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few years ago, I started a consulting business. It was really miserable for a while. We worked long hours and were just barely scraping by. After a couple years, we started to learn from our many mistakes and set our sights on a single goal. It took took a year of solid work to accomplish, but we partnered with Google to provide analytics services. As part of this arrangement, we had to go to an annual, weeklong Google conference. The times I spent at Google changed my life. I saw the inventor of the Internet speak about how hed just finished coding an interplanetary Internet with NASA. Googles Chief Economist showed us a model that was able to predict unemployment better than the Federal Reserve. I even had the good fortune of having lunch with Obamas analytics advisor who demonstrated how they won the election using the Internet, statistics, and demographic experiments. Google gave me exposure to a world at the outer circles of the political and economic elite, and I was fascinated by it. I was so interested that I ended up spending countless hours of free time learning about politics and economics. The more questions I asked, the less I connected with the business community. Finally, I left the startup and decided to go back to school for mechanical engineering. What I like most about engineering is that its typically used to solve real human needs. Creating green energy systems, inventing new materials, and designing bridges, makes life better by creating more wealth. In contrast, my startup was focused on manipulating psychology through marketing. Basically, we helped our

clients find clever ways to convince their customers to buy more stuff. Now, I dont know of a single person that wakes up in the morning and thinks, I really wish I had more advertising in my life. It would be really great if it were more persuasive, too. I dont know of many people who think that, given the state of the environment and our level of debt, that we should keep blindly buying more stuff. I do know of a lot of people who want more sustainable lifestyles, cheaper access to housing and transportation, and healthier, locally produced food. You can make a lot of money by selling things, though, so thats what I did. You can make even more money just by moving money around. For example, a hedge fund manager made a billion dollars in a day back in 92. At the time, it wouldve taken the average family 28,000 years to earn that much. This guy didnt sew a shirt, harvest a pound of food, or even mow someones yard. In fact, he didnt provide any social value at all. You could fill books with examples like this one, but all you really need to understand is that making money and doing something useful arent always the same things. With that realization, my life plan changed from making money to helping people. At first I tried some political options. I wrote representatives, gave speeches, organized rallies, attended marches, and created YouTube videos. Not a whole lot changed. Then I tried giving money away to good causes. It made a big difference for a few people, and that was about it. I kept trying to find ways to make my efforts more effective, and finally stumbled across a project called Open Source Ecology.

Open source means that a project is made freely available for everyone to use and improve on. Its the opposite of the traditional business mentality that says you should try to corner a market, charge the most you can, and use patents and courts to sue the pants off anyone who tries to compete with you. All open source work is really a type of charity, and open source software has been tremendously successful. In fact, Googles servers, Facebook, and Apples computers are all based on open source software. The idea behind Open Source Ecology is to take this method from the software world and apply it to 50 machines that are needed to build a modern, industrial society from the ground up. Several machines have already been built, and they hold a lot of promise. You can build a solar generator with mirrors and a steam engine for about $0.50 per watt. That means a family can invest a few thousand dollars and have all the energy theyll need for their entire lives. You can build a tractor to help plow and harvest food for a tenth of the cost of a corporate model. You can build a 3D printer for a few hundred bucks and make everything from cell phone cases to frames for glasses. Once your printer is up, you literally download a file from the Internet and print whatever it is you want. When these 50 machines are finished, OSE is starting a small, self-sufficient community that shares the means of production. In the history of humanity, its a

rare thing to achieve this without using the monopoly on power wielded by the state. The Hutterites, a religious sect, have been around for 500 years and use a model of community ownership. A few years ago, a professor visited and found that theyd eliminated poverty, homelessness, hunger, and crime. The anarchist revolution in Spain had a similar result, while it lasted. I imagine that Mill would give enthusiastic approval for self-sufficient societies. They fulfill his no harm principle by providing an opportunity to make all relationships voluntary. In contrast, the United States rejects this principle by imprisoning people for victimless crimes and waging wars of aggression. Self- sufficient societies also promote the development of the individual by ensuring everyone within their borders has access to food, land, and housing. The global economic system, in which 3.5 billion people earn less than $2 per day, can make no such claims. Individuals cant develop when they live in crushing poverty, and you cant contemplate liberty on an empty stomach. Secret cables reveal it is actually the foreign policy of the United States to keep people poor for the sake of profit margins. When people own the means to create all the wealth they need, they will be free. They will prosper to the extent that they want to work. It may even be possible for most people to live better and work less. In a self-sufficient society, the burden of taxes, interest rates, profit margins, R&D costs, management, bureaucracy, war, monopolies, patents, imprisonment, marketing, speculation, and rent would not

exist. If we can prove that people live better and work less in open source societies, people will flock to them.