[FoRK] Chart of the Day...

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Thu Jun 10 03:19:14 PDT 2010

On 6/9/10 10:13 AM, Jebadiah Moore wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 12:02 AM, Stephen D. Williams<sdw at lig.net>  wrote:
>> Especially annoying trends since most of them did not take care of
>> themselves, smoked, didn't exercise, etc.
>> I wonder if the solution, probably in the distant future, is guaranteed
>> reasonably priced housing / healthcare / etc. through some mechanism that
>> doesn't generate its own gigantic money sink.  In a hand-wavy sense,
>> providing good, distributed living resources with economy of scale and
>> commercial competition.  You would have to have strong built-in competition
>> and "refactoring" and refresh frequently to avoid something like "the
>> projects" result.  Roughly what we need for housing in general in some
>> areas.
> What about a health insurance corporation, organized sort of like a co-op,
> run as a for-profit but with shareholders being (at least mostly) customers.
>   It would be in the corp's best interests to maximize health, and therefore
> to promote healthy behaviors.  One of the easiest ways to do that is to
> provide low-cost healthy food, and as a massive organization it would have
> the ability to either grow its own food or to buy it at discount wholesale,
> then resell it to members at cost.  The distribution costs would be lowered
> because they could provide healthcare to employees at, again, cost.  The
> corporation could hire its own doctors as well.
> You could lower cost further for some members by organizing group living
> facilities--low cost apartments/housing communities with group dining,
> on-site healthcare (including preventative), etc.--which would have be
> beneficial by cutting transportation costs, having a slightly more
> "enforced" healthy eating regiment, ease of administrating preventative
> care, health benefits of social living, elimination of redundant facilities,
> etc.  Beyond the cost advantages for members would be the ease of living and
> group organization.  There'd be incentive for workplaces to cluster around
> these facilities, and indeed some portion of the members could be employed
> at the facilities themselves.
> Essentially communes, minus the hippies.

That is more or less what I was alluding to, although I would never call 
it communes and I would never advocate running with that mindset either. 
Although shooting for roughly the same goals of overall cost and stress 
efficiency is the idea.  Aggressively lean, aggressively competitive 
with feedback, highly unstable stability with constant innovation and 
graceful turnover.

> I think key is that it's not an attempt to circumvent the market system,
> it's not mandatory, it sidesteps the danger of internal collapse that
> regular communes have by having organization from the outside, and it
> doesn't have a social movement or the like behind it (although I guess you
> might naturally get clusters like this--some facilities oriented towards
> Christians, some towards academics, etc.; you could even intentionally
> "theme" them in this way).
I would aggressively avoid and subvert most kinds of clustering in any 
physical or strict social sense beyond family.  Think corporate, 
government, or military mixing based on accomplishing something, 
meritocracy (in movement, assignments, privilege), etc.

I don't think of the organization as being strictly inside or outside.  
My idea is to start with a more or less normal culture with some tweaks 
that are effected by special ownership, rental, employment, educational, 
and other contracts, rules, regulations, social norms, and principles 
that are allowed to rapidly evolve.  An interesting challenge, and 
perhaps the main challenge is to get people to operate in the most 
enlightened, efficient ways even as most of them are still being 
educated and often refusing to operate differently.  The main recourse 
might be to eject those who refuse to play well.

In quick brainstorming, it seems that you could handle some problems 
like worth (and therefore income) inequality by suggesting that most 
people have 2 jobs, one that pays something like "minimum wage" and 
another that has some higher value in some way.  The latter could be the 
traditional more difficult and/or take much more education job or it 
could be more dangerous, distasteful, etc.

You still come down to taxation in some sense, however it could be more 
of an efficient barter-like arrangement for the baseline.  Ideally, the 
baseline gets covered with minimal individual effort.  That can't happen 
in most areas because of cost of land, buildings, transportation, 
getting food, various service costs, etc.  It seems that when any of 
those are high, they naturally set the scale for others to some extent.

Anyway, fun to muse on, probably a nightmare to create and run.  
However, based on my estimations of human nature, cause and effect 
play-out, and even a few out of the box ideas, I'm sure that it is 
possible to pull off something interesting.

Perhaps the way to bootstrap it is to create a "company town", but one 
with copyleft-like agreement judo and similar shared-responsibility 
ownership of things, responsibilities, and consequences.  Perhaps a 
useful motto might be: "Take care of yourself, take care of others, do 
something useful and beautiful."  Not "take care of others" as in 
socialism or paternalism, but as in "pay it forward" and similar.  Just 
creating a place for people to exist is likely to be doomed.  You need 
to make self-improvement and goal-seeking intrinsic with running and 
being in the place.  That includes making it easy and hard to avoid, 
rather than how, for many people in many places, it is pretty much the 
opposite: be the human robot for work, etc.  And actively weed out those 
who are downers.

One of the biggest possible "industries", and also potentially a big 
source of expertise and residents in general are the mature and 
elderly.  Somewhat related in terms of full participation are those that 
have slowed down to a stop mentally and have forgotten how to grow or 
change.  It seems likely that this is the real poverty in such a 
society: Those really living and growing sort of provide for each other, 
through teaching, mutual activities, projects, etc. Those that just want 
to exist and have menial jobs are going to just continue watching TV, 
drinking, etc.

Anyway, just pie in the sky unless you solve each efficiency problem 
well and have real income lined up doing something real in a competitive 
way.  No touchy-feely handwaving would succeed.  However, it's clear 
that a huge amount of talent, energy, and attention goes un- or poorly used.

Get practically free land (outback of California, Nevada, etc. and other 
similar areas), build very-cheap-per-unit housing that is mostly 
indestructable and yet aesthetic and adaptable, get starter populations 
that are looking for a change / already costing society a lot or who are 
having difficulty contributing for various reasons (prisoners, elderly, 
unemployed, those with non-mental handicaps, young adults), set up 
industry (physical and otherwise, entertainment/art, engineering), 
create constant transportation to existing nearby population hubs 
(probably via air travel and perhaps as a very cheap or free add-on to 
freight flights), etc.

If successful, pod off groups to start new areas or go on extended 
projects to the third world or similar.


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