Okay, so most of you believe the Karma system of payment that I described in the last post is redundant with cash, or at least contrary to human nature. I disagree, since I wouldn't walk your dog for cash, but I would do it for Karma points, so that I would feel free to ask you for a favor in return someday.

But I'll drop that from the plan because if Cheapatopia works in other ways, you will get to know all of your neighbors well enough to arrange for a free dog-watcher when you need one anyway.

The backbone of Cheapatopia would be social networking via the Internet. You might say Facebook does what you need, but I think something far more robust is called for.

For example, if you wanted to arrange an impromptu get together for any sport or activity, it would be nice to have a web service that matched just the right number of players, at just the right mix of skills, without much human intervention. I should be able to tell the system what I'm interested in, when I can do it, and how skilled I am. Then the system should find other players. And it should happen in minutes, because alerts would be sent to the smart phones of anyone nearby who was interested in the same thing. In Cheapatopia, every citizen is required to have a smart phone. And the city would have free WiFi everywhere.

Preparing meals could also be more organized and less expensive. It would be a lot easier to make a bunch of just one thing - say a big bowl of pasta salad - than to make several items for a meal. Imagine a system that matches you with the neighbors who have complementary dishes, and you all get together to trade Tupperware containers with your contribution. The system would keep track of whether you gave more than you got, and even things out over time.

Food preparation and games would be the primary way neighbors got to know each other. And it would substitute for more expensive recreational and dining options.

The web service should also match people who have no pets, but wish they did, with people who need their pets walked or watched while they are away. No money needs to change hands because both parties benefit in the transaction. Few things are more fun than a borrowed dog.

Likewise, you could easily find someone to watch your kid for an evening if doing so gave their own kid a playmate to keep him occupied for that time. Babysitters would be unnecessary. Parents know it's often easier to watch two kids that are amusing each other than one kid who has nothing productive to do.

Ride sharing would be made easy in Cheapatopia by this same Internet system. But the only rides you would ever need would be to the nearest airport. There would be no cars within Cheapatopia. More on that later.
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Jul 22, 2009
I think this is a great idea.
I wish the Federal Gov't would fund this new city with the stimulus money.
Jul 21, 2009
"I disagree, since I wouldn't walk your dog for cash, but I would do it for Karma points, so that I would feel free to ask you for a favor in return someday." --Scott Adams

Well, duh. When a person is as rich as you are, and not mentally deficient, he usually begins to see how worthless money is. Most of us are not that rich, though.
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Jul 20, 2009
what does any of that have to do with cheapotopia. the social networking ideas would work with or without cheapotopia surely?
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Jul 20, 2009
While it's regrettable that so many of your blog respondents don't understand the principles of Karma, it's wonderful to see the breadth of discussion points that your scenario produced. It's suggests that a much larger portion of our thinking society ( of which Dilbert readers comprise a substantial pie piece) is coming around to a less egocentric POV, and that's a very good thing. With the approaching 2012 "opportunities", whatever they may or may not prove to be, it's critical that the world become a more loving place, and it's abundantly clear that your provocative proposals incite people to reflect on their own roles in making it so.
Jul 20, 2009
Right lets see...

so far, I have demolised Washington DC and put all the politicions to work creating a renewable energy source. my currency, the Cheaptopian oing-dong (8.75 Oings to the Doing) is currently worth 1 Doing to the Dollar. and 457 kama points are worth an oing coz no-one will work for "kama" as you cant buy a loaf of bread for a KP... Every citizen is given a free "smart phone" which actually works (Cheaptopias 2nd technological breakthrough) and the cost of funding that is taken from a persons salary at a rate of 2-doings per month pre tax. Free and Stable internet at a consistant rate is available to all areas. Its funded by putting the phone tax into an offshore account to gain massive amounts of interest, at the end of each year the original cost of that years smart phones and internet is paid off from this fund, and the rest is reinvested back into the fund. This is called the MBP, now as minister for the Smart phones rather than reinvesting the extra capital into the expanding network Im going to pocket the entire MBP fund and move somewhere nice where communism isnt prevelent. and Sun and semi naked ladies are! See ya!
Jul 20, 2009
Phantom II, no-one would be forcing you to live there, this has been explicitly stated quite clearly - do you struggle with basic comprehension? I am starting to think so. In fact if you lived anywhere, it almost certainly would not be worth living in.

