You will notice several repetitions in this series, it is not accidental, each of these is a posting of a separate piece I have written and shows the evolution of the concepts along the way. Here, for example, I use ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ or ‘my’ to include the possibility that others may agree.
Simply put we believe that we can do better.
It is our belief that in rejecting the current model we can reorganize our priorities.
Focus on long term goals and social goods like environment, pollution, animals, human well-being, sustainability and resilience.
What do employees and volunteers get?
- 15 – 20 hour work week.
- Student Loan Payments made for you.
- Housing: Green and sustainable dormitories, cottages, houses, ‘earth-ships’, cabins, tent or RV camping.
- Utilities: heat, water, electricity, internet, cell.
- Organic meals and snacks.
- Interact less with coercion, cruelty, and exploitation
- More money in your pocket at the end of the year.
How would it make money?
- We grow our own food, raise our own crops and livestock (cruelty-free), can, pickle, sell off the excess to neighboring towns and cities.
- Members also make crafts or sell services at our artisan village – to sell externally.
- Partner with sustainability degree programs, woofing organizations, and philanthropists.
- Offer B&B, vacation and holiday lodging.
- Offer Writer, Artist, and Composer lodging.
A Day in the Life
- Members work the organic farm 3-4 hours 5 days a week, or some other recombination.
- Spend the rest of your time doing what you are good at, what you want, were trained to do, or learn to do something new.
- Two weekends a month a chartered bus makes several trips to and from a major city nearby.
- Have friends or family visit, or use an office for a skype meeting, planning a trip, or outside work.
Who can come?
- Lodgers, Vacationers, Artists, Friends or Family would only have to go through a simple background check.
- An application packet consists of: a background check, essays, personal statement, goal statement, a skill-set check list and evidence of the same.
- A panel evaluates each application packet, and compares each packet for building stage suitability.
Stage 1 – nothing built: survivalists, builders, pipe, welding, construction specialists, cooks.
Stage 2 – essentials only: Longhouse, main lodge, showers and bathrooms, dormitory, water treatment and reclamation facilities, solar arrays, barns, and kitchen.
Stage 3 – ½ built: Cottages, lodges, earth ships, artisan village, main office, computer and office building, food processing / storage, refrigeration / freezers.
Stage 4 – Totally built for operating capacity.
No personal vehicles:
Due to the excessive personal cost (28-50% of an individual’s income), environmental harm of production and use, liability, excessive traffic, cost for infrastructure, inefficiency, and reliance on fossil fuels, personal vehicles will not be allowed on premises. That being said, we are planning and building with this in mind, so even if you had one, using it would be pointless and expensive. We recognize that is a deeply held American belief that the personal vehicle is the pinnacle of individualism and freedom in America, which is exactly what the car manufacturers were hoping would catch on through their countless advertisements. We will be using public transportation, bicycles, and walking for most of our inner-city needs. To reach other large cities we will most likely be using a weekly or bi-monthly bus. We will have a parking lot, you won’t have to sell it if you don’t want, but it could only be used for external travel, inside it wouldn’t even be useful.
You will never become a millionaire, or even become rich in terms of wealth.
Everything has its trade-offs, those who end up working with us and living in the city will have this in common: it is better to have a good and fair life, than have an infinitesimally small chance of becoming wealthy. No one will be rich, but no one will be poor either. For everyone else, though, the basic purpose of any society is to come together to make everyone’s’ lives better than they would have been before, because through cooperation, they can achieve more than they would be able to individually. This is why it is called society, and as such we seek social purpose, justice, equity, and fairness. We believe that working together we can achieve more than in competition, and we aim to show it from the base of our new social, cultural, and institutional norms, bylaws to individual daily choices. For those of you who are fans of Ayn Rand, who are most probably screaming at your screens right now, don’t worry, you aren’t being invited.
You won’t be exploited, but neither will you be able to exploit, extort, coerce, or extract from others:
We consider this aspect of our current system to be the primary cause of inequality, the inability to access the necessary good and services that life requires, and the main mechanism of disenfranchising the average American economically, socially, culturally, and politically. As such it is the basic idea of your work and ideas provide the basis of your living standard, you won’t be patenting the work of others to make millions in profits for yourself and shareholders while the people who actually created the product or idea have to get by. We believe humans and basic human dignity requires that we cannot use others as a means to our ends, they must be treated as ends in and of themselves. Which means when we look at our coworkers, we see equal people, who work equally hard, and give their ideas as we give ours to better our company and its interaction with the larger world.
