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At least future generations will know that not all of us were self-destructive, shortsighted fools. Knowing folks like this exist gives me hope.

trade-free.org/

💕

politics/economics 

@aral When you first shared this a while ago, I was skeptical. However, after reading Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread, I realize the intellectual basis for the abolition of trade-based economies in favor of needs-based ones.

For example, Kropotkin talks about how wage labour needs to be abolished unilaterally, even if everyone receives equal amounts.

Just to say: "Trade-free" is conceptually related to mutual aid.

@aral sounds like retarded version of early french utopianism

@aral say this were adopted globally and it was only demand ↔ supply (but no prices).

- how can we use scarce goods efficiently without a price mechanism?
- why would people produce goods that aren't fun to make?
- what would stop drug users from consuming but not producing?

@aral It sounds like a great concept (and charity is great), but stepping through the economics, it looks like it'd lead to a lack of goods across the board - which seems incredibly short-sighted and detrimental to society as a whole.

Am I missing something, or is this meant to only apply to software and not the wider world of scarce resources?

@bjorn Good questions. I'd like to recommend the book "automated autonomous world" that deals with the first 2 questions in detail: www.tromsite.com/books/#flipbo… and for the last one. It should be up to people what they do and I would say the saner the environment of people is, the saner the behavior will be. If people would have more access to what they need and want without having to trade that much anymore + be more educated, they might consume less drugs.

@aaron that is a captivating vision for the future for sure.

But it seems like there's a fatal flaw in the logic.

All the proposed tech would require massive use of already-scarce goods — cobalt, lithium, silver, etc.

On top of this, they propose eliminating money, prices and trade.

The total effects of this lead to scarcity (see Bastiat mises.org/library/abundance-vs), and the Trade-Free vision would be a non-starter.

For any chance of success, they need to thoroughly address this.

@aaron I spent a few hours reading through the PDF — and I feel like the price mechanism has been completely overlooked.

The technologies proposed are here and exciting, but I feel like the problem has been misdiagnosed as trade/money, and I can't overlook it — it's the achilles heel of an otherwise powerful idea.

Am I missing something? Appreciate the engagement.

@aaron @bjorn

All the proposed tech would require massive use of already-scarce goods — cobalt, lithium, silver, etc.


If you do not seek to trade, then you won't seek to destroy and overuse. Because there are consequences to this and you have more to lose than gain. Why would an organization overuse some resources unless there is an extreme need for that? It is a better incentive to not trade these resources, than to trade them.

@bjorn @aral

You assume that if we removed money and markets everything would stay the same. It wouldnt.
And no its not human nature anything.

@msavoritias @aral

If the world relied on purely gifts, with no prices or trade, it’d be almost impossible to organise specialised labour to produce goods.

Gifts are produced through cooperation and a larger process. For a tribe built on love/trust in a tiny area with primitive goods, it’d be doable.

@msavoritias @aral

But on a planetary scale with complex goods that involve long supply chains, research, rare minerals & intricate processes all working in conjunction — productivity would plummet, and scarcity would rise.

Prices are the signal for the scarcity of the item you’re buying. Remove them, and the laws of human behaviour will still apply.

And scarcity will rise because a key signal in the market process would be removed.

Either way, the laws of human behaviour would still apply.

@bjorn @aral

There are no "laws" of human behavior.
You dont need to organize anybody to produce anything.
People will organize themselves.

@bjorn @aral

Plus i repeat there will be no markets.
You dont need signals or anything like that.
If by complex goods you mean cars and alexa speakers then good. Thats the point. People will decide if they need them.

@msavoritias @aral

Without markets, nothing exists. Markets don't necessarily have to involve monetary exchange, but they do involve exchange.

Maybe we have a completely different understanding on what the market is.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn What is a market? Explain it for a 10 year old if you can. :)

@msavoritias @aral

The law of marginal utility is a good starter.

As for organising to produce, you might be interested to know the massive complexity in the production of a simple pencil ✏

fee.org/articles/i-pencil/

And that's just for a pencil.

Our society is far more advanced than this example ↑.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn

Prices are the signal for the scarcity of the item you’re buying

Not entire true, ofc. Prices fluctuate depending on how valuable we think that item is. How popular, and so forth. Paintings, NTFs, and so forth....

