The Ministry for the Future: A Novel – And The World Today

I recently finished listening to  “The Ministry for the Future: A Novel” by Kim Stanley Robinson. 

The book focuses on the impacts of climate change in the future. Near the start of the book there is a heatwave that strikes India harder than the rest of the world. 20 million people die.
This makes me think of the link of this event compared to the current wave of covid sweeping through India and what actions they may take as a result?

In the book there are various attacks by environmental terrorist style groups to try to force companies and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint. 

While I don’t condone that type of violence, much of history is driven by violence, and usually the history books are written by the winners, who write their violence off as justified.

This leads me to consider the link between “The Ministry for the Future: A Novel” and another book I am reading now, “Rethinking Humanity: Five Foundational Sector Disruptions, the Lifecycle of Civilizations, and the Coming Age of Freedom (RethinkX Sector Disruption) Paperback –  by Tony Seba, James Arbib”. They are not proposing violence for any change, but they point to how technological change could lead to societal change, and has in the past. And how “Organizational systems” need to adapt to times, or collapse. Historically, they have collapsed, but they are proposing that we have the change to no collapse, this time. I recommend this book to everyone. 

Another development in “The Ministry for the Future: A Novel”  is the carbon coin. This makes me think of a paper written by ARK investment group and Square (the company). It is a very short read (5 pages).

“Bitcoin is Key to an Abundant, Clean Energy Future In this memo, we aim to explain how the Bitcoin network functions as a unique energy buyer that could enable society to deploy substantially more solar and wind generation capacity. This deployment, along with energy storage, aims to facilitate the transition to a cleaner and more resilient electricity grid. We believe that the energy asset owners of today can become the essential bitcoin miners of tomorrow. “ – Link 

The implication is that bitcoin can create an incentive to develop clean energy as long as you can incorporate bitcoin mining as a secondary income source for the green energy when it is not being used by the grid. This would allow a buildup of excess energy supply in the grid that would be used by customers as needed but alternatively used to mine bitcoin, and thus create profit, when there is excess.


I am not aware of this happening yet. Although there are plenty of grid scale battery storage solutions that are replacing “peaker” power plants and providing tremendous payback to their developers. So that is a 3rd option for excess renewable grid buildout. 


There are even more reasons besides temporary surges in use for peaker plants. A coal power plant apparently suffered an explosion in Australia and  a battery plant was able to provide instant backup. 

Various battery plants have also paid back their build cost relatively quickly. 

Back to Bitcoin. The largest risk for Bitcoin is it’s challenge to the sovereignty of Ffat currency of any nation. If it does challenge a nation’s ability to collect taxes in their own fiat currency, it will be outlawed. On the other side though, gold is a current store of value that does not fundamentally topple the current fiat money system, but lives alongside it. If bitcoin were to continue in that manner, it would be fine.

I often call the USD (and all other government issued currency) as “backed by bombs”. This is in reference to any government’s “monopoly on violence”.

Meaning that the threat of violence by the government if you don’t pay your taxes, in their designated currency. 

Various governments have already outlawed Bitcoin, such as the Chinese government, despite a large percentage of Bitcoin mining happening in China.


Other overreaching governments such as Turkey have also outlawed Bitcoin.

What does that mean for Bitcoin in the USA? It is unclear yet. Personally, I hope it is regulated and taxed as a normal currency eventually, (and not as as art or gold, which have very high tax rates as collectibles).

Basic Income, Shareholder Value, Health Care, Taxes

I was reading up on Michael Tubbs, the former Stockton Mayor who started a basic income pilot. I was curious why he didn’t win reelection. Here was the story I found.

He has started a larger group of Mayors championing a basic income. That is a great legacy of his career so far.  

In other basic income pilot news, Sam Altman’s Y-combinator is still working on their basic income pilots. And Sam Altman has written a very thought provoking piece on basic income. He proposes this income be funded by the following – “We could do something called the American Equity Fund. The American Equity Fund would be capitalized by taxing companies above a certain valuation 2.5% of their market value each year, payable in shares transferred to the fund, and by taxing 2.5% of the value of all privately-held land, payable in dollars.” 

This year Apple is spending $90 billion in share buybacks, which is about 4% worth of their company value when valued at $2.17 trillion dollars.

As far as how profitable other companies are, the answer is “very profitable”. 

“We already have American tax payers supporting companies, first banks and GM  in 2008 and now airlines in 2020 when they might go bankrupt, or when they do. But the American People aren’t getting paid back for their support. 

So I think it’s only fair for taxpayers to get a substantial piece of the upside in return for bailing out these companies. And in the process, bailing out their shareholders, who would be left with nothing if the companies failed.

Yes, this is the same point I made last week about a taxpayer bailout of Boeing.

