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Is unbridled greed and ambition compatible with permaculture  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
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     This first paragraph isn't going to be an opinion piece since any time I attempt to start a thread concerning my financial philosophy, it gets deleted due to angry responses. This is simply a statement of facts concerning my personal relationship with money as it relates to permaculture.        I freely admit that I am quite greedy. Not much of an admission for me since I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I want a bigger, better and more expensive property. I want all sorts of expensive machines such as an excavator, a larger tour bus than the one I already have and numerous pieces of expensive construction equipment.  I want a large opulent home with far more space than I personally need. Then I want to rent out all of the extra space to further increase my wealth. So basically what I'm saying is that I want everything that I need and then some to spare which I will sell or rent to others. This would make me king of my castle and perhaps a little greedy.

    I want a lot of things, but I don't expect anyone else to provide them for me, and I won't be doing environmental harm in the pursuit of my desires. I'll do it through hard work, self-sacrifice, thoughtful decision-making and determination To me, this makes it all okay.   I'm not sure that the thought police would agree.

   I stumbled upon the permaculture forums when as I was meandering around the Internet in my attempt to reinvent the Russian fireplace. After discovering rocket stoves which led me here, I've decided to reinvent them instead. Much of what I see here interests me and is completely compatible with how I have always lived. Read up on hundreds of topics which interest me but I must admit some bias (I'm particularly fond of the ideas of one prolific poster named Dale Hodgins ). Most of my life's work has involved recycling and repurposing building materials and other items which were destined for the landfill. 15,000 tons so far.(That's pretty green) All of my plans for my property involve organic principles and I intend to repair much of the damage done to it in the past. A large portion of the property will become a de facto public park and the bed-and-breakfast portion will serve to introduce and educate people concerning green building practices,aquaponics, hugelkultur etc.. Every structure on the property will be built from environmentally benign materials or those which I have recycled from demolition projects.

    I plan to make wheelbarrows of money from this enterprise with absolutely no intention of sharing any of it with anyone not involved in the process. I'll reinvested in larger schemes and continue learning and reinventing green building practices for years with no intention of ever retiring.

       I could probably afford to stop working in the near future if I wanted to simply eke out a living on my land but this would serve neither my own desires nor the public good. An automatic production machine and idea factory such as myself would be doing a disservice to myself and to the community by retiring.

    So there you have it, in many ways I fit right in with my green credentials and ecologically sensible plans. But in other ways I may be an outsider politically and philosophically. I'm a one-man island who has carried political incorrectness to an art form, I can sometimes be a bit full of myself, I don't suffer fools well, and I admit to unbridled greed.

   Can a person who admits to these faults and at the same time says he has no intention of changing be considered a proper permaculturist or do my personal philosophies guarantee exclusion from the club?

      I don't think that living in an ecologically sound manner requires a vow of poverty. In fact I think poverty should be avoided at all costs. If I were broke I would be of no use to myself, my family or to society. I would be unable to act on any brilliant idea I might have and would not be able to take advantage of most opportunities that life presents.

    Greater self-reliance should naturally lead to increased personal wealth. The person who grows their own food, builds their own home etc. should be able to do quite well as compared to those who don't do these things.

Let's discuss this in a civilized manner.


 
paul wheaton
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I think that unbridled greed could be problematic in some.  But in those problematic cases, the real problem is not the greed so much, but the willingness to exercise the greed while stepping outside of the bounds of appropriate behavior.  Like: killing people and selling their organs.  Poor form.

I suppose the whole "don't be killing folks to feed your greed" could be the "bridled" part of "unbridled greed".

As for greed and permaculture:  I suppose the same can be said of pie and permaculture.  Or sex and permaculture.  Or swimming in a pond and permaculture.  I don't really see a lot of connection.

For my own space, I have had hundreds of people blatantly point at me and utter the word "greedy" and "selfish" all the while each and every one of those people have contributed nearly nothing to the greater good, while I have created things (at the time of the finger pointing) that have been of use, freely, to thousands or even millions of people.  

Therefore, in my personal experience, and doing a little math, I predict that every person with their finger out, pointed at somebody with "greed" on their lips is actually the greedier party.  I think what they are actually trying to say is "I want your stuff.  But I don't want to do what you did to get it."

So often I hear the phrase "greed and corruption" and I think I am pretty lost anymore when I hear the word "greed" - as if it really seems to have lost all of its meaning.  But "corruption" - yes, that's bad.  I'm all for stopping corruption.  But if you have a world without greed, won't the entire population be dead in a manner of weeks?

Eating is a form of greed, is it not?  I want pie.  I eat pie.  Oh sure, I can want pie for everybody, but mostly I want pie.  Therefore, I guess I am pie greedy.  If I was not greedy, I would make sure that everybody else has my pie before I have pie.  

Anybody who owns a car:  are they greedy?  Why don't they give their car to somebody that doesn't have a car?  People with a house?  People with food and clothes?  

If a woman works 16 hours a day for 20 years and saves 98% of her income and amasses a million dollars, is she greedy?  

 
paul wheaton
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Personally I don't see unbridled greed and ambition being compatible with the ethics and principles upon which permaculture is based.  But since we're not supposed to talk about the ethics here on the board - it's understood that as permaculturists we naturally accept and adhere to them - we can't really have this discussion.  So I expect this will disappear. 


As discussed in the podcast with Toby on the ethics, the permaculture ethics could be embraced by herbicide corportations.  And the people in those corporations would believe it.  Therefore, the permaculture ethics really don't do much.

