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Issue #3
Janruary 2012

The Zeitgeist Movement Australia Magazine

Transition to a Resource-Based Economy

New Paradigm

The Need for a

the Concept of Transition

Communicating
Transition to a New Economic Paradigm

Freeconomics A Resource-Base for a New Economy
Transition to a Sustainable Economy

The Price of Zero Transition Model
Playing the Long Game
The Economics of Sustainability

The Economics of Happiness Review

A Comparison of Economic Models
Transition Hurdles

Contents
News, updates & upcoming events
5 6. News from TZM around the globe TZM AU Chapter news

Analysis
22. The Price of Zero Transition Model
Michael Kubler analyses the likely steps involved in the transition toward an alternative economic future.

Updates from the TZM team
Happy New Year and welcome to the third issue of Spirit of the Times! We hope to start 2012 as we mean to go on with thought-provoking presentation of practical solutions-focused discussion. Throughout our ongoing support of the Occupy Movement as well as our own work and a little time spent with our loved ones throughout the holiday period the stoic commitment of a wonderful inter-state team has managed to produce this latest issue of The Zeitgeist Movement’s Australia-based magazine addressing the controversial issue of the transition to a new economic paradigm. Each of our bimonthly issues aims to present TZM primarily within an Australian context, delivering chapter-specific news such as the establishment of experimental ResourceBased Economy oriented communities in Melbourne and Adelaide, global updates on the Movement’s progress, informative articles regarding contemporary issues, discursive analyses, social commentary, critical thinking, and book and film reviews with content relevant to TZM aims and ethos. Each issue presents its own “geisty” theme; and this one is “Economic Issues: Transition to a Resource-Based Economy”. It is in this, our third issue, that the concept and process of transition to a resourcebased economy are explored with regard to comparing the RBE with various other economic models, explaining how a transition may take place, and presenting some steps that individuals can take to play a role in facilitating a new and more sustainable economic paradigm. We hope that you will find this an inspiring and empowering read, and that you will find information worth sharing! Happy geisting,

Information
Playing the Long Game
Kari McGregor reports on the Adelaide Thinkers in Residence Forum.

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30. The Economics of Sustainability – A Comparison of Economic Models
Kari McGregor outlines and compares a range of economic models for analysis of their relative merits and shortcomings.

12. Building a Creative Economy - The Need for a New Paradigm
David Zwolski explains how the failures of former political and economic paradigms pave the way for a new approach.

38. Freeconomics – A Resource-Base for a New Economy
Kari McGregor offers insight into how the world of resource-sharing, timebanking and skill-share functions in an attempt to present a basis for personal contributions to a Resource-Based Economy.

14. Building a Creative Economy - Transition to a Sustainable Economy
Kari McGregor describes how the concept of a Resource-Based Economy is not only viable, but is already in transition.

Comment
44. Transition Hurdles
Ben Matei comments on experiences of conveying the concept of economic transition.

18. Accepting New Ideas – Communicating the Concept of Transition
Michael Kubler outlines various psychological approaches to com m unicat in g th e controversial concept of transition to a new economic paradigm.

Review
46. Documentary film review: The Economics of Happiness

Kari McGregor & TZM team Any feedback regarding current articles or enquiries about future submissions is to be sent to karin@zeitgeistaustralia.org. Please indicate whether you would like feedback to be passed on to the writer of any given article, and/or published in the next issue. Thank you.

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Spirit of the Times Magazine - Jan Issue 2012

The Zeitgeist Movement Australian Chapter

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News from TZM around the globe
The Zeitgeist Movement continues to support the Occupy Movement as it gathers speed and gains maturity. In the spirit of collaboration Zeitgeist Movement members have assisted with all facets of the Occupy Movement including on the ground occupation presence, maintaining presence at general assemblies, assistance with planning and holding events and providing informative and inspiring presentations and workshops. The Zeitgeist Movement’s LA-based chapter were invited by Occupy Venice to give a presentation with focus on Q&A, an event that was very well-received and demonstrated the promise of networking and sharing between groups inspired to bring about change in the world. For further information regarding the Occupy Movement please check out www.occupytogether.org. Additionally, for a view of the Movement within an Australian context please visit www.occupyaustralia.org.au. An international TZM team located in Sweden is in the process of making a new TZM film titled Waking Up. The Project is in its early stages and, with a director and a small team of screenwriters and composers, is currently focused on developing the script and gathering volunteers with the skills, resources and ideas to see the project through to completion. Currently more volunteers, whether directly involved with TZM or not, are needed to assist with the following roles: screenwriting, production, promotion and marketing, design, special effects and CGI. Volunteers are also required for the exciting roles of cast and crew. Further information related to the production of this film is expected via their website soon.

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Spirit of the Times Magazine - Jan Issue 2012

The Zeitgeist Movement Australian Chapter

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TZM Australia - Nationwide

Kari McGregor (SA)

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ntering into 2012 The Zeitgeist Movement’s activities in Australia are taking an exciting new turn with chapters refining their goals and projects and taking on ambitious challenges such as the establishment of experimental resourcebased economy communities. TZM AU continue to support the Occupy Movement around the country through its ups and downs, challenges and developments. The experience is proving to be a rewarding learning curve for both Movements who have much to learn from one another. Coming up soon is a series of events around Australia of great relevance to anyone interested in sustainability and a resource-based economy. Mike Reynolds, aka the Garbage Warrior, is coming to Australia in February offering workshops on how to build “Earthships”, fully self-sustainable, completely off-the-grid communities that alleviate their residents from power bills and water bills, whilst providing fresh food all year round. For more information, and to register your interest please visit: www.garbagewarrioraustraliantour. com. Individual chapters have much to report regarding their recent action, achievements, and upcoming events, so here’s a run-down of what’s going on….

in the most exciting development of the Movement so far: the establishment of an experimental RBE community. David will continue to work in the capacity of national coordinator, but Sydney-based coordination is now the responsibility of Ziggy Tolnay, who is fortunate to have a capable team of dedicated supporters to assist in chapter activities. Screenings of socially conscious films are being held on a weekly basis in an outreach attempt to engage with the wider community in dialogue regarding issues of social relevance. The screenings form the basis of discussions and workshops that provide a forum for development of ideas tackling the problems of society and their root causes, and are aimed at engaging society in issues-based discussion rather than having a recruitment focus.

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Northern Territory
here is currently no active chapter in the Northern Territory, although outreach is being pursued by some motivated individuals.

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Queensland
hapters in Brisbane, The Sunshine Coast and Far North Queensland continue to hold regular events and meetings in order to bring the concept of a resource-based economy to public attention. Much activity in these chapters is focused on developing a knowledge base which can be applied to the concepts advocated by the Zeitgeist Movement. Further investigation and research is in progress regarding moves toward the establishment of a resource-based economy community, and members are looking into land acquisition as well as surveying their resource and skills base.

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Australian Capital Territory
he Canberra chapter of TZM AU is a small operation that is currently strategically focused on increasing its numbers and networks in order to be able to host events and raise awareness more effectively on a wider scale. Recent actions include attendance at the Permaculture Convergence in Bega at which a large number of Zeitgeist: Moving Forward DVDs were given out to attendees interested in the concept of how a resource-based economy functions in a similar way to a global network of permaculture-based communities.

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New South Wales
ZM Sydney continue to play an active role in Occupy Sydney with members contributing their invaluable skills to the Occupy Movement in various forms including working for the media team. A new development for 2012 sees the departure of the TZM AU founder and Sydney coordinator David Zwolski as he sets out on the next stage of his RBE adventure with a move to Adelaide for participation

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South Australia

n a bold and adventurous move for 2012 The Zeitgeist Movement Adelaide Chapter is in the process of establishing the first Australian-based mini-RBE community. The city-based community as it is at present can accommodate 10 to 12 people, and most of those involved in the project are forgoing employment in order to focus on building the community and supporting their minimal financial needs with freelance work and ethical micro-industry. The intention is to refine the project and make it self-sustainable regarding the production of electricity, water and most food. After this is accomplished, the community intends to expand to accommodate more people. Currently the community is looking for one or two more

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Spirit of the Times Magazine - Jan Issue 2012

members to join any time after February 2012. These people would ideally be committed to this project on a long term basis. Skills required within the community include: construction, electrical, plumbing, applied sustainability practices and technologies, and permaculture. For people interested in assisting with or joining this project please contact the chapter with your expression of interest via the website at: www.zeitgeistaustralia. org. The South Australian chapter has also continued to be heavily involved in the Occupy Adelaide branch of the Occupy Movement. TZM contributions to Occupy Adelaide include participation in various working groups including online communications, events planning, facilitation, outreach and publicity. Although there is no longer an overnight occupation Occupy Adelaide continue to have an ongoing public presence that enjoys the support of TZM and the valued contributions of documentary film screenings and educational and skillshare workshops from local members. Occupy Christmas was a great success thanks to the dedication and commitment of some of the most dependable advocates of a sustainable resource-based economy in collaboration with occupiers of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds.

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Tasmania
ZM Tasmania is a chapter still in the early stages of development and is in need of both internal structure and outreach in order to become fully functional.

Victoria
ZM Melbourne is the first chapter in Australia to establish the experimental resource-based economy oriented living situation, otherwise known as the “Z-house”. Members of the chapter involved in the Z-house are keen to establish the operation as a fully self-sustainable example of city living which can demonstrate RBE concepts to the wider community. Those involved also intend to disengage from the monetary system to the greatest extent possible in committing themselves to the development of the RBE concept.

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Western Australia

ZM Perth is developing through its early stages and continuing with efforts from committed members to become a tightly functioning team that hopes to play a key role in the transition to a resource-based economy. Regular meetings and activist runs are taking place and some exciting new projects are in the pipeline for the year ahead.

The Zeitgeist Movement Australian The ZeitgeistPage 7 Chapter Movement

Australian Chapter

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Playing the Long Game
A report on the Adelaide Thinkers in Residence forum
Kari McGregor (SA)

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INFO ARTICLE

Spirit of the Times Magazine - Jan Issue 2012

delaide Thinkers in has been One environmental projects Residence, a relatively Million Trees. In response to Herbert’s new program operating within the Department recommendation, the Government has of the Premier and Cabinet is a credit to Herbert and the Thinkers expanded that program to the planting ofof the State three million Australia, are well on the – and a testament to the popularity Government of South trees by 2014. Weis working to provide way to reaching that goal, ty of the report itself – that a second the State with strategies for and the Premier – in future development in was honoured to plant the 500,000th tree was necessary. the arts and Adelaide’s west parklands – in September 2004. sciences, social policy, environmental Government strongly supported the sustainability and economic development. The The burgeoning wind drive the report when it was first released, Thinkers haveachieve zero landfillpower industry, thegenerating a to been successful in Green waste, Adelaide’s 2003. We felt he had addressed some st pressing environmental issues good deal ofCity Program, and thefor this purpose, much of investment Water Proofing Adelaide some of uth Australia. These included the it management, federal government. However, by their from the Project, are justinitiativesthe many other State. environmental occurring in our etter waste and water own admission they are leaning toward 70% private urban design and use of energy, and South Australia is within this context ainable business practices. sector involvement. It isfast becoming a world leader that the requirement in adopting a ‘green’ approach long-term needs of of balancing the to the way we live, and much of the credit for that must go to ortantly, the Government Herbert Girardet. His period as the inaugural number of Herbertthe future against the ever-demanding present is Girardet’s Residence set an extremely high ndations. In March 2004, the PremierThis is what is meant by “playing the long couched. Thinker Inand we welcome his return to standard, d that the Government would be game”. Adelaide in November 2004. I commend this for example, the following programs: Adelaide Thinkers in Residence Director Gabrielle Kelly opens the forum by provoking the audience to ponder what she refers to as a moral question relating to how much we care about the future: “how do we Warren McCann way we want to live in in live in the Chief Executive the 8th most Department of the Premier andworld in a way that livable city in the Cabinet Government of South Australia empathizes with people who will be around in 50 lifetimes?” In an amalgamation of the innovative, political and business worlds panel members of this forum include Herbert Girardet, co-founder of the World Future Council, Fred Hansen, former general manager of TriMet and renowned for his innovative approach to the provision of public transport and internationally recognized in the field of transport and integrated land use, Goran Roos, founder of Intellectual Capital Services Ltd., a leading think tank on technology and business futures, and South Australian former premier Mike Rann. Herbert Girardet, noted for introducing the concept of regenerative cities, emphasizes the need for creating a Sustainable Adelaide focused on curbing resource use. Girardet challenges the audience with the question, “will the future fight back against the present?” According to Girardet in our so-called strides toward development we have largely excluded externalities form our calculations, and these will one day have to be paid for. It is as though we have developed a future-blindness, thinking about the future based only on economic forecasts. In our blindness we are currently burning 200 million years’ worth of fossil fuels per year – living on nature’s capital, not its income. In addition, 6 tons of soil per person per year is being lost due to deforestation. Non-renewable resources are being used up at an alarming rate, and this is only increasing. Although Girardet cites cities as a potential solution to some environmental problems he recognizes that urbanization in developing countries is causing a 4-fold use of resources, and is rapidly increasing. Girardet, not one to waste rhetoric on idealism alone, hastens to remind us that “in our victory against nature we will find ourselves on the losing side!” We are globally linked through our use of fossil
Above: This montage highlights the potential for siting turbines close to the city. Source: PlanningSA/Herbert Girardet

welcome the release of this Second Herbert Girardet’s groundbreaking n Residence report.

