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Zero Balance Business: Buckminster Fuller Reminds Us That Saving & Investing Harms Us All

Saving, investing or any other form of "hoarding" are obsolete on an abundant planet in a friendly, sustainable Universe.
Written Aug 09, 2011, read 4133 times since then.
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Buckminster Fuller had a discipline of doing his best to maintain a financial worth of zero.  He often cautioned audiences that “ownership was onerous.”  For most of his adult life, he made a practice of renting rather than owning, and the only house he and his wife ever owned was the Geodesic Dome in Carbondale, IL when he was working at Southern Illinois University.

I have just spent a few years compiling a new book on Fuller "A Fuller View, Buckminster Fuller's Vision of Hope and Abundance for All" that will be published by Divine Arts Media in April 2012, and it details Fuller's perspective as well as the insight of 42 "Guest Commentators."  These well-known Commentators inlcude Gary Zukav, Barbara Marx Hubbard, John Robbins, Hunter Lovins, Werner Erhard, Hazel Henderson and Bobbi dePorter.  My last Fuller book "Buckminster Fuller's Universe" also details the life and wisdom of a man often described as the Leonardo da Vinci of the 20th Century.

Like the wise indigenous people of the world and men like da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin (some people say that Bucky was a reincarnation of both these men), Bucky (as he preferred to be called) realized that we humans cannot own anything, and he did his best to follow that path.  Although his efforts often appear extreme, he demonstrated the viability of living “as if” and showing us all what is possible.   After his 1930’s calculation of the Earth’s resources, he understood that we would soon reach a point where there would be enough to support all life on our planet.  He then calculated that date to be 1976.

We now know that in 1976 we reached a point where there was enough food to feed everyone, yet 50,000 people still die of starvation every day.  There is also an abundance / sufficiency of all resources, and we can eliminate much human physical suffering if “we the people” wake up and stop hoarding and saving.  If we make this transformation, we have the option to be successful global stewards.  Without it, we most likely face extinction as individuals and as a species.  Fortunately, we live in an era when our individual choices can greatly influence global and societal decisions if we follow Fuller’s lead and act as Trimtab advocates for sustainability and a world that works for everyone.

From that perspective of sufficiency and the support of all life, Bucky kept his bank account at zero as much as possible.  Even though he had a sizeable income of approximately $250,000 per year (which would be about $1,250,000 in today’s dollars) between 1959 and his death in 1988, he spent everything that came in - usually on the next project that he saw would benefit the most people.  

Thus, he did not become what he labeled a “clog in the blood flow of economic resources.”  He was not someone who hoarded money or accumulated real estate and other assets for himself, his family or his retirement.  He did not plan to retire from his quest to be as much of a benefit as possible to the most people, and that was exactly how he lived and died.  Fuller made his last public presentation (an Integrity Day in Huntington Beach, CA) on June 25, 1983 just one week before he consciously died at his wife Anne’s bedside (she was in a coma and died 36 hours later).  He lived a full, active and very contributory life for nearly 88 years without hoarding, building an estate or attempting to make a personal profit (at the expense of others - or not).

This is the model we each need to follow, and it is most easily done within the context that there is enough to go around.  As Fuller so often reminds us,

“You can make money or you can make sense.  The two are mutually exclusive.”

Making sense does not mean not being fully supported in all aspects of your life -  including spiritually, physically and emotionally.  It does, however, mean that your actions are not initiated or fueled by a need to make and save money and other resources.  Saving is for those who believe (Fuller was quick to say the he did not “believe” in anything - he either knew it or he did not know it) that there is an insufficient amount of everything to support everyone.

If you believe that to be true, go on saving and hoarding.  These two ideas may be judged as good or bad, but both have the same result - a great deal of suffering among the “have nots” and the destruction of life on Earth.  In a world of sufficiency, everybody eats and your cup is automatically filled up when it becomes empty.  There are no billionaires in that world, and there are also no people starving or living on the streets.  It’s the “you and me” world that so many claim that they support, even as they continue to save for their retirement or make sure that they have enough money to survive for six months without an income.

If you really know that we live in an abundant environment, you will begin to shift your focus from yourself and your small “tribe” -  be it family, community, church or nation - to recognizing that humans on Earth are one big family.   That’s how Buckminster Fuller proposed that we will succeed, and given the state of the economy on all levels (personal, national and global), it appears that he is correct.

My aspiration as an author and speaker is that  we all come to recognize the abundance and prosperity that is the birthright of all life on Earth.

Learn more about the author, Steven Sieden.

