Friday, February 01, 2008

Am I a Socialist?

I'm known for a few quotes. "I'm not lazy! I'm a Personal Energy Conservationist" is a favorite of my family and friends. But, another of my quotes, "I'm all for socialism, as long as the government isn't involved."

I'm involved with an organization that seeks to reuse, rebuild, and recycle something. If it can be rebuilt or reused, it's virtually free. Basically, we're promoting the sharing of a resource. is an organization that seeks to keep items in use by sharing what you no longer need or want with someone who does need or want it. FreeCycle is how Free Geek acquires many of it's computers and computer parts. When Nancy and I put a stainless steel cooktop on FreeCycle, it took a few day, but someone came and got it. While we no longer wanted it, someone else was either able to use it, or recycle it.

We live in a world with a three tiered economy:
  1. First Tier is brand new items that are purchased.
  2. Second Tier is used items that are resold.
  3. Third Tier is used items that are given away for reuse.
Ebay and Craigslist are good examples of Second Tier economy. FreeCycle and Freegan are examples of Third Tier ecomony.

More people are turning away from over-consumption, wasteful living, and avoiding earnings through ignoring abusive practices. Some people are discerning about what they invest in, even when it means a lower return. It's simple not worth it to those people to earn money if it means the company they invest in provides a good return partially due to abusive business practices.

Some people even seek to practice living making as little income as possible. Another one of my quotes; "I've found the best tax shelter there is - Make less money." In retrospect, I wasn't too far off-track. If you can live well with little money, why bother with the pursuit of a higher income? Once you realize you don't need or want more stuff, you can easily lower your tax burden.

Making less money doesn't mean you promote or are even able to live a lazy-ass lifestyle. Quite the contrary. Living with less money requires just as much work as making more money. The difference is that the work you do is completely for yourself, your family, or your community. The work and labor you do to live with less money increases your independence from a job, a boss, even the utility companies and the government. Your sweat equity goes toward your independence, not someone elses pocket.

Living such a lifestyle comes with a responsibility to share. To make such a lifestyle work, you have to realize you can't do it completely alone. Even animals know they survive best in packs, herds, schools or gaggles. It requires the help and sharing of resource from others who are working toward more personal independence. It requires sharing your efforts and resources with them. It really is true; the more you give, the more you get.

Non-profit organizations, and even underground sharing organizations are the largest growing part of the US economy. No government organization needed. It's becoming more evident that The path to financial independence doesn't mean increasing your income. It means needing less income.


Julie said...

Excellent essay!

Danny said...

But, I still wonder if I'm a socialist.

Anonymous said...

No, you're not a socialist. You're a Thoreauvian. Congratulations! :D