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Perhaps one of the most successful

atory plumbed rainwater tanks on all homes from July 2006; star energy rating for housing built uly 2006; -year extension to the current solar ater subsidy; solar power by 250 South Australian ls by 2014; and essive installation of solar power to Government buildings, including ment House.

Second Edition of Herbert’s report to you.

fuels, which have even invaded our social spheres, and our vested interests in their continued use are both obvious, and very difficult to undo, Giradet comments. However, as most of our negative impacts occur far away from our sphere of action it is difficult to associate ourselves with the destruction we view around the world. This, compounded with the heavy influence of advertising that drives us to live in the here and now world, causes difficulty for us in considering the ecological footprints of our developing cities as extended across the entire planet. We face an urgent need to always be holistic in our approach to technological improvements, and critically evaluate their application. One example provided by Girardet is the unfortunate effects of offshore wind farms on migratory whales and birds. In our quest for clean and renewable energy alternatives in order to protect our planet’s biodiversity we have come up with a solution that damages it in a different way. Girardet jokes that throughout his career he has specialized in being a generalist, but recognizes that our education system generally denies people opportunities for generalism. Generalism, in Girardet’s view, helps provide the holistic understanding that is necessary in our approach to sustainable development as it forces us to remove the blinders we wear in the heavily compartmentalized system in which we currently operate. In addressing how a world preoccupied with the present can cater for the environmental needs of the future Girardet points to both the legal system, as assisted by government policy, and the market. Ideas presented, such as the installing of “future

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ombudsmen” in the parliaments of the world, are already being implemented in a few forwardthinking locations such as Wales in the UK, with the likelihood of further replication. A “World Future Council” in which policies are generated that level the playing field between present and future generations is also an idea Girardet favours. Girardet also tells of a recent experiment in which a mock-trial of an unnamed oil company took place, finding the company guilty of ecocide. With a new emphasis on playing the long game it may not be long before this kind of case plays out in real courtrooms. Market strategies highlighted by Girardet include the initiative for in feed-in-tariffs for renewable energy which was first introduced in the US by Jimmy Carter in the 70s, but dropped by Reagan. Despite rejection in some parts of the world this initiative is currently successful in Germany, and has resulted in 380,000 new jobs in renewable energy, dramatic reductions in fuel imports and CO2 emissions and very little increase in cost. Fred Hansen, whose lifetime career has included working for the Clinton Administration with the goal of protecting the environment, advocates sustainable transport and its supporting infrastructure as the single most effective measure for bringing about great improvements in sustainability as well as society’s general wellbeing. Hansen, whose experience with the political sphere stands him in an informed position, speaks critically of our ability to communicate our ideas in stating that we often seem to think communication is about repeating ourselves over and over again, simply louder, and forgetting that there is more to it. Hansen states that when it comes to matters of such importance “we need to find common-ground, not battle-ground.” He alludes to the need for strong and courageous leadership in the creation of a vision that encompasses a joint sense of what needs to be done with regard to what he refers to as “the three E’s” of education, the economy, and the environment, which all need to be valued equally. With a full-cost approach to accounting all elements of cost can be considered when cities are developed in order to apply a holistic approach that encompasses future needs as well as those of the present. In our approach to city design Hansen reminds us that we tend to build structures to last for a long time – especially when it comes to buildings that celebrate our national heritage. These are long-term investments and we think long-term in this way. This mentality needs to be extended to encompass aspects of sustainability as being worthwhile investments in our future. For this reason our systems also need to be built to last. Hansen sketches out a case study to demonstrate the value of considering what he calls 7th generation needs as well as those of more immediate concern. In Portland, Oregon, consideration of future

generations is visible in regard to transport and infrastructure. Portland have established a firm urban growth boundary, rejecting the sprawl that characterizes so many other American cities, and committed to upward, rather than outward growth. In addition, in Hansen’s specialized field of transport, investments are not just about getting people from A to B, but are more holistic in scope. The focus is on implementing transport and infrastructure to build new, more sustainable neighbourhoods. 10 billion dollars of private investment have gone into the region in order to facilitate a lifestyle that discourages the cyclical trap of expending a litre of petrol to get a litre of milk. Infrastructure has been shown to both change communities and release opportunities. Pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods have been created in Portland where due to the feasibility of walking more people do so much more often, which has had the knock-on effect of improved health for Portland’s residents, as evidenced by a $500 decrease in per capita annual healthcare costs. Hansen is confident that Adelaide has similar potential to build for a more sustainable future via improving the feasibility of walking and cycling within non-porous urban-growth boundaries that preserve land from the threat of encroaching development. Goran Roos, a self-proclaimed techno-optimist has advised governments around the world. He refers to a widespread problem of compartmentalizing our systems when we should, instead, be integrating them. An example of a more integrated system is that used throughout Scandinavia, where decisions are considered to be long-term, thus the process of decision-making in parliament tends to be slower and more holistic than in many other parts of the world. Roos, like Hansen, feels that there is a crisis of leadership in politics in that there are few, if any, politicians of standing who are determined to do the right thing in terms of long-term policy action against the opinions of their peers and at the expense of short-term economic gain. Roos, a firm believer in technological solutions to contemporary problems urges creativity in closedloop systems. In Scandinavia, where there is a great deal of uninhabited land and trees forest farming is a commercially viable practice. Long-term thinking needs to be employed here because trees take a long time to grow, so the mind-set needs to be balanced between present and future needs. This has given rise to a law in Norway stipulating that when one tree is cut down two more must be planted to replace it. Roos further illustrates how Scandinavian business are making the most of the resources they have, providing examples of Norway as the world centre for Winter-testing of cars due to the abundance of wintry weather and ice throughout a large part of the year, and Finland being a world centre for recording “natural silence”! Such use of resources can easily become closed-loop systems if implemented with a long-term mindset and an integrated systems approach.

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Value comes in three flavours according to Roos. First there is instrumental value, where one asks oneself what an item can be used for – when applied to resources this demands creativity; when applied to money the story is not much different. The second is the value of an item based on what it can be turned into – this value, when applied to money views money as purely a trading and exchange mechanism. The third is the value of an item being valued simply for what it is – when applied to money this is a Scrooge-like value for the sake of it. Value refers to more than just money, but our society makes investment decisions just in terms of money. When recognizing that return on investment depends of taking into account other factors one must come to the realization that different valuation systems are required. Roos, an idealistic innovator, challenges the audience with his claim that evolution created things that work, but not necessarily the best things. Technology, in Roos’ view, can create better things, meaning that we have an ability to improve on nature and not just mimic it. In the world of innovative solutions this means that instead of limiting ourselves to already existing technology as applied to problems we can drive innovation by writing specifications for things that don’t yet exist in response to problems that arise. This is difficult when governments are pressured to “buy at the lowest price”, meaning that creative and innovative solutions are hampered by the narrow-minded system of valuation and short-term perspective. In discussing and applying holistic solutions Roos emphasizes the importance of matching the diversity of the team with the dynamics of the environment. In doing this we need to welcome into the debate people with a different viewpoint. However, Roos questions whether we are in fact comfortable with different viewpoints. Some domains, such as the field of economics are heavily dominated by a form of one-truth syndrome, and this is especially the case in Australia. Systems in Australia, based on the Westminster model, seem to be stuck in this one-truth system, which Roos contrasts with the more collaborative Nordic model. It seems that this is a cultural issue, and one we need to be acutely aware of in order to address effectively. Mike Rann, South Australia’s former premier in his final weeks in office, echoed Goran Roos’ sentiments regarding the modification of Australia’s Westminster-based system. Embracing fresh and different perspectives and cultures, he states, are important aspects of a solutions-focused approach to a sustainable future. In recounting cases of environmental forward-thinking in South Australian state policy Rann jokes about the attitude of many peers and the media-fed public that some of the policies implemented would signify the end of civilization, bringing us back to the Stone Age. Such policies included the container-deposit legislation that encourages recycling by providing

a 10-cent rebate on all labelled items deposited, and plastic bag legislation leading supermarkets to no longer provide free plastic bags with purchases, which enjoyed 90% support from the public despite lobbyists campaigning hard against the legislation. South Australia’s future-focused policies have led it to be the supplier of 54% of the nation’s wind power, another scheme that had to battle lobbyists and the Murdoch media for approval. The tram system was also criticized as bringing about the end of civilization while taking valuable state dollars away from healthcare when, in fact, the net effect in the long-term has been a doubling of the funding available for healthcare. Rann, seemingly relaxed in the latter days of his term in office, seems to have presented some of the qualities of leadership emphasized in their importance by Hansen and Roos in that he has remained stoic in his resolve to implement policies that are not necessarily popular within his sphere of influence, but that which have the long-term vision that counter-lobbyists lack. Rann comments on how much of the world’s leadership regarding environmental concern is taking place at local rather than national level. One example he refers to is the commitment to tree planting programs by more than 70 states all around the world who collaborate directly with one another and exchange ideas for improving sustainability. Rann also points to the South Australian wine industry which was the first industry to sign up to a climate change reduction strategy because it was felt that an environmentally friendly image would provide a competitive edge in marketing. Citizen action from the likes of Maggie Beer and Peter Lehman have had a strong impact at regional level in achieving protection for McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley from urban encroachment. In reality, as Rann reveals, between 60 and 80% of policy decisions are made at state level, not national level, which means that a lot of control exists at lower levels of government, a revelation which holds a lot of promise for our communities if we choose to see it that way. In terms of solutions for sustainability it seems that a few concepts are consistent among the Thinkers in Residence: that we can no longer make development decisions without consideration for future generations, that a holistic approach to problem-solving is needed, and that perseverance is required in the face of criticism and pressure. Whether or not we all agree upon the approaches taken to ensure sustainable development there is one thing we all seem to agree on and that is that whichever economic model we choose to operate under it is clear that we need to play the long game.

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ur current methods of social conduct have thus far failed in resolving the problems of environmental destruction, human conflict, poverty, corruption and any other issue that reduces the possibility of collective human sustainability on our planet. Our current economic system is based on an archaic notion, a Social Darwinistic approach that assumes there is not enough to go around, thus we have to compete against one another via the economic structure in place. At the same time the establishment is trying to resolve the problems that have been generated within this system by using mechanisms of this system – those very same mechanisms that created the problems in the first place. It is time we realise the dualistic approach from the past is limited with regard to proposed solutions coming either from the left or the right, as if those were the only options to consider. The management of our economy and the planet itself is a technical matter, not political. Our society is not best governed by politicians who argue amongst themselves about what they will do, what should be done and what has been done while under the influence of an inherently flawed monetary system. The bottom line is that the world as it is now is not a result of some bad people at the top, neither is it the result of a badly implemented or interpreted

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FEATURED ARTICLE

The Need for a New Paradigm
Adapted from a presentation delivered at the Building a Creative Economy conference in Sydney on 28th October 2011 - David Zwolski (NSW)

Building a Creative Economy

economic theory or the fault of some naturally occurring growth and decline period. The world as it looks right now is a product of the current economic zeitgeist, and a grave misunderstanding of the processes that this planet is governed by. With this understanding in mind it is clear that our world is in need of a new paradigm, or zeitgeist, within which it can begin to repair the damage that has been done. The term Zeitgeist, meaning spirit of the times, may be used to refer to the common understanding of a group or a society. For example, in the Western world’s current zeitgeist, the commonly understood term terrorism is loaded with the implication that our society is under a constant threat from external forces of evil. Within this zeitgeist there are limits to the ways in which matters can be perceived or addressed, meaning that the most appropriate ways may not even be commonly known, let alone commonly understood. Only a change in zeitgeist can present new concepts and approaches to issues for common acceptance. The word Movement implies a progressive motion which, in the context of The Zeitgeist Movement, implies movement towards a sustainable, humane, and more equitable Zeitgeist. It is from this marriage of concepts that The Zeitgeist Movement derives.

Spirit of the Times Magazine - Jan Issue 2012

The Zeitgeist Movement is not a political movement. It does not recognize nations, governments, races, religions, creeds or class as their bases lie in power, division, and stratification, not unity and equality, which are some of the goals of the Movement. The Zeitgeist Movement takes an unusual and courageous stance in concluding that these institutions are false and outdated and, as such, are rendered redundant when it comes to solving society’s problems. Collective human growth and attainment of true potential cannot be achieved if these outdated arbitrary institutions continue to dictate the terms of development. The solutions or approaches that The Zeitgeist Movement offers are not ours, they are not speculative or self-serving, but come from the technical reality of our current understanding. What defines a good society, what creates good public health and what facilitates quality of life are all lessons that have been learned from social management and derive from the benchmarks of science. An economy needs to be built not on speculation of what may be, or the desire to serve one’s own interests or the interests of influential parties, but on scientific understandings. These understandings need to take into account actual reserves of resources and their rate of renewal, environmental factors that affect these resources, the physical and emotional needs of all members of society and the environmental factors that affect our wellbeing. In short, the Zeitgeist Movement does not propose a new magic bullet, a quick-fix or a patch-up job, but the study, implementation and development of the existing knowledge and tools of science and technology in the service of social and environmental concern. A monetary economy creates more problems than it solves. As with a doctor diagnosing a patient with cancer, optimal outcomes are not achieved by treating only the symptoms, but by addressing the causes of how the cancer developed. Instead of using radiotherapy it is more effective to apply the vast amounts of scientific knowledge that exists within the medical profession regarding ways in which cancer can be prevented from occurring.