Comment on this article

  • Custom WordPress & Print Design for Small Business 
Seattle, Washington 
Sheila  Hoffman
    Posted by Sheila Hoffman, Seattle, Washington | Aug 09, 2011

    Steven...a lot of wisdom here. I really appreciate you being such a consistent ambassador of Bucky's wisdom. It sounds like Dharma to me. As much as I can, I aspire to these values in my life. Thanks.

  • QuickBooks And Xero Outsourced Contractors Bookkeeping Services 
Lynnwood, Washington 
Randal DeHart, PMP, QPA
    Posted by Randal DeHart, PMP, QPA, Lynnwood, Washington | Aug 09, 2011

    Steven....Your view of this person Buckminster Fuller is very interesting.

    My only knowledge of him comes from what I have read of your articles...and in general I like what I read.

    Warm Regards,

    Randal

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 09, 2011

    Thanks Sheila. I sometimes call what I'm so deeply involved in "Bucky Dharma."

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 09, 2011

    Randal,

    Thanks. Consider reading "Buckminster Fuller's Universe" by me http://www.amazon.com/Buckminster-Fullers-Universe-Life-Work/dp/0738203793/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top. Then, read / study "Critical Path" by Buckminster Fuller. That book changed my life.

  • Business Development 
Seattle, Washington 
Edward Kyle
    Posted by Edward Kyle, Seattle, Washington | Aug 09, 2011

    This reminds me of what Zig Ziglar is famous for saying: "You can have everything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want in life." Our society advertises a selfish attitude. We all should be more like Mr Fuller and share what we have!

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 09, 2011

    Thanks Edward. I agree.

  • Principal Data Protection Specialist 
Seattle, Washington 
Nick Webb
    Posted by Nick Webb, Seattle, Washington | Aug 09, 2011

    Very thought provoking, Steven, great work!

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 09, 2011

    Thanks Nick. It's my "channeling" of Buckminster Fuller. Now that the latest Fuller book is filled, filed and off to the publisher, I have time to allow for some other stuff to come through.

  • Sales & Event Planning/Virtual Assist. 
Snohomish, Washington 
Sheila Allen
    Posted by Sheila Allen, Snohomish, Washington | Aug 10, 2011

    I enjoyed your article and it goes along with Pay it Forward thinking, Gratitude and Giving to Others. We should all think of our "Tribe" and what we can do for them - love that term BTW!!

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 10, 2011

    Shiela,

    Thank you for your kind words. "Tribe" is good.

    Steven

  • Independent Online Media Professional 
Gladstone, Oregon 
Chas Wyatt
    Posted by Chas Wyatt, Gladstone, Oregon | Aug 13, 2011

    For me, this is a timely post. Even though I was aware of Buckminster Fuller through a friend, who built a Geodesic Dome in the 70's(I pounded a few nails, but, he created the hubs and hand-split all the Cedar Shakes for the skin), I never delved into his writings. I have the full intention of reading "Utopia or Oblivian: The Prospects of Humanity" released in 1969, but, re-released in 2008. I have read the first few pages, and I like the question he posed to his Grandson, Jaime, while driving to the airport; "What is the most important thing we can be thinking about right now?" I find his writings to be more relevant now, than ever. Another quote, from a different author, but, with the same relevance; "Creation is a better means of self-expression than possession; it is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed."- Vida D. Scudder, 'The Life of the Spirit in the Modern English Poets'

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 13, 2011

    Thanks Charles. That's why I wrote my first Bucky book "Buckminster Fuller's Universe" as well as the upcoming volume "A Fuller View - Buckminster Fuller's Vision of Abundance and Hope for All." I feel that it's time for Bucky's wisdom and insights to be more available again. More information at www.BuckyFullerNow.com.

  • Architect 
Camano Island, Washington 
William Lippens
    Posted by William Lippens, Camano Island, Washington | Aug 15, 2011

    Remember, the "wise indigenous people of the world" typically lived in groups of a few hundred at most, where share and share alike works wonderfully.

    In a perfect world, what Fuller says makes perfect sense. However, we don't live in a perfect world, or one in which the powers that be see fit to share the world's resources.

    Living with a financial balance of zero is all well and good if you're a freaking genius, whose services are always in demand, and you're comfortable as a constant promoter of you and your ideas. Later in life Fuller always found a way to make money.

    To those of us on a more mortal plane, saving is a way to get by when times are tough, as they are now. My savings are helping me get by. It should be remembered that saving and hoarding are not the same thing. "Saving" is keeping a prudent supply in reserve for tight times. "Hoarding" is stockpiling much more than can ever be used, especially when it is to the detriment of others.

