The privacy of money is considered a fundamental, inviolable, and almost intimate right of man in society. What potential changes could result from greater transparency in this area?
I began to play with this idea during deep Mečiarism, and I have been contemplating it ever since. A societal change so fundamental – one might even call it the most liberating thought in the past 2,000 years. And yet so simple. All it takes is to change the view of a number of things set in stone in our minds.
I haven’t found a better way to describe it than to use the original source – Neale Donald Walsch’s book Conversations with God. A bit of a ghost story, but worth it. Here’s a segment from the book:
How can we ever begin to hope to solve these problems when fighting something as massive and insidious as that?
Simple. Eliminate money.
Yes. Or at the very least, eliminate its invisibility.
I don’t understand.
Most people hide the things they are ashamed of or don’t want other people to know about. That is why the largest number of you hide your sexuality, and that is why nearly all of you hide your money. That is to say, you are not open about it. You consider your money to be a very private matter. And therein lies the problem.
If everyone knew everything about everybody’s money situation, there would be an uprising in your country and on your planet, the likes of which you have never seen. And in the aftermath of that there would be fairness and equity, honesty and true forthe-good-of-all priority in the conduct of human affairs.
It is now not possible to bring fairness or equity, honesty, or the common good to the marketplace because money is so easy to hide. You can actually, physically, take it and hide it. There are also all manner of means by which creative accountants can cause corporate money to be “hidden” or to “disappear.”
Since money can be hidden, there is no way for anyone to know exactly how much anyone else has or what they are doing with it. This makes it possible for a plethora of inequity, if not to say double-dealing, to exist. Corporations can pay two people vastly different wages for doing the same job, for instance. They can pay one person $57,000 a year while paying the other $42,000 a year, for performing the exactly identical function, giving one employee more than the other simply because the first employee has something the second employee does not.
Yes. Oh, indeed.
But You don’t understand. Having a penis makes the first employee more valuable than the second; quicker witted, smarter by half, and, obviously, more capable.
Hmmm. I don’t remember constructing you that way. I mean, so unequal in abilities.
Well, You did, and I’m surprised You don’t know it. Everyone on this planet knows it.
We’d better stop this now, or people will think we’re really serious.
You mean You’re not? Well, we are! The people on this planet are. That’s why women can’t be Roman Catholic or Mormon priests, or show up on the wrong side of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, or climb to the top job in Fortune 500 companies, or pilot airliners, or—
Yes, we get the point. And My point is that pay discrimination, at least, would be much more difficult to getaway with if all money transactions were made visible, instead of hidden. Can you imagine what would happen in every workplace on the globe if all companies were forced to publish all the salaries of all the employees? Not the salary ranges for particular job classifications, but the actual compensation awarded to each individual.
Well, there goes “playing two ends against the middle,” right out the window.
And there goes, “What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
And there goes, “Hey, if we can get her for a third less, why should we pay more?”
And there goes apple polishing, and kissing up to the boss, and the “inside track,” and company politics, and—
And much, much more would disappear from the workplace, and from the world, through the simple expedient of uncovering the money trail.
Think of it. If you knew exactly how much money each of you holds and the real earnings of all of your industries and corporations and each of their executives— as well as how each person and corporation is using the money it has— don’t you think that would change things?
Think about this. In what ways do you think things would change?
The plain fact is that people would never put up with 90 percent of what is going on in the world if they knew what was going on. Society would never sanction the extraordinarily disproportionate distribution of wealth, much less the means by which it is gained, or the manner in which it is used to gain more, were these facts known, specifically and immediately, by all people everywhere.
Nothing breeds appropriate behavior faster than exposure to the light of public scrutiny. That is why your so-called Sunshine Laws have done so much good in clearing away some of the awful mess of your political and governance system. Public hearings and public accountability has gone far toward eliminating the kinds of backroom antics that went on in the twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties in your town halls and school boards and political precincts—and national government as well.
Now it is time to bring some “sunshine” to the way you deal with compensation for goods and services on your planet.
What are You suggesting?
This is not a suggestion, it is a dare. I dare you to throw out all your money, all your papers and coins and individual national currencies, and start over. Develop an international monetary system that is wide open, totally visible, immediately traceable, completely accountable. Establish a Worldwide Compensation System by which people would be given Credits for services rendered and products produced, and Debits for services used and products consumed.
Everything would be on the system of Credits and Debits. Returns on investments, inheritances, winnings of wagers, salaries and wages, tips and gratuities, everything. And nothing could be purchased without Credits. There would be no other negotiable currency. And everyone’s records would be open to everyone else.
It has been said, show me a man’s bank account, and I’ll show you the man. This system comes close to that scenario. People would, or at least could, know a great deal more about you than they know now. But not only would you know more about each other; you would know more about everything.
