can hide the lazy and the parasitic? The smoke-screen created by those who want us to be confused so we do not see that, while we produce, they wallow in luxury without contributing?

Instead of building community, based on interdependence (which is what 'community' means), producing and sharing, we are asked to put our faith in hare-brained dogmas like "trickle-down economics", "small government", "fiscal responsibility", "tax-cuts for the rich" (to stimulate the economy) that have been proven false time after time (of course almost nobody reads History any more).

What is happening here?

The basic issue is very simple.

What are we? We are a Country. What is a country? It is a group of people residing on a well-defined territory, living together, using division of labor to produce necessities (and luxuries) and sharing what is produced.

Production is science and technology and organization. No matter who is in control, eventually something needs to be produced, or we all starve. We need farms and factories and energy and transportation and communication. We need them in communism, in capitalism, in anarchism, in monarchy, in fascist dictatorships. Makes no difference. If we do not produce, we die. We can do it better or worse, more or less efficiently, more or less messily, but we have to produce the food, build the houses, weave the fabric, run our trains, maintain our phonelines.

Production is not the issue. Distribution is.

We tend to think in terms of money. But we never consume money. We do not eat it, wear it, or heat our houses by shoveling paper bills into the furnace.

If we want to understand what is happening in the world, we must try to explain what is REALLY happening, leaving money out of it. Money is only the hat a magician pulls rabbits out of.

Look at it this way: take the economic output of the planet for a one-year period. Concentrate only on food, housing, clothing, furniture, means of transportation, communication, health-care and education. These are the essential products that we need for healthy survival.

So much is produced during one year.

Some of what is produced is destroyed, stockpiled, lost, or whatever. But most of it is distributed. It gets into individual hands; it is owned and consumed by individual people. That is what matters.

If I have a billion dollars in the bank (or under the mattress) and never use it, I am poor. What makes me rich is not a figure on a sheet of paper or in a computer's memory chips. What makes me rich is my share of the communally-produced cache of goods.

The house I live in, the car I drive, the quantity and quality of food I eat, the clothes I wear, the neighborhood I can afford to live in, the school I send my kids to, the vacations I take. That is what makes me rich or poor, not the money I own.

Money is a fiction. It is not part of the reality we were born into. It is not necessary for survival. Production is. Distribution is. Money is a human invention for simplifying and facilitating trade. It would have been completely superfluous had we decided to share equally. Then only production and distribution would be required.

But we decided not to share equally. After all this would not be fair. We don't want to feed the lazy and incompetent (or his children) and we don't want to deprive the more diligent and talented. We created money to make sure that we don't distribute products equally. Well, we got our wish. Just look at the world.

Now, instead of producing and consuming and living healthy, happy lives, we have wars, famines, pollution, poverty and despair all over the world.

Money serves as the greatest myth of all time.

Replacing the simple issue of surviving well on a lonely planet in a vast Universe, money created an insane-asylum of banks, interest rates, money supply, tax-cuts, subsidies, grants, off-shore accounts, inflation, recession, deficit-financing, leveraged buyouts, credit-rating, hostile takeovers, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios and CEO compensation packages.

Is that what is meant by throwing the baby out with the bath water?

We wanted to make sure that no person could cheat others. So we invented money. Now money is the primary medium of cheating each other out of our share. Just look at the number of rich, unproductive parasites living in obscene luxury and the number of hard-working, productive people who have difficulty feeding their children and keeping a roof over their heads.

I believe we would be much better off if we decided to share equally and feed a few no-good, lazy bums. Most people would continue producing, if for no other reason than the sheer boredom of idleness.

If we never question the basic assumption of unequal sharing, we get our world as it is today. Total confusion, misery, fear, envy, loathing, hate, unhappiness. As Ayn Rand said in her noble speech on money in ‘Atlas Shrugged’: "money or guns...make your choice". We did. Now we have both.

The only way to create a utopia on Earth is by resolving the age-old problem of distribution. If humanity abandoned the concept of money and started to share equally, we would gain by eliminating an enormous waste of resources on the mechanisms required to maintain the financial system (most of government, all of finance, most of enforcing, all of the military; insurance, welfare, social assistance; much of the judicial system; weapons programs, etc., etc.)

My feeling is that - even if 10-20 percent of people would decide not to contribute to production, we would still be better off. The percentage of non-contributing people is a lot higher now, if we count those who are employed in the activities that would be eliminated.

On the other hand, if what we want is a system where some of us can be RELATIVELY better off than others (even if their absolute standard of living fell below what they would enjoy in the equal sharing method) then the solution is obviously the one we have now.

We humans are creatures of habit. At birth we inherit a world with its millions of facts and billions of connections, and never really think to ask fundamental questions about the principles by which humanity is organized.

We only want to tinker with the surface, without touching the foundations. The few who dare to question basic assumptions, we recoil from, we call them crackpots, immature or insane, but we never dare to wonder whether they may be right.

Where is our much-touted big brain and scientific method and power over nature, when it comes to organizing ourselves into a viable community? What is the point of sending Man into space or redesigning the genetic code of existing species or creating new ones, if we still can not keep our own numbers under control and swarm over this beat-up old planet in our starving and bleeding billions?"

[ June 24, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 24 June 2002 07:13 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm flattered that you mentioned me, really.

Nonetheless, you have said what I would say, only in different words. I would be hard-pressed to find any fault with your statements.

Having said that, I would like to make some notes:

One of the stated reasons for almost entirely abandoning a gold standard was that money did not necessarily need intrinsic value to be a medium of exchange.

An old documentary film from the 1950s that I watched made absolutely no mention of any vestige of gold backing for the US dollar (although at the time there was one, via the Bretton Woods agreement), and mentioned only its use as a medium of exchange and a common standard of value for different objects.

Seems like 'they' knew what they were on about back then. The irony is that money in fiat form is pursued for its own sake just as much as when money was intrinsically valuable.

I think the current focus on money to the exclusion of all else has its roots in the inflationary spasms of the 1970s. People whose worst fears came alive had the clout to more than beat back those fears and in the process reorder the world more to their liking.

What fears do I speak of? The fall in the value of money. The 1970s, on average, saw money fall at the rate of 7% per year. Just adding this up means that money was cheaper by 70% in 1980 than it was in 1970.

Now, for those of us who do not prize money for its own sake, the fall in the value of money is, while troublesome, something we can live with.

But for those who prize money for its own sake, nothing could be worse than to watch it fall in value, to be eroded to nothing - for money as a store of wealth is money being pursued for its own sake rather than being utilized as a medium of exchange.

quote:
What happened to patriotism, compassion, generosity? What happened to brave new ideas, vision, enthusiasm? Why are we such boring bastards, without deep convictions, without noble goals or convictions?

I think mankind needs a refresher-course in philosophy, to put things in perspective. The ancient Greek philosophers were so much smarter than we are. They knew about balance and harmony and didn't turn themselves into tiny cogs to fit in a big machine. They wanted it all: math, science, technology, arts, sports, politics and religion. Greedy buggers, they were not content to be only merchants and bean-counters.


The answer?

Simply put, the "average man/woman" started having it too good, and enough people who didn't like the idea decided to shove the average man back into "his place".


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 24 June 2002 07:19 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think that is the longes post I've ever seen on the Internet.

quote:
It is bloody boring, to say the least, that our entire civilization is stuck in the financial perspective. There were times in history, not even too long ago, when people recognized other values.

I agree with a certain amount of what you say. Economics, however, although it is called the "dismal science" is profoundly important to the development and welfare of civilization--indeed any full discussion of human activity that attempted to remove the economic dimension would be unintelligible. I also cannot entirely share your pessimism. There is a difference between a "good but needs improvement" world and a "perfect" world. The latter is unattainable, at least in this life. The former is what we now have. Canadian people are among the freest, most prosperous, best educated and healthiest humans to ever have existed. The fact that we still have homeless people, that our health care system requires adjustment, etc. are problems which need to be addressed with alacrity, but hardly the harbingers of doom or signs of massive, irreperable injustice.


