Monday, 18 June 2012

Critique of 'Firing Back' by Ben McLeish

This is an analysis of Ben McLeish’s video here.  Ben is an active member of The Zeitgeist Movement UK.  This is the start of a cross-blog discussion.  Ben's blog is here.

Money and ‘The Monetary System’

Ben begins (at 1:50) by explaining he is going to discuss “unresolvable problems in the monetary-market system, and by-products of money itself”.  These are “systemic issues, not only to capitalism, but to the very entity and organisation of money itself”.  They are “inherent problems that will lead to the collapse of any system in which it appears as a regulating force”.  Ben says that “As a mechanism for cooperation and survival, money has outgrown its usefulness”.

Unfortunately Ben fails to provide a definition of money, or of monetary-market system.  This proves to be a fateful error, because most of the rest of Ben’s talk is one huge fallacy of composition.   He briefly acknowledges the idea of commodity money and commodity-backed money, but does not explain how they work.  For the entire talk, he refers only to the current system, with fiat money, monopolised by a central bank, and with a cartelized banking system engaging in rampant fractional-reserve banking.  Yet he uses his conclusions about this particular money and monetary system to denounce the whole concept of money and ‘monetary systems’.

In order to persuade me that all monetary systems have “systemic, inherent problems”, Ben must first of all provide a definition of money, and then critique the most general form of money.  It may be wise at this point to stop and ask for a definition of money and monetary system, and to see if Ben recognises the fallacy of composition he is making if he continues to argue against all money by attacking fiat money.  But I will continue to comment on his talk, for the sake of discussion.

Fiat Money

Ben explains that (fiat) money gets its value from two things: 1) belief in money’s value (the “mutually shared illusion”) and 2) scarcity of supply. 

First it should be noted that value is subjective, so everything, technically speaking, has value only because people believe it has value.  Second, the plain fact is that fiat money’s value is not an illusion: I really can take my fiat money to the local store and exchange it for goods that satisfy my needs.  People really do value money, and why wouldn’t they, when it is so useful for exchanging for things that will directly satisfy them?  What Ben seems to be referring to is that fiat money is not useful for anything other than exchanging; it cannot be eaten, or used in production of anything, for example.  This is true.  But that’s the very definition of a fiat money!  This point, therefore, clearly does not apply to commodity monies, which are by definition useful for other purposes.  So if this is the sense in which Ben is saying money is an illusion, only fiat money is an illusion, not commodity money.

With regard to his second source of (fiat) money’s value, Ben refers to scarcity.  He fails to provide a definition of scarcity so it is difficult to know what he means by this.

At 5:40 Ben begins to talk about where today’s fiat money comes from.  He starts with the Bank of England and then goes on to give an explanation of fractional-reserve banking.  Possibly for reasons of time, he does not mention the main consequence of fractional-reserve banking: the business cycle of artificial boom, bust, recession and/or depression.  Nor does he mention the redistributive effect of inflation of the money supply: from savers to borrowers; from those on fixed incomes to those on variable incomes; in general from those distant from the point at which the money is created to those closer to the source of the new money: especially the government and the banks.  Nor does he mention that this system is impossible without a central bank monopoly privilege on bank notes and a cartelized banking system.  I recommend this very short video for a clear explanation of fiat money, emphasising the redistributive effects of inflation.  For a full explanation of the methods and effects of money expansion and contraction, and what cartelization of the banking system enables, see chapter 12, section 11 of Man, Economy and State by Murray Rothbard.

Debt and the Money Supply

At 9:00 Ben makes a minor error by saying that there is not enough money in the system to fully pay back the debt, because of the interest which “was never created”.  The error is in assuming that creditors, when the money is paid back to them, will not spend it back into the economy.  Obviously they will, since the creditors want goods and services, not piles of money.  In theory, any amount of physical money can be used to pay back any amount of debt in this way, so even a total debt higher than the total money supply is not “mathematically impossible” to pay off, in the way that Ben implies here.


At 10:15 Ben makes a further point about interest.  It is not entirely clear whether he is talking merely about interest being charged within this fiat fractional-reserve system, or the general idea of interest.  He mentions with some disdain that a millionaire can earn £50k interest “simply by having money in an account with 5% interest rate”.  He ignores that (in a free market system, at least) the millionaire must have previously produced so much to satisfy the needs of his fellow man that he was able to become rich; that the money is not available to the millionaire during the time it is loaned out; that some risk is involved in lending; and most importantly that debtors voluntarily accept the terms of their loan and therefore expect to benefit from the transaction - the loan is for mutual benefit.  Any third-party using violence to prevent this kind of voluntary exchange would clearly be making both worse off by preventing the gain from trade being realised.

On top of this, Ben overlooks the social / economic function of interest, and the calculational chaos that a price control of zero on the charging of interest (which is the effect of “usury” laws: forbidding the charging of interest) would have on society.  Entrepreneurs – the individuals that make most of the decisions about resource allocation in a free market economy – have ideas about how to change the world for the better, and the incentive to put those ideas into action, but they often need a large amount of savings in order to embark upon their wealth-generating project.  Savers – individuals who saved their income for use later rather than spending it on consumption now – have the funds that the entrepreneur needs.  Interest is what brings them together.  The entrepreneur voluntarily agrees to pay interest because he expects to be better off in the future; the saver agrees to invest their money (rather than hoarding it) because of the expected interest income.  The money becomes inaccessible to the saver for some period of time, while the entrepreneur adds value to the world.  With usury laws, the saver, the borrower, and society as a whole, is worse off than in a free market, because in a free market interest rates serve as a crucial signal and incentive for guiding improvements to economic conditions and more efficient use of resources.  On this point, see my video Economic Coordination and the Business Cycle.

Social Mobility and Inequality

At 11:30 Ben brings up empirical data that appears to show that social mobility has been declining, that life expectancy is inversely related to inequality, and that mental illness is more prevalent where there is higher inequality.  See this blog post for my response to this.  On top of my comments in that post, I would point out that Ben's quoting of facts and statistics about societies today, with today's economic system, and then the using those facts to denounce all monetary systems, would be another example of the fallacy of composition that pervades Ben’s talk.

Downsizing of Banks

At 15:10 Ben moves on to discuss “innovation, pollution, and false positive indicators”.  Ben explains that when Lloyds TSB cut 45,000 jobs, the bank’s share price increased, but does not explain the relevance of this point.  He just got through explaining that our economy is virtually held hostage to big banks.  And yet he presents news that a bank is shrinking in size as a bad thing.  It is unclear why he would apparently prefer that those people still had their unproductive jobs, when they could be doing something more productive.  Does Ben not feel that the banking sector is already too large?  Does he believe that downsizing of the banking system in this country is a bad thing?  The relevance of the Lloyds TSB story is unclear.

GDP and ‘Growth’

He quickly moves on to criticise the idea that wealth is measured by GDP.  Ben correctly points out that many activities (oil spills, wars, epidemics, etc) that clearly decrease wealth actually increase GDP.  This point is the tip-of-the-iceberg of the problems associated with the concept of GDP.  Austrian economists have explained the uselessness and pointlessness of GDP and most other “economic indicators”.  Austrian economists recognise that economic wealth cannot be measured due to the subjective, ordinal nature of value.

At 17:40, Ben seems to make the error of thinking that GDP actually is a good measure of wealth, a position he well refuted a few moments ago.  He denounces “growth”.  Unfortunately he does not define this term explicitly; it generally means an increase in wealth or productivity, but Ben seems to define it as an increase in GDP!  Of course, due to the aforementioned Austrian critique of GDP, Ben is right that “growth” by this definition isn’t always good!  But when growth is given the more useful and common definition (an increase in wealth), then the only people who ought to be opposed to growth are primitivists, who actually desire a society of poverty.


At 18:45 Ben shifts to the subject of innovation and immediately brings up patents and the large amounts of money spent on patent trolling and patent defense.  Patents are a government-granted monopoly privilege, and therefore any critique of the patent system does not apply to the free market.  At 21:10 he says “This [patent wars] is implicit to the monetary system itself”.  This is obviously false, and a fallacy of composition again.  Patent wars can clearly only happen in societies which have patent laws.  There can exist monetary systems with or without patent laws; and there can exist non-monetary systems with or without patent laws.

Planned Obsolescence

At 21:35, Ben says “Every company in a monetary system is forced, by cost efficiency to… make items that are manufactured poorly”.  He gives the example of mobile phones being “calibrated” to break down within a specific timeframe set by the manufacturer; so-called “planned obsolescence”.  Planned obsolescence is a myth in the sense that ultimately (at least in free markets) manufacturers, and all producers, are beholden to consumers’ desires, so the longevity of any product will be optimal given the values of the people in society.  Longevity of a product has to be weighed against other attributes.  If products break after some “short” period of time (short in the arbitrary opinion of the person speaking) it must be because the costs of making the product last longer outweigh the benefits, from the point of view of consumers.

It would therefore be a decrease of wealth if any third-party were to use violence to prevent manufacturers making decisions about their products based on cost-efficiency, for example by imposing arbitrary legal minimum standards with regard to longevity of different types of products.  In a free market, if a producer engages in so-called “planned obsolescence” (meaning he manufactures goods that don’t last as long as the speaker arbitrarily feels they should) and there is a real detriment to consumers, then that producer will soon be out-competed, ceteris paribus, by a firm which makes their products last longer and satisfies consumers better.

The Ghost of Keynes

At 23:10 Ben says that “One overriding economic point will make our way of life impossible… ‘Technological unemployment’”.  He defines this term, by referring to the discredited economist John Maynard Keynes, as “Unemployment due to our discovery of means of economizing the use of labor, outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labor”.  This one sentence sums up one of the major errors of Keynesianism remarkably well: the idea that “we” need to “find new uses for labor”. 

Keynes was a central planner who believed in work-for-work-sake, even so far as recommending to the U.S. government that they pay people to bury money in bottles deep underground, so that people can be employed in the task of digging for them, just to keep them busy.  He said that if no more useful for work can be found for them to do, it would actually be a net economic benefit for the government to spend taxpayers’ money in this absurd way.  One would have thought, when his economic understanding led him to this ridiculous conclusion, Keynes might have re-thought his framework.  But alas, Keynesianism still dominates in Universities today and policy is still made based on Keynesian recommendations.  Sound Austrian economic ideas remain a small minority in academia, but the ideas are spreading very quickly due to the rise of the internet and the beginning of the collapse of the Keynes-inspired economic system in 2008, which many Austrian economists predicted.