The same approach is advocated by The Zeitgeist Movement. The root causes from which today’s problems have developed need to be addressed if we are to prevent the same problems from recurring. One only needs to scratch the surface in order to perceive that many causes of today’s problems stem from inequality – an inherent flaw of the monetary system itself. No political or economic ‘ism’ that anchors itself in a monetary economic paradigm, from capitalism through socialism to communism, can begin to unravel the destruction that has been woven by the system. All of the decisions that have ever been made have always been made, regardless of how we look at it, by humans. It is people, individuals, at the end, who are responsible for what is done. It is simple logic, therefore, that the study of our human behaviour should be the primary focus in our endeavours to discover and implement a sustainable new system. It is imperative that we understand what influences us to do the things that we do and understand what behaviour is beneficial, and, of course, what is not, for our humane future society ¬to emerge. Any paradigm in which human behaviour and responses to stimuli inherent within the system are not taken into account is doomed to failure when it comes to addressing needs. A holistic approach is what is now required to face the many and varied demands of our complex world. The left and the right have had their turn in our history, and the results are apparent for all to observe. It is time for a new third direction.

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INFO ARTICLE

Building a Creative Economy

Transition to a Sustainable Economy
Adapted from a presentation delivered at the Building a Creative Economy conference in Sydney on 29th October 2011 - Kari McGregor (SA)

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remember when I was little I asked my mum what her religion was. She told me that she didn’t have any religion per se, but that she felt connected to a particular philosophy – that of the native American Indians. She explained that she did not worship any god, but worshiped the earth in the sense that she felt compelled to nurture that which sustains life. Her way involved connecting with our resources in a symbiotic way, with an understanding that if we do not sustain that which sustains us, for whatever reason, we will not survive as a species to tell the tale and say I told you so. It was growing up with this influence that started me on my journey toward a destination thus far untried amongst most of the white western invaders of previously sustainable functioning democracies. The Zeitgeist Movement tells of the need for a third way – beyond left and right; a new direction in which we need to move in order to ensure the sustainability of our earth. It has been shown that various political and economic paradigms attempted thus far have failed to address society’s needs in a way that ensures equality and sustainability. It is all too clear that we are damaging the very thing that is most necessary to our survival – our earth – all in the name of profit and unequal distribution of resources that leaves wealth and power in the hands of only

a few who perpetuate the cycle of destruction and the upward flow of the monetary system. It is for this reason that a different economic paradigm is needed. Various economic models must be examined and compared in terms of their respective merit, and weighed up against the sustainable economic system of a resource-based economy, as advocated by the Zeitgeist Movement. It is important, when examining a new model, that we explore ways in which such a system could be implemented and maintained, and acknowledge that the first steps have already been taken.

A brief sketch of economic models
Beginning with a brief sketch of economic models enables us to critically examine those models that have thus far been proposed in modern civilization, and to weigh up their respective merits and issues.

Growth economics, the current economic

zeitgeist, is the inherently flawed concept of an ever-growing monetary economy in which we attempt to continue to produce and consume at ever-increasing rates while neglecting the all-too apparent fact that the carrying capacity of our landbase cannot be exceeded by either population

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growth or consumption of resources without disaster. It is precisely this delusion of infinite growth that we need to move away from.

Steady-state

economics is a system proposed by some in which there is no growth, but a static economic state. This, however, does not take into account the inequalities present in the current system that are not addressed by a lack of growth – especially with regard to developing and third world nations. It also does not factor in the fact that many of our current practices are already destructive to the extent that even a static economy is unsustainable because we have already gone too far.

such an economic paradigm as prohibitive pricing would make the cycle of consumption unviable, thus rendering the system immobile. In order for such a system to be viable it would be necessary to produce as cheaply, and therefore, as sustainably, as possible – meaning that the cyclical consumption and planned obsolescence that characterize the current market system would be negative for the market. With these being the very factors that drive the market in a monetary system, the concept of true-cost economics shoots itself in the foot.

True-cost economics is an interesting concept in which the full cost of resource usage, production and consumption are factored into the cost of purchasing. This means that all costs are factored in to pricing of products and services, including the full cost of labour at a livable wage, repairs to environmental damage incurred by resource extraction, and the cost of disposal or recycling of the materials used in production, to name but a few of the factors involved. Of course in theory this sounds wonderful, but in practice items would be prohibitively expensive if the methods of production and the rate of consumption stay as they are in our current zeitgeist. It is unlikely that we will ever see

Participatory economics is an economic model whereby those who are affected by economic decisions play a meaningful role in their process. This means that the general public would actually have a say in what goes on in the world of resource management and distribution, in the field of production and consumption, and the arena of trade. This may sound almost utopian. It is highly unlikely that such a paradigm would ever be allowed to manifest by those who currently seek to hold sway over the majority of the world’s wealth and power. While a competition-driven monetary system is in place there is always the likelihood of abuse and corruption, rendering true participatory economics more of a pipedream than something we can hope to manifest in reality.

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A resource-based economy
If we are to think outside the box in which we have all been brought up and indoctrinated we may allow ourselves to consider the possibility of an economic paradigm in which sustainability is not just taken into consideration, but is, in fact, the goal. A resourcebased economy is one such system in which the true meaning of economy – the sustainable management of our resources – is integral. It is also a system in which true participation, and not mere political representation is possible. A resource-based economy, as advocated by the Zeitgeist Movement involves a more objective system of resource-management unhindered by the power-play of the current political system or the corruption of the monetary system. A resourcebased economy is one in which the processes of science are implemented in order to ensure the sustainable use and replenishment of the earth’s resources, and their equal distribution. In this way decisions are not made according to the pressures of vested interests and corporate agendas, but are arrived at by experts using an objective scientific approach. For a resource-based economy to function it is necessary that management be objective and scientific, and that the carrying capacity of our land be assessed so that access to resource usage can be distributed equally among people only at a rate at which they can be renewed. Under the current zeitgeist of monetary economics it is near impossible to get a true picture of the carrying capacity of our landbase and the true resource base that it holds due to the inherent corruption of the system that seeks to make profit for the few at the expense of the many. If a paradigm could be established in which the monetary system could be dispensed with this would really open Pandora’s box as regards how the move toward a new zeitgeist could look. Without the corrupting and limiting presence of money or reciprocal trade or barter we are in a position that facilitates equal distribution of resources. One then becomes aware that money only facilitates access to resources for those who have a lot of it, while for others it is an absurd and artificial barrier to the means of survival. This barrier need not exist, and it is unacceptable that it does, as it is known all too well that the reasons for hunger, disease and war are usually related to restricted access to resources caused by shortage of money – which is simply an arbitrary measuring stick with which we assess someone’s ability to access resources. When this arbitrary measuring stick is done away with we are in a position whereby one no longer needs to work or compete for the means of survival. Imagine not having to slave all day to be able to afford your housing, your healthy food, and your

healthcare; imagine instead a world in which we had the free time to really support one another and be creative with our time. How many times have you heard loved ones utter the words “if only I had the time to work on my music/art/writing/(insert favoured creative pastime)”? Imagine being able to live our lives to the fullest capacity – imagine facilitating that possibility for those who are currently marginalized and disadvantaged within our present zeitgeist. Imagine not having to worry about environmental destruction or scarcity of resources due to fear, competition and greed. Imagine everyone in the world being able to go beyond rung 1 on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs! Is this just a utopian ideal, or is it actually possible? The answer really is within us. It’s possible if we make it possible. None of us can discount the need to understand human behavior and what causes us to act in the way we do. When faced with scarcity and artificial barriers to survival one is forced to compete, and our current sociopathic society based on social Darwinism is a reflection of this. If we are to facilitate a world in which collaboration leads to the development of our humanity and the sustainability of that which sustains us then we will need to face the responsibility for our own actions and behavior, and face the ever-encroaching fact that our current zeitgeist is unsustainable. A nonmonetary resource-based economy is one in which the likelihood of equality, peace and sustainability is far higher, and so, in turn, is our survival as a species.

How a resourcebased economy can be implemented and sustained
The good news is all around us. Many people may already be moving toward a resource-based economy without ever having thought of it in those terms. It’s a work in progress and something to transition toward together, and we are doing it. LETS, a community currency system of trading without money, is a system whereby people pay favours forward with no expectation of return. In this way necessary production or other actions are carried out in a money-free manner that facilitates access to resources and services for those who would otherwise be impeded by money. There is also an ever-increasing trend toward freesharing – a system whereby communities share their resources – be they tools, materials, books, computer equipment, carpooling etc; or space – the space in which people may couchsurf while visiting another town or country, or a space in which to hold a meeting; or time – people willingly giving up their time to help out a neighbor with their gardening or shopping for example; and skillshare

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– where people empower one another and their communities with the sharing and teaching of their skills. With the rise of freesharing websites at local, national and international level community networking opportunities are increasing while the need for money is decreasing. The permaculture movement and transition towns are also working toward increased sustainability. The introduction of community gardens and food co-ops and seed-exchanges are reducing the need for money, even eliminating it in some areas, while empowering communities in skills and knowledge previously neglected when everything revolved around monetary transactions. It is becoming possible for people to devote less time to paid labour and spend more time with their loved ones and on creative pursuits - leading to increased feelings of health and wellbeing and reduced social pathologies as well as empowerment and increased sustainability. With the recent rise of the Occupy Movement around the world that sprung up from Occupy Wall Street in September it is clear that people are ready for change, and many are not simply demanding that our resources be managed in a more objective and sustainable manner, but are collectively organizing at grass-roots level in order to ensure their collaborative and meaningful participation in a new economic paradigm. A resource-based economy is being built around us, and it is up to each and every one of us to recognize our own role in facilitating and maintaining its development into a new zeitgeist – one of true equality, peace and sustainability. In closing it is important that we remind ourselves that we, the Zeitgeist Movement, the advocates of a sustainable resource-based economy, are not the first to suggest or implement this. It has been done for millennia by the indigenous carers of landbases all around the world. It may well be time to learn the lessons of our forebears and return to an era of sustainability with a modern flavor – by combining the wisdom of times past with the accumulated scientific and technological knowledge of the present, and with the compassion that will set us all free.

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egarding the introduction of new developments or ideas there is always a degree of skepticism, and sometimes resistance, within society. Those who work at the cutting edge of science or technology are familiar with such skepticism and resistance, and those encouraging the adoption of new ways of thinking or living perhaps face the hardest job of all. Those challenging the status quo with the presentation of a resource-based economic model are unlikely to find their message eagerly accepted by everyone they encounter. When trying to communicate a message to someone there are a number of different methods of categorizing people that can assist in tailoring that message. Categories such as the following, which function by placing people and their perceptions and perspectives somewhere on a scale, facilitate understanding of why some people are more open to new ideas than others. • open-mindedness • market segment (bell-curve) • tangible/intangible • time perspective There is a degree of overlap with these categories in that a person who is open-minded is also likely to fall into the early adopter market segment of the bell-curve, and is also likely to be able to work on a concept even if there is an absence of tangible results.

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INFO ARTICLE

Communicating the Concept of Transition
Michael Kubler (SA)

Accepting New Ideas

Open-mindedness
People’s interest in new ideas regarding a certain topic generally range on a spectrum from openminded to narrow-minded or even closed-minded. Open-minded people will usually hear out what someone has to say, and are open to accepting and investigating new ideas and concepts from a range of input sources which stimulate multiple senses. Open-minded people consider input from a wide range of people including friends, family, workmates, sporting teammates, and other community members. They are even open to information from strangers, and may find themselves nodding along to an interesting new piece of information delivered by a stranger they meet on the train. The more open-minded a person is the more likely they are to process information from a variety of sources – welcoming input from verbal, visual, audio, and written text sources, often seeking out new sources of information. Narrow-minded people are generally closed off or simply won’t pay attention in situations in which new ideas are presented by strangers, or in ways to which they are not accustomed. However, they tend to be willing to hear out ideas presented by their peers, friends, family and other people within their accepted sphere of influence. They are also more likely to embrace information presented to them in a way they are familiar with. This could be via TV, the newspaper, or a conversation with a friend, for example. They might, however, be put

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off by a stranger on a train trying to explain new concepts through interpretive dance. Someone totally closed-minded will automatically reject any and all information or new ideas which conflict with their established set of beliefs, regardless of how they are presented and by whom. Religions and cults often use circular logic to cause people’s minds to become closed off, arming their mind against ideas that they don’t already believe in, especially those they have been indoctrinated to hate or distrust. An example is the religious practice of claiming that anyone who does not believe in the exact same religion that you do is being controlled by the devil or that everything they say is a lie. New ideas tend to just bounce off closed-minded people and aren’t even processed, making it almost impossible for that person’s perspective to change. In order to reach such people their psychological loop has to be broken; a task that is extremely difficult without a good understanding of their belief system. As such people are usually heavily indoctrinated, either by the society in which they live, or by communities or religions in which they participate, these are not the people who it makes the most sense to target in the early stages of introducing new ideas and concepts. The good news is that everyone is born openminded. It is through environmental, and sometimes physical, conditioning that people become closedminded, suggesting that it is possible to reverse such conditioning, and that not everyone has been subject to such a high level of conditioning. When interpreting people’s responses to new information it is important to understand the difference between belief and understanding. Belief is the confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof. Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a

person, situation, or message, whereby one is able to think consider that object in a more objective manner and employ concepts to deal adequately with it. Understanding requires that the object be subject to rigorous testing with no emotional investment in the outcomes of such testing. In communication with someone who is openminded it should be easier to talk to them about new concepts. This does not mean, however, that they should instantly believe what they are told, but just that they will take the time to hear what is being communicated. Those who believe instantly or nearly instantly have either already heard a great deal of similar information and supporting facts, are bullshitting and have no idea what is actually being said, or, worse, have never learned critical thinking and are the sort of people who fall for cultish indoctrination. Being open-minded, instead, means that when exposed to new ideas you will investigate them and critically analyse them before making a judgment and arriving at an understanding.