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 24 June 2002 07:26 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
They wanted it all: math, science, technology, arts, sports, politics and religion. Greedy buggers, they were not content to be only merchants and bean-counters.

Is that all we are? Have you been to a Chapters lately? Attended the Theatre? Toured the ROM? Upgraded your degree? Canada is awash in cultural resources and sophistication. I agree there is much to admire about the Hellenic world, but let's not pretend that it was a nation of nothing but the likes of Sophocles and Plato. In fact, about 85% of the population were forbidden from participating in any of the noble activities you list. Any Canadian, in theory at least, can study art, philosophy and mathematics.


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 24 June 2002 07:30 PM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I like Dr. C too !

This looks like it's going to be an interesting
thread.

"I think mankind needs a refresher-course in philosophy, to put things in perspective. "

I think it's a new spirituality that is needed, not philosophy. We have effectively rid ourselves of religion, but have accidentally lost our spirit as well.

I don't think the problem lies in money itself, but in our barren replacement for spiritualism - consumerism.

Our society would be so much better if only a few more people ignored messages that appealed to our base instincts - our lust, our laziness, our irrational fears etc. etc.

But consumer society isn't about gathering information and working on our personal and societal problems. It's about denial. Our consumer "information" only comes in two flavours:shiny good news and sensationalist bad news.


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 24 June 2002 07:37 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Money is a fiction. It is not part of the reality we were born into. It is not necessary for survival. Production is. Distribution is. Money is a human invention for simplifying and facilitating trade. It would have been completely superfluous had we decided to share equally. Then only production and distribution would be required.

Money, of course, is symbollic. But so are huge swaths of what we humans use to run societies. Animals "produce" and "consume" without money, indeed without civilization. Just because money is a symbollic representation of "real" stuff does not make it pointless or superfluous. A society based solely on barter would not get much past the hunter-gatherer stage (and yes, I am fully aware that many people seem to think that would be just fine, but not most people).

Laws are also symbollic. Animals have no laws. Are our laws against rape and murder also pointless becuase they are "fiction"al? Why don't we just collectively "decide" or "choose" not to commit any more crimes? Then we would not require laws, jails or police. Perhaps the answer is that this is utopian thinking that has no connection to the real world.

I could buy the argument that humans may one day evolve to a point where there is no crime, no property etc. but so far attempts to impose that kind of reality on the messiness of actual existence has failed dismally.

[ June 24, 2002: Message edited by: Smoov ]


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 24 June 2002 07:41 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
We have effectively rid ourselves of religion

I think that would be news to the 96% of humanity who adhere to one of the world's many religions.


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 24 June 2002 07:45 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Audra, I sighed a big sigh of relief when you closed that bastard child of mine ("Israeli suicide...") but I am not sure any more.

If it was still open, smoov would still be busy there!

Somebody, quick, start another Israeli thread!


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 24 June 2002 08:47 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
In regard to philosophy, I would say that this is one of the cruxes of Zatamon's argument. If you make the primary motivating factor among the general population the pursuit of scraps from the table, they will orient their mindsets to this perspective.

On the other hand, if you make the motivating factor the pursuit of self-improvement and excellence, the general population will orient their mindsets this way.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 24 June 2002 08:54 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Or another way to put what Dr.C. just said:

In our civilization, the emphasis is not on producing the largest quantity and best quality of products, using the least amount of resources and causing the smallest amount of damage to the environment, but on acquiring the largest amount of money in the shortest possible time.

Even if this results in enormous waste, massive pollution of the planet and an overall reduction in the quality of everyone's life.

We can actually strangle ourselves with money.

It is very important to learn from History. If we won't, "we will repeat it" (full quote is: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -- George Santayana in "The Life of Reason", 1905)

Here is a good example:

"In 594 BC in Greece, representatives in the middle classes asked Solon to accept election...with dictatorial powers to soothe the social war tearing Greece apart.
His first measure was simple but drastic economic reforms. By his famous Seisachtheia, or removal of Burdens, Solon canceled ...all existing debts whether owing to private persons or the state. ...and at one blow cleared Attic lands of all Mortgages.. All persons enslaved or attached for debt were released; those sold into servitude abroad were reclaimed and freed; and such enslavement was forbidden for the future. ...within a decade opinion became almost unanimous that the act had saved Attica from revolution" (Will Durant: "The life of Greece - The story of civilization").

It was possible 2595 years ago.

[ June 24, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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Babbler # 370

posted 24 June 2002 09:09 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The house I live in, the car I drive, the quantity and quality of food I eat, the clothes I wear, the neighborhood I can afford to live in, the school I send my kids to, the vacations I take. That is what makes me rich or poor, not the money I own. This is a quote. Sorry Zatamon I forgot the quotes.

The problem is that all this takes money. Money to pay the rent or taxes on the house, heating, food, school books, car, gas,fixing the car, vacations etc. Sorry Zatamon this was a quote. I tried to put it in and zilch.
This is the exchange system that we use. It is a phoney system as $ have no intrinsic value. It is a bugger. The system is rotten. Let us hope that Meades and his generation will get their act together and see how we can all live together.

[ June 24, 2002: Message edited by: clersal

[ June 24, 2002: Message edited by: clersal ]


From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 24 June 2002 09:10 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The largest amount of progress in reducing pollution has been in advanced Western democracies. The worst polluters are collectivist autocracies like China and the former Soviet Union (remember Chornobyl).

I would not belittle the notion of debt-forgiveness as I think there are times it is appropriate. Whether ancient history is always a good guide for modern economic policy is another matter. Generally speaking, the largest amount of good can be achieved through helping all nations to get and maintain a reasonable level of prosperity. The only modern system (i.e., excluding hunter-gatherer and agrarian cultures)which so far has managed to do this more or less consistently is the one we enjoy in this country: a liberal democratic free market state.

If someone can devise a superior system then by all means let's hear of it.


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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Babbler # 1394

posted 24 June 2002 09:29 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
clersal: The system is rotten. Let us hope that Meades and his generation will get their act together and see how we can all live together.

clersal, do you remember that old rant of mine from last year? It was called: "Suggestions to the Federal Cabinet"

Meades really liked it. Maybe he is 'working on it' right now, as we speak!


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 24 June 2002 09:32 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yep, I remember it. Meades and Sam L. Sorry about that Sam L.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 24 June 2002 09:40 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well I read "Suggestions to the Federal Cabinet". I hate to break it to you, but you were scooped 120 or so years ago by Mssrs. Marx & Engels. Granted, just because communism has resulted in mass murder and totalitarianism everywhere it has been "tried" does not mean it might not work some day. While we're at it, let's bring back witch burning to deal with that pesky crime problem.
From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 24 June 2002 09:44 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You know witches? Wow, I am impressed.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1394

posted 24 June 2002 09:47 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
clersal, we are 'smooving' to a thread drift here.

Lets try lance's PLONK...Plonk...plonk...pl..


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 370

posted 24 June 2002 10:10 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Gotcha
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2802

posted 24 June 2002 10:15 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
"Thread Drift": Happens when posters

a) are not Zatamon or
b) are not stroking Zatamon's ego.

Gotta love leftists. It's all well and good for "protesters" to show up in my city, fight the cops, tie up traffic, piss in the newspaper boxes and smear shit on bank windows, but verboten for someone to voice alternative opionions in a "public" online forum.


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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Babbler # 370

posted 24 June 2002 10:19 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Right on. Plonk..plonk..plo.....
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2802

posted 24 June 2002 10:27 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Wonder what the lefty troops have prepared for the G8 summit? Vomit-filled baloons? Moon the public (again)? Screeching unintelligible infantile slogans into megaphones? Snake walks or turtle marches or whatever the hell these clowns are up to nowadays?