But you do make a good point.  This discussion is more about philosophy rather than "which plants should I pick for my guild", so while it is interesting, I'm gonna move it to MD.




 
paul wheaton
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On this topic, I know that jack spirko has been talking a lot lately about the ant and the grasshopper.  I think it is a worthwhile story.  Although I think we all have a bit of the and a bit of the grasshopper in us.  Some people have more ant than grasshopper and vice verse.

And then there is the variation in "a bug's life" where we have a particularly evil grasshopper and a particularly innovative ant.

But back to aesop's fable:  I suppose that when winter sets in, we could see the grasshopper banging on the ant's door saying "share the surplus" or proclaiming that the current distribution of food is unfair.  Or yelling something about "gift economy."  

I like to think that permaculture is where you set things up so smart, so you can be 90% grasshopper and 10% ant ....  at least you can be as long as you don't have a bunch of grasshopper friends that will clean our food stores in the first week of winter.

 
paul wheaton
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What about the woman with the million dollars?  Is she greedy?  Was that unbridled greed?
 
paul wheaton
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Wikipedia says that greed is "excessive desire to possess wealth, goods, or abstract things of value with the intention to keep it for one's self."

I suppose that one could define "excessive" as the point where you kill people to have their stuff.  

As for the millionaire woman:  I would not call her greedy.  And as for what she did with that money, it would further define her, but I still don't think those actions would define whether she is greedy or not.  As she earned her money, she decided to save it rather than party.  Which is fair.  But the person who takes the same money and parties all weekend, every weekend, is not greedy.  But the woman that saved it might be greedy depending on how she spends her money?

Scrooge is a cranky nasty miser.  I think being a miser is an okay thing.  It is a choice.

Scrooge has loads of cash because he has saved it and lived very thrifty (thriftily?).  And because he is so cranky and nasty, he poisons all of those around him.  It seems it has nothing to do with pinching pennies.   On christmas morning he sings to the masses, and bob and fred and everybody and showers them with gifts!  He erases he debt book so Tom Jenkins no longer owes him money.   I would very much like to think that all of the people receiving money on christmas morning would be just as happy to have scrooge be transformed into being a nice guy even if they didn't get money out of the deal.  

At one point Scrooge's girlfriend is ditching him because all he thinks about is acquiring wealth.  I think that's fair.  If he just works all the time and only eats healthy all the time (IOW:  a life without pie) then that is seriously hard to be around.  But hey - it's a valid lifestyle choice:  do nothing but work hard and save money.  Really boring (and short on delicious pie), but, well, some people are signed up for the monk package.  Or they do nothing more than work, sleep, watch tv and shop.

 
Dale Hodgins
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  Dale here.        I started this thread after an acquaintance accused me of greed. We had been talking about various things I intend to build on my property. He thought this was far too much building for one person to own. But I have already built much more than this in the past, the difference is, most of  the construction work I've done has been on other people's property. I got paid to do the work but in examining the long-term benefits of property ownership it seems to me that I would have been much further ahead had I only put my time and energy into my own projects.

      For instance, I built a really nice little cottage in a backyard in Victoria last year. The total cost to the homeowner was about $10,000. He now rents this unit for $400 per month, so after allowing for utilities etc. it will be completely paid for in two and half years. After that it's all profit and he'll continue to reap the benefits of my labor for as long as he owns the property. I don't begrudge him this, he was a good guy to work for and paid me promptly but I want to be on his end of the deal from now on.

    Because of my extensive background in demolition and other methods of sourcing free materials and my ability to source materials which I'm paid to remove, I'm in a natural position to construct buildings less expensively than anyone I've met. For years I've produced this material and sold it to others who have vastly increased the value of their property with it. My work is very risky both physically and financially. Those who have benefited the most have been my customers, not myself. I took the lion's share of the risk for the least benefit. And that's what I intend to change.

    I've paid my dues, I understand completely just about every aspect of the building process although I'm still learning, I'm still young and strong enough to be productive and most importantly I'm awesome at managing the labor of others. In leading by example I've moved mountains of materials in the past. So for me this seems like a natural progression. Either I retire and do nothing or I continue to produce high-quality building materials at a fraction of new cost from buildings that would otherwise be crushed and thrown in the landfill. This time the buildings I produce will belong to me. And unlike the projects of the vast majority of others who want a big fancy opulent property, my projects won't consume vast quantities of resources and create wasteful energy consuming monstrosities. In the process of gathering enough materials for one house I'm likely to tear down three and sell all components which I don't require.

    These are literally found resources for society. When I miss out on a job it invariably ends up as waste. And since I've had quite a few jobs which didn't work out that well I've effectively been a poorly paid public servant for many years. If a person is able to create something of great value out of thin air, from resources that no one else is making use of then is there any reason why 100% of that person's production should not belong to them?

    We wouldn't begrudge someone in this position the fruits of their labor if they produced a quaint two-bedroom cottage from stuff they scrounged. Why should it be any different if someone is able to build an upscale motel using the exact same process and resources?

    Where I live most of the people I meet who have really done well financially have done so through various forms of destructive and non-renewable resource extraction. These are the pillars of our community. Would it hurt to have one wealthy landlord who built everything himself from recycled materials? If I'm able to feed people 50 in an environmentally sound manner  does this not benefit the common good? And if I'm able to do this should I not make five times as much money as the person who feeds 10?.

     I won't live forever so ultimately anything I create, I don't get to keep. These buildings, gardens, and the public Park will all remain. I don't have any desire to personally consume vast quantities of resources. The property will house many people, my bus will transport many people and my gardens will feed many people. Money is the scorecard and the means of maintaining control so that I may continue to be a very useful citizen.

