Charles Hugh Smith: Fixing The Way We Work

You guys painted a lot of ugly pictures (that typically have been addressed with revolution across millennia).   One factor not mentioned: Is Man of Nature or Not?  It seems humans think the latter and that is the core of the problem.   Look at Nature to see what works.  I don't see guaranteed income out there.  It seems Charles system would have no throttle on human procreation, and isn't that one of the main problems we have today?  Please read "Fiat Money Inflation in France" to see how well government-printed money worked.   Not well in the mid-term.   Politics corrupts.  I personally want to get rid of credit cards and move to an equity-based monetary system.

"What is Money?" essay by Bastiat

KugsCheese, I understand your point about human population growth. All available evidence (to the best of my knowledge) definitely points to two and only two factors that dramatically lower human birthrates: 1) improving the education of females 2) improving the opportunities of females. My system offers both to anyone who cares to opt in, and in this way I think my system offers the most effective means of reducing human birth rates without coercion.
As a bonus, it also reduces the primary motivation of immigration, which is lack of opportunity in one's home region.

My money system is 'fiat", but it's based on the production of scarce goods and services in local communities. The only guarantee my system offers is paid work for doing useful work that the community has selected as the most needed at that time.

The problem with any asset-based money is it ends up in the hands of the already-wealthy. My system distributes paid work and thus money to those creating the goods and services at the bottom of the wealth/income/power pyramid. This links work and money issuance directly. Without such a causal link, every money system will follow the one we now have–the wealthy accumulate the assets and money and the poor are left with scraps.

I realize this is outside the bounds of conventional money theory.

Nice response to an often referred line of thinking that, "somehow we can figure our way out of this mess".Realists will always be in the minority in a world of romantics. Human imagination, usually, will takes us down the rabbit hole that, ultimately, results in delusion. If it wasn't for hope, humans would have petered out thousands of years ago.
One of my ancestors was hung, back in revolutionary times, for passing counterfeit Colonial dollars. Whether he did it knowingly or not, the consequences of his actions only further illustrate that fiat paper certificates carry about as much integrity as the paper they're printed on! Always love your observations. 

Charles, an interesting proposal, and well commented on by the "tribe". 8^)
Here's a few references that can deepen the issues, and maybe influence the proposals put forth:

  • One of the best current writers on money systems is Bernard Lietaer.  His recent books give a deep history of currency systems, and he has a good argument for an "ecology of money" -- any single monetary system will be too fragile to meet all the requirements on it.
  • A problem that was tangentially mentioned above is population.  Check out Catton's "Overshoot", and various of Greer's books.  One way or another, the human population of the earth will be reduced dramatically by the end of the century -- can you devise a monetary system that will reward voluntary population reduction, while still supporting the necessities of life and maintaining social coherence during the decline?  (As an aside, it's worth noting that the population of many European countries has been declining over the last few decades, and the US population has only been growing via immigration.)
  • I find Wendell Berry's essays on the effects of industrial civilization very much worth reading.  Over his lifetime, he's seen the agricultural society of rural Kentucky degraded by industrialization, automation, and industry's destruction of soil and community.  He has an interesting perspective on community: it must be based on a deep relation with place and land (essentially being part of the local ecosystem).  Here's an interesting example: compare a farmer-owner using a horse with another using a tractor.  We know the advantages of the tractor, but consider this: the horse was likely born and raised locally, its "inputs" come from grazing locally, and its "outputs" return to the local ecosystem, as does the horse itself when it dies.  Everything about the tractor, however, must be imported at a cost of money that leaves the local economy -- independent subsistence farming becomes impossible, and crushing debt all too common.  (And of course, what the tractor "leaves" locally is far from beneficial.)
Yes, this is a grimmer picture than what Charles proposes, but I don't consider it hopeless.  What it's going to require, however, is communities characterized by courage, compassion, and a long-term view.

Here's some "Rules for community survival during the decline" that occurred to me some time ago; they still look reasonable to me:

