A Twitter thread by ThiBaut.
“This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World” by Yancey Strickler (cofounder of Kickstarter).
Great read, highly recommended. My highlights:
Today the world is dominated by an idea: “financial maximization.”
The belief that in any decision, the right choice is whichever option makes the most money.
This is the default setting that runs much of our world.
Good and bad are too irrational for financial maximization’s Terminator-like thinking.
It only cares whether there’s “less” or “more.”
And it always wants more.
Financial maximization has trapped us with three assumptions:
1. that the point of life is to maximize financial wealth
2. that we’re individuals trapped in an adversarial world
3. that this situation is inevitable and eternal.
Our potential for a more generous, moral, or fair society is limited by the dominance of money as the be-all and end-all.
It puts a ceiling on what we can be.
Break free of the universe where an idea had to justify its existence based on how much money it would make somebody else.
The mix of population growth and resource constraints alone creates challenging equations without clear answers.
Yet even as the seas rise and species die, we continue to prioritize financial maximization.
We struggle to see how any other way of operating is possible.
We watch this car crash thinking we’re outside it.
Other People are the cause of it and they will fix it and they will suffer the consequences if they don’t.
We think we’re separate from it all.
Instead we blame others and pray for a Superman-like solution.
Hope isn’t a plan.
Financial maximization says that in any decision, the rational choice is the one that makes the most money.
This is the underlying “why” behind many of our choices.
The right-hand turn of modern life.
This is what it means to be dominated by a default of financial maximization.
It means viewing our society as a portfolio to buy, sell, and trade.
It’s like seeing the world through the eyes of a sociopathic oligarch.
Everything has a price.
By setting the context, hidden defaults make decisions for us.
We refer to this context obliquely as “how things are done” or “how it is.” It’s “what’s normal.”
The choice has already been made for us by someone or something else.
Going to the movies started feeling like going to the cereal aisle. A million choices, all kind of the same.
But what about Netflix or HBO shows?
They are made by newer players wanting to establish credibility.
They’re not financially but reputationally maximizing.
Pay raises became debt.
Why pay people money when you can create new money and make people borrow it with interest?
So we stopped getting raises.
We started getting credit cards instead.
The rewards of our economy are bypassing workers and going straight to shareholders on top, while the costs bypass shareholders and fall on the shoulders of everyone else.
That’s the Mullet Economy.
Financial maximization isn’t a plan. It’s a trap.
Our desire for satisfaction exceeds the satisfaction of satisfaction.
As we get more, we want more.
The case against financial maximization isn’t anti-money.
It’s pro-money. It’s just pro-people, too.
The more you have of something, the less more of it means to you.
You go to school to learn how to become very well off financially.
Nobody asks what’s supposed to happen after that.
By focusing on financial maximization we’re treating the second rung of Maslow’s hierarchy like it’s the summit.
But we have to keep climbing.
We take it on faith that by maximizing money, all else will follow.
Because money can be exchanged for other things, the growth of money grows everything else.
Money makes the world go around, but only at a fraction of its potential.
GDP tracks how much money is spent but not how or why it’s spent.
GDP sees spending $1,000 on a family vacation and $1,000 on a divorce attorney as the same.
Both are a thousand dollars of GDP.
It’s about how much, not why.
According to GDP, the ideal citizen would drive an SUV, have cancer (chemotherapy can be very GDP-positive), and be getting a divorce.
According to our predominant measurement of value, this would be ideal.
If we all lived this way, GDP would skyrocket.
As the force of financial maximization grew, society shifted from a focus on values (what’s right and wrong, what’s meaningful) to a focus on value (maximizing).
Our choices stopped being about ideals and became about money.
The measured surpassed the not-measured.
Value is not monotheistic. Value is pluralistic.
The point of money is to create the security to focus on real value in life.
Limiting the dominance of financial maximization doesn’t mean ignoring money, it means putting it into context.
Change isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon—and a relay.
Serious changes to address climate change will ultimately come from generations who have less responsibility for the crisis.
It’s easier to fix somebody else’s problems than your own.
Just because we’re not trapped in a mine doesn’t mean we’re not stuck. We’re stuck under the thumb of financial maximization.
We’re trapped by a limited perspective.
What would happen if considering the needs of Future Me, Future Us and Now Us became common and accepted?
All credit goes to @ystrickler. You can buy his book here: