[ to: D's Daily Life ]

How One Should Live.

  1. Use the least possible resources, partly for the sake of the Earth, & partly to withdraw power from Trans-National Corporations by spending little (they depend on making money).
  2. Build a circle of friends and acquaintances with whom one shares at least some common opinions. Most people cannot (or will not) act in ways that are so different from those around them that they are seen as odd enough to be alien, so they need some positive feedback.
  3. Work only just hard enough to feel satisfied, at the kinds of work you really enjoy more than half the time. This may or may not involve being paid. A major reason for living on little is to give oneself this freedom.
    {on this page, "$" means: NZ$:}
  4. As the years go by, build up enough savings that one can live on the interest, at ~$2,000 p.a.* for total costs. This gives you the "zero option" regarding working for pay. (At a 5% net interest rate (7.5% actual, before 33% tax), this requires savings of $40,000 to be invested.) { * p.a. = per annum, p.w. = per week}
    This $2,000 allows about $650 p.a. ($12.50 p.w.) for food; this is possible, see:
    and the remaining $1,350 split between the cost of sharing a paid-for house/apartment with at least two others, and bus & clothing costs. This last can be zero for several years if necessary, for a person who has a stock of usable clothing (however un-stylish it is). Obviously: no car!
  5. Spend quite a bit of time thinking. Some of this time could profitably be spent reading WorldWatch Institute publications, walking in the woods or other places where there are few or no other people, or just "lazing around" (dozing, working-with-no-great-effect in the garden, doing a bit of art or music, or sitting in the sun). These could be the times when you develop who-you-are, and they are likely to include occasions when you are most human (rather than some other primate).
  6. Circulate your opinions in ways that suit you. Write letters to the Editor, or articles if (s)he would accept that the general reader could be interested (and your writing is clear and to the point). Join a dozen groups, where you can join/initiate conversations and make your views known on suitable occasions. Some of these groups could be supportive, but in others you will meet opposition, so you'd best prepare answers to expectable questions/criticisms.

    A major (TV-spread) problem is the assumption that getting and spending as much money as possible, even to the detriment of one's relationships and health, is what modern living in Western countries is all about. A part answer (in addition to: "but does it really make you happy?") is that human history and prehistory spans about 100,000 years, and our experiences in this time have largely shaped who we are. Most of these millennia were spent somewhat as I've described above, in hunter-gatherer societies, with only rare emergencies, so living, loving and lazing, with a small amount of (pleasurable, but sometimes risky) "work" each 7 days is normal for humans.


David's daily life.

new item, end-July 2000

My criteria for almost all of what I do, originate from my understanding/belief that since the mid-20th-century there have been increasingly too many people on the whole earth - there's no longer any "frontier" for the excess to expand into - and something over 3 billion people are now causing so much detriment to the living things on Earth that they should vanish/die off.   I include myself in this excess.   This belief is based on my understanding that both the number and the range of resource use (=spent income) of people in the decade centered on 1950 were the maximum that could be sustained in perpetuity. I realise that, working together for the good of all might have allowed a major increase in these factors, but I see no evidence that the whole human race is even capable of doing this,
so The Ecologist's "Blueprint for Survival" and Meadows et al.'s "Limits to Growth", of 1972, were being too optimistic in portraying a possible livable world for everyone sometime in the future from then.

- From here (late 1990's), it's obvious that unless the top ~25% of income earners on earth reduce their consumption to a sixth of what they use up now, (that's an over 80% reduction in their "living standard"), there will be an increasingly divided world, with The Rich doing "whatever's necessary" to maintain their way of life, paying little attention to the (decreasing) middle-class, and ignoring where possible, killing where not, The Poor, who will be an increasing majority as the decades pass. The Poor may, as The Rich's attempts at genocide fail, become the overwhelming majority at some stage, and cause catastrophe after disaster all around the world. I will be dead by then.

- In the mean time, my life is focussed on my being a ghost: seen and recognised but having as close to zero effect on the people around me and the rest of the world as I can. A "living suicide"*.

- A friend has pointed out to me (in Jan.'94, when I told them my "ghost" views), that I could choose to do good and valuable things, i.e. aim at having a positive net result for my having lived, but I remember my (I thought) enlightened views 25 years ago, and I know in hindsight that what I thought were "good and valuable" things to do then weren't, so my choices now would be equally likely to be wrong, and it's better to aim at zero which can't be wrong, at least to the same extent.