Rule 1: Don't try to go it alone, or even with a small group of family and/or friends. You need enough people to create a society.
Rule 2: Social cohesion is a crucial factor for success; put differently, you need to create a true community (or leverage an existing one).
Rule 3 (law of requisite variety): You'll need a variety of roles, skills, viewpoints, and personality types. It's true of communities as well as biomes: a rich web of relationships among diverse entities is more survivable than a sparse one or a “monoculture”.
Rule 4: No matter how well you plan for your future, you're going to be surprised. Build a capacity for continuous learning into the community (in Peter Senge's terms, become a learning organization)
Rule 5: In particular, learn to see whole systems, and to understand/perceive cross-time trends, relationships, etc. As an example of the latter, understand the interplay between normal change and revolutionary change; learn to be good at both.
Rule 6: As for individuals, so for communities: don't try to go it alone – form communities of communities within your region.
Rule 7: In particular, you need enough people within the region to provide a viable breeding population, and to avoid genetic stagnation. Exogamy is good for the genes and, by enriching the web of relationships, for the society.
Rule 8: Aim to thrive, not just eke out a survival. Pessimism and despair have negative survival value. Consider yourselves not refugees from a doomed civilization, but founders of a new one.
Rule 9: That said, allow yourselves occasional time to grieve, to mourn, to remember, and to honor those lost. This will keep them from becoming “elephants in the room”, an unspoken burden on your spirits.
Rule 10: Develop an understanding and acceptance of the role of death in life. {Need more on this}
    (From Terrence Des Pres, noted in his book about death camps, The Survivor:: “Western civilization is the negation of biological reality; and unavoidably, since life and death are inextricable, the denial of death comes finally to be a denial of life… There is terrible irony in this, for whereas awareness of death generates firm care for life, death-denial ends in a fury of destruction.”)

The above certainly isn't original with me, except for the form in which I've listed them.  Oh yes, don't take the word "Rules" too seriously; they're really just my best guess.

Dwig, excellent post, thank you. I think my system enables and incentivizes rules 1 through 6 from the ground up.

We agree with Everyone, and what say here CHS.
Our book, free download Describe a blue print for a new society almost exactly what CHS described here, we like to read his book.
We also, we have designed a very practical transition from today's society, to this new society. In a few weeks it will be published in  Educating people in this important matter, while offer a service of real value to the public, while making money to make this transition. You are invited to participate as Co-Creator, Investor or activist.  Feel free to contact us.
We agree with you.
The final nail to bury this society, is moving into a new energy source, and LENR, seems to be the answer, although there may be other black horses in this race to replace fossil fuels.
For a total change of society, we also need a change of its primary energy source.
Our book, free download Describe a blue print for a new society almost exactly what CHS described here, we like to read his book.
We also, we have designed a very practical transition from today's society, to this new society. In a few weeks it will be published in  Educating people in this important matter, while offer a service of real value to the public, while making money to make this transition. You are invited to participate as Co-Creator, Investor or activist.  Feel free to contact us.

Yes, we have to eliminate this elite, but the best course of action is Educate all the people in this matter.
Educated people will eliminate this people, not by violence but by obsolescence.

The point of Mark, It is that we must include the idea of taxing the accumulation of wealth, and not let this new system without taxes.

In our 2013 book, free download, we propose to pay tax on wealth accumulation and not on the flow of money. So who has more, pay more.  Also only pay tax above the normal richness decided by your locality. Thus, if in your locality decide than normal, is to have a boat, you do not pay taxes on your boat. But if your locality says that's not normal, then you pay taxes on your boat, your plane, etc. The same for businesses. The locality should coordinate with their state goals, and the states with the goals of the country.
And it is also correct that capital can fly, but if the new system is implemented throughout the world, nowhere to escape, as the current failure of tax havens must be addressed. This new system should think, to boot locally, but to work in a global, integrated world.
You also are right about "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" , the solution is the right education model, to create intelligent and sensible people.  The current education system don't work. We propose a new education model in our book.

Yes, the value system is broken.
We can fix that changing the education system, to create intelligent and sensible people.  we have a proposal for a new education system in our book, based on the best systems in the world and history.

The first step to this new society is the change of educational system.

I've just finished reading the book. There was so much covered, so many new concepts and new approaches to work and money creation, etc. I'll surely have to reread parts or all of it to better grasp the workings, but learning to think outside the box, way outside, appears to be a healthy approach to the future we face.
The best aspect of the system you describe IMO is how it is not an all or nothing approach. You've addressed many of the pitfalls of existing money systems and community systems by allowing free flow of membership/agency, welcoming creative destruction, simultaneous parallel money systems,etc.

I would imagine there are others, many others, like me, that are ready to experiment and likely fail a few times in the effort to get a system such as CLIME viable and up and running. People that understand the unjust nature of the current currency system and work system are ripe for embracing a system that cannot be gamed by the Elite or the something-for-nothing's.
I remember it mentioned in the book that a percentage of work would go to children, those unable to work, etc. in the locality. Deciding the percentage and who qualifies as "in need" and which group is responsible for who seems like a daunting task and another area where fraud would likely arise.

Still, I want to join the others here that applaud and support your efforts Charles. The amount of thought that went into your book and outlining a new, more fair, more healthy, more positive result generating system is incredible. So, thank you.