Bell Curve of Market Segments
When introducing new products in the world of marketing and sales uptake tends to follow the same trend along a bell curve, with population positioned on the y axis and time represented by the x axis. The bell curve is divided into segments with the majority falling somewhere in the middle, as represented by the highest point of the curve. The people to the left of the bell curve, the early adopters, represent a relatively small segment of approximately 5-10% of the population, and are typically the first to experiment with a new product or concept. The majority of people will only accept new concepts and transition toward change after a certain point has already been

BELL CURVE OF EARLY ADOPTERS
PEOPLE
Early Adopters

Pragmatists

Conservatives

Laggards

Luddites

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reached with these early adopters. If the concept one intends to communicate is open to feedback then the early adopters can have a lot of influence over the final result, providing valuable feedback and opportunities for development. These early adopters often communicate on a similar level to the initial creators, meaning that such communication is relatively easy. However, once enough early adopters have begun to understand and accept the concept it is necessary to cross the greatest chasm regarding uptake, and reach out to the next market segment – the pragmatists. Pragmatists, who make up an approximate 30-40% of the population, are more concerned with the concept providing a solution to a problem they have encountered, and are less likely to be interested in the concept simply for its intrinsic merit, hence it is necessary to tailor the message, and sometimes even the concept, differently. Once there are enough people doing something different the next segment, the conservatives, will follow the majority. Again, the message will need to be altered to suit, and the concept may even need to be modified further in order to properly reach the conservatives. The final segment, which is, fortunately for those whose interests lie in presenting new concepts, quite small, represents the laggards. Laggards are those who are the last to accept new concepts, sometimes even demonstrating pride in their reluctance to adopt new practices or follow new trends. As regards the aims of the Zeitgeist Movement, it is wise to aim to reach the majority of pragmatists before our current system reaches the point of collapse. If 60% of the world’s population has already been reached before this point occurs then the transition to a sustainable new paradigm will likely be much smoother and possible without a full collapse of the system. The majority of current Zeitgeist Movement members and supporters appear to be openminded early adopters, which stands to reason. Such people are the leading-edge pioneers who actively seek new challenges and strategies, not unlike the first people to explore the Wild West or the first to adopt a new application or technology. We are at the forefront of those looking to adopt a new system of resource creation and distribution; those who are willing to take risks because they know the reward is worth it and the endeavour is rewarding in itself.

that doesn’t physically exist but can be experienced or conceptualized, like social connectivity, love or expectation. You can’t touch an expectation or pick up love and put it in a jar, but you can describe those things. Not-yet tangible can be defined as referring to an idea or concept which doesn’t yet exist or hasn’t yet been proven. An idea for a new type of mobile phone, a new type of material, or a new scientific theory are all things which fall into this category. Those promoting and advancing Zeitgeist Movement concepts are the open-minded pioneers who are striving to make tangible results from the not-yet tangible. But far more powerful than that, we can understand how the intangible changes can have a bigger effect than the not-yet tangible ones. Sure a circular city is a great tangible outcome of The Venus Project, for example, but the intangible changes of a society based around intrinsic motivation, abundance, automation, plus cooperation and collaboration instead of fighting and competition is far more powerful. The outcomes from changing the education system to promote self-education and creativity will far outweigh the physical changes to schools. The problem is, the average person doesn’t understand or can’t easily grasp the intangible. It is not until a RBE city such as those presented by the Venus Project is created that they’ll start to take interest or even believe the ideas are possible.

Time Perspective
Something not often considered but that is of great importance when it comes to understanding the communication of concepts is that people can think in a range of 6 main time perspectives. These perspectives are as follows: • Past positive - remembering the good times • Past negative - remembering the bad times • Present hedonistic - wanting to satisfy all your immediate desires • Present deterministic - believing there’s no point in trying to change any outcomes because everything in life is fated to turn out a certain way

Tangible, intangible and not-yet tangible
Tangible usually refers to something physical, for example a mobile phone. You can touch it, see it, and experience it. Intangible refers to something

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• Future oriented - working hard now because you to achieve desired outcomes. When one comes trust that it will help you in the future from a future oriented perspective it is extremely challenging to communicate concepts in a way that • Life after death - the primarily religious belief that will appeal to people with a present hedonistic or your life starts after you die (in your afterlife) present deterministic perspective, for example, in Time orientation in itself is not deterministic, but is a way that will facilitate uptake of those concepts. subject to change. In fact, the orientation we are It is important for the Zeitgeist Movement to seek born with is present hedonistic. It is only as we methods of communicating its core concepts to grow up that we start to change our perspective, people with the full range of time perspectives in usually to be more future oriented, deterministic, order to successfully reach a wider demographic or to have a belief in an afterlife. Most people, as and incorporate greater diversity within the they get older, lose their future oriented perspective Movement. and become more past positive or past negative oriented. People who have an unstable or untrustworthy family, or who live closer to the equator are more likely to be present oriented and, as with anything, there are always exceptions to the rule. Different time perspectives will likely cause different people to be receptive to different concepts. A large proportion of those people who are receptive to Zeitgeist Movement concepts are future-oriented, which stands to reason as hard work is needed in the present and for the forseeable future in order

Conclusion

In communicating new concepts such as the Zeitgeist Movement and resource-based economics it is important to understand why not everyone will immediately start investigating and understanding. For many people the information has to be presented in the right way, by the right people and at an appropriate time, and these are skills that, with knowledge and understanding, we, the pioneers, will need to master in order to achieve success.

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The GOZERO Cup Campaign promotes sustainability by working with major coffee houses and consumers to deliver cost effective environmentally sustainable packaging. www.climatefirst.org

ANALYSIS
Transition to a New Economic Paradigm

The Price of Zero Transition Model
Michael Kubler (SA)

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ne question asked by a lot of people who have been introduced to the concept of a resource-based economy regards the transition toward this new paradigm, and quite rightly so. Transition is the process of getting from point A, where we are now in our current paradigm, to point B, a resource-based economy (RBE). There are multiple paths that can be taken, and the trip can be a journey, an adventure or we can get lost along the way and it can turn into a nightmare. This article is an attempt to cover some of the variables which can affect the transition to a resource-based economic paradigm and, most importantly, the two most likely transition scenarios that may arise: The Price of Infinity and The Price of Zero. Firstly, for any trip to succeed we need to be clear on both our starting point and our intended destination.

If we continue to develop in this direction it is likely that civilization as we know it will collapse. Whilst humanity might survive we would likely be plunged into a modern equivalent of the dark ages.

Point B
This is the point the Zeitgeist Movement intends to arrive at, a resource-based economy which promotes sustainability, abundance, automation, education, creativity, science and technology. It is within this paradigm that a classless, collectivist attitude which defines success more in terms of a person’s contributions to humanity and the environment can be fostered. Activity within a resource-based economic paradigm is based on intrinsic motivation rather than the extrinsic motivation of the current system. Intrinsic motivation refers to being involved in an activity or project because you want to be involved, because you are rewarded by the intrinsic motivators of autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy refers to the ability to choose what you are working on, where, when, how, and with whom. Although you rarely get all those choices it is possible to attain at least a couple of them. Mastery refers to doing tasks that are challenging but not beyond your abilities, leading you to constant improvement, which is a rewarding factor in itself. Purpose refers to doing your work for what you perceive as a good reason – perhaps the desire to achieve something in particular, or the perception of the work as being necessary/useful for society. If you are doing your current job purely for money and would probably quit if you won the lottery then you are not intrinsically motivated. Intrinsic motivation is a far better reward than money. It lasts longer, is renewable, and allows for far more creativity.

Point A
We are here, in a monetary economic paradigm that works well for some, but behaves, in reality, as a barrier to access to resources for the majority. To be specific, our current system is a fiat-based fractional reserve lending system; a system which, due to its market-based nature, is reactionary and thus unable to take preventive measures to deal with the looming energy, environmental and economic disasters. We are competing for survival within an unsustainable economic system which demands, even requires, exponential growth within the realworld limitations of a finite planet which is rapidly approaching some of its limits. It is a system based on the assumption of greed, with mechanisms to make the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Within this system society tends to define success as the personal accumulation of financial wealth, power, control and fame. Our culture promotes individualistic thinking and focuses on the short term. Therefore, when faced with issues we are usually trapped in a cycle of attempting to treat the recurring symptoms while ignoring the underlying problems, which are often exacerbated by our misplaced values. Within our current paradigm is also a reward system based on extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivators, such as financial reward for completing work, and punishment, such as imprisonment for breaking society’s laws, are the norm in this society with other forms of motivation rarely considered. Unfortunately extrinsic motivators can have some adverse effects such as diminishing actual performance; crushing creativity; encouraging cheating, shortcuts and unethical behavior; fostering short-term thinking; and becoming addictive.

The current system value mechanisms
Point A, the monetary system, uses two main mechanisms for the valuation of goods and services. These are supply and demand, and the cycle of consumption.

Supply and demand – valuing scarcity
For a large company selling any product or service the issue of greatest concern is the satisfaction of shareholders and board members – more so than that of customers. Shareholders want profits, and they want them to increase. In order to achieve this end a company can artificially reduce supply, therefore increasing demand, both relative and actual. It is possible to artificially reduce supply by holding back large quantities of an abundant product or material from flooding the market, whilst using advertising to manipulate an increase in demand. Demand for products that are perceived to be scarce is easier to manipulate due to people’s

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desire to obtain something before it runs out, or to have something that not everyone else has access to, something therefore perceived as more special. Prominent examples include the diamond, oil and bottled water industries. The supply and demand mechanism therefore places value on scarcity because the less of a product there is, or the less there is perceived to be, the more a business can make from selling it. The internet, however, has turned this concept of scarcity on its head in certain industries, creating such abundance of information that the traditional music, film and news industries are having huge difficulties adjusting. With this increasing abundance it is increasingly difficult for these industries to compete with the ready access that so many freely enjoy.

enrich the owners of capital while not allowing for much social mobility between the classes, thus maintaining the status quo. Our social structure reflects this system by rewarding the ownership and management of capital at far greater rates than labour that is actually necessary to survival and social development. An inherent problem with this system is that there are no proper mechanisms to value human wellbeing or the environment which sustains our very existence. Our lack of regard for human wellbeing is at its most evident in examples where we employ child and sweatshop labour to mass-produce consumer electronics, clothing, and the like. A working definition of human wellbeing takes into account happiness, health, education, and the ability to pursue ones passions, explore the world and spend time with friends and family. Our current system denies this level of wellbeing to the majority who live within a monetary paradigm fueled by market forces while providing excess for those who dictate its terms.

The cycle of consumption valuing human labour
Cyclical consumption is the heart of the monetary system. It works like this: I work so I can buy stuff from a company which then pays its employees so they can buy stuff, and so on and so on. This means that human labour is valued, and therefore becomes a commodity due to its effect of delivering purchasing power to those within the cyclical system. For a growth economic paradigm to sustain itself cyclical consumption is necessary. Products are not only not designed to last, they are designed not to last via the practice of planned obsolescence. This means that they will need to be replaced at frequent intervals thus accelerating the rate of consumption and generating continued rising profits for companies and their shareholders. Purchasing power among the masses is kept at levels sufficient for the majority of the population to be a part of the consumption cycle and further

Stepping stones
Regarding the journey from our point A to the destination of point B it is often suggested, and not entirely without merit, that alternative economic models be used as stepping stones for the transition to a resource-based economy. These stepping stones, which themselves require great changes to the current system, may seem like a good idea in theory, but the reality is that they may actually have the effect of delaying a full transition. Changing to alternative economic models would likely require 80-90% of the effort required to change to a resource-based economy but with a much lower likelihood of achieving the desired results. True cost economics is an example which takes into account the true environmental, social and human

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costs. It is sometimes proposed as a method of incorporating the value of sustainability into a monetary economy due to its valuation and taxation of goods and services based on encompassing negative externalities such as environmental damage and indirect harm to society. Fair thought it sounds the theory of true cost economics meets a large stumbling block in the form of low viability due to its high actual costs being either potentially prohibitive or somehow circumvented. Steady state economics is another alternative which is based on removing exponential growth and committing to life in a system that develops no further than the level which can be sustained by the carrying capacity of the landbase inhabited. The main problem with a steady state economic model is that trying to implement such a model requires knowing the carrying capacity of the earth, and changing all the assumptions, policies and procedures regarding growth. Having to rip the mechanism of interest rates out of the economy, for example, would require sweeping changes to finance, economics and law. However, none of changes these remove the negative sideeffects of money. Nor do they fix the existing class stratification, which is the root of many problems related to ill-health and violence that society faces. It is important to point out that a resource-based economy takes into account the core ideas behind true cost economics and steady state economics, but develops them further to provide a more holistic solution to the current threats to our survival.

form of a collapse of the current economic system, as little short of disaster is capable of catalyzing change on the level required to ensure the survival of humanity and the environment that sustains us. There are various possibilities for economic collapse within our current growth economic paradigm, and here two models will be discussed - The Price of Infinity and The Price of Zero. Both of these scenarios attack the heart of the system, the consumer cycle, but do so in different ways.

