The FREEOS Vision
FREEOS envisions a worldwide, fair and distributed community, economic and governance platform that incentivises—and engenders—cooperation, collaboration and trust.
This is achieved without any central authority, but by the collective group efforts of the people involved—empowered by fair systems created using blockchain technology.
Restoration of Trust
Trust appears to be vastly eroding in the modern world. Digital technologies—once promised to open up and empower the notions of democracy and transparency—are now becoming noisy, confused and muddled. Social networks have become bubble-chambers where like-minded viewpoints are amplified, and opposing viewpoints are disrespectfully silenced. This is eroding the proposed—but uncertain—benefits of globalisation around the world causing insular, ultra-nationalistic views to predominate.
Additionally, economic well-being, freedom and equality have been in decline for most citizens worldwide. Again the effects of rapid globalisation are part of the cause, and the reaction has been trending towards protectionism.
Historically we have experienced the horrors ultra-nationalism and protectionism can result in. An erosion of trust, respect, and connection that can turn disastrous in a blink of an eye.
Few blockchain projects are able to maintain active, trusted and loyal developer and community involvement. Much of the community surrounding the blockchain space often has a vested interest in economic freedom outside of normal restrictions.
In the current blockchain space, many investors are only looking towards a fantastic ROI driven mainly by speculation in the markets to provide fantastic returns—not necessarily in the economic freedoms and trust staged by the advent of Bitcoin and other early cryptocurrencies.
But what if the key to a vibrant economy was to provide a trusted foundation for an empowered and engaged community?
It is the premise of FREEOS that systems and structures can be redesigned to facilitate and encourage trust and cooperation while providing fair and equitable wealth. This project proposes a grassroots solution that is decentralised, fair, and is aligned with the principles of Swiss-style direct-democracy to provide an alternative to the centralised, top-down forces of globalisation and wealth distribution.
With blockchain-enabled tools and systems, the FREEOS project is intended to combat the erosion of trust by putting strong tools for community collaboration and economic controls in the hands of the people directly. It is our premise that collaboration and trust creates value, and that a well-designed system that facilitates this can create economic growth, value and long-lasting benefits for all that participate.
A Unique Vision
FREEOS represents a first step of building such tools and systems as part of a greater global digital commons.
But what makes FREEOS unique?
More than a currency—it is a tool for integrating a community of subscribers into an economic system that is designed to build increased value for all active members.
It creates a continual passive income for active voters in the FREEOS Community.
A Collaborative Community— a group of people that easily work together because they have tools that engender trust—partially due to the systems design, and partially due to the inherent qualities of the blockchain.
FREEOS is designed with fairness in mind. All subscribers receive the same power of voting, and also the same rewards. These rewards are voted into existence. No pre-minted coins are distributed beforehand. It is also designed to be as decentralised and distributed as possible.
The critical economic mechanisms of FREEOS are under direct community control through the voting process.
FREEOS is a unique take on a Universal Basic Income, conditional upon active—yet reasonably minimal—weekly interactions and economic stewardship.
FREEOS is for the people and by the people as a digital commons. There are rules encoded on the blockchain, but it is the subscriber's voting that directs the system.
Due to deep suspicions about the abuse of how greater society treats the commons—in part to Garret Hardin’s famous essay, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ as well as Adam Smith’s framing of the individual as being solely governed by self-interest—it is easy to dismiss the vision of a system, such as FREEOS, to be unworkable.
Adam Smith wrote:
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.
The issue with an over-emphasis of self-interest is one that can be likened to a fire; such a fire that can warm the home and hearth or it may burn the house down—and sometimes the entire neighbourhood. Need has the tendency and potential to amplify and transform into the destructive force of greed if left unchecked and encouraged by the systems we inhabit. Unfortunately, our modern world seems rife with greed. Greed which has been long corrupting the systems and ecosystems of the planet—potentially by either oversight, or by design.
Although the term ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ has become nearly a household term in today’s society, other thinkers such as Jeremy Rifkin and the Nobel prize winning political scientist, Elinor Ostrom, have shown that successfully managed commons—both natural and digital—can result in equitable and sustainable resources that are deeply collaborative in nature. Especially if the rules around such commons are adhered to.
But what if the ‘benevolence’ that Adam Smith claimed had no part in economic activity could be built into a system? What if a system could transform self-interest as a tool that promoted and encouraged acts of benevolence and collaboration practically—even when it was not individually intended?
FREEOS aims to deliver a digital commons managed by rules that promote such benevolence and collaboration. But instead of relying on a committee, a government, an open-society, or a private entity to govern and enforce these rules—FREEOS benefits from the immutable nature of smart contracts on the blockchain to ensure the rules are followed—not through punishment, but instead by incentivising collaborative behaviour.