But it’s a point that we should keep in mind every time we see companies line up at the bailout trough. If many of these companies hadn’t spent lots of money to buy back their own stock to prop up its price, they wouldn’t need anywhere near as much money as they need now.

That’s especially true of these four airlines. Almost seven out of every eight dollars the four airlines sent Wall Street from 2015 through 2019–$39.1 billion out of $44.7 billion — went for share buybacks. The rest went for dividends, according to my calculations based on the companies’ Securities & Exchange Commission filings.” – Washington Post

We need to move to a system that focus on humans, not the economy and profits. 

This would be something similar to human centered capitalism, as promoted by Andrew Yang. 

We already have some institutions that their sole driver is not profit. Credit unions supposedly have their owners, who are also their users, needs as a priority, instead of just profit. 

Vanguard is a company that both serves it’s owners and it’s users.

If we increased the base of each companies shareholders to include everyone, there would be more incentive to “help everyone” instead of “maximize profits”.

While researching this I stumbled upon this series of articles about Stakeholder value. It is quite interesting. Here are some top comments, but I suggest reading it for yourself. 

“The most successful firms today are those that pursue what Peter Drucker long ago saw to be “true North” for a corporation: “there is only one valid purpose of a corporation: to create a customer”. Generating fresh value for customers is the foundation the basis for generating benefits for all the stakeholders.” – Forbes

Finally, another thing that would help small business and entrepreneurs everywhere, as well as helping people stay health is Universal health care in the USA.


“You know what would really help me as a business owner? Universal health care. The money we pay to subsidize employee health care is astronomical and grows every year. I’ll happily pay higher taxes to cut out health insurance companies that make $40 billion a year in profit.” – Dan Price CEO


Admittedly this is a fairly loosely held together narrative of ideas I’ve been thinking about lately, but I hope by sharing them it gets other people thinking about them too.

Precision Fermentation

The below is a lightly edited email I sent to a few friends. Because it takes so long to fully research and put together ideas, I haven’t been posting a lot lately. But I want to continue to use this blog to share ideas and have dialogue with others. I am posting this (lightly edited) to see if anyone else finds this sort of information interesting. Enjoy!

This guy (Tony Seba)  has a few very interesting pdfs available (pretty long well put together documents) about future and emerging technologies. Tony runs Rethink. Catherine Tubbs wrote the paper “RETHINKING FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 2020-2030” and Tony was a co-writer.

Last I checked the Tony Seba/Home link was broken. But the below link to Rethink Website should work. You can access the reports under the “reports” tab.

https://www.rethinkx.com/

Precision Fermentation is the main topic in “RETHINKING FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 2020-2030” 

All free downloads. 

I suspect RETHINKING ENERGY 2020-2030 is good too although I haven’t gotten to read yet.

The technologies are being deployed quickly in lower markets (protein ingredients). 

https://vegconomist.com/fashion-und-beauty/worlds-first-cell-based-collagen-product-zellulin-is-revealed-by-avant/amp/

And there is a lot of funding out there. https://www.fooddive.com/news/record-435m-invested-in-fermentation-this-year-report-says/585444/

I was wondering if ethanol plants could be repurposed for precision fermentation? That’s basically what they do now.

This YouTube video is a summary of a longer interview of Catherine Tubbs who wrote the RETHINKING FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 2020-2030″ it has a link in the video description to the full 45 minute podcast.  Pretty fascinating. 

Can I buy a Tesla in Iowa? – No

Iowa has a Republican governor who claims (like all Republicans) to be pro business. We also have a strong clean energy economy both through our adoption of ethanol as well as windmills for electricity. Because of all these things it is egregious that the best selling electric car in the world is not able to be purchased in Iowa. Tesla cars are unable to be purchased in Iowa due to a law related to dealership franchises, which Tesla does not have.
No one likes going to dealers. They are awful to deal with. They jerk you around on vehicle sale price. They try to talk you into buying something more than you need or can afford. I can’t say I have ever met someone who is genuinely excited about going to a car dealer.
Alternatively, Tesla, which makes the most efficient and best selling EV’s in the world, and which are made in the USA, are unable to be purchased in Iowa, the state with the highest amount of green wind energy per capita.
Tesla vehicle pricing is also clear on their website. Everyone pays the same for a Tesla. 

I have personally written multiple of my state representatives and senators to try to get them to make a move on this to remove this law from the books.
Here was my interaction with the state representative (I will tell you which one if you ask me directly). 

Dear Rep.

Iowa is a state that has approximately 40% of it’s energy supplied by windmills. We say we are a green state. But residents are unable to purchase a Tesla, the best selling electric car ever, in our state. This is due to archaic laws and crony capitalism. I urge you to help change these laws. – Axel Hoogland

Reply – 

Dear Axel Hoogland,

Thank you for your email.  I had no idea it was such a problem to buy a Tesla in Iowa. I spoke with another legislator who owns a Tesla and she said it was because of franchisees code. You are able to buy a Tesla in Iowa but it remains difficult to pick one up anywhere nearby. Unfortunately there is not a coalition nor political will to move language forward. I will watch this…it doesn’t seem to be fair nor help us reach our sustainability goals. Please email me anytime.