More about what corporations are paying and spending—and what their cost is on an item, as well as their price. (Can you imagine what corporations would do if they had to put two figures on every price tag—the price and their cost? Would that bring prices down, or what! Would that increase competition, and boost fair trade? You can’t even imagine the consequences of such a thing.)
Under the new Worldwide Compensation System, WCS, the transfer of Debits and Credits would be immediate and totally visible. That is, anybody and everybody could inspect the account of any other person or organization at any time. Nothing would be kept secret, nothing would be “private.”
The WCS would deduct 10 percent of all earnings each year from the incomes of those voluntarily requesting such a deduction. There would be no income tax, no forms to file, no deductions to figure, no “escape hatch” to construct or obfuscation to manufacture! Since all records would be open, everyone in the society would be able to observe who was choosing to offer the 10 percent for the general good of all, and who was not. This voluntary deduction would go toward support of all the programs and services of the government, as voted on by the people.
The whole system would be all very simple, all very visible.
The world would never agree to such a thing.
Of course not. And do you know why? Because such a system would make it impossible for anyone to do anything they didn’t want someone else to know about. Yet why would you want to do something like that anyway? I’ll tell you why. Because currently you live within an interactive social system based on “taking advantage,” “getting the edge,” “making the most,” and “the survival of the so-called fittest.”
When the chief aim and goal of your society (as it is in all truly enlightened societies) is the survival of all; the benefit, equally, of all; the providing of a good life for all, then your need for secrecy and quiet dealings and under the table maneuverings and money which can be hidden will disappear.
Do you realize how much good old-fashioned corruption, to say nothing of lesser unfairnesses and inequities, would be eliminated through the implementation of such a system?
The secret here, the watchword here, is visibility.
Wow. What a concept. What an idea. Absolute visibility in the conduct of our monetary affairs. I keep trying to find a reason why that would be “wrong,” why that would not the “okay,” but I can’t find one.
Of course you can’t, because you’ve got nothing to hide. But can you imagine what the people of money and power in the world would do, and how they would scream, if they thought that every move, every purchase, every sale, every dealing, every corporate action and pricing choice and wage negotiation, every decision whatsoever could be reviewed by anyone simply looking at the bottom line?
I tell you this: nothing breeds fairness faster than visibility.
Visibility is simply another word for truth.
Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
Governments, corporations, people of power know that, which is why they will never allow the truth—the plain and simple truth—to be the basis of any political, social, or economic system they would devise.
In enlightened societies there are no secrets. Everyone knows what everyone else has, what everyone else earns, what everyone else pays in wages and taxes and benefits, what every other corporation charges and buys and sells and for how much and for what profit and everything. EVERYTHING.
Do you know why this is possible only in enlightened societies? Because no one in enlightened societies is willing to get anything, or have anything, at someone else’s expense.
That is a radical way to live.
It seems radical in primitive societies, yes. In enlightened societies is seems obviously appropriate.
I am intrigued by this concept of “visibility.” Could it extend beyond monetary affairs? Might it be a watchword for our personal relationships as well?
One would hope so.
And yet it isn’t.
As a rule, no. Not yet on your planet. Most people still have too much to hide.
Why? What’s that about?
In personal relationships (and in all relationships, really) it’s about loss. It’s about being afraid of what one might lose or fail to gain. Yet the best personal relationships, and certainly the best romantic ones, are relationships in which everyone knows everything; in which visibility is not only the watchword, but the only word; in which there simply are no secrets. In these relationships nothing is withheld, nothing is shaded or colored or hidden or disguised. Nothing is left out or unspoken. There is no guesswork, there is no game playing; no one is “doing a dance,” “running a number,” or “shining you on.”
But if everyone knew everything we were thinking—
Hold it. This isn’t about having no mental privacy, no safe space in which to move through your personal process. That’s not what I’m talking about here.
This is about simply being open and honest in your dealing with another. This is about simply telling the truth when you speak, and about withholding no truth when you know it should be spoken. This is about never again lying, or shading, or verbally or mentally manipulating, or twisting your truth into the hundred and one other contortions which typify the largest number of human communications.
This is about coming clean, telling it like it is, giving it to them straight. This is about ensuring that all individuals have all the data and know everything they need to know on a subject. This is about fairness and openness and, well… visibility.
Yet this does not mean that every single thought, every private fear, every darkest memory, every fleeting judgment, opinion, or reaction must be placed on the table for discussion and examination. That is not visibility, that is insanity, and it will make you crazy.
We are talking here about simple, direct, straightforward, open, honest, complete communication. Yet even at that, it is a striking concept, and a little-used one.
You can say that again.
Yet even at that, it is a striking concept, and a little-used one.
You should have been in vaudeville. Are you kidding?
But seriously, this is a magnificent idea. Imagine, an entire society built around the Principle of Visibility. Are You sure it would work?
