© Jon Freeman  2015


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Jon Freeman

Visioning the Future

Saving planet Earth

How can we fix our broken money system?

The way we work with money is at the root of so many of our challenges.  In the face of known problems and fears around unsustainability and potential breakdowns, we have been unable to see how we shift into a new and sustainable way of running our planetary economy.  This document presents a way forward – how collaborative design and collective action can achieve what governments, global industries and existing power-structures are unable or unwilling to undertake.

Why do this?

You know that something’s wrong with our money system don’t you?  Perhaps you think it’s all OK, but there’s no prizes for knowing that we have big problems with instability.  Even if the system doesn’t collapse again, which many experts say is imminent, we have major resource crises to deal with.  There are eco-system breakdowns and climate change problems causing large-scale food and water problems.  There’s chronic inequality holding an underlying threat of angry and destructive responses.  

None of this is new.  So why is nothing being done about it?  Many people think that it is down to “them”.  It’s the bankers, politicians and fat-cat businessmen, right?  If only “they” would do better.  So why don’t they?  What if there is another answer?

What if it is the system itself?  Many more people would be willing to change, but the system itself keeps us all stuck.  The system itself evolved in earlier and simpler times.  While it wasn’t perfect, it brought a lot of progress.  Now we have reached its limits.  We are used to it; we are like fish who don’t see the water; we think it’s the best we can do, but it isn’t.

We have to raise our game.  Some pioneering thinkers have shared great visions of how we might function, one day.  Many fine individuals and organisations are working on and campaigning for their parts of the solution.  They are largely ignored and marginalised.  Their answers are often not big enough, one-size-fits-all or not comprehensive.  They may seem idealistic and not implementable.  There is no road-map for what might need to be done.  In the face of too many unknowns, the fear of change outweighs concerns over the visible challenges.

This will demand collective intelligence.  No single individual knows enough to frame an effective solution.  The system is complex and calls for diversified expertise.  It isn’t just about the banking system or the way businesses are managed or the way that people make personal decisions or the way that money is created or the way that we think about debt.  It isn’t about political systems or corporate governance or company law.  It is about ALL of these and more and it will require knowledge and insight in every part, and in how they fit together.

A vision is not enough.  We need a compass.  We need something to guide us in what steps will be required to take us from the “as-is” to the “to-be” of our desired future.  The steps must be achievable.  We cannot precisely map the unknown, but we can develop map-making and horizon-scanning tools to support us through the journey.  We can start from where we are.  

We are the ones who can do this.  Everyone has something that they can contribute, if they choose.  You may have expertise to contribute to the high-level development.  Perhaps you have technical skills to support the exercise.  Maybe you are someone who can help shape an emerging global framework into specific actions in your country, culture or locality.   There will be a need for those who can create communications strategies to make the outcomes widely known and for others with influencing and campaigning skills.   All of these efforts will rest on the shoulders of others who support by sharing and by providing the funds.  Many of us have been inspired to contribute to specific campaigns to save a species, change a law or respond to a crisis.  What if we could change the system that creates many of these problems?

How will this work?

Create the road-map.   The beginning is simpler than you might think.  Most of the pieces of this puzzle are already available.  Creating the road-map is a Wiki-like process where many people will work together to assemble their pieces of the jig-saw into a complete picture, like the lid of the box that people refer to when assembling it for themselves.  The technology is available and relatively inexpensive.  The only challenge is spreading the word so that all those with something to contribute to the development are made aware of the opportunity.  Who do you know who needs to know?

The framework for the road-map is already in place.  In the book “Reinventing Capitalism” there are 36 core questions that set out what needs to be worked on.  A summary of these proposals is offered in the appendix below.  The first step will refine these questions to ensure they are complete and meaningful.  Then each area will be worked on to formulate pragmatic principles, operational mechanisms and guiding values.  As individual areas approach completeness, they will be cross-checked for compatibility and coherence so that the map cannot easily be picked apart.