Yours, Rep.

This is representative of every email I have sent to a politician, regardless of the policy I am addressing. Admitting that it is bad, backpedaling that “there is no will to do anything about it.”


That is why I am sharing my views with the internet. I would ask anyone who thinks that you should be able to buy a Tesla in Iowa to just send your state representative or state senator a short email. You could even copy mine.  (below) 

Here is where you can find the list of Iowa State Representatives. Email any one of them, or all of them!  https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/house

Dear Rep.

Iowa is a state that has approximately 40% of it’s energy supplied by windmills. We say we are a green state. But residents are unable to purchase a Tesla, the best selling electric car ever, in our state. This is due to archaic laws and crony capitalism. I urge you to help change these laws. – Your Name

It seems like a very simple law to erase. The only people who it seems to benefit are the car dealerships, not individuals. So why won’t state politicians change this law?

There was even an 80 pager report in 2016 from the Iowa Economic Development Authority titled “Advancing Iowa’s Electric Vehicle Market” which specifically mentioned the issue that Tesla’s are unable to be sold in Iowa. If they truly wanted to “Advance the Electric Vehicle Market” in Iowa the easiest and best thing they could do would be to allow the cars to be sold here.That report can be found here.

https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/userdocs/programs/AdvancingIowasElectricVehicleMarketReport.pdf

Page 55 (pdf page 62) shared the information about Tesla/dealership laws in Iowa.

Like all progress that is inevitable, sometime in the next 10 years it is very likely that Iowa citizens will be able to purchase a Tesla in the state of Iowa. I am giving state politicians an easy win here by asking them to overturn an arcane law that is hurting a progressive American Business and hurting Iowans, making them drive out of state to make a large purchase.

Working From Home, UBI, $600 Unemployment

I have seen complaints from Republicans about how the $600/week unemployment benefit has worked out. There are many complaints that it is too much and is disincentivizing people to go back to work. I agree, to some extent. If you give people incentives to not go back to work, they obviously won’t go back! But we should consider if there is a better alternative. $2,400 month (4 weeks) for people is a lot, on top of any other planned unemployment benefits. As I recall Andrew Yang was proposing $1,000 month for people as a basic income. There was huge push back on “How would you pay for that?” despite Yang having a very clear way to pay for it. (see picture below). 

$2,400/month is 2.4x the $1,000 proposed. Why was it so much? My understanding is it was set at $600/week to get “the average” worker too 100% of their pre-layoff income. I am unclear why that was a goal. I think there could be a little personal liability to try to cover a little of your lost earnings when there is a mess like we are in. But what I really want to point out is the PPP cost $669 billion of which most went to workers (per the law) and a bit was available to cover utilities etc. 

Why didn’t we just let people be laid off and collect unemployment, give businesses a much smaller lifeline (25% of $669 billion to cover utilities etc) and let the rest be used for a UBI to some extent. I don’t even care if I was personally left out of the UBI. Give it some arbitrary cut off of $50k or less a year 2019 income. That would have been $500 billion dollars for 4 months. 

$500 billion could have provided a UBI of $1,000/month for 125 million people for 4 months. In 2018 there were only 150 million people working full time so that is nearly the full amount of people! Why did we have to use the PPP, serve less people and make people continue to be tied to their work? We are so obsessed with tying people to a job, it is insane. 

““You’re turning the business into a pass-through for the federal government,” said Joe Walsh, who owns Clean Green Maine, a cleaning service in Portland, Maine with 35 employees. “You’re doing very little to actually help the business.” – Chicago Tribute

It is almost as crazy as the feeling for employers that they “Need to get employees back to the office asap”. Many people have been working from home for 4 months.  If people have been successfully working from home for 4 months, what is the rush to get them “back to the office”? I understand some people need to be in the office. Personally my job has some interaction with manufacturing so I am in the office every day now. But many of my colleagues are successfully working from home. I don’t see a reason to “rush them back”. It seems to me the only reason to do that is because of some deeply ingrained mistrust of employees from the very upper echelons of business that if employees are not being watched like hawks they will be screwing off. Some companies are getting it, like Square, which seems to be transitioning to fully work from home permanently

Another thing I don’t get is how Republicans, “the media” and many essential workers are angry at people who are unemployed and receiving $600/week. On a very surface level it makes sense, you see someone “getting paid to do nothing” while you are a hard working essential person. Think “I am paying for that lazy loser.” Etc. But realistically, most of the laid off people would be happy to have continued to keep working, or at least being able to provide for their families, if possible. There is an odd set of circumstances that some people are laid off adn some aren’t. But the “essential vs unemployed” fight is a fight between THE SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE! Or at least they were part of the same group of people until right before some of them lost their jobs. It is crazy to me that the “essential” people so quickly turned their anger towards the people who are getting money from the government program that it is likely they could have received money from too except for a specific set of circumstances. That person receiving $600 has no impact on your life. You are not receiving less because of that, except for the fact that you all are not demanding a UBI! 

