FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


WorldChanging offers this bit of "speculative fiction", set in the year 2030, about a growing sustainable-lifestyle movement called "Unplugging," rooted in "a combination of the economic theories of Mahatma Gandhi and the political science of Buckminster Fuller":

The core of [Unplugging] theory is that we can all live off the interest generated by our savings, or the profits from our investments, if we possess enough capital - and generations of Capitalists have dreamed of "getting off at the top" - making enough money to cash out of the workplace and live as they like for the rest of their lives...

To "get off at the top" requires millions and millions of dollars of stored wealth. Exactly how much depends on your lifestyle and rate of return, but it's a lot of money, and it's volatile depending on economic conditions. A crash can wipe out your capital base and leave you helpless, because all you had was shares in a machine.

So we Unpluggers found a new way to unplug: an independent life-support infrastructure and financial architecture - a society within society - which allowed anybody who wanted to "buy out" to "buy out at the bottom" rather than "buying out at the top."

If you are willing to live as an Unplugger does, your cost to buy out is only around three months of wages for a factory worker, the price of a used car. You never need to "work" again, although there are plenty of life support activities to keep you busy, and a lot of basic research and science to do. Unplugging is not an off-the-shelf solution, it's a research career!

The story, set as a futuristic news report, states that "the Unplugged have now reduced the GDP of the United States of America by 20% over their 15 year programme."