Re: TANSTAAFL vs. Peer Economics

Joel 'Twisty' Nye (
Sat, 30 Nov 1996 15:42:04 -0500

I've greatly enjoyed the many discussions stemming from my suggestion of
an Economy based on Peer Networking. Unfortunately, I'm still
formulating my theory as I present it, and judging from the many turns
these conversations have taken, I've likely been too implicit in
conveying my thoughts...

While the Free Lunch is a rare thing today, we are living in an open
system, and Free Lunches (before history) have been the exception and
not the rule. I am not suggesting we all go back to the Stone Age...
clearly it is not feasible to live the hunter gatherer existance that
Humanity used to know. But our methods of production and gathering
have changed with time, and sooner or later, so will money.

In this Information Age, we have learned many lessons from the
Industrial Era, both good and bad. We have changed our sources of
energy from natural sources to unreplenishable fossil fuels, and then
back. We have gone from conservation, to "bigger is always better,"
back to conservational downsizing. It is entirely feasible for humanity
to adopt a Free Lunch program, if there is significant interest.
(Perhaps it may never reach Earth by the time it is adopted on
extraplanetary colonies.) If there is enough interest, humanity will
find a way to make it happen.

The reason we do not currently have Free Lunches is that the Large
population of humans on Earth does not preclude the limited supply of
food from being unfairly consumed by 'unfairly' small numbers.
Food "just happens" on our world, but does not happen fast enough
without the attention and technology of today's farms and producers.
The current method for controlling this is to ration our consumption
by means of the monetary "merit system." Yet for good or bad, this is
not the only solution, nor is it eternal.

The idea of rationing treats the symptom, not the cause. It controls
only a person's excess of demand, not the shortage of supply. As
Extropians, I expect that we would be more interested in lifting limits
on our ability to sustain ourselves.

I foresee a change in money for a few reasons:
o Government Regulation tends to increase our need to serve money
by causing even land owners to own taxes on land.
o The past economy of depletible resources is being supplanted by
an economy of undepletible knowledge and information.
(It's not "spent" when shared.)
o With every new invention, we see that there is less work that we
'have to' do, as more of it it done by technology. Yet likewise
there is less work we HAVE 'to do,' and jobs become fewer or less
rewarding. Eventually, this could hit critical mass if the old
monetary "merit system" determines who controls the others' holdings.

It is a characteristic of humans (at least here in America) to desire
Freedom. Yet we currently are enslaved to money, forsaking our personal
interests in exchange for 'earning our keep.' It was worse in the
Industrial Era, where the few individuals who run the corporations were
the ones whose personal interests the business best served.

These days, we are seeing a shift. A business holds together if there
are enough players who are unified by a common goal or vision. A boss's
desires are rarely served by 'mindless masses' anymore... but there is
still the power of numbers when a team is unified by purpose. (And
still the scarey existance of mass-produced mob mentalities.) Yet these
days humans are not interchangible parts... they have skills, knowledge,
and interests that determine their value to a team.

Commodities are valued differently by everyone. It puzzles me how the
stock market determines so much of value when this planet is actually
covered by six billion walking talking economies of their own! Some
produce surplusses of their special commodity, but won't share it unless
convinced that your use would serve their interests. (Often from a
marketting angle.)

There are some good reads found at ,
but I still think that the solution lies in a paradigm shift,
from hierarchial client-server money-consumer notions, to
a peer-to-peer sharing of interests and efforts. If we make it worth
while for people to direct their efforts together with our own, it could
conceivably obsolete the monitary system.

Joel 'Twisty' Nye,