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The Price of Infinity
he Price of Infinity is a scenario in which prices rise to the point at which everything becomes too expensive to purchase. As an example with potentially apocalyptic knock-on effects for our current paradigm, we have already passed peak oil and production levels of oil are therefore dropping. The ever-increasing demand for this increasingly scarce resource will eventually intersect with the drop in supply, creating a peak price, and what used to be $1.50/L for petrol at the pump becomes $15/L. In our current system between 5 and 10 calories of oil-derived energy is used to create every calorie of food. This is due to the use of oil-based fertilizers, diesel-powered tractors, refrigerated transport trucks, plastic wrapping around produce, and even the petrol used when you drive your car to the store, among other things. As a result of the surge in oil prices the price of food skyrockets, the price of transport increases, the price of electricity doubles and all of these increases, in turn, have knock-on effects on the price of everything else. The scenario worsens. As the running costs of businesses surge thus driving up prices it becomes increasingly difficult for employers to pay livable

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A catalyst for transition
ith stepping stones such as true cost and steady state economic models considered distractors or diversions, transition to a resourced-based economy instead requires a catalyst. The likely catalyst, however, comes in the

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wages in accordance with the cost of basic goods. In addition to massive increases in the cost of the necessities of survival it could quickly become too expensive to work, as eventually many people would encounter the absurd scenario of facing being paid less than the cost of making the journey to work! Very quickly the wheel of the consumer cycle will come to a grinding halt as prices skyrocket to the level at which few people, if anyone, can afford to buy anything, therefore rendering the market stagnant, businesses unviable, work pointless and survival increasingly difficult. A tipping point is reached from which chaos breaks out and mass starvation is inevitable. Civilization as we know it collapses, taking with it a large proportion of the population. An estimate from this scenario is that without the energy from oil humanity is reduced from nearly 7 billion people to barely 500 Million, a shell of what it used to be. Not an appealing scenario. And it is based on a single initial factor – running out of oil. When one begins to consider other potential factors ones doomsday predictions have the potential to run wild!

resource-based economy. This is a very sensitive scenario that would be difficult to pull off as it would be necessary to stockpile a great deal of resources and technology in advance, and potentially defend these stockpiles while going about the process of rebuilding. There is little to no margin for error.

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The Price of Zero
his is a scenario that lacks the drama of the aforementioned, being one that can facilitate a gentle transition to a resource-based economy. The transition is likely to take place in a series of steps.

Step 1
Awareness and acceptance of the Zeitgeist Movement and its resource-based economy advocacy is increased to the point whereby there are a few million active members, most of whom fit the definition of early adopters – those who do not need to observe tangible proof of a concept’s viability as they are the people who are adventurous enough to take on the task of creating it. By pooling enough resources and donations from these members, many of whom contribute much of their time and energy to exploring the concepts and ways in which they can be manifested, it is possible to create an initial research city to demonstrate and test the resource-based economic model.

TRANSITION STYLES
Price of In nity

Step 2

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Price of Zero
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Phoenix
he Price of Infinity by itself only deals with the scenario of economic collapse and its knockon effects. It does not indicate what could be done, or by what processes, to transition to a sustainable alternative. An adjusted version of the Price of Infinity scenario is the Phoenix model where, as the monetary system as we know it collapses, concepts such as those promoted by the Zeitgeist Movement reach a critical mass of followers and society manages to rise from the ashes of the crumbling former civilization, creating a workable

The research city creates automated and renewable food and energy production, highly efficient transport systems, and advanced construction techniques. Most of these systems can be built using already existing technologies or concepts. Geographical surveying techniques can also be refined. A large surge in membership of the Movement will likely happen at this point as those who were aware of its existence but lacked tangible proof are now convinced of its viability and are ready to get involved. Most of these new members will be early adopters, as in step 1, but those who require more tangible evidence of viability than those who were previously involved.

Step 3
Zeitgeist Movement chapters around the world rally together to create a number of cities following the resource-based economic model. Each city will require an environmental survey beforehand and the cities will be customized to make the most of their local natural resources. For example, a city based in South Australia will be able to use a lot more solar power for energy generation than one in the UK while cities based in tropical regions may

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make use of bamboo as a renewable and abundant building material. Attempts to determine the carrying capacity of the earth are now in full swing and during this time membership increases further, with many of these new members likely to be pragmatists – those seeking alternatives or solutions to problems they perceive with the status quo but who are not prepared to pioneer such alternatives or solutions themselves, preferring to wait until their viability is demonstrated. Unfortunately, given some of humanity’s brainwashed focus on beliefs instead of understandings and the resistance of some people to change, it is likely that some of the established cities will come under attack and some may not even survive. However, public perception may be used to our advantage here. If we are well-networked and well-received by the population at large we may be perceived as the underdog being mercilessly attacked by ruthless governments or terrorist organizations, and likely able to incur a level of support from the outside. If, on the other hand, we are seen as a whinging bunch of nerdy technocratic conspiracy theorists then the general population are not so likely to be supportive.

to be brief (under 5 years), and its effects quickly mitigated as major existing cities are transformed or replaced. During this process different countries will change at different rates and in varying ways. It is possible, for example, that developing nations may embrace the resource-based economic model much faster as they have less to lose and more to gain from taking the bold steps required.

Step 6
It is unlikely that the laggards, those who sit to the right of the bell-curve of transition, past the conservatives, will make the transition until they absolutely have to. Others will be unable or unwilling to change their internal value system or approach, much like some older people within our current society who resist learning how to use new technologies such as computers due to a perceived lack of value in such skills or the feeling of being “too old to learn/change”. These people, unfortunately for them, are ultimately more likely to die out than to change. The Luddites, similar to the Amish today, who continue to live their lives as though nothing has changed over the space of the last two-hundred years despite massive advances in technology that have been embraced across the globe, make up that small percentage of people who will refuse to change no matter what, and will continue to live in outlying monetary-based cities. It is doubtful, however, that they will continue to perpetuate a money-as-debt based system, and will likely be using a modified system, such as money as value, a mixture of true cost and steady state economics. The continued persistence of some of these people within a monetary economic paradigm should not be considered a bad thing and there is no need to push for a complete 100% population transition as having small groups of people living in other economic systems can be beneficial, especially from a diversity and evolutionary point of view.

Step 4
At this stage the resource-based economic cities around the world are now creating a selfsustainable abundance of food, water and energy. These products are being sold to people in the surrounding areas who are still living within the monetary system, but at prices below the current market level. This trade allows us some monetary income to develop our cities and to create new cities, but, perhaps more importantly, it is also a form of monetary control as it functions to drive down prices, in turn making it difficult for profitdriven businesses to compete. Over time, as the systems of abundance and automation improve and become increasingly productive, trading prices with the monetary world can continually decrease whilst adding to the increasing the levels of technological unemployment.

Step 7
At this point between 95% and 99% of the population has transitioned to a resource-based economic system. It is then possible to begin to properly repair the damage the monetary system has inflicted on the environment and start truly moving forwards regarding other aspects of our social evolution.

Step 5
With the pragmatists having joined the transition, the conservatives will follow suit as they perceive a sufficient level of social approval. At this point it is likely that ghost towns will begin to form due to mass exodus. These ghost towns then become ideal locations for replacement or conversion into more resource-based economy cities. As the cost of goods and services traded with the outside world eventually plunges to zero there will no longer be enough money going through the consumer cycle to sustain it, and the system will collapse. This final period of collapse is likely

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Factors affecting the transition to a new paradigm

f course, the transition option of Price of Zero contains a lot of assumptions and can obviously be negatively affected by various factors which need to be understood. A clear

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understanding of these factors will assist in arming us with the knowledge to mitigate their negative effects and possibly influence the situation to our advantage.

simple apathy. As demonstrated by phenomena such as Cointelpro in the 1970s and its successors within elements of the Patriot Act as well as the more recent suppression and persecution of Wikileaks, governments and corporations, even in our Western so-called democracies, are more than ready to break the law and kill people in order to maintain power and control. Such measures and their demonstrated effectiveness in quieting and suppressing dissent lose their power if a certain critical mass is reached. However, reaching that critical mass and moving beyond it to proactive steps for change is a phenomenon rarely witnessed.

Time
In the course of transition there are a number of events which will need to take place. Some of these events can occur in parallel whilst others cannot start until another is finished. Thus delays in one can cause delays in everything else. Time can impact change in a number of different ways in that change can occur quickly, slowly, suddenly, gradually, in a linear manner, exponentially, or it can even collapse and fail. It is hoped that the development of a resourcebased economy will follow an exponential growth curve due to the viral nature of the concept which is usually communicated by word of mouth. In fact in the period of only the past year we have already almost doubled the number of active members worldwide, according to membership sign-ups on www.thezeitgeistmovement.com. If we can continue to grow at such a rate then our prognosis is good. The hardest part of the transition is not the physical and technological changes, but the changes in people’s values, beliefs and their definition of success. This requires a cultural mindset shift and will happen at different rates for different people. Presuming the start of the transition period precedes total collapse the longer it takes to construct the initial research city the longer it will be before those who need tangible proof of its viability will jump on board. Once the actual transition is under way the timeframe needs to accelerate. If we are only creating 1 medium-sized city each year, for example, then it’s going to take a rather long time before we complete the transition. As we in the process of transitioning to another economic system the current monetary system as it currently exists will collapse. However, if the system collapses before we are ready then transition is likely to be much more difficult due to reduced access to the required resources.

Balance
Another factor to consider is balance. Given that the carrying capacity of the Earth is finite, but yet to be established in a manner that withstands rigorous testing, it is necessary to strike the balance between the proportion of our resources that are allocate for people’s basic needs, the proportion for their wants, and the proportion to research and development. Within our current paradigm there is no doubt that this balance is extremely difficult to strike with even the issue of what is a basic need versus what is a mere want being a contentious one. Until the two objectives of surveying the Earth’s carrying capacity and establishing the shared value of equality in society are met we will not achieve the necessary balance for sustainability within a resource-based economic paradigm, and we need to start as we mean to go on.

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In Conclusion
here are a variety of ways in which the transition from point A to point B can be accomplished, some fast, some slow, some meandering, and some causing us to lose our way entirely. However, we are likely to find the most effective route, and avoid many of the potential pitfalls by setting out on our adventure with the company of other idealistic pioneers, friends and by being well-prepared for all eventualities. The Price of Zero transition, which allows for controlled collapse of the current system and provides a chance to adapt to unforeseen consequences is the recommended path, and one which offers us little reason to hesitate with its implementation. One thing is required though, and soon; not only do we need to choose a valid transition plan, but once chosen we all need to journey together toward mutually agreed-upon outcomes. If we wander off in different directions we are likely to cancel out one another’s progress and end up on a journey to nowhere.

Willingness versus resistance
This is a reasonably obvious factor that can greatly affect the likelihood of completing the transition to a new paradigm. The pro-democracy uprisings of early-mid 2011 in the Middle East and North Africa demonstrate the power of the people and their readiness to effect much-needed change. However, such willingness is not always present in the population, often due to a perceived lack of necessity for change, fear of reprisals if one becomes involved in revolutionary activities, perceived dependence on external entities such as governments for support and/or change, or even

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INFO ARTICLE

A Comparison of Economic Models

The Economics of Sustainability:
Kari McGregor (SA)

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ur current economic paradigm is one in which the continuous acquisition of monetary wealth and material resources is both demanded and valued. In many of the wealthier nations economic growth has come at great cost to indigenous populations who were invaded and usurped, and to other nations who suffered the looting of their resources as they were colonized. In some cases populations suffered by literally being enslaved for the sake of generating further wealth for the already-powerful owners of capital. Current statistics regarding the unequal distribution of wealth in today’s society indicate that little has changed since the days of the conquistadores and their ilk. Disproportionate rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness reflect the inherent inequalities that are built into a system based on violent acquisition of scarce resources. In order to understand how best to address the failings of our current paradigm it is necessary to examine the model and its alternatives.

economy. David Ricardo further developed the paradigm by introducing the concept of “comparative advantage” to complement this. Comparative advantage argues that trade is beneficial for economic growth because some products and services can be obtained more cheaply if imported rather than produced within a country’s borders. This theory became central to today’s argument that free trade is an essential component of economic growth.

