Why Living without Money Experiments are Stupid

by JT McGee

There is nothing that I like more than a challenge, that much is true, but if there is anything I don’t like, it is a challenge based on a faulty premise.  “Living without money experiments,” regardless of their post-financial crisis popularity, are a perfect example of such challenges.

My main gripe with these so-called “experiments” is that they have nothing to do with money.

Where Living without Money Fails

If you’re like most people, you go to work where you do only a few things, accept a monetary reward for your time, and then take the cash to go spend on all the things you didn’t do during the day.

So, where you might have spent eight hours at a computer making Excel spreadsheets like a baller, you still have a mouth to feed and a body to clothe. (You still have to live.)  But all that time spent in the office isn’t conducive to making your own clothes, nor growing your own food.

That’s cool, though, because other people have your back.

living without money

How’s About an Example?

Okay, we have before us three different people: we have a farmer, a seamstress, and a baker.

Each can do one thing very well: farm, make clothes, cook food, respectively.

The farmer can grow enough to supply three people with raw food. The seamstress can sew sufficiently to supply three people with clothes, and the baker can turn enough raw materials into enough ready-to-eat meals to feed three people daily.

Their total output between each person is enough to clothe and feed three people. How perfect ;)

The Productivity of Each Person

In this three person society it matters not how poor the farmer is at sewing, nor how the seamstress can keep alive only plastic potted plants.  Instead, what matters most is that each does one thing with excellence, and others value that talent in their own lives.

In a society with open trade, the farmer can trade food to the baker and seamstress while still feeding himself. In return, he receives clothing from the seamstress and bread from the baker.  The baker trades his bread for raw foods and clothing.  The seamstress trades her clothing for raw veggies and bread.  Everyone wins.

But what happens when we divide our society? If we were to divide our three townspeople to create three societies of one, each would have to work 33% harder to achieve the same outcome.

While the baker, for example, can make enough bread to feed three people per day, he does not sew nor farm very well—two essential needs. In fact, he has 1/3 less skill in each of these areas.

He would need to spend 1/3 of his day baking (to sustain his baking needs), 1/2 of his day sewing for himself (for clothing) and another 1/2 of his day farming (for raw edibles.)

While the baker previously spent only eight hours per day baking bread to cover his basic human needs, he now spends 2.66 hours baking, 4 hours farming, and 4 hours sewing for a 10.66 hour workday.

This very basic economic equation gets lost on a lot of people.  Specialization allows us to do one thing, and only one thing, while money allows us to divide our time, energy, and skill as best we can.

Silly Experiment

I realize there is a very popular, populist twist to these kind of stories. Usually it’s some kind of young professional who got tired of the Starbucks-9-lunchdate-5-hard alcohol grind and finally decided that he or she would rather live without everything they’re used to having.

Sometimes I wonder if its not some hippy couple that decided they didn’t like the prospect of work, or just couldn’t find a job that didn’t drug test.

Maybe its some right-wing survivalist hell-bent on living on the land…I don’t know.

I just imagine it goes down a little like this:

People have tried this experiment, or are making a life of it:
Mark Boyle lives without money. He has a degree in Economics, which makes me wonder why any economist would ever try this. Isn’t it pretty obvious that living without money, an easy unit of exchange, makes life more difficult? Best part of his story? This quote: “People tend to be either very positive about what I’m doing or very negative.” Ha!

He’s also featured in another article where he is quoted as saying, “If we grew our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it as we do today. If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior decor. If we had to clean our own drinking water, we wouldn’t waste it so freely.”

While I believe what he says to be true, there is no reason to resort to difficulty to stop what we perceive to be negative outcomes. Progress is solving difficult situations/outcomes with better situations/outcomes. Besides, he forgot to mention that we would all waste a lot more of something that is so limited in supply: our time.

LivingWithoutMoney – A blog on a girl’s life without money. I really just wanted to link this because I figured she’d like a link about why I don’t like her idea. :P But hey, at least she’s willing to shine some light on how to live without money.

People who have used the idea:
Heidemarie Schwermer is freaking awesome. She didn’t just go live out in the middle of nowhere without money; no, she took the principles discussed in my article and created a market where the homeless could trade. In doing so, she removed something they didn’t have from the equation (money) and created a market where the homeless traded their own skill for the skills of others. No one left with more money, but they all left with a better standard of living. Props to her!

