I’m perplexed when social activists scoff at the idea of needing money to make something happen. Where do they think we live?
Others I speak to get puzzled into inaction or apathy by the amount of money they think will be needed to make the RBE happen. I’m perplexed by these people too. Until I realize few people actually know how things go from “idea” to “overnight success” in capitalism. And make no mistake: we all live in capitalism.
Here’s why the RBE will not happen until the idea is “fed” money.
You need people working on it full time. I’m equally perplexed by people who think volunteers are going to make something as substantial as the RBE our global reality. The path to the RBE is easy. But it is complex. The path to the RBE must wind through capitalist society as well as the social paradigms billions of people have about society. Human society is full of people like you who may believe the RBE can be our reality.
However, it is overflowing with far more people who don’t believe the RBE is possible, who believe capitalism is just fine, who believe that while capitalism is terrible, it’s the best we have. There are far more people who would prefer to just sit back and watch a baseball game, reality television, or have dinner with their kids than even consider some new idea. There are far more people too busy with living, making a living, paying bills. Remember Joe the Plumber?
Reaching all these different people, in the context of a capitalist society, requires people working full-time, focusing all their energy on reaching these people. Volunteers alone don’t have the time, the energy, or the sophistication to make this happen, which brings me to my next point.
You need SMART people working on it full time. Hear me out. I’m not saying people currently working in The Venus Project (TVP) and The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) are dumb. The sophisticated nature of the transition path requires effectiveness at some critical skills. Promotion, branding, outreach, communication, design, leadership, salesmanship, persuasiveness, grace under fire are just some of the tangible skills. It also requires people who have a sufficient emotional quotient to operate with others at peak proficiency (see the Tuckman Model for more on this). Nearly all these people are already gainfully employed, they want to be, or they’re going to be.
They have mouths to feed, including their own. They don’t want to put their life on hold while working for free or meager wages when they could easily go out and get a good-paying job working for The Man. They may not like the work, but the work not only pays the bills, it leaves plenty for fun and leisure. If you want these smart people working full-time on the transition, dedicating their skills and aptitudes, you’re going to have to pay them. There’s something else pointing to why the RBE needs money. It’s a choice that must be made. The options are . . .
Fast, cheap, effective—pick two. Wonder why it’s taking so long for the RBE to happen? In capitalism, which is the world we’re in right now, you can’t EFFECTIVELY make something happen QUICKLY, on the CHEAP, let alone for free. Oh, don’t get me wrong, you can reach a ton of earlyvangelists by word of mouth alone. But if you want to reach Joe the Plumber, if you not only want to reach him, but you want to overcome his apathy, get him off the couch to do something, you’re going to need smart people coming up with effective ways to do that. That doesn’t come cheap. Money used well can (but not always) shorten the time it takes to make something happen.
You need great leadership at the helm. Not only do you need people with skills I described above in the trenches making things happen, you need a core group of people led by a really great leader, preferably the Servant Leader variety. That person must, among a large amount of other things, understand where things are going moment by moment and how they relate to the larger transition picture. That person needs to be able to lead a group in a way so that people don’t jump ship because of poor leadership style, communication, organizational stagnation, or what-have-you. That person must build a succession plan and a resiliency plan all while driving forward the transition plan. She must be able to read the global environment—the way things are—accurately and continually modify the transition picture to stay on course. And he or she must also be able to calmly, confidently represent the entire movement before a wide variety of audiences while honoring all people on the planet. It’s going to take everyone to make the RBE happen—Jew, Christians, Moslems, Sikhs, Japanese, women, young people, atheists, the one percent, conservatives, liberals . . . everyone! People of this calibre aren’t sitting around waiting for a phone call. Nearly all of them are already in action on their own thing, driving that thing’s success as a reflection of their passion, or they’re making millions leading large organizations.
You need resources. Our transition plan at Copiosis requires a tremendous amount of resources that will not be given for free. We’re going to need printing, IT services and equipment, pens, paper, musicians, actors, playwrights, stage directors, technical writers, editors, photographers, tables, office space, and more. As I have said on our social page on Facebook the transition to the RBE is SERIOUS BUSINESS.
Every business needs money.
You may cringe at the idea of business making the RBE happen. That’s your prerogative. What I know is that the majority of things that happen in capitalism happen because someone has a great idea, then creates an organization to make that thing happen. More often than not, successful things are made via commercial enterprise. All commercial enterprises are businesses of one form or another.
You need to convince those in charge. In my opinion, volunteers, mass demonstrations, passive resistance, and all that will in no way make the RBE happen, because to make it happen, you must convince those in charge (the 1%) to go along with the plan. Convincing these people is actually easy, but that’s another matter. The challenge with that “easy” task is it will take a LOT of money (but not as much as you think). That’s because part of the convincing means you can demonstrate that a sizable minority of the global population is behind you. You can’t get a sizable minority behind you unless you can reach Joe and Jane the Plumber. And you can’t reach the Plumbers unless you can catch their attention. And you can’t get their attention unless you’ve got something entertaining and worth their time, something proven. You need smart people with sharp skills to create something worth their time. …
Beginning to see the circular picture?
Is profit evil?
Before I get to explaining just how little money is needed to make the RBE happen, I want to address a knee-jerk reaction some RBE supporters express to me about business and profit.