  • Business Development 
Seattle, Washington 
Edward Kyle
    Posted by Edward Kyle, Seattle, Washington | Aug 15, 2011

    I want to thank you again for evoking so much thought with your article! Excellent work!

    After further consideration, I do still agree with you in theory. I think "giving" is something we should all strive to do more of, and "hoarding" something we should certainly be leery of. However, there is something unsettling about not saving money for emergencies, especially if you have a wife or children to provide for. It seems irresponsible to take the Buckminster Fuller approach literally. Your thoughts?

    This issue does deserve a more thought-out answer than a comment will allow. Stay tuned for a followup article! I would love to hear your opinion on my thoughts.

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 15, 2011

    Edward, I agree with you. For me, there is a whole lot unsettling about not saving for "emergencies." I've been feeling unsettled for decades as I've done my best to follow in Bucky's footsteps. I can only imagine how he must have felt doing this for 56 years.

    Still, for me, it's a matter of acting "as if." The old "fake it 'till you make it" routine. If I truly know that we live in a friendly, abundant Universe on a planet that provides for us, how can I have "savings" when my brothers and sisters on board Spaceship Earth are starving to death? 50,000 of them will suffer this fate today ... and tomorrow ... and the next day.

    Bucky was generous and wise enough to live like this at a time that was far more challenging than today and to crusade for this global sufficiency when people had no interest. For me, the least I can do is to do my best to see if this way of living actually works. And, if it does, to continue with it and suggest that others give it a try.

    Universe does, in my experience, support what needs to be. Never, however, at the moment that the idea shows up in my mind. As Bucky found, it's usually at the last moment, when I am about to give up and throw in the towel. That's when I do my best to remember to wait just another hour or day or week.

  • Hardware & Software Design, Audio Recording & Mastering 
Bellevue, Washington 
Brian Willoughby
    Posted by Brian Willoughby, Bellevue, Washington | Aug 18, 2011

    There are a number of dangerously flawed ideas in this article. The world simply would not work if everyone lived as Buckminster Fuller did. That's not to say there's anything wrong with his choices, nor is there anything wrong with someone who would choose the same, just that zero savings and zero investment is completely unsustainable if it were universally practiced by all.

    The title says that investing harms us all, and yet Buckminster Fuller spent everything that came in on the next project that he believed in. I would like to point out that spending money on a project in the hopes that it will result in a future benefit is the very definition of investment in capital. In that respect, Fuller was living a life exemplifying 100% investment as opposed to 100% savings. The title implies that the two are the same, when it's more accurate to consider the terms as opposites.

    If everyone on the planet had a steady, reliable $250k annual income, then perhaps everyone could afford to spend 100% of their income immediately. If we could achieve that then we wouldn't even need to adjust the amount to the $1.25 million in today's inflated currency. But the fact is that we are not all Bucky, and those of us who are not must save (and even some of us who are like Bucky have good reasons to save).

    It's important to understand why 50,000 people still die of starvation when there is enough food to feed everyone. The analysis is rather simple: The food that exists is not always the right kind, and, more importantly, it is not physically located near the people who need it. The problem is not one of production, but one of communication and physical transport. It is a mistake to believe that hoarding and saving create shortages. Centralized planning, crop subsidies, and various wealth redistribution systems end up creating a situation where too much of the wrong foods are produced (and then burned), when entirely different foods should have been produced elsewhere. Whether you want to believe it or not, capital (savings) and free markets are much better at providing the needed food of the right kinds in the right places, due to the distributed nature of the decision-making processes.

    What is most alarming to me is the belief that "everybody eats and your cup is automatically filled up when it becomes empty." That's impossible unless you believe in magic. All food is grown by conscious humans who make decisions (there is insufficient food growing without human involvement, at least not enough to sustain us all), and therefore nothing is 'automatic' about this process at all. Unless the farmers make the right decisions then the food will not exist, or at least the particular food that is needed will not exist because the land and time were used to produce food that is not needed because there is an excess.

    Fuller's idea of spending money on his own ideas is, therefore, actually the purest form of capitalism. It is a mistake to believe that capitalism is the pursuit of money and savings. In actuality, capitalism is the pursuit of whatever end results each individual desires, and the capital is only the means to those ends. Fuller's choices are fine for an individual with his goals, but savings can easily be the right choice for other individuals with different goals. Fuller perceived personal value in the projects where he spent his money, and economics is about making the most utility out of the available resources. Fuller's resources were his atypically high income and intelligence, and he made what he considered to be the best choices.