She’s still a bit of an anti-capitalist, of course, because she can’t separate dollar bills from greed, debt, or difficulty. It is a shame people don’t realize that money is just a convenient way to own things, save time, or manage resources.

I doubt many would disagree that it is far easier to have $100,000 than it is to carry around a single-family home or 12,000 hours of minimum wage work (you can’t store time/work).

See also:
Living without Credit – How living without credit affects your opportunities.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill February 7, 2011 at 14:49

Great article.

I’ve always thought there to be something screwy with the idea of living without money..now I know why. You’re correct to say that people don’t understand money, what it does, or what it is supposed to do.

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Janey February 8, 2011 at 07:38

You left out the bit where the men decided that work done by women should be either valued at zero, or where it is unavoidable to allow them something, valued at 25% less than a man’s work. This makes a lot of the world go round.

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JT McGee February 8, 2011 at 07:43

Interesting perspective.

While there is certainly economic exploitation, I’m not sure we can say this is a problem solely of money, nor of free trade. Maybe you think it so? Can you expound on your comment? I’d like to hear what you think. :)

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Evan February 8, 2011 at 10:44

So you are/were an eco major huh? If not, then you’ll easily pass Macro-Economics when they go into competitive advantage lol

To add 2 more types that would do this type of challenge:
1) Those that have to go against the grain of society. I am anti-money because everyone seems to be pro-money lol
and
2) I have to do everything to the extreme. I am on the zero carb diet…I am on the only organic nuts diet…etc

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JT McGee February 8, 2011 at 11:18

I would love to study economics academically, the problem is that it isn’t the best for a future career. Fun, no doubt, but other avenues are more “practical,” so to speak. I think economics as a study is highly beneficial in developing a logical thought process, although many economic major graduates go to work in actuarial science, etc…boring, in my opinion.

I think you’re on the mark with #1. Seems to be the new trend toward “minimalism.”

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Evan February 8, 2011 at 13:04
jeff February 8, 2011 at 16:56

A double major in mathematics and economics is one of the best combinations for jobs in the financial industry.

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JT McGee February 8, 2011 at 17:56

I’d bet with that combination there’s more weight on mathematics than economics. You could pair degrees in underwater basket weaving with mathematics and get on most financial firms, depending on grades.

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Invest It Wisely February 9, 2011 at 10:27

I say kudos to these people for trying something new and willing to go against the status quo, but in the end… money was created spontaneously by human beings for a reason: it serves to greatly lubricate trade and greatly increases the production of wealth and rising living standards by enabling specialization, and it also acts as a preserver of wealth and as a store of value. Money is the sum of human exchanges; try to live without money and you’re essentially cutting off the limbs of human civilization.

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My Money Mess February 9, 2011 at 19:35

These “experiments” are dumb for a number of reasons, not just those you outline. I’ll just toss out one of the additional reasons they’re dumb. People are generally social creatures. One of the things money does is make social interaction easier. The only way these people can maintain connections with family and friends is by (a) traveling to those people using free transportation and communicating with them face to face or (b) utilizing facilities that are publicly available to them and are paid for by everyone else. For example they could go to a library and use the library’s internet connection to communicate by email. This makes them parasitic on the rest of society. If they don’t use money they don’t pay taxes of any kind. If they don’t pay taxes they are contributing nothing to support a community resource such as a library.

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JT McGee February 9, 2011 at 20:35

Good points.

I hadn’t even thought of disproportionately using/abusing public goods despite paying almost nothing for them. I was consumed mostly in the idea that those living without money would just somehow disappear into the wilderness. I guess that’s just my midwesterner’s bias. :P

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101 Centavos February 12, 2011 at 14:36

This Mark Boyle guy seems to be merely moving his value proposition up one step, bartering his time on the farm for direct sustenance.

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JT McGee February 13, 2011 at 12:35

Which is what really boggled me. Here you have a person that should see the value of money not as dollars or cents (pounds or pence, in his case) but for what it can buy. In the article, though, it says he sees that as a barrier, not as having utility itself.

Consider me thoroughly confused.

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Travis February 19, 2011 at 18:54

Your entire arguement is based on the fact that we need everything that society today requires that you have. (A big house, a car, a phone, a computer, etc).

