for Right Livelihood
from: AND Workbook
Matt and Gail Taylor
purpose of economy is to serve life. The purpose
of life is not to serve nor make economy [link].
economic model - too narrow even to remain useful
as a narrow economic model let alone a social
model - has been stretched far
beyond any useful utility. It is out of proportion
in consideration of the other factors necessary
for a healthy view and practice of human society
and life. This economic model is so strong that
few even realize they are trapped in it or that
it is a recent human-created social artifact.
It is taken as a given. It has become a social
It is not challenged because it cannot be seen.
To challenge it, these days, is to be un-American.
I am not talking about the idea of a free market
economy. I am talking about the mixed economy
we have and how we, as a society, have chosen
to employ it [link].
out concept of an economy seems to no
longer inspire even those that make up its
greatest adherents. Our economy - driven so long
own dynamic - is slowing from fatigue and inattention
there is little reason
to buy. How often does the latest improved thing
really make your life significantly better? Consumers
- a horrible term - are exhausted. This likely
be a short
some new IDEA
captures people and drives a new economic cycle
- off we will go again in search of a mindless-materialist
utopia. The notion of a consumer economy,
however is not sustainable and will ultimately
way to another framework. Sooner cannot be too
social and ecological consequences of this paradigm
(the consumer economy) run amuck are devastating
[link]. We are destroying life on this planet - our
included. LIFE has become lifestyle - a
commodity - something to manipulate and exploit.
to make, buy and sell.
measures by which we judge and run this economy
(itself an illusion) are contradictory and dangerous.
On one hand we extoll the brand called
on the other take a raise in unemployment as confirmation
of recession (a decline in the rate of growth
measured over an incredible short period of time).
After a period of rampant growth we arrive at
energy crisis - which is the result
of totally careless development practices - and
use this crises to roll back the few life-serving
gains that have been made in regards ecological
Next year, it will be a water crises. Then, something
else. All unrelated, of course. Each time, the
life will be sacrificed a little more. As economy
grows, life suffers a slow death. It should
not be this way. There is no intrinsic contest
economy and life - only the consequences of bad
is the quality of life index? What are the measures
of true, sustainable gain? What are the reasonable
expectations of the economy, as a system, and what
are the appropriate standards for the companies
that compete within it?
last year has seen one of the most remarkable economic
shifts in recent memory. And, it is not just in
the economic arena. World politics has also radically
changed focus. We, so far, seem to be reacting in
conventional terms: a new set of problems to fix.
What if something new is going on? What if
this is not a business-as-usual cycle?
if the dot bubble collapse
not the cause of an economy in the doldrums -
what if fatigue lead to the end of this
most recent tulip buying craze. Have we been building
an economy or growing a cancer? Is there some nascent
awareness of this? Are people beginning to run
of reasons to work and buy?
seems to be left is fear. Fear of losing recent
perceived gains. What is not present is the positive
energies that come from the sense of building something.
It is a morning-after economy - a slight hangover
with a mild sense of guilt.
is a market lacking definition on both the producer
and buyer sides. It has no reason to exist other
than it does not want to die.
alone, at some time, will fill this vacuum. The
question is with what? And, if what fills it is
a step towards greater long-term health or a new
maniac period leading to an even greater crash at
the end of another wild cycle. If our economy were
a person we would say it is manic-depressive in
its behavior. Legally, we could lock it up
for its own protection and ours. Instead,
we call the maniac phase good and the
depressive phase bad. We treat the symptoms
but not the basic condition.
has become a reflex habit for a whole generation
of people and we have a huge numbers of companies
drunk on it. Now, maybe people are wondering if
the bigger (bloated?) house will make the family
functional, if the new computer - with another 30%
gain in processor speed - will make the work go
better, if the next new car will really make the
traffic jambs more endurable.
might be some characteristics of the next economic
phase? I think it will be more experienced
based. The recent phenomena of design driving
successful products (and soon, services) will continue.
Hopefully, some portion of the economy will be devoted
to making long term investments. Someday people
will realize that the economy is just a measure
of economic activities and cleaning up things will
make just as may people rich as creating the mess
did in the first place. It is a matter of what people
choose to buy. A 50 years ago it may have seemed
strange to buy bottled water that cost more than
some wines. I expect - if we continue down our present
road - it will not be too much longer when fresh,
unpolluted air will be sold at profit.
that is what the next economic period can be
Choices. Choices that bring material and
spiritual benefit to people. An economy of GOODS...
if people invest some of the incredible wealth that
has been created in themselves instead of buying
another round of the same old sheep dressed up new
wolfs clothing? What if truly energy efficient
products were rewarded in the marketplace? Software
products that really made the work go better not
another round of feature glut? What if incessant
tourism and travel gave way to exploration and education?
Housing developments of oversized houses to sustainable
architecture? Entertainment to a positive and healthier
art? Too much drinking and over eating to exercise
and healthy food? What if community development
if we actually made the social investments necessary
to build a sustainable infrastructure, develop
space habitats [link] and
if we stopped treating people as economic
suppose it would be called a depression.
might be a new economy.
market economy is the most efficient way we humans
have ever created to sort out multiple choices offered
to millions of people. Economies are not good or
bad - they ARE. They express the results
of the choices that have been made. Todays
economic pause is best interpreted as a question
not a prescription. It may be one of the best opportunities
in a long time for business to think through its
function and for individual businesses to rethink
their basic market strategies. It may be a time
for users to think deeply about the consequences
of their purchases - maybe that is what is happening.
a knowledge-based economy is emerging, we have
to understand what knowledge IS.
We have to answer knowledge about WHAT?