    If there were no savings, then many resources would be depleted almost instantaneously. Sometimes, those who 'hoard' a particular resource are actually performing a service to future generations by making the resource available to them when otherwise it would have been consumed to extinction. Extinction is a very real phenomenon, and it cannot be ignored. Hoarding is only a problem when those who hoard are not in touch with reality and might not sell at any price. Any stockpile of a resource becomes more valuable as the non-hoarded resource becomes depleted - and eventually a hoarder's stock would become so valuable that they could not resist trading it for something they need more. In fact, this is why savings can never be a bad thing: because any time there is a shortage, savings become more valuable to the point that the owner cannot afford to keep saving them indefinitely. The future is a very real concern in economics, and savings represents an investment in the future.

    Besides, there are many technological advancements made by mankind which would never be possible without savings and capital. Food is an overly simple example because we keep growing more, within the constraints of available land and proper planning. In contrast, the technology involved in farming - the machinery, the communications, the biotechnology and understanding - would not be possible without savings and capital. It takes time and money to invent new technology, and capital savings are the only way to invest in the future. We would be stuck with horses and plows and not enough food if the concepts of savings and capital had never been utilized.

    One very good piece of advice is that renting can often be a better than owning. The whole focus on investing in your own, private home is primarily a U.S. phenomenon. The federal government got the bright idea that it would spur the economy if more citizens owned a private home, creating homemakers and giving rise to home improvement dollars being spent. Europe does not have the same focus, and the percentage of homeowners is much lower compared to renters. The take-away lesson here is that every individual should make their own decisions about what is important to them, instead of looking to keep up with the neighbors and constantly seek outside approval and guidance.

    There are some choice tidbits of wisdom in comments like "humans cannot own anything," but the challenge is how to correctly interpret and act on this. We certainly own our lives, we own our choices, and we own the product of our labor. At the same time it's prudent to understand that the further away from our person any 'ownership' is taken, the more fragile the concept.

  • Sales Mentor, Sales Coach, Sales Trainer, Consultant, Speaker, Humorist, Social Entrepreneur 
Southamption, Hampshire United Kingdom 
Terry Murphy
    Posted by Terry Murphy, Southamption, Hampshire United Kingdom | Aug 18, 2011

    Steven thnx for the post. Fascinating perspective fueled by a great man.

    Personally, I think the first step is to discourage credit rather than going the whole way to discourage saving.

    I do, however, totally agree that hoarding is destructive as well. At least if someone does bring in a large amount of money, when they spend it, it goes to support the lives of many others in the economic community. And if it goes towards those less fortunate, excellent.

    Brian, as always, also has some great points. I watch this discussion with interest.

  • blogger 
Rockville Centre, New York 
Alison Gilbert
    Posted by Alison Gilbert, Rockville Centre, New York | Aug 18, 2011

    Thank you for the brilliant insights from a brilliant man, Buckminster Fuller. His philosophy and activities regarding finance could serve us well especially during this time of financial 'crisis' in the world. Saving, hording, greed, and total lack of moral behavior in our economy has certainly NOT been the answer. I think we need to consider his ideas very seriously.

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 18, 2011

    Thanks to all who commented, especially Brian. I was hopeful that somebody would attempt to defend the system that got us into what I judge to be a huge mess that will probably result in the extinction of the human species. Bucky's ideas are pretty radical, and I tend to move them one step toward more radical as we now seem to be at the 59th minute of the 11th hour before the midnight that represents the end of humankind.

    Not everybody will make the dramatic shift to living on the edge as Bucky (who often said, "The most important thing about me is that I am an average man.") and I tend to do. Still, a good portion of "we the people" will need to take some such action in order to protect the species (human) and other life on Spaceship Earth.

    As a good friend always reminds me, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." I'm reading a new book "The Watchman's Rattle - Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction" that describes exactly how our cognitive processing got us into this situation and what we can do to shift things. A simple, yet profound, perspective that is very much in line with Bucky's wisdom and experience.

  • Licensed Massage Therapist 
Mc Minnville, Oregon 
Camron Dunn, LMT
    Posted by Camron Dunn, LMT, Mc Minnville, Oregon | Aug 18, 2011

    I would love to have a steady income like Bucky but I don't. If it were not for savings we would be living in the street right now. This idea smacks of socialism and I think history has shown that with large populations socialism does not work. Humans are too greedy in nature to not have graft and corruption. I am glad I have savings to draw from until I can get back on my feet and I am glad I have my own home - a place I can express my creativity without anyone telling me I can't. I had heard of Bucky but not this load of nonsense. Nice fantasy.