I will share a meme (below) to try to get the point across. Not that I hold anything personally against Jeff Bezos (although many people do). But it’s trying to make a point. 

So, anyone who is working a job currently, please stop being mad at the unemployed people who got $600/week for a few months. Start being mad at the government for a shitty response. Then start writing your senators and House of Representatives and asking why a Basic Income is still not being considered, for ALL!

Andrew Yang

Twelve Reasons to Vote for Andrew Yang – Another good post about Yang!

I am going to put my “outro” at the start here in case people don’t get through this whole post!

Outro

I think it is vital to get a forward thinker like Andrew Yang in the White House in 2020. I am writing this to request that anyone who is reading this specifically consider reading about Andrew Yang more via his book, The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future, which as always, I will buy for you if you are willing to read it! The book is even on YouTube if you don’t want to buy it. 

You can also watch many of the podcasts Yang had some such as Joe Rogan or Sam Harris.If you think you can support Yang for president, you can donate to his campaign, and please vote for him in your Primary or Caucus for him in your state!

Start – 

I attended an Andrew Yang event in Waterloo, Iowa recently. I ended up eating with someone who is taking time off their job to work for Yang’s campaign.

He is going door to door, talking with people about if they will support Yang in the Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucus February 3rd, 2020, not necessarily if they would vote for him in the Presidential race in November 2020. The caucus, along with Primaries in many other states helps determine who the Democratic candidate for president in November 2020 will be. 

Why is he talking to people about the caucus specifically? There are many people who will vote straight ticket in the general election, regardless of who is their party’s candidate is. I had that realization after talking with some people at the restaurant after the event. “I would vote for a piece of poo instead of Trump.” was the person’s exact words. 

I can understand that sentiment. But I don’t necessarily feel that way. I am tired of voting for the lesser of 2 evils. That’s is how Trump won in the first place. Hillary was a bad choice for a candidate.

Andrew Yang acknowledges that there are a lot of issues in the country right now, which some Democratic Candidates do not, and was one of the main issues of Hillary’s campaign. She said things were fine! Many other Democratic candidates think the only problem is Trump. Yang recognizes that Trump is not the problem but a symptom. Trump recognized a lot of the correct problems. The difference between Trump and Yang is Trump is looking backwards, while Yang is the candidate of the future. Many of the other democratic candidates are just making noise.

Yang is the data candidate. He looks at what the data is saying, for example, life expectancy is going down in America, due to suicides and drug overdoses. That’s a problem, but it’s a result of people feeling down, losing jobs, losing economic power, etc.

Although the “Freedom Dividend” (Basic Income), is a policy of Yang’s that gets a ton of attention, I think a more important one is “Human Centered Capitalism”.

There is a saying that goes something like this “You get what you measure.” Since we measure GDP and the Stock Market, we are certainly maximizing those things. But only 20% of people are participating in any meaningful way in the stock market and no one makes money directly from GDP. 

We need to think about people, not just GDP. That’s where Human Centered Capitalism comes in. In Human Centered Capitalism, people come first. If all jobs were 100% automated (a possibility in the future and something that should be a goal) we would have a great GDP and high returns on investment, but how would individual people be doing? With no income, likely not well! We are already somewhat in this situation now. 78% of  people are living paycheck to paycheck, you might even be one of them!
Many people I talk to about this blame the people in this situation. I think that’s a form of victim blaming. 

There are so many factors in each person’s individual journey from child to productive adult. There are many barriers in front of people and very different barriers. We need to help each other achieve our potentials. 

There are many programs available to help people reach their potential, but there is a better way, the Freedom Dividend. This will allow each person some money to help pick a direction to take in life and if it happens they took the wrong direction, they will be able to reevaluate and picka  new direction. The issue with today is if you are stuck in a job, you likely have no way to leave. 78% of people can not leave their job without extreme hardship, due to living paycheck to paycheck. 

Because the government has a vastly larger budget compared to any company, $4 trillion dollars a year, the government has to be a part of solving problems.

People who have a problem with the government being involved in things need to read “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism”. That book cured me from thinking about the government as an evil entity trying to take away everyone’s rights. 

Another on Andrew Yang’s policies, Democracy Dollars, will help get more people into politics via funding, and help lower income people contribute to candidates they like. 

Because of all these things, I think it is vital to get a forward thinker like Andrew Yang in the White House in 2020. I am writing this to request that anyone who is reading this specifically consider reading about Andrew Yang more via his book, The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future, which as always, I will buy for you if you are willing to read it! The book is even on YouTube if you don’t want to buy it. 

You can also watch many of the podcasts Yang had some such as Joe Rogan or Sam Harris.If you think you can support Yang for president, you can donate to his campaign, and please vote for him in your Primary or Caucus for him in your state!

Mid 02019 Update

It’s been almost a year since my last post and I didn’t do an end of 02017 or  02018 post. Since the start of a year is a relatively arbitrary time in our trips around the sun and happens at different times in certain countries I think a minor update could be appropriate. 

A few big things happened this year. 
I started a financial advising business.
I bought a duplex.
I started funding a chicken farm in Haiti. 

In August 2018 I started Highland Wealth Management. I met Mike Finley 4 or 5 years ago. He teaches classes at the college in town about personal finances. I learned a lot from him and continued on from there. I started this business because I saw how inefficient most people’s finances are. My main goal with this business is to save people hundreds of thousands of dollars over their life. This means keeping more money with the investor and having less go to the advisor. If you look at how much most financial advisors take, it’s a lot 1% to 2.5% a year, of your money! The actual value being provided is very very little. With a few hours of time investment with a fiduciary financial advisor, most people can save more money over their life than they will make in years of working.

I bought a duplex in May 2019. As part of my own personal financial journey I thought getting into owning a rental property might be a good idea. I am living in one side of the duplex and renting the other side. Below are the calculations i used to justify this purchase. I assume the return of the stock market is about 9%-10% a year. A duplex has to return above that for me to even consider it. The below also does not take into account the equity build up for the mortgage pay off. 

Many of my friends are into rental properties. I had been living in an apartment for about 7 years so I thought it was time for a change. I think this will help me in my advising business also if people have rental properties I can help them determine if it’s really a good fit for them or not. While some places are good, I have also seen many cases, for example of inherited properties, that people should just sell.

On purchasing/financing the property. I ended with a 30 year loan at 4.25%. At the time if I’d bought a house the rate was 4%. They were able to raise the rate .25% on a duplex “just because”. That being said, since I was owner occupying the property, I was able to get a 30 year loan with a lower rate than if I was buying it commercially. At the time a commercial loan was 5% and the term was only 20 years, instead of 30. I like the lower rate and longer timeline because it allows a better, more sure, cash flow. For me, cash flow is a key thing for a rental property. I also purchased a place that needed very little as far as work done to make it livable, actually no work. While there are a few cosmetic things I could fix such as a few holes in the siding or other little things like that, this property did not require any major renovations. For me, that was a good first choice.It even came with tenants in one side. That was also nice as when I signed the mortgage the old owners signed a $250 prorated check for the rest of that months rent! The next day as I was moving in the tenants paid me for the next month. So while this has all worked out well for me so far (4 months in, through summer), I still can not say it’s for everyone. There are many other blogs and sources of information on rental properties if you are interested. Or ask me any questions you might have!

If you recall from my 02016 year end review, I had bought into a solar field at the power company at my old apartment. When I moved I had to sell those back to the company. I recooped about $880 from that investment that was $1080. In the end it was about a wash as far as money goes. But the environmental impacts were a positive that were not directly measured, at least not by me. 

I took the money from that sale and bought an electric lawn mower for my new house! I bought an Ego 21” deck, self propelled (push) lawn mower for $500 at Home Depot. While I could have gotten a cheap gas powered push mower for as low as $100, a self propelled Honda gas mower can be as much as $500 also so purchase price was not really more expensive than a comparable gas mower for the Ego electric mower. This was my first foray into electric vehicles (after my self build electric bike, which used a kit, and was a bit of a failure, in execution. The concept of electric bikes is still good. There are many good electric bikes built by manufacturers. I would recommend one of those over a kit). (I also have an electric coffee mug which I really like.) I am very happy with the electric lawn mower. I use the self-propelled all the time as well as the mulching, using as much energy as possible, which leads to the shortest battery life. It usually mows my whole lawn, which takes about 30 minutes. In the off chance it doesn’t I just plug the battery in, which fully charges in 1 hr, and finish up the last 10 minutes of mowing. Not having to deal with gas or oil or spark plugs is fantastic and one reason I expect electric to take over for most gas application in the near future. 

I started a chicken egg business/farm in Haiti with Jhon. I have mentioned Jhon before as far as helping him via paying for his schooling. Jhon told me of an idea he had for a chicken farm. He believed he would be able to sell eggs to local stores. I was hesitant but provided enough money to buy 30 chickens ($15/chicken) as well as to build out a coop, a few hundred dollars. Jhon set up all the business as far as having someone take care of the chickens, his cousin, someone deliver the eggs to business, a neighbor, as well as a different person to collect the money. Jhon is actually studying in a different city than the chickens are. This is a great hands off business, as far as the day to day running. Jhon said the alternative for eggs is they are shipped in from the Dominician Republic. The price of a chicken is $15 and the monthly return is $2/chicken. In less than 1 year a chicken has paid for itself! If the chicken lives 2 years it’s provided a 220% return! After about 3 months of seeing the business work with 30 chickens I decided to purchase 70 more to get the business up to the full size Jhon initially envisioned. The farm now has 100 chickens.

