My Big Plan (and Whinge)

This was never perfected and is reproduced here for historical context. At the time I wrote it, I thought it was pretty good….

Hi, My name is Michael and I feel like a failure.  I thought I might put it all out there and see what the rest of the world thinks.

I’ve spent the last 20 years coming up with great ideas, but have been unable to follow through with them.  I can learn the knowledge and skills, I can put together a plan, but I’ve little ability to connect with the larger community, raise capital, manage staff and bring any of my ideas to fruition.

I’ve built a fairly successful business but not successful enough to build wealth or provide regular, decent holidays to my family.  I’ve given up on new cars and now buy second hand cars by drawing down on the mortgage.

If I keep going the way I am, I’ll work myself into a stress driven physical breakdown.  My nervous breakdown has probably been ongoing since I was 13 (I’m now 48).

About 3 years ago I got diagnosed with severe depression.  Anti-depressants and psychologist appointments didn’t really make much difference.  12 months ago I got diagnosed with ADHD.  After 10 months I got an appointment with a psychiatrist who has now tried me on Ritalin and Dexamphetamine.  I wouldn’t say I’ve noticed any real positive effects from any of these drugs, however my wife thinks they make a marginal difference to my stress and anger management.

This morning I read an article on Asbergers, which seems to fit me too.

I have no real hope for the human race, our country, the environment or the future in general.  My observations are that most people are generally good, however as a group we are a selfish bunch that prefer personal consumption and exploitation over practical, sustainable existence.  Hell, I wanted those things too, until I got this jaded.

In the last 10-15 years I’ve put together a number of business plans for sustainable systems and associated, future looking products and services.  But I’ve always figured there were others out there more qualified, better connected, and generally just in a better position to make things right. 

However, our political representatives are too self absorbed and too focussed on short term political tactics to be able to implement appropriate systems, solutions and programs to make any real difference.

Even if the Australian parliament turned around today and sorted out our countries sustainability issues and did everything to an exemplary level, the rest of the world is likely to take us down with it.

The only way to make any real difference is to take the power away from the politicians and build systems and solutions that everyday people around the world will embrace.

World security issues will never be resolved whilst governments are eying off and exploiting resources in other countries, the oceans, etc.  

The issues between the US and North Korea can never be resolved when the leaders of both countries are focussed on their own self agrandissment and attempting to appear ‘strong” to each other, their consituents and the rest of the world.

The way forward seems fairly obvious to me and I just can’t understand why there is so much haggling and partisan politics going on.  Our governments (well, the democratically elected ones) are there to work for the betterment of the country.  That should be their number 1 priority, not fighting each other and defending their own beliefs and policies.

1.  Introduce the concept of abundance.  Bringing an abundance of low cost, clean energy to the entire world will remove major barriers to cooperation and the need to agressively attempt to expand territories and exploit fossil fuel resources

2.  By having an abundance of energy, excess energy can be diverted to new technologies such as:

   *  Extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere and oceans

  *  conversion of CO2 into new building materials – combine CO2 with H20 and there are the building blocks of organic chemistry – Alcohols, Petrolem fuels, plastics, carbohydrates and fats

  * extraction of Hydrogen from H2O for shipment around the world as replacement gasified fuel that can also be used in fuel cells

not to mention being used for more traditional industries such as concrete manufacturing, aluminium smelting and other mineral extraction, manufacturing and transport industry.  

I see one of two things happening.  The world will either implode with runaway climate change, food scarcity, nuclear or conventional war, disease epidemic; or, the human race will learn to cooperate regardless of cultural, ethnic or other percieved differences.

In the last 10-20 years we’ve seen the overthrow of various governments, either via internal, violent uprising, the intervention of external “rescuers” primarily the United States of America supported by Allies, either with or without the sanction of the United Nations.  Lately, some democracies have started to overthrow more progressive government elements through “democratic” election of backward looking, protectionist, out of date politicians.

Whilst I certainly recognise the appeal of those politicians (and especially non politicians) proscribing a “revert to traditional values of the old days”, this is backwards looking.

The world is always evolving and ideas and technologies change.  Ideally, each generation of people and ideas makes more sense and is “better” than the previous generation.  As with all things, sometimes this is more a case of 2 steps forward, 1 step backward, but, over time, things have gotten better.