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 18, 2011

    Thanks Camron. As Bucky so often reminded us, we're all in this together and nobody needs to live on the street if we shift our resources from weaponry to livingry. All I can say to folks advocating for the current system is the old Dr. Phil thing, "how's that wokin' for you?" For most of us -especially the 50,000 who will die of starvation today - the current global system isn't working so well. Many of us are seeking a paradigm change, and Bucky proved that it can work for individuals.

    He actually never a "steady income." He simply kept going out and doing what needed to be done knowing that if it was supposed to be, he would be supported by Nature, and sure enough that's what happened. It's genuine "living on the edge." As I keep being reminded, "if you're not living on the edge, you're taking up way too much space."

    Not easy and often scary, but it does provide me with a sense of hope that the human species can survive and thrive.

  • Bowenwork, MLT (manual ligament therapy), I-AM (Integral-Awareness Modality), Mind-Body-Being integration, bodywork, massage therapy 
Seattle, Washington 
Michelle Basey
    Posted by Michelle Basey, Seattle, Washington | Aug 18, 2011

    I find it difficult to swallow the premise that someone securing $1,250,000 a year in today's dollars is "living on the edge".

    He did this in the last 29 years of his life. So that leaves us with 59 years of creating a life that secures $1,250,000 / year.

    I live on the edge, and wait at bus-stops with other people living on the edge.

    I'm here to tell you that Living on the Edge is $12,500 / year, skipping meals to pay rent, & selling things on craigslist to fix your 20 year old broken vehicle.

    $1,250,000 / yr is plenty enough wiggle room to weather a "down" year. Those truely living on the edge, have no such resources to weather a 'down' year.

    Telling someone "we're all in this together" is ideology. In reality, are you going to step up and pay Camron's rent?

    Of course not. Would you refer clients his way to help him succeed in getting to $1,250,000 / year? Perhaps.

    I agree with the idea that once you reach a certain level of wealth it's it's time to shift the "me-focus" to "we-focus" and see how you can give back to society and make the world a better place all around.

    I just get super frustrated when I hear "let them eat cake" sentiments floating around the political & upper social hemispheres.

    We all want cake, and we all do the best we can to live in a world where cake is everywhere. Not every profession has the capacity to pull down $1,250,000 / year, and not evey business professional has the "it" factor to make that happen. And none of us want cake handed out to us for free.

    As for "nature supporting Bucky", come on, are you serious? There is no money tree. Berries, perhaps, a few elk & some sticks to build a fort. Bucky was no where near "dude living in the forest off the land".

  • Screen Printer 
Kirkland, Washington 
Karen Eastman
    Posted by Karen Eastman, Kirkland, Washington | Aug 18, 2011

    Oh, I am so conflicted now seeing both sides. I FEEL alignment with what Bucky says, and will be reading your books about him right away, yet I have always been marginalized for my ignorance and naiveté for holding such views so I doubt myself and go after what I "should" be going after like savings and branding and it FEELS false and bad and, oh, hell….

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 18, 2011

    Thanks Michelle. Again, stunning examples of "How's that workin' for you?" Clearly, the system is well beyond broken, and things like politics, war, corporations running the world and greed are obsolete. Personally, I'd rather have a couple more schools and better support for teachers than the Blue Angels flying over Seattle and the rest of the world. Where do we put our resources? As we witness our economy collapsing (it actually already has), it won't matter how much money or real estate people believe they have or own. Bucky Fuller continually contended that he was an average human, and he spent several years "couch surfing" (they didn't call it couch surfing back then) in order to support sharing his vision.

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 18, 2011

    Thanks Karen. I know how you feel because it's how I feel - often and a lot. Fortunately, for me, I have been deeply involved in Bucky's wisdom and insights (I call it Bucky Dharma), that I have shifted my perspective (somewhat). Also, not having a TV really helps.

  • Sales Mentor, Sales Coach, Sales Trainer, Consultant, Speaker, Humorist, Social Entrepreneur 
Southamption, Hampshire United Kingdom 
Terry Murphy
    Posted by Terry Murphy, Southamption, Hampshire United Kingdom | Aug 18, 2011

    It is interesting to see the opposing views.

    I agree changes are needed, but extreme views are always more difficult to evangelize and execute than bite sized pieces.

    There are clearly flaws in the interpretations of Fuller's ideas, in that if he believed that no human should own property, who does? Who did he rent his homes from?

    Also, as Brian points out, saving and investment are not the same but in fact diametrically opposite concepts.

    Investment is exactly what is needed, and as I mentioned before, a complete change in debt and lending structures. No responsible financial institutions should offer credit for any luxury item or even everyday spending. (Offering credit in Best Buy should be regarded as a crime against society.)