If it is to be a knowledge worker economy,
we have to
understand the values and motives of knowledge
workers. Where are the signs of this? Are
we building a knowledge
economy or are we using the latest knowledge to
pump the old economy into a frenzied state?
are important questions. Questions that each of
us has to answer. The existing industrial
is a tremendous tool [link].
It amplifies individual human capability. It is
not something removed from human action - it is
not a given. It is a TOOL that we are building
- and using. It can create and uplift - or destroy.
purchase is a vote in the most democratic system
ever devised. How do you VOTE? Polls indicate
a great gap between the values people say they want
and what the actually vote for in their
isolated economic decisions. Why is this? Is there
some greater wisdom, not clear to us, working its
way or is this merely the expression of the old
are two interwoven but essentially different kinds
of questions to be considered. First where is this
economy going (the sum of all the present choices
being made), and secondly, what definition can be
made that will give awareness and direction to the
economy (the context of future choices). An economy
cannot be controlled. It can be given a model,
a name, a sense of awareness that provides
a measure of coherence to it. The economy, at any
given time, is made up of facts. These facts, however,
do not predict nor totally constrain the path going
forward. Peoples sense of the future is a
major aspect of the choices they make and, therefore,
how the economy sums it all up. The resulting economy,
then, effects how people think about the future.
How people think about the future has profound impact
on the economy via the way they vote day-by-day.
This is a much deeper cycle than is commonly understood.
It forms one of the major dynamics of a modern economy.
social dynamic is an extended dialog we all have
together. At any given time, it is important to
look at the messages we are sending ourselves. These
are Meta-Programming messages. Social leadership
be it from government, business, media, the universities
or religion helps shape this feedback. Now, the
Internet, itself, plays an increasingly larger role.
There does not seem to be great awareness of how
this process plays out.
the question is what MEMES are important
to the facilitation of a more healthy economic environment.
Its the economy, stupid! is certainly
not one of them. What messages are businesses putting
out - not only by what they are doing - but
by how they frame their actions by their public
statements? And, is there integrity in this - or,
merely PR? A large California energy utility handing
out large executive bonuses one day then declaring
bankruptcy the next is certainly not the kind of
message that is required - unless, of course, you
support a social policy of grab what you can get
no matter the consequences.
never finished this piece in 2001. My intention
was to go on and talk about the DESIGN
the idea of Right Livelihood which is a Buddhist
concept and one that Richard Goering and
I developed in DESIGNING CREATIVE
FURURES in 1979.
was not happy with the factors which were
driving the economy then - I am still not
the time this piece was started, I was doing
the Capgemini/EY dnaDipp events and, later
the year, the
of Tomorrow event, with Gail in August,
for the WEF in Geneva. It was shortly thereafter,
while I was in
Holland doing the European dnaDipp,
end of the .com Tulip Craze plus the fallout
9/11 hit the economy and our cash flow fairly
hard. We lost a large NavCenter project in
September of 2001 [link] and
closed the Palo Alto knOwhere Store early
in 2003 [link].
of this changed my mind about the economy
of the 90s nor am I impressed with the war
economy that is now emerging. It seems
in terms of military gain for cost, long
term economic damage to our economy and The
US position in the world, bin Laden is winning
so far. This is a war of cultures and organizational
theories. I am not so sure it is a war of
opposing values - more that of opposing interests,
the early 60s, I was taught by Ayn Rand,
Nathaniel Brandon and Alan Greenspan the
theory of Capitalism based on the principles
of a free
economy. I thought this was a good idea and
still do. I would like to see it tried some
time. I believe a free market is the most
democratic institution humans have so far
devised. I do not believe that the results
are always the best. They do reflect values.
And, people can hold poor ones. In a free
economy based on proper rule of law, that
is their right. It is also a good thing to
have vigorous public debate on these values
and on the choices that the “votes” in
the market place reflect. Real debate is
- we have loud assertions and spin. In another
time and place it would be called propaganda.
in order to finish my thesis about economy
and life, I have decided to leave the words
written in 01 as they were with minor edits
and to continue annew, below. The philosophy
remains the same - the context is different.
The intent to find an economic theory and
create an economic practice that serves life
- ALL life including Gaia - is also
unchanged, even reinforced by recent events.
basic point is that confused ideas, unrealistic
“values,” and a distorted practice
of Capitalism have created what I call UpSideDownEconomics [link] which
lead to a number of serious market distortions
and dangerous results
I do not believe that markets are always somehow
magically right in the sense of goodness. I do
believe they are remarkably efficient decision
and selection mechanisms and, when truly free,
democratic - in an educated society without too
great a disparity between income and wealth levels.
Free markets, while not perfect, are the fairest
and most efficient socal architecture humans have
as yet derived. I do not believe, however, we should
markets any more than a carpenter should hang a
on the mantle [link] and
sing hymns to it. Markets
tend to reflect, amplify the consequence of and
(as a positive
loop) held among its members. If so, then the ongoing
and accelerating destruction of our natural habit
to be seen
as a true reflection
of our global societies’ values as played
out through the media of global and local markets.
is the consequence of billions of small
every day. It also has to be acknowledged that
the level of depression and drug treatment for
adults, and now children, is somehow related to
the life-style choices made by both individuals
the population at large. How is it that the richest
society in the known history of the world spends
more on drugs of all kinds - legal and illegal
- then it does on education? It there a relationship
here? Is this a positive feedback loop? You decide.
I have been observing American society since WWII.
I have witnessed the birth and growth-to-dominance
of the consumer society and, with it, the decline
of virtually all measuress of happiness, community
and social stability.
Palo Alto, California
May 6, 2001
voice of this document:
INSIGHT POLICY PROGRAM
May 6, 2001
July 2, 2004
20020825.444492.mt 20050702.231209.mt •
this document is about 30% finished)
Taylor 615 525 7053
Matt Taylor 2001, 2002, 2005