No more working during breaks or lunches:
People are more creative, productive, efficient, happy, and less likely to make mistakes when they are not over worked, can day dream, and relax. It isn’t a simple question of efficiency though, it is also about living a life where you are always treated as a human being.
No more putting off vacation time to curry favor, or from fear of losing out on upward mobility:
See Above two trade-offs; also, what is the point of work if it doesn’t provide the time, resources, and health needed to do things outside of work? To be immersed in other cultures, literature, plays, and ideas? By making breaks and lunches sacrosanct, and ensuring that each is considered by their contributions we are able to enshrine in our bylaws how we treat our employees and residents. Treating you as a human, who we are lucky to have working along side us, not below us; and that requires that you actually live a life, not simply that you are alive.
Fewer excuses to not read, exercise, or socialize:
With real breaks and lunches, more time off, actual paid vacations, and no need to worry about working a side-job or cobbling together enough ‘gig’ employment to scrape by you will probably finally have to fix that thing in the kitchen. Plus you can finally read (or write) that book you have been eyeing, go for more walks or the gym, actually meet the people who live around you and participate in society. Just imagine not being constantly desperate, trying your best to look like you are the most willing to do unpaid work without saying so, or having to worry about how to get healthy food and the time to cook it. That is the basic idea of what we have decided to build.
Fewer types of jobs and products may be performed and created:
Imagine all jobs were separated into four categories; maintaining, advancing, producing, and other. If you have ever worked a job that is utterly pointless, you know what ‘other’ means in this use. Essentially our company would only create and support endeavors that help maintain, advance, or produce for society. In this use maintaining would be anything that is required to keep things working correctly, from construction and garbage collection, to nurses and firefighters. Jobs which advance society include things from writing plays and making art, to scientific research and political philosophy. Finally productive jobs are those which grow, make, or produce something required. So in this company there wouldn’t for example be an internal insurance adjuster, a stock broker, telemarketers, or door-to-door sales people. Those jobs are just ways our society has allowed us to hustle more money from each other, which are essentially pointless in the spectrum of human history. Thus jobs, work, or professions in the ‘other’ category don’t produce anything of merit, don’t design or research anything useful, and don’t help keep us going. As such, it is economic waste, and it is built into our company to not waste.
Additionally, it is important to shift the focal point from I-ME-MY to WE-OUR-OURS. All resources, time, and space are communal costs. Given our bylaws, promises, and goals, not every activity the unrestrained market would create will be available for our company to produce or offer. We believe that every single person who lives, or will live, have an equal right the earth, all resources on it, and all benefits derived from it. As such, we will be responsible for the use of the environment, its resources, and how we derive benefits from it. I hate to pick on a particular product, but a recent tchotchke fad that has mostly died out will provide a good example. The ‘fidget spinner,’ completely and utterly useless, a waste of resources that will now end up in landfills and the environment, and the materials used to create them will no longer be available for other, potentially useful, applications. As a company we reject pointless materialism and consumerism, in particular the way those contribute to the ‘throw-away’ culture that our businesses and culture promotes. In short, just because you can make money doing something, does not mean it should be allowed.
Fewer reasons to worry about the wider impact of your choices and job:
We reject the idea that to be professional means to not ask questions about the wider impact our work has on other people, the environment, culture, trade, and politics. To be a part of this company would mean that we could not engage in certain business practices, offer certain products or services, and must weigh the full costs of our enterprise. As an employee, you would be weighing in on these decisions, offering your experience, education, and training to help our community and company stay true to our shared values.
Unlike traditional companies, which only consider profit and shareholder value, we have built the consideration of externalities into our bylaws and contracts. Our Core Principles require us to make decisions that balance, to the best of our physical and economic abilities, both the local immediate and larger distant impacts and effects on the environment, our company, community, individuals, along with intangibles such as justice, culture, society, and philosophical considerations. As such it would be our norm to understand not just the domestic impact, but the foreign one, not simply the transaction cost, but also the social and cultural effects. While this does not mean that anyone can fall back into lax thought, it does mean that you never have to worry that the company your work for or the job your do will contribute to rising housing or healthcare costs, or that the profits will be used to invest in fossil fuels or price a staple food out of local hands. This is part of our commitment to our employees, as well as to our neighboring communities, and foreign peoples.
