The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 80
Island style

Having spent a week on the island I had new ideas about what my ideal home should be. The thought of a home surrounded by white sand, bright, clear, blue water and palm trees was my new fantasy.

It was this fantasy that persuaded me to walk into Edward’s office on the Monday morning to talk about starting the final project.

‘A sustainable world?’ he asked.

‘Exactly,’ I replied.

‘And by “world”, you mean?’

‘Ultimately the whole world, starting with a small town of course, and seeing how it goes from there. And it’s more than just sustainable,’ I continued, ‘I want it to be a pretty world, the kind of world you think only exists in fantasies.’

‘And you’re eager to get started?’

‘Yes. I’m keen to build a new home soon, and I figured, “Why not build my new home in a sustainable town?”’

‘Just so we’re on the same page here,’ Edward started, ‘Am I understanding you correctly, that we’re talking about the biggest project in the history of the World, ever?’

‘Yes.’

‘Well, look. I know how thorough you are, and I’ve seen how well your other projects have done, so can I presume that you’ve put a massive amount of thought into this?’

‘That’s correct,’ I smiled.

‘Shall we set up a meeting then, so we can discuss it with the rest of leadership?’ he asked.

‘Sure,’ I replied, ‘I can have a presentation ready by tomorrow morning.’

That night, Shelley and I worked together to gather my ideas to present to the others. When I’m excited about something I can work on it all night. This time was no exception. Shelley stayed up with me until 3am, and I finally got to bed at 5.

Twenty leaders sat around the meeting room table as I started my presentation.

‘If you could have the ideal home, what would it be like?’

I wrote down the suggestions as they were mentioned, which could be summed up in a typical expensive house:

A pretty house with many large bedrooms with en suites, extra rooms for games and hobbies, balconies with great views, a heated swimming pool, large garden with an entertainment area, a large garage and close to work. And of course it should be next door to George Clooney, or whichever other celebrity the occupant desired.

I stopped them, and thought for a while. ‘All of these ideas are already available,’ I explained. ‘Can anyone think up some original ideas of houses which don’t exist? Imagine you were abducted by aliens and taken to their highly advanced civilization. What kind of a house would you want to live in there?’

‘One that doesn’t cost anything’, Rupert suggested, at which point he received a few laughs, but I wrote down ‘free’ anyway. It was then that I got the interesting suggestions, self-cleaning, maintenance free, solar powered, dust free, fire proof, mould resistant and sound proof.

‘Which of these are impossible?’ I asked. The group remained silent. ‘Impossible’ was a bad word at BI, and everyone knew that. We were constantly reminded by BI’s bible that it was considered impossible to travel to the Moon until people actually did it. I continued to ask about the town they would like to live in. Edward suggested a skate park and Dave said that it should be at the beach. The rest of the suggestions were quite ordinary: ‘pretty’, ‘clean’, ‘with nature parks’, ‘safe and efficient transport’ and ‘free of crime’.

‘Once again you’re thinking inside the box,’ I stopped them. ‘Anyone have ideas for this town that have never been thought of before.’

Alice was the first to respond, ‘How about an automated postal system?’

‘How would that work?’ I asked.

Well, everyone has an in and out box, where they place post in and conveyor belts take the packages and deliver them automatically.

‘Very nice,’ I replied, writing it down.

‘If we could do that with post, we could also do it with refuse,’ Dave pointed out.

I wrote down ‘Automated refuse and recycling removal’.

There was silence for a while, and then Rupert gave another suggestion, ‘How about a free shopping centre’.

‘Nice,’ I replied. ‘Together with an automated postal service, that would be pretty cool. So, are any of these impossible?’ I asked.

‘The free things,’ Neil argued, ‘there’s no way things are going to be free.’ Some people gave him a look as if had done something rude, and others nodded in agreement.

‘When Adam and Eve did their shopping, did they have to pay for it?’ I asked, but just got a confused look from Neil. ‘Alright, let me start from the beginning here,’ I explained. ‘The story goes that Adam and Eve lived in a garden where everything they needed was available to them. At that point, everything was free. They then did something bad, so they were kicked out of the garden, and had to work for their food. By work, I mean planting seeds, and perhaps watering them. So they may have had to build a bucket out of clay, and fetch water from the river to pour over the ground where the seeds were. Today we have the technology to automate things, so, using machines, the entire process could be automated, including planting seeds, watering and harvesting. If Adam and Eve had the technology that we had today, they wouldn’t have had to work hard for their food, and could have spent more time with their children, and perhaps taught their son, Cain, a few moral values.’

‘So, why, if we have all this technology, do we still need to work hard or pay for things that we buy today?’ I asked Neil.

He was quiet.

‘When you buy something today, you’re paying for a whole bunch of unnecessary services,’ I explained. ‘It’s because the system is so outdated. You’re paying for the advertising of the product, the advertising of the shop, the cashier’s salary, the accountants, the shop’s insurance, the packaging on the product, the credit card company. Because of the system, jobs have to be invented that aren’t actually necessary.

Imagine a world where there is only one business.’ I drew a quick sketch of a tall building on the whiteboard and continued, ‘That business sells everything, and everyone works for that business. On top of that, no-one owns anything, not even money, so the business is more like a public library that lends you things. If you need a car, you borrow a car. A home is provided for each person to live in, but not to own. Food is of course different, because you can’t borrow food. So, anything that lasts is borrowed, and consumables are used and then recycled.