One thing's fer sure, we'll all just have to get used to

"the foaming denouncers of the bourgeoisie ... and all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of 'progress' like bluebottles to a dead cat."

- George Orwell, 1937


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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Babbler # 1394

posted 24 June 2002 10:28 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
thanks clersal, I knew you would...

One of the things I like about Babblers is their imagination and humour. Aren’t we all tired of going around the same circles, rehashing the same arguments, over and over, month after month? Personally, I like the new, the unexpected, the unexplored, something that was not discussed a million times before.

So what I am hoping to achieve with this thread is get feedback from these babblers who are not afraid to explore new ideas and ‘what if…’ scenarios. Not because any of these have an immediate practical application, but because if we know ‘what we believe in’, then we are one step closer to ‘what we want to work on’. Dreaming is never a waste. It gives us a compass to help us steer our ships on troubled waters.

So lets not worry about the practicality of discussing basic principles by which humanity is organized. If the great inventors in History did not have a vision of what they wanted, no invention would have ever been made, we would still be on the trees, debating the ‘impracticality’ of walking on hind legs.

So here is the challenge. Can you imagine a social organization that is not based on money?

I am sure we all read science fiction utopias, or at least watched Star Trek. Do you remember Picard’s big speech to a bunch of earthmen from the 20-th century, who were found and thawed out from suspended animation? How he tried to explain to them that money had no meaning in the 24-th century?

I am reading a delightful book right now with the title: “The Science of Star Trek” written by a physics professor. It is fascinating.

I am thinking of writing another with the title: “The Sociology of Star Trek”.

Who knows, this thread may be the first chapter.

Another quote comes to mind:

"I am the only child of parents who weighed, measured and priced everything;
for whom, what could not be weighed, measured and priced had no existence." (Charles Dickens -- "Little Dorrit")

We don't have to be 'that' way.

[ June 24, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 370

posted 24 June 2002 10:36 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Absolutely. Re-installing, not the right word, the basics. What do we need to be happy and productive. I don't think that greed is innate. It is something we have learned. I also don't believe in competition, winner gets all. We can learn to recognize and appreciate that people are different and are able to do different things.
Something along those lines.

From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 24 June 2002 10:46 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Zatamon, you have something of the quality of a prophet - a person who comes along once in a long time, has a message, tells it with passion, and tries to redirect people to their more...I would say spiritual side, but I don't want people to think I'm calling you some kind of cultist or something. But spiritual as in the human spirit. Reminding the world that they are forgetting what makes them human. That kind of thing.

I'm really enthralled with your posts. I don't know why it's hitting me like that (maybe because I'm at a certain point where I'm starting to think about this stuff myself, and therefore I'm really clicking with what you're writing). But it's the second time in the last few days that I've really felt it strongly.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 24 June 2002 10:51 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thanks Michelle, but you are getting me into trouble. You just gave ammo to our 'adverseries' who will start calling me 'Prophet Zatamon'.

But that's all right, this thread is for everyone to speak their minds and I am happy your mind appreciates mine.


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 24 June 2002 11:01 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, I knew it would sound kind of weird, and don't worry, I'm not going to turn into this obsessed "disciple" and stalk you or anything. It's just...well, I don't know. You have a philosophy that you don't just talk about - you and your family live it, and you exhort others to not just talk about it but to live it too. I just find it kind of neat, that's all.

As for Prophet Zatamon - haha! Sorry for giving other people ammo. But there is a certain quality to your posts that seem to be...I don't know...visionary? I can think of a few ways to put it in religious imagery, but I won't, because I think it would be misunderstood. A spiritual guide for secular humanism? Yeah, that might be the words to get at what I'm thinking.

Anyhow, enough about that - this is total thread drift. It's just that it hit me again while reading the opening post, and I just thought it might be neat to share.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 24 June 2002 11:05 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think that Zatamon puts into clear words how I feel but I cannot express as well. I just wanted to add that I have discussed this with quite a few people. The word that I hear the most is, 'Dreamer'. Also , 'Impossible'. 'Nobody would go for it'.

It is nice to hear that there really are others that believe in this. It is a very concrete idea and has the real potential of being put into action. There is absolutely no logical reason to not live like that. It really is not complicated. This scares a lot of people.

[ June 24, 2002: Message edited by: clersal ]


From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 24 June 2002 11:20 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
We only want to tinker with the surface, without touching the foundations. The few who dare to question basic assumptions, we recoil from, we call them crackpots, immature or insane, but we never dare to wonder whether they may be right.

Economies are made by humans.

What man can make, man can un-make.

Yet the mere suggestion that the way we structure our economies can be changed causes paroxysms of horror among people who have internalized the idea that capitalist economies are the highest form of existence and need no fixing.

I have yet to figure out how to break it to people that economies are not naturally-formed constructs.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 24 June 2002 11:25 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I agree. People seem to think that the way we live is the only way. No other concievable way. Bizarre.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 24 June 2002 11:29 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Let me repeat the challenge:

"Can you imagine a social organization that is not based on money?"

If yes, how would you reconcile freedom with compassion?

This is the biggest stumbling block of a workable system and it took me many years of thinking and reading until I solved it for myself, in my own mind.

I am curious what you guys think about it.

To illustrate what I mean, I have to quote from another rant:

"In one of my favorite movies, 'Fiddler on the Roof', Tevye agrees with two opposing views. He tells one, then the other: "Yes, you are right." When a third points out that he contradicted himself: they cannot be both right, he answers: "You are also right!". I love this because it illustrates where logic and real life part company. It seems we want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to be kind and compassionate to the weak and unfortunate. On the other hand, we do not want anybody to force us help them, either. We do not want to waste resources on cut-throat competition, but we want to succeed, even if it ruins our rival."

The two theoretical social systems that are based on these two ideas (compassion and freedom) are Pure Communism and Pure Capitalism.

Neither of them could work, because they are based on denying our 'dual' nature (freedom loving and compassionate).

The millions of shades and variations and mixtures of the two ideas that were tried in human history (Socialism or 'mixed economy') have proven to be all flawed because there was no clear basic principle of how they fit together.

So here is the challenge: Is there any way to fit these two requirements (freedom and compassion) together and if yes, how?

[ June 24, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 24 June 2002 11:53 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yes. I think there is, Zatamon. More than that, I think we have strayed perilously close to it. In Canada, we have called it the mixed economy.

Essentially, we can't legislate away vices. They will find a way to express themselves one way or another. The danger though, is that our vices become are ruling principles. This is the focus of Linda McQuaig's last book, that greed has become an ideoligocal and ruling force.

There is no reason why we can't have a Bill Gates who must accumulate more cash than he could ever possibly use in several life times. But, there is no reason why a Bill Gates cannot pay a fair amount of taxes to support social and public services like health care and eductaion.

I would argue that much of what we witness today is nothing more than aggressive marketing by a small minority with very narrow interests. Take Ontario Hydro. It has served the citizens and industry of Ontario well for over a hundred years. But in the last few we have learned that it must be privatized. It must make a profit. Why? Why now?

The truth is a government that panders to very narrow interests had been elected. So the system of a mixed economy that has served Canadian so well for so long is being deconstructed. We slowly move further away from the sort of free and compassionate society you envision. Not because it is not possible. But because we have allowed a vice to repackage itself as an ideology and market itself as the only choice even as the other choice is slipping from our grasp.


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 25 June 2002 12:00 AM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
There is not compassion when one lives a system. It has to do with common sense. It has nothing to do with Freedom either. These are words that have different meanings to different people.

To one, Freedom means the possibility of having and paying for 100 TV stations. Not because they watch them all. Simply because they are there and one must have them.

Freedom to another is the possibility of knowing where a specific Military Base is in the US and unable to do in Cuba.

This is something I do not understand.
Yes the way we live is definitely something that can be changed.


