The Moneyless Manifesto

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7Wannabe5
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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

jacob wrote: DMP and the whole UK environmentalist movement (e.g. David Flemming, Lean Logic) are quite localistic (is that a word?) and community-oriented, whereas ERE seems to lean more nomadic and individualistic. ...

That's interesting to me, because I'm aiming my lifestyle at around the time just before mass consumerism entered the world; like a bit before plastics, but with some electricity and limited oil. Call it early 1920s level. I am, of course, being a giant hypocrite about it.
It seems like feeling like a hypocrite is maybe higher level analogous to feeling like an imposter.

I've been meaning to post this piece for a while. Toby Hemenway, late great permaculturist, writes about agriculture vs. nomadic lifestyle and also touches on theme of hypocrisy.
I remember telling a friend, “I know that all this schooling has bred me for it, but I don’t really want to contribute to this culture.” That has stayed with me. Sometimes I haven’t had the strength of character to stay true to that vision. Since those days, I’ve moved in and out of mainstream culture a couple of times. But this episode of nomadism has helped firm one thought: that at the end of my life, I hope I’ve done more to stop this culture of fear and create alternatives to it than contribute to it.
http://tobyhemenway.com/697-the-last-no ... e-of-fear/

Anyways, it seems to me that in addition to future/past, local/global, the knowledge/skill spectrum should also be considered. For instance, I have been looking over the entirety of the General Science standards that are to be taught/achieved by 8th grade, and I was noticing that there is great variation over historical time in terms of when Any Human as opposed to Every 8th Grader would have had knowledge of these standards. For example, on time chart 8th grade Physics would barely breach the 18th century, but 8th grade Ecology would be maybe only 40 years out-of-date, and, therefore, more up-to-date than the knowledge held by most of their parents' generation.

Another way this might manifest is the difference between "importing" a computer chip to make my greenhouse ventilation system "smarter" vs. "importing" a book on the topic of genetics in order to make my green pea breeding project "smarter." My eNTP ideal model would be inclusive of maximizing what knowledge/skill can produce within locality. For instance, why not build a foxhole radio using metal extracted on site via Primitive Technology methods, if you can? Why not build a solar cell breeder plant, if you can? I mean, I certainly can't (yet, likely ever), but I think it would be super-cool if somebody could.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by jacob »

I don't feel like an imposter but imposter is what is implied with the accusation of being a hypocrite.

Mark Boyle said something similar to Hemenway somewhere (book or podcast) about how it's could be seen as hypocritical to appear on a podcast arguing against the culture of podcasts or something to that effect. I've felt the same issue arguing against consumerism but yet having to invest (for now) in companies that promote consumerism. It comes down to a choice between absolute purity and effectiveness. I'm sure there's a pure/nonhypocritical solution but it would be very costly.

Another example is arguing for a return to foraging while eating out of the modern agricultural system. But the problem is that as long as the latter is in place, one can not rely on the former.

To see the challenge requires the listener to see the limits of present system, the future system, and the transition between them. What many people do is to use the accusation of hypocrisy to avoid questioning the present system.

7Wannabe5
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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

jacob wrote: It comes down to a choice between absolute purity and effectiveness. I'm sure there's a pure/nonhypocritical solution but it would be very costly.
Right. In fact, I would argue that it would be currently unsustainable because of "head tax" and/or necessity to compete at similar energy basis. IOW, it's related to function of currently still rising global GDP and global population and declining global resource base. Simple example would be my friend who attempts to run an entirely green lawn care service (hauls rotary mower and other tools around in bike trailer) not being able to pay the rent on his storage garage because property taxes went up. Part of what I was trying to convey in my thread on Renaissance Accounting is that in order to survive my self-employed friend will likely have to be less green businessman than he would prefer just like somebody else who is generating income from Index Fund investment. IOW, survival is impossible without "hypocrisy" whether it is manifested nearby/wider boundary or faraway/narrower boundary. Kind of the way I envision it is that there is a rectangle that represents area equal to "head tax to survive in 2020" and this same area could either be a ring of self-employment around your central circle home, or a cash-crop corner connected to an urban market with a rectangle, or a very thin long rectangle connecting a human brain to the stock market, etc. Obviously, Mark Boyle is currently paying "head tax" equivalent on his compound with trust created with monies earned in modern market.

