So, I have been thinking again. As you all know, that is a rather dangerous thing to do. BUT, I did it anyway. I think it is time to try and get into some of the specifics of the state of economics in the Intentional Community of the Future. Consider this an addendum to Part 3! Also, consider this a "primer" for Part 6, which as of this writing I have not yet released.
Oh, before we move on, I have a little "info-graphic" that lists the axioms I codify in this series. I hope you like it:
What The Hell is The Point?
If you have taken the time to watch Stafford Beer's lectures, you'll be quick to find that he believes that in order to create a Viable System (Based on The Viable System Model), that you need a purpose for the system to exist. What are the objectives of the system? Within the context of intentional community economics, it becomes simple: To support the needs of the people.
In PArt 3, I described these needs in relation the Maslow's Hierarchy, and developed my own model of needs prioritization that I called Walls of Well-Being. In short, most people are hindered from psychological or otherwise "Self-fulfilling" needs by virtue of safety and life sustaining measures. In order to efficiently meet those needs, people must negotiate the "Wall of Well-Being" to get there:
That being said, it is not always the case, seeing as some people will sacrifice their lives for others, or do things that would otherwise be morally honorable, but may compromise their safety or life.
The point of the community is to make these things easy to reach. Some call it happiness, I would consider it their personal greatness. I know that sounds like some sort of motivational speaker's wet dream, and in most cases, I would probably agree. I do not wish to say a lot of words and say nothing. My meaning is very concrete; The community supports people so that they can innovate. What do I mean by innovation?
Innovation in this context is the creative and actionable purposes that people put themselves to when they are unhindered by other worries. What would YOU do if you didn't have to work?
In other words, the Intentional Community of the Future most likely will not have starving artists. There are no bright students who forgo their potential because college is too expensive. Adversity is Attenuated to achieve maximal innovation. It isn't taken away completely because this is an Asymptotic Utopia, not a TRUE Utopia. The latter is impossible, which is why I codify it in Axioms 1 and 2.
The community now has its purpose, and in the purpose, we find the impetus for its economics.
A World With Money?
What do people primarily use money for? They use it for necessities as well as luxuries. Needs and Wants. If you reduce their lists of things to buy with money, what do you have left? The luxuries. The things that they may want. What if you could in some limited sense supply those things as well? What would you need money for? Well... this takes us down the road of Jacques Fresco and his Resource Based Economy. Jacques was incredibly idealistic, and it was this idealism that was his downfall.
Money is with us for now, because we can't begin this journey without it. Crypto - in part - is the key. I'll explain why in a moment.
Since we live in the real world, I propose this: For the residents, part of their "compensation" (though I loathe to frame it this way) would be that their needs will be met. They will have a good place to live, food to eat, education for themselves and their children, room to express themselves and pursue their innovations, and more. On top of this, I believe that this community would be great for a "basic income" experiment. For reasonable simple wants, a reasonable universal basic income can be provided. No strings attached. Though, I am hoping that with needs met and room to grow the self, that I can demonstrate to people that there is a third way. Something that doesn't represent what they had come from before.
In order to adequately meet Axiom 4, we MUST have money. In fact, I believe that the first iteration of this community - being of an experimental design - will need capital in order to proceed. Therefore, for investors and philanthropists alike, there must be something that the outside world can benefit from immediately or close to immediately, as well as long-term benefits.
Offerings to The World - A Utilitarian Approach
This is but a... possible state of affairs that I would hope would bring forth capital to begin this project and run it until sustainability is reached. I could be wrong in some aspects of this, but see this as a "brainstorm session" of what can be done, rather than what will be done.
A Word on Intellectual Property
So, what will the Community of Tomorrow offer the World? That is a good question. When implementation is ready, I submit that I will have patented a decent portion of the initial technical aspects of this work. No, this is not for purposes of keeping it from the world, but rather to maintain an edge that can be used for growth and further research and development. I do this for a very specific utilitarian purpose.
