If I gave you $1tn dollars right now would you accept it?
Not a chance. Except maybe to use it to light my rocket stove with, or to redesign our social and environmental infrastructure in a way in which money was no longer needed or relevant. Almost certainly the latter.
Why not just earn money and give it organizations to help those in poverty?
That would be almost as ridiculous as a major oil company polluting the oceans and then throwing some of the profits to an environmental agency to attempt to clean it up. My perspective is that it is best not to create problems in the first place.
We maintain class structure within national boundaries, and we maintain it between nations. Without a poor, there can be no rich. If the poor were also rich –- as many of the rich pay lip-service to achieving –- the inflationary effect would be such that the rich would no longer be rich. And if all were financially well-off and educated, who the hell would wake up on a Monday morning and spend forty hours in a tinned bean factory? Who’d supply our supermarkets with one dollar pineapples in winter? You? Me?
Do you see money as ‘the root of all evil’?
No. First of all, I don’t believe in good or evil. And even if I did, I wouldn’t see money as such. It’s just a tool that allows humanity to benefit from economies of scale. But it has some seriously destructive and inevitable consequences, outcomes that have been exacerbated by the advent of cheap energy. And we need to be aware of these: up to now we haven’t been, and that is what I aim to bring awareness to.
Until we address our almost complete disconnection from what we now consume – something only a global currency allows us to achieve – then symptoms such as environmental destruction, sweatshop labor, factory farming and resource wars will continue ad infinitum, or at least until we, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “die of civilization”.
What books have most influenced you?
I read a passage from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet every day, and every time I see an extra layer of depth to it. I think that it should be essential reading in schools, but I won’t hold my breath. Other than that, I read anything from Chomsky to Thoreau, Hesse to E.F. Schumacher. Anything that asks me to question everything I’ve been conditioned to believe from the moment I was born.
Got a loan of a couple of Benjamins?
Er, no, but I could tell you how not to even need them.