From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 25 June 2002 12:22 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
It is true, clersal, that freedom can be defined many different ways. But that must be part of the equation. I remember once someone telling me that China was embracing "freedom" because they were buying TV's. That was a decade ago.

But if your concept of freedom is travelling the open road, society must be able to accomodate that.

The great danger in any society is when we begin to dictate what is acceptable in terms, strictly, of lifestyle. That is when the government comes into your bedroom, your living room, and out onto your deck to take you away for minding your own business and enjoying a joint.

I am not suggesting that we must tolerate every lifestyle. But if a particular lifestyle does not impinge on the rights of others, who is anyone to outlaw it or declare a war against it?


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 25 June 2002 12:44 AM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
No we do not dictate. Living this way becomes living this way. We put in a lot of what ifs? In fact too many ifs. When people are content leave it. If it ain't broke don't fix it. We need to fix today so we won't have to fix it tomorrow.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Arch Stanton
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posted 25 June 2002 12:50 AM      Profile for Arch Stanton     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
"the foaming denouncers of the bourgeoisie ... and all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of
'progress' like bluebottles to a dead cat."
- George Orwell, 1937

I do wish to thank Smoov for reminding me of this delightful passage from Wigan Pier. It is among the most endearing and funny bits Orwell ever wrote.

It also seems to be gaining popularity among internet users who are opposed to G8 protesters, right down to the date and the lack of reference.

What I like best about Orwell's tirade against freakishness among Socialists is his frustration with those "outer suburban creeping Jesus...food-cranks" who he thinks are "secret teetotaller[s] and often with vegetarian leanings," not to mention how "the mere words 'Socialism' and 'Communism' draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer,sex-maniac, Quaker, 'Nature Cure' quack, pacifist and feminist in England."

What Smoov could have mentioned, but didn't, is that this passage also said that, "all the while everyone who uses his brain knows that Socialism, as a world-system and wholeheartedly applied, is a way out....Socialism is such elementary common sense that I am sometimes amazed that it has not established itself already."

And what is one thing preventing the establishment of Socialism, according to "George Orwell - 1937?"

"At this moment Socialists almost everywhere are in retreat before the onslaught of Fascism."

Orwell, George. The Road to Wigan Pier. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972.


From: Borrioboola-Gha | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 25 June 2002 12:57 AM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
In trying to sort out what makes leftists click, John Ray of the University of New South Wales in Australia maintains that a primary characteristic is a pathological craving for change. Whether a system, goevernment, policy--whatever--is sound, flawed or in-between the leftist insists it must be changed at all costs. The only time this addiction to change disappears is when the leftist achieves power (a la the bolsheviks) whereupon there is an immediate switch to extreme reactionary conservatism designed to maintain the newly acquired power--again at all costs (witness 75 years of totalitarian one-party Soviet rule).

Reading this site, Ray certainly seems to be on to something.


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Arch Stanton
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posted 25 June 2002 12:59 AM      Profile for Arch Stanton     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, Ray had better read it then.
From: Borrioboola-Gha | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 25 June 2002 01:03 AM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Socialism, as a world-system and wholeheartedly applied, is a way out....Socialism is such elementary common sense that I am sometimes amazed that it has not established itself already

Indeed he was a socialist, as he understood it at the time. That was before Stalin murdered 30 million, The Cultural Revolution killed another 20 million, the khmer Rouge 3 million more, the Viet Cong - 2-4 million after the war. And it was before former uber-socialist regimes like Sweden began dismantling it's moldering collectivist contraptions as fast as they could manage. It was before Castro imposed the socialist reality of "equal beggary" and a police state on a once vibrant people.

It was before socialism was unmasked, dissected, and quarantined by sensible nations.


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 25 June 2002 01:08 AM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
We are talking about the nature of money. Read what was posted and stop with the drivel.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 25 June 2002 01:13 AM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Re Orwell's remarks on the advent of facism, it is true that Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei fulfilled more of the "Nationist" agenda then they did the "Socialist" one in their name--but they were at the very least quasi-socialist, and definitely not "capitalist" in any way shape or form. Hitler deeply distrusted corporations (sound familiar?).

Joshua Muravchik (a card-carrying leftist) elaborates on this and much more in the best-selling Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 25 June 2002 01:15 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm really surprised that smoov has never seen longer posts than that on the Internet. I write them regularly and used to write them on babble quite a bit, though often double-postily. I wonder where smoov gets his internet experiences from...or maybe I don't.


smooving along...


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 25 June 2002 01:15 AM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You propose dismantling the world economy, of somehow doing without money, and I am producing drivel?

Touche!


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 25 June 2002 01:17 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
It is drivel to claim that the system is sustainable as it is. Therefore, we need creative ideas. Do you have creative ideas? If not, then I am happy to declare, uncreatively, that you should smoov over.
From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 01:19 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I just watched a Star Trek episode with the title: "The Skin of Evil". You guys remember the "Tar Baby" that killed Tasha Yar?

An attitude of totally senseless rage and malice?

Now I wonder what reminded me of it?

PLONK...Plonk...plonk...pl..

Come to think of it: the creature could not stand being ignored.

It was being ignored that finally killed it.

So we have a way to get rid of him:

PLONK...Plonk...plonk...pl..

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 25 June 2002 01:19 AM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I am not in a contest. I am expressing a belief in a different way of living.. You don't agree fine. No problem. AGAIN the Topic is, The nature of money.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 25 June 2002 01:21 AM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, I think it takes creativity to oppose extremely destructive ideas which cause misery for millions of people. Especially unctuous ideas such as socialism which are so appealing to minds of a certain bent due to the apparent inherent "fairness" and dedication to "social justice" (a code-phrase for political repression if there ever was one).
From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 25 June 2002 01:24 AM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
An attitude of totally senseless rage and malice

The true Leftist revealed! This is what always happens when you intrude on the bizarre little world of the hard left - they get angry angry Angry! Often blood-thirstily angry, as it turns out.

Ok. I'll retire and leave you to your noodling about the root of all evil and such.


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 01:26 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You guys should see that the creature has only one purpose: to disrupt this discussion.

Don't let him. Don't answer him.

Ignore him and he will die of boredom.

What a lovely thought.


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Terry Johnson
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posted 25 June 2002 01:27 AM      Profile for Terry Johnson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Indeed he was a socialist, as he understood it at the time. That was before Stalin murdered 30 million, The Cultural Revolution killed another 20 million, the khmer Rouge 3 million more, the Viet Cong - 2-4 million after the war.

Orwell died, of course, before the Cultural Revolution, Vietnam and the Khmer rouge. But he was all too well aware of the crimes Stalin committed. As he wrote in the introduction to the Ukrainian-language edition of Animal Farm in 1947: "For the last 10 years I have been convinced that the destruction of the Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of the Socialist movement."

Orwell was a socialist with a capital S to the day of his death and it meaned the same thing then as it does today: he believed that the means of production should be publicly owned and democratically controlled.

He also loathed the way conservatives treated 1984 and Animal Farm as anti-socialist screeds. Many of his final letters lamented it.


From: Vancouver | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 25 June 2002 01:27 AM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Nite smooov. Try and tell us how a society without money hurts so many human beings.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 01:44 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
clersal, your worry regarding freedom is due to your definition of the word: you think of freedom as someone's freedom to do anything they want.

My definition is different: I think of freedom as someone's right not to have things done to him.

Maybe because I grew up in a totalitarian system, where I did not have this 'freedom from' (as opposed to 'freedom to') available to me.

I was denied things that would not have hurt anyone and I was forced to do things that made no sense at all.

So when I talk about freedom, I mean freedom from evil, stupidity, exploitation, straight jackets.

I did not leave Hungary because I wanted to own a car. I left Hungary because I wanted to be able to read Solzhenitsin without being arrested.