Jhon is using this money to fund the rest of his college himself. I am no longer paying for his college directly! This is very exciting for me for 2 reasons.

  1. I don’t have to continually put money in with no direct return to myself.
  2. Jhon is creating a self sufficient business. He will learn and earn through this business.

I recently finished a book called “The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty”. Along with other books I’ve read like “Toxic Charity” and “When Helping Hurts” I think that investing in business, teaching a man to fish, is much more valuable in the long term than just giving money. I am hoping to continue to support Jhon in his various entrepreneurial ideas going forward.

Haitian Development

The world’s prime, vital problem bears repeating a million times. It is how to triple swiftly, safely and satisfyingly the overall performance realizations per pound, kilowatt and man hour of the worlds comprehensive resources. To do so will render those resources, which at present design level can support only 44% of the humanity, capable of supporting 100% of humanity’s increasing population at higher standards of living than any human minority or single individual has ever known or dreamed of. To this concentrate on the mastery of the physical service of man will also have its inadvertent profit increment, for to master the physical, intellectually, will bring into human intecourse a lever of integrity of exploration fo the metaphysical capabilities of man and the metaphysical ramification of universe also heretofore undreamed of by man. Science and engineering say this is eminently feasible. – Buckminster Fuller (p 227-228, Utopia or Oblivion) (Comments made in 1965)

I write to help myself discover what I think about topics. As I write I often discover I haven’t though as thoroughly about an idea as I think I have.

The topic I want to think and hopefully talk about in the future with some of you in person is international development, specifically, helping create a better environment in Haiti. When I say “better” I specifically mean access to electricity, wider dissemination of knowledge (internet, school), access to better tools for production and access to better healthcare.
I want to think about Haiti because it is the poorest country in this hemisphere.
As you may have read in my post from July, I currently have 2 young adults I’m supporting in their studies in Haiti. One of those students now has a sister who also wants to start studying. I do not have unlimited funds so I have reached out to others to ask for help in funding.

The big question I am asking myself is how to help Haiti become economically profitable. That’s a pretty big question. There are many factors contributing to Haiti’s current economic state. Political corruption, international pressures, outside countries economic manipulations. How does a person even start to think about affecting all these things as an individual? I think it’s best to start at an individual level. How can I help one individual in Haiti have a little better life? That’s why I am working with Wathson to understand his prospects after he graduates from high school and as he studies to be a medical professional.

I believe that each person who finds a better life is able to bring more prosperity for their region. Ultimately production is the way to prosperity. One person creating more with better tools, increasing efficiency, is a way for more wealth for that person. In the process of one person creating more more efficiently, they will seem to take that wealth from another person. The fallacy in this is the thought that there is only so much production to go around. The world is not infinite, but it is pretty large. Large enough for there to be literally tons of resources for each person on the earth. The dissemination of knowledge to each person will ultimately let each person create enough for themselves. There is one scenario for the future where each person has so much capital and knowledge that they are able to create everything they need for themselves. If you don’t believe that it’s because you haven’t thought about it enough yet.

One question I have been asked repeatedly while I am providing funding for students education in Haiti is “Is that the best use of the money?”

I ask myself that also.
One of the concerns I have is that they wouldn’t be able to get a job in a foreign country with the education they receive in Haiti. I have no proof of that. I also don’t know the likelihood of them getting a job in a different country anyway.
While the above is a good question I think there are other good questions. For example “If these students don’t get this education what is their future likely to look like in Haiti?”
“Are they more or less likely to find employment with this education?”
“Are they likely to have a brighter future because of receiving this education?”
Because I believe the answer to those 3 questions is yes I think this is the right path to take at the moment to fund their education.

A country like Haiti did not end up in the economic situation it is in all by itself or over night. Many other countries and people have had an impact to bring it to where it is today. It will take time to pull it out of the rut. I believe that eventually the world will be a good place for everyone. In “a good place” I mean that there will not be death from simply preventable causes such as starvation, lack of access to iodized salt or lack of access to clean water. I would like to be a part of the process and help to accelerate the process. If left to its own devices, it might take a century or 2 or more to have everyone reach an economic prosperity. I believe it should be possible in 40 years, maximum, assuming the economic haves (nearly everyone in the USA and many other developed countries) focuses on helping the current have nots.

For a start on learning some of the things I have you might want to read this article about crop dumping.

Then there are a few books I recommend.

