Freedom is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. The positive aspect of freedom is responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

Viktor E. Frankl

Pertaining to yesterday’s post, I submit the point that (financial) freedom creates an additional opportunity for responsibility, a responsibility to create a better world in whichever way your particular talents and calling take you.

Sometimes comments are made to the effect that one is obligated to work for the system according to one’s abilities. Accordingly one should work as one still has the energy and ability. I say no, not if one believes such work is wrong. Sometimes it is necessary to get off of the beaten track and create a new one.

I realize that what I am about to say could cause some misunderstandings, particularly in a would ravaged by postmodernism. A world where even facts have been reduced to opinions and all opinions are considered equally valid as long as the opinion holder — yeah, these days it’s less about what you say and more about who you are — does not show any signs of hypocrisy. To go off on a tangent, in a world with no objective values, the only way to be bad is to be internally inconsistent, that is, to be a hypocrite.

So let me be clear. I do not think a better world is a world with a more perfectly manicured front lawn and a sprinkler system that is pointed randomly at the sidewalk (ARGH!). I do not think a better world is based on a better designed online shopping basket or building mansions with three carports for everybody to live in complete with 126 premium channels. I think that the accumulating that kind of wealth and actually thinking oneself rich illuminates the failure of the field of economics. It has failed on at least two parts. First it has decoupled the people from the natural laws of the world by building a superstructure on top of the real world. This superstructure is called the market. It is via the market that people can get by despite understanding only part of the world, e.g. how to build a shopping basket in javascript while being incompetent at almost any other aspect of living down to outsourcing the raising and educating of one’s children, like ants do. Second, it has meant that success has been based strictly on monetary growth and increases in GDP without accounting for the enormous loss of eroded top soil, the cutting down of old forests, the release of green house gasses to the atmosphere and the killing off countless numbers of species. Outside the bubble we live in, things are really not going that well. Modern success, such as spending six-figures a year or even half or a quarter of that is not a sign that you have finally arrived and made a killing in the process. Only the latter, literally.

It is not something that would make me proud.

Then again I am an idealist.

A better world is a world where people consider the impact of their decisions on other people than themselves. This goes for the present as well as for future generations. Where each decision not only considers the monetary and financial economy but also considers the natural, social, and spiritual economics of a decision. In terms of the spiritual economy I do not mean religion per se but rather what gives us hope, which is what makes us human and why we live It is a world, where when you acquire something you also consider how it was made, what impact it had on the natural world (was it built with nonrenewable resources, did it threaten the habitat of an endangered species, can it be disposed of in a manner that is safe?), the social world (was this built by slave labor or other forms of exploitation?), and spiritual (does my current action create hope?).

These questions could be ignored in the 18th century when humanity’s impact on the planet was still small. Now the impact is HUGE and therefore they can no longer be ignored, so think about them.

Originally posted 2008-12-21 20:52:12.