You see what I mean?

quote:
WingNut: The truth is a government that panders to very narrow interests had been elected. So the system of a mixed economy that has served Canadian so well for so long is being deconstructed. We slowly move further away from the sort of free and compassionate society you envision. Not because it is not possible. But because we have allowed a vice to repackage itself as an ideology and market itself as the only choice even as the other choice is slipping from our grasp.
WingNut, you and Linda McQuaig (in "All You Can Eat") are, sadly, right. It is interesting that McQuaig spends so much time talking about Karl Polanyi's "The Great Transformation". Have you read it? It was originally published in 1944, but was republished again in 2000 and is available now)

It is a fantastic book, a brand new interpretation of the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the 'Market Economy' which is the current mantra of the neo-conservatives. One of the very few, completely new interpretation of human nature and history.

Yes, indeed, Canada has come closest to the ideal (see Pierre Berton's "1967 The Last Good Year") world embracing both freedom and compassion.

But the importance of both concepts and the principle by which they fit together were never clearly identified, so people could be confused, misdirected, scared, intimidated, manipulated and, finally, defeated.

What I would like to explore is how these two concepts can live together and in what actual and specific and sustainable system they could be accommodated.

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Arch Stanton
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posted 25 June 2002 02:00 AM      Profile for Arch Stanton     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Zatamon: Have you read Isiah Berlin on "Two definitions of freedom?"

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Arch Stanton ]


From: Borrioboola-Gha | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Arch Stanton
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posted 25 June 2002 02:03 AM      Profile for Arch Stanton     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
If Smoov has a problem with Orwell, why did he quote him in the first place?

"Came in last night at half past ten
That baby of mine wouldn't let me in
So smoov it on over (smoov it on over)
Smoov it on over (smoov it on over)
smoov over little dog cause the big dog's smooving in

Remember pup, before you whine
That side's yours and this side's mine
So shove it on over (smoov it on over)
Sweep it on over (smoov it on over)
smoov over cold dog cause a hot dog's smooving in"

Gosh, Hank was the greatest...

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Arch Stanton ]


From: Borrioboola-Gha | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 02:11 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Arch, I have only read Isaiah Berlin's "The Proper Study of Mankind" where he writes a lot about Freedom in various contexts.

In this book he has a chapter "Two concepts of Liberty" where he talks about "positive freedom" and "negative freedom" -- is that what you mean?

Why do you ask?

PS. The poem was very funny!

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Arch Stanton
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posted 25 June 2002 02:18 AM      Profile for Arch Stanton     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Right, "Two Concepts of Liberty."

I asked because you mentioned:

"Maybe because I grew up in a totalitarian system, where I did not have this 'freedom from' (as opposed to 'freedom to') available to me."

This reminded me of Berlin's two concepts: the positive (freedom to) and the negative (freedom from). It sounds as if you have read the essay.


From: Borrioboola-Gha | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 25 June 2002 02:20 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I've got a copy of The Great Transformation as well, having had my curiosity piqued by Linda McQuaig's book.

I'm about midway through it, and it's fascinating material.

In any case, as WingNut intimates, I too believe that North America and Europe in general were "on the right track" in the 1950s and 1960s - and if you carry the evolution of capitalism during those years to its logical conclusion, you would find, in essence, a democratic socialist society - whether on a national or supranational basis is not at issue here.

In essence, where we have gone astray is in failing to have accounted for the possibility that such an evolution could be derailed.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Lard Tunderin' Jeezus
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posted 25 June 2002 02:20 AM      Profile for Lard Tunderin' Jeezus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Muravchik explains in the introduction that he was a third generation socialist who turned his political interests elsewhere in the 1970s.

The above quote is taken from the Amazon link 'Smoov' provided. It would seem that 'Smoov' has exaggerated somewhat in his description of Joshua Muravchik as a 'card-carrying leftist'.

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Lard tunderin' jeesus ]


From: ... | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 02:25 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Arch: It sounds as if you have read the essay.
It's worse than that Arch, I have lived the essay. Half of it here, half of it in Hungary. (See my story in the "Travellers' Tales" thread I gave a link to in the "Students see Hitler..." thread)

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 02:30 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Dr. C: In essence, where we have gone astray is in failing to have accounted for the possibility that such an evolution could be derailed.
After the Great Depression and WW2 there was a short lull, while the elite was momentarily shocked by what they had done -- it did not take them long to get over it and renew their attacks on human decency with gusto.
quote:
Dr. C: In any case, as WingNut intimates, I too believe that North America and Europe in general were "on the right track" in the 1950s and 1960s - and if you carry the evolution of capitalism during those years to its logical conclusion, you would find, in essence, a democratic socialist society
It is interesting you say it Dr. -- my favourite historian, Will Durant, published a book in 1968(with Ariel Durant), called "The Lessons of History", in which he is optimistic about Capitalism and Communism merging into a "free and compassionate" system. I could understand his optimism just one year after "1967, The Last Good Year"

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 25 June 2002 02:37 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, for those of us who like to be nostalgic, there's my small essay on the subject.
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 02:53 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Dr C: (in linked essay) What I think has really happened is that via a combination of the relative increase in inequality that has become more prevalent since 1973, and a realization today that humanity will pay a large price environmentally for past years of pollution and contamination of the biosphere, leftists and liberals, as much as conservatives do (but for very different reasons) are beginning to hearken back to those years because for all the wrongs in the society of that era, humanity had an innocence. An innocence that led to a natural optimism that things would always get better. It is that innocence today that we mourn for, that we wish to return to.

Ideally, it would be possible to graft the economic structure of the 1950s onto the social structure of the 1990s/2000s and knowing what went wrong, resolve to do better. Unfortunately, that would require a large change in attitudes among a majority of the population. *Sigh*.


Lost innocence, indeed. We used to be optimistic, now we are cynical. We used to have hope, now we have despair. We used to have enthusiasm, now we have dread.

Very well put indeed, Dr. C, I liked it a lot.

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Arch Stanton
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posted 25 June 2002 03:53 AM      Profile for Arch Stanton     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I hear ya, Doc. I'm going to the basement now, put on some Jean Goldkette and Rudy Vallée 78s, and get lost in a nostalgic reverie for a time before I was born....

Bonne nuit.


From: Borrioboola-Gha | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 25 June 2002 10:39 AM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
clersal, your worry regarding freedom is due to your definition of the word: you think of freedom as someone's freedom to do anything they want.
No I think that freedom is just a word. We have made freedom something we must have only we are really not sure, free from or free to...

From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Debra
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posted 25 June 2002 10:44 AM      Profile for Debra   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Busted flat it Baton Rouge, waitin' for a train
When I was feelin' nearly as faded as my jeans
Well, Bobby thumbed a diesel down, just before it rained
Rode us all the way to New Orleans.
Well, I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
I was playin' soft while Bobby sang the blues
Windshield wipers slappin' time
I's holding Bobby's hand in mine
We sang every song that driver knew.
Freedom's just another word
For nothin' left to lose
And nothin' ain't worth nothin'
But it ain't free
Feelin' good was easy, Lord
When he sang the blues
You know, feeling good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and by Bobby McGee.
From the Kentucky coalmine to the California Sun
Where Bobby shared the secrets of my soul
Through all kinds of weather, through everything we done
Yea, Bobby baby kept me from the cold
Then one day near Salinas, Lord
I let him slip away
He's looking for that home and I hope he finds it
Yea, I'd trade all of my tomorrows for a single yesterday
To be holdin' Bobby's body next to mine.
Freedom's just another word
For nothin' left to lose
And nothin' ain't worth nothin'
But it ain't free
Feelin' good was easy, Lord
When he sang the blues
You know, feeling good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and by Bobby McGee.

From: The only difference between graffiti & philosophy is the word fuck... | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 10:47 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
both, clersal. The question is what limit we set to this freedom. How do we decide where to draw the line? By a fist-fight? Arbitrarily? No limit at all? Forbid anything we can?