Neoclassical Economics
Neoclassical economics is a more sophisticated development of the classical economic model and is a school of thought that that enjoys a nearmonopoly over what is taught to today’s budding economists. The school of thought makes a number of assumptions that are disputed by some due to their failure to represent realistic situations. One example is the relationship of supply and demand to an individual’s rationality and ability to maximize utility or profit. This assumption ignores the fact that people do not always behave rationally. Neoclassical economic theorists also claim that issues such as labour rights and standard of living will automatically improve as a result of economic growth, a claim thus far unsubstantiated. Robert Solow and Trevor Swan developed the Solow-Swan Growth Model in the 1950’s, which involved a series of equations demonstrating the relationship between labour-time, capital goods (means of production), output and investment. This model emphasized technological change as playing an even more important role than the accumulation of capital. An erroneous assumption of this model, however, is that countries use their resources efficiently. The neoclassical model makes three important predictions based on the Solow-Swan growth model. The first involves the assumption that people will be more productive if given more capital, hence the prediction that increasing capital relative to labour promotes economic growth. The second prediction is that economies of poorer countries with lower per capita GDP will grow faster. This prediction is based on the assumption that each investment in capital produces higher returns in poor countries than in rich countries. The third prediction is that economies will eventually cease to grow due to diminishing returns to capital, thus leading to a ‘steady-state’ economy. This steady state, according to the Solow-Swan model, can be overcome by the invention of new technology, allowing for greater production with the use of fewer resources, thus allowing for further growth. None of these predictions are well supported by the evidence available, particularly the prediction that poorer countries will grow faster until the steadystate is reached.

The Economics of Today
Our current economic paradigm is one of continuous, unchecked growth with no commonly accepted notion of the point at which an economy has reached the level of ‘enough’. Growth in economic terms relates to increased capacity regarding the production of goods and services, and is usually associated with technological development, which raises productivity levels while lowering the requirements for labour, capital, and energy. In comparing one country’s economic growth to another per capita GDP is the measurement of choice regardless of its lack of attention to the equity of distribution within any given country. It tends to be assumed that the higher a country’s per capita GDP is the higher the standard of living is for its population as a whole. However no state has yet achieved the ideal of a high standard of living for all people despite its economic successes.

Classical Economics
Classical economics refers to theories surrounding the functioning of markets and market economies, developed in the 18th and 19th centuries by the socalled founding fathers of economics: Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus and John Stuart Mill, whose emphasis on economic “freedoms” formed the basis of the system of free trade that characterizes contemporary economics. The paradigm began as the concept of “the wealth of nations” in which the development of a country’s economy beyond that generated by population growth and its implicit increase in labour and productivity were first considered. It was Adam Smith who developed the paradigm beyond agricultural productivity to include the notion that manufacturing was central to a country’s

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Artwork by: liquidcow

Alternative Economics Models
Alternatives to classical and neoclassical economic theories are largely underrepresented by academia and are given little attention in the teachings of universities. For this reason there is very little awareness of their existence and their presence in public is discourse barely discernible. There are, however, a number of alternative models, each presenting its own solutions to issues perpetuated within the current system.

stabilization was, in fact, desirable as illustrated by his famous words: “It is scarcely necessary to remark that a stationary condition of capital and population implies no stationary state of human improvement. There would be as much scope as ever for all kinds of mental culture, and moral and social progress; as much room for improving the Art of Living and much more likelihood of its being improved, when minds cease to be engrossed by the art of getting on.” John Maynard Keynes also advocated aiming for a steady-state economy in which society would be able to focus on ends, being happiness and wellbeing, and not simply the means of survival, as characterized by economic growth at the national level and pursuit of profit at the individual level. His almost utopian view is represented in his prediction that: “The day is not far off when the economic problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and the arena of the heart and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real problems – the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behavior and religion.” Keynes was, however, mistaken. That day has not yet come. We are still striving within a growth economic paradigm and have yet to reach this steady-state which was considered the end goal, in which humanity would be able to concentrate on creative arts and the pursuit of knowledge and wellbeing as opposed to the mere struggle for survival. The arrival of an economy at a steady-state, although it theoretically follows a period of growth, may also follow a period of downsizing. This point

Steady-State Economics
From classical economists to contemporary ecological economists the transition from a growth economy to a steady-state, as originally conceptualized by John Stuart Mill as an economy that is stable or only mildly fluctuating, has been considered a desirable goal. The expectation was that this steady-state would generally be reached after a period of economic growth. In Adam Smith’s book The Wealth of Nations it was theorized that open-market trading would eventually lead to a Goldilocks-like production of just the right quantities of commodities, division of labor, wage-increase, and economic growth. Smith also recognized that such growth is limited as, in the long term, population growth would lead to declining wages, increased scarcity of resources, and ineffective division of labor. Smith predicted that a growth period could not exceed 200 years before it would become necessary to stabilize. Indeed, John Stuart Mill commented that such

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is especially pertinent when considering that one of the defining factors of a steady-state economy is that it may not exceed ecological limits. This means that if an economy, whether local, national or global, has already reached or surpassed the carrying capacity of its landbase a period of downshifting will be necessary in order to reach a sustainable steady-state. For a steady-state economy to be feasible, according to the theory, it is necessary to maintain stable or only mildly fluctuating population, meaning that birth rates must not exceed death rates. In addition the consumption of energy and material resources must remain steady in that production and consumption rates must be equal to, and not exceeding, depreciation rates. Up until fairly recently economic activity functioned at a low enough level to avoid detrimental interference with ecological sustainability. However, the growth economic paradigm of the neoclassical era has upset this natural balance and has led us to the brink of environmental disaster without achieving economic stability for the majority. For this reason it is of urgent priority, according to steady-state advocates, that rebalancing the equation occur. Achieving the balance is not an easy task. There are cases in which the benefits of growth appear to outweigh the costs, for example, in situations where a population’s consumption is insufficient to meet its needs. In this particular case reaching a steady-state may necessitate redistribution of resources in order to provide for everyone’s needs while maintaining ecologically sustainable levels of consumption. There are also situations in which an economy has overshot the carrying capacity of its landbase, meaning that downsizing will be necessary before a sustainable steady-state can be established. It is clear from our experience thus far that economic growth cannot be relied upon to alleviate poverty. Our current paradigm sees the dual threat to environmental sustainability of the poor, who struggle to meet their basic needs, placing the environment lower down on the scale of priority, and the rich, who tend to consume resources far beyond the limits of sustainability. As economic growth and long-term sustainability are not realistically compatible it is necessary for an economy to distribute wealth more equally, as well as efficiently, in order to effectively reach a steady-state.

activity that causes harm to the environment or any living being, either in a direct or indirect manner, should be taxed in accordance with the damage incurred. This increased emphasis on ethics can, however, have negative consequences for many in that many of the items and services that most people, at least those in the developed world, take for granted are likely to be rendered unaffordable if their true costs are really taken into consideration. One example provided to demonstrate such costs is the price of a new car, with the externalities of air, noise and other kinds of pollution caused by both the use and manufacture of the vehicle taken into account, being estimated at $40,000 above that at present. Such cost increases effectively prohibit the closing of the gap in opportunities between the rich and the poor and perpetuate a cycle whereby resources are largely inaccessible for the majority while the minority may continue to consume and exploit at the level to which their swollen bank account permits. A true-cost economic paradigm, although intended to encourage a more sustainable mindset and thus influence behavior via directly influencing pricing, may, in effect, render an economy stagnant by inhibiting monetary circulation due to cost increases. If wealth is not distributed in a manner that facilitates access to resources for the majority then the majority will be unable to participate in the system in any meaningful way. Only a transition to genuinely more sustainable forms of production is likely to facilitate participation on a scale needed to maintain the feasibility of the system. Of course this is a possible scenario; however, the transition to such a system requires courage on the part of those with the political power to institute changes that are likely to be extremely unpopular at the corporate level, where the majority of the real clout lies.

Participatory Economics
Unlike the steady-state and true-cost models participatory economics is the only alternative to classical economics discussed here that is not capitalist in nature. An anarchist’s near-utopian vision of a democratized economy, participatory economics, often referred to as parecon, was originally proposed by Michael Albert, an activist political theorist, and Robin Hahnel, a radical economist. In the system of parecon decisions regarding the production, consumption and distribution of commonly owned resources are necessarily participatory, meaning that the decisions are made by those affected by their outcomes. The anarchist’s answer to centrallyplanned socialism places not only the means of production in the hands of the population, but also the control over the direction the economy takes. Parecon intends to facilitate equity, solidarity,

True Cost Economics
The true cost economic school of thought is one that is gaining traction during our era of increasing environmental awareness. This is a model that takes into account the cost of negative externalities, thus placing a higher price-tag on goods and services that cause damage to the environment or any living being. There is also support within the true cost school of thought for the notion that any product or

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diversity and self-management while maximizing efficiency. Central to the functioning of this system are workers’ and consumers’ councils which implement self-managerial methods for decisionmaking, balanced job complexes, remuneration for work according to effort and sacrifice made and participation in planning. In allaying the fears that some might have about fully participatory planning it is important to mention that in the parecon system of self-managerial decision-making people have input to decisions in a manner that is directly proportional to the degree to which they are affected by them. This system is effectively parecon’s answer to the neoclassical concept of economic freedom within a market paradigm, which, as proponents of parecon argue, is a concept that has been co-opted and abused by capitalist idealogues. Within a participatory economic paradigm decisions affecting a number of people may be arrived at via a majority vote or via consensus. Depending on factors such as potential risk or harm, or the level of effort to be expended in order to accomplish a goal, some decisions may require a higher majority than others in order to be passed, or even total consensus. Such a scenario bestows the power of veto upon any individual who is greatly affected by the outcome of the decision. However, in cases where decisions are purely personal and do not affect others there is no need for collective decision-making or voting – these decisions are left up to the autonomous individuals affected by them. With the balanced division of labour proposed by the parecon system the notion of economic hierarchy is theoretically absent with the goal being equity via the empowerment of all participants. As some tasks are clearly more comfortable and empowering than others job complexes are balanced with each individual taking responsibility for a range of tasks, some of which are more empowering, some less so. This essentially dissolves the system of class stratification that characterizes our current economic paradigm in which an accountant or manager, for example, assumes an empowered role that facilitates the formulation of plans and ideas, while a janitors or shop assistant does not have either the capacity or training to be so empowered. Without balance those assuming less empowered positions have little to no genuine participation in decision-making, as is evident within our current economic paradigm. As regards remuneration for labour this is calculated on the basis of effort expended and sacrifice made. Dangerous or uncomfortable work, for example, would be paid more highly for the same number of hours as more comfortable work in the parecon paradigm, allowing those making greater sacrifices the opportunity to work fewer hours for the same pay and enjoy more leisure time in return for their sacrifice. It is recognized, however, that not everyone has full capacity to work equally. Therefore

remuneration of those with disabilities, the elderly, and those otherwise unable to work to full capacity is based on their level of need. Free health care, education and skills training are provided to all in the parecon system as there is no notion of profiting from providing for people’s basic needs. Parecon gets particularly interesting when it comes to the concept of money. Instead of traditional currency, in the parecon system money would be replaced by a personal voucher system in which vouchers would be non-transferable and only usable to purchase goods from stores. Workers would be rewarded for their labour with electronic credits, which would be allocated in terms of the level of effort and sacrifice necessary to carry out their work. These credits could be shared and distributed among people in any way they wish. Accumulated credits would have an inflexible value, and once used for purchase they would be deducted from the individual’s total, and from the system, rather than being passed from one individual to another in the monetary rollercoaster-ride that characterizes a capitalist paradigm. There would be no banking system or any form of investment. For an individual to accumulate more credits they would simply have to work more, or carry out less desirable labour in which the remuneration is higher. It would, however, be possible to borrow credits if necessary, but this loan would be interest-free as there is no notion of profiting from the handling of finance within a parecon system. This extreme makeover of the monetary system is expected to have the effect, according to its proponents, of rendering bribery, corruption or even begging impossible. It is unclear, however, how a parecon country would trade with other non-parecon countries who may not agree to parecon terms of exchange. It is possible that a parecon country would either have to be selfsufficient, or accept the use of money exclusively for the purpose of international trade. Within the parecon system regular participatory planning events would be held in which participants would decide upon what and how much would be produced. Regarding decisionmaking at community planning level Albert and Hahnel proposed the creation and organization of consumer’s and producers’ councils. The proposed functioning of these is similar to workers’ councils, but they are the decision-making bodies for the planning of consumption and production. Councils may operate on a variety of levels from local through to national, with regard to the scope of the decision to be made. The management body for the consumers’ and producers’ councils is known as an Iteration Facilitation Board (IFB), and is responsible for decisions regarding economic allocation. These boards function by accepting a range of proposals for pricing regarding production and consumption, and operate at maximum transparency with limited powers of mediation. The result is a consistency

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of pricing and production quotas, and takes into account the social and ecological costs of production. Prices of goods that are harmful would be inflated in order to discourage consumption and redirect it toward more benign alternatives. Critics of parecon tend to emphasize the perceived level of bureaucracy involved in lengthy participatory decision-making and ensuring administration is kept transparent. Such criticisms can also be applied, however, to other systems with heavy administrative loads shouldered by governments and corporations. What these critics often seem to overlook is that the overhaul of the monetary system frees up workers from the former banking and finance sectors, thus making them available for the tasks associated with facilitation boards, etc. Albert and Hahnel estimate no increase in the level of bureaucracy, nor the number of workers involved in it, from that of our current capitalist system. Regarding innovation parecon has an advantage of efficiency over the current capitalist system. Capitalism tends to attribute innovation to individuals and corporations with the process of applying patents and intellectual property rights, and rendering the products or services unavailable for further development by the collective intelligence of the wider community. Industry structures and barriers to market entry within the capitalist system also reward some individual innovators while restricting others and limiting the availability of the full range of new technologies whereas in parecon all innovations would be made fully available in order to maximize efficiency and harness the collective intelligence of the community at large to achieve maximum potential. Parecon also holds an added value over and above capitalism in that justice and fairness are qualities that are built into the system in much the same way as injustice and unfairness are built into the neoclassical system. A market economy only takes into consideration the interests of supply and demand, or of the consumer and producer. However, these are not the only individuals affected by a given transaction, with all others being excluded from the decision-making process. These others may, in some cases, bear the social or environmental costs of the transactions that others benefit from. Parecon does not unjustly thrust negative externalities upon individuals who have no part in decision-making, but empowers all who may be affected by a given decision with a right to input; thus the defaults of parecon include justice and fairness. In contrast our market-driven capitalist paradigm accepts abuses perpetrated by corporations wielding hefty influence over government decisions thus externalizing all negative costs onto society’s disempowered whilst perpetuating the upward flow of capital into their perpetual cycle of wealth-driven power.