Keynes put the cart before the horse.  Humans engage in labor because we want to produce something, which we can then enjoy by consuming, or exchanging for something we can consume.  By definition, we do not enjoy labor for its own sake (for then it would be leisure).  Every individual could choose to live a life of complete leisure, and just sit in a yen-like state contemplating the world.  But we’d quickly get hungry, so we find that we need to engage in labor (combining our skills and energy with elements of nature) in order to satisfy our desire to not feel hungry.  We need to produce food, and other things to satisfy our desires.  That is why we labor.


Prior to the Agricultural Revolution, this food production consisted of hunting and gathering.  Both hunting and gathering were done with the help of technology: spears, arrows, nets, traps, bowls, vessels and long pointy sticks.  Why did men use these technologies?  Because it enabled them to be more efficient, meaning they could produce more for less.  With a bow-and-arrows, if hunting becomes 4 times as efficient (meaning it takes only a quarter of the time to hunt for the same game with the technology than without) then an individual with a bow-and-arrows can either have 4 times as much food, or he can devote three-quarters of the time he previously spent hunting doing something else - maybe producing something else, or just sitting back and relaxing with more leisure time, or some combination of these options.

The Agricultural Revolution dramatically increased food production, enabling the human population to increase considerably while at the same time each individual had more food.  As food productivity continued to increase, through savings and investment in agricultural technology, as well as technological advancement itself, less labor was needed to produce enough food for everyone, even as the human population continued to grow.  This increased productivity freed up men’s time to devote to other activities besides agriculture.  With the intensification and extensification of the division of labor and knowledge, and increasing trade between individuals and across larger distances, some men did not have to work in agriculture at all; they could specialize in other productive activities and exchange with other people for their food needs. 

At 24:30, Ben relates the wonderful statistic that by 1860, 40% of the human population were in the enviable position of being able to do things besides just labor to produce food – a remarkable achievement given that even just a hundred years earlier, almost everyone still worked in agriculture!  And today, less than 1% of people work in agriculture; over 99% of people do not have to work in agriculture!  99% of the population has been freed up to produce other things!  These facts should be marvelled at, but Ben seems to think the trend is something to be feared, and that perhaps we should look back in fondness to the days when most people spent all day laboring just for food for survival.

At 27:00, Ben gives another wonderful statistic: “iPhones are selling for £25, and they are 1000x more powerful than the MIT supercomputer in the 1970s, and that cost $11 million.”  Incredibly, once again, Ben seems to be highly concerned, rather than celebratory, about this remarkable fact about the increasing standard of living: the ease with which we can create things today. 

‘Technological Unemployment’

At 27:10, Ben says, sounding just like Keynes, that “This is a big trend and it affects everything.  It means that ultimately automation is going to be much cheaper than human labor, even if you think you’re special, even if you think your job isn’t technical.  And even if it was: what are you, 10, 20, 30%?  What if it’s 50%?  How are you going to deal with 50% unemployment?”

In 1945, Keynes and his followers supported the continuation of the war on the basis that if the troops were brought home, and if weapons and tanks and warplanes were not made, there would be mass unemployment.  They predicted an economic depression.  As they saw it, there were simply no jobs for all these people to do, so there would be a disaster.  Contrary to the Keynesian predictions, after the war ended the U.S. economy went into a massive boom, which is exactly as Austrian economics predicts.  The U.S. economy had a relatively free labor market, so it quickly adjusted to the influx of labor, and through the market process of adjustments, jobs became available for everyone that wanted one.  So long as human needs and wants remain unfulfilled, jobs can be done satisfying these desires.

Keynesians still use this old debunked framework and still make predictions of disaster relating to the loss of jobs, or their creation.  Paul Krugman said that the 9/11 attacks “could do some economic good”, because of all the jobs that were stimulated by the rebuilding effort.  Larry Summers said that the 2011 tsunami “may provide a jolt” to the Japanese economy.  These mistakes are an example of the broken window fallacy, and are the logical consequence of Keynes' flawed framework.  See The Parable of the Broken Window.

Take this hypothetical.  Suppose someone invents a machine which overnight makes the role of doctor obsolete.  Some sort of amazing self-diagnosis / auto-treatment machine, which works as well as any doctor and is far more convenient and cheaper too.  All doctors would be put out of work!  That is a lot of people that are now suddenly unemployed!  What will happen to them?  Shall we, like the Keynesians, predict that this mass unemployment will be a disaster unless the government uses taxpayers’ money to pay them to do something (like digging up buried bottles of money)?  Should we fear this amazing new machine for this reason?

The Austrians point out that the economy will simply adjust, if individuals are free to do so.  Those doctors will simply do something else, and what those doctors produce when they are doing that ‘something else’ represents a large part of the real value to society of the diagnosis machine.  Before the machine came along, thousands of people were doing something that can now be automated, so they are freed up to do something more useful, something that people want which can’t (yet) be automated.  This diagnosis machine should be welcomed and recognised as a great advancement – not feared!

This hypothetical is not at all difficult to imagine, because history is filled with examples of it.  The effect of a new technology, which makes many jobs obsolete, is the same as the effect mentioned above of the sudden influx of labor into the U.S. after the war.  It gives rise to an economic boom, by freeing up labor.  In fact, the whole of human history could be described in terms of technological improvements automating certain laborious tasks, and in so doing freeing up human labor to be spent on other productive activities and thereby adding wealth to society.

Pick any technological improvement, say, the printing press.  A lot of scribes were made unemployed when their laborious job of copying old texts by hand could be automated.  Within a short space of time, the whole scribe industry, a major sector of the economy, had vanished.  Was this a bad thing?  Would we be better off if the printing press never existed, so that people could be employed to this day as scribes?  I doubt Ben would try to claim this.

Was there a disaster at the time the printing press was invented?  Not at all; why would there be?  The job of being a scribe disappeared and was replaced by new jobs, as any Austrian would predict.  Many of the former scribes became creators of new texts; others became printing press operators; others went into different fields entirely.  The printing press benefited society not just by making books cheap and widely available, but also by freeing up the time of a large number of scribes to produce other things.  Just as we benefit by having less people in agriculture today than at any time in our past, we benefit by not having people spending their time copying books by hand today.  The exact same story can be told for every kind of new technology. 

The objection will no doubt be the canard that something is different this time.  Ben will have to explain why this time is different if he is going to go down this road.  He will have to point to some qualitative change that has taken place in recent history which makes this time different to all the other times throughout history when technology has taken over tasks previously performed by labor.

The Ghost of Marx

At 27:30, at the end of this first part of his talk, Ben makes a howler that comes straight from the writings of Karl Marx, when he says: “technology follows its own scientifically self-evident trend, irrespective of the system surrounding it.”  I cannot believe Ben really believes this to be true.  Does he really think that whether a man is free or a slave makes no difference to whether he decides to develop a new technology?  That the impersonal “material forces of production” (Marx’s term) carry on independent of human actions and choices, constantly propelling our species forward?  That there is no such thing as “incentives”?  As this was a mere passing remark, perhaps he did not mean to say what he did.

Problems of ‘The Monetary System’

At 27:50, Ben summarises the “problems” that he attributes to ‘The Monetary System’ (which he has still not defined): “Our core resources are expiring; our economy needs to economize (a complete reversal of what it does now); money (both [sic] in its present form of fiat-based debt and unpayable interest) not only divides and impoverishes people but negatively impacts innovation, takes the place of what is really important… and will fail by design”. 

He did not previously mention resource depletion, so it is difficult to know what evidence he has for his claim that “our core resources are expiring”, or what the relevance of it is.  Of course, fear-mongers have always said that resources are running out, usually as a way of increasing the price, or getting people to support State intervention to try and preserve resources.  For example, in 1882 it was estimated that 95 million barrels of oil remain (so will run out within 4 years!).  In 1920 it was estimated that 6.7 billion barrels of oil remain; in 1932, it was estimated that 10 billion barrels of oil remain; in 1944 it was estimated that 20 billion barrels of oil remain; in 1950 it was estimated that 100 billion barrels of oil remain; in 1980 it was estimated that 648 billion barrels of oil remain; in 1993 it was estimated that 999 billion barrels of oil remain; in 2000 it was estimated that 1016 billion barrels of oil remain.  At some point, given these historical predictions (listed here), you would think that people who predict that oil is about to run out would re-think their methodology.  But alas, we continue to be told that we are on the brink of disaster and something must be done (using violence, no doubt).

Ben does not acknowledge the free market mechanism for adjusting to dwindling supplies: namely an increase in price, stimulating preservation, more efficient use of supply, more exploration, and a search for substitutes.  Ben unfortunately falls for propaganda that resources are running out and only State intervention – global management of resources – can prevent disaster.

Ben has still not defined money, but if we assume he is using the standard definition – a general medium of exchange – then his statement that “money divides and impoverishes people” is obviously false.  People use a general medium of exchange because they expect to benefit from it, so it helps them achieve their goals and brings them out of poverty.  Money does literally the opposite of divide people; it brings them together, enabling exchanges that could not take place directly due to the limitations of barter; it enables a greater degree of social cooperation and coordination than is possible without a general medium of exchange.

Ben’s Plan

“So what do we do?” he says.  “We need to manage our global household”.  It is not clear at this point who “we” refers to, but he later implies that he means some group of enlightened technicians need to manage the world’s resources.  It is not clear whether Ben considers himself to be among this enlightened group.  As the first Zeitgeist film shows, the global elites have been pushing this view for a long time: that the planet needs to be managed by scientific dictators running a global government.  Ben even repeats the slogan of the New World Order at 28:48: “We need to consider global solutions to global problems”.  This slogan may be familiar from global elitists like George Bush (talking about terrorism), Al Gore (talking about environmentalism) and Gordon Brown (talking about economic regulation).  It is ironic that Ben’s proposal and rhetoric resembles so closely the proposal and rhetoric of the very people that are identified as ‘the enemy’ in the final third of the first Zeitgeist movie.


At 29:59, Ben explains that “We need to move from a general method of consumption known as ownership to one of availability provided when needed”.  Ben unfortunately does not define either consumption or ownership.  Frankly, I cannot fathom what he means by ownership being “a general method of consumption”.  What is a ‘method’ of consumption?  As we have seen, humans need to consume food, at least, and this requires food to be produced.  Ownership usually refers to an association or link between an individual or group of individuals and a particular scarce resource.  The individual, the ‘owner’, is the individual with ultimate decision-making jurisdiction over the scarce resource, the ‘property’.  Without some principles of ownership, conflicts over scarce resources are unavoidable.  I will give Ben the benefit of the doubt and assume he means not “We need to move away from ownership” but “We need to move away from X principles for determining ownership and towards Y principles for determining ownership”.  For more on this point see this post, which Ben responded to by saying “Good post.  I agree.”


