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.