Time and time again, society continues to transform more wants into more needs. Eventually, it becomes impossible to live at that standard of living. It’s not just about sustainability, it’s common sense. People can only afford to have so many things as needs, before the entire system colapses. I realize that you can have hundreds of people able and willing to create and sell these new products, but not everyone is going to be able to afford every one of them. This is probably one of the biggest reasons for the current credit crisis. These corrupt, greedy banks create fake money out of thin air and then loan it out to people because they can’t afford to live without it.

Just about any problem ever currently plaguing this planet can be connected to money. It’s the root of greed, because it can bring you things that you cannot create yourself. I’ll agree, greed can sometimes be positive, but not in the way we use it in today’s world.

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JT McGee February 19, 2011 at 20:15

I don’t think we need everything that we use today, but I really enjoy having all the things we use today. My main point is the living without money is more like living without specialization.

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Travis February 19, 2011 at 18:58

By the way, I’m not trying to say that living without money is possible. The idea of living without it is to exemplify how you can look at the world from a completely different perspective, completely free of greed.

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Travis February 19, 2011 at 20:25

I understand that living without money is somewhat equal to living without specialization. But consider why the dollar was created. It was to replace gold. However, gold was to represent value, rather than trading actual objects of true value.

Money is an improvement on trading actual objects, I’m not going to deny that. But the way money is treated in today’s world is nothing to be proud of. The world is completely reliant on it and that has to stop. I mean, it doesn’t really matter because everything will come crashing down eventually anyway, as the world digs itself deeper and deeper into a debt based off imaginary value.

As a matter of fact, once every cent becomes imaginary, at that point, is there really any reason why we can’t just suddenly break our dependence on money at all?

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JT McGee February 19, 2011 at 23:56

Gold was probably well on its way out anyway. The fact of the matter is that the supply of gold relative to total world production is tiny. To return to a gold standard would require a gold valuation so high that it would be virtually unusable in most industrial applications it is used today…and don’t even get me started on silver.

I think the electronic age virtually ended the argument that gold and silver have no better use than their monetary applications.

Much like a paper dollar is “worth” several times what the paper itself is worth, returning to a gold-backed currency would require a gold price several times than today’s price. The difference in price would be due solely to its new status as currency, not because it was actually more valuable.

Paper is better fit for currency, in my opinion, because it is virtually worthless.

I’m definitely going to make a full-fledged post of this. Thanks for the idea. :)

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Travis February 20, 2011 at 01:56

Well, actually, I can show you this video that pretty much explains how the entire
world is broke. I think it would benefit your point of view greatly. You should
really watch it, but it’s kind of long, so you’ll need to have some patience.

At the top right of the page, you’ll see a video player titled, “Money as Debt”.
http://canadianactionparty.ca/

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JT McGee February 20, 2011 at 02:19

I understand the financial system just fine–fractional reserve banking and all of it.

The movie is convincing to some, apparently, since it is passed around the internet like the “gold standard” (har har!) of finance. Money as Debt tries to build a great argument for how dollars just show up out of the middle of nowhere and they can’t ever be repaid since money + interest is greater than the money created in the first place.

That sounds fine and dandy…until you realize that money doesn’t just go from one person to another then fall off the earth. You could theoretically pay off $1million of debt with a single $10 bill, pending you lived in a society that was productive enough/had an economy active enough.

Also, I’m not sure if it was in this video or the hundreds of other videos out there, but debt/assets and interest rates are more important as accounting terms than they are profit and loss when it comes to central banks.

For example: when the Fed purchased roughly $1.4T in debt as part of quantitative easing, it purchased only outstanding debt and paid for these purchases with new M0 level bank reserves. The central bank neither increased the money supply that interfaces with the economy (M0 is as important as $1T in printed money that is locked in a vault 200 miles below the surface of the earth) and instead only displaced a large amount of debt issuance in 2010.

Also, the interest it charges for overnight loans, as well the as the interest accrued on any holdings of US Treasuries/MBS assets is returned directly to the US Treasury at the end of the year. There is no profit/loss, much to the chagrin of the people who make these videos.

All I know is that 1) I’m glad people who make these documentaries don’t work in banking and 2) I’m glad most people don’t take these films seriously. If you think that film is even remotely true, I think your view of financial reality might be restored with some time spent actually learning how the system works.

All told, that film creates an inaccurate picture of money creation and even worse it makes arguments that can be readily torn apart by most anyone with any understanding of finance. A laughing stock of a video, I must say.