At 30:08, Ben asks rhetorically “Who here owns a shopping trolley?” and tells anyone who answers no that they are Communists!  Is Ben implying that he thinks rental agreements are somehow Communist in nature?!  He has misunderstood libertarianism if he thinks that the relationship between a renter of a shopping trolley and the lender of a shopping trolley is somehow ‘unlibertarian’.  It is a voluntary exchange, so is completely compatible with libertarianism.

He says rental agreements are “systems which have in them the seeds of a social design.”  This gives us a glimpse of the kind of world Ben is imagining: one in which all the world’s resources are owned by some enlightened central planners, who then rent out these resources to people “as they are needed”.  Society is to be “designed” by this group of social engineers.  Ben’s ideal system is literally communism, re-packaged and thinly veiled.  Centralised ownership of resources is the definition of communism, and here Ben all but says that he wants to live in a designed communist society, where everything is owned and controlled centrally and rented out “if available” “as needed”.

Road Management

Ben goes on to discuss cars and roads.  He is trying to imply that a system of car rentals similar to the current system of trolley rentals would be a superior form of social organisation.  What he seems to miss is that people are free right now to either buy or rent cars, and to either buy or rent shopping trolleys.  That most people choose to rent shopping trolleys but buy cars shows us that people prefer owning cars and renting trolleys.  Therefore if a third-party were to use violence to prevent the purchasing of cars (or prevent renting of shopping trolleys) clearly car users (trolley users) would be made worse off.  They would be prevented from making a trade they really want to make, and forced to make a trade they consider less satisfactory.

Ben criticises the management of the roads in society today, and he has good reason to do so.  Roads are currently managed by a monopoly; we can expect a free market in roads to deliver a far superior service.  State monopoly ownership of roads is the cause of the problems of road pollution, congestion and regular crashes.  A road owner operating in a free market would have the information (price signals) and incentives to find the right balance between reducing pollution, improving safety, preventing traffic jams and the price of the service.  This is the same fallacy of composition once again, where Ben assumes that the problems of road management are due to ‘the monetary system’, when they are actually a symptom of a particular type of ownership – namely monopolistic ownership of roads by State central planners.

Adoption of New Technology

Ben claims to have devised, or at least recognised, a ‘superior’ system of road management: based on rentals of cars that apparently drive themselves.  The question that Ben fails to ask is what would be the cost of implementing such a system?  If the costs exceed the benefits, then by definition it is a waste of resources (the value of the inputs exceed the value of the output).  If the benefits exceed the costs then it is good use of resources (since it would be value adding).  Why hasn’t it been done yet?  Presumably it has so far not been considered profitable for someone to do.  So either 1) its not profitable and would be a waste of resources, or 2) its not profitable but actually is a good use of resources, in which case it must be that the present system (monopolized management of roads) is distorting price signals in such a way that it prevents the scheme from being profitable.  If the latter, Ben should join the libertarian call for freeing the road management industry from the grip of State monopoly.  If the former, I hope Ben would agree that it should not be done at all (yet).

The general economic fallacy that Ben is making here is a failure to recognize the costs involved in upgrading technology.  Take a hypothetical.  Someone invents a new type of X-ray machine, which produces an image just slightly sharper than images from current X-rays (this example is inspired by the movie The Pursuit of Happiness).  This new machine costs twice as much to produce as the old X-ray machines.  You are a central planner: should you dictate the immediate replacement of the old machines by the new throughout your domain?  Is it worth it?  Think of all those old X-ray machines that will be made obsolete by the new ones – they will go to waste.  As always, the central planner is utterly clueless about whether replacing the old machines is a wise or wasteful use of resources.  He has no price signals to guide him.

On a free market, on the other hand, whether a new technology is adopted, and how quickly, is ultimately determined by the consumer, and the price signals that emerge from a system of voluntary trades.  If the consumer is willing to pay twice the price for a slightly better X-ray image, then owners of X-ray machines will upgrade them; if the consumers are not willing to pay this much, the owners of X-ray machines won’t upgrade them (yet).  This ensures that resources are neither 1) wasted through continual replacement every time there is a small upgrade, nor 2) wasted through not being replaced when valuable upgrades are available.  As always, the free market finds the optimal balance between these two considerations.  Unfortunately Ben seems to think his supposedly ‘enlightened’ opinion is more important than the opinions of individuals in society as a whole; he wants to speed up the pace of technological change and upgrade technologies to the maximum, apparently without any consideration of the costs involved. 

Automation (Again)

At 32:40, Ben says “We need to make an effort to embrace automation”.  This is an odd statement to make considering the evidence he previously prevented showing that automation is already happening very quickly, and has been happening since time immemorial.  He was worried about so-called “technological unemployment” and even spoke of a coming “singularity” concerning the pace of technological development.  Ben appears to be worried about these trends, but wants to accelerate them nonetheless, apparently.

He goes on to say that “It is socially irresponsible not to employ the best, most safe, clean and efficient forms of production.”  Unfortunately he does not define the term ‘socially irresponsible’.  If he means that it is a waste of resources to employ anything but “the best, most safe, clean and efficient forms of production,” then that is clearly false.  As explained above, it is not always the best use of resources to embrace every small technological improvement and continually upgrade machinery and methods.  It is often better for producers to stick to old machines for a while before upgrading, and then possibly upgrade later when it is most efficient overall for them to do so.


Ben continues “The jobs aren’t coming back – stop chanting in the streets – and nor would we want them to.”  I applaud this statement for abandoning the Keynesian view presented earlier that jobs-for-jobs-sake is a good thing.  But it is still misleading.  If the current system does not change (for example, if the minimum wage is not abolished soon) then people will indeed remain unemployed and requiring handouts.  On the other hand if free markets were to emerge, then people would be able to find jobs.  Although it would be nice for everyone to be able to live without a job at all, as we have seen, we need to eat, at least, and this requires production, and production always involves some element of human labor – even if it is limited to the design, construction, maintenance or oversight of machines, as many jobs already are.

Thankfully, due to the relative freedom of the past two or three centuries (relative to what went before it), food and other basic goods are so incredibly cheap today (despite rampant State interventionism returning in the 20th century) that it is possible for most people to live a life mostly of leisure.  A lot of people spend their entire evenings and weekends at leisure: a fact which should be celebrated, after millennia of everyone have to spend all day 7-days-a-week toiling producing food.  And with increasing wealth in the future (provided freedom can emerge from the coming breakdown of the State interventionist system), we can expect men to be able to labor less and less going forward and still maintain a good standard of living.  Of course, many individuals do and probably always will choose to labor long hours, so that they can have an even higher standard of living.

The fact of scarcity – and the need to eat – dictates that everyone must spend some time producing something, either for him to consume directly, or to exchange with others for things he wants to consume.  Anyone who does not produce something of value can necessarily only survive on handouts from others, by the nature of things.  The idea that people can live entirely without laboring is utopian in that it assumes away the problem of scarcity, which is what makes conflict possible, ownership principles necessary, and the idea of “economizing” resources meaningful, in the first place.  The promise of a world without scarcity – where no one needs to work – is centuries old, having been promised by many central planners and wannabe central planners throughout the centuries.  Such a world can never be achieved, due to the scarce nature of material things.


At 33:10 he moves on to ask “how do we make decisions?”  I am glad he acknowledges the importance of this question, since it is the fundamental question of political philosophy.  At one extreme “we” could have a highly centralised system of ownership, where a small group of central planners control all of the planet’s resources – known as communism or totalitarianism.  At the other extreme “we” could have a highly decentralised system of ownership, where each individual is free to make decisions about resources and the structure of ownership is determined voluntarily – known as libertarianism or voluntarism.  What does Ben favor?

“So far we seem to vote for things, and we believe that that is a decision, somehow.  This needs to change as well… We need to begin arriving at decisions, rather than making them… We vote in personalities who are not qualified for any scientific understanding of social operation.” 

As a libertarian, I won’t be defending democratic decision-making within a monopoly system, but I note that Ben assumes without argument that the people being voted in ideally ought to have a scientific understanding of social operation.  It’s unclear what he means by this.  He gives the example of Ron Paul (who is arguably is most learned man in politics in terms of the depth and breadth of understanding of philosophy, economics and history) as a man is who does not meet his requirement for scientific understanding of social operation.  Ben points out that before Paul entered politics he delivered babies as his specialization.  Ben does not name any individuals who do meet his requirements, or even specify what his requirements are.  A specialization like Ron Paul’s, plus great knowledge of philosophy, economics and history, is apparently not enough to qualify.

Is Ben looking for a superman – or group of supermen – to run the world?  An enlightened bunch who can solve not only the economic calculation problem faced by monopolies (see Mises), but also the tacit knowledge problem faced by monopolies (see Hayek)?  Ben seems to be unaware of the importance of the division of knowledge (which is just as important as the division of labor); it is impossible for any one individual or small group of individuals to know all the relevant information they need to know in order to make wise decisions about how resources are used.  This is precisely why decentralised ownership has better consequences than centralised ownership, and makes better use of resources, no matter how ‘enlightened’ or ‘scientific’ the central planners consider themselves to be.

When Ben asks how “we” make decisions in a ‘resource-based economy’, it seems as though he does not mean all of us individually.  He is referring to a subset of enlightened technicians, of which Ben himself may or may not be a part, who will make the decisions on behalf of everyone, based on 'scientific understanding'.  I invite Ben to take a step back and ask not how some undefined group (“we”) make decisions, but who ought to be making decisions about what, i.e. step back and consider what type of ownership works best, before making statements about how owners should make decisions (i.e. ‘scientifically’).

It is particularly ironic that Ben would single out Ron Paul, because he is just about the only politician who consistently tells us that he does not want to run our lives, does not know how to run our lives, and does not have the authority or moral right to run our lives, as President.  Paul actually agrees with Ben that he lacks the knowledge necessary to ‘run the economy’ and to centrally plan resource-usage.  That is his main point: no one has the necessary knowledge.  Mises and Hayek explained why this must always be the case.  As Lew Rockwell said: “I'm cheering on Ron Paul because he is exposing the nature of the whole system. He is not running for president. He is running against the presidency as it is currently understood.”