Either way, the laws of human behaviour would still apply.

What are the laws of human behavior?
@aral @msavoritias @bjorn I can give you many examples, but here's one: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Na… . These people save lives all around UK. All are volunteers. Their job is specialized. See a ton of examples here www.directory.trade-free.org/

You can have specialized labor based on volunteers. Even in today's very competitive and trade-based society.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

Almost all the charities linked in that directory pay massive amounts in direct salaries.

Look at their reports for direct salary info:

St Jude — $600m/year
Red Cross — $972m/year
RNLI — £83m/year
Heart — $392m/year

For RNLI specifically, 68% of all their costs are salaries.

Almost all the non-charity examples there are for nonscarce items — software, where there's no additional cost for each additional item produced.

Scarcity is the physical barrier.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn Of course Wikipedia also pays a few people and for the servers. But we re talking about human motivation here. RNLI, Wikipedia, and the like, rely almost entirely on volunteers. So, millions of humans, doing extremely specialized work, without wanting anything in return. In a society in which the opposite is enforced.

I am not sure what point you are trying to get across? That we can't have specialized work unless we force those people to do those things?

@tio @aral @msavoritias

Good question — the point is clearly laid out in the RNLI report, and applies to all large and complex charities:

"There are a number of specific skills needed to keep such an organisation running as safely as possible and at peak efficiency." — and these are paid staff.

Volunteers mainly carry out the unskilled tasks — fundraising.

No force should ever be involved. When you hire someone, you enter a voluntary agreement to trade money for services,

@tio @aral @msavoritias

Charities are not corruption-free — particularly at global scale, where corruption and waste naturally ensues.

Even UNICEF (mentioned in the Trade-Free directory) have a team dedicated to investigating their own corruption, fraud and wrongdoing.

unicef.org/auditandinvestigati

This is an issue regardless of trade, markets and prices.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn They can't be perfect in such a society. For sure. But you will find a lot less cases of corruption in regards to trade-free goods/services than trade-based goods/services. Another perk of trade-free goods/services is that you help everyone unlike a selected few who could trade for whatever you may offer.
@aral @msavoritias @bjorn

Volunteers mainly carry out the unskilled tasks — fundraising.

No. The volunteers are saving the lives of humans there. Same as Doctors Without Borders. Same as White Helmets. Same as so many programmers doing complex software. Same as millions around the world. In, again, a society where the opposite is enforced.

No force should ever be involved. When you hire someone, you enter a voluntary agreement to trade money for services,

Not at all. When I am born on this planet I have to enter the trade-system else I cannot survive. This makes me no voluntarily do that, but forcefully. And you do not trade money for services. You trade your skills, energy, time - basically yourself - , for goods/services. Money is just a way to measure these trades.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

While I appreciate you believe that Doctors without Borders, White Helmet personnel and RNLI crew aren't paid — however this is sadly factually incorrect.

They all pay salaries to their specialised workers. You can find salaries on Glassdoor or their websites.

e.g. doctorswithoutborders.org/care

@tio @aral @msavoritias

On being forced into trade — we are born into a world of scarcity. We work and contribute in order to get value from others in return. If we don't work, we don't live.

Civilised societies will never let those who are disabled/unable-to-work to die — but for those who can work, they should. It's how we contribute to advancement of the species.

We can't sit around, not work, and allow others to keep us alive. It makes us reliant on them.

And that's slavery.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn

On being forced into trade — we are born into a world of scarcity.

Where is the scarcity? More homes than homeless people; more cars than people can drive, more food than people can eat, more clothes than people can wear. We throw every year 350 cruise-ships full of electronics and 500 of textiles. We throw 40-50% of all edible food. Supermarkets are full of stuff. Where is the scarcity?

We work and contribute in order to get value from others in return

Not necessary anymore. We have so much stuff we create mountains of waste out of it. We should share the stuff rather than trade for it and create so much waste.

those who can work, they should

Why? Why should we be forced to work in order to live in this society? In order to access the abundant stuff we already have?

It's how we contribute to advancement of the species.

