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fair share meets galt's gulch  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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This is probably going to ring to the vast majority of the world's population as horribly offensive. I think this might even ring as horribly offensive to a majority of permaculture people. But I think that is a good thing. I think that the stuff I am about to write will be so horribly offensive to the sort of people that it would be best did not come here.

Like wearing overalls: a lot of people steer clear of people wearing overalls. It is as if overalls have superpowers to repel people who have values that I don't care for (and the overalls draw in people who have values similar to mine).

Like the word "fuck": say it often and say it proudly. So many people have trained themselves to be offended by this word, but they are not offended my things that really matter. It thins the herd.

Galt's Gulch: this is from the book "Atlas Shrugged". By finding value in this book, I think 95% of the population will reject any thoughts in this space because anybody that finds value in the book is an obvious bad guy for reason A, reason B and reason C. (note that I find that when a person hates this book it often says far more about the reviewer than about the book)

Some permies are adamant that "fair share" is the third ethic of permaculture. And in my experience, nearly universal usage of these two words has been to justify unethical behavior. I know that whenever I hear somebody emphasizing it, a big, imaginary red flag appears on their head and I start looking for the unethical behavior.

- -

Now for a moment in Mr. Rogers land of make believe. But .... I guess it is really my land of make believe.

Suppose there is a woman named Emma who has a wofati on the lab. She has a kitchen and three tables. She makes it known that she is selling meals at fixed times. People come and eat or they don't. You could call it a restaurant if you want. Most people cook at home most of the time. Maybe Emma sends emails out with what the menu is for the day. It's a business on the lab just for lab folk. Maybe Emma buys food, maybe she grows it herself.

Then there is a guy, Ferd. Ferd works about ten hours a week on his own business. He usually eats at Emma's. Ferd also raises guinea pigs and sells them to Emma and about once a month Emma's dinner is Cui.

Then there is Gert: she never eats at Emmas. She grows a LOT of food. She sells a fair bit of food to Emma, and to a few other people at the lab.

There is a guy, Barney. Barney has residual income streams and eats about 70% of the time at Emma's. Barney also like to do green woodworking and sculpture. He might sell some stuff some day. Or not. He isn't too worried about it.

Then there is Kirk. Kirk builds and sells a wofati each year. He usually eats dinner every night at Emma's. He sorta eats "snacks" the rest of the day - mostly stuff he has purchased from other people on the lab that make canned goods, jerky and the like.

Then there is Jenny. She is 18 and offers a chop and drop service. She will come to your spot and go through your gardens doing a bit of chop and drop. So the stuff you want is encouraged and the stuff you don't want is discouraged. Jenny is renting a room in somebody else's wofati and is saving up to get her own spot.

- -

So I wish to say that "fair share" is very simple: Emma provides a meal for a price. If the price is too high or the quality too low, then people choose to not purchase it. If people are purchasing it, then the price must be fair. If Emma is not getting enough money to do this project, then she stops doing this project. (of course, in my imagination, Emma does very well)

If Kirk sets what he thinks is a fair price for his wofati and nobody buys it, then the price is not fair. If kirk needs more money than that, then kirk must stop building wofatis. (of course, in my imagination, Kirk does very well)

I suspect that there are hundreds of interpretations of what "fair share" could mean. Maybe stuff that involves health insurance, paid vacation, "a living wage" and "retirement benefits." I guess I am thinking about what I read in Galt's Gulch. Within their community, the transactions were very simple. Some people worked very long hours and did very quality work so they accumulated a lot of wealth (thus, their own "living wage", paid vacation, health insurance and retirement benefits). In my imagination, some people do quality work, but work only five hours a week, but that is enough for them. And other people are learning a skill, so the quality of their work is not as high, so they work long hours and don't earn so much.

And then there is my favorite part: some people have worked and saved enough that they don't work any more. Their work is more in the space of "hobbies" or "puttering".

- -

To me, this seems really obvious and simple. Nothing profound here. By some standards this is terrible?











 
Stephanie Meyer
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paul wheaton wrote:

- -

To me, this seems really obvious and simple. Nothing profound here. By some standards this is terrible?





Some people think so, so much like you using the word "fuck" frequently around the easily offended, I like to use the word "mine" . Mine to give away if I want, but still mine. I spent my precious time on earth earning it, it is mine and I feel no compulsion( well except for the governmental kind) to give it to people I don't like or disagree with. I find that some people really hate that attitude. Gee, oh well. Mine, mine, mine, mine.
Personally I think the people who feel entitled to my precious time without giving me any benefit in return are the greedy ones.
 
Matu Collins
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I think I understand what you are saying and it reminds me a bit of an ulcer factory.

The examples you give are attractive. In a small scale tightly knit community it makes sense. When you have sports players making bazillions of dollars playing a game and kindergarten teachers or nurse's assistants who can't afford rent it becomes less attractive. Certainly it shows what work we value and what we don't.
 
Michael Cox
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Short version,

Permaculture =/ Communism

You what you make/grow is yours to do with as you see fit, up to and including building "wealth" in some form or other. Well channelled greed and ambition can be an incredibly powerful motivator to achieve big things in life.
 