Besides, there are far more convincing arguments for financial reform that don’t require bending of financial truths. Maybe we should start first with the concept that bailouts create moral hazard…surely we can all agree that is very true.

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Travis February 20, 2011 at 11:55

Either way, if everything explained in that film is false or not. One thing that is addressed in that film is that schools don’t teach monetary theory anymore. I think there is a pretty good reason for that, it could probably explain why so few people know where their money comes from or goes to, when dealing with a bank.

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The Laughing Samurai March 17, 2011 at 17:07

The issue with money is precisely that for most people the hourly wage vs the cost of living is becoming a larger percentage of income every year, especially food. Inflation is devaluing the dollar at a steady and fast pace.

An apple will always have the same value inherently. Money does not.

One flaw is that the seamstress would not be working nearly as much as the baker and the baker would not be working as much or as hard as the farmer. The only one with any real tangible goods of value is the farmer though. The farmer can sustain his own existence even in shoddily sewn clothes, the baker and the seamstress rely on the farmer who ultimately holds all the real value in this scenario.

Without the farmer the other two would die. However without the baker and the seamstress, the farmer lives just with lower quality clothing, and with lower quality cooking.

In a sense no one is ever living without some form of money. Money is anything that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts. So if this society traded services/labor or goods then technically such things could be called a form of money.

Of course traditional paper currency has been our money of choice for many years now. I would like to see a move away from valueless paper and toward a form of money that holds real value. In the paper currency game, the more that is printed, the less it’s worth when it isnt backed by anything but a promise of value. Every year the dollar is worth less faster than your time is worth more. The hourly wage barely moves but inflation marches forward steadily at a faster rate. Please explain how this is a sustainable model?

In the end, it must collapse to restore balance.

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JT McGee March 18, 2011 at 01:36

Apples don’t always have the same inherent value. Given the current food shortage all around the world, food is vastly more valuable today than it was last year, given that the supply is falling amid greater demand.

The point wasn’t to discount the relative value of a seamstress to the baker or farmer, and it’s apparent you missed the point. Both the baker and the seamstress can live just fine without the farmer, it’s just that they would have to invest time in something they do not have a comparative advantage in, and thus would expend more energy to produce a similar outcome. Living without money does not equal living without money; most often it means living without trade.

Pending there are no increases in your own productivity, relative to the productivity of the rest of the world, then sure, you’re likely to see prices rise as your wages go nowhere. But this is because as your relative skill level falls, your income is buoyed only by inflation, why the consumption posibilities of most everyone else continue to rise. Is this the part where you recommend pure gold and silver currencies as some sort of solution to the problem, because if so, you’ve missed what made gold and silver so valuable in centuries past when collecting data was virtually impossible. The supply of both gold and silver, and all currencies for that matter, tend to expand in unison with the expansion in population, and thus also with the expansion in global output.

However, in a time of leverage, banking, and plenty of concepts that would have mystified those who previously traded in purely commodities, such a system is no longer workable. Why is it that you fail to realize that today, compared to history, the economy is far more dependent on services than it is good. Given that services are not tangible, it would be impossible to mimic the increases in such production with a tangible commodity-backed currency.

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Sandford May 24, 2011 at 02:10

The presumption made is that efficiency brings more enjoyment than a variety of work and the satisfaction of self reliance. You also presume that the things people want to do/own costs money.

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JT McGee May 24, 2011 at 19:09

Yes, I do assume that efficiency brings more enjoyment than doing a million different things in lieu of doing one thing that you’re really good at doing.

Everything requires time, or resources. In a world where money is the universal solvent, a medium of exchange, those things cost money.

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AdrienD June 19, 2011 at 19:48

“You could theoretically pay off $1million of debt with a single $10 bill, pending you lived in a society that was productive enough/had an economy active enough.”

While this is true. This society would have to be more productive/active than other societies for this to be the case. That means some other society HAS to do worse for you to do better and if they can’t do better, then they will have the economic crisis and all of the discomfort that comes with it.

Economic growth requires more production/services and requires more consumption even if they are not needed to survive or don’t even provide comfort. These products are often very unsustainable because if ,for example, cellphones were made so robust that they have a lifespan of 30 years, the companies making them would go broke after they’ve sold everyone a phone so it is against there interest to do so. This is called “planned obsolescence” and applied in Value Engineering ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence#Economics_of_planned_obsolescence )
This mass production wastes an enormous amount of resources that aren’t limitless and because it costs money to manage waste, big corporations just dump it anywhere they can.