    What is sad about this debate in this forum is that this is a business forum, not a political reform site. Why not therefore focus on what Fuller taught us about business, specifically solo business. (If indeed he is an appropriate teacher.)

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 18, 2011

    Thanks for your insights Terry. Bucky was, in fact, the quintessential entrepreneur long before entrepreneurship was in fashion. He ran a small business with about 10 employees who maintained his office and allowed him to be one the road making at least 100 “thinking out loud” lectures every year all around the world.

    He was also an active inventor, designer and architect with many partnerships around the world. If there are two things that most reflect how he was able to do so much in one short lifetime (while accumulating no savings or estate), it was the concepts of “Trimtab” and working on the largest problems he could find.

    Bucky used Trimtab (doing as much as possible with as little as possible, often called skillful means or leverage) to get a lot done. He also discovered that the larger a problem he took on the more the “little things” in his life were just “handled.” Kind of like “don’t sweat the small stuff.” These are two strategies I do my best to use in my business and personal life, and, thus far, they seem to be working. However, I also follow his admonition, “Don’t try to make me consistent: I’m learning all the time.” That gives me space to make course corrections on a regular basis.

  • Bowenwork, MLT (manual ligament therapy), I-AM (Integral-Awareness Modality), Mind-Body-Being integration, bodywork, massage therapy 
Seattle, Washington 
Michelle Basey
    Posted by Michelle Basey, Seattle, Washington | Aug 19, 2011

    How's that working for me? I never hoaded a thing, I spent every dime every time. Just like you said. And when I needed that extra dime, it wasn't there. So for my business that concept has failed me miserably and it has failed a lot of folks personally as is evident these past few years.

    I am relieved to hear there is more to the story than that. Thank you Terry for teasing it out so Steven could clarify a bit more of the Bucky story.

  • Bowenwork, MLT (manual ligament therapy), I-AM (Integral-Awareness Modality), Mind-Body-Being integration, bodywork, massage therapy 
Seattle, Washington 
Michelle Basey
    Posted by Michelle Basey, Seattle, Washington | Aug 19, 2011

    (posted twice, can't delete, technical genius has failed me!)

  • Writer of Rhyme. 
Sydney, New South Wales Australia 
Jim Spain
    Posted by Jim Spain, Sydney, New South Wales Australia | Aug 19, 2011

    Based on where we are today.

    What bloody difference has he made ?

    Perhaps one devout follower!

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 19, 2011

    Thanks for asking, Jim. This is the man who created the most prevalent man made structure on the planet, had the longest listing ever in Who's Who in America, created a mathematics based on nature that makes our current system obsolete among other things. More important, he proved that individual human beings and not large corporations and organizations make the difference.

    Consider reading what I and 42 "experts" say about Fuller in my new forthcoming book "A Fuller View."

  • Hardware & Software Design, Audio Recording & Mastering 
Bellevue, Washington 
Brian Willoughby
    Posted by Brian Willoughby, Bellevue, Washington | Aug 19, 2011

    Steven, I'm not sure what you intended to imply by mentioning my response in the same passage as folks defending "the system that got us into what I judge to be a huge mess that will probably result in the extinction of the human species." I can assure you that my criticisms are in no way equivalent to support for "the system." Just because I disagree with you does not mean that I agree with the present system to any degree whatsoever. My apologies, however, if this was not what you intended to imply.

    Buckminster Fuller was born and lived in an era before the United States dropped the gold standard for the Dollar, and thus he was able to avoid the use of fiat currency. The single biggest problem with our system today is that there are so many fiat currencies in play. Technically, in the last decade of his life, Fuller did have to face the reality of a fake money, but I really doubt that he considered changing his tactics at the age of 76.

    This fiat currency that we live with now, all over the world, depreciates so quickly that people do have incredible incentives to spend all that they earn as soon as possible. In fact, many people go far beyond that and spend money that they have not yet even earned, by leveraging themselves into historically unprecedented levels of debt. What you recommend in your article is already being done by nearly everyone, to a degree far exceeding what you laud. Besides, savings are rendered nearly pointless as inflated currency results in inflated prices; by the time you can spend what you've saved it will not buy as much, even with interest earned.

    There are plenty of problems with the system that we live with today. There are certainly many changes that need to be made. However, you cannot simply just "do the opposite thing" and expect that to be a successful solution, not to mention the fact that what you're suggesting is not really any different than what people are already doing. In other words, what you're effectively suggesting is that we stay the course!