Or is it possible to come up with a basic principle we can believe in and agree about? A principle that helps us decide on what is a reasonable limit to freedom in human coexistence?


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 25 June 2002 04:11 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Common sense. That is all it takes.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 25 June 2002 04:23 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Zatamon:

I must confess I am surprised that you find this board an agreeable place, being from Hungary and all. I have a number of good friends from Poland and the former Czechoslovakia who got out in the 80's. None are eager for a rehash of the socialist police state here.


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Smoov
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posted 25 June 2002 04:27 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
If Smoov has a problem with Orwell, why did he quote him in the first place?

I don't have a "problem" with Orwell. He is a great writer. The fact that he was a socialist is immaterial. His quote re sandal-wearers etc. is still a hilarious summation of the rabble that attends the divers "protests" over globalization, etc. In using that quotation I was not attempting to pull in Orwell's personal political beliefs, but rather to mock a group which richly deserves it. At least I pay attention to these people, unlike the majority of Canadians for whom they are absolutely irrelevent and silly.


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Smoov
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posted 25 June 2002 04:31 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
It would seem that 'Smoov' has exaggerated somewhat in his description of Joshua Muravchik as a 'card-carrying leftist'.

Perhaps you are right. But we could hardly expect an objective dissertation on the disintegration of the Left from someone who was still a True Believer, now could we?


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agent007
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posted 25 June 2002 04:45 PM      Profile for agent007     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post

[ June 26, 2002: Message edited by: agent007 ]


From: Niagara Falls ON | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 25 June 2002 05:15 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Any barter-based economy is, in itself, a social organization because it takes into consideration all of its members' individual needs; and respects and utilizes all their talents ... for the benefit of all.
I am not too sure if you are still talking about money. If we are to barter, we must barter something tangible. Money is of no worth in itself.

So the other question is; Needs. Do more needs mean someone is more worthy? A farmer needs a plow. I do not. I think where the confusion lies with money is to do with a person's value. A millionnaire is more powerful than someone on welfare. He has developed tastes that he says are needs. An example that I see are the different types of cars we can buy. Different colours, different prices etc. A car is used to take one from A to B. Yet someone who owns a Mercedes Benz is undoubtedly considered better than someone with a rusted clunker, at least in the eyes of society.

I think a lot has to do with our attitudes, learned of course. We must unlearn and then start again.


From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 05:16 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
clersal: Common sense. That is all it takes.
Of course you are right clersal, as long as *your common sense* is the same as *my common sense*.

Just as you pointed out earlier that *freedom* may mean different things to different people, it is the same with *common sense*.

On the basic human survival level, you are right, because it is extremely simple to figure out what we need for physically/mentally healthy individual survival, so in that sense, yes, it is common sense.

When you want to come up with a social structure and an industrial economy based on division of labour and distribution system, plus all the social institutions required to keep it functioning, it is a little bit more complex.

Not very much more so, but it requires some thought. However, it can not be very complex because I think I managed to figure out a system that would work.

quote:
clersal: So the other question is; Needs.
I agree clersal, needs is an extremely important part of the equation. We have to have a social consensus about what our ***basic minimum needs*** are, common to all people.

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 05:29 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
agent007: Modern barter is anything but primitive. It is a grassroots monetary system owned and operated by the individuals within the system.
007, I am a member of a good size (~1000 members) local barter group. It works extremely well. We don't use money, but a fictitious 'credit unit' that is kept track of by computer database. At the time of purchase nothing changes hands, just an entry is made on a sheet of paper and then entered into the computer that tells me what my credit/debit balance is at any moment. It works very well and I use it every chance I have. Whenever I need anything, that is where I look first.

However, on a large social scale it still would not be the answer. The motivation is still the same: to collect the largest number of credits the shortest possible time, instead of doing the best possible job with the least amount of waste and damage.

And this system does not say anything about compassion: how the needs of the weak: young/old/ill/handicapped would be taken care of.

So I am afraid, this is still a 'cashless form' of Capitalism, with potentially the same problems as what we have now.


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smoov
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posted 25 June 2002 07:12 PM      Profile for Smoov     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
007, I am a member of a good size (~1000 members) local barter group. It works extremely well. We don't use money, but a fictitious 'credit unit' that is kept track of by computer database. At the time of purchase nothing changes hands, just an entry is made on a sheet of paper and then entered into the computer that tells me what my credit/debit balance is at any moment. It works very well and I use it every chance I have. Whenever I need anything, that is where I look first.

Umm... this is how banks work already. The only thing missing from this "system" is cash, which most transactions in the real world do not require in any case.


From: Halifax | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
clersal
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posted 25 June 2002 07:14 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Ah plastic I believe. Nope there must be something a bit more tangible. I will think about it.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 07:19 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
clersal, there is a big difference. Our barter system is self-contained. Nobody is 'printing money', nobody is screwing around with the money supply. There is no inflation, no 'borrowing' and no interest rates. Your 'credit balance' is worth as much tomorrow as it is worth today. Nobody is changing the rules halfway through a transaction.

Huge difference, but still not enough to base a whole social system on the concept.

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
rici
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posted 25 June 2002 07:29 PM      Profile for rici     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I was just reading in Rocinante (a Chilean cultural/leftist magazine, definitely worth looking for if you're there) about the growth of the barter economy in Argentina. According to the article, there are 500 barter clubs ("club de trueque") in Argentina, with a total of two million members; the first affiliated club just started in a poor village in Chile.

As I understand it, they don't use computers; rather, little green printed "credit tickets" (there is a small fee for joining which covers the cost of printing the tickets). Members gather weekly (or more often) bringing their products or service offerings (the club in Arauco deals in everything from food staples to psychological services), and exchange them on the spot.

It seems that the idea started in Argentina as an anti-bank protest; "we can live without the bank's money," was one quote (approximate, I don't have the article at hand).

For all that it seems like a profound and practical protest movement, and quite possibly a successful one, I don't see how it actually replaces the concept of money. People save their credits, just as though they were money; it is possible that someone will start a credit bank someday to help people make larger purchases. (One of the Chileans interviewed said that her dream was to save enough credits to buy a second-hand fridge, so you get an idea of how poor these people are.)

I'm not knocking the idea, though: I'm just wondering if it represents a radical economic departure.

(Edited to insert the URL for the magazine, although they don't put the current edition online.)

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Rici Lake ]


From: Lima, Perú | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 07:49 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Ricky Lake: I'm not knocking the idea, though: I'm just wondering if it represents a radical economic departure.
I agree, Ricki Lake, it is a lot better than the 'arbitrary' monetary system we have in the world today -- when the value of your money may drop from one day to the other -- but it is not enough to base a social system on. Not one that deals with both of our needs: freedom and compassion.

PS. In my barter group we have market days once a month where we can take our products to 'sell' and 'buy', but it is not restricted only to products. It covers all kinds of services from plumber, electrician, carpenter, babysitting, web-site design, music education... anything you can think of. It's great, I really love it. Besides, it is out in the country where everyone knows everyone else and the market days are great social occasions.

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
frandroid_atreides
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posted 25 June 2002 08:34 PM      Profile for frandroid_atreides   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Trade is a consequence of socialization, and in that way, bartering and money are two different expressions of trade. One of the differences is that due to their nature, barter groups ensure that money spent stays within the community. That way one prevents the dreaded "capital flight" mentioned in the Brazil thread Secondly, one also avoids dealing with the banks for at least some of their financial transactions, and stay in control of their credits, an important feature. I don't know how influential that is in Chile, but in Canada, barter allows you to have "income" that avoids the eye of the tax perceptor. (How good that is is debatable.) In some bartering systems, the credit used is the "hour", which tends to give people's work more equal value, although people are allowed to charge more than one "hour" credit of work for every clock hour spent working on something.

There's more to it, but that's what I remember from my readings.


From: Toronto, Arrakis | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
rici
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posted 25 June 2002 08:36 PM      Profile for rici     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
OK, if you read Spanish, here's the
Red Global de Trueque. (They could use some web design, btw.)