 {* I'm not so depressed now (1998) as I was in the last 5 years, so while the above still describes
  what I don't do, I'm not so sure about its value. However, see: }

The practical results:

ex-Tropical Cyclone Zuma, near Auckland, N.Z.  See:
{[( to Top )]}

Keith Rankin's:
is:            (note: "The third form ...";   written perhaps after seeing my life --)

Three Ways of Contributing to Society      (4 June 1998)

Humankind is a social species, and is implicitly understood as being so by, I would guess, 95 percent of us. (The exceptions are the extreme individualist; the sort of people who go to bed with a copy of Ayn Rand under their pillows.)

The social good represents the "grand commons" of our species, meaning everything that is shared (eg resources, cultures, environments, institutions, infrastructures, science, ideas, ideals). We grow up with the innate belief that everyone must contribute in some way to the maintenance of the commons, suspecting - consciously or subconsciously - that if some are seen to not contribute (free-riding) then others may be tempted to free-ride also. Societies die when too many people become free-riders.

In Western and Confucian cultures - eg under the "Protestant Work Ethic" - the term "contribution" has come to be understood to mean "paid work". In reality, of course, there are other forms of contribution. In addition, much paid work does not contribute to any social ends, and may indeed be socially damaging while serving strictly individual ends.

For me, there are three broad categories of social contribution.

The first is socially responsible market production. Here, we must recognise that the contribution is the "net social product" arising from the work, and may be unrelated to the efforts, time sacrifices or wages of the paid workers. We should never regard market incomes as measures of contribution. Nor should we regard "income tax" as a measure of an individual's contribution to society. An individual who appropriates an excessive share of market income will be regarded as having paid more income tax than persons less able to claim large shares, but may have made a smaller net contribution.

The second form of social contribution is non-market production. This includes a whole range of unpaid activities that take place at global, national, local and household levels. Raising children is a particularly important example of a non-market contribution; an example that occurs on all four levels simultaneously. Each parent, through reproduction, is creating the future (paid and unpaid) workforce of the world.

The third form of contribution is "conservation", or "treading lightly". The purpose of social contribution is to maintain the integrity of the commons. One way to maintain that integrity is to adopt a lifestyle that, while not involving any form of measurable production, at the same time involves no destruction. Leaving the planet as we find it is a form of contribution.

Two cricket metaphors are apt here: "A run saved is a run gained", and "Dropped catches lose matches". Contribution through conservation [good fielding] is as important as contribution through production [batting]. And the socially negative by-products of indiscriminate market activity [dropped catches] tend to far exceed any negative impact arising from those conservers who add little to the commons that sustain us.

A welfare system that facilitates a balance of the three different forms of contribution is more valuable to human society than a system that forces everyone to contribute through just one of the three forms. Indeed, mass labour market participation may contribute even less, net, than mass idleness.

Variety is the spice of life. Variety of contribution is the means of safeguarding society.


{ back }

Two Different Views of Financial Independence.

Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 14:15:22 -0500 (EST)
In-reply-to: <> (message from Tom Gray on
	Fri, 6 Mar 1998 10:31:17 -0800 (PST))
Message-Id: <>

Subject: Re: Financial dependence

To: Tom Gray writes: >I find it odd, this yearning for utter financial independence >on one hand and for cohousing on the other. Anyone else see this >as a bit contradictory? > Jef Murray says:
Actually, I don't see it in the least bit contradictory, if you define financial independence as reducing your reliance on money to buy one's way out of life's problems. That is, if you are talking FI along the lines of YMOYL, cohousing allows you to reduce expenses and reduce your need for exhorbitant amounts of income to pay for those expenses. It also allows you to reduce your use of resources and to reflect, in your mode of housing, a personal desire for community.

On the other hand, if you are talking financial independence as envisioned by most people (i.e., to have enough money coming in to do anything I would ever want to do, with no change in my lifestyle and no attempt to reduce my expenses/ecological footprint), I would strongly agree that we're mixing oil and water in discussing it in parallel with cohousing.

