Bryden Allen's Website

Freedom Measures


“Freedom” is a wonderful subject we all like to dream about – but in practise freedom can be very dangerous. Thus – should all people have the freedom to take drugs as they like? So freedom is a difficult subject. Certainly there must be rules, which limit our freedom in what we can do with other people. We accept the sensible rules that we can’t murder, rape or interfere with other people without their consent. But, in previous ages, many civilisations have accepted that people should be free to make slaves of their captives and their children. We don’t accept this freedom now. But there is not much difference between a slave, and a servant who is completely dependant on one employer for their employment. There is only a very fine line between these two different conditions.
            The freedom that particularly worries me is that rich people are free to buy up other people’s land. And when this happens, the people whose land has been bought become completely dependant on the new rich owners for their livelihoods. This is the fundamental problem, which our capitalistic system refuses to acknowledge. But, unfortunately, the ownership and sovereignty of land is always a terribly difficult problem under any political system.
            So how to limit the freedom of rich people, who gain dominance over other people, is a horribly hard subject.

 

But there is one form of freedom, which no one should complain about. This is for all people to have plenty of free time to do what they like with.
            If we look at the animal kingdom, we see that usually the animals of the world have plenty of spare time to do what they like. Thus birds of the air sing away to their hearts content, while our land animals play, snooze or watch the world go by for a large part of the day. And primitive societies usually also have plenty of spare free time as well. But our current civilised societies often don’t have much spare free time at all.
            But this lack of free time most certainly does not need to occur. Over the past century our evolving science and technology has introduced many incredibly good new materials, devices and efficient machines to the world. If we used all these new facilities sensibly, then we could at least halve the amount of work we need to do, and so double our amount of spare free time. But this not the way our capitalist economy works. We “believe” in economic growth and this implies that our “ free spare time” must diminish (for the various reasons I gave in The Unstable Nature of Life). And this loss of spare time is certainly what has happened through out the world.
            But, if a society bothers to study this matter carefully, then this lack of free time need not occur at all. And then such a society can go forth and boast to the world as to how much spare free time it gives all its citizens. And this is what I want the various societies I have designed to be able to do. So naturally I want this free time to be measured and then proclaimed to the world. And then perhaps the rest of the world could sit up and take notice. (In my communities I make sure that the young people, who need to get work, can get this work. So I institute a rule that says that, when an older person has all the assets they need to look after their retirement, then this person can do no more work for money. Later, when this old person’s expenses have reduced their assets sufficiently, then this person can start working for money again. This simple rule means that young people without assets will always be able to obtain work.)

 

However, I have to admit, there is no point in proclaiming to the world as to how much free time you have - if you happen to be starving at the same time. So let us first consider facilities that all the citizens of this society should have before, before such a society proclaims how much free time they have.
            I think a society first needs to give all its citizens completely adequate: - food, water, accommodation, energy, education, medical facilities, welfare, communications, transport, standard manufactured goods, defence, law and good government. I think this is all a person needs. And then the rest of a person’s time can be considered to be free. In my societies, all these facilities can be given to its people, if all people work between 10 and 20 hour’s per week (and this figure includes travel time). So this would give all the citizens of such a society a huge amount of free time.

Now I know most people don’t want to sit down and twiddle their thumbs for the rest of the week. But all people can sensibly use this spare time in the ways we normally do. These are:
a)         Resting, reading, walking, thinking, dreaming, watching the world go by. (My dreaming is working out what I might like to do in the future.)
b)         Socialising in all its many ways;
c)         Promoting good health through exercise and sport (or helping others with sport);
d)         Following a person’s own particular interests e.g. performing, dancing, writing, painting, collecting etc;
e)         Travel in all its many forms,
f)         Helping with the various emergency facilities of the society e.g. fire-fighting, beach life-saving, first-aid corps, rescue services, etc.
g)         Helping with the defence of the society. Defence is similar to emergency. Thus no one knows when these capabilities will need to be used. And the people involved need similar general physical abilities. For the safety of a society, it is best if as many people as possible are associated with these activities. And being involved in these activities is healthy for everyone as well.
h)         Helping with the society’s research. This is what I would really have liked to do myself in my ample spare time. On several occasions, I have been hired to help with research. Now I, like many people, enjoy doing research. But I would far rather have done research in subjects I was really interested without being paid - than being paid to do work I wasn’t interested in. And if a society encourages all people to use their spare time doing research, then the people can choose to work on the subjects they are interested with the people they like. This research is also likely to be associated with how the society might be able to cope and expand in the future.
d)         Helping with any of the essential society activities I listed on the previous page. I know this help can’t occur in the current world. But this help certainly could occur if the government encourages such participation by people who do have the spare time.
            So there many useful and enjoyable ways that all people can spend their ample free time. I think this superb choice, which free spare time gives to all people, is what real freedom should be all about.

 

People would do all these activities because they enjoy doing these jobs and they have the spare time to do them. People wouldn’t be paid to do these jobs but they certainly should receive recognition for the work they do. Thus the hours, which people would spend helping with these jobs, should be recorded. And, when a particular job is successful, then the people who also helped can be honoured in some manner. So recognition rather than money would now be the incentive to help with these jobs. And for most people recognition is very important. A society like I am suggesting must take this subject of recognition very seriously indeed because it is by this recognition that people will help in the jobs where they are most needed.

 

This appendix is supposed to be about measuring these various attributes. So we now come to the question of how we can measure all this wonderful free time, which we should have.
            Now there are 168 hours in a week. But we certainly cannot say that, after doing our work hours, then the rest of the week is free. We all need to eat, sleep, rest and help with family matters in the usual ways. I think the best thing to do is to say a normal person should have about 40 hours during which they can work. This is slightly more than normal - but I will partially include the normal travel time within these 40 hours.
            So, if I say a person can normally work 40 hours per week, then, if a person only needs to work 20 h/w, then this means each person has half their working week completely free to do other things. And, if I say a person only needs to work 10 h/w, then this means that ¾ of their working week is completely free.
            In my societies, on average I think a person only needs to work for 1/3 of a week. So this means that a person has 2/3 of the working time completely free. So this is rather good.

 

Of course I am also a fanatically “green” person. So this means that I, myself, want to live with the smallest possible comfortable “footprint”. And by my calculations this is 0.2 of a hectare. (The world average is 2.3 hectares.) And of course the societies, which I design, will have this same very low footprint. Now, if I combine this low footprint with my figure of 2/3 of working time completely free, then each hectare of my society’s land should be able to support
                                                5 x 2/3 free people to do any work per hectare
                                    i.e.      between 3 and 4 free people per hectare.
            So, if this huge amount of free time is spent improving any land the society acquires, then this society can keep on expanding. To begin with, this society would just buy more land. But such expansion would soon become limited. But then further expansion could occur on desert wastelands close to the oceans - because this society could afford to use PV panels to create fresh water from salt water. Then later the society could farm the deep-sea oceans, which at present hardly support any life at all (because all the essential nutrients sink out of reach). And then finally this society could expand out into space. These possibilities are all described in my Green Living book.
            So this society of mine would be capable of doing marvellous things with all its ample free time.

 

 

You might now also like to look back at:

my "Home Page" (which introduces this whole website and lists all my webpages).

 

My next normal webpage is Democracy Measures.

 

Updated on 11/11/2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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