I'm with HumilityRocks myself.
Jul 18, 2009
I totally agree with phantom II's comment. It is overly dictating of social interactions and forces people to live in a way that others have predefined as the best. A perfect example of what is wrong is you defending the Karma points:
"I disagree, since I wouldn't walk your dog for cash, but I would do it for Karma points, so that I would feel free to ask you for a favor in return someday."
In normal society I would feel free to ask a good neighbor for a favor anyway especially if I was already doing him favors. There is no need to enforce some kind of stupid point system when it is already human nature. It would only breed resentment and a Karma class warfare.
Now I know you will argue that it isn't tyranny, people would live in Cheatopia voluntarily. But that leads to the BIGGEST FLAW in your society: Rebellious Youth.
Sure, all the adults will run around helping out and socializing with a sense of community, but no matter how much you brainwash there WILL be teenagers who rebel and cause trouble. It is their nature to rebel against social norms, rebel against rules (which your society has too many), and have a much more selfcentered outlook on the world around. They don't want to vounteer time. They don't care about returning favors. And mygod, they hate having to go socialize with their parents dopey neighbors.

Even if they made it through their youth, these kids would leave Cheatopia the second they could. They were not in this strict society voluntarily it was a prison they were born into. New volunteers would fill thier shoes.
Thus your population turn over would be incredible and the whole sense of tight knit community is lost.

You lose Scott Adams. The kids win. Viva La Revolution!
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Jul 18, 2009
If we're going to be geeks and we're going to be cheap (as the name implies), then why pay for phone service. We have free WiFi everywhere already, why not just have a PDA capable of Skype, Messaging, Email, and any other smart phone ability we would need. There would be no minutes, text messaging, or internet download limits to constrain our worldly ideas.
Jul 18, 2009
I think, basicly it is good idea. Main problem, in my opinion, will come, if this system would reach certain level. I can easily imagine objections by the state, like: tax evasion, illegal conduit of business, maybe money laundering as well etc. :(
Because "they" would not be happy if somebody evade supporting the enormous budget deficits.
Jul 18, 2009
There's nothing wrong with getting back to a closer-knit community, but not if you must be willing to give up freedom and liberty to get it. Your Cheaptopia is not the same thing as the old, interdependent communities whose cooperation came out of trial-and-error methods that generally became accepted community standards because 1) they worked, and 2) they met individual as well as community needs.

What your Cheaptopia is, is a centrally-planned collective where one person (in this case, Scott Adams) declares himself smarter than everyone else, and dictates the terms of how everyone else must live. That centrally-planned existence done by a small group of individuals who think they're smarter than the collective wisdom of the people, is the same thing Barack Obama and his pet Congress are trying to do.

It's based on the belief that only really really smart, politically-correct people can dictate how to build utopia by taking everyone's money and then making them dependent on government for their very subsistence. Then, while they exempt themselves from all the laws they pass to control the rest of our lives, they live high on the hog off the backs of everyone else. If you don't believe that, just ask your congresspeople if they're going to move to the glorious people's republic of Amerika's socialized medical plan, or keep their current, all-paid by the American taxpayer's health plan they get as our rulers, er, representatives. Or ask Al Gore how much more money he stands to make if this horrible cap-and-trade bill actually goes into effect (old Al's net worth has increased by 5,000% since he left office, helped a lot by his "carbon trading" company).