Philip Jurkowich
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Perhaps being very new to permaculture I am missing something. I do not see anything in the situation you are describing that could offend anyone. Sounds like a very pleasant place be.
 
John Wolfram
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The system Paul described sure does sound a lot like capitalism. Of course, capitalism seems to be a bad word in some permaculture circles, so perhaps we could call it something like "Communism with Chinese Characteristics" which looks more and more like capitalism by the day...

So come on out to wheaton labs, where they practice Communism with Wheaton Characteristics.
 
Judith Browning
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By some standards this is terrible?
Nope, not by mine I think that line of thinking is practical and totally workable and fair.

I hung on to my copy of Atlas Shrugged for forty years...definitely an inspiring book. All of this talk recently might get me to get it out and read again.
 
brad millar
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I've read thru this twice and haven't found anything here offensive. More along the lines of common sense.
By some standards this is terrible?

Maybe for the standards of communism?
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I think that in a perfect world, that system would work. Lots of systems would work in a perfect world. I would like to live in that perfect world that you describe where people providing quality items set fair prices and get them and we are all worthwhile and content.

In an imperfect world, the one we live in, shit happens. Things, people and skills are valued oddly. Kind of like the water and diamonds dichotomy. We need water to survive yet even in water scarce areas of the US, water is still inexpensive. Diamonds are a luxury - we don't need them to live and yet they cost a lot and (some) people covet them.

I hear a lot about how intellectual property you create should be "free" but physical property that you create you can charge a fair price for (according to some people's interpretation of "fair share" - not mine). But wonder if, like me, you have a limitation that hinders your ability to produce a physical item, yet you have valuable intellectual property? Am I then useless to those "productive" others?

....just my rambling thoughts on this.



 
Kyrt Ryder
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I do wonder what sort of 'residual income streams' one might create within such a community, rather than an income whose streams come from the outside world.
 
Dave Burton
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I agree that most of what Paul wrote is common sense, but I think issues arise when people start demanding entitlements. By nature, those are things people think they deserve by just being people or citizens. Some of them I do agree with, like universal health insurance and a living wage. Other issues arise from the changes that have occurred over many years, destabilizing certain cultural traditions (e.g. kids caring for parents in old age); as a result, a modern alternative must be created to fill its void.

I think there may some issues that arose from the types of work people make a living off of. This video nicely explains Karl Marx's view that work was originally meant to fuel people, to let them make money doing what they enjoy; however, when that work is no longer fulfilling or as rewarding, people become alienated and society deteriorates. This is part of the difference that I notice in Paul's model world and 'the real world from my perspective,': fair share is not needed because from what I can tell, in Paul's world Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
is completely filled, but in 'the real world through my perspective,' Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is not completely filled due to qualities lacking in work, community, mind, etc.

As a result, I think "fair share" is demanded. People want to be as fulfilled as they perceive their neighbors to be. Fulfillment comes in various forms, and sadly, for some people fulfillment comes in material things like money, thing-a-bobs, and what not, instead of things that are immaterial and a thousand times more fulfilling, like good friends, a beloved kitten, time spent in a (food) forest, an hour walking outside, etc. These material things are believed to lead to fulfillment, but whatever they do bring as fulfillment is temporary, and thus more "stuff" is demanded, and "fair share" becomes a thing. Then, of course, there are obsessions, too.

Well, that is how I think of it, and I'm not free from blame either. I love reading books and learning and doing new things... a lot...
 
Zach Muller
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What paul writes makes a lot of sense to me, but maybe there could be unforeseen dynamics formed during the process of creating a small economy within the larger economy of Montana and the U.S.

If Barney were a naturally well to do guy then He could become a local influence. Maybe Emma would start catering just to his tastes since he eats at her place so much and slowly Barney becomes almost the soul patron of Emma's services. Then maybe their relationship gets complicated and Barney stops patronizing Emma and she is driven into dire straights.

Or maybe other people consciously or unconsciously start trying to impress Barney so they can cash in on his interests and therefore his money.

This brings up a thought. In the ant village thread there was a limitation set on how many solar panels an ant could bring, is this to prevent an ant from creating so much solar power that they are selling power to others rather than contributing in other ways? Pretty much creating a power generation business in the new economy that is the Wheaton world.
This is why it is super integral that paul be a dictator.


@jennifer wadsworth
One of my initial thoughts when reading this post was "what about an artist who was highly passionate and specialized in something that the people at Wheaton labs had no exposure to and therefore no taste for?"
They wouldn't make it and would have to diversify into other more commonly appreciated stuff. Just the same, the experts in topics that weren't immediately needed would be discarded into a category with others who did not know anything. This could actually decrease overall cultural diversity.
On the flip side of the coin someone who had a lot of knowledge but not the capability to build physical stuff may find a spot to fill as a teacher, but the knowledge they had would have to be of immediate value or else they would not make it either. Also once everyone present knew what it was you were offering, then you would be out of business.

Dave burton wrote
Fulfillment comes in various forms, and sadly, for some people fulfillment comes in material things like money, thing-a-bobs, and what not, instead of things that are immaterial and a thousand times more fulfilling, like good friends, a beloved kitten, time spent in a (food) forest, an hour walking outside, etc. These material things are believed to lead to fulfillment, but whatever they do bring as fulfillment is temporary, and thus more "stuff" is demanded, and "fair share" becomes a thing. Then, of course, there are obsessions, too.