The vision for the systems design of FREEOS is to generate a fair, collaborative and open economic platform that balances self-interest with the interest of the shared community. By balancing the needs of the people, FREEOS intends to ‘flip the script’ and transform the current pervasive spirit of economic greed towards a habitual cooperative effort that simultaneously takes care of an individual’s—and all other’s—economic needs.
Economics has long been framed as a study, or an observation, of how wealth moves in our world. It seldom is attached to any goal, nor seen as a system that can be imparted with a goal.
Fortunately, this view is changing, and FREEOS is aligned with the thinking that economics is not just an observation—it is represented by our systems. And systems—including economics—can be designed to be in alignment with our goals.
Economist Kate Raworth, in her book, Doughnut Economics–Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, wrote:
Rethinking economics is not about finding the correct [model] (because it doesn’t exist) it’s about choosing or creating one that best serves our purpose—reflecting the context we face, the values we hold, and the aims we have. As humanity’s context, values, and aims continually evolve, so too should the way that we envision the economy.
But can economics truly impart a goal, a vision, or a purpose?
Scottish lawyer, James Steuart once coined the term, ‘political economy’ and defined its ultimate purpose:
The principal object of this science is to secure a certain fund of subsistence for all the inhabitants, to obviate every circumstance which may render it precarious; to provide every thing necessary for supplying the wants of the society, and to employ the inhabitants (supposing them to be free-men) in such a manner as naturally to create reciprocal relations and dependencies between them, so as to make their several interests lead them to supply one another with their reciprocal wants.
Although modern economics is often considered a science and its dynamics are often studied as a natural force (verily, there are natural aspects to economics driven by common human needs and desires) it is also observed that a significant aspect of economics is reflected in the design of the system. Economics is a game (akin to a much more in-depth and complex version of Monopoly) and—being a game—aspects of this system can be redesigned for a wider economic benefit.
FREEOS represents a new goal-driven redesign, and being a digital, self-contained system on the blockchain, the participants and developers can safely test the validity of this system and tweak and iterate upon its rules towards reaching the same goals as James Steuart once conveyed—for all of today’s free-people ‘to supply one another with their reciprocal wants’.
A Tool for Economic Freedom
The Nobel prize winning economist, Amartya Sen described the relationship between freedom and economic abundance as:
Freedom is not only the ultimate end of development; it is also a crucially effective means. This acknowledgement can be based on empirical analysis of the consequences of — and interconnections between — freedoms of distinct kinds, and on the evidence that freedoms of different types typically help to sustain each other. What a person has the actual capability to achieve is influenced by economic opportunities, political liberties, social facilities, and the enabling conditions of good health, basic education, and the encouragement and cultivation of initiatives. These opportunities are, to a great extent, mutually complementary, and tend to reinforce the reach and use of one another.
FREEOS includes the concept of two powerful types of liberties—Direct Democracy and Universal Basic Income (UBI). In FREEOS, both aspects are designed to be ‘mutually complementary, and tend to reinforce the reach and use of one another’ as a means of effective development.
Direct Democracy is an idea that—throughout modern Swiss history—has shown resilience as a tool for political freedom. Such an idea was barely conceivable as a workable concept in much of human history—yet it now thrives.
Universal Basic Income is also an idea that is barely conceivable as a workable concept—yet many modern experiments have shown how this concept has wide-ranging practical value. Many prominent thinkers including business leaders such as, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Yang, Jack Dorsey as well as economists such as Milton Friedman, Peter Diamond, Sir Christopher Pissarides, Friedrich Hayek and even politicians that include Barack Obama, Robert Reich, have been calling out for UBI. Universal Basic Income is often touted as a humane and fair way for the world to transition to a world of disruptive automation and to provide creative, cultural and economic freedom to those that such technologies displace.
Currently this call is stronger, in the wake of recent worldwide events related to COVID-19, with many more clamouring for a type of UBI to be deployed.
Critics, however, have long calculated that the cost of UBI—when paid through taxes—are likely to not be sustainable.
Yet, with the trillions of dollars generated through the advent of cryptocurrencies, might there be a path forward that does not rely on taxation?
FREEOS is that premise, that a type of tax-free UBI can be delivered through looking at systems design with a blockchain-tinted lens. A way of systems design thinking that proposes a regenerative, circular economic system without any central authorities, nor any harsh, unfair rules that lean increasingly towards a “winner-takes-all” approach.
Instead of hoping for the central authorities to “provide from above”, FREEOS proposes that true economic freedom is both an individual and a community responsibility that should reside directly in the people, by the people and for the people. Give the people tools to come to consensus, and the people can take their own economic freedom—and destiny—into their own hands.
Oscar Wilde once noted:
Stronger than a thousand armies, is an idea whose time has come.
It is our premise that the ‘Democracy-Empowered Economic Freedom’ that FREEOS represents is such an idea, and the time is now to initiate it.