     We live in a society with the promise of great reward for those who have good ideas that they work hard on. Provided some ill fate doesn't befall me I will continue down my present path for years to come.  That was quite a mouthful, the greedy curmudgeon: Dale
 
paul wheaton
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I think the word "greed" says more about the person pointing than the person now branding the new label.

So when your acquaintance accused you of greed, I think we learned more about your acquaintance than we learned about you.  Basically, your acquaintance believes that you should be forced to live your life according to what he/she says.  I suspect that if that same person would have "excess" then the values will change for him/her, but not for you.




 
Dale Hodgins
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We had a building  discussion which devolved into a rant from him. It only came about because he noticed the Green Building book that I was reading. He said we should all produce according to our abilities and that everyone should be able to consume according to their needs. Probably something he picked up from Spock or Papa Smurf . No mention of what sort of kangaroo court would decide these matters.  Of course I was firm that my production belongs to me and if I have my way I wouldn't even have a left-hand. I'm left-handed but that's as lefty as I go .     (I never seem to get into conversations with women who question my behavior and motives. I think they're pleased to discover a productive self-assured male who's not bad looking. I have to carry a cattle prod just to keep them at bay . My detractors are sissy boys, who are dissatisfied with the lives they've created. They lurk in public spaces , listening in on conversations, waiting for an opportunity to explain that it can't be done so there's no use trying)

   Whenever I'm faced with an argument like this where we are very polarized I use the example of someone who grows a garden. Jenny grew 25 carrots. How many carrots should Jenny be allowed to eat? Should she be allowed to sell her carrots? Believe it or not in Victoria, home of the ill-defined "were angry but we don't know why" protest not everyone would be sure that these are her carrots. "They were given to us by the earth"  "who decided she could have a spot to grow carrots? "   "does she honestly need that many?" It's exasperating and I have no excuse for engaging in it or for finding myself in this sort of intellectual company.

        When I put it into such simple terms they drag out examples of people who are born with horrible disabilities or those who have suffered illness or other calamity and accuse me of wanting to put them on the ice flow as though I somehow have the ability to alter government policy regarding entitlements. Interestingly my friend Mike who is blind has no designs on my belongings. I also have two friends who use wheelchairs. Neither of them have ever suggested that I am somehow depriving them of anything. Diedrich was a builder and an athlete before his bicycle accident. We talk about all sorts of building issues and ideas. He's keen to visit the property and has plenty of ideas on how to make the public trails more accessible. He tends to live vicariously and can design and build a place verbally while we're yacking through various scenarios. He wishes everyone nothing but success.

     Most people I know are aware that my property is mostly raw land with minor improvements made. The oddest conversations I've had have been those where I am accused of misusing assets which are not yet built,  abusing tennants which I do not yet have and hoarding yet unearned money. Quite often there are questions concerning the rate of pay for workers. I've had plenty of workers who I paid $8 per hour and I've had a few that I paid $25 per hour. Generally listeners are appalled by the lower number but they often feel the upper one is too high. I know from experience that my $25 per hour helpers have worked out better than the cheap ones because their production is so much higher, they don't steal, and they aren't druggies. They're hard-working guys who earn that rate of pay. If I could clone Martin and Jeff I would never bother with  booze sick morons again.

     I used to go to various public meetings concerning environmental issues. I stopped several years ago since they all had their agendas co-opted by groups whose main aim is income redistribution.   "Let's get them to ban dolphin killing and let's attach a rider calling for free housing for everybody". If you're not sure this is a good idea, that's because you're a dirty rotten dolphin hater. A fascist dolphin hater. Who doesn't like babies.

   
   
 
nancy sutton
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From what you've said here, I don't think your 'greed and ambition' are 'unbridled'.... it sounds more like you are thrilled with the creative, constructive process, and your grand dreams for the palette of your land.  I doubt you would knowingly injure any person or environment to satisfy your 'greedy' pleasure in making a sustainable, and profitable, albeit large , home.  In fact, I suspect that if you did 'hit it big', actually making more $$ that you could invest in your projects, you would soon succumb to the pleasure of 'sharing'  (with only the Certified Deserving, of course .

It may be your presentation 'style' that raises the ire of those who are more thrilled by the prospect of a cooperative, 'we're all in this together' society.  There's probably some common ground beneath the flying words that are missing their targets.  Communication can be so hard, and the effort to understand the other guy/gal is in short supply.

Now I, too, am eager to see your progress... which sounds very sustainable and peramculturey.  (BTW, I think our PC 'sharing ethic' might be better accomplished by putting effort toward 'rejiggering' the current monetary system.)
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm all for leveling the playing field. I think that would work far better than redistribution of wins. If something or someone is failing I don't want the results to be skewed with subsidy. I think monetary policy is important. But I don't think we should hand loans over to people who have squandered borrowed money in the past.

     Where I live I'm quite concerned about any legal restriction which may prevent you from becoming self sufficient. We have farm quota systems which prevent us from growing certain crops(potatoes, chickens, ducks, milk) unless we buy expensive quota. This stifles many small-scale farming operations. We also have building rules which favor high-tech factory made goods.

     The removal of these two large areas of freedom restriction would make it so that any somewhat intelligent Canadian could make it in small-scale farming. The penalty for breach of the quota rules is generally far more severe than you would receive for committing an assault.

    Some sort of environmental accounting system worked into the tax laws could also favor small growers.