For some people fulfillment is found in their obsessions, and often times those obsessions are more intellectual, more artistic, or just based in ideals and not activities or things like what you describe. I do not know, but I would guess all fulfillment is temporary, just like life itself. I am fulfilled when my actions form part of a permaculture system, I do not have to wait until the system is 'done' to feel fulfilled, I am fulfilled just to put one foot in front of the other.


There is an analogy in my mind centered on one of my obsessions: guitar
Guitars are physical so they are subject to greed, coveting, hoarding, use, misuse, getting crafted, getting destroyed etc. they are "stuff"
But for some a guitar is like a window into a beautiful world of vibration where they can actually live and thrive, where fulfillment can be found and the spirit can be set adrift.
With no guitars these types of spirits would not be set adrift, and any insights that may come from that process would be lost to all.

Forgive the narrow example, it could be for any "stuff". I think stuff is a double edged sword, in the end our bodies are just stuff, each part is really just another thingamabob or whatnot. Replacing money with homegrown apples or homemade wooden doodads is probably not going to change the nature of people.

 
Bradley Springer
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Sounds about right. The problem with the raw capitalism model in the modern world is simply dependence on other systems. People can be exploited when they NEED products like food, water, and energy. Permacultre provides mechanisms to alleviate these needs, which creates a surplus of abundance (read that in Lawton's voice), and consequently lowers demand for the product. Lower demand = lower prices.

Is it possible (in theory) for every individual in the world to be a self sufficient "island"? What about every family? Every neighborhood? Wherever you draw the line, these autonomous islands can now participate in voluntary interaction with the other islands.

When analyzing the ethics of a economic system we have to consider individual rights as well. The existence of a right like freedom of speech doesn't immediately place a burden on other people. Healthcare and education are the products of another person's labor. And the right to another person's labor is slavery. This of course brings in all sorts of moral issues with taxation and collectivism. Can permaculture design provide ample healthcare and education for the world's population? If not, how much can it reduce the need for these products?

There's so much to consider when designing an economic system with permaculture as a fundamental principal. Balancing the potential of abuse and individual freedom is difficult and messy. Perhaps we need another ethic that simply states "Don't be an asshole."

But whether you're a communist, capitalist, or anything in between, driving self reliance (via permaculture) as close to the individual level as possible should be a priority.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I got a serious dose of fulfillment yesterday. My brother took on a demolition that required someone competent and quick, to move like a cat, in high places and dismantle the framework after all of the siding, drywall, insulation etc. were gone. I charge $350 per day. At first he didn't like the price, but by the end of the day, he conceded that I was 4 times faster than his helpers who are not adept at this specialty. I make triple the wage of these guys. Thus, I was his cheapest employee. I dropped enough wood to build a 2000 sq ft house.

We never divulge my earnings to his regulars, because this would cause some of them to gripe that they aren't getting their fair share. It's been my experience that those without valued skills, become less productive after learning of any wage disparity. To me and my brother, the math is pretty simple. To an unskilled guy who works hard cleaning up garbage and piling lumber, it can seem horribly unfair.

I would love to spend my days carving wooden bowls, while chatting up girls on the beach. The marketplace has shown me that I can make more and contribute more, in a hard work, nose to the grindstone environment where my skills are needed.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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@Bradley - I like the "don't be an asshole" ethic. I know it's open to interpretation but still - it gives one pause to examine their actions!

@Zach - yeah, I thought about artists/musicians too when I first read the post. I also thought about Paul's need for someone to clean up after people at the Lab - a pretty thankless job. Now if no one wants that job, and it goes undone and, after awhile, creates an unpleasant physical/mental/emotional environment for the people living there, you'd think someone who was good at cleaning could, literally, "clean up" having other people pay them to do this necessary but mundane task. While taking less skill than some other projects, it's obviously one that people don't take the time to do but yet still needs to be done. In this model, I foresee the cleanup person making the most money of anyone at the Lab.

Now wonder if someone who was plugged into this system has an accident and can no longer perform their previous job, they will have to look for something else to do - possibly teach a skill, work on outreach or management, etc. Say that there's a place for them and they find something suitable. All's well. However, what if someone has a stroke and they've lost much motor control and the ability to speak. They have some savings but not enough to live on for the rest of their lives. What does the community do with that person? What does the community do with the disabled or elderly or any person who for whatever reason probably can't make it by themselves? In traditional societies, the extended family takes care of them. Would the community at the Lab take care of its own?

Here's a statistic from the US Social Security Disability page. 25% of the population will become "disabled" for some period of time during their lifetime. One quarter of the population. It could be for a short time, a longer time or perhaps a person is born with a disability. While I'm all for having a diverse skillset that will see you through a variety of situations, sometimes shit just happens. One needs to work this into whatever community one is forming because it's not a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when".
 
paul wheaton
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:@Bradley - I like the "don't be an asshole" ethic. I know it's open to interpretation but still - it gives one pause to examine their actions!


I think that "don't be an asshole" is one of those things which should only be uttered as a mental exercise for oneself, never to be uttered from one person to another.

