Knowledge – the Magic Pudding of Wealth

Magic Pudding  – A peculiar thing about the Puddin’ was that, though they had all had a great many slices off him, there was no sign of the place whence the slices had been cut.
“That’s where the Magic comes in,” explained Bill. “The more you eats the more you gets. Cut-an’-come-again is his name, an’ cut, an’ come again, is his nature. Me an’ Sam has been eatin’ away at this Puddin’ for years, and there’s not a mark on him.”

Economics is the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth. We use knowledge to turn resources into wealth. The resource might be our labour, or it may be something physical like soil. It is the know-how or knowledge that turns these resources into wealth.

We reproduce knowledge for almost zero cost and in reproducing it make it better. Knowledge is the magic pudding of wealth. The more we use it, the more we have. The more we have, the wealthier we become.

Traditional economics tries to limit knowledge to make it valuable.  It does this with patents, trade secrets and copyright to restrict access. Making it scarce encloses it and makes it private property. Unfortunately limiting access reduces its value as its value comes from using it.

The building block of knowledge is information. Information is data that informs or data with meaning. In computing, meaning is given by applications. Applications themselves are information. Many different applications can have the same meaning. Using this property provides a method to make meaning public while enclosing an instance of the knowledge for the purpose of transfer of value. The approach is commonly called branding, and we can use software to distinguish brands and so give value to brands. Brands are a trusted implementation of common knowledge.

When we sell a branded product value is exchanged. A portion of the value transfers to the owner of the brand. In ordinary commerce, money is transferred to the seller. The seller then transfers money to the brand owner or another intermediary. In the software world, money can be moved from the buyer directly to the brand owner. Removing the repeated transfer of value lowers the cost as there are fewer steps in the value chain.

An Example of the Fresh Milk Value Chain

A farmer produces milk. A tanker collects the milk and delivers it to a processing plant. The processing plant puts it into milk containers, and it moves to a wholesaler. The wholesaler transports it to a retailer who sells it to the end consumer.

At each step, there is a minimum value that each party requires to cover their costs. All parties specify this and agree at the time they handle the product. When the consumer pays for the product, the proportion of the amount received is divided according to the average value set by each party in the supply chain and transferred directly to the parties.

For the farmers, their best interest is to have a high minimum value but not so high as to make them uncompetitive with another group of farmers. It means it is in the best interests of a community of farmers to work together to reduce their costs. They still compete on minimum price but are not penalised if the final price to the consumer is high. They compete because the next party in the supply chain takes the lowest cost suppliers first but pays everyone the highest cost.

For the retailers, they have less of an incentive to use some products as loss leaders, and they have less of an incentive to profit at the expense of their suppliers.

The value chain works together because they all benefit from higher prices.

Including Customers as Funders

Discounts can work as Rewards for Customers.  Customers pre-pay for their goods. This money goes to those in the supply chain who need the cash.  When the customer purchases goods they get discounts. This approach can build brand loyalty for particular products or suppliers or anyone in the supply chain.

Including the suppliers of Capital in the Value Chain

The providers of Capital should be part of the value chain. They can supply Capital at a minimum price and share in the upside and downside.  The providers of Capital are Savers. If a party in the supply chain uses Capital they share their income with the Savers.

Including Governments in the Value Chain

Governments collect taxes. They can specify the minimum they will accept but operate the same way. They can also, in some cases, become buyers of last resort. Products where the main resource is human labour are best suited to this approach.

Including the generators of new knowledge in the Value Chain

The Value Chain can include researchers, inventors, education services and research organisations. Research discovers a new lower cost way of processing milk. The creator says how much it has cost to create the invention and to make it work. If it gets included in a value chain, the members of the chain agree for the inventor to get royalties. Payments continue while the invention is maintained and improved otherwise there is a maximum paid from all processors after which the payments stop.

Payments from sales encourage the adoption of innovation and their creators. Linking payments across different supply chains lead to broad adoption.

The details of deploying an innovation will vary but the same principle of encouraging adoption of new know-how applies. Instead of trying to make knowledge scarce we make knowledge abundant so all share in the increase in value.