There's actually some interesting reading there....

I personally think that the focus on money is a distraction, though. Capitalism -- in its strictest sense -- is about endorsing the value of capital. That is, the acceptance or even glorification of the economic theory that one achieves revenue through ownership.

Marx came up with some pretty nifty arguments against that theory, so I won't bother repeating them here. Unfortunately, amongst its many sins, the USSR failed to figure out how to achieve renewal of capital without capitalism. This is a difficult but I think not unsolvable problem, and one which would deserve some thought.

In short, we live in a world where everything is interchangeable with everything else including ownership itself. That's irrational. I can vaguely see the path whereby an apple is in the same dimension of values as a book but I cannot make that stretch to part ownership in a weapons factory.

Some years ago, I proposed that the NDP expand on its support for Medicare by advocating "Nutricare" (that is, decommoditised food. Or free food, if you prefer.) It makes zero sense that we say that medical care is a right when we don't say that food is a right; physicians treat malnutrition with food, so it makes sense that food fits into the same value dimension as medical care.

One of the interesting things about medicare is that it decommoditises medical care; that is, medical care is not something which can be bought (in a pure medicare model, anyway). If we decommoditised not just medical care but all basic necessities, we could continue to allow the global bingo players to use their money playing with stocks and bonds, without creating nearly so much human damage.

(I don't think anyone thought I was serious when I first proposed this idea, but I still like it. And it's got to be a good campaign slogan: Free Food For All.)

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Rici Lake ]


From: Lima, Perú | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Simon Shields
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posted 25 June 2002 08:42 PM      Profile for Simon Shields     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Money is the portable right to command labour.
From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 11:05 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Rici Lake: One of the interesting things about medicare is that it decommoditises medical care; that is, medical care is not something which can be bought (in a pure medicare model, anyway). If we decommoditised not just medical care but all basic necessities, we could continue to allow the global bingo players to use their money playing with stocks and bonds, without creating nearly so much human damage.
This would be a giant step toward a solution that might be an acceptable compromise between freedom and compassion. And it is not unheard of.

In one version, it is called 'Basic Income' and is seriously studied by various governments as an alternative to 'social assistance'. At some point it was seriously considered by Canada and is currently actively pursued in Ireland.

The usual arguments based on social Darwinist interpretation of human nature attacks the concept as a 'free ticket' to lazy and unproductive parasites, but it is refuted by any study I have seen on the subject (the best and most recent is by Sally Learner of the University of Waterloo).

The result of a system based on some form of ‘basic income’ would be elimination of extremes of poverty (hunger, homelessness, child poverty, etc.) without stifling people's freedom, creativity and enterprising spirit.

The typical argument against is the cost of such a system, but according to studies I have seen it would be a lot cheaper and more efficient than the current social assistance system.

There is a lot more to say for and against such a 'basic income' system, but I will wait to see if anyone has seriously considered and researched the idea.


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
David Kyle
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posted 25 June 2002 11:12 PM      Profile for David Kyle     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Umm... this is how banks work already. The only thing missing from this "system" is cash, which most transactions in the real world do not require in any case.

What is also missing is the ability to spread some of the "wealth" of the barter system.

How do you pay for social programs if everyone joins the bartered system? Would the disadvantaged have to provide collateral, ie: barter, for social support?


From: canada | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 25 June 2002 11:14 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Exactly. See my comments six posts above.

[ June 25, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
audra trower williams
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posted 26 June 2002 12:27 PM      Profile for audra trower williams   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Hitler deeply distrusted corporations (sound familiar?).

Oh good lord. There's been enough of that already. This is warning number two, Smoov B.


From: And I'm a look you in the eye for every bar of the chorus | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
rici
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posted 26 June 2002 08:43 PM      Profile for rici     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Zatamon: I'm aware of the idea of basic income. The difference between basic income and free food (or medicare) is that basic income is just money, whereas the point of medicare/nutricare is to decommoditise the "good": it no longer becomes part of the medium of exchange. This is an essential difference.

It's worth remembering that the (then very right-wing Conservative) government of Ontario opposed the introduction of medicare *precisely* because it took medical care out of the monetary context. The government asserted (in front of the Supreme Court if I remember correctly) that Ontarians had the right to decide whether to spend their money on medical care (insurance) or on other goods.

The fact that medicare was introduced illustrates that this argument was not compelling at the time. But it is definitely worth thinking about the issue.

Decommoditising is actually a very radical act, and it is what we will lose if we allow political/cultural influence from our southerly neighbour to convince us to give up the medicare system. It is radical because it says that not all goods are freely exchangeable on the basis of money; that some goods are actually social rights.


From: Lima, Perú | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 26 June 2002 11:01 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Rici Lake, you are right, I did miss the distinction you are talking about. I focused on the following part of your sentence:

“...not just medical care but all basic necessities, we could continue to allow the global bingo players to use their money playing with stocks and bonds, without creating nearly so much human damage.”

… and missed the significance of the word “decommoditised” you used.

After your clarification I find your suggestion even better than before and it seems completely in line with my idea of a sustainable, long term solution that accommodates our need for both freedom and compassion.

I am doing the final editing of a comprehensive proposal that in principle agrees very much with your idea and, at the same time, tries to make it a lot more specific than just a general principle. I hope I will be ready to post it tomorrow. After having read your last two posts, I am almost sure I will have at least one person interested in it.


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
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posted 27 June 2002 03:30 AM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I daresay you'll have two. You're strollin' right up my alley, Zatamon.

Have you ever read _The Dispossesed_ by Ursula K. LeGuin? It sketches out an anarchist society that has no money; no sense of obligation or entitlement at all. She avoids many of the trickier questions of such a society by making them very poor, using their wits and co-operation to survive on a desolate moon, but still I found it fascinating.

One of the key concepts was a lack of a sense that one "deserves" anything (not that the people didn't think that way at all, but the society wasn't structured around it). In this society, people worked voluntarily, with no expectation of special rewards. Similarly, people who did nothing were given the same access to the fruits of society as everyone else. They were shunned socially, of course, but this wasn't reflected in the any commodified way.

I had considerable sympathy for this, because I've always found the idea of who deserves what to be highly arbitrary, if not whole-heartedly mean-spirited. How can we profess to deserve anything except in bare-faced self interest? By what standard do people deserve things?

Our society often equates hard work with being deserving, but is this really the case? Did Hitler deserve to take over Europe because he worked so hard at it? Does someone deserve to sleep with my wife if they exert a lot of effort in that direction?

Or perhaps moral virtue? Should good things happen to "good" people and bad things to "bad" people? These notions are notoriously self-serving. When one person applauds the punishment of an individual, another decries it as unjust. Everyone assumes that their traits are the ones that should be rewarded and punishment should accrue to those who are unlike them. Can we really found an enlightened society on such xenophobic and corruptible concepts?

In nature, there is no just deserts. Good and bad things happen to everyone quite randomly. To rise above this, humans have created two concepts: justice (rewards to the good and punishment to the bad) and compassion (rewards to all with no thought of their worthiness). It seems, however, that the tide of history has shown justice to be as random and cruel as any earthquake or tornadoe, whereas compassion does nothing but good wherever it is shown.

In our society, money is the main vehicle for assigning worthiness. Without it, other methods could be found for establishing merit and creating hierarchies, but this wouldn't address the problem of the fundamental legitimacy of merit and hierarchy. Not that people won't always have these things. Just that they don't have to be entrenched and enforced by social constructs.

To really change the world, the human race needs a new philosophy to dominate its affairs. One of compassion, not of justice.

I hope this makes some sort of sense. I'm very rushed and not at all clear on these ideas that I'm trying to verbalise.