23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism – Ha-Joon Chang
Capital in the Twenty-First Century – Thomas Piketty
Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty – Roger Thurow, Scott Kilman
The Last Hunger Season – Roger Thurow
Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth – R. Buckminster Fuller
Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think – Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

If you would like please contact me via email hooglandaxel@gmail or by commenting below to discuss the possibility of a better future for all.

Direct Payment of Education in Haiti

I want to let you know about an experiment I have been involved in for the last 8 months, since January 2018. I directly funded 2 students college education in Haiti.

My reason for doing this was because I believe that increase in dissemination of knowledge is what will ultimately improve the world.

Education in a foreign country, especially Haiti, is an order of magnitude cheaper than in the USA ($800-$1500 per semester).

I was introduced to the first student, Wathson, via a mutual friend, who lives in the United States, who had been supporting him via another organization as he grew up. Once he reached college age, the support through that organization terminated.

She had structured to have him come to the USA for college at the University of Northern Iowa but that fell through during an interview for a visa at the US embassy in Haiti. An unfortunate setback. Luckily, he was able to enroll at L’Université Notre Dame d’Haïti located in Port au Prince, which you can find more about in the link. Please note that this is not related to Notre Dame in the USA in any way.

The other student was a friend of Wathson’s. His name is Jhon. He is going to a different school, Universite GOC which is also in Port au Prince, Haiti. He is studying Engineering, which is important to me, being a mechanical engineer myself.

One semester for Wathson was $1,300 while one for Jhon was $840 due to being at different schools.

I am in frequent Facebook contact with both of these students and have contacted both colleges directly at various times. You can also via their websites if you are interested or I can relay information between you and them for you. You can also contact Jhon and Wathson via Facebook if you want, you can find them via my friends list.

Both students have invited me to Haiti, but unfortunately time and money say I can’t make the trip quite yet, although I would love to in the future.

I believe the constant contact allowed via Facebook and other forms of communication with people in distant countries should be a force for good in the world. I believe it should help us grow closer in community with other people as well as realize the difficulties they are facing.

I am asking anyone who has interest in helping educate people in other countries to contact me to help fund the next semester of college for these guys as well as Wathon’s sister who is hoping to start studying accounting in September 2018.

I have already paid ½ of Jhon’s next semester so between Wathson and Jhon I have $420+$1300 to pay, $1,720 total.

I transfer this money directly to them via Western Union and then they pay the colleges directly. I understand this is a leap of faith for some and it is fine if you feel that way.

If you feel there might be some value in this and I would be happy to accept donations and take responsibility to transfer the money to these guys..

At the moment, this transaction will have no economic benefit for you. There is no tax write off as this is not happening through a 501 c3 or anything. This is just people directly helping other people. I am trying to champion help for helps sake, reaching out to people in need and making a difference, for the long term, as I can.

There is a potential for an organization to appear in the future if there is sufficient interest in this endeavor. There are many other massive challenges in helping Haiti develop as a country, some of which are caused by our own actions, crop dumping.

You can contact me at hooglandaxel@gmail.com to discuss further if you are interested in helping or learning more about this activity.

Thank you for your consideration and interest. I have asked Jhon and Wathson to provide me some feedback about their first semesters in college so I will hope to share that soon.

One Way A Basic Income Could Work

There is probably more than one way a basic income could work but I want to share at least one that I have considered to help people see that it might be possible.
First I want you to consider if there are people living with a basic income in today’s society? What provides for their income if they are? Why is there a basic income provided for them?

There are many people living on a basic income today. There are many different groups receiving a basic income and they receive their basic income under different circumstances and provided from by different sources. Analyzing these groups and sources could help us understand the opportunities for more widely possible basic incomes.

The first obvious example of people receiving a basic income is children. They are provided for by their parents because the kids can’t provide for themselves.

Another group is the mentally disabled, again, because they can’t provide for themselves they are provided for by loved ones.

The third group that receives a basic income is those on physical disability from the government. Again, the requirements is that they can’t provide for themselves so they are provided for, this time, not by loved ones but because the government has mandated that it is important for us to take care of others who can’t take care of themselves.

The final group that receives a basic income is the retired. Their basic income is slightly different from the previous groups because they have created their own basic income. The reason they need a basic income is similar, in that many of them might not be able to physically work anymore so they have to create a situation where income is provided for them while they can’t actively create it.

So the similarities between all the groups is that they need money to provide their daily needs and they aren’t working themselves to create the income. The first 2 groups, kids and mentally disabled, are provided for by loved ones.

The physically disabled are provided for by the government and the retired are provided for by themselves.

Which of these is most applicable to a world wide model?

First, the love model? Where does the money for the love model come? The money from the love model comes from working income of the parents or loved ones who care for the disabled or children. The guardians have to continually create new income to cover the needs of those in their care. If they lose their job the basic income provided for the loved disappear. The important idea here is that income comes from continued work/creation of value.