In such a system, any work done in a bank would no longer be necessary. There would no longer be a need for any kind of advertising or work related to advertising. There would be no insurance, since you don’t own anything anyway. There would be far less crime since there wouldn’t be anything to steal, and therefore less police. There would be no war, because that would mean the business would be fighting itself. That would mean that nothing would have to be spent on tanks, armies and nuclear missiles. There would be no reason for copyrights, and therefore all music, computer programs, videos and electronic books would be free. There would be no reason for patents, so any design could be used for free. There would be no reason to do the same work that someone else in a competing company is doing, since there would be no competing companies.’ I was getting excited as I was explaining the possibilities, but at the same time it was frustrating to live in such a silly and wasteful system.

‘My third wish is to live in a self-sustaining world, a world without waste, where only work that serves humanity is required. We may not be able to develop the perfect world, but the closer to perfect we get, the better. What I’d like to propose is to start by building a town from scratch which we design using the best ideas that we can get together, and run it using the best system we can imagine. We could put the BI office in the middle, and housing for all of us around it. Having such a system would be a prototype, and, if it works, we could build more towns.

In an organized world, with a logical system that serves everyone instead of just the rich, we could probably get away with working less than two hours a day.’

‘How would we be able to run this system of yours if the town is inside a country. Wouldn’t that mean that the town would be governed by the rules of the country, like copyright law?’ Edward asked.

‘That’s true,’ I replied. ‘Does anyone have a suggestion for Edward?’ I asked the group.

‘We could buy our own country,’ replied Shelley.

‘Exactly,’ I replied. ‘We buy our own country.’

I was expecting Neil to say something at this point, but it seemed that he had decided not to mention that it was impossible to do so. I wanted the group to think out of the box, and I was therefore glad to have the next question from Susan, ‘How much does a country cost?’

‘A country costs whatever the owner is willing to sell it for,’ I replied. ‘We’d have to contact the government to find that out.’

Neil raised his hand, ‘Sorry, are you suggesting we buy South Africa?’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘Lesotho is a good example of what I want. A country within South Africa’s borders.’

‘I’m not moving to Lesotho,’ Neil commented again.

‘I would not expect you to,’ I explained, ‘We’ll just be buying a piece of land near Cape Town, and permission from the government to be completely independent.’

I spent half an hour explaining the smaller details of the idea. Edward thanked me for the presentation and asked the group who was in favour of going ahead with the project. Eighteen of the group, including Edward and myself were in favour, and three against. I was glad to see such a positive response, but hoped to get everyone on board.

‘Why you don’t like the idea?’ I asked William.

‘It just sounds a bit too much like a fantasy,’ he replied. ‘I’m just here to earn a living. It’s up to the governments to solve the world’s problems.’

‘What about you, Ben?’ I asked the next person who was against the idea.

‘I agree with Will,’ he replied.

‘You do realise that if it succeeds you won’t need to earn a living?’ I asked, but both of them shook their heads. They were not convinced.

‘And you?’ I asked Jeff.

‘I’m sorry, Nathan, it sounds great, but it also sounds a bit too much like communism.’

The use of the word, ‘communism’ seemed to trigger an immediate reaction from a few members of the group, who suddenly appeared very awake and concerned. It had the same effect on me, because it was not something I had considered before. My idea seemed so unique that I had never thought of comparing it to systems which had been tried before. I pondered for a moment and then replied, ‘Yes, it does sound like communism.

Can anyone tell me why communism failed?’

‘I can,’ Jeff replied. ‘Communism is great in theory, but the reality is that people are generally greedy, lazy bastards. In communism, there’s no competition, no desperate desire to earn money in order to survive. Because of that, there’s no motivation, and no incentive to work hard and be innovative.’

I felt like my exciting plan had suddenly come to a grinding halt. Jeff was right, I had to be realistic and consider the possibility that people might just decide not to become doctors, and the entire project would collapse.

‘What do you guys think?’ I asked. ‘Would we be able to motivate people?’

‘Nathan,’ Dave replied, smiling. ‘We are legendary motivators. Just look around you. BI is the most motivated company on the planet, because we have the best system in place.’

‘We could use culture club to motivate and inspire people,’ Shelley suggested.

‘And we could always give incentives, like doctors would have access to new technology before anyone else,’ Edward added.

‘We could...’ Alice was about to say, but was interrupted by Rupert, ‘Tell them about Edison.’

The group quietened down, intrigued to hear what Rupert meant.

‘Thanks, Rupert,’ I replied. ‘This project is like a science experiment. The idea is to try various things, use things that work, and discard or fix things that don’t. Edison invented hundreds of light bulbs that didn’t work, and some that did. To the average person all of those light bulbs might have looked the same, but it was only small differences that determined whether the light bulb would last for a short while, or for over a thousand hours. After Edison, new light bulbs were invented that lasted even longer. Just because a system with some similar aspects has been tried before it doesn’t mean that we must give up trying.’

I looked at Jeff.

‘Okay,’ Jeff replied, as if I had asked him a question. ‘I’ve changed my mind. I’m in. Let’s make this happen.’

 

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