this blogpost is inspired from the book The New Human Rights Movement by Peter Joseph. Direct quotations are used.
Editor's note: This blogpost is inspired from the book The New Human Rights Movement by Peter Joseph. Direct quotations are used.
Is our current monetary reward system the most modern, efficient, moral, ethical and sustainable way to reward people for their work in the 21st digital century? There is an assumption that those who contribute the most to society will be rewarded the most. It is assumed that to become a billionaire you must have done something important and helpful for society. Let’s take a closer look at this assumption.
One of the most rewarded sectors of the global economy today is in finance. For example “hedge fund manager” is one of the highest paid occupations in the world. This person moves money around for the mere sake of gaining more money, with zero contribution to creative development . It really doesn’t bring any real value to our society, but is highly rewarded and holds immerse wealth and influence. The same is true to marketing and banking.
People who work in engineering, problem solving and creative innovation truly develop our society. Usually it is the laborer who creates the innovation and someone else higher on the corporate ladder gains from it.
Adam Smith the father of market economics would never have predicted that in the present day, the most lucrative, rewarded fields would not be production of life supporting or life improving goods, but rather the act of moving money around.
Meet Mika. His passion is fishing and visiting prestigious natural areas and natural parks in Lapland. I became friends with him on a beautiful summer day paddling down the last part of Kemi river where there is no hydro power yet. We were over thirty boats drifting down the stream witnessing the most beautiful sandy beaches, birdlife and small rapids. The curious media was there to film us and bring our message out to save the last free flowing part of Kemi river .
A worrisome threat was darkening the beautiful summer day. A new hydropower plant has been planned for years in these very important breeding rapids for the Salmon. If the dam was built, the water level would rise, threatened species would disappear taking the rapids with them.Lapland is already self-sufficient in electricity. It doesn’t need the power. But the company aims to sell the electricity to other cities.
Mika is the head of the nature protection union in Lapland. He is like a walking story book with his stories of the great salmon runs on Kemi River 100 years ago. The Lapland people back then harvested 160 000 tons of salomon every summer. The people and the animals used to live off the salmon over the whole winter. Today the fifteen hydro power plants on Kemi river have no fish bypasses even though installing them would have cost a fraction of the total project costs. The first dam sits 500 meters from the sea. Once the greatest salmon runs in any European river now plays host to zero salmon. .
Mika, like many other nature conservationists , declared (when?) a bureaucratic war against
corporations who exploit Lapland's natural habitats. Meanwhile state municipalities
decide if a company can build a Hydroelectric dam, start a
mine or plan any other activity using our planet’s resources.
Mika does not like his job, and has a salary of 800 euros per month. He donates most of
his salary to nature protection. He told me that someone has to fight back and
if it’s not him no-one will obstruct the destruction of our fragile arctic nature. He has become very skilled at writing influential letters to municipalities. Sometimes it delays the process and even sometimes Mika is successful to persuade the municipalities not to give a permit for building.
In fact, most people volunteer to protect
nature. They are not rewarded.
"If you look closely you will see that almost anything that really matters to
us, anything that embodies our deepest commitment to way human life should
be lived and cared for, depends on some form of volunteerism". Margaret Mead
Sustainable fish friendly alternatives are available but our archaic socio-economic system is hindering humanity to use them
The economic surviving game on the entire planet
The rules we play by today as a civilization lead naturally to monopolies. That is the reason Kemi river is dammed by only one corporation. The corporations take advantage of the rules and are rewarded for their success. Competition, self-interest, and even oppression are tolerated in today’s game of survival.
The people who work for the corporation have to make a living like everyone. What do we mean when we say “make a living”? It means that you have to prioritise your energy for making money in order to take care of your basic necessities like food, shelter, education, healthcare and clothing. Everyday...people get up, work, come home, eat, have some free time , then turn in for the next day. We must pay bills, buy food, and sometimes work from home.. All that leaves no energy for the common good, philosophy, music and other personally and socially enriching things . That seems pretty primitive, doesn’t it?
The paradox with today is no matter the long term benefits, or perils, the next
paycheck is more important for most of us. No matter what your ethical and
moral values are, paying your bills,The rent for your house, and feeding your family
Is job number one for everyone.If you have 300 euros to spend each
month you cannot buy organic food or sustainable clothing even if you want to.
But…what if basic necessities for life...food, shelter, education, healthcare and
clothing came at no cost to all people in a modern reward
system? Not a Universal Basic Income (UBI) but
Rather, actual, basic necessities.
Would that change the game?
And yes, we have the know-how, technology and resources to feed and house everyone.
But it seems ...we are stuck in this primitive "unalterable" system.
Would people still work in a company focused on short-term profits? Or would they work for companies focused on humanity’s long term human survival? Humanity has the ability to create nature-friendly technologies of all kinds. Generating electricity, reducing waste, recycling rare earth metals and living sustainably are all possible.
Unfortunately today efficiency, abundance and sustainability are enemies of our system, for they are inverse to the mechanics required to perpetuate consumption.
Would that change the game?
Most of our sociological problems can be traced indirectly to our archaic socio-economic system
A study done at the University of Utah in 1990s found powerful connections
between unemployment. (lack of basic necessities) and crime.
Most acts of crime would not likely occur if these basic necessities were provided to all including food, shelter, education, clothing and healthcare.
The true definition economy itself means to conserve, reduce waste and do more with less. Copiosis rewards only actions aligned with these three values..
Strategic use of materials and preservation is not rewarded todaybecause it reduces consumption.
Unfortunately the competitive need to lower prices permeates every step of production. Afterall people don’t want to spend what it really costs to make things. Reduction of technical efficiency by using cheaper materials, means and design enables companies to make things that people can afford. But what if the system didn’t require people needing to afford things they want?
A modern reward system would economize, which means to reduce waste by strategic design.
Bullshit jobs disappear
Daniel Pink writes in his book that repetitive, mundane jobs lend themselves more to traditional
rewards such as money, whereas money doesn't seem to motivate innovation and creativity.
Again, new technological innovations which frees people from doing bullshit jobs would be highly rewarded in a modern reward system. Recall what might happen if people didn’t need to earn a living. When basic necessities would be provided to everyone, what kind of things might happen that don’t happen today?
Patents: Are they needed? In a freer more efficient system, innovations would not need any
patent protections.Anyone who copies or improves the original innovation would benefit monetarily. But so would the original inventor. Indeed, in a modern system, the inventor could still keep getting rewarded for every derivative version of his or her idea, making him or her far richer than today’s patent-protection system, in other words lifelong royalty would be paid just like today.
Maybe you’re starting to understand?
Again...If we only reward individuals for beneficial (actions that do more good than harm) actions, we could see an explosion in innovations. Especially ones today’s economy won’t support. Such as innovations that benefit salmon and river systems.
Ecocities and villages, vertical farming in cities, small scale local permaculture gardens, biogas cars, 100% recycling rate, wood based hydrocarbons to replace metals dug from the earth would all be highly rewarded to the degree their inventors can scale them. But since it costs nothing to do such things in a modern system, “scaling” is not a problem.
It’s very simple. Everyone gets a net benefit reward which is calculated
from looking at the good they create in the world minus the bad.
In this system, everyone becomes a entrepreneur
and gets reward credits for his contribution to other people and society. But there’s no risk because no one can go broke, lose their home or fail to put food on the table.
It's like a frequent flyer club where you earn credits (rewards). With these credits you can obtain goods
and services which are not your basic necessities.
The rich, the poor and the middle class will all benefit from transition into a modern reward system.
Capitalism made sustainable!
Chris, Copiosis Finland