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Jen Wilding - From the Great Escape to an Improved Reality - Los Angeles Z-Day, 2013 (Repository)

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This year’s ZDay Main Event is taking place in a city that has been proclaimed 'The Entertainment Capital of the world': Los Angeles, California. The entertainment industry generates billions of dollars in revenue each year from the production and release of television, film, music, online programming, books, and video games for public consumption. Revenue in the industry increased by 15% from the year 2000 to 2008, the employment sector grew by 20% and the overall entertainment industry grew at least 50% in a recent decade. There is no question that, just as we discovered in the 1930s, even in a recession or depression economy people will happily spend a portion of their hard-earned, limited income on entertainment. Millions of people worldwide are pouring money into an industry that allows them the freedom to escape from their everyday life and that’s even before you consider the antidepressant revenue generated by the pharmaceutical industry or the underground illegal market of self-medicating substances. There is a very human need represented in these statistics: the need and/or great desire to psychologically escape. I started off my college education training for a career in the entertainment industry as a writer, actor, director and singer but shortly after making my start into that world, I had an epiphany that caused me to shift course a bit. The epiphany I had came in the form of these questions: What if instead of creating the perfect escape, we created a better reality? Have we forgotten what we are escaping from and that we have the ability to improve upon it? What if we consciously shaped our society to be healthier and more enjoyable? And as a result of these contemplations here I am advocating a Resource-Based Economic Model. [Applause] I've titled this presentation: 'Moving from the Great Escape to an Improved Reality' and I want to begin by posing this question to you, members of the audience... (if we can... up the house lights just a tad for this one... thank you) What comes to mind when I ask: What do you enjoy escaping from? Take a quick moment to reflect on your own circumstance and consider what applies to you, personally and of those answers that come to mind, pick just one of those for a quick exercise. Now that you have one in mind (one of those things you enjoy escaping from) similar to evaluating personal relationships within a 'six degrees of separation' framework, I’d like you to consider just how many 'degrees' that problem you are thinking of, is from money: either having money, needing money, or managing money, a ‘degree’ being a relationship connection. Now, raise your hand if money is three degrees or less from what you are escaping from. Keep your hands up only if it is two degrees or less from your problem. Keep your hands up only if it is one degree away or if money itself was part of what you were thinking of. (quite a few) You may notice that, just as in the well-known parlor game called 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon', when it comes to issues we’d like to escape from money may be perceived as our 'Kevin Bacon' [Laughter] ...which may give a whole new meaning to the phrase: "bringing home the bacon." [More chuckles] This is not at all to suggest that money is “evil” but rather to have you entertain the idea that money is a tool used in our current exchange economy whose detriment often outweighs the benefits of its use both in work/reward scenarios and in a greater social context when compared to what we can technically accomplish using modern advancements in science and technology. In our current market culture money is considered a valuable commodity in and of itself, in a market system where greater value is placed on scarce resources. But consider this: we can technically feed, clothe, and shelter every person on the planet Earth at this point in human development. Ways to meet those particular human needs are not a mystery to humankind in the technical sense, only in the monetary-economic sense of resource acquisition. Now, you may have noticed that when I asked you about the money in relation to your problem, I didn’t just ask if needing money was related to your problem. I also asked if having or managing money was related to your problem. And some of you may be wondering: when is having money a problem? especially when money can be used to purchase goods and services, it would make our life easier! Some people have even affectionately referred to money as “survival tickets” and rightfully so. So what can be problematic about having so many “survival tickets”? This would be a great problem to have, no? Let me start by recounting two quick stories. I used to work for multimillion dollar investment bankers several years ago and in this environment, one day a financially-advantaged celebrity confided in me a secret. He was looking particularly depressed and I asked him if he was feeling okay and he responded by saying: “Some people think my life is so easy, and in some ways it is, but when it comes to relationships my life is especially difficult. I never know if the person I am in a relationship with is with me because they enjoy being with me for who I am or because of what I can do for them.” Fast forward two years later, I’m doing some freelance work for a successful business owner who has made his fortune in the financial services industry. He discovers I volunteer for The Zeitgeist Movement and becomes vaguely familiar with the model we advocate. He says to me “I’ve been thinking about this Resource Based Economy and Jen, I have to be honest with you: I really like my stuff. I worked so hard for it, and I really like my stuff.” And I said “Well, you can keep your stuff. Nobody wants to take your stuff in a RBE because they already have access to the best of what they need but, let me ask you this: even with all your stuff, how are your relationships since you made your fortune?” Insert a long pause … He says, “I think you got me there. Now that you mention it I think I lost one of my best friends recently because I’m doing so much better financially than she is and our last conversation was really awkward. She seemed so frustrated that I’m afraid she’ll never talk to me again. Maybe that goes to show what kind of a friend she is, but I don’t think there’d be an issue if she was also doing well financially or if I wasn’t doing so much better than she is.” With these examples and as we move on, I want you to consider an underlying theme of social inequality and the ways this inequality is ultimately costly to all of us as individuals, and society. I had a great grandmother who was known to say: “If everyone swept their own porch, the whole town would be clean”... this echoing the idea of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand of Free Market Capitalism, suggesting that, if everyone simply motivates themselves to care for their own needs as individuals, then society as a whole will be automatically taken care of as if by an Invisible Hand. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? However, if my great grandmother were alive today, I might ask her how the simplistic porch-sweeping metaphor, the one that suggests an equal amount of sweeping per household, accounts for people born into homes with dirt porches or people having to move to a home with a dirt porch after a corporate workforce reduction. What the Invisible Hand theory fails to acknowledge, or fails to even seek out, are the true root causes of social outcomes such as poverty, crime, disease, drug addiction and environmental instability. In a competitive market system there is an inherent profit motive for creating and mass producing goods as cheaply as possible. The benefit may seem to serve the cost-conscious consumer and the business owner alike in a happy win-win scenario. Where is the win when the product is nuclear energy and the cost-conscious measure was a cheaply made and maintained nuclear plant in Japan on the verge of a large scale technical failure that threatens people’s lives and the general stability of planet’s ecosystem? How expensive did cheap just get? And who ultimately benefits from that? No one. This is the world we are living in now. It’s not ponies and apples and bread and mittens and lanterns anymore, and we need an updated system that is conscious of this interconnection by design. Money has been considered by the free-market advocates to be a great equalizer probably because it does allow for far more flexibility of exchange than barter but mostly because of the erroneous notion that money serves mankind as a tool of equalizing democracy. It is perceived that we are voting with our dollars and thus directly forwarding the progress of the best goods and services for us as individuals and thus also, all of humankind. But here’s where that particular market system vision falls short of reality and moves into the realm of mythology. It presumes consumers start out with the same amount of “votes" or money. It presumes consumers are omniscient: knowledgeable enough to always properly evaluate what is best for them in the short and long term. It presumes business owners and advertisers, with huge profit reward incentive to mislead consumers, would never actually do this. It assumes the best possible quality is always a factor in a purchase decision instead of perhaps quality relative to limited choices that fit budget restrictions. It assumes that the people who have made the most money in society have rightfully earned it by public purchase consent related to their high quality goods and services. Unfortunately, as consumers in today’s monetary system, our actual 'freedom of choice' is limited by our purchasing power. There is no equalizing democracy with our money and Adam’s Smith’s Invisible Hand is, in fact, so invisible we cannot observe any evidence to support its existence. [Applause] As human beings, we start out with the same basic life needs: biological and physiological needs, safety, belongingness and love needs, self-esteem needs; the needs behind the things we hope money can buy us. If we’re all motivated to alleviate and satiate these needs and we all have a supposed 'equal opportunity' at doing so, how is it that some end up accomplishing this easily and some don’t accomplish it at all? Are there cause and effect patterns that can be detected? Are there conclusions that can be drawn from the feedback of these patterns? Yes! And here is where we move from the seeking a Great Escape from Reality to consciously creating an Improved Reality. These are characteristics of a Resource Based Economic Model. (1) No Money or Market System, not even a barter or exchange system in that sense. Money is not a need, it’s merely a route to a need, an abstraction conceived by men to presumably make life easier, but we can move past that now. (2) Automation of Labor: Machines doing the jobs that machines can do freeing people to contribute to society in ways they enjoy contributing. This places 'automation innovation' in a position favorable to humans as opposed to the current one where technology replaces jobs. (3) Technological Unification of Earth via a "Systems" Theory Approach (4) Strategic Access in place of "Personal Property", for example: you have access to the best of what you need when and where you need it instead of everyone owning and storing individual goods. (5) Self-Contained/Localized City and Production Systems. (6) The Scientific Method as the Methodology for Governance. The proven current best solutions are implemented instead of solutions based on popular opinion of elected officials. What I like most about this strategic access model is that the reward for exploitation is removed, offering no reward incentive to gain from exploiting another person. But wait, wait, wait… not so fast, you may say: what about the 'human nature' of competition? Wouldn’t that thwart any effort for such a unified system’s approach? While many argue today the specifics of the Nature vs. Nurture debate from “Blank Slate” Behaviorism to Genetic Determinism it has become clear, at a minimum, that our biology, our psychology and our sociological conditions are inexorably linked to the environment we inhabit, both from the standpoint of biological evolution to short-term biases and values we absorb from our environment as part of our cultural evolution. Consider that indeed humans are competitive when it comes to obtaining desired resources that are scarce. But when resources are plentiful, there is no natural advantage to compete. But wait, wait, wait… what if I don’t want to be a part of any global system and you can’t force me to? When I run into people who are adamantly opposed to “some global access system being imposed on them”, I remind them first that they are already in a global system that is imposed on them-... the monetary system! Then I remind them that participation in a RBE would be voluntary and that the implementation of these ideas is not contingent upon having the approval of every single person on the planet to get a global system started. I also then proceed to secretly wonder if, (these same folks) when they