An Economy for the Kingdom of Heaven
- I share my vision of an economy to work towards in the future. I invite
us all to consider how we might share our resources and help each other.
Minciu Sodas http://www.ms.lt is an online laboratory which since 1998 I
have established as a haven and base for independent thinkers around the
world. We have about 200 active and 2,000 supportive participants in about
20 working groups.
I am focusing now on organizing a culture of independent thinkers.
Imagine, in ten years, having 100,000 active and 1,000,000 supportive
participants, able to engage, include and support each other, taking
initiative in villages and neighborhoods around the world, cultivating a
sensitive, responsive, creative, educative environment, being the central
culture in one or more regions or countries.
We have the beginnings of such a culture. Our lab has rules:
* Lead our culture by openly working and growing.
* We wish for all to succeed.
* You can't pay us to care (although money may bring us together).
* We work in the Public Domain (content must explicitly note if otherwise).
We're also working out, in practice, many of Jesus's outrageous truths,
such as "give everything away", "love your enemy", "what you believe is
what happens". We're behaving as if all people are the same, all people
can forever grow, and we plainly show many instances of our personal
growth. We also know a bit, in general, how people unfold. We have
collected many people's answers to relevant questions:
* What is your deepest value in life, which includes all your other values?
* What is a question that you don't know the answer to, but wish to answer?
* What would you like to achieve?
We're finding ways to work together that draw on our personal insights
informed by a great variety of cultures, beliefs, experiences and wisdoms.
Overall, the kingdom of heaven is a world for the "poor in spirit", the
godlet - a lost droplet of God, thus the "independent thinker" who, like a
child, wants to walk on their own, but with reassurance, so that life can
be like walking or running - many small leaps of faith, each of which we
can make sense of, each of which is human-sized.
As I address my own economic needs, I imagine our economic future:
* our culture's internal economy of helping each other at help centers
online and locally (as the "unity centers" for global villages)
* our culture's external economy where each "independent thinker" is free
and able to "take care of themselves", including through temporary,
part-time paid work
* our culture's investment economy where we are able to give and take
investment resources, like shares in a treasury
We are taught that 90% of our activity should be business and 10% should
be charity. In our culture, I think it's the other way around. 90% of
our activity is helping each other for free, and 10% might be rebalancing
that with money, as needed. I want to encourage us to go to us all for
help, just as Peter Ongele and others do, and just as we did during our
Pyramid of Peace, http://www.pyramidofpeace.net to help Kenyans during the
post-election turmoil. I want us to staff our chat room
http://www.worknets.org/chat/ so that it is effective as an online help
center, where live people can respond and also help us together make the
most of our wikis http://www.worknets.org, email groups
http://www.ms.lt/news.php and social networking site
I think that an active online help center, where we are ready to help each
other for free, will be a hub for much paid work as well for individuals
and teams and for our lab. Fred Kayiwa, Thomas Chepaitis, Sasha Mrkailo
and others are able to staff such a center for small stipends. A few
hundred dollars goes a long way. I can think of many business
opportunities for our participants, all manner of odd jobs including
research to help with shopping for airline tickets or computer equipment,
translating documents, making contacts, promoting services online. Our
lab - and other labs - can organize global teams that include people
working offline (as we're suggesting with the Includer
http://www.includer.org), that respond to emergencies, that build momentum
for projects (as we did with My Food Story http://www.myfoodstory.com).
I want to focus on organizing this center. I need between six to twelve
months to pull it together, customize the software, and find clients. I
need roughly between $15,000 and $30,000 to do that. Over the last ten
years I have built up $100,000 of debt and so every month I must pay
$1,400 for my loan payments (although less than half is for interest) and
I need about $1,000 more per month for my income and expenses. I have no
cash and no income.
I never expected to be in such a weak financial situation. I was raised
to provide for myself. I have a Ph.D. in mathematics and fourteen years
of part-time experience as a software developer. In the US, I made a
living working part-time. When I moved to Lithuania, I started our
laboratory, and by 2002 I thought through our paper (with David
Ellison-Bey) "An Economy for Giving Everything Away"
http://www.ms.lt/en/workingopenly/givingaway.html We're building a wealth
of relationships, and that should lead to us providing each other with
work opportunities, as individuals and as teams. However, there are many
challenges, including the corporate wall, the drop in value of much
knowledge work, the desire to compartmentalize relationships, and the
vulnerability of us on the bottom of the supply chain. These are excuses,
but what is the solution?
