Who The Hell Is This Guy And Why Do We Care?

I didn’t want to let too much time pass between part one of the Play the Planet explanation and another update, so I’m back again to continue making your head spin.

In order to better and more completely understand how PtP bridges the divide between the digital world and the real, we need to plumb the depths of history though, and I need to tell you a little story about the man pictured above. He bears the utterly spectacular (if tongue-twisting) name of Michael Unterguggenberger. And here I thought I had it bad with the last name of Hartpence. Anyway, Michael Unterguggenberger’s story is pivotal to Play the Planet, and the architecture of our economic model, as you will soon see.

Our story begins during the Great Depression, in the nation of Austria, in the tiny town of Worgl. Unterguggenberger was the Mayor there in those days, and like pretty much every other town in the world, Worgl was going through some tough times. 30%+ unemployment. Goods sitting unbought on shelves. Infrastructure falling into disrepair. People starving in their homes. Not a pretty picture, but then, in those days, things were fairly shitty all over. Worgl was no better, or worse off than any of its neighbors, except that’s not quite true. Worgl had one thing…one remarkable resource that nobody else had. They had Michael Unterguggenberger.

A civic-minded man who took his job seriously, he worried over the fate of his little township, and resolved to do something about it. Goods, he reckoned, were sitting unbought on store shelves, because nobody had any money to buy them with, but that was a problem they could fix locally, was it not?

As it turned out, the answer to that question was a resounding yes!

Unterguggenberger called the town together for a meeting, and proposed the creation of a “Certified Compensation Bill,” which would be the town’s very own local currency. He asked local shopkeepers if they would accept this bills in exchange for the physical goods in their stores. There was some reluctance, but given that goods weren’t exactly flying off the shelves anyway, nobody figured there was much to lose, so reluctant or not, the town agreed to go along with the plan.

Had Unterguggenberger had a good PR guy, he’d probably have called his local currency “Worgl Bux!” or something a bit catchier, but alas, this was not meant to be. In any case, he got the town on board with his idea, and created a local currency, then put people to work fixing the town’s infrastructure, paying them at the end of each day WITH the new currency (and just because I can, I’m gonna refer to them as Worgl Bux! from here on out).

But the Worgl Bux! weren’t like other currency.

They were not a store of value.

In fact, they LOST value over time through a process called “demurrage,” which is essentially a negative interest rate.

At the end of each month, all Worgl Bux! in circulation had to be brought to the town hall, where a stamp was affixed to them, which degraded their value by 1%.

Noooooobody wanted to be the guy holding onto Worgl Bux! at the end of the month, and guess what happened?

Well, two things. Two really big, important things.

First, unemployment evaporated literally overnight. The town went from 30+% unemployment to full employment in the blink of an eye, and…given the peculiar nature of Worgl Bux!, people spent them as soon as they got them.

Goods started FLYING off the shelves of stores.

The economy started humming.

The little town of Worgl was an island of economic normality in a sea of economic shit.

Months passed, and things remained good in Worgl. They remained so good, in fact, that the Mayors from the six towns around Worgl came to Unterguggenberger and wanted to know what he had done, and could they get in on whatever it was.

He told them.

Then he got invited to speak at a conference of European Mayors to spread his idea even farther. Had this man found a cure for the Great Depression? It certainly seemed so!

Despite the fact that he was doing a lot of good for the people of his town, and for the people in the other towns who adopted his methodology, there was one group that was NOT amused by these developments.

The Austrian Central Bank.

See…banks make profits when they lend money at interest. Their shenanigans with the money supply have caused no end of human suffering, but at every step, they (the bankers) make fat profits, either by lending money in boom times, or by confiscating assets during bad.

These Worgl Bux! resided outside the central bank’s ecosystem and reach, and they couldn’t have that, so the central bankers very politely told the Austrian government (with one hand wrapped around its throat) that they absolutely WOULD shut the upstart experiment down. And they did.

Unemployment immediately went back up to 30+%, and people went back to being good little lambs and starving in their homes, and that’s how the situation remained until we hit this little speed bump commonly referred to as “World War II,” and suddenly, there were lots more things to worry about than one tiny town in Austria and some cool stuff that happened there over a thirteen month period.