But what I guess you're really driving at, Tom, is that the desire for financial "independence" seems somehow at odds with the desire for the "interdependence" of community. But I don't see FI as reflecting disconnectedness...I see it more as a desire to "pull one's weight." Most of us do that already by holding down a job...I don't really see how insuring that you have income from other than paid employment is really any different than insuring that you hold down a job. They are both ways in which we responsibly cover our expenses so that others don't have to...and so that we can be a resource to those in need.


Date: Fri, 06 Mar 1998 14:13:56 -0600
From: Betsy Barnum 
Message-ID: <>
Organization: Great River Earth Institute
References: <>

Subject: Re: Financial dependence

To: Tom Gray wrote: > > I find it odd, this yearning for utter financial independence > on one hand and for cohousing on the other. Anyone else see this > as a bit contradictory? > Betsy Barnum says:
I don't see a contradiction, unless one gets hung up on the definition of "independence" as meaning "going it alone," not relying on anyone else for anything, or sharing anything at all.

I could be FI in the sense it seems to be usually meant--have enough money in investments to generate cash to live on and meet all my needs, myself, through paying for them with money--and I can still live in co-housing to reduce my expenses for housing, tools, perhaps even food as well as benefiting non-monetarily from the mutual support of others in the co-housing community.

Where is the contradiction?

I am uncertain what you mean by "the yearning for utter financial independence." I, personally, share the view that others (Jim Anderson?) have expressed here recently, that FI needn't meant "utter independence" in the sense of going it alone.
     FI can mean that I have managed to arrange my life so that I can meet my needs. Period.
I don't need more money than I have or am earning. I might be sharing a lot of expenses with others; I might be living very lightly and need extremely little, like David MacClement; I might be taking part in barter and local currency systems, plus gardening, getting off the utility grid and in other ways meeting some or many of my needs *without* money. I also might be getting paid weekly or monthly for work I do, and live on that, or partly on that, not necessarily entirely on investment income. (Didn't Jef Murray point out that Joe Dominguez meant *this* by FI, a life for which one had enough money, rather than strictly a sock-it-away approach?)

I know you may not have been talking about me, Tom, but I just want to make it clear (if I haven't!) that I do *not* yearn for "utter financial independence." I yearn for a low-cost life that is also comfortable and connected. I think, as I've said here before, that whenever we talk about "financial independence" as meaning that we can meet all our needs with our own money, we are still embracing the values of consumer culture--we are changing the degree of those values, but not their kind. We are reducing our ecological footprint and opening ourselves to many of the benefits of a simplified life, but we are stopping short of challenging the fundamental values of consumerism and our destructive economy.

When I begin to find non-monetary ways to meet my needs, such as communal living arrangements, bartering and allowing myself to think that things can be fundamentally different from the way they are, I am changing the entire course of my economic and social interactions. *Then* I am creating a new culture and a new society, and demonstrating to others that it *is* possible, we are not "stuck" with capitalism or with hierarchical social structures or with a system that defines "value" as "worth a given amount of money in the marketplace." That is what I want to be doing.


Betsy Barnum

"The truth reveals itself most fully not in dogma, but in paradox, irony
and contradiction that distinguishes compelling narratives--beyond this
there are only failures of imagination: reductionism in science;
fundamentalism in religion; fascism in politics."

--Barry Lopez
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{[( to Top )]}

Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 06:46:07 +1200
From: David MacClement <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-Id: <>
To: positive-futures <>,
        David Appell <>

Advertising, and Serial media

>John Gear <> wrote: >> But a tax on advertising conducted in the broadcast media -- radio and >> television -- and the internet (developed entirely by government money and >> conducted over interstate and national lines) is almost certainly >> unobjectionable (note that I am not a lawyer but a well-read layman) >> because, according to Congress, the airwaves belong to the public. If we >> choose to charge users' a fee -- a tax -- for access to our airwaves ... > At 07:43 26/04/98 -0400, David Appell wrote: > ... bandwidth on the Internet is not inherently limited as it is in the >electromagnetic spectrum. [ & a reference to international advertisers] > ** A little point, not inherently economic but _I_ think relevant: I am seriously turned off by the serial media: TV and radio, in contrast with the parallel media: newspapers, magazines, and even the internet. With the latter, I can focus on the editorial content, bypassing the advertising (which I abhor - I'm not able to stay in the same room with the TV when it's showing advertising). The fact that the owner of the medium can force (most of the) viewers / listeners to sit there through the ads violates their rights of privacy and to control what they think about, as well as simply wasting their time. Commercial serial media are much too close to brainwashing, in my view. David. ** David MacClement <>

Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 15:04:45 -0400 From: David Appell <> Message-ID: <> Subject: Advertising, and Serial media To: positive-futures <> David MacClement wrote: > The fact that the owner of the medium can force (most of the) viewers / > listeners to sit there through the ads violates their rights of privacy and > to control what they think about, as well as simply wasting their time. > Commercial serial media are much too close to brainwashing, in my view. It's no violation at all, because the viewer chooses to be there. No one is forcing anyone to watch television and they are not victims of anything or anyone. Let's save strong words like "violation" for the real violations. David
{[( to Top )]}

At the end of June,'98, I wrote* to the Dirty Sole Society list, with Dirty Sole Society
Subject: Re: pedestrians rights (on N.Z. roads) :-

     A few days ago [in their MESSAGE dirty-soles.v001.n313.2] I said:
"I use my jandals/thongs where there is sharp gravel for nearly a kilometer",
     but I didn't mention when and why I have to walk on the gravel at the side of the road.

    This chore I carry out on Saturdays (getting the weekly shopping) involves walking on the side of the road, since there is no footpath/ sidewalk. Our rural area is being built-up, but in spite of the great increase in traffic there is still only the 2-lane road, with virtually no shoulder before the ditch.
     Ten years ago I'd walk (barefoot) along there, and only on rare occasions have to move off the road, e.g. for a truck. Smaller vehicles simply went around me, part of the car being in the opposite lane.

     I still insist on my right to the road, subject to the same Rode Code that all users obey, basically that one doesn't materially impede the free flow of traffic.
     So I'm constantly looking behind when I see a vehicle coming in my lane, and am ready to temporarily move onto that sharp gravel if vehicles in opposite directions will be passing each other near me.
     (My other routine is to walk on the outside of the sharper curves.)

     My problem is that too many of the new-comers to Greenhithe act as if the road was made for them, and that pedestrians have to get out of their way. I have begun to record the registration-plate numbers of those who come within half a meter (a foot-and-a-half) of my left elbow. (We drive on the left, and I face the traffic). I'm afraid the Police are just too busy to be interested, though.
     These are attempts at intimidation, in my view, but at 62 (and having had a good life), I'm quite willing to risk serious damage or death, so I'm not giving way.


[* This is a moderated list, and the above was rejected for publication.
     Here are the moderator's views:  ]

Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 15:40:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Paul J. Lucas" <>
To: David MacClement <>
Subject: Re: reject, and unsubscribing.
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-ID: <>
On Sat, 27 Jun 1998, David MacClement wrote:
> I appreciate this being an actively moderated list: I was disappointed in one
> I belonged-to that wasn't.


> I also recognise that this is a list meant to encourage bare-footing, and my
> attitude to "discourteous" or threatening drivers doesn't do that.

	Right...with you so far.

> And lastly I think, in our overpopulated world, being ready to die at any
> time by accident or suicide, should not be illegal or ruled out of discussion
> on the internet, and should even be encouraged.
Paul Lucas goes on:
It isn't "ruled out of discussion on the internet"; only from
 one topic-oriented mailing list.  You're free to talk as much
 as you like about walking along roads everywhere else (although
 other moderators on other lists or moderated newsgroups might
 well find it equally off topic).

Face it: much of the internet may be open for anybody to express whatever ideas s/he may have, no matter how irrelevant or inconsequential they may be; but that's doesn't mean that ever single bit of it is obligated to do so.

> -- So my unsubscribing from the DSS isn't done with a gripe at you or it. -- And here's where you lost me. > I do want you to check what I've "published" (29 kB) at: > > and tell me about anything you regard as unacceptable, I hate to burst your bubble, but I really don't understand why you think that piece or your view expressed therein is worth so much to warrant even devoting web space for it. Do you publish every single thought you have? I would expect that most people don't care.

Apparently you think expressing that view is worth more than participating with fellow barefooters. Whatever.

     - Paul P.S.: In terms of web page design, your pages are far, far too long. See: for good advice on creating good pages.
{[( to Top )]}

Here's a snippet from when Bera and I were just married and working in Africa.
It's about how we fed (someone else's) dog and cat. When "Simple Times" has all arrived, "Find": Africa. It's near the bottom.

Tell David MacClement what you think!

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