PS- I also want to applaud he fact that you monitor the comment section here at PP. Very few of the guest contributors and interviewees make the effort. It easily doubles the value of the article when the guest "stays around" to clear up or add to the discussion.

Thank you, SingleSpeak, for your kind words about the book, and also for recognizing the value of this forum for both readers and the authors of the posts. I have learned so much from reader critiques, questions and comments here, because as we all know, we don't really learn much if everyone agrees…
You are right, there will always be openings in any human-operated system for bias and corruption, and ultimately the strength of my proposed system rests on "vote with your feet."  If a group gets corrupted, its members can leave and join other groups or start their own.  If the group is biased, if it's reported and investigated, its accreditation will be voided and its members no longer get paid.

I've come to see CLIME as a system that bypasses the stranglehold of power held by those who issue and distribute the money. By paying people directly for creating useful goods and services in their community, CLIME disrupts the concentration of power intrinsic to centrally issued money, and enables participants to build their own engines of value creation.

Many people do not know what is happening.

That is the reason why in addition to design an alternative system, we need an intermediate system that allows educate people on these important issues while making money to develop an alternative system.
The good news is that we already have this alternative system in development, and hopefully with the help of people in this forum, participate in this.
totally agree, let the function of creation of money to the state, without changing our political model, which is called "democracy", but actually is a "plutocracy" will bring us problems, since the value of money depends on confidence that people have in that money.
Therefore, a new educational process, which is running prior to the launch of the new economic system is needed. Direct democracy can be applied by new technologies to keep government in check, but does not work without first educating the population.
the best we can do now is share with family and friends, these important issues, and is excellent your idea, if we do share a beer and food.
Educate is our priority.
That's right, when inflation is raising money but does not increase the amount of goods and services. That's in a normal economy.
But in abnormal like Venezuela, where there is trust in the local currency, economy we have seen inflation without increasing the amount of money or without decreasing the amount of goods available, simply inflation, and that Venezuelans do not trust They save your local currency and in dollars or euros. So we also see cases like Japan where prices do not increase despite an increase in the amount of yen, as Japanese save in your currency. the economic system they propose to demurrage, is a nice feature to accelerate the velocity of money. As was demonstrated in the experiment worgl. A monetary experiment died of success, because your success before the central bank exercised its legal monopoly and banned. 
That is also correct, values and economics are linked, and that our economic relations are a demonstration of our values.
Here we enter another difficult issue, because every society has its own values, its moral. Therefore we propose that values ​​are taught from a perspective "natural" product of the scientific observation of human nature, without being contaminated with the local morale. In this way we can give common foundations to humans, without falling into the problem of whether they are moral for society and not for another. Cultural, moral values ​​should not be added later in infant stages of human development. Since each culture must be maintained, and should be the individuals themselves to keep or eliminate certain moral values ​​of their society.
With regard to the question whether it is possible or not to change the behavior of human beings in large masses, these experiments made by Edward Bernays, Freud's nephew and father of modern advertising. This excellent documentary will see how I change the behavior of millions of people,, using the media with the appropriate campaigns. We can do the same, but for social good.

Charles, I took advantage of the long weekend to read the book (e-edition), and took copious notes.  Putting it succintly, I was very impressed – CLIME is a solid, well-thought out system.
I think the book is well worth a detailed reply, which I'll try to complete in the next week or so.  (Over the last decade or so, I've been reading from many sources that relate to the topics in the book, so I'll need some time to organize my thoughts – which will be a valuable exercise in itself.) 

In the meantime, if you haven't read Toby Hemenway's "The Permaculture City", I strongly recommend it – I think the permaculture "world view" could offer a very useful perspective on several aspects of CLIME (and Hemenway lives in Sebastopol, not too far from Berkeley, so he might be available for a dialogue).  Teaser: among other things, he touches on some economic issues, and the multilple forms of capital.

Thank you for the kind words about the book, Dwig, and I look forward to your further comments.
As for The Permaculture City, I am sure I am in agreement with the core concepts, and my addition, if you will, boils down to proposing a self-funded monetary system that can't be hijacked by the central state. bank or banks, and most importantly, it does not create money via borrowing it into existence.

I also propose that community groups organize work to meet scarcities rather than rely totally on markets to decide what's profitable/unprofitable. Markets have a place, but they're not everything.

In effect, I'm proposing 1) a new ontology of work and money 2) a new political system 3) a new economic system, all of which can grow organically as the current arrangement unravels/frays.

A conversation with Brian Eno – The Guardian | Yanis Varoufakis