MediSave

MediSave is a proposal to evolve the current system to a more efficient, lower cost and flexible approach. It is a variation on health insurance.

A person who opts-in to MediSave gets a MediSave account. When they opt-in an amount is put into their account. The amount depends on their age and their existing health condition. Each year the government adds an amount to the balance. The government also adds an amount to a nominated emergency service site. Unused funds accumulate and increase at double the rate of inflation of medical services. People can opt to put in more of their personal money. The funds are only available for use with approved health and related services.

An individual may transfer funds to another MediSave member but may not receive any cash in return. If they die, their MediSave balance is inherited by other MediSave members. MediSave balances are never available for any other purpose than approved services.

The government runs the MediSave accounts for each emergency service. This money pays for unexpected life-threatening events.

When a person pays an approved health or related service the money comes from their MediSave account.  If a person runs out of MediSave money, they move back to MediCare and the public health system.

Submission to the ABS on Census data

The sad thing about the ABS data collection is that they could get what they want without breaching any privacy. They could collect information without knowing who the person is by giving the form filler their own copy of the data. The form filler could store it securely and privately in a place of their own choice. The ABS could pay for the storage and this would ensure that a person only filled out a form once.
If, in the future, the ABS wanted to get longitudinal data on the person they could ask people anonymously if they still had the data and were willing to supply it anonymously.
This approach would save the ABS money, make it easy for a person to fill out the forms, ease the collection of data between census, and enable the collation of other data with the census data as appropriate.
See an outline of the idea at https://kevinrosscox.me/2014/12/13/identity-by-presence-a-privacy-and-cost-nightmare/
See an outline of how law enforcement can get access to private data without using surveillance. The same principles can be used by the ABS.
https://kevinrosscox.me/2016/06/22/an-electronic-identity-system-with-law-enforcement-by-design/

Energy Rewards

Energy Rewards are a way for consumers of energy to fund the generation and distribution of the energy they consume. Rewards are a discount on future energy consumption. The size of the discount depends on the length of time held and the value of the Reward. Typically the discount is fixed, and the value of the Reward increases with inflation. They replace traditional loans and save the cost of interest. This saving takes the form of discounted prices.

Customers earn Rewards from their behaviour. The most common behaviour is the prepayment of energy. Others are off-peak consumption and feed-in energy from solar panels or battery storage.

Distributors issue the Rights to Buy Energy Rewards to all customers. Rights and Rewards are both transferable. The distributor runs a secondary market for both. Money raised from the sale of Rights or Rewards to non-consumers should be used to reduce any personal debt. The reason is that the discounts come from interest savings from utilising community credit created by the promise to purchase future energy.

Distributors will have lower churn as Reward holders get the best return for their Rewards by purchasing energy from the distributor.

Generators lock in distributors by selling them future production at a discount. The distributors get the funds by selling Energy Rewards to their customers. Generators of long-lasting renewable energy with low operating costs have lower finance costs and long-term customers. They become competitive compared to high operating generators of energy.

The total savings to the community of customers, distributors and generators is the cost of interest on traditional loans and the cost of inflation.

The cost of operating a Rewards system is the cost of payments paid with Rewards.

Existing generators of energy, grid operators and distributors can all use Rewards to replace loans.

 

Money is a Measure

Money is a Measure. It has no intrinsic value. But, we have turned money into a thing of value by defining it to have value. Making it have value is expensive. There is good reason to believe that the cost of supporting a token of money is more than it is worth. If we continue as we are our standard of living as measured by goods and services will decrease.

It hasn’t appeared to drop because we consume natural sources of value and do not replace them.

If we stop treating money as a thing of value then we reduce the overheads to operate the financial system by at least 90%.  Money markets will still exist but become less important and lower cost. Insurance will become less important and lower cost. Tax Havens will not save users from taxes.

How do we make it happen?

We can phase out money tokens with value by slowly replacing it with money tokens without value. We do this by allowing anyone to create money tokens and use them if they can convince others that tokens have value. Rather than leaving it up to society to agree to protect the value of money tokens we leave it up to each entity.