    And that's all the help any productive citizen requires. All I want from government is for them to stay out of my way unless I'm doing something destructive.
 
paul wheaton
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Wikipedia says that greed is "excessive desire to possess wealth, goods, or abstract things of value with the intention to keep it for one's self."


Had a thought.

My experience is that when people point at me and say "greedy" what they are really saying is that they want something that I have.  More specifically, they want me to give them what I have.  For free.  Their behavior is nasty and they place a sort of obligation on me by using the magic word "greedy".

This is inappropriate behavior.  Combined with the desire to have stuff.  One could even label it greedy.  But I really don't want to call anyone greedy, because that would then make me fall into the same trap.  So then I thought that I would like a new word.  "Greedmonger" was the first thing that popped into my head.  But then a far better word ....

Grasshopper.

All summer long the grasshopper yells at the ant that he works too much and should relax.  That the ant is obviously stupid.  The grasshopper calls the ant all sorts of nasty names.  And then as winter is setting in the grasshopper is banging on the ants door to say the ant has to let him in!  Doesn't he have any compassion?  "I'm sorry for all the mean things I said last summer."  "Hey, I said I was sorry!"  And then ... there it is ... the word du'jour:  greedy.

I think the word greedy is supposed to mean "wanting stuff" + "doing bad things to get stuff" but I think the word has (innapropriately) devolved to "have stuff".  So the word is pretty much useless.

I cannot recall the word ever being used by anybody that was not ....  a grasshopper.




 
jack spirko
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Since I was mentioned and Paul emailed me I figured I would chime in.

My view is to answer the first question we must define greed, to me greed isn't having lots of stuff, working hard for it and keeping as much of it as you decide you want to keep, no I call that FAIR!

Greed is wanting a ton of stuff at the direct expense of others more along the lines of covetousness.  Understand I am not religious as a person but I think the Ten Commandments make a good point here.  There are two commandments that address greed they are both about coveting.  Not to covet your neighbors wife for one and not to covet anything of your neighbors as the other.  Well, friends that doesn't mean you can't want a hot wife (or husband) while you admire your neighbors or that you can't have a desire for a nice house as you admire one that someone else owns, it simply means you should not want it at their expense.

Hence to me many of the accusations of greed come from the truly greedy.  Those who want what you or I or anyone else haves at our direct expense because they think that is a fair system. 

Now when we look at Permaculture the fairness question generally centers on the third ethic, "return of surplus" and misguided hippies think that means they are entitled to my surplus at no expense.  If you think that has ANYTHING to do with Permaculture as designed and conceived by Bill Mollison you are absolutely in denial of the very principles of the man who literally wrote the book on the subject. 

I have listened to everything I can get my hands on by Mollison and geoff lawton and NEVER once have I heard "return of surplus" explained in a way that excludes the concept of a profit for the producer.  Permaculture is about more than growing stuff in the ground it is a system of design and folks without an economy we don't have much of a lifestyle to design. 

In the US we get arrogant with Permaculture, even smug at times.  As we have a better way, it is about beautiful design, high quality food and using techniques to grow things we want to eat and share.  However, Mollison and Lawton have done 90% of their work in the third world.  Permaculture there isn't a way to live with nature it is a way to survive.  If you are going to go into a situation like this you better damn well be able to show people how they can,

1.  Feed themselves
2.  Get a profit from their surplus production

In Mollison's own words,

"If any system is to be self sustaining the people running it must be able to feed and care for themselves after you leave.  They also better be able to teach it to others and it had better work".

So in response to the question "is unbridled greed compatible with permaculture?", I say flatly no but I believe most people that have an issue with greed don't know what greed really is.  People toss around the concept of "fair share" but what the hell is fair about the government taking 50% of what I work my ass off for every year and giving to who they choose as they choose with out my consent at the point of a gun and the threat of jail rape for non compliance?

I don't consider myself a greedy person, I donate a lot of my income, if the government didn't take half of it I would donate a LOT more.  I don't consider Permaculture something you are either qualified to say you do or you don't other than for the loose legal reasons Targari set up.  It is simply a system that does no harm and results in abundance.  Very Pagan really, "do as thou will, an harm none".

If it is permaculture to me that means I do what I want with my surplus, (money or food), it stays in control of the producer, not in the control of the state.  In such a system you bet people will donate tons of food and money, because the system creates abundance.  Still the choice of how and where and when should lie with the person who did the work.  In other words "care of people" is an ethic in permacutlure, if it harms people it isn't permaculture.  If I have something you don't but I didn't steal it from you I have not harmed you.  Now if I have stolen land with say imminent domain to create a farm (not likely to happen more likely a casino) no matter what I do it isn't permacultue because I have harmed people.  However if I work my ass off, buy my land and spend time money and resources to develop it I have harmed no one, what I do with my production, how much I charge, etc is my business. 

 
jacque greenleaf
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Hmmm, greed. I don't know anyone on this forum well enough to judge their greed quotient. So I am making none, just contributing some general thoughts -

Working hard and leveraging your gains is not greedy. But in order for most people to be able to do this, you have to live in an orderly society. If you are only concerned with your own gain, and shrug off anyone who points out that your gain has come because you took advantage of someone else, well yes, you are the greedy one, not the person who pointed it out. To take an extreme historical example that, AFAIK, will not offend anyone now living, Genghis Khan and his tribes engaged in massive looting and pillaging because they could, and because they could, they told themselves that meant they were the universe's favorite sons, better than the people they overran. But even they, after they settled down, set up societies with rules, which required taxes and fees to maintain, so that other people in the society could also make and hold their gains. All economic activity takes place in a social context, and it doesn't matter how hard or smart you work if you live in a society that does not protect your ownership rights - unless you are part of the elite which does not protect the rights of those who are not the elite. There's always room for debate about how much protection is enough, and how much it ought to cost. I think there is probably a pretty wide economic zone between too much protection and not enough, and it is best judged by what you see in front of you - if most of the people who get ahead were born on second or third base, well, there's a problem here. It is simply not the case that all people of limited means are lazy or stupid or envious. Even the most stratified societies I'm aware of made exceptions for exceptional individuals. The test is what happens with ordinary individuals - can they carve out a reasonable life relative to the society in which they live?