Also an increasing problem is unemployment as human labour is increasingly being replaced by machines because they work 24/7, don’t get sick and don’t require money after purchase (except for occasional repairs). How are these people going to get a job so they can have money so they can keep the consumption going that the system requires? How can human labour compete against the increasing technology and computational power?

I agree with your point that simply living without money isn’t an option, we need an alternative system. I say let technology and machines liberate us even more from time consuming jobs that we don’t enjoy and allow us to live comfortable enjoyable lives. Of course for this to happen you need the means of production to be free for everyone to use instead of the exclusive rights that the private property owners have to these, don’t you agree?

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JT McGee June 19, 2011 at 20:03

“That means some other society HAS to do worse for you to do better and if they can’t do better, then they will have the economic crisis and all of the discomfort that comes with it.”

I’m not sure that this is true. This suggests that there are winners and losers in trade, which isn’t the case. In a free society, an agreement to conduct a transaction is decided by both parties. If you trade $20 for some product, then you and the seller both think that the trade will benefit you both.

No, I don’t agree that we should get rid of private property. What incentive would anyone have to produce/take care of anything if they didn’t own it?

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j July 23, 2011 at 07:19

Great article to read.
It’s a good point – money is a useful tool. Money can transmit ideas and information quickly.
However, it’s a competing system to what lies underneath.
It distorts communication. For example, in some corporations not a single employee has been found to condone the action of the company they work for.
How does it do this?
There is a disconnect. If I spend $5 on a burger I only see the price, I don’t know how my spending is affecting the world.

Can we fix this?

Money is like digital in an analogue world; it doesn’t fit.

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Suelo August 22, 2011 at 15:04

Hmm, the whole infinite universe outside our little bubble of commercial civilizstion lives without money and conscious barter, and everyone living without money outside this bubble has a specialized role and everyone gets what they need at the proper season, and hoarding is naturally selected out. And nature’s economy is balanced. And we, with our expert marketeers and PhD economists haven’t figure out how to balance the budget of even a single nation, much less balance ourselves with the environment we depend upon. How ingenious.

Funny there’s no mention in your article of the unbearable price upon our environment and upon our r poorer nations and upon our very own individual mental health our way of life is imposing upon us. Who are the real ascetics here, imposing hardships upon both self and other?

Yeah, I’m one of those dumb moneyless experimentalists.

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Invest It Wisely August 22, 2011 at 15:57

Yeah, a lot of things are screwed up but it’s not the fault of money but rather those people who are trying to impose their will on others.

Nature is cruel, though. We could do without money if we lived like animals, but it would be a harsh existence. We could probably do without money if we lived in very small communities and only bartered.

If you want specialization of labour and indirect exchange, there is no getting around money. Money prices tell you what is more or less valued by the consumers and without those prices, you can’t rationally plan an economy.

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Suelo August 23, 2011 at 12:25

What I like is that you use clear, critical thinking to refute your opposition & support your argument. But you still use the old put-a-derogatory-label-on-your-opposition method, showing there’s still bias. Most anybody who has ever experimented, whether in science, economics, or social life, has dealt with labels (bias), because the very nature of experimentation goes against status quo. I’ve gotten lots of labels over the years, but a rare few have dared give rational arguments as to why our moneyless experiments are “stupid.” So kudos to you for being the rare few.

A lot of these arguments you bring up I tackle in my website (FAQ & essays). I’ll summarize some here, answering some of your arguments:

“…it’s not the fault of money but rather those people who are trying to impose their will on others.” I sort of agree. Money isn’t evil, but a tool. But it’s sort of like the “liberal” argument that drugs or alcohol aren’t the fault, but the addictive nature that abuses them, or the “conservative” argument that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Should we give drugs to addicts or guns to children or criminals? Money is not the source of greed & abusive power, but it facilitates it. A few people can handle it, but most can’t, as evidenced all around us.