    As you've alluded, the height of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result. But you really have to be fully aware of what's going on before you can define what would constitute a change. We've been living under personal income taxes, fiat currency, and socialist programs for approximately a century, and if you look at the historical purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar and the widening gap between the classes then you must certainly come to the conclusion that these recent social experiments are the cause of our doom (along with a total lack of personal responsibility that permeates society nearly universally - but which is the chicken and which is the egg?).

    I'd like to sign off this time with a quote attributed to Einstein: "The world we've made, as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking"

  • Life Consultant 
BRANTFORD, Ontario Canada 
Debbie Pribele
    Posted by Debbie Pribele, BRANTFORD, Ontario Canada | Aug 19, 2011

    I haven't had time to read all of the comments (nor look at the links you have provided) but I am always fascinated by the thoughts we use to justify our current way of living. I had just written a little ditty on Google+ re: our need to change our way- but what should we change "to" and how do we make the change in a way that does collapse our society and put our world into chaos? When it comes down to it, all we need is: food to eat, protection from the elements (for most of us that means a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and some form of heating during winter months, clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean soil to grow our food). All the rest is "fluff" that for the most part contributes to "the problem".

  • Sales Mentor, Sales Coach, Sales Trainer, Consultant, Speaker, Humorist, Social Entrepreneur 
Southamption, Hampshire United Kingdom 
Terry Murphy
    Posted by Terry Murphy, Southamption, Hampshire United Kingdom | Aug 19, 2011

    Debbie, correction, clothes on our fronts not backs...:) (must be a Victorian expression, wouldn't want to even make reference to immodesty)

    I commend you for living the way you suggest. Such a good example in this day and age.

    But may I guess that in addition to the basics you describe, perhaps you also have a computer and therefore require some electricity, an Internet (who runs and manages this in Nirvana).

    Teasing apart, your question is spot on. How, without destroying ourselves in the process? There must be a way, but no answers have appeared yet. We should all keep asking.

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 19, 2011

    Brian, I'm glad that you and I agree that our current system is broken. Bucky often said that it's obsolete, and he offered a system that will create his vision of "a world that works for everyone." That's not to say that everyone can see, much less buy into, it right now. For some, things have to get a lot worse, and we're on our way their very quickly.

    Personally, I'm grateful that Buckminster Fuller was around during the last decade to pioneer a vision and simple way of being that works well for me and that I can emulate. I did not take this on until I spent 10 years checking it out against my own personal experience (as all the great teachers and spiritual masters tell us to do).

    This is very practical stuff, and it helps me to make sense of a senseless system based on irrational beliefs. As I write in my books, when Fuller met Einstein in 1936 "Young man, you amaze me! I cannot conceive anything I have ever done as having the slightest practical application, … but you appear to have found practical applications for it (Einstein’s theories)."

    And Fuller continues to amaze me as he makes sense and provide practical ways of applying his ways of creating peace and abundance for all. He was a great thinker, but as an engineer and architect, he expressed himself in long and often convoluted writing and speaking. It's been my job to "translate" those important ideas into something even children can understand because we need to shift our perspective markedly if we are to survive and thrive as a species and as individuals. This definitely includes in our business lives.

  • Life Consultant 
BRANTFORD, Ontario Canada 
Debbie Pribele
    Posted by Debbie Pribele, BRANTFORD, Ontario Canada | Aug 20, 2011

    well.. clothes on our fronts AND backs - got to keep warm, all over!

    So, yes, there are "needs" and "wants" .. I need food, etc. and I want my computer (well, it is a partial source of my income to put food on my table so it is "need" in this society, for me. Re: businesses - perhaps we should be focusing on providing materials and services that help people fill their "needs" and help them provide their materials and services that will help others provide their materials/services and fill their needs. Perhaps it is the "wants" and the businesses that provide an abundance of "wants" (including wants that we didn't even know we wanted until the business told us so) -- perhaps this is where our society gets off track and corrupts our society and our planet... hmmmm

  • Sales Mentor, Sales Coach, Sales Trainer, Consultant, Speaker, Humorist, Social Entrepreneur 
Southamption, Hampshire United Kingdom 
Terry Murphy
    Posted by Terry Murphy, Southamption, Hampshire United Kingdom | Aug 20, 2011

    So easy to justify a want as a need. You could spread your word with songs and poems as in olden days instead of newsletters, you could till the soil instead of tilling people's minds. I don't believe, in the days of wandering minstrels and soothsayers, they needed life coaches. Just wise people who also spread the word the same way.

    Until people choose (or are forced) to believe in this way of life once more, we will continue to live in a world of abundance and famine.