If Ferd points to Gert and says "don't be an asshole" it would seem that Ferd and Gert have different values and Ferd appears to be demanding that Gert comply with Ferd's standards. Which is a pretty serious asshole-ish thing to do.

I wonder if if it could be a universal fact that one cannot utter the word out loud without being an asshole.

 
paul wheaton
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote: I also thought about Paul's need for someone to clean up after people at the Lab - a pretty thankless job. Now if no one wants that job, and it goes undone and, after awhile, creates an unpleasant physical/mental/emotional environment for the people living there, you'd think someone who was good at cleaning could, literally, "clean up" having other people pay them to do this necessary but mundane task. While taking less skill than some other projects, it's obviously one that people don't take the time to do but yet still needs to be done. In this model, I foresee the cleanup person making the most money of anyone at the Lab.


I think there is a lot of truth to this.

One of the things I am thinking of here is to go one step further: with a dozen people, there is a huge need to clean up after them. But how do we design a system such that there is not the need. Human nature leads to a space where the problem does not occur? I think the ant village is 98% of that. Each person has their own acre.

 
Kelly Smith
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paul wheaton wrote:


I think there is a lot of truth to this.

One of the things I am thinking of here is to go one step further: with a dozen people, there is a huge need to clean up after them. But how do we design a system such that there is not the need. Human nature leads to a space where the problem does not occur? I think the ant village is 98% of that. Each person has their own acre.



havent you said the root of all conflict is a difference in knowledge sets?
in this case, it seems the ants/gappers/whoever has a different definition of what is "clean" than you do.

i think everyone there agrees they have to clean up after themselves. so maybe instead of paying someone to clean up after people, you just get everyone on the same definition of clean is.

i also think "human nature" is 51% inherent, 49% environment.
 
William Bronson
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Paul's example, like Rand's novel, excludes the obvious problems that could occur. One could write a similar story for communism. Orwell actually had a very positive view of honey is the Meadowlands practiced during the Spanish Civil War,just not the kind practiced by the Stalinist.
The Amish might seem to have an idyllic government free lifestyle, if you are you know not a woman or child.

So yeah, nothing to objectionable in Paul's example, because it was presented in the best possible light.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Could you highlight some of those problems you're considering Will? (or do you prefer William?)
 
S Bengi
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Let's not forget the natural 80/20 rule that is observed in bean yield(plants/nature) as well as economies(society) . Where 20% of the population inherits favorable DNA/Money/knowledge/etc/land. And end up with 80% of the wealth/product/power/say in rules.

In your guild you might have 4 support species (n-fixer, comfrey, etc) to 1 fruiting/edible crop. Or we might have 4 kids supporting a grandma. OR 4 chop and drop intern/woofer working for every 1 landowner. I think that we have to build the system with the expectation, that each rich/knowledgeable/real person will need 4 poor/intern/sub person.
 
Stephanie Meyer
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William Bronson wrote:
The Amish might seem to have an idyllic government free lifestyle, if you are you know not a woman or child


I was raised in a plain church, I am not really seeing the increased benefit of being a woman or a child in "modern" society. Everything is a tradeoff. Stats show that the worse off children in the US tend to be those of single mothers, which happens very rarely in plain communities and when it does (widowhood usually but not always, parental abandonment being very rare) the community is responsible for the care and support of the widow and children. In the mainstream , those same women and children have to rely on the tender mercies of the government which is frequently very inadequate. There are many issues in plain churches, but I find the idea that the mainstream world treats women and children better strange. Not to even go into what happens to the aged and infirm.
 
Dan Boone
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I've been thinking about this all morning. I should be out looking for the first morels, but I gotta dash off some thoughts here first.

From my understanding, "fair share" is a relatively recent formulation of the third ethic. Some earlier formulations of the third ethic were "set limits to population and consumption" and "return of surplus". All three of these formulations suffer from a lack of clarity as to subjects and objects, and the "set limits" version pretty much begs the question "what limits are appropriate?" These ambiguities, IMO, make the whole third ethic mostly an ink blot test that tells us more about who is talking about it than about anything else.

But as for Ayn Rand, her entire ouvre is a horrified reaction to the genuinely horrifying excesses of forced collectivism. So horrified was she that she spent the rest of her life finding forced collectivism under every rock, even in capitalist representative republics such as her adopted home. Her clearest and most sound philosophical message was "that forced collectivism stuff is horrible" and I think history is/was on her side about that. But she doesn't have much to offer in the way of positive prescriptions for how humans can live together well in community. Galt's Gulch is a fantasy of community among folks who have self-selected themselves for philosophical purity. The reality of community-building among real folks is, as you would know better than me at this point, rather more challenging.

Paul, it seems to me that what you are describing when you talk about Emma's Excellent Permacultural Eats and her community of happy well-fed customers is the sort of basic business arrangements that typified village life in a lot of places prior to the twentieth century. Before high-speed travel and transport networks and before telecommunications, pretty much everybody did business with fellow members of their communities. It's capitalism without the capital -- just basic free markets among free traders, without enormous capital-intensive networks of mechanized farms and factories that can out-compete (because economies of scale and division of labor and massive petrochemical energy inputs) family-scale enterprises.