“Nature is cruel… it would be a harsh existence.” Nature might be “cruel,” but doesn’t hold a candle to the cruelty of commercial civilization. All existence, to the smallest nano-particle, is eater-&-eaten, positive-&-negative, & there’s no way around it. Accepting this is the key to life. The very nature of Commercial civilization (control of credit & debt, & possession) is base on the delusion that we can eliminate negatives & accumulate positives. The result is prolonged suffering, which would be immediately selected out in nature (e.g., you rarely find either obesity or malnutrition in nature, & if you do, it’s quickly selected out). But prolonged suffering is nurtured in the system of credit & debt. You may also want to check out the anthropologist Marshal Sahlin’s idea of the “Original Affluent Society”, about the reality of hunter-gatherer societies and their “harsh” existence.

“We could probably do without money if we lived in very small communities and only bartered.” I agree, except without conscious barter, which is a less-efficient form of money (doing in order to get something in return rather than doing from instinct). I’m talking pure gift economy, doing without ulterior motivation, being real. Ulterior motivation is the very basis of money & conscious barter.

“If you want specialization of labour and indirect exchange, there is no getting around money.” Funny, I’ve always thought the opposite, that homongination, lack of individual specialization, is the halmark of commercial civilization. We all learn the same thing, against instinct, in our schools, whether we like it or not, so we can later do work in assembly-line structure, whether we’re doctors, teachers, or factory workers. We aren’t allowed to follow specialized instinct, unless we’re ready to be ostracized and poor (hence, the poverty of most inventors & artists, whose creations are usually later sold for obscene amounts by marketeers, showing money ends up not really rewarding labor & creativity as we think it does).

I’m not necessarily a primitivist debunking civilization. I’m saying we must open our minds up to alternatives other than what we have (commercial civilization), because it it simply cannot sustain itself.

This means we must encourage experimentation. Maybe my experimentation is bogus, but we can’t ever know for sure without experiment.

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Invest It Wisely August 23, 2011 at 20:57

Well just so there’s no confusion I’m not the author of the post. I just happen to share an interest in these sort of things. ;)

I personally wouldn’t label a moneyless experiment as “stupid”. It’s not up to me to judge what other people value. Depending on the ends you’re seeking, a moneyless way of life might not be the best way to get there. That’s something that we can discuss.

About hunter & gatherer societies, I am well aware that in some ways our modern depiction of their hardship is overblown. They ate better food than we do, got plenty of exercise, and didn’t have to worry about debt. Nonetheless, a hunter & gatherer society is also a Malthusian existence. The closer we become like the animals, the more we live like them. In the animal kingdom, death, rape, murder, pillage, and infanticide are the order of the day. A world where the population expands to the limits of sustenance is a world where each man’s gain is another’s loss, where conflicts are inevitable over scarce resources, and where war and death is the only way of resolving these conflicts.

Such instincts live on within us, but we are also intelligent and we can live in a better way. A society based on the specialization of labour and trade turns biological competition into economic cooperation. The height of prices tells entrepreneurs how much effort they should devote to baking bread, making shoes, and writing poetry. Trade brings people closer together by making them dependent on one another, and the specialization of labour makes everyone wealthier by allowing people to focus on what they are good at and trade with others. Over time, the capital accumulation from accumulated surpluses enriches the lives of everyone. Indirect exchange via money is what allows us to calculate just how people’s subjective valuations come together via these very prices that tell us what people want. Money originally came about from the indirect actions of the common people, not the elite.

In a market economy, there is no conflict of interest between the consumer and the producer. The height of prices is based on how much people are willing to pay for something, and these prices attract producers based on their height. The more shoes people want, the more they will get. This system of social organization is what allows people to meet the ends they desire.

Many of the problems you discuss are really problems of the monopolization of certain segments of society backed by the use of coercion and force. Some coercion is necessary and inescapable in order to have a society. Beyond this, where there is coercion instead of voluntary trade, people will necessarily be worse off. I totally agree with you about the schools and the regimentation of society, and I have but to ask: who is doing this to us? It isn’t the individual actions of people seeking to meet their own ends. Instead, it is the will of people seeking to impose their value judgements upon others.

I completely agree with you that we must encourage experimentation. We must allow people the ability to vote with their feet so that societies are encouraged to develop better rules and incentives. I am for a voluntary order and believe that such an order is what leads to the best results. This isn’t about left wing or right wing; this is about the entrenched interests versus the rest of us. Protectionism, trade wars, favoritism, crony capitalism and all of that crap impoverishes all of us. Equal trade, free money in the hands of the people, not the elite, and free entrepreneurship is what enriches us all.