    If you choose to 'need' a computer, there will be people who will exploit the same technology to promote those things we didn't know we wanted as you put it.

    I think discussing it while living in a charmed existence (the upper echelons of wealth within this world) is an interesting but potentially futile academic exercise.

    Do you really think 6bn+ people can be persuaded to reject 'wants' in parallel without some major external influence?

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 20, 2011

    I love making the distinction between "needs" and "wants." I spent many years working on this distinction for myself. Bucky also distinguished this in his writing and speaking. If each of us is, as he proposed, an unknowing billionaire, then do we really care if our neighbor (be she next door or on the other side of the planet) has a billion dollars at her disposal? I certainly don't.

    For me (and Bucky) the issue is ... do we "need" to keep trying to kill each other any more? Or can we now recognize that there is enough to go around and begin to use our resources to provide "livingry" for all people? Livingry covers both needs and wants. Weaponry handles neither as the only thing it provides is a few greedy people being able to hoard more and more.

    Bucky also talked a lot about business being the potential savior of humankind as business is the one entity that has gone beyond national borders. Business does it better than any other institution, including religion. Just look at what's happening here. We're all businesspeople, we're from all over the globe and we're talking to each other. We also support each other's business.

    The question then becomes what is our business? Is it to support livingry or to support greed and hoarding? I see more and more people opting for the first option and choosing the way of sufficiency and prosperity for all.

  • Life Consultant 
BRANTFORD, Ontario Canada 
Debbie Pribele
    Posted by Debbie Pribele, BRANTFORD, Ontario Canada | Aug 20, 2011

    it will be interesting to see how our society evolves over the next ... well, I guess I have about 40 years if I am lucky ...

  • Event Producer, Writer 
Seattle, Washington 
Steven Sieden
    Posted by Steven Sieden, Seattle, Washington | Aug 20, 2011

    If will be interesting to see IF human society evolves. I am aligned with the statement that Bucky kept making 40 years ago when asked if he thought we would make it as a species. He always said that he thought it was "touch and go." Seems more relevant now than ever. Still, I'm willing to do my part to create "a world that works for everyone."

  • Hardware & Software Design, Audio Recording & Mastering 
Bellevue, Washington 
Brian Willoughby
    Posted by Brian Willoughby, Bellevue, Washington | Oct 12, 2011

    I would like to offer a quote which illustrates how your claim "that saving & investing harms us all" is totally and completely at odds with your goal "to create a world that works for everyone."

    Saving, capital accumulation, is the agency that has transformed step by step the awkward search for food on the part of savage cave dwellers into the modern ways of industry. The pacemakers of this evolution were the ideas that created the institutional framework within which capital accumulation was rendered safe by the principle of private ownership of the means of production. Every step forward on the way toward prosperity is the effect of saving. The most ingenious technological inventions would be practically useless if the capital goods required for their utilization had not been accumulated by saving.

    Ludwig von Mises, Anticapitalistic Mentality, p39 http://mises.org/books/anticapitalistic_mentality_mises.pdf

    In other words, I think you've completely misinterpreted everything that Buckminster Fuller espoused. We would all revert to animals, constantly searching for our next meal every time we get hungry if we all stopped saving and investing.

  • Hardware & Software Design, Audio Recording & Mastering 
Bellevue, Washington 
Brian Willoughby
    Posted by Brian Willoughby, Bellevue, Washington | Oct 13, 2011

    (continuing the quote, and hopefully clarifying why saving and investing are just as important as the innovations of Buckminster Fuller...)

    The entrepreneurs employ the capital goods made available by the savers for the most economical satisfaction of the most urgent among the not yet satisfied wants of the consumers. Together with the technologists, intent upon perfecting the methods of processing, they play, next to the savers themselves, an active part in the course of events that is called economic progress. The rest of mankind profit from the activities of these three classes of pioneers. But whatever their own doings may be, they are only beneficiaries of changes to the emergence of which they did not contribute anything.

    The characteristic feature of the market economy is the fact that it allots the greater part of the improvements brought about by the endeavors of the three progressive classes-those saving, those investing the capital goods and those elaborating new methods for the employment of capital goods-to the nonprogressive majority of people. Capital accumulation exceeding the increase in population raises, on the one hand, the marginal productivity of labor and, on the other hand, cheapens the products. The market process provides the common man with the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of other peoples' achievements. It forces the three progressive classes to serve the nonprogressive majority in the best possible way.

    (bringing this back to Buckminster Fuller, he is the 1/3 responsible for bringing new ideas, but he doesn't get paid without anyone to invest in his ideas, and there is no money to invest without those who save)

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