Designed Cities

At 34:45 Ben talks about new cities designed ‘scientifically’, along the lines of The Venus Project, and renewable energy.  Just like with his cars that drive themselves, Ben ignores the cost side of the equation.  He sees only the benefits from achieving the goal, not the costs involved to get there (this is the error Bastiat described in his essay What is Seen and What is Not Seen).  If it really is a good use of resources to build new cities from scratch, or produce energy from renewable sources – and it may well be – then it would be profitable to do so, so it would be done, unless such projects are prevented due to State intervention.  So once again, it is not ‘the monetary system’ that is preventing such visions being made into reality.  It is either the State, or these visions just don’t (yet) represent a good use of resources, as determined by society as a whole demonstrating their preferences through making voluntary trades.


Ben’s video is described as “The case against money, and the case for a resource-based economic system.”  Unfortunately, Ben does not define money, and spends most the time criticising a particular form of ‘monetary system,’ a term he also leaves undefined.  Ben criticises the current system of fiat money, fractional reserve banking and rampant State interventionism and monopolisation, and assumes that his conclusions also hold true of all other ‘monetary systems,’ even free markets, where there is no fiat money, no fractional reserve banking, no State interventionism and no State monopolisation!

Ben’s goal is to move towards a situation of increased central planning by an enlightened group of men with ‘scientific understanding of social operations’.  The goals and methods of the Zeitgeist Project are remarkably similar to the goals and methods of the global elites identified in the first Zeitgeist film: global governance of resources, scientifically managed by an ‘enlightened’ group on behalf of everyone else, with the promise of abundance for all.

To echo what Ben said at the end of his talk (40:12) about the ideas in the Zeitgeist films, I consider myself lucky to have been exposed to Austrian economic ideas and libertarian principles, and I humbly offer these ideas to Ben in the hope that he and others will explore them further – a good start would be Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson and Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty.  Central planning does not and cannot work, and should be rejected and consigned once-and-for-all to the scrap heap of history.

I invite Ben to respond to my critique and hope that my comments move the great global conversation forward.


  1. Once people reach a certain level of material well-being, they won't gain happiness with any material gain. You can easily predict what a human being needs in order to reach this point, even I can based of my own experience.

    You have to admit mankind has done a poor job up till now preventing war, poverty and environmental damage. We are greatly endangered by all three of them, even us in the Western world. You have to have a lot of faith in the market system if you are just going to lean back and say: don't worry, the market will find a way. By declaring the worlds resources as the common heritage of all the worlds people you would open the door to collaboration on a scale never seen before, mankind could show it's true potential, taking matters in it's own hand.

  2. War, poverty and environmental damage are consequences of statism (including socialism and corporatism). I support free markets because they are best way to end war, poverty, and environmental damage.

    Having all the world's resources declared common heritage, i.e. owned by a small minority - an oligarchy - is not going to solve these problems, it will make them worse.

    1. Free markets (or gambling) are not free they are manipulated/rigged - have you seen the Keiser report on RT? Also, the worlds resources are at present pretty much controlled by an oligarchy. By a group of like minded people who think they are the best, above the producers and consumers whose minds are played with by fear of losing jobs, not fitting in or missing out. TZM advocate a global survey of resources and the management of these to increase the personal freedoms and well being of all people and the environment. Technological unemployment is saving people from the drudgery of production lines - 3D printing for instance. The current paradigm is being concluded and a new one beginning as information is more available. To the hundredth monkey.

      Worth watching the - Zeitgeist Movement Activist Orientation Guide. Also check out King Corn to see what free market capitalism has done to farms and food. Vive la information!

    2. Yes, you're right, what we have today are not free markets (i.e. a society of voluntary exchanges) but rigged markets aka corporatism (i.e. State coercive manipulation of industries through subsidies, regulations, etc.).

      King Corn is a critique of the corporatist system of food production. It supports my argument for more freedom in the food industry.

      I just watched the whole of the Orientation Guide. It repeats a lot of arguments from the main movies, and it looks like Ben used the Guide quite a bit in his talk. So my critique above applies to that as well!

    3. "I support free markets because they are best way to end war, poverty, and environmental damage."

      War is profitable. Solving poverty isn't profitable. Solving environmental problems isn't profitable, and is in fact caused by facets of the market system: cyclical consumption, infinite growth, etc. etc.

      "Having all the world's resources declared common heritage, i.e. owned by a small minority - an oligarchy".

      No, common heritage literally means: owned by all the people.

    4. War is profitable today because the costs of war are externalised by States onto taxpayers. Getting rid of the State is the way to eliminate war, because pro-war people become anti-war when they have to fund it themselves and can't force other people to pay for it.

      Solving problems (environmental or otherwise) is exactly what free markets are best at doing. A free market generates the necessary information for prioritising problem-solving, and it creates incentives aligned with solving those problems. Every business is created to satisfy some need that isn't currently being satisfied, i.e. every firm is created to solve problems. In the free market, the bigger the problem, the bigger the potential rewards from solving it.

      I've no idea how you're defining "cyclical consumption" and "infinite growth" so I don't know what to make of your statement that these things are "facets of the market system".

      "Owned by all the people" necessarily means owned by a small group, who make the decisions on behalf of "all the people" through some mechanism. See my post The Task of Political Philosophers to see why the concept of ownership came about in the first place. It came about precisely because the idea of "owned by all the people" (aka "no ownership") results in conflicts and some mechanism is required to resolve these conflicts. The concept of ownership emerged to do that.

      To say that some object (let alone all the world's resources) could be "owned by all the people" is to misunderstand what ownership is.

    5. I see you understand ownership as having control over something, having the power to decide what to do with something. I think my understanding of ownership is to benefit from something.

      What you need for an RBE to work, is that the worlds population has to consider itself a team, and agree that whatever is lost or gained, the entire group loses or gains in an equal amount. So it's like a football team, scores are shared by the whole team. Compared to the monetary system, where you would the players not have them consider themselves as a team, scores are not shared but go to individual players. The players that act as a team are likely to do way better. Furthermore there is no one in a football team that holds a monopoly on decision making.

      You say the no ownership model results in conflict, but why, if there is enough for everyone, everybody is going to profit equally and people are working together?

      There are indeed big rewards from solving the problems we face today. Why should the solution always be inside the free market? If the solution is to redesign our civilization from the ground up, couldn't this also be regarded as a business, solving the problems and reaping the rewards? The incentive here isn't money however, though you might say it is profit, for everyone.

    6. So are you saying that you START your analysis by assuming absolute peace and harmony between all individuals? That there is only ever one goal (as in a football team)? That there can never be such a thing as a conflict of interest between individuals - and that therefore ownership and law are unnecessary?

  3. 'Money needs to recognized and renounced for the impoverishing ration system that it really is' Iain M. Banks

    1. Do you know of a better "ration system" than money?

  4. And of course Zeitgeist is branded as a potential oligarchy, not a pure free market that runs on profit and greed.

    1. Yes. I'm not sure if Zeitgeist supporters reject the label of oligarchy or embrace it, but they certainly don't hide the fact that they support a small group of people (with "scientific understanding of social operations") making decisions on behalf of everyone on the planet, with respect to how resources are used... they actually promote this as a reason to favor their system.

    2. Graham - this is entirely the opposite of what the Resource Based Economy proposes (and in fact this is the very problem we see in every society that suffers from corruption. Secretive and all-powerful oligarchs controlling the masses according to random opinion) I'll clear that up in the second part of my answer to you. Don't worry, that's what everyone thinks at first.

      My response will be up in an hour. I have to re-read and proof it.


    3. TZM and TVP propose to declare the earths resources as common heritage. On top of that indeed a small group of engineers will figure out how to best allocate those resources.

      The whole thing will fail if somehow the group of engineers abandons the concept of common heritage, and goes back to ownership, deciding on their own who owns what. That can only happen if they have the power to do that. The fact that they are in charge of allocating recources will not necissarily mean they have legislation and armed forces behind them to change the rules as they please.

    4. What information is available to this small group of engineers for them to base their allocation decisions on?

      What incentives do they face?

      What 'checks and balances' are there within the system?

      How are the engineers chosen?

    5. Scientific information about available resources, amount of population, technical know-how.

      A wold full of peace and abundance.

      There are no checks because there is no incentive to cheat. If you had the power to create a world of abundance, peace, technological wealth, ecological health, would you cheat? Would you abuse your power for your own gain?

      Through a TV show off course. (k/d)

    6. 1. Tell me more about the information available to the engineers. How do they actually make their decisions? (Make up some numbers if you like, I just need an illustration of how they would do it.)

      2. What makes you so sure that these engineers will value "a world full of peace and abundance" over something else, such as maybe increasing abundance for themselves but not for everyone else?

      3. If these engineers are "allocating resources" then they obviously have the power to allocate a given resource to person A or person B. What if the "most efficient" way to allocate it is to person A, but the engineer is a close personal friend of person B and decides to allocate the resource to his friend? What checks and balances exist to stop this corruption of the engineers happening?

      4. Cute, but it's an important question that I think deserves an answer.

  5. Halfway through this and although it is a nicely laid out critique it feels to me to be extremely faith based. Most of the critique so far appears to refer back to a 'perfect' (that of the perfectly 'free market') system (the likes which don't exist and most likely won't)and a conviction that wherever/whenever an imperfection (or corruption) appears of that ideal in the everyday functioning of it then it is the fault of the state/statism. Perhaps these feelings will abate as I get further through it.

  6. Nope still a faith based critique but a very nice well argued/written one.

  7. Hi Anon, thanks for reading it and commenting.

    I think I understand why you perceive it as faith based and I intend to address this in my next post to Ben. I hope you will read and comment on that one as well!


  8. Hi Graham,

    I’ve started in the free market then moved to socialism and now I am stuck with the TZM approach, just waiting until something better comes along.

    I think the TZM takes the best of the practical arguments on the left and on the right; I like to call it Communism without government and libertarianism without property…
    I usually debate with a libertarian friend of mine, but I don’t think he is as knowledgeable on the Austrian school.

    I must say that I sympathise with the notions of freedom you both hold, the socialists/environmentalists I talk to, seem to get stuck on the “human nature” circular logic a lot easier…

    Regarding your introduction when you mention the empiricists, there are some classic critics which I am sure you are aware:

    You can’t compare the economic laws or economics as a discipline to real sciences like physics. The current economic theory is based in notions of equilibrium inspired by the first law of thermodynamics without ever been updated to be compatible with the second… I would say that that makes economics absolutely incompatible with physics.

