How to make a difference

I guess the hardest thing about looking for a major change is that we cannot imagine what it would be like.  So moving from a world which bases almost all of its commercial transactions on debt to a world without debt is unimaginable.

But it was Einstein who said

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result

And Henry Ford (founder of one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world) said (possibly quoting someone else)

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got

Changing the world means doing something that hasn’t been done before.  If it’s been done before it isn’t a change!

It does not mean it is easy or that people will like it.  I don’t understand half of what Einstein said and when Henry Ford offered his Model-T in “any colour as long as it’s black” he may have lost a few customers.

So the question is – should we try?

And my answer is that we have tried the other way over and over and keep on getting the same results – personal, institutional and national debt which has become unmanageable.

So why not try something new and see if we can get a different answer – a world free of debt – economies which do not have built in mechanisms which automatically move from boom to bust – a world free of bankers who are forever trying to lend more money than we can afford – a world free of banking crises.

What do we need

Training as an accountant involved acquiring lots of useless information – like understanding how little wire coils stored information in big computing machines (at a time when the first desktop PCs were already available).

Maslows Hierarchy Of NeedsOne thing that has stuck with me and which does appear to be useful, even if I failed to appreciate and use it to motivate people was Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which looks like this (with thanks to Wikipedia for the image)

Apparently Maslow never drew a pyramid, but this is the way we usually look at the hierarchy – with basic physiological needs (air, food, water, clothing and shelter) at the bottom.  Once these are satisfied we can look at other needs such as “safety” which include personal safety, financial security, health and protection from accidents and illness.

After that we want to be loved and belong and then be valued and respected for who we are and with all this is in place we can realise our full potential.

Of course not everyone agreed with Maslow – he may be wrong in placing some needs “above” others and he only reflects the people he studied and not people in different sorts of groups where, for example, society needs may be more important than individual needs.

But what interests me is that money – finance – is regarded as quite a low-level need.  We need financial security.  But what I struggle to understand is the capitalist need to measure everything in terms of money and the desire to accumulate vast amounts of monetary wealth.

Perhaps some people try to show they have realised their full potential by their wealth, but I would be surprised if that is true for everyone when you could potentially be

  • the best possible parent
  • the person who discovered…
  • the fastest man on earth
  • the best tennis player
  • a published author
  • ……

So why do we concentrate on wealth so much when we measure our economies?

The fisherman and the businessman

Paul Coelho says that this is a classic Brazilian story:

There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.

brazilian fisherman

The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
The businessman was astonished. “Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” Continue reading