It is how we contribute to the destruction of our lives, keeping ourselves busy with nonsense and repetitive jobs. It is how we destroy the planet, create a lot of waste, idiotic and unnecessary jobs and products. Just to keep the religion of trade alive.

We can't sit around, not work, and allow others to keep us alive.

Oh we do worse than that. We create useless jobs and useless lives, and waste, while just a tiny few keep us alive with necessary "jobs" and inventions. The rest do useless stuff. I would rather see humans sit around doing nothing than consume and consume and waste and destroy.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

Where is the scarcity? Everywhere.

Everything we need to reach a goal is scarce.

Time. Goods.

There is a finite amount, and this is a limitation of the physical universe — unfair as that may seem.

There isn't enough space for everyone to have a beachfront house.

There aren't enough semiconductors for us all to have an Xbox. (there's a shortage at the moment)

The idea that we have abundance does not stand up to logic or basic reason.

Abundance is an illusion.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

"Why should we be forced to work"?

If we can't agree on the same physical reality of scarcity, this is going to be difficult.

In a world of scarcity, we must produce in order to create more goods/services (the "means" which help others reach their goals).

If you're not a producer, you're reliant on the production work of others.

This is why (while charity is noble) we should encourage people to be self sufficient and not reliant on charity.

This leads to growth 💹

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn So what is the answer to "Why should we be forced to work"?. The fact that we live in a scarce world and the only way to distribute this scarcity is to force humans to create endless and (many times) useless jobs for the sake of distributing the scarce resources? Is that the answer?

@tio @aral @msavoritias

You're misinterpreting mass production for some items with abundance.

The beachfront example is a simple way to explain that there is a limited quantity of goods/services/time.

Today, because of the free market, we live better than the kings of old.

The solution to improving these issues is to minimise/eliminate the state, and encourage free, undistorted markets, which are the source of many of the challenges you've identified.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn You are not answering that simple and crucial question: Why should we be forced to work?

Today, because of the free market, we live better than the kings of old.

In some regards. We also destroy more than anyone else in history, destabilizing the climate and biodiversity, and creating mountains of waste. Don't leave that aside.

encourage free, undistorted markets

You mean let google, facebook and the like compete without disturbing them? This seems more of a disaster than what we have today.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

We are not forced to work. It is a voluntary choice.

Our human nature (we are not immortal) means we need food and drink. That is not a fault of trade or markets.

Destruction is primarily a result of the state. Largest polluter on the planet is the US military. And pollution is enabled within frameworks created the state.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

I'd love to invite you to take this free 30 minute video course in economics.

It's trade-free (from a charity).

mises.org/economics-beginners

It's very difficult to debate topics on economics without both having a fundamental framework to work on.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn I do not want to talk about economics as that's a human invention. I want to talk about how to take care of human beings and get rid of most of today's problems. How to create a better environment for humans, and so forth.
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@aral @msavoritias @bjorn

We are not forced to work. It is a voluntary choice.

You cannot make this argument, I am sorry. I have no choice other than trade in this system. If there are other ways let me know.

Our human nature (we are not immortal) means we need food and drink. That is not a fault of trade or markets.

It is the fault of markets (trade) that these basic needs are only provided to us if we trade, in a society in which we throw mountains of these resources.

Destruction is primarily a result of the state.

And why do states pollute?

Largest polluter on the planet is the US military.

Transportation, livestock industry, textile industry, and so forth. These are the largest polluters and destroyers. In the name of trade.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

Nobody is forced to work, unless they're slaves.

The reality of human existence is that we cannot live without food, water and shelter.

These things are scarce, and the only way to reduce scarcity is to produce.

And to do this, each person should focus on doing what they do better than others. In economics, it's the law of association / law of comparative advantage.

This way, the entire of society benefits.

If nobody works, we will suffer, starve and die out.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn

Nobody is forced to work, unless they're slaves.

Do we have a choice? I create a lot of work since 2010. Books, videos, documentaries, online tools. I give them to others. Thousands upon thousands benefit from them. And yet if a few friends didn't help me financially out of their kindness, I would die. Have nothing to eat. How am I not forced to trade in this society in order to live? Do I have any other option?