For Utility and Design Patents, the time limit is 20 and 14 years, respectively. After this timeframe, I want the patents to be dedicated to the public domain. If the experiment meets an early success, then the maintenance fees will simply remain unpaid, forcing the patents into public domain at that point. I fully hope to have the things developed during that duration by myself or other community members who agree to such terms to follow this line of thinking when the time comes. A similar approach may be applied to copyrights as well.
This is but a rough sketch of one way income can be generated through intellectual property, which is through offering a service or product that is directly related to the community project. These proceeds go to maintenance, R&D and compensation exclusively. Remember that in order to meet Axiom 4, these are the kinds of things that must be considered. The idea isn't to make a profit, but to pay for the practicalities of community as well as maintain an operating surplus to expand development. All of this could be undertaken in a specific type of corporate structuring for what are often called social enterprises. This is still in the works, but I intend to hammer out the details in due time.
Products and Services Borne Though Original Research and Creativity.
This is what I would hope could be the "Bread and Butter" of the community in a matter of speaking. Through the course of community living and encouragement of innovation, I would also encourage that some of the work of those involved be dedicated for the sake of the community as a whole. Read this very clearly: I will not make this a compulsory endeavor. Every individual who creates has a choice; they can choose to donate their intellectual property (such as say, the copyright of a fictional or non-fictional work) to the cause, or keep it for themselves. I envision an orientation process that includes something along the lines of: "If you create great things while being a member of the community, then it should go without saying that it is your intellectual property. However, if you believe that what we are doing here is important, then we encourage you to donate a portion of it to the cause of maintaining and growing this project."
In reality, I fully expect that 80% of the IC donation proceeds will come from about 20% of the total works of the community (per the ubiquitous Pareto Principle. This also means that by virtue of this being a quasi-public endeavor, that financial transparency down to the cent will be in order.
This is a long term goal - possibly years in the making, assuming the project gets of the ground. For community members, education will be freely given and strongly encouraged. I would hope an eventual goal would be to not only provide primary and secondary education, but also higher education as well. If higher, degree granting education and accreditation can be accomplished, then I would like to offer this to those outside of the community for an competitive and nominal fee much lower than what is seen from say, American state institutions. I foresee a possibility to offer several degrees online, as well as several that would be more practical to achieve in person such as community related sciences and the like.
The Cryptocurrency Revolution, Used for a Purpose.
This is the fun part. In an earlier post, I talked about what my ideal cryptocurrency would look like. The basic idea would be to have it primarily dedicated to being a stablecoin that is dependent on cryptocurrencies that are pairwise minimally uncorrelated to each other, with work to keep it pegged close to say, a US dollar. I also introduce an auxiliary token that is far more volatile that encourages speculators and investors to be interested in. Together, these would create an ecosystem that... now that I think of it is probably closer to something like HIVE or Steemit. with some differences.
If this idea were somehow pegged to the idea of supporting the community's growth, It could in principle be a means of income. More work to be done on this. Perhaps, the UBI experiment could also be paid in the stablecoin? That would be interesting.
So I talked a lot about money and revenue in this post, and that is mostly because I see it as an inescapable concept of Axiom 4. I by no means think I have all the answers here, but if the idea was to change the paradigms by maintaining interoperability with it, these are practical considerations that must be given great thought.
But, How about if things have found their stability? What then? Well, I would not encourage an abandonment of Axiom 4, unless by some chance an entire nation was able to integrate this thinking. Even then, other nations must interact with the changed one, and therefore Axiom 4 must be continued. If all of Humanity found its way into the community, then that would be the time where the axiom would no longer apply. Until then, we must think practically (which means we probably always must do so).
But what would a community or ensemble of communities look like economically at maturity? Well, I would submit it would be one where sustainability has reached such great advancement that only the minimums of requisite monetary upkeep would become necessary. The state of affairs within the community would likely approach something close to Fresco's vision, while tempered with an understanding of the pragmatic. Of course, this would be a rather delicate balance to achieve because we would not want to have tribalism (a Macro-Societal Destabilization Factor) to overcome those on the inside our the outside. I want to make what happens within be something that is shown to be obtainable by everyone without. Only then, could I really say that the project has seen success.
There is still much work to be done on this, folks. Time will tell if we find the way.
Thank you all SO much for reading.