Some interesting sites I like:

http://mises.org/
http://athousandnations.com/

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justin August 28, 2011 at 18:11

People who write articles focused on the erection and slaying of preposterous strawmen are…stupid.

The bankrupt notion of progress is ironic in this regard: it ends with the liquidation of unfunded liabilities (you) when the liabilities have priced their existence beyond affordability. How convenient that you all forget how replaceable you are while the technology you love renders you useless. Don’t worry, robots need very little and the owners of the “money supply” you all believe exists have priced your obsoleteness fully into the equation.

Deflation is the new inflation.

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Suelo August 29, 2011 at 11:14

Nice, thoughtful reply, IIW, but chock full of pop misconceptions.

(Note when I speak of hunting & gathering peoples, I don’t mean all tribal cultures, but true hunter-gatherers who practiced gift economy, not practicing trade or agriculture (e.g., the Hadza, Bushmen & Pygmies until recently). Also note I don’t necessarily advocate returning to hunter-gatherer, but taking on gift economy principle they practice)

MYTH: “a hunter & gatherer society is also a Malthusian existence”.
FACT: Isn’t it just the opposite? Malthusian theory states that a population increases at a rate higher than its means of subsistance, unless checked by moral restraint or disaster. Who is overpopulating beyond sustainability here? Human population started growing exponentially at the dawn of trade civilizsation, not before. Hunting and gathering societies (e.g., Kalahari Bushmen) had zero population growth, &, according to anthropologists, no infanticide. They averaged 2 children per family. The Hadza, Bushmen, & Pygmies have not practiced war, though surrounded by warring trade cultures. And, yes, natural selection holds all populations in check, if you call that disaster. Commercial society is under the delusion we can eliminate natural selection, which is precisely why we have overpopulation. But natural selection has its way eventually, backlashing in greater force on us.
Myth: “The closer we become like the animals, the more we live like them. In the animal kingdom, death, rape, murder, pillage, and infanticide are the order of the day.”
We delude ourselves that we are not animals, separate from nature. Death is certainly the order of the day for ALL of us, & there’s no way around it. Our society denies this infallible certainty. And rape, murder, pillage, and infanticide exist among non-human animals, but are far and few between, not the order of the day, as they ARE in commercial civilization! Anybody who actually experiences nature, rather than watches hyped nature flicks, understands this. Other animal’s behavior doesn’t hold a candle to the rape, murder, pillage, and infanticide among modern humans, especially those in all industrialized societies!
MYTH: “…specialization of labour and trade turns biological competition into economic cooperation.”
Our own experience right now shows the economic competition of “free” market evolves into less and less cooperation. Example: we all know you can’t find the same component for 2 different brands of the same product, you can’t drive from one store parking lot to another (barriers), and nobody can share because everybody has to have their own product, and products are built disposable, and jobs are sent over seas where sweatshop labor is cheap and unjust, outside our land’s moral laws. It is the lack of restraint on the banks & market that has caused today’s economic crisis.

MYTH: “The height of prices tells entrepreneurs how much effort they should devote to baking bread, making shoes, and writing poetry.”
FACT: Entrepreneurs rarely bake bread, make shoes, or write poetry. They sell those things. The more these things become sold commodities, the lower their quality, and the higher the exploitation of those who actually create these things. Any poet or artist knows that if they start thinking about selling, their creativity diminishes. Just look around & within.

MYTH: “Trade brings people closer together by making them dependent on one another…”
FACT: The very isolationism of commercial culture, lack of community, is what drives some people to check out of society and form community. I like people to interact with me because its natural, not because they are paid or want something in trade. Okay, I concede, prostitution brings people “together”. But, I don’t know about you, I’d rather be together with someone because it’s from their heart, not because they are trading me for a service.

MYTH: “Over time, the capital accumulation from accumulated surpluses enriches the lives of everyone.”
FACT: Over time, thousands of years, and we’re still waiting. Sounds wonderful in textbooks & Ayn Rand novels. There are no examples in reality. Division of rich and poor and classism is the very nature of commercial society. Just look around, look at history.

FACT: “Many of the problems you discuss are really problems of the monopolization of certain segments of society backed by the use of coercion and force.”
FACT: Yes, I agree with you here! These problems are the result of monopolization of corporations! The certain result of unbridled “free market” is monopolization: mega-corporations, who love to decry big governemt, ARE the big government! Corporations, by their very nature, will either buy our or squash anybody in their way, by force. Free market competition, not cooperation. Look what the biggest prophets of “free market” (like Milton Friedman)have done all over the world, crushing democracy and setting up totalitarian dictatorships in the name of “freedom.” They have indeed created prosperity, but only for the few.