If you want to live in a glorious people's commune, then feel free. But don't try to force the rest of us to live there. It's fun for you because you get to be the one bossing everyone else around. But it's tyranny for the rest of us.
Jul 18, 2009
"Okay, so most of you believe the Karma system of payment that I described in the last post is redundant with cash, or at least contrary to human nature. I disagree, since I wouldn't walk your dog for cash, but I would do it for Karma points, so that I would feel free to ask you for a favor in return someday."
I agree with both sides here, it IS redundant to cash as the difference is only one of semantics, but it's an important difference because semantics can change a person's perception of things. The goal here is for people to be dealing in traded favors rather than buying services from and doing paid work for their neighbors. Although Karma "points" may be too quantitative to differentiate itself from cash as much as you need it to, people are used to alternative money systems in MMOs and such, in fact to carry the MMO analogy further evenutally someone would set up a karma point/cash exchange and then the difference really would disappear. I suppose the answer is to just not keep track. If you walk your neighbor's dog it's because you like dogs, not because you'll be able to expect a return favor from somebody else in town.

"For example, if you wanted to arrange an impromptu get together for any sport or activity, it would be nice to have a web service that matched just the right number of players, at just the right mix of skills, without much human intervention."
The Xbox and Playstation do this for their games with online play. Simple enough to adapt to meatspace sports.
Jul 18, 2009
i can't quite grasp some of the concepts. If you really intend to have so much sharing of resources and interaction, why not just have everyone live in the equivalent of hotel rooms. No individual property. All food would be prepared in the central kitchen. Meals would be available in the dining room, with buffet style service.
In this environment the pooling of resources and shared activities would be easier to achieve. A huge summer camp ground for adults.
That is if the concept is valid.
I have a hard time remembering a time when 100% of everybody wanted to be together and do similiar things. We are individuals with individual needs.
Every proposal speeks of a lot of high tech resources. Where in a group of 100 are you going to find individuals who can maintain computer networks and at the same time want to spend half their time gardening?
For that matter, where are you going to find the number of skills necessary to maintain a high tech society in a group so small?
What about the children? How are they going to be educated? Is it assumed that all the children in the community will want to remain there? I would doubt this is the case. Would life in this enviroment prepare them for dealings in the 'real' world.
You are going to have to rely on outside resources. And you are going to need money.
There are valid points.
We could better utilize our resources. We could pool many items. And so on.
But the extremes of this community, seem to be great on paper, but might not work so well in reality.

Jul 18, 2009
Seems you are talking about a society very much like the traditional Indian society with large joint families and closely knit neighbours, only with the Internet and smartphones. Cooking complimentary dishes and exchanging tupperware, babysitting the neighbour's kid, taking care of the neighbour's pet, sharing transport - these are some things I have grown up seeing, and I'm sure other readers will agree. Ironically, these days we are moving away from such a system and adopting the "western" lifestyle where each family is on its own while you westerners are trying to get back to the Easterly way.
Jul 18, 2009
On the basically objective stuff, I agree with you (like dogs-yes, we all like most dogs and do not eat them). Regarding food however, that is a totally subjective nightmare. In the sense that the average American thinks pasty potato salad is the epitome of "good eatin;" whereas I think it the first sign of the apocalypse. As a world traveler, I dig Thai green papaya salad done right but my typical American neighbors would find me insane for liking this or even attempting to serve it anywhere, heartland or not, which is why I tend to abhor "American" food and it's inherent blandness. So in Cheapatopia I would starve or at least be annoyed if I had to rely on the folks in my hood.
Jul 18, 2009
Sounds like Communism to me. No collective living arrangements have ever worked. Money does.

My teenage son would be happy to walk your dog, mow your lawn, etc. for money. For karma points? Not likely.

And I hate most of my neighbors. We're in one of the most restrictive HOAs in the metro area and the type of people who want to live here are the Quisling type. God forbid you have kids and they leave a bike on the lawn overnight. The HOA Nazis are called. Want to plant a flower or a bush? You need permission from the HOA for type and location. The drunken man with the leaf blower going after your 13-year-old son on his bike? We've had that too. We've had serious legal issues with them too, that I'll decline to list. Moving into this neighborhood was a huge mistake that, hopefully, we'll rectify if the economy ever improves. My dream home is now a large parcel of land with no neighbors in the middle of Wyoming.