You would actually have to contribute to public decisions:
While not every decision would be a public quorum, due to excessive inefficiency and time-cost, most of the important ones would be. Two quick examples:1) When the decision comes to build schools, even though no construction project has 0 net carbon foot-print, we need the school, so using the metrics in our Core Principles, a group of experts in the various fields would come together and decide how, when, and where to build it. Granted this would mean the ‘not in my backyard’ sentiment will be most likely ignored, because each individual will be effectively irrelevant in 100 years. In other words, in 100 years, will anyone care that they can’t go to a good and nearby school because Bob from accounting didn’t want to hear children? No, they will not know, or care why, and we wouldn’t have a vital resource. 2) As a counter example, in the current system the wealthy decide (to a greater or lesser extent) if a building is going to be multi-family, or single units, or a home for the elderly, based upon profitability. In this city we would simply ask, of the viable options in the list of housing types would the people who will live there need? In the public quorum someone points out that most of the housing around is built for families, and perhaps some smaller units would add more age diversity. Or even perhaps that we should create a section for more primitive building styles for a smaller group with a desire to build cob or sod-style housing. These suggestions would have much more weight than the preferences in the first example. In short our decision making model (if overly simplified) would look something like this:
Needs : Ability;
Needs and Ability > Preferences;
Preferences > Norms;
Function : Form;
Function and Form > Preferences;
Preferences > Norms.
Needs and Ability should be in a balance, along with Function and Form. Needs and Ability are more important than Preferences, and Norms should be considered last, if at all. Rather than worrying about what is usually done, we should take into account how functional it is, and its form. If the preferences won’t reduce functionality or form, then take them into account.
On Site, after hiring
- Wilderness Survival
- Farm, Construction, and Wilderness Safety
- CPR + First Aid
- Critical Thinking and Learning
- Debiasing Course (this is more like an intro into graduate level statistics)
- Sustainability and Resiliency
- Job Specific Training and Safety
- Nondisclosure and Noncompetition Agreements (How, What, Why, When)
- Toxic Masculinity: Handling and Expressing Emotions
- Sociocultural Norms, Narratives, and Themes (Separating Your Thoughts and Social Learning)
- The Silence of Women: Emoticons, !, and a Culture of Appeasement. (Another name could be, ‘women we need you to speak up, and learn to engage in conflict for the betterment of society’ but that seemed too long). This course is to help remove and reduce the influence of the sociocultural norm of the ‘pleasant,’ complacent, and pleasing, woman. We need feminist sociocultural architecture, and we need women to speak their minds. AKA We Need Aggressively Outspoken Women or we are working with one arm and a leg tied behind our back with one eye gouged out.
- Our New Social Contract: How Does It Work, What Do I Need to Do
- Objectification and How to Talk to and Treat Women Like People
I Remain Unconvinced
Let us be clear, we aren’t trying to convince you or change your mind. The purpose of this outreach is put on notice, people who already agree with us, our goals, values, and aims. If you want to keep working under the current system, by all means, feel free. If you don’t care how much money you are charged for healthcare and where that money goes, or how much of your money you spend on ‘business’ attire and transportation, or receiving less money than your parents or grandparents did (when adjusted for inflation and buying power, and adding in the increased cost of healthcare, housing, and added requirements of cell phones, computers, and internet), go for it. We won’t judge you for doing what Americans have been taught is “the way” for the past 100 years. We are doing this to show that this system doesn’t have to be so bad, that we can do better for our society, country, and the world. Included in this is the environment, justice, economics, equity, fairness, and opportunity. We are building the first step to changing the world, and these aims may seem lofty, but in terms of production, economy, efficiency, and environment, they are already well in our reach, if we have the will just to close our collective hand. So in closing, if you aren’t interested, that is your choice. Current polls and surveys put our supporters at around 57% of people aged 18-45 (95% confidence rate, ± 1.9%), making us the bulk of productive workers and thinkers, yet the least compensated since the Great Depression.
If every one who agrees with us gave $1 to get started, we would be fully funded. If everyone cut one brand name coffee out of their week each month and gave us that $20 a month for one year, we would be funded for 50 years, even if we never made a single penny. We would like to offer a challenge of sorts to those who have made it through this far and still are unconvinced. Donate $12 and see what we can do. Maybe you are more convinced by action than data and business plans. With that donation you would receive your choice of either an embossed certificate or your name on our website wall of founders. If you prefer, we do have a website wall of doubting founders. If we were able to show that the basic ideas here work, that we don’t have to only worry about getting ours, and that everyone’s life, the environment, and our institutions could be more fair, wouldn’t you like to know? Wouldn’t it be worth $12 to have the chance to see if the world can be a better place, now?
As a final note, this project, which I call The Counter Proposal doesn’t yet exist. But if people are actually interested, I will dedicate my life and time and coin to it. I am an anarchist, I won’t liberate you, for you, but I will help you lift the rock off your arm, cut the chain from your leg, or support you when you need it. If enough people are in, let’s do it.