The third ethic is an inkblot. It's impossible to talk about it without talking about your own values. That said:

I like the vision of a permacultural village populated by free traders like Emma's Excellent Permacultural Eats. I have no heartburn with the notion of her setting her prices at whatever the market will bear. If she thrives, if her pockets fill with money or her commercial pantry overflows with permie produce she's taken in trade, if her flocks and herds flourish and she becomes the wealthiest person in Paul's Permie Paradise -- what of it? The third ethic suggests that she not waste any of that surplus, and that she not hoard it beyond reason, which hoarding we all understand isn't sustainable anyway. But it's an ethic, not a moral code inscribed on a tablet. Ethics are self-derived and self-determined. It's up to Emma to decide what's in surplus in her business system, and it's up to her to decide what to do with her surpluses.

If she decides to sleep on an evergrowing pile of wheels of cheese, that's up to her. Maybe it's her retirement plan; maybe she plans to swap well-aged human-pressed cheeses for care in her declining years. Maybe she'll invest at least some of her surpluses into some form of local charity (perhaps she feeds hungry WOOFER types who have let their permie enthusiasm carry them deeper into the woods than their logistics planning can support) or loosely-calibrated "pay me back when you can" barter or community-building sharing. Maybe. But it's up to her.

If Emma dies on top of a huge pile of wealth she never had a use for in life, I think many of us would agree that her understanding or implementation of the Third Ethic was flawed. But that's a private, individual assessment of another person's choices, made with the benefit of hindsight. Where we go wrong is if we try to take our opinions and use them as levers and bludgeons to make demands on other people. We don't get to do that, and nothing in the Third Ethic makes it appropriate to do that. You might say that a permaculturalist's adherence to the third ethic is between the permie and the permie's ecosystem.

So says me. But I'm just a dude with a few wild food trees and some plants in buckets.

Finally: even though I'm a big believer in leaving people alone to trade their surpluses as they will, priced as they will, my own notion is that at the smallest scale, it's barely worth trying to sell modest agricultural surpluses. Our current hypercapitalist economy and industrial agriculture put so many distortions into people's notions of what good food looks like and what it should be priced at in hypercapitalist currency markers (dollars) that trading your surpluses for dollars is in most cases a mug's game, unless you have rather a lot of those surpluses and don't mind allocating them mostly to the people who have figured out how to burn the most hydrocarbons the fastest and get rich doing it. Even my wildest dreams of production don't encompass surpluses that would be worth the transaction costs of selling them in the dollar economy. My judgement is that I will be better off giving them away within my extended family and circle of friends and the few others who constitute my human community. This will, I imagine, generate more in reciprocal goodwill and favors (or even just good karma if your philosophies run that way) than the meager dollar returns I could generate after my transaction costs (mostly time and hassle). In Emma's shoes I think I'd serve a lot of good meals on an "everybody welcome, please don't come empty handed" basis. I speculate that she'd "make" more in local permie surpluses she could invest in her own systems (including her feeding-people systems) than she'd ever realizing by turning her labor into dollars and then trying to buy surplus permie goodies with those dollars. The biggest challenge is that she'd need to be the kind of people-person who could recognize freeloaders quickly and turn them away without undue ugliness. I don't have those people skills, so that would never be my preferred way of making a permie living.

 
Michael Cox
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One aspect not mentioned here yet is that trading with a price tag set by a market leads to efficient use of time and capital. If your girls sets her meal price too high she either loses customers or competition comes in and others undercut her so her price lowers. If too many people start selling meals thee won't be enough customers to support them...

Markets setting prices do a very good job of matching supply to demand for most goods, and stops people wasting time on activities that are not needed/desirable.

It helps prevent problems based on false expectations of value - "I spent 200 hours hand collecting stinging nettles to make fiber, which I hand spun to make thread, then made a loom so I could make fabric and now I have a T shirt to sell. A fair price for my t-shirt = $1000 for my time". No - just because you spent a lot of time effort and money making something does not mean it has value in the wider sense, and not all activities are equally valuable.
 
Zach Muller
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:

Now wonder if someone who was plugged into this system has an accident and can no longer perform their previous job, they will have to look for something else to do - possibly teach a skill, work on outreach or management, etc. Say that there's a place for them and they find something suitable. All's well. However, what if someone has a stroke and they've lost much motor control and the ability to speak. They have some savings but not enough to live on for the rest of their lives. What does the community do with that person? What does the community do with the disabled or elderly or any person who for whatever reason probably can't make it by themselves? In traditional societies, the extended family takes care of them. Would the community at the Lab take care of its own?

Here's a statistic from the US Social Security Disability page. 25% of the population will become "disabled" for some period of time during their lifetime. One quarter of the population. It could be for a short time, a longer time or perhaps a person is born with a disability. While I'm all for having a diverse skillset that will see you through a variety of situations, sometimes shit just happens. One needs to work this into whatever community one is forming because it's not a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when".