    The theory you just described might even be “perfect” but it has no practical application. I would compare it with a perfectly design plane to fly assuming there is no wind. We can either blame the “free market” crashes on the wind happening too many times, or on the ridiculous assumptions of the theory that choose to ignore the existence of wind.

    You have chosen to concentrate on the first, but that won’t change the final outcomes every time the “free market” is taken for a test drive…

    Obviously when I talk about wind, I talk about things like the “perfect rationality of the consumer”, which is easily dismissible by how effective propaganda/Marketing is in practice etc…

    The problems you described about private and public corruption can only be solved in a system with no differential advantage, and that is why most countries with lower class differences have also less corruption cases… So equality of access seems to be the way to go.

    1. Hi Carlos, thanks for commenting.

      Sound (i.e. Austrian) economics is very important to understand if you want to understand the (consequentialist) case for libertarianism. I recommend you check out the links in my posts to further your understanding. AE might just be that "something better" that has come along!

      "You can’t compare the economic laws or economics as a discipline to real sciences like physics."

      Yes, that's exactly what I said in my post, presuming by "real sciences" you mean "empirical sciences". Economics is like maths, i.e. apriori, axiomatic-deductive. Whether you call this "real" science or even "science" is just semantics. Economics has a similar relationship with the "human sciences" (history, sociology, pyschology, politics, etc) that mathematics has with the "physical sciences" (physics, chemistry, biology, geology, etc). It helps to at least know the basics of the former if you're going to understand the latter.

      "The current economic theory is based in notions of equilibrium inspired by the first law of thermodynamics without ever been updated to be compatible with the second… I would say that that makes economics absolutely incompatible with physics."

      I don't know where you got that from. Austrian economics (which is decidedly not "current economic theory" in the sense of "mainstream economic theory") is comprised of logical deductions from the action axiom. Nowhere is there any assumption made that "the second law of thermodynamics is false".

      "Obviously when I talk about wind, I talk about things like the “perfect rationality of the consumer”, which is easily dismissible by how effective propaganda/Marketing is in practice etc…"

      I assume you got this from the Chicago School or something. Austrians make no such assumption about "perfect rationality of the consumer". If you think they do, I want chapter and verse!

      Try not to let your friend's poor understanding of economics put you off libertarianism as a political philosophy. Study sound Austrian economics and it will sharpen your skills at social analysis, and the case for libertarianism will become more persuasive for you, I believe.

  9. Now the fundamental contradictions:
    Freedom and property are opposite concepts, because my freedom of access can increase with abundance only if someone else can’t enforce property of things they don’t need, to the point that he/she can use those enforcing tools with the sole purpose of controlling my access, and with that, of controlling my behaviour…

    You can’t enforce property without a Government, and Government never stays small, because of the interactivity of corruption with public opinion manipulation.

    Competition is intrinsically wasteful, so any optimised system, which minimizes the efforts and maximizes the outcomes, cannot rely on it…

    As it stands now, most governments have no control over money, which belongs to private things like the FED, that is why countries are all in debt, you can’t be in debt to yourself…

    There is still a big confusion between wealth and money and this has been brainwashed into people for centuries. There are a lot of things that generate money, that diminish wealth and vice-versa.

    The “free market” has its roots in the legacy ways we evolved to deal with scarcity, like for example the need for jobs.

    What is happening now is that all these practices that benefit only a small part of the world’s population are being kept in a respirator machine, by artificially creating the scarcity they need but it is not there anymore.

    The resulting waste and destruction are putting our species survival at risk, as simple as…

    Everyone that would really solve a problem under this madness would start losing the “game” either by unemployment or bankruptcy.

    There is no incentive to produce something that doesn’t need servicing, is modular, upgradable, doesn’t pollute or creates abundance, because there is no profit in abundance…

    How do we expect to have abundance while punishing the people that contribute to it and rewarding the people that fake scarcity?

    Planned obsolesce is just one of the million different perverted ways of “milking” problems that these system’s interactions naturally generated. There are more examples like the FED.

    This can all be tracked back to the protection of property mixed with corrupted history and media propaganda… These are the practical effects of trying to apply the “free market” rules to an environment that contains everything that that “theory” chose to ignore.

    That, in its time, was done for lack of means to solve non-linear equations, but we have computers now, we don’t need these oversimplifications taken so the resource allocation problems could be solved with pen and paper.

    The people that got used to benefit from the flaws of this system should try to find a different way of enjoying life.

    “The assuming everything else is the same”, is another naïve rhetorical tool that has no practical utility, because of the complexity of the planet.

    Everything that happens in reality is always connected to a billion different things, some of which humans are not even aware of, including those poor Austrians.

    That is why we build planes and houses and TVs using the experimentation of the scientific method and not mastermind-like conclusions and guesses of the future…

    That is also why, the more knowledge and testing you incorporate into a theory the better it becomes, a RBE is better than “the free market” or “communism” simply because it incorporates newer knowledge which neither Ludwig von Mises or Karl Marx had access to, I’m sure they all meant well, but now it is time to move on.

    I loved when TZM proved most of my previous believes obsolete, because I don’t like to be wrong for long… And I will like even more when a RBE gets replaced for something better. But please let us not go back to try the same old theories in the same old environments and expect different results…

    1. I won't respond to this line-by-line because you make the same arguments here that Ben made in his video, which I already rebutted in this post and my other post to him. None of what you say here addresses anything I said in my posts.

      But I can't let this go unaddressed...

      "You can’t enforce property without a Government"

      Not true at all! Government is necessarily a violator of property rights - so how can it be necessary in order to protect property rights?! Of course, it isn't necessary at all. See my three-part video series "Law Without Government" for a practical description of how you can have law (and property enforcement) without government.

      Link to video series:

      Part 2 is the most important part, but Part 1 is where the all-important definitions are. I can refer you to many theoretical and historical books and articles looking at how property and law works without government, if you are interested. It really is a fascinating area of study.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Do you seriously believe that some century and a half old theory could even be remotely applicable to the cultural changes being induced by theological possibility, as we speak?

      Even the concept of a RBE we have now, will be completely outdated by the time we will get to implement it... I just trust the TZM to be able to adapt to changes and new information, a lot more than these all other Dogmatic self-perpetuating institutions... ;)

      "Individuals never disagree about how objects are to be used" - well they do, but not as much as they used to, people from all over the world are starting to talk, mostly thanks to the internet, and we are starting to realise that since we have common problems, we might as well have a common solution...

      Do you see my point? Things change, you can't develop a self-perpetuating system based in the assumption that scarcity will always be there, because then that system will generate the scarcity it needs as part of the same algorithmic rule of self-perpetuation.

      It is like if you never stop taking the pills would will never know if you are still sick or not...

  10. Hi Graham,

    Thanks for replying,

    OK I will research it a bit better, you seem to be a reasonable person and since you didn't start repeating dogmas like communism or human nature, I would like to, at the very least, understand your train of thought...

    Make no mistake if I realize I am wrong I will change my mind, I have no emotional attachment to TZM, actually I think I like the current system more than a RBE (let us just say Adam Smith's invisible hand has not been slapping me hard enough, yet, lol) but there is a certain obviousness that my reason doesn't let me ignore... And also it is very hard to ignore unnecessary human suffering when you have a part of a species concept of identity like I do...

    I am not easy to please, thou, you better have some solid arguments on your sleeve... ;)

    Just a side question, did you always thought like this? were you born into libertarianism?

    Anyway, just give me a couple of days to go trough the material, maybe you can do the same with the TZM material? it is nice to have a constructive debate for a change... :)

    1. Hi Carlos,

      Glad to hear you're researching a bit. I am doing the same with TZM material (books by Fresco and Rifkin) and I have watched all three movies (the first I have watched several times over the past few years, it's awesome!).

      "Born into libertarianism" ha! No, I was apathetic really until 2007, when I started getting concerned about the way the world was going, so I went searching for answers as to why these things were happening and how we can make things better - put an end to war, poverty, unnecessary human suffering, environmental destruction, etc. It's been a great intellectual journey for me since then. You might be interested in my post Ten Books That Influenced Me:

    2. Hi Graham,

      Sorry I didn't reply earlier but I was really busy at work this week...

      Ok I've watched the video on how to protect property without governments and to be honest I am a bit disappointed... I did a master’s in business and in terms of train of thought this is no different from any other economic theory I’ve studied.

      First let me just reiterate that I love the perspective libertarians have on freedom and how to manage complexity with simple algorithms, and it is 80% almost there, I am just going to talk about the other 20% which are currently enough to send a large number of people into the desert. I love Ron Paul and the way he would deal with the majority of the problems, I agree that if it was compatible with the way it always ends up happening, libertarianism would be a huge improvement...

      I hope you don't take my critics the wrong way, we have all been tricked by vested interests driven people one time or the other.
      The majority of the divisive theories we see out there are 80% right, otherwise people wouldn't follow it, the problem is the remaining 20% that is a kind of mental blackmail, like if this makes sense then, the rest needs to be accepted as unquestionable.

      It is mixing logic with dogmas, or has I usually call it, the "syndrome of complete theories", that is currently artificially dividing people and making them all live a lot worse than if they would all cooperate.
      From the point of view of the people that infiltrate all theses theories like communism or capitalism with dogmas, wrong or right are irrelevant when there is a bigger perceived potential gain from people being divided...

      So back to the point: The video starts with: "two people want the same apples" well it makes sense, that can be a problem, and then comes a dogma: "And because there will never be enough apples for everyone..." the remaining 30 minutes of explanations would be completely void of relevance if the initial assumption was questioned.

    3. Now the TZM perspective is something along the lines:
      "In some environments there are not enough apples for everyone in other environments, there are. The environments where there is scarcity (real or just perceived or induced) seem to statistically generate more violence and less happiness. So let's try to find ways of maximizing the environments where there is abundance."

      How many waste of efforts of those people's life's in the movie would be reduce, if even only 10% of them would contribute to just produce more apples. Instead of creating this mess trying to divide it "fairly".
      It is was we usually call, over-engineering a solution and it is very common when dogmas are involved...

      Now let me state something that, in my opinion, TZM could take from the libertarian approach, the libertarians say, that in a system where people are being rewarded for helping other people everything will fall into place, we don't need or even can predict what the final outcome will be, because of the complexity of the planet combined with human decision making and ingenuity.

      And when TZM starts talking about how things could be in the future, going to the detail of guess how cars and houses would be, as much I understand the need to deconstruct naive concepts of possibility, there is always the risk that we lose track of what really allows change to happen. So in other words the only way to know how the game is going to play out is to let the game play out, and I completely agree with that libertarian view...