We do this slowly by stopping repaying debts with money that has value. We do this by repaying debts with goods and services. Any quick calculation shows that transactions using money tokens that have no value cost less.

What will be the effect on the economy?

There will be an increase in living standards as people move from jobs that protect the value of money tokens to jobs where they produce goods and services that others want. Countries will introduce a basic income, and we will see a more even distribution of wealth. But, we will still have rich people, and we will still have poor people.

To the population, everyday commercial activity will not change. We will see a stabilising of prices. We will notice a shift in the reporting of economic activity. The greatest disruption will be to the profession of economics. What economists do will change. We will notice the disappearance of hedge funds, and we will see shifts in the way we insure things. We will see an end to inflation of money. Goods and services will still have price changes and markets, except money markets, will continue, but with less volatility.

Central Banks will retain the role of controlling how much money the government creates. But, its primary job will be to ensure that money inflation is zero.

Won’t it be expensive?

The savings are so significant that the cost of the change is quickly absorbed. The savings are such that disrupted industries can have adequate compensation. We can afford to pay coal companies to stop mining coal. We can afford to preserve bio-diversity. We can make a sustainable world.

Evolve the Money System and Eliminate all Debt

The following is a paper written for a conference.  After finishing the paper and reflecting on its content I realised that the approach of harnessing the mutual credit of communities will inevitably lead to the elimination of all public and private debt.  It will not happen as a big bang nor will it require any agreement amongst communities and governments; it will happen because it is lower cost.  How much lower?  Add up the cost of all interest on all money plus the cost of inflation and you get an approximation.  It makes these savings because we can operate low-cost distributed financial systems and replace traditional money markets and debt.

Sustainable Investing – Self-funding community services with low-risk, low-cost, high-value investments

Kevin Cox – 16th August 2019

“Building the New Economy: Activism, Enterprise and Social Change”

Glebe Town Hall – Sydney 16-17 August 2016

http://www.neweconomy.law.unsw.edu.au/

Abstract

In Australia, it is difficult for members of a community to invest in local infrastructure. Recent advances in information technology provide investing alternatives that are low-cost, low-risk and high-value. This paper describes Water Rewards to halve the cost of Water Infrastructure while providing community savers with secure high-value annuities. Water Rewards reduce the need for water restrictions and involve the community in the sustainability of water supply.

Sustainable Investing

Sustainability requires investment. If each community supplies the funds to make its resources sustainable, the world will be sustainable. A community requires many resources. We need to sustain each resource.  Money is a resource. It too needs to be sustained.

Money measures the value of goods and services and links the value of different goods and services together.  Efficient use of money will drive sustainability. This presentation and paper describe how we can design money to ensure we have a sustainable water supply.  We can apply the same principles to all resources.  

Sustainable Money for Water

A water system requires investment in infrastructure to save or supply water.  The price of water is the preferred way to control the demand for water. Over time the sales of water must be greater than needed for investment in water services.

To be self-sustaining, the money we obtain from the sale of water must pay for the infrastructure to supply the water.  But, we sell water in the future and pay for the infrastructure today.  To make an effective, workable money system, money in the future, should have the same value as money today.  If we don’t do this, the cost to operate the money system will take away money from building infrastructure.  There is good reason to believe that the existing worldwide money system costs more to maintain than the value of goods and services it supports.

Self-sustaining money must have the cooperation of the population it serves, and so it must be fair and equitable in the way resources are distributed.  The current money system is not fair and equitable because those with money have access to more community water than those without money.  

For all these reasons we need a separate water currency for each community.

Water Rewards

Water Rewards is a currency for community water.  It looks like and operates like regular money, and the community will notice no difference in the way it pays for water.  Water Rewards are used to build infrastructure to either increase the supply of water or to save water.

Water Rewards come from the Water Authority. They issue every community member with the same number of Rights to Buy Water Rewards. Using these Rights community members purchase Water Rewards with normal money and get a high return on investment. The return is a discount on their water bills.  

Water Rewards and Rights to Buy are transferrable. The Water Authority establishes a secondary market for trading these products. This market will have stable prices and be liquid.

If water consumption needs to be restricted the price of water increases and low consumers of water receive extra Water Rewards to compensate for the price increase.

