The New Liberty Village Local Store, page 2

Product Kits

Yet another novel feature offered by the Local Store caught my eye and admiration. There had been times in my life when I had wanted just enough income  to get by on, spending  the bulk of my time at home with my family, or applying myself to some project which required some solitude and free time.  Throughout the store, I had noticed items with a sticker that obviously was meant to designate something, I knew not what.  When I inquired, a woman named Amelia pointed to a large section of the store with stacks of boxes, and a wild assortment of materials.  

The items with stickers, she said,  were those that could be made or assembled from do-it-yourself kits that had been packaged, with complete instructions.  One could do the assembly oneself, saving money,  or ... get this ... take the kit home to assemble the item and return the finished product to the store for retailing, or sold on one's own.  There were clothing items to be sewn, toys to be assembled, green-house kits, food items, crafts items such as holiday decorations, even electrical kits and circuit boards to be assembled for appliances and gizmos.  I was told some local inventors chose to use this method to have products readied for market instead of sending their ideas and profits off to far away, large manufacturers.  This opportunity greatly enhanced the chance of their inventions ever reaching the market. Some remarkable products have seen the light of day because of this economic program.

She said there were several large workshops dedicated to putting together this material.  A further extension of this idea of associative manufacturing had arisen in the form of several local workshops and warehouses, initially sponsored by the originators of the store and this unusual function.  The sounds of a wood working shop I had heard was, in fact, one of these workshops. They now were turning out kits for tables and chairs.

Now to me, this was cool.  If I did not want to work a nine to five, here was one way I could spend as much time as I chose to earn some change, or much more, if I were so inclined.  I  liked the idea.  One was paid according to how many products were made. One could work at home, or in a shop with others, or both, whenever, or wherever, one fancied.

I was to later meet the meet the man in the Store who oversaw all stages of this burgeoning  economic activity, his own E.A.,  an acronym I picked up after hearing it several times.  Each person working along side him shared in his  EA, earning according to what they themselves chose to invest in the process. The group associated  with the material suppliers, the persons who made and shaped the components, those who wrote the documents and plans, and those who assembled them at home or in a workshop.  Then there were the persons who could afford to, or without the time or desire,  who bought the product outright, in finished form .... the end consumer.

The Consumer

This was another feature of this store that appears unusual and actually surprising. The consumer.  Besides the satisfaction of knowing that one was helping to support the livelihood of persons one might  know, and the confidence received from knowing where one could learn the conditions and ingredients that went into the products one bought, there were additional perks for being in the association cycle.  

By signing onto bulk ordering lists for any manner of products, items could be had at considerable discount. Of course, it was cheaper for the association to buy 500 pound of hard, bio-dynamically grown wheat than five pound bags.  The Store offered a place for storage and distributing the bulk items, until consumers who volunteered their own time, could bag it  and notifying one another when the shipments had arrived.  

The consumers, or the persons who regularly bought  items sold at the store, also published a newsletter where they drew up consumer's reports,  rating  items for their quality, freshness, costs, and environmental greenness.  This had become quite a group project  many enjoyed participating in.  Consumer clubs related to several other associations were becoming an important part of the economic cycle in New Liberty Village and beyond..

Working Together

This getting together, and rubbing shoulders in ways many persons had never before had the chance to experience was obviously one of the most outstanding features of this new store.. New Liberty Village's use of the  by-word, Fraternity, (as in the old rallying cry for the French revolution: Liberty/Equality/Fraternity) for the economic sphere of social life was making more sense. Where else were complete strangers motivated to come together to work things out, to earn money to provide for their own survival needs, find exceptional products, and have communion with others to boot.  Economics turns out to be a very human endeavor, not just having to do with things.

Over time, leadership within the various activities evolve and develop.  In the economic sphere,  qualities for leadership are industry, knowledge, skill, and experience, and include social skills if one wishes to work closely with others.  No one has to follow these leaders. But it is within the nature of production and distribution of goods for it to became common knowledge right off who knows  their stuff, and who does not.  No appointments have to be made, no vote taken. 