From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
hibachi
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posted 27 June 2002 05:58 AM      Profile for hibachi   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Why do women always sing 'Me and Bobby McGee' at jams?
From: Toronto, Ont. | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 27 June 2002 09:33 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Because Bobby's just another name when there's nothing left to sing ...
From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Debra
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posted 27 June 2002 09:59 AM      Profile for Debra   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well in this case I was just trying to back up Clersal as some people think they know what she means better than she does.

And hey it's a great song.

Wanna make something of it?


From: The only difference between graffiti & philosophy is the word fuck... | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 27 June 2002 10:11 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yeah. (As in Go, earthmother: Right on!)

Plus some of us are still getting over Janis.

Jacob Two-Two, I was looking for a brief excerpt of your last post to quote before I nominated you for whatever position of benevolent leadership you wish to take, but finally I couldn't choose anything short of the whole post.

[ June 27, 2002: Message edited by: skdadl ]


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
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posted 27 June 2002 12:03 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Jacob Two-Two , yes I have read (and enjoyed) “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. LeGuin (she is one of my favorites, especially "The Lathe of Heaven" ).

Another very good ‘Utopian’ science fiction novel is “Voyage from Yesteryear” by James Hogan. In his Utopia, when visitors from Earth ask how ‘non-contributors’ are dealt with, one of the locals says: (quoting for memory) “Oh, we look after them. That is the least we can do for those unfortunates who stay poor by choice” (their values were respect of their peers and they traded in accomplishments).

I used to think like that (even expressed this sentiment in the “Suggestions to the Federal Cabinet” thread. But I ran into problems with this when I tried to come up with a social contract that was anywhere realistic in view of our historical and cultural heritage.

Please take a look of the new thread I started this morning on ‘Politics’, called:
"Proposal for a new social contract"

[ June 27, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 27 June 2002 01:50 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Why do you think I want to be his finance minister?

In all seriousness, I haven't read that book, but I know now what I'm gonna put on my reading list.

Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward is a portrait of a full-employment socialist society, which is regimented in the early years of one's life, but upon retirement (at the age of 45(!)) much time for enjoyment and relaxation is possible.

The basic premise of this society is that all people who live in it, by virtue of the fact that they are human beings, are equally deserving of the wealth that that society generates as long as they do not shirk.

That would seem to be the fairest answer to the question of who deserves what, no?


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2092

posted 27 June 2002 09:02 PM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I was looking for a brief excerpt of your last post to quote before I nominated you for whatever position of benevolent leadership you wish to take

But the question is, will I stay benevolent once in a position of leadership? MWHOO-HAA-HAA-HAAAA!!!!! (whoops, was that out loud?)


From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1402

posted 27 June 2002 09:09 PM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward

You keep saying that, and i keep not finding it. Bloody frustrating!

Jacob, don't fret about your virtue: plenty of (well-armed) checks and balances will be built into the system.


From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
rici
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2710

posted 27 June 2002 09:24 PM      Profile for rici     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Courtesy Project Gutenberg, here is Looking Backward. Enjoy.
From: Lima, Perú | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1402

posted 27 June 2002 09:38 PM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thanks. Duly bookmarked for perusal when the server doesn't keep cutting out.
From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 27 June 2002 11:02 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yeah. For starters, ever tried to get anything out of a cat's paws when it hangs on? Me and my budgets are gonna be like that if Jacob gets a little too power-mad.

*stashes away some Meow Mix in case he cuts off my supply *


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1402

posted 27 June 2002 11:19 PM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
All your Meow-mix are belong to us.
From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 370

posted 27 June 2002 11:49 PM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thanks Earthmother. What if they do know what I mean more than I do?
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1402

posted 28 June 2002 12:47 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
We always know what you mean, even when we refuse to admit it: all the time, it's working on our subconscious. Mothers rule.
From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 370

posted 28 June 2002 12:58 AM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Markbo has given me a complex about being a dreamer. For months when I posted even remotely out of the norm I would warn Markbo not to call me a dreamer. It became kind of a standing joke. The one thing that is important. To me being called a dreamer was having no credibility. That bugged me. Disagree but don't brush me off. There were some really good discussions with Markbo. Inspite of me losing patience.

[ June 28, 2002: Message edited by: clersal ]


From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1394

posted 28 June 2002 01:24 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
clersal, I hope you are aware that I paid tribute to dreamers twice today in the "Proposal for a new social contract - a dream" thread.

Markbo 'notwithstanding'

[ June 28, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 370

posted 28 June 2002 01:28 AM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I really do think we are right. Simplicity seems to be just too simple for people to believe it is possible. We are a strange species.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1402

posted 28 June 2002 01:44 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Somebody dreams of flight faster than sound - no problem. Somebody dreams of a cordless phone - no problem. Somebody dreams of a gadget to control everything - no problem. Big possible bucks. Somebody dreams of a social sytem where nobody hurts - silly sausage!
From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2092

posted 28 June 2002 02:06 AM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, you've gotta have the right dreams, don't you? Dreams that involve enslaving the human race are always in high demand. Dreams that involve freeing them are ridiculous rumours with no basis in fact.
From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 28 June 2002 02:15 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
All your dreams are belong to us.
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rabber Bareon
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2817

posted 28 June 2002 02:31 AM      Profile for Rabber Bareon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Firstly we need a genuinely "free" education system up to and including doctoral level studies. It's a good investment for the society.

Secondly we need a guaranteed annual income. In the long run it would save a lot of "money" wasted on administration (including police and prisons).

Thirdly we must recognize and support the absolute need for a constitutionally inviolatable human rights code. It must be impossible for anyone to in any way compromise the rights--no notwithstanding clauses.

Fourthly we must export people like ralphy klien and gordo campbell---ooopss I guess three precludes this laudable and sensible goal.

4 1/2

While we don't have to love one another--and if I tried my wife would---I don't even want to think about it--we must give a damn about one another.

I don't mean syrupy and sentimental I mean care in a rational and mature way that recognizes that what happens to me can affect you and visa versa.

Fifthly--and this is touchy and a real bugger--we must be willing and able to fight for what we believe in and anyone who might try to take what we have away must know that we will fight.

Oh money! A commonly shared but neccesary illusion. The big problems occur when we are using different dope.


From: British Columbia, Canada | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Rabber Bareon
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2817

posted 28 June 2002 02:41 AM      Profile for Rabber Bareon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
earthmother
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 117
posted June 25, 2002 10:44 AM


Great song lousy philosophy

Freedom is a word for everything to lose. You can never be whole until you are free and very few people are whole.


From: British Columbia, Canada | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1402

posted 28 June 2002 02:53 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Kurt Vonnegut said, talk less about love and more about common courtesy. People have always known that they can't all love one another - or like, or even abide. That's why they invented etiquette. It allows you to be in the same room or continent with someone you loathe, and not pull the nukes on him. When all else fails, good manners don't.

[ June 28, 2002: Message edited by: nonesuch ]


From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Debra
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 117

posted 28 June 2002 08:50 AM      Profile for Debra   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Dear Rabber Bareon;

Songs are like poetry ( in fact a variation of same ) therefore, each person listening will get a slightly diffferent message.

Also each person will have a slightly different interpretation based on age and life experience. Sort of like rereading a book at 35 that you read at 15 and having a completely different understanding of what was written.

In any case I didn't write the song, and obviously can't say for sure what the writer meant.


From: The only difference between graffiti & philosophy is the word fuck... | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 28 June 2002 04:19 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
This looks to be quite interesting.

Believe it or not, I found this page when bored one day and googling for the phrase "fall in the value of money".

An independent check of the validity of the author's use of the change in the ratio of energy consumption to GDP as a measure of the inflation rate reveals that it's a pretty accurate guide (take the changes as percent per year from 1974 to 2000 and compare to the Australian inflation rates as calculated by changes in the CPI)

The only problem, he tells me, is that this setup doesn't work with fixed exchange rates, but the advantage of this over the current setup is that exchange rates won't fluctuate very much.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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