Another example is arguing for a return to foraging while eating out of the modern agricultural system. But the problem is that as long as the latter is in place, one can not rely on the former.
Right, and, in fact, it would be impossible for all humans to rely on foraging at current population levels. I think Rob Greenfield expressed this very clearly in one of his videos. Intensive, very local agriculture is another matter. Possible, but would likely require something like 2 hours/day per human and great deal of extremely localized application of intelligence. "Copy" not even remotely good enough.
What many people do is to use the accusation of hypocrisy to avoid questioning the present system.
True. OTOH, not to be confused with what ENTPs do, which is to constantly argue (sometimes quite rudely/crudely) Prop A vs. Prop B (ingenuity vs. energy basis, self-employment vs. FI, local vs. low-tech, ...) until they burn off all the coffee they imported into their system and fall over like exhausted toddlers or battery-depleted mechanical rabbits.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by black_son_of_gray »

jacob wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:57 am
I've felt the same issue arguing against consumerism but yet having to invest (for now) in companies that promote consumerism.
...but you don't have to invest in companies that promote consumerism. IIRC you've said that 1) you haven't ever drawn down on your investments and 2) that you have 50+ years of expenses (enough to last the rest of your life even with no real return). So if you really disagree with consumerism, there is no reason why you, Jacob, can't make ERE work with TIPS or municipal bonds or microlending or any number of other investments. Hell, you would almost certainly be fine just eating inflation with the money under your mattress, given that you haven't even needed to draw on your investments (i.e. you have demonstrated that you don't even need to generate a return). So once again, why do you need to invest in companies that promote consumerism?

And sure, to be fair, most people following the ERE message can't make that work for some reason or another. But that's on them, not on you. Also, yes, it would be a solution that is "costly" to you, but only in as much as you call the missed opportunity of making way more money than you already have and don't need is a cost to you. It seems like the cost would be almost trivial to your current and preferred lifestyle, no? And I'm not saying that you should have any kind of ethical position on whether consumerism is good or bad. If you don't really feel that strongly about it and/or want to invest in certain companies, cool. Although your semi-secret environmental unpinnings of ERE would seem to suggest that you do in fact care about minimizing consumerism.

I know that this post might read with an aggressive or angsty or personal tone. Jacob, please know that I'm just using you as an example here because you've set such a good one already. I have faith in your integrity - at least as much as I have for anyone I can think of. I'm just trying to push back on an idea here, and I think these issues ("purity" and consistency with our own ideals) are actually quite relevant to people who are pretty far along in their own journeys. Please excuse me while I advocate for the Devil. :twisted:

vexed87
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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by vexed87 »

@jp, thanks for sharing those interviews with Mark, having enjoyed 'The Way Home' I was really curious about how the cabin looked, and thanks to this thread I now know :lol:.
jp wrote:It was interesting timing for me because after I watched the Boyle video, family and health issues forced me into an internet diet for a spell. Boyle seems to thrive unplugged, but I have mixed feelings about it.
I've read other interviews, and also I think an article in The Guardian by Boyle and he he mentions how he initially struggled with giving up tech for his moneyless project, missing his parents voices on the phone, watching football etc were big issues, at least initially. I think with everything else in life, you slowly become accustomed to living in a certain way, including being largely estranged from close family. For all my own family's faults, I don't think I have the heart to do it personally. He's clearly committed to this ideology. I have a huge respect for Mark, his cabin is a huge achievement. I can only imagine the sense of achievement you get from settling in for the night in that place.

I don't know if anyone else clocked the brief shots of Mark's bookshelves in the cabin video, but I was particularly amused by the number of titles we both own in common. Clearly then it's no surprise Mark's lifestyle resonates with my own flights of fancy. Sadly there are just too many ties to my own little part of England to up sticks and join this intentional community. I'm sure these guys will fair much better than residents of major cities here in England, but I hope my own market town might fair a little better as society's climacteric(s) begin to unfold. Maybe that's just wishful thinking.

The hypocrite/imposter issue is something I grapple with internally a lot. Something impossible not to do when doing your best to live with feet in camps of the gift and market economy, the former massively overshadowed by the latter. Yet I acknowledge that's only because I willingly over complicate my life with wants that only the market can provide, for the most park they are perks that keep me comfortable whilst I work the 9-5, for now. Perhaps if I was starting life over again, before I met DW, had I learned about these guys sooner, I might have skipped past the quest to become FI and made a trip out there to try the lifestyle on for size. Who knows how it might have panned out, but I know for sure DW is not going to be ready to try that kind of experiment, back in the real world, ERE style renaissance man lifestyle will have to do for me 8-)

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by jennypenny »

Hey Vexed -- Hope you're all settled in. :)

I dunno ... I get if Boyle doesn't want a smart phone or internet access because it's distracting, but if he misses his family, why doesn't he get a landline? I don't get the all-or-nothing approach. Don't get me wrong -- I love what Boyle's doing and I love that he's honest about what works and what bothers him. It's just that some of the biggest challenges could easily be solved without giving up on the whole thing.