Resource-based economics
A resource-based economy, or RBE, strives for a combination of the benefits of steady-state, true cost and participatory economic models, but does so within a governance system that is neither capitalist nor socialist in nature. Like steady-state economics an RBE seeks no economic growth, recognizing the necessity of remaining within the boundaries set by the carrying capacity of any given landbase. Within the RBE paradigm it is necessary to gain as full an understanding as is scientifically possible of exactly what carrying capacity entails. With a more holistic perspective it is understood that while carrying capacity does not change, efficiency and sustainable management of resources can be optimized to work in harmony with fluctuations in population, developments in the realms of science and technology, and with unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters. The RBE paradigm does not advocate downshifting as a response to overshooting carrying capacity, but tends more toward applying technical solutions that can reinstate balance while continuing to provide a good standard of living for all. An RBE may be compared with a steady-state economy in the sense that its core principle is sustainability, although various other principles are also of great importance. The value of true-cost is also implicit within an RBE in that the social and environmental costs of any endeavor are studied scientifically, evaluated, and applied to decisions regarding production, consumption and distribution of resources. However, as an RBE is a non-monetary economic paradigm the exploitation and destruction of resources is not mitigated by price controls, and the encouragement of more sustainable practices is not facilitated by cost-effectiveness. Instead, the complete elimination of the monetary system removes the incentive for exploitation and destruction while also facilitating the uninhibited development of technical solutions that ensure the sustainability of abundant resources. Sustainable practice therefore becomes the default while freedom from the restrictions of labour and cost necessitated by a monetary economic paradigm enables greater creativity and innovation for the continued development of society. An RBE consolidates the concept of truecost in the removal of monetary value, recognizing that money is simply an arbitrary artificial barrier to sustainable access to resources. The democratic involvement of the people as direct participants in decisions affecting their wellbeing is also implicit with an RBE, but operates on numerous levels. With the elimination of money and the socially stratified division of labour, like the parecon system, the default of an RBE is equality, rather than hierarchy and power-play. This equality

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is also present in access to education, healthcare and resources, and is a necessary prerequisite for equal access to participation in any system. Ways in which the resource-based economic paradigm could be considered to supersede the benefits of even the participatory economic system include the automation of labour-intensive, repetitive, and also dangerous tasks. This freedom from such work, coupled with access to resources without the barrier of trade of any sort facilitates the steadystate vision John Maynard Keynes predicted of liberation from the struggle for the means of survival followed by the opportunity to pursue the ends of creativity and wellbeing. The emphasis on intrinsic motivation over extrinsic reward and punishment allows for work to be carried out for the love of it, for the sense of purpose it stimulates, and for the challenges and opportunities for development that may be presented. Value placed on the understanding of social structures, sociology, psychology and learning process intensifies the capability of an RBE to cater to the needs of all in a way that values the individual intrinsically and stimulates the maximization of human potential. The concept of decision-making within the RBE paradigm is, however, quite different from that of parecon, or indeed any other. Transparency and access to information and education form the basis of understandings, which are valued more highly than beliefs. The traditional process of deciding upon a course of action is unavoidably influenced, often with the potential for negative outcomes, by beliefs, emotional responses, ego-driven power-play between dominant personalities and suppression of more passive personalities. A resource-based economic paradigm advocates the implementation of the scientific method in all areas of society, and planning is no exception. Instead of being vulnerable to personal whims, personality and ego-battles decision-making within an RBE is a process of empirical investigation, presentation of evidence and arrival at the most logical conclusions. Rational consensus can be reached within this paradigm due to the requirement of evidence for all claims, which supersede any individual’s opinion. In cases where specialist knowledge is necessary certain decisions are the domain of entrusted experts who have the knowledge-base required to arrive at such decisions expediently. In certain situations there would be no decision-making process at all, with actions simply being automated based on calculations. Such situations may include the production and allocation of resources which, in order to be both sustainable and equitable must not be influenced by personal bias or vested interest, and can, therefore, be better achieved by a computer than by a boardroom full of politicians and lobbyists. It is thus that an RBE is governed not by politicians or corporations, nor even by popular opinion, but by its core principles as upheld by the equal participation of its members assisted by the objective process of the scientific method as applied to human and environmental need. When the attributes of a range of economic alternatives are weighed up the resource-based economic paradigm presents an innovative and holistic response to the needs of humanity and the planet which sustains our very existence. This radical paradigm based on the principles of sustainability, equality and liberty is one that deserves to be at the forefront of contemporary economic discussion.

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Freeconomics
Kari McGregor (SA)

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ne of the greatest problems with our current economic paradigm is the emphasis on money – it almost literally makes the world go round. So little can be done without it yet it is essentially a man-made creation that holds no intrinsic value. Paper fiat money created out of thin air holds value only because this value is acknowledged and perpetuated by society. Using this paper fiat money, or, indeed, any other form of money, as the tool responsible for meeting our everyday needs makes little sense when one considers that resources are not scarce and can be distributed among our population without anyone being deprived. The pursuit of the money required to gain access to resources promotes a mindset of competition rather than collaboration, thus increasing the gap between rich and poor, or, in other words, those with and those without access to the resources necessary for survival. A non-monetary system of exchange casually known as “freeconomics” is beginning to evolve in our ever-awakening society as people realize that, although money facilitates the acquisition of resources for some, the harsh reality is that it acts as a barrier to access for many more others who lack the means to generate sufficient income. Freeconomies, those economies which operate

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ANALYSIS

A Resource-Base for a New Economy
without the use of any form of money, see capital and resources held firmly within the hands of communities, and not rested at the top of a systemic hierarchy which commits acts of abuse in exchange for consolidation and maintenance of the status quo. Where money has burdened those who have less with the need to work longer hours in the effort to acquire enough of it to reach or maintain acceptable standards of living the use of different valuation standards for exchange has shown itself to liberate people from the bondage of labour. Instead of selling their ever-decreasing time for the money to buy access to resources some people are recognizing that it is possible to maximize time spent with loved ones and on more creative pursuits while gaining access to previously restricted resources if they allow themselves to think outside the money-box. In our age of rapidly rising technological unemployment, the elephant in the room can no longer be ignored. It’s no longer a case of crossing that bridge when we come to it. We’ve arrived. It is of pressing importance that we consider how people will support themselves in an increasingly competitive job market that places ever more power in the hands of owners of capital, rendering many

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workers either enslaved by their jobs or destitute due to not having one. An alternative form of currency is needed to ensure the survival of those whose jobs are being usurped by technological advance. Freeconomics tends to view resources in terms of an individual or community’s access to them, rather than ownership of them. However, it is important to understand that these resources must be present within a community – either owned by an individual or group, or banked by the community. If these resources are not available in such a way by the community then access to them can only be attained via purchase or rental, thus perpetuating the consumption cycle as well as notions of property and ownership. The internet has thus far provided the greatest support for activity and networking within the freesharing community. Where websites such as www.friendswiththings.com function on an Australia-wide level, there are others such as www. justfortheloveofit.org that are international in scope, and provide forums for discussion of the ideals and ideologies behind freesharing.

that is not restricted by ownership of stuff. People who wish to travel, or those who move around frequently for work are able to benefit from the use of an item without the bind of ownership which can be restrictive for their lifestyle. Collaborative consumption is a system that is beneficial in terms of environmental sustainability in that cyclical consumption is minimized and therefore resources are not exploited to the extent they are in a consumer-driven society. It is also beneficial in encouraging a cultural mindset shift away from the concept of ownership and more toward a concept of “usership”, placing value on the function of an item rather than valuing the item for its intrinsic worth. Such a shift is necessary if we are to transition to a less consumptive and more sustainable future. However, collaborative consumption is still a profitdriven business model whose profitability lies in the fact that resources are hoarded by those with capital who rent them out to those with less in a monetary exchange. It does not function effectively to level the playing field in terms of access to resources as even collaborative consumption is restrictive for those whose financial resources are limited. Collaborative consumption is also threatened by the same corruption as any form of monetary exchange. Many of the principles of collaborative consumption, however, can be developed through the practice of resource-sharing and resourcebanking, which contain the same benefits, but are less likely to fall victim to corruption.

Collaborative Consumption
The growing trend of collaborative consumption, facilitated by the internet, releases individuals from the need to buy and own an item. Examples of collaborative consumption include online car rental companies that allow individuals access to vehicles on a regular basis for significantly less than the cost of conventional rental companies, and companies that rent out power tools to those who cannot afford to own them and only need them for a few hours or even minutes and cannot, therefore, justify parting with the money needed to buy them. Such facilities enable people to live in a manner

Resource-sharing and Resource-banking
Some communities have begun sharing their resources either in formal ways, such as setting up community tool-banks which function like libraries, or in informal ways, such as exchanging garden

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produce between neighbours. Even the relatively common practice of carpooling, encouraged in our increasingly environmentally conscious society, is an example of informal resource-sharing. Any time you offer to pick up a friend on your way somewhere as a favour you are, in effect, participating in resource-sharing. There are probably many other examples that crop up within the space of a week that you do without even thinking about, such as popping round to a neighbor for a cup of sugar, allowing your neighbours to benefit from your unlimited broadband, or lending a friend a dress for a party when their wardrobe appears devoid of inspiration. Informal resource-sharing may take the form of simply, when one discovers that one needs an item that one does not have access to one may simply borrow it from a family member, friend or neighbor. This is an example used by Ravi Prasad, the founder of www.friendswiththings.com, who reminds us how little some items are used in the time they spend in someone’s ownership. A tool such as an electric drill is used for an average of only a few minutes during the lifetime it spends with its owner. This tool, therefore, can be made available for use by others in order to maximize its value and minimize waste. Making an item available for use by family, friends and neighbours minimizes the waste incurred by producing for individual consumption and facilitates availability of resources to those who cannot afford to own them but need the benefit of their function. This kind of sharing is something that our society has made less common over time as the concept of consumption and ownership has overridden our community values. However, when one connects with one’s community one usually finds that there is a wealth of people willing and able to lend personal resources while expecting nothing in return. The friends with things community is one such community in which one can expect to find a wealth of resources that are being shared with a high level of trust, often between complete strangers who are simply connected by their ability to cater to someone else’s needs. Resource-banking is a practice that, although not commonplace in Australia, is picking up speed in the United States and Canada. Resource banks are most commonly used for items such as tools, which most people do not own and only need occasionally and for short periods of time. Such banks operate on a principle of trust which is rarely abused by its participants, much like a library – a form of resource-banking that we are all familiar with. Resource-sharing even extends to the point where people give items away for free when they no longer need them or if they are downsizing, for example. Networks such as freecycle facilitate the passing-on of pre-loved items such as furniture or electrical appliances at no cost above that which
Photo by: friendofchiapas

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was expended to pick the item up. Freecycling allows people with limited financial resources to have access to such necessities, and even some luxuries. In addition there is an unspoken consensus that it is bad form to on-sell a freecycled item, meaning that once an item is freecycled it is forever outside the domain of monetary exchange.

Time-banking
Time-banking is a system whereby people can pledge the time they have available to assist with whatever needs to be done within a community to help its members. This system enables people to participate actively in the sustainability and development of their community, thus strengthening it in the process. Informal time-banking may involve family members, friends or neighbours babysitting one another’s children, helping them with their shopping, or walking their dog. Often these are things that people do without even thinking about it, and certainly without attaching any label to it with demands for reciprocity. Of course such things can be, and sometimes are, further formalized within a community whereby people make it known that they have x amount of time to spare for a given activity, thus providing support within the community which enables all its members to go about their life in the most convenient way possible. It is in precisely this way that a lot of voluntary organizations function with little to no financial expenditure necessary. More formalized forms of time-banking function in a very simple reciprocal manner. One hour of help provided to the community or individuals within it in the form of goods or services earns one time-credit. This credit can be exchanged for one hour’s worth of help in return. In this way different kinds of work are not given set values, but treated more equally with respect given to the time and effort required to carry out the work. In this way there is no high-paid or lowpaid work – simply that if a task requires more time and effort it will be rewarded with more time-credit enabling further exchange. Some community timebanks record their transactions online, enabling community members to track the available credit they have and who may be able to provide services in exchange for it. Such time-banks function as a hub for community-based exchange. Online time-banking facilitates the process by enabling contributors to enter information about themselves including their address, availability, what they can offer, and what they would like to receive, and transactions can then take place. In some cases there is reputation reporting on the, reliability, punctuality, and trustworthiness of individual contributors, thus casting a different valuation on the experience and process of exchange. Whether time-banking is formalized or informal it functions as a way to help people meet their needs and share skills within their community. This has a

great impact on individuals as they become fully participating members of their community, coming to rely more on other community members and foster a culture of trust and collaboration. As all members of a community have something to contribute, all are treated as valued and allowed to pursue that which they are interested in. Such a system encourages greater feelings of empowerment, self-esteem and provides an outlet for creativity.