These things are scarce, and the only way to reduce scarcity is to produce.

It is hard to argue that they are scarce when we throw every year some 40-50% of all edible food.

And to do this, each person should focus on doing what they do better than others. In economics, it's the law of association / law of comparative advantage.

This way, the entire of society benefits.


Society today is going downhill. Climate change, inequality, waste, pollution, biodiversity loss, monopolies, plastic. Endless. How is this society an advantage to anyone?

If nobody works, we will suffer, starve and die out.

And this is why we should decouple "work" from having access to at least our basic needs. Else we will always force ourselves to work in order to survive. And this is insanity in an abundant world.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

If you provide value to others, and they provide value in return, that's great.

But if you're reliant on donations or charity, you're dependant on others... which is fundamentally unhealthy.

The food problem is a mixture of reality (if you buy brocolli and don't cook it in time, you'll throw it out) — as well as a lack of free trade infrastructure to distribute it in other countries.

The best way is to promote economic freedom in those countries.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

It's 2am where I am, so I've got to bail. Thanks for the conversation.

It clearly needs a longer form discussion, as we're in two separate realities of understanding, and short posts can't cover it.

Really recommend investing time in that video course. It'd help strengthen the fundamental concepts of the Trade-Free project.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn We can have a live chat via our TROMcast (podcast) if you'd like to. It is more direct and we can pay closer attention to our points. We can settle for a date/time. I am always open to other views.
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@aral @msavoritias @bjorn

But if you're reliant on donations or charity, you're dependant on others... which is fundamentally unhealthy.

Why am I reliant on these? Because I have no other choice, correct?

The best way is to promote economic freedom in those countries.

Economic freedom is as good as prison housing. The best way to feed the poor, is to feed the poor.
@aral @msavoritias @bjorn Your way of defining abundance or scarcity is in relation to the universe? We talk about humans and their society. We have so many cars, and phones, and clothes, and food, and housea, and so forth, that they became mountains of waste. If that's not abundance inside human society then idk what abundance is. If you think abundance is "a mansion for everyone on earth" then your view of society is cartoonish at best. Abundance is in relation to society and values. It is having access to most needs/wants for free (trade-free). That's a realistic notion of abundance.

Yes in today's trade-based society we are made to believe that a red car is different than a blue car, and so we have millions of types of similar products that have different colors, giving the illusion of diversity, and thus one may think that we need an abundance of this diversity too. And so humans' values are that of owning a mansion and a Lamborghini. In that regards sure, we can't have for all, but that's an insane society that is neither progressive, or productive for humans and the environment.

So human values have to also change for a saner society. The eyes of small children in a candy shop, need to grow into adult and sane eyes where having access to an efficient and safe transportation system is better than owning a polluting and inefficient car. You know what I mean?
@aral @msavoritias @bjorn I do not believe, it is correct that people volunteer for such organizations and do it for free. And there are many who do a lot of specialized work. It is not news to me that these orgs pay some of their staff. I am also sad to have noticed for the past years how "volunteers" started to mean paid workers. A volunteer should volunteer, not be paid for their work.

Regardless, we are talking about trade-free goods/services no matter how they are created. I am not convinced that humans cannot do large scale projects with specialized humans, without them being forced to do so. Some are paid today because it is difficult not to pay them.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

"we are talking about trade-free goods/services no matter how they are created"

This is the crux. Trade was a critical component in making these things.

The paid RNLI lifeboat crew willingly trade their time (and lives) in exchange for money.

And this goes the entire way through the complex charitable organisational structure. And this is a relatively small charity.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn

Trade was a critical component in making these things.

Trade may be necessary in some aspects of these orgs. You make it look as if it is all about trade. It is an inconvenience at best.

The paid RNLI lifeboat crew willingly trade their time (and lives) in exchange for money.