Like when he talked about how people used to hand-wash clothes together as part of what's wrong with washing machines (because they cut into social ties). Why not share a washing machine with neighbors or use the local laundromat to make it a social occasion again, albeit with different technology?

I guess I feel like the strict adherence to self-imposed rules contributes to the hypocrasy/imposter issue. It also might make a person blind to solutions that would be beneficial in other ways, like building more social capital* by speaking with your family more often or sharing chores/tools with neighbors.

Ugh, I hate that I sound like I'm shitting on Boyle. I'm not -- I've read all of this books (and this one twice). He one of my favorites.


*which my recent research indicates is the biggest key to well-being and true resiliency

vexed87
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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by vexed87 »

Yes we are thanks, very much looking forward to experiencing our first spring in our new surroundings!

From what I can gather, he seems to draw a line (with a few modest exceptions*) at technologies that could be produced within constraints of social complexity achieved by a small medieval settlement**. Adopting certain modern conveniences means accepting the creeping dependence on centralised, hyper-specialised social structures. Part of the charm of Boyle's lifestyle, at least for me, for the most part he uses tools and materials that any human could learn how to produce themselves using only the resources of the landscape around them, of course it helps when trial and error is removed from the equation and that knowledge is passed down through generations. No one can expect to go out into this alone with no experience and come out the other side alive, and so a certain amount of hypocrisy is to be expected.

Washing machines and landline telephone communication systems could not really be achieved without dependence on motors and electric generation, that puts these tools out of reach of our indigenous Celtic predecessors. I wager that most of our more advanced technologies could never have been achieved if it were not for the time freed up and the resources available to the financially independent (enjoyed in part by socially unjust levels of wealth inequality brought about by hyper specialization and land enclosure.) It's not to belittle, or criticize, just pointing out a common theme. It's no coincidence that great discoveries, inventions and philosophies tended be achieved by individuals belonging to the wealthiest of social castes. It's much easier to work on these projects when you have significant resources to hand and don't have to worry about basic subsistence. Although a lack of free time admittedly is really a problem of settled societies, suffering from many self induced progress traps and intermediate economies (see Lean Logic entry, or story of pots). We can see Boyle has a great deal of free time on his hands, so the celts must have got some things right.

Eliminating and finding ways to live without these technologies in some ways becomes as much about social justice as it does for causes such as averting personal contribution to catastrophic global warming. I mentioned Boyle's bookshelf in my last post, did you spot John Zerzan's 'Against Civilization'? Zerzan has quite radical views on technology, domestication, hyper-specialisation and hierarchy in human society, but at it's core is an understanding beyond a certain threshold, technology that requires specialized knowledge is a driver of social inequality, and leads to domination of people, the landscape and other lifeforms. I think Zerzan's ideas go a long way into describing the roots of our dominant culture's problems. If you've not read any of Zerzan's work, I strongly recommend Against Civilization as a starting point, perhaps it will help you understand Boyle's reasoning for picking and choosing technologies a little better. Of course, Boyle doesn't go as far as Zerzan advocates, but then again, nor does Zerzan, as only a certain amount of independence from the system can be achieved unless society goes along with it also. No man can be and island, etc etc.

*I noticed flannel shirts, jeans, various bottles of booze, printing pressed books, pencils, glass windows, industrially farmed and milled flour. I think these concessions are reasonable, he mentions his 30 year plan is to eventually eliminate many these 'hypocritical' wants, it's not exactly fair to judge him on this, because as I mentioned, society has to go with us, and townsfolk have largely lost the skills that met these needs before. It's not like any of us here have been taught as children how to produce vellum, or write with a quill and ink. It does not makes sense either to want to unlearn germ theory, or remove the benefit of a little natural light from one's shelter, so some 'technologies' or knowledge should rightly stay, as they can be practiced on a modest scale, until such a time that local competence is restored.

**Medival societies incidentally never overshot their ecosystems (at least to the magnitude of the Mayans, Romans and modern Westerners). For all their faults, they rarely left a mark on the earth, and they never turned the dial on CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. It's part of the reason we know so little about them, the majority of what they used or owned was organic and has now mostly rotted away. There were no nuclear waste, landfill sites or plastic pollution problems.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by jacob »

https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Fall-Americ ... 691175802/ has a good description of how technology and economy has influenced the American household in terms of what goods (and bads) people had access to. Based on that, Boyle appears to have settled on around 1820ish or just after the Napoleonic wars where regional travel was possible and the world was connected but before participating in industrialization became practically mandatory.