I'm probably too literal, but as a biologist, I have objected for years to the ant/grasshopper fable. By any measure, both ants and grasshoppers are highly successful in the world. I find it odd that so many people who cheer for the ants and boo the grasshoppers don't mention the most salient fact about ants - they live in an amazingly structured and regimented society, while grasshoppers have considerably more individual leeway. Most individual ants don't live significantly longer than individual grasshoppers, and the security they work so hard at is for the colony as a whole, and not for their individual selves. I think the fable makes a lot more sense if you reverse it, with the ant being jealous of the grasshopper's relative freedom from social constraints.



 
maikeru sumi-e
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paul wheaton wrote:
Had a thought.

My experience is that when people point at me and say "greedy" what they are really saying is that they want something that I have.  More specifically, they want me to give them what I have.  For free.  Their behavior is nasty and they place a sort of obligation on me by using the magic word "greedy".

This is inappropriate behavior.  Combined with the desire to have stuff.  One could even label it greedy.  But I really don't want to call anyone greedy, because that would then make me fall into the same trap.  So then I thought that I would like a new word.  "Greedmonger" was the first thing that popped into my head.  But then a far better word ....


Wanting other people's stuff...for free...is a form of waiting-to-happen "thievery."

The current system generates unlimited rewards for unbridled greed and ambition, yes. Drive a huge company into the ground or bankruptcy, and if you're a CEO, you'll walk away with a $100 million dollar severance package and/or stock options and cash. This is a system that rewards failure and will in turn generate its own failure.
 
Dale Hodgins
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    I'm going to make two statements for you to ponder and see if you agree with me.   1. Conventional agriculture is destroying the environment, causing disease,  fueling wars and creating great inequities     2. Conventional building practices are also extremely detrimental to the material and social fabric of society since they destroy resources while at the same time making home ownership beyond the reach of many citizens.

    I believe both of these things to be true and therefore I think the highest and best use for all, 100% of everything I produce is to reinvested in my plan to directly compete with these destructive industries. So even if I become a green building and organic gardening trillionaire and don't share a nickel with anyone, the effect of my business practices will still be overwhelmingly positive as compared to the alternative.

     If every permaculturalist sought to obtain as much land as we can get our hands on this would mean that a much larger percentage of the world's arable land would be protected from agribusiness. And if we construct our buildings in a sensible manner, housing as many people as possible this will cut in to the market for conventional materials, cause unemployment amongst their workforce and reduce environmental damage while shrinking the profits of our competitors.

     I tend to think of things in military terms since one set of ideas or ideologies is constantly at war with competing ideologies. By conquering more territory and amassing a larger percentage of the wealth we serve the common good. If I were to support other tangential social causes this would simply leave less money in the warchest and to me that doesn't make any sense at all.

   
 
jack spirko
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Dale, ask Paul and he will tell you the following words are something I almost never say.

I am 100% completely in agreement with you on every word of what you just said.

Man that almost never happens if there was a smilie for standing applause here I would have inserted it for you.
 
Dale Hodgins
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    Thank you Jack. You are obviously a man of taste and intellect. I enjoy pontificating on various subjects and it's always nice when someone agrees.

   Sometimes I start a thread so that I may provoke thought and discussion which may be outside the comfort zone of many. This has led to some deletions but in this case it has led to an important discussion of personal and financial priorities. I hope the civilized nature of our discussions can continue.

    This is the first time I've ever joined something like this and during the short time since signing up I've produced probably half of all of the writing which I've ever done.

    Sometimes when I read a thread I can tell that one of our members is holding back in order to keep the peace when things take a predictable political detour. When this happens, I like to interject some common sense to steer things away from ideology. I'll agree that this is manipulative but we manipulate nature and I manipulate by nature .

   I have started a couple of threads specifically in order to create a platform for other members to say things which need to be said but which may not be appreciated or tolerated by those wishing to stifle constructive discussion.(those people are on other evil, and less enlightened forums of corse   )
 
Phil Hawkins
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Here's a different way of thinking about it.  Let's imagine the "worst" example of greed and ambition - I dunno, Monsanto's new Permaculture Division, staffed exclusively by neo-Nazi former Enron executives.

If this "Permsanto" buys out a bunch of struggling monocroppers (say, the millions of acres of barely profitable grain farms) and converts it all to permaculture (I mean actual permaculture, not just hijacking the word), purely because it's more profitable, then is that a bad outcome?