are apartment or house hunting, when they walk into a prospective new place and see that it is pre-equipped with plumbing for running water, toilet facilities, electric wiring, and perhaps a cable hookup, they are equally bothered by the imposition of the assumed desire for those basic provisions as they have been built-in to the set infrastructure. It's so outrageously oppressive, isn't it? [Audience chuckles] But wait, wait, wait… what about incentive? Without money, only relying on volunteers, what’s to stop people from becoming lazy and taking advantage of other people’s labor? A couple of points to that: Studies show that repetitive, mundane jobs lend themselves more to traditional “if-then” rewards such as money, whereas money doesn't seem to motivate people in jobs that involve innovation and creativity. You can read more about those studies in the book 'The Upside of Irrationality' by behavioral economist Dan Ariely, or the book 'Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us' by Daniel Pink. Repetitive and mundane jobs also happen to be the easiest jobs to technologically automate. Without money as an obstacle, in a resource-based model, jobs people don’t want to do will be simply automated while jobs that involve human creativity will involve humans that get a reward from the work itself: volunteers. In a 1992 Gallup Poll, more than 50% of American adults (94 million Americans) volunteered time for social causes, at an average of 4.2 hours a week, for a total of 20.5 billion hours a year! And that study was done in an environment where people also have to work for money in order to live. Imagine what type of creative and innovative work you might be excited to contribute to if your needs were met at a high standard of living? Consider that the “laziness” that people fear might occur (behavior that we do see in our current market system) is actually a behavioral response to not having the freedom to choose work that would be quite satisfying to that person while they still have their basic needs met. Even the model of education would be revolutionized in a RBE model in that, for example: Instead of a person learning a foreign language in order to earn a suitable grade to put toward a degree certificate that will be used to obtain a job that will be used to obtain income that will be used to live, in a RBE model the reward for learning another language might be... THAT YOU LEARNED ANOTHER LANGUAGE! [Loud applause] a skill you desired to acquire, of course. Revolutionary. But at the heart of the questions about incentive and concern about the potential of laziness there is a familiar theme: that of inequality. It wouldn’t be fair if one group of people did the work while another group benefited from rewards of that group’s labor and it isn’t fair, but it’s how the existing market system operates, isn’t it? Business owners own the fruit of their labor force who, after a long days work, still only own their labor. Many people are laboring for something they aren’t emotionally invested in, working merely for survival tickets, working to earn their living instead of being able to live their living. In the book 'The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger' Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson lay out the results of 30 years of research comparing countries with both low and high income inequality, essentially the size of the gap between the richest and poorest of those countries, to see how the size of that gap possibly correlated to other health and social variables such as life expectancy, murder rate, prison population, poverty rate, trust, obesity, social mobility, math skills and literacy and to sum up their findings: the smaller the gap, the better off the society appears to be in the social and health categories. Yeah... that’s the USA in the far corner. Yeah. A resource-based economic model involves a design dedicated to eliminating such social stratification altogether through a strategic access model. The Zeitgeist Movement's pursuit is very similar to traditional Civil Rights movements of the past and this new extension is about the sharing of human knowledge and our technical ability to not only resolve problems, but to also facilitate a scientifically derived social system that actually optimizes our potential and well-being. We have the ability to consciously create an improved reality, one that we wouldn’t be so excited to escape from, and whether or not we successfully create this reality depends on our ability to create a shift in cultural values towards sustainability, values that acknowledge the link between social equality, a healthy environment and our well-being. You don’t have to care anything at all about world peace. You don’t have to feel a warm and fuzzy love for all of humankind. You don’t even have to like other people. You can actually be completely selfish in your desire for a resource-based economy. You just need to understand, respect and support the undeniable, symbiotic relationship between the well-being of others, the well-being of our shared environment, and the well-being of yourself! A resource-based economic model is not any attempt for a fixed, utopian reality (there will still be problems, just new problems) but a move towards a consciously improved reality that is continually updated using science and technology for social concern, simply: the next intelligent evolution for humanity. And I'll leave you with this: [Martin Luther King] "You see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question 'Who owns the oil?' You begin to ask the question 'Who owns the iron ore?' You begin to ask the question 'Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?” ... "What I'm saying to you this morning [is that] communism forgets that life... is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social! And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis! [Sustained applause] It is found in a higher synthesis... that combines the truths of both. Now, when I say questioning the whole society, it means... ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation and the problem of war are all tied together.“ [Jen] This concludes my presentation. [Sustained applause] Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 22 minutes and 40 seconds
Year: 2013
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: The Zeitgeist Movement
Director: The Zeitgeist Movement
Views: 26
Posted by: ltiofficial on Jul 3, 2013

This is the fourth talk of eleven, from The Zeitgeist Movement's flagship, 5th Annual "Zeitgeist Day", 2013 Main Event, held in Los Angeles CA. xxx

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