Nothing Less Than Utopia





 Tony Groves (above) ponders why we don’t dream bigger

Our ‘Utopian vision’ isn’t too Utopian.

It isn’t Utopian enough.

Tony Groves writes:

The problem with your Utopian vision is that it’s just too Utopian” – this was said to me last year by a friend in response to one of my “loony left” suggestions around tackling inequality. My idea was around food poverty.

I argued that in a country that boasts of being able to produce enough food to “feed 35 million people and this will rise to 50 million in 2020″ that nobody should ever go hungry. I felt that the state should provide a calorific quota per head to ensure this.

I was taken aback by the scorn my suggestion received and a little intimidated by the counterargument of “pragmatism”, “free markets” and cheesy lines about moral hazard. I began to question my idealist ideology; was it too Utopian to not want kids going to school hungry?

I went back to the drawing board. I looked into my free market education and I realised that it wasn’t me who was being too Utopian, it was my friend who was being unambitious. A quick scan of the real world told me I wasn’t alone.

Every year on the excellent Freakonomics  podcast, they spend a couple of minutes asking listeners to donate to the show. Every year, Professor of Economics Steven Levitt chuckles at the absurdity of asking people to pay for what they already get for free. Every year, Freakonomics Coauthor Stephen Dubner does it anyway. Every year they exceed their target.

Another Economic Professor Steve Keen, recently spoke about the loss of “time and freedom for original thinkers”. His solution is to cut the ties of “academic bureaucratic controls” and crowdfund his work. In return he will deliver free “non orthodox economics” lectures, blog posts and more. He’s well on his way and you can support Steve here.

Even at home, the Second Captains Sports podcast has gone to a crowdfunding model and it’s working. They are not tied agents of an orthodox media outlet. Whether they know it our not, they’re part of the new non orthodoxy.

None of this is too Utopian. Change is a constant. Denying this and pursuing the same pathways that give us the same boom and bust cycles is crazy.  

Governments want to “Recession Proof” the economy? I want to idiot proof my government. The last time I checked we don’t live in an economy, we live in a society. Governments should want to Recession Proof from the people up, not the Banks down.

A crazy idea like stopping food poverty isn’t that crazy at all. It’s a recession stopper. A Basic Income would create a universal standard of living that would replace the “welfare state” model AND save the state money.

Look at the 1970’s Seattle Experiment and Canadian Experiment. In both cases people became richer, local economies grew, education standards rose, crime fell and health spending decreased by over 8%. Fun digression: the Seattle Experiment was abandoned because an incorrect finding was that Basic Income increased the Divorce Rate. Forget for a minute that this was untrue and think on the reasoning. We couldn’t have a Universal Basic Income because Women might gain too much independence. Long live the Patriarchy!

We are stuck with old definitions and old ideas. Government say the “centre must hold”, without mentioning that what they’re holding on to is already is an anchor keeping progress back.

Warning signs of repeating past mistakes are ignored in favour of Leo vs Simon tittle tattle. Global Stock Markets grew for 109 consecutive days recently, a record unseen since the last crash. At home bubbles are blowing on the winds of Leprechaun Economic Data. The ESRI has warned that a a construction boom  could overheat the economy.

Someone call Eddie Hobbs, we need a Bulgarian Holiday Home Expo. Get Jim Power on the phone, we’re going to need a Soft Landing.

The word Utopia, from the Greek word Eutopia, has two meanings; good place and nowhere. I’d today argue that my Utopian vision wasn’t too Utopian. It wasn’t Utopian enough. I’d rather be on the way to a good place, but I think we are going nowhere.

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld


38 thoughts on “Nothing Less Than Utopia

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Fair play luvvit. Meanwhile, Oh Tony this is the Republic of “the Undeserving Poor” – “they made their bed, let them lie on it, serves them right for bring born poor” (this from the Great and the Good). Your ideas will gain no currency here.

  1. Brother Barnabas

    Best one yet, Tony. Really enjoyed that. Keep them coming, please.