I’ll tell you something. Half the world’s ills would go away tomorrow. Half the world’s worries, half the world’s conflicts, half the world’s anger, half the world’s frustration…
Oh, there would be anger and frustration at first, make no mistake about that. When it was finally discovered just how much the average person is being played like a fiddle, used like a disposable commodity, manipulated, lied to, and downright cheated, there would be plenty of frustration and anger. But “visibility” would clean most of that up within 60 days; make it go away.Let me invite you again—just think about it.
Do you think you could live a life like this? No more secrets? Absolute visibility?
If not, why not?
What are you keeping from others that you don’t want them to know?
What are you saying to someone that isn’t true?
What are you not saying to someone that is?
Has lying by omission or commission brought your world where you really want it to be? Has manipulation (of the marketplace, of a particular situation, or simply of a person) through silence and secrecy really benefited us? Is “privacy” really what makes our governmental, corporate, and individual lives work?
What would happen if everybody could see everything? Now there is an irony here. Don’t you see that this is the one thing you fear about your first meeting with God? Don’t you get that what you’ve been afraid of is that the gig is up, the game is over, the tap dance is finished, the shadow boxing is done, and the long, long trail of deceits, big and small, has come to—quite literally—a dead end?
Yet the good news is that there is no reason for fear, no cause to be scared. No one is going to judge you, no one is going to make you “wrong,” no one is going to throw you into the everlasting fires of hell.
(And to you Roman Catholics, no, you won’t even go to purgatory.)
(And to you Mormons, no, you won’t be trapped forever in the lowest heaven, unable to get to “highest heaven,” nor will you be labeled Sons of Perdition and banished forever to realms unknown.)
(And to you… )
Well, you get the picture. Each of you has constructed, within the framework of your own particular theology, some idea, some concept of God’s Worst Punishment. And I hate to tell you this, because I see the fun you’re having with the drama of it all, but, well… just ain’t no such thing.
Perhaps when you lose the fear of having your life become totally visible at the moment of your death, you can get over the fear of having your life become totally visible while you are living it.
Wouldn’t that be something…
Yes, wouldn’t it, though? So here’s the formula to help you get started. Turn back to the very beginning of this book and review again the Five Levels of Truth Telling. Determine to memorize this model and implement it Seek the truth, say the truth, live the truth every day. Do this with yourself and with every person whose life you touch.
Then get ready to be naked. Stand by for visibility.
This feels scary. This feels real scary.
Look to see what you are afraid of.
I’m afraid everyone will leave the room. I’m afraid no one will like me any more.
I see. You feel you have to lie to get people to like you?
Not lie, exactly. Just not tell them everything.
Remember what I said before. This is not about blurting out every little feeling, thought, idea, fear, memory, confession, or whatever. This is simply about always speaking the truth, showing yourself completely. With your dearest loved one you can be physically naked, can you not?
Then why not be emotionally naked as well?
The second is much harder than the first.
I understand that. That does not fail to recommend it, however, for the rewards are great.
Well, You’ve certainly brought up some interesting ideas. Abolish hidden agendas, build a society on visibility, tell the truth all the time to everyone about everything. Whew!
On these few concepts entire societies have been constructed. Enlightened societies.
I haven’t found any.
I wasn’t speaking of your planet.
Or even your solar system.
But you don’t have to leave the planet or even leave your house to begin experiencing what such a New Thought system would be like. Start in your own family, in your own home. If you own a business, start in your own company. Tell everyone in your firm exactly what you make, what the company is making and spending, and what each and every employee makes. You will shock the hell out of them. I mean that quite literally. You will shock the hell right out of them. If everyone who owned a company did this, work would no longer be a living hell for so many because a greater sense of equity, fair play, and appropriate compensation would automatically come to the workplace.
Tell your customers exactly what a product or service costs you to provide. Put those two numbers on your price tag: your cost and your price. Can you still be proud of what you are asking? Do you encounter any fear that someone will think you are “ripping them off” should they know your cost/price ratio? If so, look to see what kind of adjustment you want to make in your pricing to bring it back down into the realm of basic fairness, rather than “get what you can while the getting’s good.”
I dare you to do this. I dare you.
It will require a complete change in your thinking.
You will have to be just as concerned with your customers or clients as you are with yourself.
Yes, you can begin to build this New Society right now, right here, today. The choice is yours. You can continue to support the old system, the present paradigm, or you can blaze the trail and show your world a new way.
You can be that new way. In everything. Not just in business, not just in your personal relationships, not just in politics or economics or religion or this aspect or that of the overall life experience, but in everything.
Be the new way. Be the higher way. Be the grandest way. Then you can truly say, I am the way and the life. Follow me.
If the whole world followed you, would you be pleased with where you took it?
Let that be your question for the day.