If one would be to chronicle the history of illegal or unfair use of economic practices, one would probably need to fill ten tomes of at least a thousand pages each. From rich to poor, almost everybody has, at least once, suffered due to our misshapen financial system.
There are many reasons for this, such as perfectly healthy and natural human greed^. The problem is that greed and other evolutionary adaptations have been allowed to spiral out of control by a broken educational system^. Insufficient education allows profit-seeking entities to exploit evolutionary weaknesses. They profit by making individuals invest into items and activities of no real value (no increase in happiness and no profit for the individuals or their families).
This social weakness has brought with it the perpetuation and success of a class of dangerous individuals^. People of otherwise great potential, but who are successful because of a dangerous disconnection from the society they should (as skilled individuals and leaders) be taking care of. These people only behave this way because it’s possible. They can (still) get away with it.
At the very core of economic unfairness lies the manufacture of money out of thin air. Or, more precisely out of paper and ink. Actually, in the Information Age^, money is made out of electricity (lots of it^). Cryptocurrencies, for all their rebellious hopefulness, epitomize the ridiculous of the times we live in: billions are created based on something as fickle as public opinion, unsubstantiated ideas and charismatic individuals (Musk, anyone?^).
The fact that money is fake has never been more evident than it is today. We’ve also never had more debt than today. Most money in the world is, actually, debt. It is an instrument of distraction that has been used masterfully for thousands (yes, thousands) of years. But that’s history and we shouldn’t let ourselves condemned by it. Let history be history and look towards the future. Besides, back when money was invented, we didn’t have the technology we have today.
We are fortunate to have evolved to a state of awareness that allows us to make some significant leaps forward when it comes to knowing right from wrong^. Economic structures that were inconceivable decades ago are now gaining traction. We have concepts such as ethical consumerism^ and ethical banking^.
Technology today, in fact, allows us to very accurately measure each individual’s contribution to society. And ethics today allow us to discern meaningful contributions from wasteful or even toxic contributions.
What I advocate is ethical everything. The implementation of such a system concerns the fusion between an ever-evolving ethical framework and a super-fragmented decentralized financial system. Let’s see what these terms mean.
The ever-evolving ethical framework
Society usually adapts to new ethical principles on a generational level. But ethics can change from one minute to the next. One of the catalysts of prosperity is a society’s ability to quickly adapt to changes in the way humans relate with each other. A social life with reduced friction ensures that individuals can channel more energy into constructive ventures.
The implementation of ethics into law is sometimes very sluggish. The economic system of the future, however, has to be able to adapt, sometimes in a matter of hours, to people who might exploit it. Think about how an antivirus company works. Once the company is aware of a dangerous application, they release a software update that allows their product to protect users from that application. The same can be done with all sorts of harmful social behaviors.
It is therefore imperative for our future financial institutions to continuously adapt and climb to a high moral ground. Having “Financial institutions” and “moral high ground” in the same sentence is almost laughable in this day and age; but things will change. The alternative is to continue living in a state of perpetual financial seizure where an ever-increasing number of people suffer during economic downturns.
The super-fragmented decentralized financial system
Through the use of cryptocurrencies, we can create a highly adaptable financial system. This would consist of a world-wide currency that would then split itself into regional (state-level) denominations, then city-state level denominations and then further down to villages, families and even per-individual currencies. The purpose of this fragmentation would be to drill down to where actual value is created: the individual.
All currencies would feed back into the planetary currency, a sum yielding the total value generated by the entire species. How such a hierarchical cryptocurrency system could be implemented is homework for those that are experts in this field.
The fusion of economy and ethics can be called econoethics. This could be achieved, for example, through the implementation of an ethical layer within the global cryptocurrency we discussed earlier. Such a construction can bring the concept of dollar voting^ into the foreground of our economic lives.
This ethical cryptocurrency would be both hierarchical, fragmented and subject to localized ethics transformations. This means that for a social structure located in a certain area, the currency’s development will be influenced (transformed) by the ethical principles valid in that area. Indeed, ethics should be culture and region-specific.
What this means, in practice, is that a manufacturer that produces a good that is considered undesired in a certain society will not make that much profit off of it. Or, citizens that have an important contribution to their surrounding society will enjoy better pay. In a society governed by different laws, roles might reverse.
Implementing such systems is not easy and would require a lot of testing and brainstorming. But make no mistake, this is already doable with today’s (primitive) technology. All that is required is some good will and the courage to experiment.
I have faith in the thousands of engineers, thinkers and tinkerers around the globe to come up with the foundations for a new financial framework; one that will give us a more transparent, cleaner and healthier economic development during the following centuries.