    (And beautifully written, too)

  2. Clampers Outside!

    ” We couldn’t have a Universal Basic Income because Women might gain too much independence. Long live the Patriarchy! ”

    That was the reasoning… The divorce rate increase was seen an indicator of women finding their independence from the so-called feminist patriarchy theory of society. And that marriage is a chain of the patriarchy… really?
    Is that just a simple correlation or is there any evidence beyond the flawed ‘patriarchy’ theory as applied by modern feminists in the west? Is there any evidence other than simply making the claim that that is the reason?

    1. Clampers Outside!

      ( btw Tony, just so you know, I’ll be called all sorts of ‘sexist’ stuff just for asking this question. Please ignore the trolls if the abuse is directed my way. I am genuinely curious how that conclusion came about, thanks. )

      1. Sheik Yahbouti

        No you won’t be. However. your question might be viewed as unfair IF Tony is unaware of your ‘issues’.

      2. Tony Groves

        No worries, the conclusion was based on a misreading of the results. But it was enough to frighten a Conservative Nixon Government. The deep irony is that it Basic Income was a “Right Wing” Project in the 70’s and viewed as something that was just an eventuality.
        The link is in the article.

        1. Clampers Outside

          But that doesn’t answer how “patriarchy” was blamed for the increase.
          Can you confirm how this conclusion came about, thanks, as you yourself have mentioned it as the cause.

          1. edalicious

            Presumably has to do with the fact that married women in the 70s were much less financially independent, so when they were in a situation where they could leave unhappy marriages without putting themselves or their children into risk of poverty/hunger, they took it. Conservatives apparently decided they would rather keep the women and their children dependent on their husbands to preserve unhappy marriages rather than allow them the independence to set off on their own and potentially live a happier life. As in, they wanted to maintain the patriarchal control over the women rather than allowing a situation where women would be able to control their own lives.

    2. nellyb

      was watching a uk program while back (nothing to do with feminism). Part of it was a survey of uk women about their relationships with husbands and long term partners after children grew up / left.
      A significant enough percent said they remained in a relationship for basic domestic conveniences (roof over their head, food, heat, access to a car, walking around dignity money) and no prospect of individual earnings due to agism and lack of sellable skills. Many of surveyed spend most of adult lives caring for children full time plus home-making. Unfortunately, no survey of men that I remember mentioned.
      Patriarchy is as much men’s enemy as it is women’s, that’s something feminists rarely bring up, but men actually do, because lots of them get bashing for the ‘sins’ of minority.

  3. Joe Small

    “I want to idiot proof my government.”
    That’s not really possible in a democracy. We just change the idiots every few years.


    Waking up on planet earth these days trying to avoid interacting with any tentacles of the international ego and greed driven rudderless social engineering experiment.

  5. scottser

    i lend my self to the tommy tiernan school of economics, in that we are probably only 8 or 9 really bad decisions away from total freedom. merkel going ‘ara, let them at it – they’re a bunch of eejits’

  6. Gorev Mahagut

    Tl; dr:
    1. There is enough food in the country, the government should just give it to people.
    2. The government won’t do this because they are idiots.
    3. Podcasting shows us an alternative, it is “the new non orthodoxy”. Crowdfunding and all that, innit?
    4. So basically, people should buy their own food and podcasts.
    The status quo, repacked as “the new non orthodoxy” and sold back to you again. Typical alt-right nonsense.

      1. Gorev Mahagut

        Come off it Tony. Basic Income is a great idea, agreed. Then you attack government for being “old definitions and old ideas”, and praise some crowd-funded economics podcasts for showing the way forward. What is the plan here: crowdfund basic income? Replace the government with a TED talks video? Thanks for the incoherent populism but we already have a David McWilliams. Fair play for having a dig at Eddie Hobbs though, easy target and all but still, that one never gets tired.

        1. Tony Groves

          My populism couldn’t have been that incoherent. Oversimplifications aside, you seem to have gotten the gist reasonably well. The TED Talk line is excellent. *doffs cap*
          I might steal it later, we can call it crowdfunding writing.

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