Unless I am wrong, they do not paid most of their staff. Like 95% of them are not paid. So they do not trade. And RNLI is a big org not a small one. Operates throught the UK.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

Volunteers trade their time — and it's a transfer of economic benefit. It precisely fits the definition of trade.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn Volunteers should not trade anything because trade is between 2 humans (at least). Or humans and organizations (still humans). A volunteer doesn't trade their time to get something from someone. If it does that for themselves that's a completely different monster. We are talking about our trade-based society where we give in order to receive, from others. I also create a lot of trade-free projects. But I do not trade my time in order to get something our of it. However if I were to have a job, I would have to trade my time in order to get food or whatever that job can get me. That's a trade example. If I just work but ask for nothing in return, that's not trade.

@tio @aral @msavoritias

They absolutely receive something of value, which is why they do it.

Nobody carries out any action unless they believe it helps them achieve their goals, whatever they may be.

As Mises said in his great book, "The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness"

So whether it's a sense of goodwill, or a desire to give back after being rescued at sea — they do it for some personal benefit, and non-monetary reward is what we get for most actions we take.

@aral @msavoritias @bjorn

They absolutely receive something of value, which is why they do it.

Not from the others. That would be a trade. If you get value out of helping others, then that's not a trade. It is like saying peeing is a trade because you get relief out of it. This is, of course, cartoonish.

If Mises helps me repair my bike and asks nothing from me, then that's trade-free (volunteering). If Mises gets pleasure out of it, this is still trade-free for me. I didn't give her pleasure unless she asks me to have sex with her in return for repairing my bike. That would be a trade.

Nobody carries out any action unless they believe it helps them achieve their goals, whatever they may be.

That is an absolute statement and I cannot take it seriously. I do a lot of free work for many years now, simply because I enjoy doing it, or enjoy helping others.
@aral @bjorn

- how can we use scarce goods efficiently without a price mechanism?

Based on need. Take organ transplant. Scarce resource. If we trade it and put a price on it, it becomes a mess. Corruption, bad incentives, only the rich can get some, and so forth. But in more developed tribes/countries they are reinforcing the non-trade of such scarce resources and are distributing them based on who is closer to the donor, who is more compatible and so forth. Much saner. There are organizations that already have to deal with scarce resources without putting a price tag for them. We address such issues in The Money Game and Beyond book.

why would people produce goods that aren't fun to make?

Need. Or the fact that the end result might be meaningful. I managed some 30-40 websites and at times there is no fun doing server backups and maintenance. Thousands of people use our services as trade-free and that makes me happy in the end. There are so many volunteers in the world doing all kinds of things that are not fum. They do it to save lives, to improve the society, to learn something new, etc..

what would stop drug users from consuming but not producing?

I do not understand this one. Can you elaborate? :)

@tio @aral

Charity ("organizations that already have to deal with scarce resources without putting a price tag for them") still involves a market process. Staff, office. communications, infrastructure and supply chains.

There's a reason charities pay salaries for key staff — specialised staff are scarce, and they enable these charities to be more productive.

To the end user, it's free, but the complex processes behind this aren't.

@aral @bjorn Of course they can't 100% decouple from this trade based society. But the more you do, the better the chances to move this society into a different direction. The fact that we already rely heavily on such charity/volunteer organizations is a strong argument in favor of "people doing things for free".

There's a reason charities pay salaries for key staff

There are a lot who do not. Rely on volunteers 100%.

@tio @aral charity discourages self-reliance, and creates indebtedness to the giver.

Entrepreneurship and a marketplace to voluntarily exchange goods and services allows us to be self-reliant and develop an advanced society.

If everything was based on charity, innovation would be discouraged, and progress would slow dramatically.

Charity is of great benefit, and the welfare state should be returned to private charity.

Sadly, the state destroyed it.

It's fascinating:
mises.org/library/welfare-welf

@aral @bjorn

Entrepreneurship and a marketplace to voluntarily exchange goods and services allows us to be self-reliant and develop an advanced society.


There is no such thing as "voluntarily exchange" in a society in which you can die if you do not exchange. And all players are unequal. Plus, look at today's society, it is anything but "advanced". It is a destroying society.

If everything was based on charity, innovation would be discouraged, and progress would slow dramatically.

I do not understand what charity is but I am not talking about charity. I am talking about de-slaving humans from society. And let them get involved in whatever they want to without threatening them that if they do not, they may die. This can bread a lot of innovation. Look at the open source world, look at citizen scientists, and so forth.
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