Communicate, disseminate, localise.  As it emerges, the high-level framework will need to be chunked down, adapted, translated and shaped to fit with what is called for, what is ready to happen and what is appropriate for different countries, existing legal frameworks and other more regional, local and culturally specific contexts.  In every area, messages will need to be crafted, inspiring communications propagated and communities of opinion and influence mobilised.  This will need shapers, informers, connectors and persuaders.   At this point it will be well beyond central control and have a life of its own that relies on the robustness and flexibility of the framework.

What will it take?

To begin with, a core team is required.  The start-up process needs connectors and communicators who can draw the critical mass to begin the work.  One member will be a community steward to establish supportive infrastructure, guide the overall process and shape the project activities towards their intended purpose.  As much as possible this will take place through empowerment of self-organisation and with a minimum of control.  Ideally before long there will be an administrative support person or group.  Once the Wiki is underway we foresee a need for a full-time economist who ensures the coherence and credibility of the emerging proposal, and arbitrates any conflicts that prove hard to resolve.

It is intended throughout the project that most functions can be accomplished by volunteers and through self-organisation.  Throughout the life of the project volunteer effort will predominate.  It would be unrealistic to try and predict those requirements.  The project community is expected to recognise and respond to emerging needs.    

What will it cost and who manages the funds?

We are not projecting firm costs at this stage.  Inevitably there will be some.  We hope that much or all of the needs can be covered by crowd-funding, and maybe some grants, as the community of interest builds up.  Seed-funding support will however be helpful and welcomed.  A means for this is linked to below but is not the priority of this proposal.

Project funding will be channelled and governed through the UK Chapter of Conscious Capitalism, which is incorporated as a not-for profit Community Interest Company.  As and when a dedicated legal structure is required, a suitable one will be created.

What can I do?

Please share this project proposal with others.   Please Tweet, Blog, Pin and Blab.  Repeat.

Sign up for updates.  Propagate ongoing communications

Participate in the crowd-wisdom design activities

Offer your skills and time in practical support (organisers, writers, translators, musicians, bloggers, artists, webmasters, vloggers, poets, influencers, graphic artists, video creators, campaigners, social media experts…)  Core team suggestions  and offers are also welcome.

Energise the conversations.  Follow the Facebook page etc.

Please make a financial contribution.  Even small ones will help and if a lot of people do that this will be easy).  

                                                              Visible support is as important as money.

Talk to people you know who would have something special to contribute to the design

Talk to the people you know who could really set the project alight with larger funding

Read “Reinventing Capitalism” to understand more about how and why this needs to happen NOW

This one is for US

To have read this far, you almost certainly know in your bones why this project is required and even why it is urgent.  The planet needs us.  

Many people think that solutions will emerge naturally and by themselves.  I encourage you to think that this project IS part of that emergence.  The planet needs all the help it can get.

Many people feel that they are not powerful enough, but together we can be.  Humanity needs to build its own salvation.

Many people think a revolution is needed but fear violence, destruction and power-grabs.  What if a revolution could look different than that?  What if reinvention could be more effective?  Humans can learn new ways of doing things.

On my wall I have an Orang-Utan Foundation charity calendar.  Our primate cousins touch my heart.  For years I have made a small but regular contribution to a school in the Gambia.  When I started these children were little.  I have signed on-line petitions for causes far and wide.  I am not unusual and you have most likely made similar contributions.  Maybe it is easier to support such specific interventions and fixes.  They seem direct, urgent and engaging.

Perhaps this project seems a bit abstract.  Perhaps it is less emotionally engaging and harder to connect to.  It may seem too big and too anonymous.  But the faces on this project are your face, the faces of your loved ones and your children’s children, because this will affect everyone for a long time.  Wherever you live, and whatever problems you are worried about, a new way with money is at the heart of how we deliver care, kindness, mutual support, equality and sustainability.  Instead of fighting to fix the problems we cause, what if we could stop causing them?  What if we could shift from Band-Aid to prevention.  The planet we are fighting for is your planet and mine and that is not abstract at all.  It is our future.  Let’s make it one that we would like to live in.

