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I want to start by saying that I fully support what the Occupy Movement has been doing since their emergence last year. They have spread like wildfire and while I don't always agree with their choice of solutions, or lack thereof, I applaud them that they are at least looking for solutions. Regretably, some of their numbers are in dire need of assistance in the world of journalism.
Earlier today, I was directed to have a peek at the wiki on OccupyConcepts.org. They have an article all about the Resource Based Economy, the economic model that I personally advocate as a member of the Zeitgeist movement. Reading the article, it started off as initially fair, albeit poorly-worded, and turned into a piece of facepalm-worthy mush before I was even a quarter of the way through it.
The Resource-based Economy (RBE) concepts propose a way to abandon money and the speculation with it; and get back to resources directly without the involvement of money as a regulatory tool. It assumes that with today's technology it would be possible to measure and store the quantity of a certain good, and connect with the demand or requirement side and share the resources, and skip the speculative and profit aspect in the exchange.
This is a reasonable summary description of a complicated topic. The RBE is, indeed, about reliance of automation, mechanization, and technological solutions to produce and distribute goods rather than relying on an inefficient and outdated monetary system to presumably deliver the goods to the most productive individuals [sic]. I am, however, a little reluctant to agree that the notion that we are able to account for the quantity and distribution of goods through automation is a mere assumption. We are already doing it. There are inventory control systems in every warehouse and every large store in every first-world nation, so it is hardly an assumption.
The term itself "Resource-based Economy" was adapted from The Antigonish Movement of Canada's Resource Based Communities concept and later reintroduced by Jacques Fresco, who also initiated The Venus Project (TVP), the term was then adapted by other groups, such as The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM), People 4 Social Sustainability (PSS), The Resource Based Economy Foundation, and The Technocracy Movement.
This is an embarrassing facepalm moment for the journalism standards at Occupy Concepts (OC). The PSS, as some of you may remember, is a tiny fringe group of anti-science alchemy nutjobs who can't distinguish economics and academia from fictional anime and centuries-old disproven occult practices. They explicitly advocate against science itself and present the "alchemical method," whatever that is.
Now, I am all for someone using the RBE label in a different context to mean something completely different than what TVP and TZM advocate (which their notion of the RBE is absolutely different). However, what the hell is Occupy Concepts doing offering a platform to these wack-o-loons as if they actually have anything intelligent to present!? We'll come back to them later. Let's have a look at the criticisms OC has for us.
One major critique on RBE is, that it is scarce in details, and skips the very detail of how resources are shared:
"A Resource-Based Economy utilizes existing resources rather than money, and provides an equitable method of distribution in the most humane and efficient manner for the entire population. It is a system in which all natural, man-made, machine-made, and synthetic resources would be available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other form of symbolic exchange."
What is equitable method? What about demand? Demand as such doesn't mean overreach or overuse, the demand or requirement is not equitable: it may be of some resource someone has no use for, or even more, doesn't want. Demand cannot be neglected - sole focus on equitable sharing remains on the surface of the issue.
I'm sure I can find that. Let's try the Venus Project's website, the source for all things RBE.
48. How are Resources Distributed Equitably?
Distribution of goods and services without the use of money or tokens would be accomplished by establishing distribution centers. These centers would be similar to expositions, where the advantages of new products are explained and demonstrated. Exhibition centers will display what is new and available and will constantly be updated. If you visited Yellowstone National Park, you could check out a camera or camcorder, use it, and then return it to another distribution center or drop-off, eliminating storage and maintenance. [cont.]
Wow! That took a whole 15 seconds to find and I didn't even need to Google it. It is a long article, so I only cut part of it here. Check out the link above for the whole scoop if you're more interested in reading it than the writers at Occupy Concepts. Next criticism!
"The intents inherent within the monetary system are counterproductive and derive a strategic edge from scarcity. This means that depleted resources are actually a positive thing, as more money can be made from each respective unit. This is known as the basic law of "supply and demand," and hence "value," in economics. This creates a perverse reinforcement to ignore environmental problems, and perpetuates an inherent disregard for human well-being."
...the assumption that something with high demand and little supply has high value and therefore more money can be made from it - and that it further creates a reinforcement to ignore environmental problems is an oversimplification, let us look at the two aspects separately:
- high value and therefore price to be paid (speak "money exchanged") is the logic to weigh or qualify the use of a resource - that as such isn't a problem (see money just as a value or a number, neglecting for a moment manipulation of supply and demand)
- the problem neglecting environmental impact is the cost (or effect and overhead to resolve) of the pollution, hence, the requirement to make all costs known, so called "True Costs" which, if applied wholesomely, would counter-balance and make some practices impossible due to the high costs of the environmental impact.
In other words, it isn't a problem that we assign price or a value to a resource, but the lack of a complete view of how much some influences cost: neglecting or having others (like the government and at the end the people as whole) pay the price (and this is the overall work required to perform) of cleaning up or re-naturalizing a place which has been (ab-)used - just this small example shows: the layer of money isn't really involved here, but the value we assign to things we require; and how far we observe the impact of our actions...
First of all, the writer is ignoring half of the point. The above quote said, "...ignore environmental problems, and perpetuates an inherent disregard for human well-being." Somehow, the writer choked on that statement and hocked it back up as, "...ignore environmental problems." Personally, I would go a step further than TVP did and suggest that the monetary market system encourages us to damage the environment -- not simply ignore its damage in a passive sense. If the OC writer were a South Louisiana fisherman during the recent gulf oil spill, he would probably feel different. Inexpensive, albeit environmentally devestating, business ventures are a reality and just because the writers at OC can't get their minds around it until an oily dead pelican flops onto their car hood, it doesn't make it any less true.
What we and TVP keep saying is that the profit motive provides incentive to do business dishonestly and do what is not good for the environment in order to save a buck. Waste disposal is expensive. Therefore, the incentive is to dump garbage in someone's backyard. Industrial wastes take decades of disposal processing. It is easier and cheaper to dump it in the Amazon forest. Businesses who are out for profit don't want to do these things the expensive and correct way. It can't much simpler than that.
Now, that calculation, that formula is the key of the entire concept, and it's not developed and written out. The overall calculation of supply and demand and how the goods are shared, is omitted entirely. ... Since the detail which decision making aspect is relayed to a machine and a computer-based system ..., and what aspect remains in the hands of humans..., one cannot determine how feasible such a proposed RBE actually is.
No, the calculation describing how the system will utilize resources is not the so called "key" to the entire concept. It is merely another component. It is fair to say that we don't have an equation at the ready to fit the needs of the people in an RBE. The reason why is because we're not in an RBE yet and such an equation would need to be worked out while transitioning into the new system.
This blog is an editorial and contains only the opinions of the author. The author claims no expertise on most topics of discussion and this blog is not to be cited as an alternative for properly vetted journalism or scientific sources.comments powered by Disqus