|This is the first of a series of articles discussing some of the remarkable ideas in a new book called The Global Ideas Book. The book, with a forward by Charles Handy (pictured right) is the brainchild of the UK-based Institute for Social Inventions, and is a compendium of some of the 4000 ideas in the Global Ideas Bank, ideas and germs of ideas submitted by the public for free use and development by others. Described as “part suggestion box, part ideas network and part democratic think-tank”, what impresses me about this collection is the sheer ingenuity of the ideas. Thanks to Nick Temple, one of the book’s editors, for bringing it to my attention. You can buy the book here.
One of several concepts that grabbed my attention immediately is described by its inventor, Bradley Hall, as “A currency created to limit people’s exploitation of the environment”. I had been kicking around the idea of putting some constraint on the ability of the very rich to spend profligately without restriction, and Bradley’s proposition meets that difficult need and more. Basically how it works is this:
As with any novel idea, its development will need a lot of thought and planning, to minimize bureaucracy (much of it could be done electronically) and minimize the risk of fraud (people buying in the ‘black market’ from vendors who don’t charge ESC). But what appeals to me about it is its extraordinary simplicity and egalitarianism. The fact that it challenges the presumption that money gives you the unlimited right to cause environmental or social damage is just the icing on the cake.
What do you think? Are there some other obvious problems with the idea? Any thoughts on how to implement it and avoid bureaucracy and fraud? Would you welcome it or see it as another undesirable imposition of government?
I’ll be describing some other ideas from the book on these pages in the coming weeks.