This seems no different than the Amish having decided to lock the technology tree down at around 1910 in order to optimize their desired culture. In that regard, "cheating" or making exceptions would defy the purpose. It's not an arbitrary rule. Having a cell phone would ruin the anticipation of a letter for example. It's not hard to see how much the ability to email has destroyed the ability to write a good letter, for example.

On the flip side, I don't see why there should be a hard rule against "limited trading" with "outsiders" just because the "outside" has changed and is now 200 years ahead. This explains why there are perfect bound books on the shelves instead of something that came out of the local printing house---because the latter no longer exists. Ditto jeans instead of a pair of locally procured breeches. Making those substitutions are immaterial because both books and pants existed in the designated era. Phones and airports did not.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by vexed87 »

Interesting that you arrived at 1820 whereas I pegged him at medieval :lol:, I guess I rushed my thoughts through a little, but yeah, that's a fair assessment, the the iron stove is clearly much later than medieval. Doh.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Drawing the line in the sand at some arbitrary year does not make much sense to me since there has been a great deal of contingency in the history of human invention and knowledge acquisition. Also, although I do very much like Boyle, he seems very NF to me. He is very much concerned with how not using modern technology alters his perspective and emotional state. So, although it would be remotely possible for him to, for instance, build a foxhole radio using only native, local materials and the knowledge to be found in an early 20th century pamphlet, he does not make any such attempt. IOW, he is more concerned with aesthetics than exploring the possibilities of closed-loop eco-tech.

Since I am now theoretically teaching 8th grade science to national standards, it is becoming pretty clear to me that "lazy" is pretty much the only justification for any of us not knowing how to make early 20th century technology from scrap materials. Scrap materials are the reality of the future. For instance, we are already at peak steel, because it is cheaper to recycle than to produce. Another example of what I mean would be that you don't need a modern semiconductor industry to understand logic gates and make use of them in, for instance, an irrigation system for your garden. I mean, a lifestyle that includes two hours devoted to tantric massage each day does seem very inviting on one level, but artificial/arbitrary limitations are not well tolerated by the eNTP soul.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by Jin+Guice »

I think it makes sense for individual people to make and follow specific rules that are interesting to them. So Boyle can decide no tech after X year; however, he defines that. If it's just him or just a very small community the results and insights will be interesting. It doesn't make sense to design a system for a large number of people based on an arbitrary set of rules that don't conform to reality (like not accounting for existing technology and how it could be repurposed/ recycled/ scrapped).

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by jacob »

Just to clarify ... he's not going for a specific year and neither are the Amish. The year thing was from me observing that "whatever rules" resulted in a technology level approximating what was "normal life" in year X(*). Of course socially, it would be a bit different since they're both surrounded by people following 2020 rules.

(*) Similar to how the ERE forum rules results in a level and form of discourse representative of how it was to be online in 1992.

7Wannabe5
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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I was trying to figure out how many energy slaves Benjamin Franklin needed to manufacture the first glass armonica after he invented it in 1761. I was also thinking about the fast food street stalls in Ancient Rome and the very popular coffee houses frequented by 17th century stock market jobbers.Image

My muddled point being something about historical era being rough substitute for population density, in spite of modern capitalist/optimist mantra along the lines of "Back then even the king couldn't own an i-phone!" And/Or this diagram.

Image

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by Jin+Guice »

I just finished reading "The Moneyless Man." It's an excellent account of Boyle's initial reasoning and his first year without money. I'd say it's required reading for anyone looking to go beyond Wheaton Level 7. Immediately after finishing the book I watched the video interview @jp linked towards the start of this thread. It's interesting to see his progression over the last 15 or so years.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by jacob »

@J+G - Yeah, I'm beginning to think that the somewhat vague Wheaton8 needs to be pushed up to Wheaton9 (or WheatonInfinity) and Mark Boyle, Rob Greenfield et al. should be inserted at the new W8.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by Jin+Guice »

@jacob: The question becomes what the actual end goal or pinnacle state would be? Measured in money, it seems like going moneyless would be the highest level? I don't think that's what it's really about though. How would one get to a higher level than Greenfield or Boyle though?

It's also interesting that all of the examples of possible Wheaton 8s come from, what I'll dub as the "vaguely permaculture camp." I'm surprised there aren't more from the minimalist and /or "nomadic forager*" (or as I'd call it "train person") camp. Maybe Suelo is in the nomadic forager camp?

*In terms of people raised in the Western world, I think this would look like living off of the excess of industrial society more so than actually hunter/ gathering from the land. I'd be surprised if someone wasn't attempting that as well.