  • [li]The farmers that weren't able to make it work have been bought out and can do something else with that money (maybe move to an area where their skills are still profitable)[/li]
    [li]More food is produced in a "better" way (I'll avoid the word sustainable, since as Paul points out, we want to do better than barely not dead[/li]
    [li]If Permsanto is making money from growing food rather than poisoning food, then it's less profitable to do the latter[/li]


  • The key thing here is whether they'd use permaculture, or abuse it (as has been done with organic).  What this really boils down to is whether it truly is more profitable.
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    Phil H wrote:
    Here's a different way of thinking about it.  Let's imagine the "worst" example of greed and ambition

    The key thing here is whether they'd use permaculture, or abuse it (as has been done with organic).  What this really boils down to is whether it truly is more profitable.
                                                                                                                                                            I suspect they would use it as a greenwashing catchword much like the folks who sell free range supermarket eggs.


                                          Quoting gord below

      "I am not really qualified nor intelligent enough to understand everything that's been said so far but since your open to discussion then i''ll chip in with just my intitial thoughts off the top of my head, to be taken with a grain of salt off course.
    money doesn't grow on trees,"
     
        ME--  Money does grow on trees, you just have to get there before the squirrels and then do a good job of marketing.

      gord--if you start to do well and it shows, as it seems your eager to not only accumulate, but flaunt, then the money stream will slow and people will throw rocks into the stream to keep it that way.

      Dale--My experience is that people are drawn to success. Those who thrive on jealousy and rockthrowing are generally broke and therefore not my target market. I'm looking to market to people who want to make their lives easier, healthier and more financially successful through self-sufficiency. In fact I want them to be more than self-sufficient. They should have surplus which can be sold to further their success, however they may define that. When I'm too old to work, I hope to have filled the neighborhood with plenty of like-minded young men and women who possess the skills necessary to become far wealthier than me. I will choose one or more of them to continue in my place.

      Dale--  Those who have a vastly different view of success that I do will probably not be my customers and I'm okay with that. I would do a disservice to myself and to my clients if I didn't strive to maximize profit.


      gord--forget what you want and focus on what the people around you will want.

      Dale--    No, that's not going to happen. I'll only surround myself with others who share some similarities in attitude towards success. What I want will always be paramount. "It's my life and I'll do what I want". Review the song.

        And far from things slowing down once some degree of success is reached, the very opposite is much more common. People struggle for years in anonymity to establish a viable business and then once it takes off they often make the lion's share of their money after years of struggle. Both Paul and sepp holzer are in that stage of their lives right now. I think their success will only snowball from here. Jealous hoards of broke ass nincompoops have no effect on the trajectory of their businesses.    Things only taper off if forces outside the control of the owner make them taper off or if the owner fails to adapt with changing times. Otherwise the advantage always lies with the established enterprise.
     
    Suzy Bean
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    Paul and Jocelyn talk about "greed" in this podcast: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/455-podcast-085-greed/

    It is in response to this thread.
     
    cini McCoy
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    Here is my (professional*) view:

    Greed is often and in error equated with possession-seeking or profiting while it is nothing but entitled coveting without gratitude, i.e. there is no experience of respect and acknowledgement of the goodness of the source of the supply, rather it is a taking of what one believes has already belongs to one. Greed is unfamiliar with the process of earning—of the result of labor and creativity. Greed has absolutely nothing to do with hoarding or the counterpoint of frugality.

    Greed is often projected by those who are prone for envy—not being in possession of something that appears valuable that belongs to the other—and consequently is hurled as an accusation.

    Plain and simple but exasperating.

    Ambition and earning is in complete harmony with permaculture. Wishing to possess/harvest plainly because one is entitled (for whatever excuse one can enlist to rationalze it) is not.

    ... for a finishing touch: unbridled altruism is often enough the unconscious reversal of greed and envy, and as such may not be compatible with permaculture.

    Paul, I dissent: I think that greed remains a useful category and words cannot be returned by fiat. It is a red flag when it is thrown around as an accusation, much more glaringly (projectively) subjective and less consensually operative than "exploitation".

    * earned through study, experience and contemplation
     
    cini McCoy
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    Funny thing: I feel each day as a gift and feel grateful that I could be here—not entitlement. That I have earned some of the things is a different story.
    Maybe just a matter of usage—except when one sees entitlement, one knows (what to fear).

    (oops! this was a reply but  the original post evaporated... this is what we call interpretation in some circles)
     
    Robert Ray
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    Cini
    I like your definition of greed.
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    Suzy Bean wrote:
    Paul and Jocelyn talk about "greed" in this podcast: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/455-podcast-085-greed/

    It is in response to this thread.
                                                                                                                                                                           AHHH . A podcast based on this,the best thread on the whole interweb.What a genius idea. Paul is truly a great man. I thought nobody cared.

         Before my head swells further I'm going to listen to the podcast to see if my kind have been dragged through the mud and back again.
       
              Dale Hodgins:  Original poster of this, the best thread on the net.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  I listened to the podcast and was quite surprised at how often Paul uses the f--- word. It is always in context and I tended to agree with him. He dealt quite a bit with the ant and grasshopper. They talked about the fact that Mr. Mollinson has never advocated financial irresponsibility. Nonproductive kleptocratic layabouts were given a good spanking and the idea that we should give away the fruits of our labors was soundly put to rest.
             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        I was hoping for something a little more highbrow, perhaps a point by point dissection of everything I've said so far on this thread. Something similar to what Jonathan Bate, would do with Shakespeare. If that had happened great minds would have determined that my use of the word unbridled was MEANT to be over-the-top.

         There are always those who wish to limit how successful anyone may become. They're happy for that person to have some success provided that they can hop on board for the ride. In this way the productive person is a "beast of burden" carrying the weight of less motivated individuals. The hitchhikers would no doubt prefer to drive as most hangers on covet the wealth and position of whomever they attach themselves to.