Unfortunately love, doesn’t seem to be working for the world. It doesn’t seem like we’ve produced enough love to take care of all the people who need it. Love usually comes from a place of closeness and stems from family ties. I want to believe we are one human family, but by our mass actions, we have shown we are not there yet.

The 2nd way, governmental care, has an income collected from the working class. This class is likely providing for some loved ones already, and are also providing a basic income for another class, the disabled, who they don’t necessarily know personally or love directly. At a fundamental level, the income from the government really comes from the same place as the money from the first group, from working people continually creating value.

The government assistance model for basic income has shown some more success in places that have more government oversight as well as a more robust economy that can handle more being “siphoned” (taxed) from the working populace. The difficulty here is that that the governments money ultimately comes from the working people. They are only able to support so many non-working people. .

The final group, the retired, have their money come from growth or dividends of capital from businesses that they are owners in, stock owners or direct private business owners, that they have accumulated their whole life. Dividends are actually income (value), produced by the first group, the working class, but that is not awarded to the working class! It is awarded to the owners of the business. This is a very important concept because it gives us a glimpse of where we can obtain income if we aren’t working. If you are a business owner you will gain some profits from the business you own.
It is important to understand a business idea here. Your employees must produce at least as much value as you are paying them. Most businesses employees actually produce more value than they cost the company. They have to if the business wants to show a profit!

Think of the business that you work for. You should ask, how does this business make money. Then you should ask “How much profit per employee a year does this business create?” You should also ask “How much profit do I create for the business a year?”

Good businesses know how much profit they make per employee. For example, Facebook makes $188,000 per employee per quarter! That’s $752,000 per employee per year. That is why starting employees at Facebook can make over $100k a year, because they add way more value than that to the company each year. The profit you make over the salary you pay the employees is the extra profit that can be paid to the business owners. They are awarded this extra income for taking the initial financial risk of starting a business, investing in capital, etc. It is just as easy, or even easier, to invest in a business and lose all your money if you are starting from scratch.

The important idea from above, business owners can potentially gain income from a business in which they are solely owners, they don’t have to be doing any work and that is a form of basic income we see today.
Somebody has to do the work, today. These are the workers. Now I am going to ask you to take a mental journey to a future with me where we can envision a business, started by a person where they invest a lot of their money into fully autonomous machines, such that there are 0 people actually working in the factory. There is solar energy provided for the plant. There are autonomous robots creating, whatever product you want and the maintenance is also handled by robots. There are 0 people working in this factory, but the factory is producing a product, something of value, that other people will pay for. In this scenario, there is still a business owner, there is still value being created and income coming in, but there is no work being done by any people. This is exactly the scenario in which a basic income is viable. Now let’s say this person’s autonomous factory makes shirts. Now another person has a 100% autonomous factory where he grows food. These 2 people can create enough food and clothes between them, while neither is physically working himself, to feed and cloth each other. Now consider a 3rd person who has no factory of his own. The 2 autonomous factory owners factories can produce enough that they could feed and clothe this 3rd man but will they? That is the critical question! I believe in an abundance economy, which is what you would have when everything is being created from 100% autonomous work, that the capital owners, the factory owners, would be generous people. My belief stems from some fantastically rich people today, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, who have so much wealth to be in the position of capital owners who have 0 necessity for work and who are working to give it away.

Since we now have one idea for a possibility for how a basic income would work I think it should be pretty obvious that the goal is clear. We should work to invest in factories and other methods of creation that are 100% autonomous.

Once we are creating enough to provide for everyone the desire and ability to distribute the spoils of this abundance should manifest rather quickly from either the care and responsibility we feel towards our fellow humans, when our own survival is not threatened, or from the fear that our survival will be threatened if we keep a large segment of the population under-cared for. Either way, there should be a path for care for all when abundance is possible.

I realize that the thought of fully autonomous factories seems fantastical. But it truly is not! Complete autonomy is just the final step in what has been happening for many years, at least since the start of the industrial revolution. The increase in productivity of any individual is the hallmark of our age. I personally am paid more than the average person because the tools and knowledge I have access to allow me to produce more. Full autonomy is the final act in that progression. Infinite creation with no input. If you can’t see that end you lack creativity. It is the ultimate efficiency, which is what our economy is working towards.

Some examples include the push towards autonomous cars. While there is certainly investment upfront, the final output, value add, work done, autonomously is the obvious outcome. The best thing about the investment is that once the investment is made in full self sustaining autonomy, robots fixing themselves, that is the end of the cycle.

Then the imperative question is, who owns the robots?

How does the value get to the people who don’t own the robots?

These are important questions and ones that must be considered. If you aren’t able to consider that this is a very likely future though, we won’t’ get there and the answers don’t’ matter.