Thinking about this, I'd argue that Boyle and Greenfield are at a higher level since they are implementing practices towards greater resilience/ sustainability and removing themselves from dependence on industrialization, while an extreme minimalist or extreme dumpster diver is still reliant on that system. Keeping the Wheaton framework we'd have to ask whether one needs to go through the minimalist/ dumpster diver stage to get to the permaculture stage.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by sky »

Medievel European cultures clear cut vast areas of forests to create fields and farmland. The earliest civilizations in the Fertile Crescent (Iraq) built highly effective irrigation systems that allowed for enough food production to build large cities for that time, but in a thousand years, the farmland had been contaminated with groundwater salts and was no longer fertile. Civilization tends to treat agriculture as an extractive industry, which eventually depletes the resources.

There is an alternative of local agriculture, but it will only support a limited number of people and the issue of land ownership and the real estate market soon conflict with the need for many people to have access to local agriculture land.

I consider personal success in care for the natural world while living in an extractive civilization to include:

Maximizing self production, in particular of high quality greens and fruit

Purchasing simple commodity items such as grain and legumes

Managing my home in an ecologically resposible way

Limiting my new purchases of environmentally damaging consumer goods and fuels.

In reality, I am, as always, a serious backslider who grew up in a time when horsepower was cool and fuel was meant to be burned.

I do enjoy and prefer the new lifestyle of gardening, no car, bicycling and walking, repair and DIY instead of new purchases. But once again, witness my intent but recognize that I am not yet close to living out my ideals.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by jacob »

@J+G - It was always an issue with the table in terms of "which direction" it should go. In taking something as complex as human living and trying to impose some "developmental ranking" to make a table, it is necessary to develop some measure and a way of measuring it.

There's a natural tendency, of course, to create this measure in a way that automagically places oneself at the top. For reasons having to do with the Wheaton-structure itself, it's also hard to see much beyond one's own level. This also explains why it kinda stopped at 7+1 levels.

Ultimately, I think "the measure" was one of one's efficiency of generating and controlling personal wealth---specifically one's ability to influence/guide one's environment/circumstances. By wealth I mean the kinds of "capital" described in the ERE book. In that regard, I would exclude e.g. the stereotypical 37-item digital nomad lifestyle minimalist because of how easily they're stymied without an income. That is basically, because they've substituted ownership "stock" for paying for a high throughput of "flow" from their external environment. E.g. instead of owning a washing machine, they pay for the laundromat ... so effectively, it's the same deal.

Nomadic forager is different ... but I think it again comes down to one's influence/power over circumstances. I think at least around here, it's generally understood that poverty doesn't have as much to do with money as it does with a lack of all sorts of other capital as well. It's not for lack of money but for lack of people, connections, opportunities, ability, ... so I'd be reluctant to include "train people" unless you're talking some kind of "gypsy king".

I think the "vaguely permaculture camp" is up there on the levels because there's a concern and control of one's systems. There's an understanding of multiple pathways as a solution to one's problem. In contrast I think the dumpster diver and especially the rookie minimalist approach is more about "taking things away" (sacrifice) than "adding things in". In that regard, I think minimalism/dumpster diving serves as a gateway ... it sharpens the mind when the consumer-pathway is eliminated. But ultimately, [permanently] tying one's legs up in order to get the arms stronger is not the optimal solution.

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by Jin+Guice »

@jacob: I was trying to use the archetype as representative of some individual who would emerge from each "camp." I don't think the average permaculturist would necessarily qualify as Wheaton Level 8 or 9, because they don't necessarily generate and control personal wealth. However, people like Boyle or Greenfield, who are exceptional in an ERE way, do.

The average permaculturist would have a leg up on the average minimalist or dumpster diver when it came to climbing the ERE Wheaton levels because of the systems thinking mentality and their understanding of resilience. My suspicion is that the average person who is into permaculture is not performing it at a high-level, because, it's pretty difficult. Minimalism on the other hand is less difficult, but won't necessarily lead everyone towards an ERE path.

However, I think that minimalism and the nomad/ dumpster diver cultures share a large deal with ERE and I'm surprised there aren't one or two well publicized individuals from those camps who are candidates for higher Wheaton levels.


Boyle and Greenfield have both largely increased the resilience of their systems through massive cultivation of social capital. Would they be a higher Wheaton level if they also had large amounts of financial capital (I think it's pretty clear that both of them could easily generate enough capital to earn 33x expenses, doing things that they both personally enjoy)?

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Re: The Moneyless Manifesto

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Greenfield gave away his accumulated financial assets in lockstep with reducing his spending and earning. I think this is interesting because it represents a balanced approach to assigning blame to consumption vs. production.

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