Dear Yanis Varoufakis,
I'm delighted to see a finance minister to be more critical and open in aspects of finance than the average we have seen in the recent years, worldwide. Financial systems are a long-time interest of mine, not because I like them in particular, but as a major important component in a complex system we call society or reality in a broader sense. If Greece defaults out of the Euro zone, and I'm not saying it should, not giving in into a repressive policy that ruins society at large is very important and I see that you understand its long-term effects.
If no money is spent on development programs, the long-term beneficial effects will stop and the useless debt cycle will just speed in the long run.
In the past, the Greeks introduced the revolutionary theory of democracy, which has conquered most parts of the world. Unfortunately, democracy is not a very resistant form of government. Not that democracy is unstable in becoming a different leading form on paper, but the fundamental idea that the people govern in the interest of all people can get easily polluted. The most influential factor in a democracy has become the question of the largest money pile that can finance enough lobby, produce enough print articles, TV shows and ads to form their opinion in other peoples' heads. Those are the groups which write the laws that end up in the political body to form the rules to their agenda. We have been overtaken by an oligarchy. Even though the study is USA centric, secret trade agreements like TTIP, TISA and all the other 3 letter acronyms you can think of, show that there are not many, but a single oligarchy forming. There is no democracy in having secret meeting about laws with other countries, especially when it affects the lives of the people the government should represent.
In essence, money is just a shared belief system—the current oligarchy is in power because we believe the money they posses is worth something. I respect the Euro because I believe it will appease my hunger tomorrow when I exchange it for food. The intrinsic value of fiat money is none; not even gold has much value except for the belief that people did and do a lot for it.
When there is a huge drop in the stock market, the economists cry that there are billions lost. No. In the real world nothing changed much—a group of people or trading algorithms decided something is not worth that much as some minutes ago. Nothing shows this absurdity more then the recent Flash Crashes. We are controlled by money which is controlled and moved by trading algorithms to create more money from money. The average stock holding has been falling steadily from years to month and is still falling. Stocks have nothing to do any more with the original idea of being a part of something greater. It was a great idea.
With the rise of High-frequency Trading the belief in any country's currency is basically constantly at risk. Most people do not understand how these bots work, but I can assure you, not even the programmers who wrote them understand it. One of the technologies used, for example, are artificial neural networks. They are used to find hidden patterns in fast amounts of data, recognize images or understand language—they have a wide range of uses. However, they work through training, you put in data and the network trains itself; when you have unknown data, the network gives you a decision depending on the training data. You can not understand why the decisions are made the way they are, the internal rules of the network that create the decision are not understandable any more, either.
It is more or less our luck so far that those bots did not end up in an endless spiral and we can just hope that there is enough entropy in algorithms (different sorts of algorithms) to prevent a loop of constant devaluation.
While the great depression rampaged many societies worldwide, there was the little known Wörgl Experiment. A currency that lost value over time, a demurrage currency. It represents value like nature does, through decay, and instead of creating constantly more money, the value decays and the currency stabilizes over time. The town flourished despite the depression and many towns nearby wanted to join in. It got shut down because of the fear that the money monopoly could be lost.
A system that required no growth, caused more growth and better state of living than the surrounding areas, is something to think about.
Limits of Growth has warned us 40 years ago that endless growth will have a disastrous end in a well-defined model. Last year a study showed that we are on track for the worst possible outcome. Growth is not the solution but the problem and it sources in our monetary system itself.
As our society processes further into automation, the required human labour force will shrink, as predicted by many experts. With more unemployment, however, the products created by this automation will become less affordable for many, rendering the whole process useless for humanity at large. We have already reached a level where a 40-hour week is too much in the sum, but instead of everybody working less, some work a lot and some none at all. As long as people are depending on a job, and the choice very often is to work full-time or none at all, an equilibrium will not be created.
The most productive man is a man that has passion for what he is doing. If everybody is given a chance to do what their heart is all about, the productivity of the society at large will simply sky-rocket. Sadly, we are far too often under pressure to do not what we really like doing, but what our very own life has lead to—sometimes a bad decision, sometimes dire need, sometimes pure chance. The reasons why we do what we do areas various as –people are. Most humans, however, if asked whether they are totally happy with what they are doing and truly passionate about their respective jobs, would answer no. They are living unfulfilled lives because we have created a system that gives no equal chances to everybody.
The concept of the unconditional basic income frees everybody from the burden of doing something they don't embrace. It will transform society, it will greatly transform how much is paid for different jobs. The best paid jobs will be the ones nobody really likes doing, but they will get done because at some point someone will think the money is worth more then their time. I see no problem in the garbage man doing one of the better paid jobs, or even the best one. I would clean garbage for some months too, not for years, but I could imagine doing a lot of different jobs for some time. Everything that is important will get done, because somebody will be bothered enough.
People without jobs are more depressed not only because of the monetary shortage, but also bacause of the feeling of being unneededthat society creates towards them.Certainly, some of them will need guidance in finding their new place in such a transformed society,which is a question of organization and a proper transit into the new order.
A very good concept that was already used successful in a mass-transition is Spiral Dynamics while the Apartheid ended. With the new media formats in place, a transformation like this can surely be managed smoothly.
It is absurd that we measure the rank of a country mainly by growth rate and monetary values, when the real question should be Whether people inhabiting it lead happy and fullfilled lives.There are alternative indexes like the Happy Planet Index that seem much more reasonable than the values constantly presented inby the mass media.
Andreas Popp und Rico Albrecht combined a lot of these ideas into one very coherent system that uses basic income with a demurrage currency, free press and a land ownership model to get us out of the growth mess we have put ourselves into—a theory called Plan B. Rico Albrecht worked out the mathematics to ensure an apparently stable currency with no runaway effects. The only point they missed in my opinion is the importance of free science. Free science is as much important as free media. Over the years more and more money on universities got bound to projects with ties to company projects. The output of free wisdom that helps society at large is shrinking. In industrial science you don't try to understand the physics behind a phenomenon, it is good if you can, but your primary focus is to optimize a certain process to fit into your target parameters, simple as that. Very often, you simply fiddle around until you get it into the direction you want and it is not important if your models and your results don't match the way they should, as long as you reach your target parameters.
Another shocking example of missing free science that has put us back at least 30 years I will present shortly.
More than that, implementing a liquid democracy voting process into such a basic income society would revolutionize how decisions are made. For example, the 300 people with the most voting delegations would build the parliament (this should of course be grouped by the categories in which the delegations can be made to ensure all areas have full time experts). You could have for example a 2-month sliding window: If you lose for 2 months your majority of delegations, you will still get paid your extra parliamentary salary for 2 months, so if you started to decide against the people, or showed major character flaws, you still can make it up to the people. If you fall out, you are not broke, you are just like everybody else. People simply wouldn't trust you any more to make decisions for them.Such a system has the possibility to create a parliament of experts, that are not longer governed by monetary system, heavy lobbing, questionable experts or controlled by the party line.
Greek philosophers brought us democracy over 2000 years ago, it is time for Greece to bring us the next stage of social development. Not only Greece is in need of a huge change—the whole world is. It is just a question of time when one country after another will fall under the burden of the enormous depth trap.
The world needs a lighthouse, a brave nation to take the first step out of the mess.When people see that there is a better way, they will follow and then other countries will follow too.
I see a chance to not repeat the mistakes we made.