Space-share
Couchsurfing is arguably the most commonly recognized form of space-sharing. Many people now when they go travelling prefer not to spend their money on staying in hotels and hostels but to stay in the home of someone they have connected with via the couchsurfing network. Most people provide some space in their own homes in exchange, but may not host the same people who they stayed with when they travelled. In this way the couchsurfing community pays favours forward, not functioning in terms of direct exchange. Space can also be shared in various other ways. People can bank their space as a resource and make it available for meetings, hosting events, or providing office space, among other examples. A situation in which someone with a large house may host a party on behalf of a friend who lives in a small apartment that cannot accommodate many people is an example of informal space-sharing. People share their space when they agree to store someone’s belongings in their garage while that person spends time overseas, for example. Many examples of informal space-sharing are prevalent even in our consumerist society without the notion of compensation even crossing people’s minds. The sharing of garden space with those without gardens is a phenomenon that, despite little awareness in Australia, is on the increase in the USA, Canada and New Zealand. People with large amounts of space that go unused due to lack of time, skill or inclination are increasingly allowing access to that space to members of their community to be able to grow produce which can be shared with the community. This is an example of how sharing a resource such as space can have far-reaching implications for the strength of a community network.

Skillshare
Skillshare is a system as old as humanity in which people share their skills with one another by doing things for others that they have the capacity to do better and in return receive the benefit of another person’s capability in an area in which they, themselves, are lacking. Much as many of us would love to be generalists capable of a wide variety of skills the society we, in the Western world, have been brought up in and are acculturated to is a system in which we are encouraged to specialize

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in particular skills. This leads us to lack many of the skills necessary for self-sufficiency, but this deficit can be addressed by skillsharing. Many people can recall experiences of having a friend with skills in construction, plumbing, or vehicle maintenance do a job for them for free. Most people are able to return the favour in kind, by providing another skill that can be used in their community, such as cooking, hairdressing or gardening, or by giving of their time or lending resources as a form of exchange. Some people are even brave enough to travel the world equipped only with their skills and no money, exchanging work for accommodation, transport and food – the travelling English teacher whose exchange of knowledge can score them their next meal, or the travelling hairdresser, whose scissors are the means with which to ensure a room for the night, being the most common examples. Skillshare also involves the teaching of one’s skills to others in order that others may benefit from the skill in a more direct way and, in turn, be able to pass that skill and the benefits it brings to others. This phenomenon is the oldest form of education and is still ubiquitous in more traditional cultures which prize the passing on of knowledge and skills through generations. Most families at least have a recipe that is a family secret passed down through generations. Most people have some skill or other that they can share and exchange with others, and increasingly we are seeing voluntary sharing of skills with no expectation of compensation. Examples such as English tutors who spend time tutoring international students in public libraries, or music teachers who pass on their skill just for the love of it, or massage students who need willing practice models demonstrate the richness of skills within our society that people are willing to share for free. With the increasingly service-oriented consumerist culture that characterizes Western civilization people are becoming de-skilled, threatening the very skills-base by which communities are able to support one another. It is vital that communities reconnect and share their skills, passing on the necessary tools of survival to the next generation.

Our monetary system is inherently discriminatory in that it generally does not provide for those who were not born lucky enough to reap the benefits of easy access. Many people fall into this category, such as the disabled, marginalized communities such as migrants who may lack qualifications or language proficiency, and those born into low socio-economic sectors of society. With recognition of the intrinsic value of all humans it is only fair that we create a system in which all can have equal access to the necessities of survival. Such access often involves a system of paying favours forward and voluntary gifting rather than direct exchange in order to level the playing field between those with greater and those with fewer personal resources, thus bringing everyone to a reasonable standard of living. With improved equality and raised standards of living across the board we are statistically likely to see lower incidences of crime, mental and physical health problems, and greater educational successes, leading to a healthier society in which to bring up the next generation. Freeconomics is a system in which the Earth’s resources are treated with greater respect by being shared more equally among its people, re-used, recycled and sometimes even reincarnated in new forms! This system deprives the monetary system of the oxygen it needs to continue its exploitation of the Earth and humanity while saving valuable resources from the rape and pillage associated with our cyclical consumerist throwaway mentality. With increased emphasis on the values of equality and sustainability, and the liberty afforded by increased time rescued from the bondage of labour we are able to advance further into the paradigm of a resource-based economy. Freeconomics is a step closer to reality, and it is something we can all begin to participate in with a lot less effort than it takes to perpetuate our slavery.

Useful websites to visit:
• Freecycle: • Australia-based freesharing: www.friendswiththings.com • International freesharing: www.justfortheloveofit.org • Local Energy Trading System: www.lets.org.au • Community tool bank (Victoria-based & city-council run): www.maribyrnong.vic.gov.au/page/Page.asp?Page_Id=3680 • Couchsurfing: www.couchsurfing.org • Backyard sharing (USA, Canada & New Zealand): www. sharingbackyards.com

How freeconomies help pave the way toward a resource-based economy
With freesharing an economy can be healthy and functional in ensuring that all members of a community have access to the resources necessary for survival. A monetary system is only one form of measuring access to resources and facilitating exchange. While we look no further than this box we are trapped within its limits and perpetuate the cycle of poverty for those with limited access to monetary capital and the means of producing it.

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COMMENT
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world... Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better... Being good is commendable, but only when it is combined with doing good is it useful.... Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.
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Transition Hurdles
Ben Matei (NSW)

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n my personal experience talking to people regarding the many topics zeitgeist addresses I have found a number of hurdles appear. Indeed being part of an awareness-raising movement, overcoming these hurdles is the primary objective and isn’t always an easy task. Many factors are involved in determining how receptive a person is to new information that challenges their current understanding of the world; these include information gaps, timing issues, personal investment and lack of interest. As frustrating as it can be talking to people at various levels of understanding, that is our task, and it is those that are further up the tree that will take a wider variety of approaches and continuous effort to get through to. Understanding what to expect from people can make it less taxing personally when pursuing this goal as the last thing you need is to wear yourself out. I believe that eventually everyone will start to recognise the reasoning behind the ideas we discuss, it is but a matter of time and continued effort.

examples to follow up with and, of course, be positive. If you express a response in a negative way, it will be perceived as defensive. Instead I’ve found that by acknowledging the expressed concerns and then responding with evidence and a smile, I leave them with something to think about and perhaps have made them curious to investigate further.

Timing issues
Timing can also be an issue. Pick the right time and place if you’re talking with friends and family, and read the signals. If someone is not showing interest through questions or body language, you’re better off leaving the conversation for another time (although this is easier said than done - I feel like I’m about to burst with information every minute of the day and am always waiting for an excuse to start blurting out facts!).

Personal investment
Just as there are people at various levels of understanding there are also people at various levels of self-investment within the current system. This may not apply to everyone, but of the people I have spoken with those in better financial positions find it harder to consider the inherent flaws in the monetary system or the logic behind a RBE. Perhaps it is the fear of losing their financial advantage or selfdelusion in order to maintain belief in a system that is working out for them. Whatever the reason, the key to getting through to such people is either illustrating how much better their life could be within a RBE, or elaboration on the impoverished conditions of the majority of the world. I have had many discussions with people so invested in the system that nothing penetrates their wall of disregard. As frustrating as these conversations can be I have always

Information gap
The first hurdle is the information gap. Many people that I speak to have minimal knowledge regarding economics and its connection to the various problems we face. Therefore discussing solutions with such people is premature and will result in instant misunderstanding and disregard. It then takes twice the effort to undo the damage, so small steps are required. The main objections I’ve encountered related to the information gap are “money creates incentive; you can’t get rid of it”, “that sounds like communism”, “whoever controls the computers control society” or “it’s human nature to be competitive”. The best thing to do with these objections is have a simple response ready with

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walked away with added experience addressing objections and sometimes new objections to research and consider, and as we all know the more research and practice we do, the better we get. Sadly with certain people no amount of logic and evidence will make a difference, in these cases it will take a change in their external conditions to encourage change. This more than likely will come from deteriorating economic conditions. Knowing this has helped me relax a little and realise that my task isn’t to convince anyone of anything but rather to discuss ideas and provide information to consider and access in their own time; the rest is up to them.

view of the world is limited to their personal circles and ambitions. Keeping things casual and light seems to be the most effective approach as we are all at different stages of personal development. By staying positive and sliding small packets of information into conversations every now and then it is possible to avoid losing a person due to challenging them directly. When egos are bruised people will switch off or even pursue conflict in order to alleviate their embarrassment. Therefore long term subtle strategies should be adopted, leading them into better understanding bit by bit. Indeed the process toward transition starts with increasing awareness. This challenge for all of us will have its high and low moments. Creative strategies, teamwork and self-development are integral parts in sustaining momentum. At the personal level I have found it is important to try and achieve a balance, taking a long term perspective with regards to people and projects and simply chipping away. It all adds up!

Lack of interest
The most irking hurdle I’ve experienced is disinterest. There is perhaps a culture of complacency, an attitude that resonates ‘if it doesn’t affect me, it’s not my problem’ or ‘who has the time to care’. This is of course a by-product of popular culture and mass media among other things. Individuals with this attitude may partially listen or not at all as their

Humanity WILL Prevail

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Documentary review: The Economics of Happiness

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ccording to The Economics of Happiness we are facing an environmental crisis, an economic crisis, and a crisis of the human spirit. With the bottom line spelled out in the opening titles one expects a raw, earnest appeal to our humanity, and one is rewarded with exactly that, along with a sense that we have aided and abetted our own misery in the search for artificial mimics of happiness. This concise documentary film released in 2011 by Helena Norberg-Hodge, economic analyst from the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), Steven Gorelick, and John Page begins with a sweeping panorama of the soaring mountains and clear air of tranquil Ladakh, a sparsely populated region of Tibetan descent nestled in the Himalaya. One could almost believe their story would be idyllic, but Norberg-Hodge, who spent many years living in Ladakh, immersing herself in the local way of life and discovering the secrets of ecological, social and personal wellbeing, wastes no time in inflicting a harsh reality check on viewers just as they are beginning to get comfortable. Since the mid-1970s parts of Ladakh have become almost unrecognizable. Since the region threw open its doors to Western tourism and exposure to consumer culture the traditional culture and lifestyle have been undermined along with the health of the environment. Very quickly globalization, the villain of this piece exemplified in its role by its effects in Ladakh, has wrought destruction upon the environment, society, and wellbeing of the people there, breaking down their connections to community and nature. Interviews with a range of experts compel viewers to look beyond the much-touted benefits of globalization to the inherent failings and damage wrought, exposing the profit-motive that detaches an economy from care for its people. Today’s corporations are referred to as successors of yesterday’s colonial merchants, profiting from the destruction of sovereignty in colonized countries, the annexation of their resources and the enslavement of their people with deregulation of

the markets pinpointed as a malevolent force, and one that is only just gathering speed. Viewers are urged in earnest to examine their own relationship with globalization, to not dismiss it as something going on “out there”, but to relate to how the constant pursuit of material reward does not bring us happiness despite the lengths we go to in order to attain it whilst our communities are being undermined. The film is raw in its depiction of the desire of developing nations to emulate the “American” way of life juxtaposed with accounts of how natural resources are stretched to breaking point while people are pressured to consume ever more of what does not bring lasting happiness. We are warned

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that attempts to industrialize the world to this American standard will only result in catastrophe - destruction of our resources and consequent starvation. The removal of people from their land in search of the elusive American dream has done anything but fulfill the promises of the adverts. With frustration faintly creasing the smooth forehead of the otherwise serene and youthful woman of wisdom, Helena Norberg-Hodge appeals for recognition of the futility of all solutions proposed and implemented in our free-market system due to their dependence on the very means that caused the problems in the first place. Instead, in a radical departure from conventional economics, the proposed solution of economic localization catches viewers off-guard with its startling simplicity as a counter-measure to the problems caused by economic globalization. Norberg-Hodge’s statement that “our arms have become so long we can’t see what our hands are doing” succinctly encompasses why we need to redefine economic problems as local in order to take control of situations that previously seemed overwhelming. Re-regulation of banking and finance and bringing these sectors back to

local level are presented as measures to reinstate stability. Localization, contrary to popular belief, will not exacerbate the deprivation of developing economies according to the analysts interviewed. Instead the simple approach of encouraging local economies and self-reliance are demonstrably more effective in reducing poverty than economic globalization. A short series of moments encapsulates both the profound message and gentle humility of the film as Ladakhi women on a cultural tour of a developedworld city visit supermarkets and boutiques, and are then exposed to the indignity of the homeless forced to beg on the streets and then the landfill where our consumerist waste meets its end. The message clearly revealed through the eyes of the Ladakhi women is this: Don’t leave the economy to “the experts”. Further information about the film and those behind it can be accessed via the website:

www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org

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Happy Geisting
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