Thursday, 11 July 2013

Money and Freedom

I've always found that life has no shortage of difficult questions to tackle. Stuff like :

"Who am I?",
"What do I want?",
"What's the meaning of it all?"

..."How do I get my hair to look awesome everyday?"

But eventually, and this is especially true once you have to start paying your own bills, eventually you start to consider what it would take to become super, duper rich. Like diving into pools of gems kinda rich. Or maybe that'd hurt too much... gummy bears with emerald centres maybe? For diving into obviously, not to eat; what's wrong with you!

And then maybe a year or two passes and you're like, "Okay fine, not so rich also. Just one chotta sa superbike and some cool jackets and that babe Emma Watson as a girlfriend yaar, not soo much also." If this is your story too then not to worry, Uncle Joel has the answer. Nevermind all those people telling you you're an irrational dreamer... and that you need to stop speaking in that silly accent.

So the problem is this, how do I live comfortable and securely and get (mostly) everything I want while also being able to enjoy those comforts? No point in working for some 30 years till the big bucks start rolling in to start enjoying life. By then all I'll be in the mood for at the end of the day is a Scrubs marathon on my intra-eyeball, retina-resolution, embedded viewing system (with HD).

And as such, the problem I have with today's career landscape is the overwhelming feeling of having to run just to stay still. Planning, investments, loans, property investment, "skill upgrading",... just the sound of it is exhausting. Worst of all is that even if you play that game, you're still super vulnerable to waking up penniless one day if the "Invisible Hand of the Market" decides to give you the finger.

So here's my idea. Get your friends together (even if it's just you and your Teddy), and form your own little country. No not in a seditionist sense, what's up with you today! No, I mean in an economic sense. Like you pool all your resources and like give each other responsibilities and draw up a constitution (No farting on the couch!) and generally get "civil society" set up. Back in the real world though, please by all means continue to pay your taxes and stuff, except that now you and your amigos have to actually start to think about like 'How do we grow our country', 'What resources do we have', 'How do we get Zach Braff to do a Kickstarter fundraiser to get us International Aid?'

Obviously you and your friends would still go to work and get paid a salary, except now you'll are coming home in the evening and counting the money that your lil' country made from the services you provided to another nation or corporation or whatever. Of course this money is pretty worthless within your own nation state, since you and your buddies haven't really needed a currency system yet. So what do you do, you go out and buy stuff from the guys who actually use that currency. Ordinarily it'd be some permutation of beer, meat, cornflakes and milk but then maybe one of your buddies is an economics student. Then you'll might also consider buying some seeds and maybe growing vegetables out on the porch, which helps you spend less of your salaries foreign exchange.

So it's been a couple of months and things are going really well. But by this point, something starts to happen. Some other friends (maybe not super close but you'll maybe hi-fived each other once when that cute girl at the college fashion show sort of smiled in your general direction) start to notice that you guys in your little nation over there seem a lot more chilled out of late. And that you seem to have more beer lying around than they do. So they ask if they can join your club as well and that look, they have all this nice equipment they'd be willing to bring in to the country like a washing machine and a microwave that their rich parents bought for them.

Things start to get interesting now, because your country is starting to attract a lot of different skill sets. Now, you have people actually growing wheat in their balconies and baking some bread with it. Some other people might be really handy with tools, and make some DIY windmill power generators out of masking tape, cling foil and dreams. Of course in the beginning it wasn't hard to keep track of who owed how much to the community cuz it was just a handful of people. Now however, you have the sneaking suspicion that someone's eating more of their share of the pizza's and not cleaning up the cartons afterward. Not to mention there are all those "modest" types who won't bother asking you to pay them back even if they've loaned you a week's worth of groceries, we need to keep track of it somehow.

Well we could just have a new currency. And for simplicity we adopt a new currency with the same value as the salary foreign exchange that's still coming in. But then what would be the point, we'd be right back where we started and all the old tensions would re-appear. As soon as you have the old currencies then suddenly everything's back to square one because now nobody wants to actually produce anything anymore, now it's all about investing in derivative sub-prime equity-reimbursed buy-back mortage diversified freakin' bubble gum bonds. No, we need something better...

...There is a kind of freedom to be had in this self-employed mindset, but it vanishes so frustratingly easily. One thing is clear though is that the success of the experiment all hinges on the way the currency gets constructed.