This is a good series of inquiry. My thoughts naturally follow those thoughts into some very troubling and disturbing nuances. Traditional societies were not based on permaculture exactly, although I think the survival of a group used to rely on the roles and functions the members had to fill, and the elderly and others were able to go from serving one purpose to serving a different purpose as their bodies and minds got older and less capable.
Without additional functional roles for them to fall into they would have become functionless. I do not want to seem crazy or disgusting, just exploring, what do we have to do with a functionless animal in an animal system? For the overall health of the system they must be removed, or else it might be considered bad husbandry. Luckily for those elders who wanted to continue life those new roles were Valued and honored by the group.

I am reminded of some old stories where elders, sages, shaman would pass their role onto a new generation and then venture into the wilderness alone to be at one with death. I always read those and thought " that's so calculated, noble and awesome I hope I will be able to do that too"

I think people have always sought in some form to extend life, live longer and better lives, and it is only relatively new that everyone has the right to be kept alive, perhaps even against their true will, just because it is a physical possibility. Along with that comes the ever common crippling fear of death. Once the survival of the whole is actually at stake, the connotations and parameters of the survival of one must change. To me that seems an unavoidable effect of that transition. Not totally a bad thing since it means death will be given back its meaning and thus lose its stigma as the absolute worst thing that can happen. I do not mean to put this in an offensive way, or to imply I would support dispatching undesirables at Wheaton labs, I just want to follow this discussion out.

Now I relate to paul when he wrote,
This is probably going to ring to the vast majority of the world's population as horribly offensive. I think this might even ring as horribly offensive to a majority of permaculture people.


But I mean at the core are we not discussing managing an animal (human) system? It just happens to be the most convoluted and complicated animal we know of.
 
paul wheaton
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Let's also add in Bobby: Bobby has zero income. Bobby does zero work. Bobby has a deep roots package and Bobby does whatever seems cool all day, every day. Five years ago, Bobby built a humble wofati and some hugelkultur beds. Bobby has some money under the mattress from a long time ago, but Bobby has found a way of life that needs almost nothing. He might spend about $20 per month. At this rate it will be about ten years until he runs out of money. Bobby loves to read books and has quite a mountain. He trades books with others pretty regularly. He likes to play scrabble and chess with other folks. Once in a while he whittles something cool (not for sale, just to have such a cool thing). Bobby participates in potlucks a couple times a week - outside of that, most of his winter food is dehydrated.
 
S Bengi
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I want to be like Bobby, work hard before I arrived and save up some money, then worked super hard the 1st two years to establish my system,,after that just harvest my perennials (20 minutes a day), read, have fun, preserve my food(10 minutes a day), cook dinner/etc (30 minutes). Sounds like the life.
 
elle sagenev
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I think it's easy to say that people who are not wealthy or do not contribute are like that because they, themselves are horrible, didn't work, etc.

I work for a criminal defense attorney. I see a lot of horrible. 98% of the horrible I see has come from poor circumstances. This can mean a broken home, horrible abuse or neglect, financial hardship, any of that or all of that. Sometimes I look at them and think they could do better if they chose to. Sometimes I look at them and wonder how they are even alive after what they've gone through. If that little girl who was prostituted our by her mother for drugs looks to drugs to dull the pain of her existence, do I blame her? Do I refuse to give her food because she does not contribute to MY life?

We save. We live without debt. We live under our income. We will have funded our kids education and our retirement. Making the orchard is kind of a hobby I'd like to turn into a very successful business. Life has been very easy for me. Being a white woman of middle class is easy. I do not worry about law enforcement or racism. I can make choices free of those burdens. Unfortunately I know that many can't. I've seen the video. I've heard the audio. I know that race can determine if someone makes it or not in this country. Even Wyoming, which I feel grateful to live in, abuses minorities. It makes me worry about my biracial son who looks very not white.

So I know you probably didn't mean to go that far in depth. I just see that view as rather simplistic in a very un-simple world. It is part of the reason I plan on hiring people of color exclusively. I am going to treat them like human beings.

Guess I'm just an odd one. I plan to be horribly wealthy but I've got a bit of a socialist side, though I prefer to think of it as compassion.
 
Bill Crim
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elle sagenev wrote:If that little girl who was prostituted our by her mother for drugs looks to drugs to dull the pain of her existence, do I blame her? Do I refuse to give her food because she does not contribute to MY life?
[snip]
Guess I'm just an odd one. I plan to be horribly wealthy but I've got a bit of a socialist side, though I prefer to think of it as compassion.


It is indeed compassionate for you to help the unfortunate by providing assistance. However, you are simply shifting the burden to yourself. Nobody can relieve a person of a moral obligation to provide for their own maintenance/welfare. The reason a person is needy is irrelevant; compassion can only happen so long as the benefactor has the resources to continue to provide assistance.

Paul has been been funding the life/lifestyles of 3-12 at any one time. He also has obligations to the awesome Permies who already chipped in with financial assistance to buy the Lab and Basecamp. Paul is already sacrificing income producing potential of his land by trying to make it a zone of permaculture experimentation. He is also sacrificing his $300/hr High-Powered Computer Contractor rate to run Permies.com. He is sacrificing his health/relationships by working 14+ hour days. When the benefactor is operating at that capacity, having non or marginally productive people puts the entire system at risk.

It doesn't make sense for anyone to come to the Lab unless they are willing to:
  • Relieve a burden from Paul/Lab
  • Produce additional resources for Paul/Lab
  • Have a learning experience that is a net neutral on resources.