FACT: “This isn’t about left wing or right wing; this is about the entrenched interests versus the rest of us.”
FACT: I agree with you. Notice how the only time democrats and republicans go silent in full agreement is when the subject of Free Trade comes up (which has pushed jobs overseas) and when the Federal Reserve chairman speaks, because both agree with this very foundation of society which is in the interest of corporations, not of people. And those who question this foundation are called wackos and called far left or far right. But truth has no sides.

FACT: Unbridled free market is the only way. I actually agree! But the nature of money is not free. The very definition of free is “without price, without money, without control.” The basis of money is lack of trust in nature’s balance, manipulation of nature’s free market. Take an apple from a tree and the tree expects nothing in return, but it gets what it needs in return in the natural cycle, because nobody controls it. Nature is balanced when nobody controls it. Capitalists have a basis of truth when they harp on “free market”, but have missed the point. A true free market is gift economy, giving up control of credit and debt, giving expecting nothing in return, doing out of heart instinct, which is the principle of Nature & the foundation of every religion, though few practice it.

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SAD October 1, 2011 at 23:37

Tardbitch. Money is evil, bottom line. It just goes to show how reliant and brainwashed we are into thinking it’s important and needed. It’s a piece of fucking paper with printed symbols and letters. Humankind has existed for thousands of years just fine without it, until the past 100 years or so, and we’ve just continued to decline rapidly. There will come a time when money has no value, so we’d better get used to it and start making changes NOW. We’re so comfortable in our bullshit security and this consumer world, people are so fucking blinded. Money has just transferred from a means of paper transaction to a digital number on a screen, now. Most people don’t even see their money, it’s just numbers manipulated here and there. Convenience is another thing that brought us into the plague of humankind we’re in now. We’re so impatient. Is it any wonder in our rush rush rush society that people are more depressed, anxious, diseased and sick and tired? Yeah, maybe spending a lot of your day tilling crops, making food and other things seems like a “waste” of time, but would you rather sit in an office day after day on a computer, never really making A BIT OF DIFFERENCE at all? THAT’S a true waste of life. We’re so cut off from each other and nature, and we’re all paying for it. It’s only going to get worse.

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JT McGee October 2, 2011 at 18:52

More swearing would add more validity to your argument.

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someguy May 25, 2012 at 02:00

maybe you should read this article entitled “profanity works”
http://37signals.com/svn/posts/1214-profanity-works

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Faith February 21, 2012 at 13:29

I really do enjoy how many people strictly believe that you simply cannot live without money, when in fact, you can. Nothing’s a commodity. Our rotten society just made it that way. Just like how religion is nothing more than Worship of the sun. lol

I suppose it’s true; for every opinion there’s an equal opposite. I see what you did there.

As the wise men would say, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems. Or something”

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Robert O. Sweetman May 22, 2012 at 13:53

Myself and a small group of surfer & sailing cohorts while never really having planned or thought about living without money managed to do so, simply because there was no place to spend it if you did have it, and quite frankly we did fine without it to begin with. In the late 1960′s given the era of the tune in, turn on, drop out sub-culture phenomena where young people in rejecting the status quo of establishment and having a warm security blanket of financial security America provides, decided to take on the challenge simply out of adventure & the love of nature(ocean) made a deal with the owner of a 40 foot sail boat in Newport Beach CA, that if we offered to sail the boat to Tahiti for him in exchange for our ride there along with our backpacks & surfboards.

We ended up when we got there of procuring a 30′ tri-maran and sailed it to cruise & surf the Micronesia & Polynesian islands where on one island we built 3 3 story tree houses and lived on the beach for almost a year living off the land which had all sorts of fruit trees & set up a net during high tide to get all the fish we needed

Then we got word of a friend in Hawaii (Island of Kauai) where we sailed to the island of Kauai and lived in a small commune of surfers called “Taylor Camp”. We lived there for 3 years, had an organic garden, fishing nets & used no money for the 2 years I lived there anyway. I have lived in paradise during my young adulthood free of the traps people in America find themselves in living in the culture of empire.

Not me Brothers & Sisters.
Aloha

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