Fortunately, we have 2 neighbors that are decent enough people. Our three houses help out by bringing in the mail and paper when the others are on vacation. That's about as well as any of us want to know each other. Sharing meals? Not likely.

And I dislike most of other people's kids. They're annoying and obnoxious. I've tolerated my friends kids for their benefits. Free babysitting just because? I don't think so. Even my daughter, who loves all little kids and animals, would want to be paid.

Human nature is to be independent. To enjoy the fruits of your labors, your private property, and to be compensated for your work.

From the Pilgrims to the Soviet Union, collectivism has never worked and never will.
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Jul 18, 2009
Why not have special cable TV programs (sports, children's programs, etc.) playing on huge flat screen TVs...only available in "gyms" that have stationary bicycles hooked to generators. To watch, people have to generate electricity for the rest of the community. This solves some energy problems and our obesity problems and reduces health care costs. People get karma points for generating more electricity than they use watching the TV. It would be insanely easy to measure the output per individual, and value it according to going rates for electricity.

+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 17, 2009
Honestly, I think organizing a community in which neighbors have a lot of face time with one another - through various activities that folks self-sort themselves into - would accomplish the goal more effectively than the best conceivable internet-based program.

A large community garden is an obvious place to start - but not everyone likes getting dirt under their fingernails. A small herd of goats is a must - for milk - and because kid goats are so darn cute. Some of us could spend all day doing chores in a farmyard and be perfectly happy. An off-leash dog area - with a water-feature would pull the dog lovers together.

A sports field in easy walking distance of most homes would draw folks out - as would a community BBQ spot. If the the venues were available - people would start to work things out for themselves. This is assuming that they chose to live in Cheapatopia because they wanted a community-based lifestyle in the first place.

Then there's the community center - where folks could teach and take classes, cook together, eat together - and essentially plan whatever they dream up. I think the internet is useful for keeping everyone organized. A shared calendar would be great - along with easy access to information about all the cool stuff happening in the community. Forced WI-FI usages? Not so much.

One technical solution that would be worth the investment: An RFID check-in/check-out system for a community tool/toy shed. I am a part of several community groups with shared resources - and things do tend to disappear - not so much from theft as from inattention (Gee this tent has been sitting in my garage for over a year. Does it belong to this group?) A good electronic tracking system would make a huge difference.
Jul 17, 2009
"Every citizen is required to have a smart phone."
Would that include kids, or just adults?
-4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 17, 2009
Well, Satan, er, Scott, you've done a fine job these last few days describing Hell. Guess I'm going to have to get religion so I don't get stuck there.
Jul 17, 2009
As I was thinking about this post today, I wanted to comment on the idea that most entertainment would be games. I think more games (sports and otherwise) would be GREAT, but I wouldn't want to see that as the only form of entertainment. Let's put some arts in with it. Of course there's always community theatre (and since this is going to be with people I like and get along with, community theatre won't have the egos and personal dramas that usually scare most people off from it). And there could be choirs (secular and religious to appeal to both), art shows, live music, readings, comedy, etc. I'd like to see local authors published in Cheapatopia, with quality work that might not make it in the "real" world where there's so much competition and so much pressure to create "best-sellers" (which often stink) so the publishing company can make money.

I also would want more lifelong learning as entertainment. I want libraries and a college in Cheapatopia. Think about it: new research suggests that continued mental stimulation and the learning of new skills and information may lower the risk of dementia in the elderly. It would have healthcare benefits too!

Plus, with the concept of Cheapatopia, you would have more people able to explore their artistic/creative talents along with lifelong learning outside of regular work. Thus, more community building, more people engaging in healthy activities, more deep thinking, more thought experiments... how fun is that?! ;)


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