  • Living in a pro-permaculture space, with so many pro-permaculture people, is a real benefit. It isn't too much to ask for each person to only cost Paul $-100 net per year instead of $-4000.
     
    elle sagenev
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    Bill Crim wrote:
    elle sagenev wrote:If that little girl who was prostituted our by her mother for drugs looks to drugs to dull the pain of her existence, do I blame her? Do I refuse to give her food because she does not contribute to MY life?
    [snip]
    Guess I'm just an odd one. I plan to be horribly wealthy but I've got a bit of a socialist side, though I prefer to think of it as compassion.


    It is indeed compassionate for you to help the unfortunate by providing assistance. However, you are simply shifting the burden to yourself. Nobody can relieve a person of a moral obligation to provide for their own maintenance/welfare. The reason a person is needy is irrelevant; compassion can only happen so long as the benefactor has the resources to continue to provide assistance.

    Paul has been been funding the life/lifestyles of 3-12 at any one time. He also has obligations to the awesome Permies who already chipped in with financial assistance to buy the Lab and Basecamp. Paul is already sacrificing income producing potential of his land by trying to make it a zone of permaculture experimentation. He is also sacrificing his $300/hr High-Powered Computer Contractor rate to run Permies.com. He is sacrificing his health/relationships by working 14+ hour days. When the benefactor is operating at that capacity, having non or marginally productive people puts the entire system at risk.

    It doesn't make sense for anyone to come to the Lab unless they are willing to:
  • Relieve a burden from Paul/Lab
  • Produce additional resources for Paul/Lab
  • Have a learning experience that is a net neutral on resources.

  • Living in a pro-permaculture space, with so many pro-permaculture people, is a real benefit. It isn't too much to ask for each person to only cost Paul $-100 net per year instead of $-4000.


    I was not limiting my comment to Wheaton Labs. I was referencing our society as a whole. Yes, people who go on his property should contribute. No, I will not discard anyone in the world who is unable to contribute the way I think they should for whatever reason. I don't have to let them in my house but I see no reason to tell them to go starve to death. Paul's comments may have been directed only at his ideal society on his property but I gave them much broader meaning based on my experiences in this country.
     
    Dave Burton
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    At this point, I think it may be helpful to mention a quote that my mom always tells me: "Everybody has something to contribute to society; they just need to find out what that is first." I was and sometimes am still told this because it annoys me to no end when I end up assuming the mother role or the leader just because other people don't know what to do at the given time, don't have a process, and I end up developing the procedure per se and making sure it is followed.

    What others contribute to society may not be what others expect, what I expect, or what they themselves expect; but they can contribute something and they usually do.

    It actually was eye-opening for me to see a year or two later someone who was slacking off freshmen or sophomore year that I shared a class with become someone motivated and passionate about something junior and senior year. They just needed to find that spark, their core, and ignite it. It is beautiful!
     
    R Scott
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    I have come to call my philosophy "Christian Libertarianism."

    I find it very odd that those that scream loudest for their free thinking are also the most likely to try to force you to think their way.

    As a foster parent, I saw things like Elle did. But I also saw a lot of abuse by the state--one size does not fit all in any context.

    So I help widows and orphans and those who I think (after observation) are victims of circumstances however I can. Sometimes it is money; usually it is food, clothing, or time.

    I don't make others give--that is really taking through force or coercion. I don't give to the same person too regularly to avoid creating dependency or entitlement attitude. That loss of gratitude is bad for the receiver but devastating for the giver-it either hardens their heart to stop giving or worse, to start abusing and turn the gifting into controlling. And then they become the thing they hated.

     
    Stephanie Meyer
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    R Scott wrote:I have come to call my philosophy "Christian Libertarianism."

    I find it very odd that those that scream loudest for their free thinking are also the most likely to try to force you to think their way.

    As a foster parent, I saw things like Elle did. But I also saw a lot of abuse by the state--one size does not fit all in any context.

    So I help widows and orphans and those who I think (after observation) are victims of circumstances however I can. Sometimes it is money; usually it is food, clothing, or time.

    I don't make others give--that is really taking through force or coercion. I don't give to the same person too regularly to avoid creating dependency or entitlement attitude. That loss of gratitude is bad for the receiver but devastating for the giver-it either hardens their heart to stop giving or worse, to start abusing and turn the gifting into controlling. And then they become the thing they hated.



    I would call that compassion tempered with wisdom, to avoid destroying either yourself or the people you are trying to help.

    I think there is a lot of room between people able to work who won't, and those who cannot provide for themselves. The second type should have my endless compassion and charity, for the first type I think it is kinder to allow them to come to the end of their rope so they can choose a better way for themselves. Giving the first type endless resources is a complete and total waste, leads to destruction, and no kindness in my opinion. Like "giving a drunk a drink".
     
    Dawn Hoff
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    I have a friend - her mother sold her as a prostitute to whomever would buy her the next bottle of vodka. She is now a stay at home mom who unschool 4 kids and grows most of her own food. I am not saying that is possible for everyone. A guy I know was beaten by his father once, and when he was 18 his mother moved to India for two years - he felt abandoned... He has never taken responsibility for anything in his life ever... His mom and step-father bails him out every time he gets in truble (which is all the time). I'm not saying what his father did was OK, but I know many people who have had far worse childhoods, who are productive responsible adults.

