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