The Water Authority can issue more Rights to Buy Water than it needs. The extra money raised can be used for other community projects.

The funds to build and operate Water Rewards comes from the sale of Water Rewards.  Its introduction will not affect existing invoicing and billing but over time it will replace these expensive systems.

The recommended discount value is 10% per year, and the value of Water Rewards should increase with inflation.  This is an attractive investment as it is the same as buying an annuity that starts at any future time. While it is not used, it accumulates discounts at a fixed rate.  It is an ideal investment for superannuation and the Rights to Buy will be in high demand. If community members sell the Rights to Buy, or sell Water Rewards, the funds raised should go to pay off any private debt.

To introduce the system, a Water Authority should immediately issue enough Rights to Buy to pay off all government debt. Doing this will give an immediate saving of interest payments. The money saved is available to the government for other purposes.

Summary

The current worldwide money system is too expensive.  The way to reduce the cost is incremental with new distributed sustainable money to control community resources.  Each resource is different and with it money that reflects its value.  The implications for any society which adopts it are profound.  It is fair, removes much rent seeking behaviour, eliminates the time value of money, stops inflation, makes prices reflect value, removes both public and private debt and with it traditional casino like money markets.

 

An Overview of Promise Theory and Financial Systems

The Promise theory hypotheses concerns connecting autonomous objects. One hypothesis is that connecting many objects with weak connections uses less effort than using strong connections.

Applying it to financial systems suggests a low-cost way to exchange value to create the greatest total value. The approach applied to resources such as water, education, transport, companies, labour will test the hypothesis.

Systems consist of autonomous objects with peer to peer communication. Autonomous means that receiving a message cannot force an object to perform another action. We call this a weak connection. If a connection is strong then one object requires the other object to change in some way either immediately or in the future. With a strong link, the two objects become one for the purpose of the connection. Strong connections give us a way to combine many objects into a single object for a given purpose.

To combine objects with weak connections, we create new objects. Two objects plus the communication becomes a new object for the purpose of the connection. These new objects can in turn communicate. The new objects are small and take a little effort to maintain. A connection between the two new objects becomes a third type of object. These objects, in turn, can create a fourth object and so on.

We call each type of object a scale. At each scale, we can combine two objects into a single larger object.

Combining autonomous objects with strong connections takes effort. The effort required is proportional to the square of the number of objects.

Combining autonomous objects with weak connections takes less effort. The effort required is proportional to the number of objects.

Objects at different levels can communicate. Complexity increases but the overhead effort required is still linear.

In financial systems money tokens, that have a value, make strong connections when exchanging money tokens. When a money token changes value it affects the value of all other money tokens. The overhead cost of operating the money system is proportional to the square of the number of connections.

Instead of putting the value on the money token we can make the money token point to the goods or service or asset that has value. If we now exchange the money token, it still points to the object that has real value. A change in the value of the object has no direct impact on any other money token. We call this a weak connection. The cost of operating a money system with weak connections is proportional to the number of connections.

Money that the government creates points to future taxes the government will collect. This money is readily exchanged if the parties trust the government.

With financial systems using weak connections, our measures of value need not be monetary.

A financial system can have a combination of strong or weak connections. They are interchangeable. The estimated cost of operating the parts of the financial system that uses weak connections is less than 10% of the cost of operating the parts of the financial system with strong connections.

A Water Commons

Throughout history, societies have governed water as a Commons.

The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately.

Wikipedia

With modern communication and computing technology Water Commons can continue to evolve. The evolution covers all sizes of communities including whole of basin communities. It is recommended the AWA to investigate and trial, in partnership with communities, modern forms of Water Commons.

Trials will investigate Commons ownership using public trustees. Governance will include water users as well as water suppliers in decisions. Funding will be local via water incentive schemes.  Low users of water will have more opportunities to invest in water. Decisions on water allocation pricing and distribution of profits will involve the whole community. Funding for research and development will come via the Commons. Funding for wetlands and recreational uses will come via the Commons.

Cities can help support the Country and the Environment.

Water allocation will reward sustainable practices while using price to control consumption.