Although skillful advertisers lead us to believe otherwise, in today’s monetary-based economies, whenever new technology is introduced, the human consequences are of little concern to those introducing the technology – except, of course, as customers. In a monetary-based system, the major concerns of industry are profit, maintaining a competitive edge, and watching the bottom line, rather than the well-being of humanity. The social problems that arise from mass unemployment of people, who are rendered obsolete by the infusion of automation, are considered irrelevant, if they are considered at all. Any need that may be met is secondary to acquiring a profit for the business. If the profit is insufficient, the service will be withdrawn. What industry seeks to do is improve the competitive edge to increase the profit margin for their shareholders. It does not serve the interest of a monetary based society to engage in the production of goods and services to enhance the lives of people as a goal. With rising public concern regarding the greenhouse effect, acid rain, polluted air and water, etc. some companies are also beginning to realize that for sustained market presence it is in their best interest to heed social and environmental concerns. While such trends are commendable, they are insufficient as a method of solving the overall problems of waste, environmental degradation and unnecessary human suffering.
The monetary system has been a useful, but interim tool, it came into being as a means of placing a value on scarce objects and labor. The monetary system of course replaced the barter system, which involved direct trading of objects and labor. However, just as there was no universal-bartering standard in the past, there is no global monetary system today. Individuals and groups, now as in the past, however, still need to exchange objects and labor for today’s goods and services. The unequal distribution of skills, resources and materials throughout the world necessitates global trade.
Until the last few decades, the monetary system functioned to a degree. The global population of three billion was not over consuming world resources and energy, global warming was not evident, and air and water pollution were only recognized by a relative few. The start of the 21st century however finds global population at an exponentially rising six billion, with resources and energy supplies dwindling, global warming a reality, and pollution evident worldwide. Planet earth is in crises and the majority of world population cannot meet their basic needs because people do not have the means to purchase increasingly expensive resources. Money is now the determinant of people’s standard of living rather than the availability of resources.
In a monetary system purchasing power is not related to our capacity to produce goods and services. For example, in a recession there are CD’s in store windows and automobiles in car lots, but many people do not have the purchasing power to buy them. The earth is still the same place; it is just the rules of the game that are obsolete and create strife, deprivation, and unnecessary human suffering.
In today’s culture of profit, we do not produce goods based on human need. We do not build houses based on population needs. We do not grow food to feed people. Industry’s major motivation is profit.
The monetary system is now an impediment to survival rather than a means of facilitating individual existence and growth. This imaginary tool has outlived its usefulness. The limitations on earth’s population now caused by the monetary construct can be phased out. It is not money that people need but the access to goods and services. Since humanity requires resources to exist, the replacement system should provide those resources directly to people without the impediment of financial and political interest for their private gain at the expense of the lives and livelihood of the populace. The replacement system is therefore logically a resource-based economy. This global resource-based economy would be gradually phased in while the monetary system is phased out.
All of the world’s socio-economic systems- socialism, communism, fascism, and even the vaunted free enterprise capitalist system – perpetuate social stratification, elitism, nationalism and racism, primarily based on economic disparity. As long as a social system uses money or barter, people and nations will seek to maintain positions of differential advantage. If they cannot do so by means of commerce they will resort to military intervention.
War represents the supreme failure of nations to resolve their differences. From a strictly pragmatic standpoint it is the most inefficient waste of lives and resources ever conceived by any creature on the planet.
This crude and violent way of attempting to resolve international differences has taken on even more ominous overtones with the advent of elaborate computerized thermonuclear delivery systems, deadly diseases and gases, and the threat of sabotage of a nation’s computer networks. Despite the desire of nations to achieve peace, they usually lack the knowledge of how to arrive at peaceful solutions.
War is not the only form of violence in the developed and underdeveloped countries that is superimposed upon the populace by inadequate social arrangements. There is also hunger, poverty, and scarcity. As long as there is the use of money, the creation of debt, and economic insecurity these conditions will perpetuate crime, lawlessness, and resentment. Paper proclamations and treaties do not alter conditions of scarcity and insecurity. And nationalism only tends to help propagate the separation of nations and the world’s people.
Even the signing of a peace treaty cannot avoid another war if the underlying causes are not addressed. The unworkable aspects of international law tend to freeze things as they are. All of the nations that have conquered land all over the world by force and violence would still retain their positions of territorial and resource advantage. Whether we realize it or not, such agreements only serve as temporary suspensions to conflict.
Attempting to find solutions to the monumental problems within our present society will only serve as temporary patchwork, prolonging an obsolete system.
In this world of constant change it is no longer a question of whether we choose to make the necessary changes; it is now mandatory that we take on this challenge and adopt these new requirements or face the inevitable decay of our present social and economic institution.
This is the dilemma we must face head-on, and the solutions we arrive at must fit the circumstances of the “real-world.” There appears to be no other way than to update our outlook and create a newer direction by relegating the old values to past civilizations. Unfortunately, this may not be accomplished prior to the point of no return in the global economy.
This article was republished with permission from the original author, Engineer and Futurist, Jacque Fresco.