This project is about crowds.  It took millions of us to create today’s reality.  It will take a crowd to change it.  A crowd-wisdom harvest of collective intelligence assisted by a crowd of willing hands in a self-organising collaboration and enabled by crowd-funded financing and crowd-driven communications can deliver what is needed.  It can even happen quickly, with your help.  Please do whatever you can.  Join the crowd.

Jon Freeman

www.reinventingcapitalism.org/inform.html to register for updates

www.reinventingcapitalism.org/participate.html to take part (design or support)

https://www.gofundme.com/crowdwisdom to assist with funding

Appendix:  A brief overview of the 36 questions / proposals

The “Reinventing Capitalism” book looks at money from the viewpoint that what we think individually - our thoughts and emotions about money - show up in our collective, societal viewpoints.  They also are manifested in the systems that we create, the ones for our personal lives and the large-scale of our economic systems.

Chapter 15 presents 36 “Goals for a new Capitalism”.  They begin in our inner life, with the requirement for money to mean something, to no longer be created out of nothing.  There is a need for new ways of thinking that is rooted in the present and conscious of our interdependence.  There are new ways of living in balance, understanding the relationship between freedom and responsibility, gifting and receiving, collaboration and competition.

These inner shifts have consequences in the outer world, and require systems that support them.  It is not sufficient that money means something to me, the money system itself must embed that meaningfulness in how it creates and uses money.  The system itself must encourage us to live in the present and at the same time to have long-term, sustainable ways of working with money.  This means taking speculation out of the system, aligning compensation with longer-term goals and integrating all stakeholder perspectives.

At present our human and societal Values and Goals are dissociated from the way that monetary value operates.  There are limited means, or no means at all, for incorporating the environment, the true costs of extracting raw materials or the stewardship of the planet into cost models.  We need to replace monetary measure of success (such as GDP and Turnover) with measurement that also assesses physical health, social, cultural and spiritual well-being, community strength and cohesion, habitat quality, human longevity and systemic sustainability. We have to distinguish economically, activities that are productive, such as agriculture and manufacture from activities, which however essential, represent human costs, such as prisons, hospitals, waste management and insurance claims.    Governance systems at every level need to expand and improve to support these new decision-making approaches.

The following is a table listing the 36 headings.  Some of these are more instantly meaningful than others, and it is worth reading the fuller descriptions that can be found in the freely available copy of Chapter 15, available on the website.  Some are explained further in Chapter 16 of the book itself.

Inner goals

Money must mean something

Money cannot be created out of nothing

Be grounded in the present

Eliminate the throwaway mentality

Build our awareness of interdependence

Allow reward of creativity and inspiration

Support the flow of wealth

Balance stakeholder needs

Gifting and Receiving

Freedom and Responsibility  

Collaboration and Competition  

 Systems Intelligence

Money must mean something (systems level)

Money cannot be created out of nothing  

Short-termism is destructive

IInhibit currency speculation

Align compensation with long-term performance

A level paying-field

Balancing stakeholder needs (systemic support)

Simultaneous policy and global co-ordination

Costs and benefits are not all material

Connecting Values, Goals and Money

Living systems have Value Corporate Stewardship

The environment has Value Corporate legal responsibility

True Cost Accounting Preventive thinking

Full cost raw materials recognition Governmental long-term responsibilities

Planetary Stewardship Recognising Societal benefit

True National Benefit Assessment Balance freedom and responsibility

True National Cost recognition Socially responsible valuing of risk

Re-thinking inflation and growth Right-scale distributed democracy

To download proposal pdf click this link

No more prizes for forecasting the rain: only prizes for building the arks

Don E. Beck