The following article is part of a larger essay by engineer and futurist, Jacque Fresco, and is republished with permission. Here, he discusses humanity in the context of today’s social structure and share’s a comparative perspective based on the idea of a Resource-based Economy. A scientific approach to social a social system. Everything in life is always changing to adapt to new circumstances, so we believe it is important to stay open-minded to new approaches for our social structures as well, especially those that are based on enhancing all life and protecting the environment.
In 1934 the man who developed the concept of Gross Domestic Product, Simon Kuznets, shared a report with congress that was argued by Austrian School economist Frank Shostak who pointed out a major flaw, stating that in reality GDP has absolutely nothing to do with the well-being of individuals and will actually divert funding from what is important.
“For instance, if a government embarks on the building of a pyramid, which adds absolutely nothing to the well-being of individuals, the GDP framework will regard this as economic growth. In reality, however, the building of the pyramid will divert real funding from wealth-generating activities, thereby stifling the production of wealth.” ~Austrian School economist Frank Shostak
Today, we see the consequences of this flaw and despite any benefits our current systems may offer, we must remember the challenges that are continuously compounding and pursue new alternative solutions.
In today’s society, there is much concern about the dissolution of the conventional core family structure, and the societal values associated with it. The family is seen as the primary, most basic venue for acquiring such life skills as caring, sociability, responsibility, stability and concern for others. The increasing unrest and lack of direction exhibited by many young people today seem to validate these concerns.
At present, it is necessary for both husbands and wives to work. Monetary economics have to a large extent undermined family cohesion. Parents lack adequate time to spend with their children, and they are constantly stressed by ever-rising medical bills, insurance payments, educational expenses, and the high cost of living. It is in this area that one of the most profound benefits of this new civilization could be realized. The proposed shorter workdays would provide more time for family relationships. Free access to goods and services would make the home a much more pleasant place, with the removal of economic stress that causes so much family turmoil.
With the enhanced level of sociability that would naturally come from not having to compete for access to goods and services, we would see a tendency toward extension of the family unit into the community. As may already be observed in other cultures, the rearing and development of children would become the responsibility of both the family and the community at large.
With the elimination of debt, the fear of losing one’s job will no longer be a threat; this assurance, combined with education on how to relate to one another in a much more meaningful way, could considerably reduce conflict and stress both mentally and physically. When education and resources are available to all without a price tag, there would be no limit to the human potential.
The fear of uniform behavior in a cybernated resource-based economy of the future is unfounded. The only uniformity one would find would be a concern for the environment and the importance of extending maximum courtesy to all nations and to one another. All would likewise share an intense curiosity for all that is new and challenging. With a better understanding, people could possess a flexibility of outlook unknown in previous times, free of bigotry and prejudice.
In addition, the people of this innovative society would have concern for their fellow human beings, and for the protection, maintenance, and stewardship of the Earth’s natural environment. Additionally, everyone, regardless of race, color, or creed would have equal access to all of the amenities that this highly productive culture could supply.
In more advanced and humane systems of education people would acquire this new type of value system. They would also realize the many advantages of cooperation rather than competition. In a society without vested interest it would be impossible to harness the talents of scientists and technicians to engage in weapons research or any other socially hostile endeavor. We call this approach “functional morality.” This newer, more humane, and more productive approach would advocate finding non-military solutions to international differences. This calls for a global view, which would be a considerable improvement over narrow national and self-interests. We could use knowledge and information as tools that would be surrendered when evidence of more appropriate methods are introduced.
Some people question the morality of seemingly receiving something for nothing. At a recent college lecture one student was opposed to the idea of “getting something for nothing.” I then asked him if he were paying his own way through school, or if his parents were paying for him. He admitted that his parents were. I also pointed out that if he really did believe that people should not receive something for nothing, then in the event of the death of his rich relative he would prefer that their inheritance be left to the heart or cancer fund, rather than being passed on to him. But the student, needless to say, was opposed to this idea.
By merely being born in a developed country, we have access to many things that we put no effort whatsoever towards, such as the telephone, the automobile, electricity, running water, etc. These gifts of human ingenuity and invention do not degrade our lives, but rather they enrich and enhance us. What degrades us is our lack of concern for those unfortunate enough to experience poverty, hunger, and homelessness. The social designs that are proposed in this writing merely provide the opportunity for individuals to develop their fullest potential in whatever endeavor they choose without the fear of loss of individuality or submission to uniformity.
A resource-based economy by definition includes the participation of all people in its benefits. In a monetary system there is an inherent reason for corruption and that is to gain a competitive advantage over someone else. Without vested interests or the use of money, there is no benefit to squelching one’s opinion or falsifying information or taking advantage of anyone. There would be no need for any underlying rigid social barriers that would limit the participation of anyone or restrain the introduction of new ideas. The main objective is the access of information and the availability of goods and services to all people. This would enable people to be prepared to participate in the exciting challenges of this new society A resource-based economy could create an environment that would encourage the widest range of individuality, creativity, constructive endeavor, and cooperation without any kind of elitism, technical or otherwise. Most significantly, a resource-based economy would generate a far different incentive system, one based on human and environmental concern. This would not be a uniform culture but one that is designed to be in a constant process of growth and improvement.
As we enhance the lives of others, protect our environment, and work toward abundance, all our lives can become richer and more secure. If these values were put into practice it would enable all of us to achieve a much higher standard of living within a relatively short period of time–one that would be continuously improved. At a time when commercial institutions no longer exist, the necessity for prisons, lawyers, advertisements, banks and the stock exchange will serve no useful purpose. In the society of the future, in which the monetary system of scarcity has been surpassed by a resource-based economy and most physical and creative needs are met, private ownership as we know it would cease to be a necessity to protect one’s access to goods and services. The concept of ownership would be of no advantage whatsoever in a society of abundance. Although this is difficult for many to imagine, even the wealthiest person today would be immensely better off in the highly productive resource-based society. Today in developed countries the middle class live far better than kings and the wealthy of times past. In a resource-based economy everyone would live richer lives than the powerful and wealthy of today, not only materially but spiritually as well.