Just as we are realizing the necessity to shift our way of doing things, new technologies are emerging to empower us to make the changes we seek. With the launch of bitcoin, the first well-known cryptocurrency, came the infrastructure of blockchain, a decentralized, digital peer-to-peer platform for tracking exchanges of value. While none of the cryptocurrencies have the distinction of being partially represented by actual material, like the less than 10% of Federal Reserve Notes that are actually cash, similarly to how the other 90% of what we consider legal tender, as digital entities, they still seem to have the capacity to be used as money.
As Kate Raworth explains in Doughnut Economics, blockchain’s name “derives from the blocks of data – each one a snapshot of all transactions that have just been made in the network – which are linked together to create a chain of data blocks, adding up to a minute-by-minute record of the network’s activity. And since that record is stored on every computer in the network, it acts as a public ledger that cannot be altered, corrupted or deleted, making it a highly secure digital backbone for the future of e-commerce and transparent governance.”
Realizing how inefficient many institutions have become in an age where children have more daily access to digital technology than their parents even dreamed of, the idea of blockchain is to replace these “institutions with technology that can do the job better and empowers individuals,” writes Alan T. Norman in Blockchain Technology Explained. “If you could create a way for strangers to trust one another without needing a bank or a government as an intermediary, you’d tackle one of society’s biggest bottlenecks.”
But it won’t just be bitcoin and the US dollar that will be used to advance our economy. Although they have both proven that they can exist and thrive as virtual currencies with no inherent value, they have also paved the way for other virtual currencies to find their way into the market. In The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology, William Mougayar estimates that dozens of commonly used, global virtual currencies will contribute 5 trillion dollars to the economy and represent 5% of the world’s 100 trillion dollar economy in 2025.
Many, like Don Tapscott, author of Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business and the World, believe that “blockchain technology could be an important tool for protecting and preserving humanity and the rights of every human being, a means of communicating the truth, distributing prosperity, and — as the network rejects the fraudulent transactions — of rejecting those early cancerous cells from a society that can grow into the unthinkable.”
Although blockchain may very well be a pivotal piece to the puzzle of how we recreate our economy, it is important to realize that, like money itself, it is only a tool. What matters is not so much what we use, but why and how we use it.
The vision for what I call ABC2 Economics is that it will allow people to direct the flow of their currency to fluidly support the Artistry of life. It is done through the Business of good service, by practicing responsible Citizenry, and creating a more sustainable Community with a higher quality of life. Artistry. Business. Citizenry. Community. These are the why’s and how’s of ABC2 Economics.
It is estimated that 91.5% of the planet’s money supply is now digital, and no longer cash and coin as in previous generations. What if we were to develop an algorithm to channel digital monies used in transactions into portfolios based on preset directives? Theoretically, every transaction should address the costs of the Artistry and Business expenses required, as well as the Citizenry of investing in the infrastructure that allows the transaction to happen, while also supporting the surrounding Community by empowering charitable endeavors and social profit organizations.
In order to put ABC2 Economics into practice, people should be able to create their own “WeBMaP”. A webmap will empower people to create an online profile and participate in the market as artists and people of business. It would also allow them to choose which governmental endeavors, non-profit organizations, and other charities they want to support, making them less reliant on the wastefulness of bureaucracy and more resilient in creating the kind of world we want to live in.
To find our balance with the natural world and become people of the new Renaissance, we need to move into the Revolution of Wisdom and pay attention to what Mother Nature has been doing for the last several eons. It will serve us well to realize the alignment between the balanced elements of the natural world – water, air, earth, and fire – and the elements of human individuals – heart, mind, body, and spirit. Through this realization, we can better recognize the societal elements of Artistry, Business, Citizenry, and Community as ABC2 Economics can help us find our balance as both individuals and a collective.
Individually, ABC2 Economics is designed to draw our attention toward our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health. It is also designed to bring structure to the collective, helping us to distribute the energy we use wisely among participating members in order to develop a healthier economic flow than the childish winner-take-all scenario that has so often hindered true economic development in the past, and continues to do so in the present. Through our community efforts, we can eliminate the suffering caused by our activities and endeavors, past, present, and future.
In his 1996 report for the Federal Reserve Bank, “Money is Memory”, Naravana Kocherlakota noted that, “Since the dawn of its use, money has been used to account for things, a way to remember who did what, who contributed what, who used what, and who used whom.” Basically, after all of the fuss that we make about money, as Kocherlakota went on, “if we account for the fact that money itself is useless, monetary allocations are merely large interlocking networks of gifts.”
While this may stand in contrast to the proponents of commerce and their absolute adherence to the mystical “free market” and tit-for-tat necessities it seems to require, the fact that it is described as “free” regards even the market itself as some sort of sacred gift. For those fortunate enough to find a place in the market where they can do what they love as purposeful service to the world, the joy of the economy isn’t the money they make, but the gifts they’ve been given and get to share. However, a great many people have to work very, very hard to participate in the “free” market without feeling like a slave to it.
Would that we could remember the gift that life is and base our economy on that principle instead of viewing life as debt. Although a relatively small portion of the population is insecure enough to have hoarded more than their necessary share of the wealth humanity has created, their insatiable hunger for more has drawn a large portion of that wealth to them. Imagine if the rest of us were to use what’s left to create a system based on the concept of the gift in order to create an economy of true wealth, beyond the numbers we use to represent it.
“In the beginning was the Gift,” says Charles Eisenstein in Sacred Economics. “We are born helpless infants, creatures of pure need with little resource to give, yet we are fed, we are protected, we are clothed and held and soothed, without having done anything to deserve it, without offering anything in exchange. This experience, common to everyone who has made it past childhood, informs some of our deepest spiritual intuitions. Our lives are given us: therefore, our default state is gratitude.”
In our technologically advanced modern society, for the first time in known human history, we stand poised to develop an economy that can work for everyone and truly represent democracy. This is where ABC2 Economics seeks to be of assistance.