Except we are now at a turning point.  The world can retreat to protectionist, inward looking values, which may look good and provide tangible benefits in the short term.  However, this type of behaviour, especially from the larger, more developed nations will leave the smaller, less developed nations to face significant issues with food production, disease and development to themselves.  When people are hungry or cold, it’s very difficult to expect them to avoid burning coal, cutting down trees or otherwise exploiting their immediate environment for survival.

Frankly, the most logical and best outcome is for the human race to lose 98% of it’s numbers in a sustainable way.  Nuclear war doesn’t meet that criteria as it will destroy much of the remaining Earth for any survivors.  A worldwide epidemic would seem to make sense, but it does have a rather nasty side effect for everyone.  Even the survivors would suffer enormously with probably most of them losing all friends and family (unless of course it is engineered by a technical elite…).  Imagine what it would do to the construction industry – developers would be out of business for hundreds of years!

So that leaves coming up with better solutions.

So, whilst the Donald Trumps and Pauline Hansons of the world have highlighted the disatisfaction of many voters with traditional politicians, that doesn’t mean they are the only option.

It is time for a new breed of politician to arise – one that puts values and progressive, smart innovation ahead of internal party politics.  But that is a topic of another document I wrote a number of years ago.

The big corporate community isn’t much better than the politicians.  Big companies are run for the profit of their shareholders.  This was an amazing step forward in the 17th century and was instrumental in moving people from subsistence farming and small scale warfare to the exploitation of the world and large scale conflicts.  Whilst it could be argued that it may have been better if the human race hadn’t made this step, it’s too late now and knowledge, once learned, cannot often be unlearned.

The only way is forward.  And it is time that the benefits of shared ownership of enterprises was more widely shared amongst all members of a society and, ideally, the world.  Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve figured this bit out.  If everyone in the world was equal in terms of education, health, housing, food, opportunity and satisfaction, then there would be nobody to profit from and no point in trying to build enterprises.

With that said, one of the key principles I’ve discovered over the last 18 months is that of “figure out who you’re going to take advantage of”.  Whilst this goes against the ideal of equality, the reality is that just about everyone is either taking advantage of someone else, or they are being taken advantage of (and probably both at the same time with different relationships).  

For those of us with a more advanced idea of fairness and equity, that principle could be worded “figure out who you’re going to take advantage of and take advantage of them in a way that they are happy with”.

The idea of Win-Win relationships is often just an illusion.  Sales and marketing theorists talk about win-win, but what they often mean is each party gets something different from the relationship that they are generally happy with.

There are no truly wealthy individuals that have not taken advantage of someone.  A wealthy farmer might have the advantage that his great grandfather bought land under less than equal conditions, perhaps even killing or driving off native occupants of the land.  Mark Zuckerberg has taken advantage of peoples willingness to spend inordinate amounts of time engaging with computer screens (at the opportunity expense of producing something of actual value).  Apple computers have come up with iTunes that sucks people into the Apple world and won’t release them (when was the last time an Apple iPhone user switched to an Android device and threw away 10 years of iTunes library???).

Your local GP is either a highly overworked person that genuinely spends as much time as is required for each patient (in which case the GP is probably being taken advantage of), or is focussed on the business of being a Doctor – spending as little time as possible with each patient, getting as many patients through the door as possible and then billing as much to the government and/or the patient as possible.  I suspect it is rarely will you find a GP that has found the ability to provide health care to those that need it whilst maintaining a work/life balance for themselves that allows them to run a successful practice that pays their insurance, staff costs, university training costs and return a reasonable level of income for the GP.

This probably applies to most small business owners – either we take advantage of our clients, or we allow them to take advantage of us.

Long term wealthy (or their ante-cedants) may have exploited the land. Others take advantage of those with little negotiating power, rip off their staff or exercise their additional knowledge to overcharge clients for products with no intrinsic value.  Others take advantage of the government. 

But I digress…..

My proposal is this:

1.  It is time to take the power away from the politicians.  They serve a useful purpose from a legislation point of view, but they are generally not business or other community leaders.  Many of them have little real world experience apart from politics.  They cannot be allowed to determine the future of the human race.