Let’s talk bout what “for profit” means. It means the organization is organized to maximize a specific outcome in a particular way. That outcome is “profit” or, more accurately, net income. Net income is money left over after all accounts and expenses of running the business are covered, including taxes.
Just because an organization is organized for profit doesn’t mean it always generates net income, nor does it mean the company is inherently bad. Employee-owned, for-profit companies, for example, distribute all their net income to the owners (the employees). There are other for-profit companies that plow all net income (aka “profits”) back into the operation.
If you hate business because of the profit motive, it may interest you to know that “nonprofits” also generate net income. Many of them don’t because they’re run inefficiently, lacking the discipline of a business. Those that do generate net income use it to benefit nonprofit shareholders (the public) when net income is used to expand programs, add staff, and acquire assets. “Profit” isn’t negative or inherently bad. It actually indicates something quite valuable—that the organization’s leadership is running the organization (nonprofit or for profit) so efficiently that there’s money left over after all operations are paid for. That is a good thing.
It is my experience that for-profit companies are the best at efficiently using their resources for producing value for customers and shareholders, usually in that order. So to knee-jerkingly say “for profit” is inherently bad says more about the person having the reaction than anything accurate about what for profits do or what “profit” is.
Landmark Education, is a highly successful, global for-profit company. It operates quietly behind the scenes, with little fanfare. However, through its lineage Landmark Education has pretty much single-handedly transformed human relationships and boosted human potential since the 70s. People who have gone through their courses have literally changed our reality as a result of the “technology” Landmark Education offers its customers for a fee and at a profit.
The founder, Werner Erhard, specifically organized Landmark Education as a for-profit because he knows what I do—that it is the most efficient organizational structure for accomplishing a commercial objective. And since money pretty much makes capitalist societies go, all objectives are commercial.
Some RBE supporters and social activists “fighting” the status quo, argue nonprofits are the preferred organizational structure. I don’t understand why they say this. Because they don’t generate “evil” profits? But what about accomplishing the mission? Who cares if people earn a good living if they actually solve hunger, poverty, drunk driving, child abuse, or human trafficking, rather than perpetuating a bunch of jobs “addressing” these problems?
Name five nonprofits off the top of your head that have gone out of business because they have actually accomplished their social mission. I doubt you can. Nonprofits are woefully inefficient. They spend the majority of their resources on administration and overhead, leaving very little what’s called “programming dollars” to actually solve the problem the nonprofit addresses. Very few actually have viable solutions focusing instead on advocacy, treating symptoms of the problem, or making matters worse in some overseas nonprofit initiatives.
I make no apologies for Copiosis being for-profit for many of these reasons. My commitment as the founder of this organization is any net income will be celebrated, then used in a way that benefits the mission. That could be unique performance bonuses for employees, or increased spending for mission-oriented needs.
We’re going to need billions
Speaking of spending, let’s get back to the money. How much money will be needed to make the RBE a reality? It’s hard to say. Probably billions. But here’s the thing about this number, and many don’t realize this because they don’t understand how things get done in capitalism, and especially in capitalist America: You don’t need billions of dollars all at once.
Any well-run organization serious about making the resourced-based economy a reality will have as a main strategy becoming a self-funding operation. That means the organization will offer something to the public they are willing to pay for which perpetuates the mission (making the RBE happen), while generating revenue to run the organization. This is a tricky balance, and it’s what we have built into our transition plan.
There’s a chasm, however, that all young organizations operating in capitalism face, and that must be bridged. It’s getting from where the organization is now to the point where revenues from its operations sustain the operation. Usually in business, this chasm is bridged by investors. People provide money to the organization to fuel the business’s “start up” costs, in “return” for a share of the profits (there’s that word again!) down the line. The trouble with organizations like TZM, TVP, and Copiosis, is that most traditional investors aren’t willing to give their money for something which offers no share of the upside.
Did you catch the key word there? The key word is “most”. In reality, some people will make such an investment, with no expectation of a return other than the good feeling of having invested in something they believe is worth the money. Some is all you need. So the key here is offering these people something that’s worth their money.
I’m giving the keys to the kingdom here!
There’s another way to raise the “start-up” money that requires more effort. That approach requires going to everyday people, people who will benefit tremendously from the RBE happening and getting them to see and then believe the promise. Rather than asking a few rich people for a lot of money, in this approach you ask a lot of people for a little money. This bears repeating: You have to offer something they believe is worth the money.
At Copiosis we’ve set up a page on Patreon.com. We chose Patreon because it allows people to become patrons of the work. For as little as $2 a month, anyone can support the real progress we’re making as we head down our transition path to the RBE. That “real progress” includes seven projects in the works in the U.S. that are demonstrating our innovation’s viability, i.e., proving it’s worth people’s money.
There are advantages Patreon has over other crowdfunding sites I won’t get into. The point is, our transition plan includes this site for specific, strategic reasons that support everything else we’re doing to make the RBE a reality, including everything in this post.
How much money? In the short term, defined as the first five years post-money (post-money means after the money is “in” the organization), about $5 million dollars. I’m laughing as I look at that sentence I just wrote. I’m laughing because I know already that many readers don’t have a clear understanding of what $5 million is. They think it’s a lot of money.
It’s actually not that much at all.