      Nevertheless, I think this trend diminished with the separation from the Venus project.
      I was really please, to see people's opinions maturing in this regard. PJ in the last radio show mentioned that just because we can't predict the future, that is not a valid argument since no one can, and that that, shouldn't stop people to contribute to change as long as they understand how that happens... I like people from this movement not because of their certainties but because they seem to change opinions based in new information so fast and without caring about egos...

      Now regarding the video in question this was like 30 minutes of guesses, there are a million of unpredictable different combinations of decisions that could have generated a completely different outcome...

    4. Both the TZM and libertarianism say that you can't disprove it in practice, because what they advocate was never been completely implement it. So let's see:

      TZM would say: "We have never seen how humans would behave in an environment of global abundance" Even if you look at most of communistic attempts they turned out not to be more than state capitalism because the scarcity was still there and it was not a planetary effort...

      What would Libertarians say? : "We have never seen how humans would behave in an environment of global scarcity" hm... I think we have... that is why the script of that movie sounds more like a random product of human imagination than anything else...

      There a lot of assumptions there, that are disproved by practice again and again:

      The "everything else being equal" approach is very easy to explain in the context of the technical limitations of the time in which was originated. There were no computers, so we could not solve non-linear equations, economists could only work with linear equations so they had to make certain assumptions, linear equations can help maybe in 5% so it was a good start, but common everything else is almost never equal, it is like having a complete science that studies only mammals and ignores all other animals, what good is that for?

      Now we can have much better approaches making use of simulation, try to build a plane or anything that need to be compatible with the complexity of the planet (in other words to work) using only linear equations... lol I wouldn't use it and neither would you... A plane can only be perfected after is tested and simulated over and a over again, evolution is a trial/error algorithm as is the scientific method, both we and planes are the prove that it works better than any of naive assumptions based theories...

      This sentence used to explain certain motivations like "And because they don't want to be seen doing this..." what happens in practice? In practice if you don't want to be seen doing something either you don't do it, or you lie. Do you mean to tell me that libertarians found a way of keeping human from lying or believing lies? That is something!!! Advertising, the media, and Politics are complete industries based on how rewarding it seem to be lying to other members of the species...

    5. "They wouldn't go to war because it would be too expensive" really? Look at the world. You can, not fight for lack of resources, that I agree, but for lack of money? Long before there was money, there were already wars, all you need for wars is scarcity or a perverted concept of fairness, preferably both.

      I find that this sentence: "Men in order to do evil must first believe that what he is doing is good" explains it perfectly...

      What would libertarians propose if people want to form a government? What if they form a media station to promote their idea? What if they brainwash their kids?

      How can you expect governments and wars not to happen, (when it is proven by the way the game is playing out in practice, that they are the easiest most effective ways of gaining differential advantage) while at the same time promoting a system based in differential advantage? This is a huge contradiction...

      The fundamental capitalism algorithm that, having more access to resources than what we perceive other individuals have, is a good basic motivation for human society, is being tested every day and these are its natural outcomes: War, waste, increasing inequality of access and mental illnesses as a symptoms of lack of happiness both among the rich and the poor...

      Human wants are not infinite, it looks like they are now because of marketing and how society is structured to spread a perverted concept of wealth...

      In a RBE there would be nothing to gain in any marketing or sales activity, so the problem would be solved at the fundamental algorithmic motivational side.

      A different algorithm or paradigm if you will, still needs to be tested and then improved by learning and researching the otherwise impossible to acknowledge failures, in a trial/error basis.

      But in my opinion, the algorithm the libertarians propose is failing every day and not accomplishing what most of the honest libertarians I know really want.

      Most of the measures Ron Paul proposes, for example, have the potential to be a lot easily achieved in a RBE algorithm, and we need to have the freedom of mind to accept the results of trying regardless of conditioned misconceptions or dogmas like communism, human nature, property, etc...

    6. Hi Carlos, thanks for watching my videos. I'm sorry that you were disappointed by them.

      If you look at the context in which I referred you to that series, you will see I was addressing your comment that "you can't enforce property without government". Hopefully you can now see that this is false, as my video demonstrates that you CAN enforce property without government. And you did not make any argument against this, so I can only presume that you now recognise that you can enforce property without government.

      Our disagreement is not about that, however, since you do not acknowledge property as a concept, so you and I debating how property is enforced would be premature. We need to take a step back.

      What you are telling me is that (at least one of) my initial assumption(s) is unwarranted, and therefore the rest of my video series - as well as everything I say about political philosophy and economics - is irrelevant.

      So let's examine my two initial assumptions - described at the start of the video series, as well as in my post The Task of Politicial Philosophers - and see if they are warranted or not. My two assumptions are:

      [A]: Diversity of interests - individuals have different goals and different ideas about how objects ought to be used.
      [B]: Scarcity of objects - there exists some objects which can be used for multiple incompatible purposes.

      Because of these two assumptions, scarce objects are rivalrous objects, meaning that conflict is possible. If either one of these two assumptions is relaxed (negated) then conflict is impossible, and in that case I would agree with you that 1) property/ownership is pointless, 2) law is unnecessary, 3) political philosophy is redundant, and 4) economics is irrelevant.

      Before we continue this discussion, can you explain which of my two assumptions you feel is unwarranted - and then make a case for why I should assume the negation of them, namely:

      [Not-A]: Individuals never disagree about how objects are to be used.
      [Not-B]: No scarce objects exist. That is, there are no objects that can be used for multiple incompatible purposes.

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    8. Hi Graham,
      Thanks for the reply.
      I think you are a good Philosopher, and I feel that I am cheating a little bit, since my position is so much easier to defend than yours... :)

      In my view you missed my point that your video doesn't demonstrate a thing.

      I also, can imagine a plane that flies without wings and then make a cartoon video about it, but without putting that plane in the air, everything that I expect to happen, it's just that...

      The environment you describe in the video already exists you can't say reality is wrong it is what it is. And in practice, nothing happens the way you are wishfully thinking it should.

      I just would like for you to explain to me why, if the fundamental objective is still to get more than other people, would people not form Governments and fight each other like they have been doing for thousands of years, when that has been proven in practice to be the most effective way of achieving that goal? What would be different in your world?

      Regarding property, let me talk a little bit more in your language, are you familiar with the law of diminishing returns? We waste so many resources playing this silly game, how do you know that it is not possible to generate enough access, that people really don't care anymore about who has what? Just by simply stop playing the game, and stop brainwashing people into to thinking they need things that don't make them any happier?

      Diversity of interests - sometimes it happens sometimes it doesn't, it happens less in less scarce environments. Again some of that scarcity is marketing/propaganda driven...

      I can say the same to all other assumptions, all assumption will sooner or later become obsolete, reality is a lot more complex then these generalizations. Can you predict the effect the combination of nano-theology and 3D printing will have in the scarcity of objects?

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    10. Do you seriously believe that some century and a half old theory could even be remotely applicable to the cultural changes being induced by theological possibility, as we speak?

      Even the concept of a RBE we have now, will be completely outdated by the time we will get to implement it... I just trust the TZM to be able to adapt to changes and new information, a lot faster than these all other Dogmatic self-perpetuating institutions... ;)

      "Individuals never disagree about how objects are to be used" - well they do, but not as much as they used to, people from all over the world are starting to talk, mostly thanks to the internet, and we are starting to realise that since we have common problems, we might as well have a common solution...

      Do you see my point? Things change, you can't develop a self-perpetuating system based in the assumption that scarcity will always be there, because then that system will generate the scarcity it needs as part of the same algorithmic rule of self-perpetuation.

      It is like if you never stop taking the pills would will never know if you are still sick or not...

    11. Carlos, try to remain focused on the source of our disagreement so that we can move forward.

      You said that my arguments are "completely void of relevance" because you do not accept my initial assumption. I am asking you which of my initial assumptions you do not accept. Can you answer that question please?

    12. Hi Graham,

      Sorry I thought I was doing that and more... ;)

      OK so I will try again :

      [A]: Diversity of interests - individuals have different goals and different ideas about how objects ought to be used.

      I don't see any evidence that completely supports A:
      This is how I would improve it:
      [A]: Diversity of interests - some individuals have different goals and different ideas about how objects ought to be used. And this is connected to the way they perceive there environmental which dynamically changes over time.

      [B]: Scarcity of objects - there exists some objects which can be used for multiple incompatible purposes.
      With B I agree, I would just add the "so far..." in the beginning. But in my opinion you are not using this assumption right, this is not the same as saying that there will never be enough apples for everyone. Apples are probably not even scarce as we speak are just being mismanaged...

      Again, technology has an impact on substitution and the purpose is only incompatible if there are needs left unmet...

      If you want to meet me half way, just create a theory that deals with scarcity the way you advocate and that deals with abundance the way TZM advocates... ;)

      Regarding these:
      [Not-A]: Individuals never disagree about how objects are to be used.
      [Not-B]: No scarce objects exist. That is, there are no objects that can be used for multiple incompatible purposes.

      Common Graham, that sounds like politics, we are both smarter than that...

      The opposite of something wrong can also be wrong, especially when you use words like never and always, which very rarely are observed in reality, outside the laws of physics, and almost never in human sciences... Ex: I sometimes drive to work, therefore both: "I always drive to work" and "I never drive to work" are equally wrong assumptions...

    13. Hi Carlos,

      Let me clarify assumption [A] further:

      [A]: Diversity of interests - SOME individuals have different goals and different ideas about how SOME objects ought to be used.
      [Not-A]: NO individuals ever disagree about how ANY objects are to be used.

      Hopefully this is clearer and they are now indisputably MECE (Mutually Exclusive & Collectively Exhaustive). Either A is true or Not-A is true.

      It sounds like you agree with assumption A.

      [B]: Scarcity of objects - there exists some objects which can be used for multiple incompatible purposes.

      It sounds like you also agree with assumption B but that you believe that at some time in the future B may not be true, i.e. Not-B will be true, i.e. no scarce objects will exist.

      In fact B will always be true, no matter how productive we become. It seems that you are attaching to the term 'scarce' some baggage that I am not. You seem to think that there is some threshold of production beyond which objects become non-scarce... the threshold being something like 'when everyone has "enough"'. This is simply not part of my definition. It doesn't matter how many apples exist, each individual apple is always scarce in my strict definition of the term: person A could use the apple, or person B could use the apple, but not both. Do you agree that apples (and all material objects, including human bodies) will always be scarce given this definition?

      By combining these two assumptions we conclude that: [C] Conflicts are possible. In other words, because of the assumptions, it is possible that at some time and some place, two individuals may both want to use the same object for different purposes, and they cannot both do so. Only one of the individuals can get their way, the other will be dissatisfied - so there is a conflict.

      Do you follow the logic from [A] and [B] to [C]?

      If we can agree that [C] is true, we can start to talk about systems of conflict avoidance / resolution that humans have evolved / developed.

      Alternatively if you want to assert...

      [Not-C]: conflicts are impossible

      ... or that at some time in the future they will be impossible (and that therefore it is "completely void of relevance" to discuss systems of conflict avoidance / resolution), then make your case.

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    15. Yes I agree with C - conflicts are possible (due to scarcity).

      Now, this means that sometimes there is the possibility of having no conflicts, right? I would say that this can only be, in environments of perceived abundance.

      My argument is that we should come up with a system that tries to minimize the occurrence of conflicts, or at least, that lets the natural progress of technology influence our perceived scarcity with the minimum external, vested interests, interference, as possible...

      In my opinion, the way you propose to deal with conflicts, makes it very difficult for the non-conflicting cases to arise.

      All the "players" in that process would have more to gain from conflict/perceived scarcity than from less, that is what gives them their "jobs" and their "profits"...

      In other words, your solution would create the problems it proposes to handle...

      You say that people would do what they should, because of their reputation. But as you know, propaganda causes a very big distortion on the "free" market.

      That doesn't come only from Government, it comes also from private marketing companies. Even the current or any system would work a lot better without it...

      My point is that, the only way you have to know if no one is lying to you, is if they have no reason to lie.
      Money, property and all other differential advantage enforcing tools, that you don't seem to be able to question, seem to me the biggest reasons we presently have to lie to each-other...

    16. "Yes I agree with C - conflicts are possible (due to scarcity)."

      Good, then we have found some common ground.

      "Now, this means that sometimes there is the possibility of having no conflicts, right?"


      "I would say that this can only be, in environments of perceived abundance."

      If by that you just mean that as we become wealthier (i.e. develop better production/distribution processes), we tend to have fewer conflicts, then yes I agree.

      "My argument is that we should come up with a system that tries to minimize the occurrence of conflicts"

      That is my argument too ;). So I guess we've just reached different conclusions about the best system for minimizing conflicts.

      What is the mechanism for resolving conflicts in your system?

      "In my opinion, the way you propose to deal with conflicts, makes it very difficult for the non-conflicting cases to arise.

      All the "players" in that process would have more to gain from conflict/perceived scarcity than from less, that is what gives them their "jobs" and their "profits"...

      In other words, your solution would create the problems it proposes to handle..."

      When you say "the way you propose to deal with conflicts" and "your solution" are you referring to anarchism (i.e. a system where disputants have the choice of which arbitrator to go to for help resolving conflicts, as opposed to a system with a monopoly that arbitrates on all conflicts) or libertarianism (i.e. the set of principles that I'd like arbitrators to base their decisions on when helping to resolve conflicts)?

      Whether you're talking about anarchism or libertarianism, can you explain how you think it creates problems - and what you are comparing it to?

      "You say that people would do what they should, because of their reputation."

      Where did I say that?

    17. Hi Graham,

      Well I am not surprise to be able to find common ground, since the TZM is just about being as pragmatic about ways of maximizing human happiness/survival, as possible… When someone presents a good argument we simple incorporate it, regardless of any prior believe…

      There is some common ground with communists too. All theories out there, have some logic, otherwise people wouldn’t follow it…

      Most of the times I find that people are not searching for that common ground, because of ego driven reasons, I am just glad we are.

      “If by that you just mean that as we become wealthier (i.e. develop better production/distribution processes)”

      It is very important to define wealth, in my view wealth is not about having “more”, it is about having more needs met. For example, if I work 20 hours a day, and have 10 Ferraris and a 5 Mansions but have no friends or family to satisfy my emotional needs, I am not wealthy regardless of how much Prozac I take trying to ignore it. That is why you notice several cultures were people have very rudimentary production/distribution methods but still have a lot less conflicts than in some more developed countries…

      Actually I think that you will agree with me, when I say that, outside the most basic needs, satisfaction is a collective notion, since it is not what one has but what one has compared to what one perceives others have, that is in the centre of the concept of competition as a motivational tool, right?

      When I talk about scarcity I talk also about scarcity of friends, family, health, piece of mind and all other human needs that are both very hard to quantify using monetary abstractions and also don’t depend so much on production or production methods (although if these help reducing waste of time and increase leisure time for the same amount of needs satisfaction, they can also be important).

    18. Ok, when I talk about your system, I talk about giving tools to people to benefit from problems, for example:

      I produce a car with a fault which I am aware of, just so it needs a new part after warranty, so I can make more money servicing it. And with that money I will be able to buy a better car and even pay the eventual problems originated if those producers are doing the same…

      In TZM you would have to drive the car you produce and you could only have a better car by producing a better car, so you have nothing to gain from not just doing the best you can. You don’t need all these wastes that democracies and governments create trying the impossible task of controlling someone from abusing power if that someone has nothing to gain by controlling himself…

      I understand the logic, that in a “free” market people could just start producing their own cars, but there are 2 observable drawbacks:
      1 - That is damaging the planet (increasing the scarcity of health) i.e. these faulty things that people have to trash… 2 – The existing producers have the resources and the property that allows them to create barriers to new entries and they also have the marketing brain washing tools of propaganda to convince people to buy their product regardless of the faults…

      I’m just trying to tackle the problem in the motivational root, instead of trying to patch it, which was the original intent of most governments any way…

      If I would use my imagination to tell you how we would solve conflicts, I would be doing the same I criticize about your videos, it is like trying to predict all the laws and institutions that came out of the current mad differential advantage paradigm…

      I would say that removing governments completely including their ability to enforce property and manipulate the media, in order to allow people to put in to practice the current technical ability of feeding the world, and then see what would happen, would be a good start…

      After we have a global population of well informed and nutritioned brains, we would see what problems would we be left to deal with…

      I cannot guess the future, the planet is too complex. All I can do is to contribute to feed the right cycles and then learn and rectify my actions ASAP, based on the results of trying…

      In the videos when it says: “Because people wouldn’t want to be seen doing this…”
      What do you mean, you are not talking about reputation?

    19. Hi Carlos,

      "It is very important to define wealth, in my view wealth is not about having “more”, it is about having more needs met."

      Then we have exactly the same definition of wealth. This is good.

      "Actually I think that you will agree with me, when I say that, outside the most basic needs, satisfaction is a collective notion, since it is not what one has but what one has compared to what one perceives others have, that is in the centre of the concept of competition as a motivational tool, right?"

      I don't agree with your wording of this. Satisfaction is never a collective notion. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual acts. It may be true that "envy" has a lot to do with how people decide what they want, but this is not relevant to economics, since economics isn't concerned with the CONTENT of man's ends, only with the fact that man HAS ends, which he uses means to try to attain. Why men are satisfied by some things and not others is a question for biologists and pyschologists, not economists or philosophers.

      This is exactly why wealth is so usefully defined the way it is above. It doesn't commit the economist or philosopher to saying anything about the content of man's needs, but just says a man is wealthy when he is able to satisfy more of his needs, whatever they are. Our task is to work out the conditions that enable wealth to be maximised.

      Competition is not a "motivational tool". Competition is just the state of affairs you have when you have no monopoly. In other words, with a monopoly, everyone is forced to go to the monopolist if they want the product that is being monopolised. Competition means there is no monopolist, so people can go to whomever they please for the product. This tends to result in several different individuals (or collections of individuals called firms) offering similar products and trying to attract as many consumers towards their products as they can.

      Competition is not a "tool", at all. It is a state of affairs, or a process, and the process is that producers who are relatively poor at satisfying consumers get "weeded out" in favor of producers who are better at satisfying consumers. Motivations don't necessarily change whether you have competition or monopoly, only the consequences that result... a wasteful monopolist firm will endure (consumers have nowhere else to go), while with a wasteful firm in an environment of competition will get weeded out via the market process (because customers are free to go elsewhere).


    20. "I produce a car with a fault which I am aware of, just so it needs a new part after warranty, so I can make more money servicing it."

      I've already addressed the planned obsolesence argument at length in my posts. I'm not going to repeat myself here.

      "In TZM you would have to drive the car you produce and you could only have a better car by producing a better car, so you have nothing to gain from not just doing the best you can."

      Can you clarify this? When you say "have to", it makes me think that a small group of people will use violence against any car producer who drives a car other than one he has produced. Is this the case?

      Also, does this principle extend to all production lines? Must a doctor treat himself? Must a hairdresser cut her own hair? I just don't see how this principle you describe could be applied universally.

      "in a “free” market people could just start producing their own cars, but there are 2 observable drawbacks:
      1 - That is damaging the planet (increasing the scarcity of health) i.e. these faulty things that people have to trash… "

      Actually, the environment will fare well in a free market, but that's probably an argument best put to one side for now.

      "2 – The existing producers have the resources and the property that allows them to create barriers to new entries and they also have the marketing brain washing tools of propaganda to convince people to buy their product regardless of the faults…"

      Can you explain more about this? These firms can't use violence (there is no state to lobby to get regulations, licenses, prohibitions, tariffs, subsidies, etc, passed). So I don't know what you have in mind by "barriers to new entries".

      As for propaganda, can you explain how producers get information to potential consumers about their products in an RBE? It makes no sense to talk about how effective propaganda is in isolation - we need to compare it to something. Like we can compare information put out by firms and information put out by States and ask which is more likely to be propaganda. So how is information packaged in the RBE, and by who?


    21. "I cannot guess the future, the planet is too complex."

      Well, that doesn't give me much to go on. Of course we can't know the future, but we can give illustrations of how our idealized future society might work. Earlier you said that "you can't enforce property without government" and my video proved that actually you can, because it shows a working model of how that can happen. I'm not saying this is how it will be. I'm saying this is an outline of how it could work, and some reasons to think it might work quite well, and better than the alternative (statism).

      That's all I'm asking from you about the RBE. Suppose A and B have different ideas about what ought to be done with object X, i.e. they have a conflict, which we both agree is possible. How could they resolve it, in an idealized, hypothetical RBE? Can they turn to a third-party arbitrator for help? Who can they turn to? On what basis will that arbitrator decide what should be done to resolve the conflict? These questions are the heart of political and moral philosophy.