Michael Unterguggenberger’s achievement was largely forgotten, and relegated to a dusty shelf in a dimly lit corner of history.

We’ve dusted his experiment off. We’ve corrected for the mistakes that got him in trouble with the central bank, and we’ve updated the overall plan to account for the seven decades of technological innovation since the original experiment, and this is the beating heart of Play the Planet’s economic engine.

To better explain how this works with the things I talked about in part one, I need to introduce another new term: Holon.

Holon is an ancient Greek term, meaning a thing that is fully self-sufficient, and yet part of a larger whole.

Holons are the basic unit of measure in Play the Planet.

In the United States, a Holon is equal to a county. Other countries will have some geopolitical construct that is the equivalent of counties, and those will be used in other nations. In countries that HAVE no equivalent, we’ll default to the definition of a Holon as being a one hundred mile radius from the largest population center in any given region.

These Holons define our playing fields. Our “level maps” if you will (to keep with the gaming terminology from before).

Individual players will be “playing the planet” wherever they are, and to gain XP for themselves, but they’ll also be involved in a larger story – the creation and development of a Holon in the area they live in. Here, they’ll be joined by other players (allies) and can begin tackling ever-larger issues and challenges. Holons also serve as the defining structure of local markets where Gc’s are spent on various goods and services.

I, as Play the Planet’s first citizen, will be actively involved in building the Holon in whatever country I ultimately purchase the land in, but of course, I’m not a Mayor. I have no political power. I can’t strong arm people into accepting Gc’s as payment, so how will I start?

I’ll start by offering a product for sale that EVERYONE needs. Food.

Everybody eats, and if you know you can BUY food with any Gc you collect (saving your US Dollars for other stuff), it removes all risk from the equation. There’s no longer any reason NOT to participate in the experiment, and lots of potential gains to be had by participating. I suspect that’s how EVERY new Holon will start, but of course, that remains to be seen. Together, collectively, the network will form a list of best practices as more people start joining in different areas, but those details are for another post. For now, I’ll leave you to mentally chew on this portion, and I’ll be back in a few days to continue outlining the basic architecture.

Explanation continues here.

-=Vel=-

4 comments

  1. Why pick Unterguggenberger as an example? There’s a much better one, and on large scale, which worked amazingly – Nazi Germany 1933-39. (Set aside the other negative aspects of the regime we know afterwards and examine this separately.) Economically, this has been tried once like this on a national scale in modern times and was extremely successful, so much so it caused a war. This is what Nazi Germany did which took it from the worse economy in Europe with one of the highest unemployment rates to by far the strongest economy in the world (per capita) with unemployment about 1% in under two years and kept growing stronger, outdistancing the west, for the rest of its existence.

    The western bank-interest-capitalist economies of the west never considered communism a realistic or attractive threat, but still mired in the great depression while Germany, no longer borrowing from banks, was issuing work certificates to build the autobahn, factories, and relieving farm debt, which was then spent to spur the consumer economy, the banks and capital giants of industry and press had an enemy to shut down to keep it from spreading, the same as the Bank of Austria did.

    GDP……1933–34–35–36–37–38–39
    Germany…18–26–30–33–37–46–52
    UK………….18–23–24–25–27–28–28
    US………….56–66–73–84–92–85–91
    France……15–16–16–16–14–11–11

    1. That’s a fair point, and definitely something worth mentioning, so I’m glad you brought it up!
      I think for me, the reason the Unterguggenberger example has more resonance is that it’s closer to what I’m hoping to do here, with Play the Planet.
      While I guess it would be theoretically possible for me to campaign and win an elected position, then try to change the machinery of government in such a way that I could begin implementing PtP concepts, but…that would be a spectacularly difficult task, IMO.
      By taking an “outsider’s” approach, I don’t need anyone’s permission to get started….I just…begin.
      If it fails, then nobody pays any attention really except to point to the eccentric nutter and have a good chuckle.
      On the other hand, if it succeeds in one Holon (locality), there’s no reason to expect a failure in some other unless one can identify something intrinsic to the successful Holon that makes the success non-replicable.
      So it thrives, then grows organically, starting from “Patient Zero,” or the first Holon to be established.
      At least that’s the general idea. 🙂

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