I believe that a stream of part-time, temporary work is important for our
culture. Ultimately, every person who dedicates their best creative work
to the Public Domain should have access to as much part-time, temporary,
well-paying work as they might need to survive and have money for their
endeavors. Even more than that, I imagine each person should have a way
to earn some money - even if it is less than what they need - and every so
often earn that money, as a testament to their independence. Every wife
who knows and shows she can earn some money is able to act as needed for a
healthy family relationship. In the big picture, this "individualism"
leads to the society in the US where people have trouble asking each other
for help. Still, such a "fallback" position is very valuable to have for
each person in our culture. It shows us our situation - what we're able
to do that the market values - and how much it values us. It may not be
enough, but at least it puts it in context, and it puts us in context.
I believe in "chores", which is to say, that most work that "needs to get
done" doesn't need to be meaningful or inspiring, but simply if everybody
puts in twenty hours a week, it will all get done, and it won't interfere
with our creative efforts, or limit us in any real way. Some of these
chores we do for free and some for pay. But much of our paid work, and
most of the best paid work, doesn't help with any of these chores. And a
lot of effort is spent getting out of doing chores.
I know that I help people, even in small ways. I'm staying with my
grandmother, who had partial hip replacement but is doing very well - she
can walk down the stairs with her cane. I help like a twelve year old
might - taking care of her cat in the basement, throwing out the garbage,
pouring her milk from the big gallon. I also help David Ellison-Bey
address his foreclosure so they don't take his house away, and many other
such paper issues. So these are chores I do, but I should also have, say
for ten hours per week, some paid work, whatever I can get, even if it is
$5 or $10 an hour, just so that I have the peace of mind that I do it. I
have always avoided such work because it didn't make financial sense. But
I'm thinking it does make sense in our culture, just as a gauge, so I and
others can know my reality. And that little bit of money may help, too.
The radical part of the economy is how we might invest in each other. I
have shown with my own life how a person is able to live on the edge -
walk on water, so to speak - and keep building this lab - even though it
all should have collapsed years ago. I have shown myself as a giving
person - providing small pieces of work to dozens of people in Lithuania
and Africa - and giving about 10,000 dollars for our Pyramid of Peace to
avert genocide. Now I feel ready to invite others to step out of the boat
and walk on the water, too. That is a new chapter in our economy.
I imagine an investment vehicle as follows.
* It is in units say of $1,000.
* It denotes an investment in our culture's infrastructure, which may be
technical, physical, social.
* It has a simple legal status, so perhaps it is simply a loan.
* It is understood that this loan may never get repaid.
* It's purpose is to serve as a credit line for our culture's
infrastructure. So, for example, I could ask for such a credit line so I
could work on our help center.
* We would credit certain investments already made, such as the main
givers to the Pyramid of Peace.
* Investors could trade these investments. In essence, somebody could buy
from me the investments that I earned when I gave for the Pyramid of
* Investors would work together to govern how any new money is used,
whether, for example, to provide credit lines.
* Investors would get, as a dividend, various free services at the online
help center, but especially, our lab's team would work on their projects
for free when we don't have other projects.
* Investors could sell their investments - and profit from the sale - but
the sale would have to be approved by the investor group.
* Investors would have to be active participants in our culture in order
to participate in the governance of the investments, which is to say, in
order to decide what to do with money in the "treasury".
* This would be a type of "micro-credit" designed for our situation and
* Generally, these would be no-interest credit lines, but there may be an
understanding to contribute back more money than you bring in, which is to
say, to end up with more shares of the treasury, to have a bigger stake in
The purpose is to be able to go to each other and ask for a sharing of
resources, whenever possible, and to coordinate our goals. It's a way of
linking us and lurching us to work together instead of saying it's
everyone for themselves. And also it helps us from duplicating our
efforts, and it encourages us to help each other be successful because
we're invested in each other.
I invite our thoughts!
What might we like to give and take?
+1 312 618 3345