         In being limited by nonproductives, our hero is effectively bridled. He can never reach his full potential while being parasitized . So in order to be truly the master of his own destiny he must cast off the freeloaders, become unbridled and walk free.

         That's how I imagine Jonathan Bate would have interpreted the title. And I'm sure that 175 pages later most reasonable people would be converted to my way of thinking. It's too bad no one informed him of this need.

       I spoke with Mr. Shakespeare last night in a dream and he agreed that this would have made for a far better treatment of this fine work.

                                 Thank you: Dale Hodgins
     
    Denise Lehtinen
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    Here is an extreme of unbridled greed.

    One man owns the whole f-ing Earth.  He has to control everyone and everything on this planet to do it.  He has to be pretty ruthless to do it.
    I think that in this extreme case, no, there can't be permaculture.

    Personally, I am okay with some greed, some competition.  What I am not okay with is when the path to those things is destructive. 

    Running a race against your friend to see who is faster -- fine.
    Running a race where you are willing to do anything to win it (which is the way races for money often go) -- problem.

    I think it is the ruthlessness rather than the greed or the competition that is the problem.

    And I can easily believe that that ruthlessness isn't only those folks the Occupiers are complaining about.  Ruthlessness is in the Occupiers, too.  Many of them would be acting in the same ways, if they were CEOs.

    And part of me thinks it goes even further than that.  Taking 'no' for an answer isn't in vogue with any of us, is it?  Your 'no' is just an obstacle you have put in my path to getting what I want, isn't it?  And if I am the CEO and want to maximize my company's profit (so that I can keep my job), then I am willing to do all kinds of sleezy things to do that.  Just like lots of other people do in response to a 'no'.

    I wonder if Tolkien's take on power (in the Lord of the Rings), isn't really one of the most insightful ones around.

    (I really don't think I have any idea what the answer is, but this is my current diagnosis of the problem.  I'm kinda crazy like that, I want to really know and understand the problem before deciding what to do about it.)
     
    nancy sutton
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    It seems that 'greed' is defined as greed for money... as in Gordon Geco's "Greed is good".  But isn't greed characterized by it's 'unlimited' nature... there is no 'enough' for the greedy person, and anything they can get away with is fair game.  Hence the bad connotation, I think... ala Gordon

    But we all want a LOT of whatever makes us feel 'good'..a big fat bank account, cars, partying, free time, music, sex, travel, meditating, shopping, security, big garden, popularity, alleviating suffering, sharing etc - it's all 'selfish' because we do it for our own satisfaction.  Maybe it's not so much WHAT we want, but if we have a line where we can & will stop...enough.... a limit - we will not hurt ourselves, others, or our world.  I am greedy for more time, but I try not to stay up 24 hrs, skipping sleep, to maximize my 'up' time (usually

    Apparently, the word "greedy" is making someone feel guilty.... which is just too bad  the someone who gives others the power to make him/her feel uncomfortable!  (See Jocelyn's link to Allie's "Adventures in Depression"

    "Permaculture" is apparently getting an awful lot like some cultey religion... too fundamentalist, pure, dogmatic, etc.  "In the name of PC theology, I excommunicate you!" .. and who, exactly, died and made you pope?

    It might be interesting to consider how indigenous people treat/ed hoarding, sharing, etc.  I thought they were typically (not invariably)  sharing; hospitable; not driven to produce beyond their needs; not haunted by potential disaster; i.e., not particularly 'greedy'.

    Do Daniel Quinn's 'leavers' and 'takers' have a place in this discussion?

    Our particular culture teaches us that more/bigger/costlier is better, so, ergo, infinitely more makes me infinitely superior to anyone with less.  I have a cultural blessing to pursue UNlimited maximization.  Is PC ethic counterculture?

    So many aspects can be considered re: 'greed'.  As Mollison says, PC is not viable if it doesn't provide for everyone's needs....does it also have to provide for all our 'wants'?  Maybe Paul's daughter could have said only "Oh, I like that shirt, where did you get it? how much?" so he could realize he'd enjoy giving her the item he didn't need.

    Boy, this IS meaningless drivel!!  Let's just buck up and not give a rat's ass about what others think of us    
     
    Phil Hawkins
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    Warning - this really is a rambling post!

    The podcast this thread spawned got me thinking about the definition of greed, and ants versus grasshoppers. I think the majority of people throughout space and time want more than they have, and (given the chance that said majority don't have) would want more than they need (need being defined as what they require to live a long healthy life).  This is not the case for some people, and those people are indeed noble.  I don't think that a lack of such nobility automatically implies that I (and therefore, by extension, most of us) am greedy. Is the having 'greedier' than the wanting?

    If the government announced that it had eradicated the wealth of the "greedy 1%" I wonder if the Occupy folks would feel justice had been done, even though such an act would do nothing for their own station in life. Similarly, if the government gave them all a million dollars each (forget inflation here), I bet they'd still look at the "rich people's" billions and complain about the "greed" of such inequity.

    I'm in my thirties, I own a farm free and clear of debt. I am fortunate for many reasons: I was born in arguably one of the richest countries on Earth, I grew up in a stable family that placed great importance on learning, and (though I think this really matters a lot less in modern Australia) I am a heteosexual white Christian male. As a friend of mine likes to say, we really "hit the jackpot" in the humanity stakes.