2.  Australia is a minnow on the world stage.  Our population is less than .5% of the world population.

3.  Australia needs to develop forward looking technologies, but, more important, ensure that all Australians benefit from this future industrial capacity.  Leaving all the profit in the pockets of wealthy individuals, large corporations and overseas companies needs to be avoided as much as possible. 

4.  Where is the rule that says that all members of a society have to pay taxes to support the government?  The government should be putting in place strategies  and policies that enables it to provide the necessary services at the smallest price possible to its members.  A truly effective government would run for the benefit of the constituents, not the other way around

5.  Our government must actively seek out opportunities to build the wealth of the country and store that wealth in such a way that a long term benefit is derived.

6.  Shuffling internal services and processes to transfer funds from one group of the population to another is just smoke and mirrors.  The government must put in place policies that allow all Australians to  profit from the exploitation of its resources and reduce that exploitation as much as possible.

7.  A sovereign wealth fund of which every Australian is a member should be established with the objective of developing and holding intellectual property, and future looking enterprises for the benefit of all.  These enterprises will focus primarily on exporting massive volumes of sustainable energy, sustainable products and associated services at such a low price that we become the powerhouse of the world at such low prices that the fossil fuel industries close shop.

8.  Funding this sovereign wealth fund is, of course, a significant challenge.  If every Australian contributed $1000, it would start with capital of $25 Billion.  If everyone could inject $10000, that would be $250Billion.  This level of funding should enable us to build massive thermal solar farms to harvest solar power and convert it to Hydrogen and other exportable mediums (perhaps ammonia storage).  

9.  Ideally, Australia does need to address it’s own internal power issues, but the current government is unable to set policies or strategies to sort this out.  A commercial enterprise that aims to export 100x the value of Australia’s power use would, of necessity develop new methods and technologies and profits that could be used to address Australia’s energy issues.

Here are some more ideas:

*  convert old mine sites to industrial hubs, surrounded with thermal solar farms (and/or wind farms, solar chimneys, etc)

*  move manufacturing to the site of the power generation

*  promote more technology based food production methods, ideally citing greenhouses alongside (or as part of) the power generation facilities

*  Use left over heat from thermal solar power to heat/run sustainable farms

* integrate sustainable living/working arrangements with the power generation facilities.  Providing forward looking, power generation faced communities amongst the technical infrastructure of the future provides learning and training opportunities whilst providing future generations an opportunity to move out of big, overcrowded cities into sustainable cities planned that way from the beginning

*  take the knowledge and systems developed in implementing these overseas as technical and construction services to provide the same level of amenity to 3rd world and other suffering communities

So, now you can see why I think I’m not the person to make this happen.  Whilst I can imagine and visualise it, research individual technical components and put it together, the main requirements are:

*  leadership and communication – needs someone that can communicate the vision and engage the entire country in what could be a nation building enterprise

*  technical innovation and development

*  building and design services

*  actually enticing people out of the cities

*  fighting against the entrenched politics and existing agendas of big companies, international governments, etc

The challenge I face is that, if I genuinely do have ADHD and Asbergers, then I have a significant amount of personal issues that are, and have always been, standing in my way.  To proceed with this, I’d need to have a team of specialists that can protect me from myself, whilst extracting what I think I know from me and turning it into operational plans.

So, my questions to you is “what do I do with this?”.  Do I:

a. save this to my drafts like so many before it and wonder forever more if I should have somehow distributed it

b.  select the best elements and go for it the traditional way (i.e. raise seed funding from friends and family, get started, raise venture capital funds, then IPO and run it as a standard big corporation, hopefully with a better level of coporate repsonsibility

c.  find someone to create a reality tv show about this which will allow us to appeal to and engage with the Australian public as a whole as we get this started

d.  Seek out corporate and other leaders to help get this thing going and rapidly lose control to those that know better

e.  Stop now before I make this harder….

Let me know in the comments below:

  • If you think I’m a madman and should ask my psychiatrist to have me locked up
  • If you pity me and want to make a donation to help me quit my business and take a holiday
  • If you think I should do this and wish me luck
  • If you think I should do this and you want to purchase a foundation membership (that provides no specific benefit that everyone else won’t also have, except acknowledgement)
  • If you want to buy shares in the corporation, click here to register your interest (note, we cannot sell actual shares at this point)
  • If you want to donate time, expertise or otherwise support this endeavour