      I'm really looking for a way to grasp what an RBE would be like, as I hope my videos helped you to grasp how you could have property enforcement and law without government.

      "In the videos when it says: “Because people wouldn’t want to be seen doing this…”
      What do you mean, you are not talking about reputation?"

      I don't believe that to be a direct quote, nor the one you previously posted, and they change the meaning of what I actually said somewhat.

      I brought up reputation in my video because that is clearly a very important thing for an arbitrator trying to appeal to consumers. The State has a terrible reputation for being a fair, honest arbitrator (to say the least!) and I explained that this is due to its monopoly status, and that with competition, arbitrators with bad reputations would not attract as many consumers, and would be weeded out. Reputation is important for firms in many industries, but particularly the arbitration industry. That was my point there.

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    24. Graham,

      I think I've mentioned already that for me your video doesn't constitute a demonstration. A demonstration would be if you would point me to a working example, like in a country or subculture.

      If it makes you feel better, I also don't think all the videos about circular cities demonstrate that a RBE would work, If I would try to demonstrate it I would point you to working examples that have some communalities with it, like the Pirahã of the Brazilian Amazons or Marinaleda (yes there is a town in Spain of around 3000 people, where there is no Police because it simply is not necessary...)

      Reputation's based systems are very tricky, because reputation is not a static absolute thing, it depends on the brain that is interpreting it, right?

      Most economic theories that we see in practice today fail, because they assume the perfect rationality of the consumer/voter when in practice we act a lot more like a herd, that is why you can have a large group of people still doing things that harm them, just because that irrationality is peer pressured. Interest concepts to grasp are "cognitive dissonance" and "Stockholm syndrome".

      You probably would agree that even the current system would work a lot better if people were at least a bit more rational.

      I understand better when you call your videos "your idealizations", if the only way we can communicate further is for me to idealize as well, I can do it. But please bear in mind, that I don't think my hypotheses have any more scientific relevance then your videos, and without measurable goals or rectifications processes I consider this to be just passing time ;)

      My idealization would be quite close to yours, a third-party arbitrator sounds reasonable, except that in my world that arbitrator would have to impartially apply the scientific method and tools would have to be in place to make sure no party would benefit more from the solution than the others including the arbitrators, which is actually what it's currently keeping our so called "scientists" from doing it...

      To be honest, I fail to see how your third-party arbitrators wouldn't become just like a Government.

      If the objective is still to have more than others, what would keep the larger arbitrators from getting together behind close doors and just maintaining the illusion of choice? When people are so easily tricked, mislead and divided... Why not create a private police and then use it to bully the customers, Mafia style... I think you would end up needing a Government police to control this and the cycle would just repeat itself.

      The "free market" of differential advantage is everything that happened since the abundance provided by the agricultural revolution. This was the path we took, don't ask me why, because it is all very random, there is no particular reasons why Europeans didn't just follow the American native's path, but I think that with the internet and other global communication tools we can now reverse these failed outcomes, and we are barely starting to do it before is too late, if you ask me...

    25. Can you clarify this? When you say "have to", it makes me think that a small group of people will use violence against any car producer who drives a car other than one he has produced. Is this the case?

      Well certainly not, violence is always absurd, when I say "have to" is in the same perspective that if you want to go from Europe to the US fast you "have to" take a plane...

      You don't change a system by forcing people to do anything, you change it by creating a parallel system that makes the old one obsolete...

      The same way I don't think you would use violence against a majority or minority if they wanted to form a government, right?

      If I RBE was implemented, that would mean that the majority of the people would be cooperating to produce the best of everything, but only 1 of each, without the waste of competition, so there is no incentive to produce faults on purpose, because no one is going to help you make a better product just for you and you are not even selling it in the first place... lol

      Obviously this is only relevant to things. I am sure currently there are doctors keeping people sick so they can make more money, but in a RBE, you already would have access to the best that everyone can have, according to current knowledge so why would you do it?

      People could still try to have more then others but if the majority would understand that that is just silly self-destructive behavior they would simply not cooperate with that people, peacefully discouraging them, just like the hunter-gatherers use to do ;)

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    27. The barriers to entry provided by property is actually the only deal breaker for me, if you could sort this one out I will totally support the libertarian approach as a transitional stage to a RBE. I mean, what is a couple more decades of wasteful competition driven environmental collapse, right? ;)

      Barriers to entry are easy to understand: I want to produce gold watches and someone owns all the gold mines...

      Anyway I agree with you that most other barriers to entry are Government's work.

      If I would wake up tomorrow in the no barriers to entry libertarian world, you know what I would do?

      I would get my TZM tech friends and I would build the best self-cleaning modular reusable car and supply it for shared use at production cost to the entire world. And I would do the same to every single useful product until there would be no way to compete with it.

      Without people owning land just to let food spoil to make me do what they want in order to feed myself, without forcing people that want to work to be unoccupied and without having to waste time producing rubbish for the sake of the "market", I would simply work an hour a day, and spend most of my days in the beach or in the park with a lot of friends having free access to all these problem solving long lasting products...

      I would like to see how long the competition freaks would last working 20 hours a day without being able to afford even, what they produce, or unemployed homeless starving seeing empty foreclosed houses, until they would start thinking about imitating me... lol

      A RBE is unavoidable because the planet doesn't really care about our little made up "games" and sooner or later we will have to realign ourselves with nature, the later it will be, the more the current waste will affect our comfort potential, but without Goverments it could happen tomorrow...

      So you have my full support, as I think that most TZM likers would vote for Ron Paul, anytime... ;)

      But unfortunately I think you want the cause without the consequences and that seems difficult...

    28. "My idealization would be quite close to yours, a third-party arbitrator sounds reasonable, except that in my world that arbitrator would have to impartially apply the scientific method and tools would have to be in place to make sure no party would benefit more from the solution than the others"

      1. How does an arbitrator "apply the scientific method" to help resolve disputes? Isn't the scientific method a method for discovering empirical laws? How does the scientific method help the arbitrator, who must decide whether individual A or individual B ought to have ultimate decision-making jurisdiction over rivalrous object X?

      2. What tools do you have in mind that would "make sure" that arbitrators are doing as you wish them to do? How do these tools work, and who wields them?

    29. Well I think we are talking in cycles now, let me see if I can break it ;)

      What you are asking me, I could ask you. The fact that a third party is deciding things doesn't magically make it the best possible decision.

      The problem you have, is that you are assuming individual mutually exclusive goal and I am assuming common goals.

      This is very simple, if you have mutually exclusive goal you will always have fight and you will always have one of the parties not going to be happy.

      The less happy party will try violence, to form a government or corruption or any type of differential advantage consequence, and I still fail to see how your arbitrators are going to be immune to corruption in a way that they will not sooner or later just become another type of government...

      Now what I am trying to explain to people is this: If we don't want wars and crime and governments or other type of aberrant behaviour, people need to perceive what happens as being fair...

      This awareness can only come from understanding the reality of the planet regardless of political, social, national or other type of cultural conditioning...

      For example, to satisfy all basic human needs can be a good starting point, and these are not subjective, they can be defined with the use of biology and the continuous improvement of neuroscience...

      Once any common goal is accepted, then the best way of achieving it, is not a matter of opinion any more, the same way, the best way of building a bridge doesn't depend on what I think, it depends on the limits of current human knowledge, which will always improve...

    30. So the answer to your question becomes very simple: I used to be a differential advantage freak, until I had contact with enough knowledge to conclude that, the peace benefits from stopping wanting more material things than others are a lot more important to my happiness than those material things, which are harder to get anyway because we are always creating each other fake obstacles...

      If an enough number of people understand this, then we will cooperate between ourselves and if it works, others might follow. If not enough people understand this, then it won't matter anyway, because we will just self-destruct.

      I have no problem with extinction, species disappear everyday, I am just trying to do my best to help delaying ours... ;)

      So if you want give me a common goal example, I can describe how you can apply the scientific method to it. If you are talking about mutually exclusive goals, then I accept whatever anyone else wants to do about it as a symptom of our path to extinction.

      I see all mutually exclusive goals as consequence of culture and we need to overcome our culture if we want to survive as a species, the only way to overcome culture is to ignore it, if you try to change it, you will just become part of it...

      So if you want to waste your time trying to get the best solution to keep differential advantage going, be my guest, but I'll bet you will be exactly in the same place 30 years from now... ;)

    31. Hi Carlos - it's been a while, but good to hear from you again!

      I actually felt the discussion was going in a useful direction, because we had identified the source of our disagreements. It wasn't going in a circle at all... until now.

      With these two posts, you are taking us right back to the beginning. See my post to you way back on 22 July, 17:03.

      You are now once again back to that point: dismissing everything I'm saying, because you are rejecting my two initial assumptions, even though in your later posts we had agreed that these assumptions are sensible. We had made progress. We agreed on the need for third-party arbitrators (because disagreements are possible) and I hoped we would start talking about the detail of how those arbitrators would make decisions and what incentives they would be faced with.

      But you have shied away from that discussion, and you've come right back to "if we all just got along, we wouldn't need arbitrators". I'm disappointed.

      I'm not interested in going over old ground. I refer you to my previous posts.

      I would however be interested in resuming the discussion if you would answer the two numbered questions from my last post (7 Aug, 22:24).

    32. Hey Graham, well my opinion changed, that happens quite frequently, as I learn more... ;)

      But it has nothing to do with you, I am actually saying that I accept your way or any other way of dealing with mutually exclusive goals, may that be arbitrators, governments, armies, mafias, hierarchies, social classes, religions, countries, racism, businesses, police, prisons, war, property, laws, etc...

      I am not saying they don't exist, I am saying that I don't want to have anything to do with dealing with it, since I consider any engagement with culture consequences a waste of time, which can only worsen the problem.

      I want to ignore culture as much as possible, since culture always implies some form of violence...

      I've been learning a lot from Alan Watts, Joseph Chilton Pearce and Aldous Huxley, recently and this is how I've incorporated their elaborations in my conclusions.

      I don't have goals that can not be fully compatible with the goals of other humans, if you want to talk about the best way to accomplish those, (since you also acknowledge that they exist) we can.

      I think, as you will soon find out, that what you are trying to solve is a problem that was invented, and because it was invented, the only true way to stop having it, is to let it fade away... ;)

      The more you try to solve a problem that doesn't need to exist the more you feed it, so count me out... ;)

  11. This is a real discussion, credit to all involved.

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