    However, I know plenty of folks with exactly the same 'advantageous' circumstances as me (better even, as I wasn't born into money), and when I talk about where I am at, they say things like "you're so lucky" or "it must be so easy for you". No doubt they probably think I am very greedy to have amassed such a fortune at such a young age.  Well, I worked pretty fucking hard to get what I have, and unlike many others, I didn't piss it all away on fast cars, booze, and consumer electronics. I also didn't buy the most expensive house that the bank would let me buy.

    When I moved to my farm, I didn't do that quintessentially Australian thing of renting my old house out and negative gearing my taxable income down. Why not? Because I think it's UNETHICAL, unsustainable, and reinforces wealth disparity by artificially inflating housing prices. So rather than bitching about the fact that people are doing bad things, and someone should do something about those greedy sons of bitches, I simply elected to not become one of them, contrary to conventional financial wisdom.

    I reckon that makes me just a little bit noble, and that helps me sleep at night.
     
    Mike Guillory
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    If I see someone in need, I will try to help them if I can.  If someone asks me for help then I also will do what I can to help them out.  If someone tells me to give of my increase or time, I may or may not help them depending on the circumstance.  If someone through force or coercion takes from me, then I will probably fight them (except in the case of taxes).
     
    Brice Moss
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    Dale: just a question for setup before I come back and post something extensive. You speak to the physical risks of your career. Did you carry adequate personal health insurance throughout, and if not could you try and quantify the risk that someone who made the same choices you did would end up with large medical bills paid for by the state following a disability causing injury?

    Please don't think I'm setting up an attack on your position I am mostly in sympathy.
     
    Robert Ray
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    Even though I have relatives in Canada That question has never come up. Do Canadians have to carry additional health insurance?
    Even here my mother carries a policy on top of what medicare is offered to a retiree. Is iot the same up North?
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    Dale: just a question for setup before I come back and post something extensive. You speak to the physical risks of your career. Did you carry adequate personal health insurance throughout, and if not could you try and quantify the risk that someone who made the same choices you did would end up with large medical bills paid for by the state following a disability causing injury?

    Please don't think I'm setting up an attack on your position I am mostly in sympathy.
    [/quote                                                                                                                                                                                                  With almost all of the work I have done whether it be my years in demolition or other endeavors I have existed despite government and not with their help. I have never purchased additional medical coverage and have mostly not taken advantage of what is provided. We have to pay for the coverage. The amount is not enormous but for most of my life I have chosen not to participate.

         The reason I have been unwilling to participate is because everyone is charged the same amount whether they look after themselves or they live in a self destructive manner. I don't like the idea of paying the same amount as someone who becomes obese or who smokes cigarettes and abuses drugs and alcohol. I think there should be different rate classes so that we pay according to the risk we pose to the system. My dissatisfaction with this state of affairs caused me to decide at about 19 that I would take my chances. I make choices like this with many minor laws.

        Had I done what the government wants, I never would have gotten started into recycling. They give great lip service to the idea but when I first started I received visits from various suits from the highways department who explained to me that these materials were not allowed to be recycled since that would put other bidders who would pay large dump bills at a disadvantage. I won't get into details here about what methods I employed to ensure that I would be able to continue. Let's just say my explanation would probably cause deletion of my comments and would not promote the idea that I am a rational person.

        So my decisions on which insurance to carry or not carry have been largely influenced by my them and me outlook. I live and thrive despite government, not with their help or blessing. Canada tends to favor staying the course over innovation and we go to great lengths to protect existing stakeholders in every industry. I have always been an outsider and probably always will be. I realize that I have allies within the system but they like me are marginalized. I believe I stated somewhere that I'm moving on from deconstruction and salvage because the government set dumpage rates are too low and this has made the business less profitable. Most other guys in this business have also found other uses for their time recently. So a much smaller percentage of building materials will be recycled in Victoria in the coming decade. I'm sure this isn't limited to Victoria. The business isn't viable in any city where dumpage rates are low or where contractors are constantly harassed by officialdom.

         In moving on I'm actually likely to butt heads with government on a much more regular basis. Until now I've mostly dodged inspectors, and controlled the situation by feeding them whatever nonsense they want to hear. But now that I'm getting into agriculture, I'm entering the field most tightly controlled by antiquated government policy. In British Columbia and other parts of Canada the production of many types of food has been criminalized for anyone unwilling to buy into a quota system which favors the old boys who are well established. Should I want to raise 1000 chickens for egg production, the costs of quota would be $250,000. I will not be purchasing any quota. The list of controlled products is extensive including chickens, eggs, turkeys, ducks and duck eggs, milk, potatoes, beets, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, celery etc.. They call it supply management and the Internet is full of all the good reasons why this exists. Ultimately it exists to prevent newcomers to the market from challenging established producers. I plan to give them hell by whatever means suits me. So I'm quite likely to be a drain on the public purse.    But whatever I do in this regard is ultimately useful to every useful citizen.

        Any time I read that some group wants to level out our incomes in the name of wage equity I'm reminded that some people sit behind a counter waiting for the next customer to come along, while others become hard rock miners, lumberjacks or deep-sea divers. These jobs entail danger, hard work, isolation and skills development. There is no reason why the ambitious and productive nature of the latter group should be punished. The world is flooded with people who haven't bothered to learn a useful skill. Those who have should not be forced to pick up the financial slack for others. By useful skill I mean something which the world is willing to pay for. Although I'm quite good at carving wooden bowls and building intricate driftwood furniture, the market has told me that these skills are not valued. So I'm not going to spend my days sitting on a mat at the waterfront trying to sell my bowls.
     
    Ever since I found this suit I've felt strange new needs. And a tiny ad:
    2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
    https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
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