The Venus Project is doomed!

 I took a look at the Venus project and read some of the literature on their site. In case you don't know it, it's worth checking out. If you're not familiar with it then please read there first, otherwise this post will make no sense whatsoever.

If you enjoy societal structure and political theory, this is an interesting project which claims to solve most of humanity's problems using technology and abolishing money. The founder, Jacques Fresco thinks that if we distribute resources and get rid of money we can focus on more important things like world hunger, green economies etc.

There are so many problems with this theory that I don't know where to begin. The most important problem is that humans are not simply variables in larger macro-economic equations. You can't claim to distribute resources(wealth) equitably in any political system. It WILL be abused. There just is no way to stop some humans from being corrupt stealing assholes. This makes laws, courts and prisons necessary. Essentially from that point on the whole perfect little system falls apart, spiraling back into essentially the same kind of system we have now.

So I don't believe that human nature means we are all intrinsically bad. I do believe that there is a sufficient amount of cheaters in the system to warrant laws and prisons. There will always be people who try to get ahead without doing any work. If the currency is noddy badges to tell people they are great in Fresco's world, someone will make counterfeit ones. It just works that way. It is a kind of evolutionary arms race and it's one of the reasons why humans have such big noggins. We don't need massive brains to compete with other animals. We got that covered. We need massive brains to compete with each other.

Another problem with Fresco's lofty Utopia is the technology. To create such a world would require all the resources of the world and maybe 100 years worth of dedicated and focussed hard work. Merely saying that you can focus all the worlds resources on the most important goals is missing the point of free market capitalism entirely. I agree that some things that would be very beneficial to society are not being pursued because nobody wants to spend money on it, but most good things are being done BECAUSE of money. He rightly states that humans are not motivated by money, and that most great inventions were had within the absense of money, but developing those inventions into world changing products needed a monetary motivation. Someone can't just walk up to a bunch of people and say "Okay Johnson you get a hammer you're going to build a fusion reactor" in a money-free society. Who the hell are you to tell Johnson what to do? In a society like Fresco's we don't know who will be the laborers and who will be barking the orders? Presumably everyone who promotes his way of thinking will pick him. It would be mighty convenient.

Next up is the resource requirement for a resource based economy. The technologies needed to automate as much as this system needs is non-existent, and reading about some of the ideas about load balancing factories and other high automation made me think of what a nightmare the software side of this distribution system would be. I can't even imagine the hardware demands.

Finally there is a problem of innate social structuring and self organisation. If humans are stranded on desert islands we don't default into a Frescoesque utopian society. Leaders emerge, and hierarchies are established. The ideal of a society where everyone is equal and everyone drives a Lamborghini is ridiculous. The idea of an equal society where nobody has a Lamborghini is even worse.

So what is a way forward then? Are we doomed? Are we depleting the earth's resources, reviving serfdom and slavery? No! None of those things. As time goes by people at the bottom of society are being uplifted. Soon every person on earth will have internet access. I can watch lectures from some of the best minds in the world without paying a cent. How is that for a cool society? Yes there are problems. Lots of them. And some of them are getting worse. BUT that is how humanity works. We can overcome all these things and make people happy without having to subject everyone to mediocrity.

Equality is the opposite of liberty, because to make things equal, you must take away that which makes them unique. I know that the Venus project has good intentions, but without economics people will just find another system to compare themselves with others, and without knowing what that is we certainly can't tell if it's good.

Money is not evil. Money is a representation of your contribution and value to society. Money is a way of saying: "We, society, find you valuable. You can go and buy donuts because you deserve it for unblocking that drain, writing that novel or coordinating that moon landing". I would say that money is distributed in a very wrong way to the wrong people. Take Justin Bieber's money and give it to Stephen Hawking's doctors!