    Sometimes being a victim is a state of mind.

    If you start a business, your employees need to contribute- otherwise you are starting a charity. There is nothing wrong with starting a charity - I plan on doing that myself at some point - but the more money you make in your business, the more people you will be able to help.

    I know a guy who has MS, wherever he goes children sit on his lap - he tells stories and draw pictures - the children love a person who has time to sit down with them and talk to them. Everybody can be useful - I would not mind paying room and board for a guy like that.

    When we bought our homestead, my knitting almost came to a complete halt - the only time I had to knit was at night when it was so dark out that I couldn't see what I was doing (we didn't have electricity). I wondered how on earth they produced the wonderfull Shetland hap shawls in the days before electricity. Now I know: Old women would knit and spin and watch the children who were too young to participate in chores - the hap shawls were very valuable, and were sold at high prices on markets.

    Everybody has a role to play, they just need to find it.

    I can't help but think about the prime directive - I can be responsible for myself and family. Everything else has voluntary exchanges - because if they are not then they are coercive. If I think that football players are payed too much money, I can stop buying products from the companies who sponsor them. If I think childcare and sick are should be valued more - I value it more:Economically or otherwise. Be the change you want to see in the world.

    The big cooperations whom we unite in hating in permaculture enjoy the support of the same state we want to use to protect ourselves and the environment against them... Economies of scale are notoriously hard to turn around and don't compete very well in a free market.

    The model Paul proposes may not be what everyone wants - the beauty of it is that it is so small. Someone like me might buy a property close by, I might not have as many strict rules as him, and most importantly I would own my own land - because that is important to me. Others might by a piece of land communally and run it as a socialist commune - as long as everybody involved agrees and participate voluntarily, no agression has been committed and all is good.

    We cannot solve "society's" (what is that even?) problems on a macro scale... A multitude of different solutions need exists because we are all different, and prefer different approaches to the solution.
     
    Dustin Nemos
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    Gonna bump this. Hosting a FB group now called Galt's Retreat that is intended to be for discussing the setup of an ecovillage or intentional community, but most of us are voluntaryists. Diverse skillsets but strong principles/morals/individualism backgrounds. Would be interested in hearing about your experiences, We're looking at buying land asap and moving to setup farm shop.
     
    Tyler Ludens
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    How will Galt's Retreat deal with people who become ill, injured, disabled, or old?

     
    Bill Crim
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    Tyler Ludens wrote:How will Galt's Retreat deal with people who become ill, injured, disabled, or old?

    If you are talking about how will the community take care of its own elderly and sick, then it will do it like they always have; Friends, family, and a person's stored surplus will do it. It would be up to the individuals in the community to decide how much of their own surplus resources to spend caring for outsiders. Each community has an economic carrying capacity. If you exceed it, the community will wither. Communities don't exist to solve the world's problems, they exist to solve the problems of their members.
    Bill Mollison wrote:The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children.


     
    David Livingston
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    First I should say that I find the works Of Anne Ryan morally objectionable and simplistic in the extreme. This writer states it quite well I think http://www.alternet.org/story/145819/ayn_rand,_hugely_popular_author_and_inspiration_to_right-wing_leaders,_was_a_big_admirer_of_serial_killer ;
    Paul gives an interesting example ; I have no objection to his example but what it does NOT say I feel is as interesting as what it does say . Looking at the USA and to a lesser extent the UK there is the underling assumption that state intervention- collectivisation does not work . This was Ryans essential point and whilst it was true that she fled stalins purges equating that to for instance the collective provision of healthcare etc  is a bit of a stretch frankly . Please define what work in this case means  ?
    The elephant in the room is what is taxation and what should it be spent on ? Police ? Army ? Health care .and who should pay it and how Whilst it would be very nice to live in a very small community and be self sufficient What are you going to do if you need the army ? or someone commits a murder ? or someone has cancer .? or you want to buy a computer ?
    If there are problems  its very nice to say people  would live off there saved wealth , this assumes the system allows them to save any ? George Carlin had it spotted years ago 


    David
     
    Tyler Ludens
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    Bill Crim wrote:
    If you are talking about how will the community take care of its own elderly and sick, then it will do it like they always have; Friends, family, and a person's stored surplus will do it.


    I'm doubtful about how effective this strategy will be.  To me it looks like "get poor and die."  My family would have been bankrupt several times over due to health crises, if we had to depend on family and friends.  Friends, family, and a person's stored surplus would not have "done it," in my own family's experience.

    Health crises in my family:

    Heart disease
    Emphysema
    Traumatic facial injury
    Traumatic brain injury resulting in lifelong disability both physical and mental
    Serious mental illness
    Arterial disease
    Multiple broken arms

    I grant that not all families are this unlucky.  But just one of these would likely have wiped us out if not for insurance and governmental aid.
     
    paul wheaton
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    Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm doubtful about how effective this strategy will be.  To me it looks like "get poor and die." 


    Perhaps you can paint a picture of what you think would be a lovely community model?
     
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