Here,  If one wants to work with someone who really knows how to raise chickens, one works with Marion, or Doug.  Craig obviously makes a mean kitchen cabinet, and runs a tight shop.   No government told these individuals what to do, how much to do, or how to do it.  If one wishes to learn, one willingly follows the directions of one of these who have the knowledge and experience in their particular endeavor. One takes no subservient position to these leaders other than that of, knowing less, and probably in all likelihood, earning less, but understandably so.  Obsequious bowing to a boss or supervisor plays no part in the working experience under these arrangements. 

These redefined  interpersonal relationships in the economic arena definitely were new and novel, at least from my experience. No one seemed to be lording it over another. Though there were wide disparities of talent and experience, in terms of individual worth and respect, on the job discriminations of all sorts seemed to be on the wane. To understand this difference, it helps to know something about the broader social patterns and principles of the New Liberty Village

Economics And The Government  

In New Liberty Village, only issues of rights relationships between persons concern the public decision making sphere, or government.    Because each person has in actuality, equal say and power in what is established as rights, it is seldom a rancorous event to concur with a rule or regulation that says, for example, all dishes have to be rinsed at 150 degrees to kill bacteria before serving the public. All rules and regulations are always open to view and review. No one protests when it is decided Mary is too young to be driving the Store truck, or that she is too young to have to work many hours a day. These are clearly rights issues.  When John cuts down trees on his own "property" to sell for firewood, the police, have the right to tell him to desist until he presents his case in court.  The issues of public injury, treatment of minors, and the use of natural resources are considered fair game for the human rights sphere of New Liberty Villages society. 

Citizens have learned to distinguish between issues of economics, and issues of equal Rights between human beings.   Matters of ecology: and pure air to breath, water to drink, and concerns for wildlife are all accepted as Rights issues. When one person uses an irreplaceable element or material to make his product for sale in the public market, it is understandable that another person is not allowed this privilege, perhaps someone even yet unborn.  It has been democratically decided the use or abuse of the nature base is not an economic decision, but one of human rights. Group control and regulation in these areas of our lives and livelihood has been accepted as necessary.  When an economic activity is begun, as many of these issues are negotiated with the government as possible before confusion or conflict arises. The environmental and other social guidelines are continually published by our government, and are always open for discussion and re-examination. 

Rights decisions and passages of rules and regulations are never the result of economic decisions and influence, but equal and just deliberation and treatment of all.  For a manufacturer to lobby or participate in the decision making process which might involve his own personal economic interest is considered one of the greatest of social crimes in this newly developing society.  Money and politics, from election to the deliberation on, and the passage of bills, are not to be mixed. Period.  These issues always deserved the greatest attention and caution because of the state of affairs reached in the broader society.  Economics is to remain separate and clear of the political, public arena and visa versa. The topic and requirements for each organ are very different. Once introduced, it is in the nature of economics to eventually run rough-shod over both spiritual freedoms and human rights. 

Economics and The Spiritual/Cultural life

In the same light, some concepts such as labor, even wages, normally regarded as a part of economic life are not seen as part of  the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services, but are aspects of spiritual/cultural life, therefore liable only to individual choice and freedom of expression.   The individual investment of energy and time is a personal choice, not a commodity to be traded in the economic market. Only the value of the product itself allows for realistic determination of payment.  The personal expectations and individual needs beyond this base may also be bargained and allowed for, but this aspect of the final price for an item might be considered a donation or contribution to the individual as a token of the buyers high esteem and appreciation for exceptional talent or artistic expression. Otherwise, the buyer is free to find such a commodity at a lower price more in line with its utility and relative worth in the market. 

Time is not considered a commodity. There is no way to put an economic value on an individuals time, and it is not realistic to try to do so.   One person's income can differ from another's by the different quantity of goods or services produced, and differences in quality, not because he has spent greater or lesser amounts of time. 
Individuality, private property and freedom of choice of how one is to spend his or her time and life encourages each worker to remain his own boss, make his own decisions, to choose the type of activity he wishes to do, the amount of time he wishes to spend, and who he wishes to associate with. These are considered Spiritual matters, resting with the volition of individuals, totally beyond the reach of Government.