Ray Podder
16 min readAug 17, 2014

Investment is exciting!

To dedicate energy towards seeing a dream become reality is a beautiful process. We invest in our relationships to everything. The food we eat, the company we keep, the things we build, and the capital we grow. Our relationship to the earth itself has been a long term investment, paying us the bountiful dividends to create the lives we are so grateful to live.

Yet, when we speak of investment today, we seem to be speaking some other language from another planet! Derivatives, demurrage, acquisitions, liquidations, terms sheets, off-takes and more…so disconnected from our intuitive understanding of investing that we hardly recognize what capital was all about in the first place.

Natural capital has an ebb and flow.

That’s what had made investing exciting in the first place. When we invest in the seed and soil, then nurture the plant to a tree bearing fruit, our investment peaks. We then have a very short window before the fruit goes bad and goes back to the earth, before reinvesting once again to help it grow. This has been our timeless investment reality of resonance with our mother earth.

Investments in nature have perishability. Expiration dates to manage our investment cycles around a time sensitive reality. We don’t collect fruits from our trees and hold them indefinitely and expect them to develop higher valuation with compounded interest rates. We don’t sell the idea of future fruits and earn revenues by the speculative story of how much of it the tree will bear. We don’t claim the air, water, soil as our yields to be owned and stored along with the rotting fruit as our assets and call ourselves wealthy.

So why don’t we do this for the way we invest money?

When I invest, my expectation is to earn equity, to earn yields. To know that I get to pass on the gifts I have received within these natural cycles, to make life better for those who will be living long after I am gone. Yet in my life now…

I’m in debt!

I have invested plenty of time, energy and creativity to live my life yet I owe.

I owe my landlords, banks, insurance companies, government, investors, and the list goes on and on. I’m not alone. I, like everyone else now on this side of the interest rate apartheid, or those who cannot print money out of thin air had no choice but to be born into it.

The irony is that those to whom I’m in debt to on the other side, are also in debt. They owe each other perpetually all the way up the chain as they borrow against all the living on this earth to accumulate financial capital to lend to us. Why?

Who are we in debt to?

Why is life measured in terms of money, instead of money being measured in terms of life?

How did we veer from gratefully honoring the gifts of our granting mother, stewarding the use and reuse of her wealth as the trustees of this society, and providing a brighter future for our beneficiary future generations of our children’s children…to this? Why did our lives go from increasing the quality of life over each generation, to now inheriting debts from our parents?

We, the co-creators of the current culture can argue that we now have a population explosion, energy, food and water shortages, and political threats from each other to protect what we have before the “wrong” people get their hands on it.

Therefore, we need the profits regardless of poverty, we need wars regardless of casualties, we need to pay the interest and fees on costly capital regardless of the obsolescence of demurrage or carrying costs, and we need everyone to stop complaining and get on the program to make more money to live a better life!

Sure, it may not be perfect, but this free market system of built-in inequities is the best we have invented to date, it must be the reason why we have all this amazing technology, and its what motivates people to work and produce for our existence. We even quote some smart guys from our past like Darwin and Adam Smith way out of context to justify why. People are lazy you know…its the survival of the fittest…that’s how nature works…its always been this way…

Is that really true?

If it was, how come according to the density measurement website, all 6.9 billion of us can fit as comfortably as New Yorkers do within a space the size of Texas? Or what about the technical reality of a small patch of desert the size of a small town, covered with solar panels being able to provide all the energy the world needs and then some? Why do we have planned obsolescence and waste management problems, when decentralized manufacturing with 3D printers can use existing waste streams to produce locally without the costs of both supply chains and waste disposal? Why do we continue to have increasing instances of diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression and more when we are consistently generating medical miracles? Why do we have more homes than homeless people? It was 6 homes to one homeless person in the U.S. as of last count. Why do the people who provide the most for us, like our farmers and factory workers, the poorest?

Meanwhile, why are there starving artists, writers, musicians, citizen scientists and other brilliant people from everywhere in the world, still producing amazing ideas, works and innovations without any institutional funding? Why are people around the world without much material means just as happy, if not more so than the people with all the stuff in the world? Who are they kidding? Didn’t they get the memo?

Those are anomalies. Ignore them. Keep shopping. Everything’s fine. That is, if we just work smarter on what we measure to be more efficient, create more jobs to get the lazy, happy people to become stressed out serious producers of more stuff we don’t need, and produce the PR to show how we are using our natural capital at a slower rate!

Doesn’t it ever occur to us to ask why?

We have the best technology now! We can now mimic nature, automate almost everything, make gazillions of apps to stay disconnected from each other and fill up our unproductive idle time, and even accelerate our exit to space without ever making the implicit assumptions on which we base these actions explicitly visible.

We don’t need to know why we do what we do, just keep doing it better, faster and stronger and the system collapse naysayers will cease to exist along with our problems!

Yeah, that’s a nice thought.

Unfortunately by now, I don’t think there is any informed individual on the planet who believes that it is so. By all reasonable accounts, we are headed towards compounded planetary systemic collapse, fast tracking us towards mass species extinction including ourselves!


We decide to stop this madness!


From a systems point of view, know we need to grow to continue living, but how? What does it look like to grow by quality over quantity? We’ve now realized that the whole is not the sum of its parts, though where and how do we transition from capitalism to holism? Where do we reinvest our resources and our priorities? What do we produce and how, when throwaway production is no more of an option than pooping in our own kitchens? What does systemic growth, or evolution feel like in a post material growth and waste paradigm?

These questions and more have been shaking the foundations of my investment reality for some time now. The current game at play is stacked against all of us to lose, because the so-called winners have already secured their positions, while we owe them interest on the imaginary measures we have agreed to as their material advantage. Advantage that even they could never use up in multiple generational lifetimes to come. Advantage that is meaningless when there is nothing to eat, nothing to drink and nothing to breathe because we have poisoned our environment out of our willful ignorance as a society of petulant children. Measuring my health relative to this profoundly sick society has never appealed to me, and now, like many of you it’s not even worth the effort.

So the following is an attempt to move past the madness. I see new patterns, though my vision is not exclusive or prescriptive. We all see, because what I’m about to share with you is intuitively obvious. Its not my truth, it just is. Our relationship to these ideas only vary in degrees depending on how deeply we feel into who we are, and what we co-create as reality.

We can move past the madness and GROW true value over artificial valuation. Though first, we might want to examine the ideas we have been thinking with. If we make the why we do what we do more visible, perhaps we will recognize the obvious, realize our delusions and reinvest in rendering a new reality that works in service of all life, for the highest quality of life.

Recognize. Realize. Reinvest.


  1. Separation is the illusion

Let’s stop pretending that somehow the external world exists independent of ourselves. We know that our senses not only perceive, they also project. The world is and has always been as we are. At our core, all we want is to love. To connect to all that we care about so that we can be taken care of. It is the most important thing in our existence no matter what we call it or how we judge it.

Recognition, acceptance, fame, fortune, and more are nothing more than symbolic approximations of the unconditional love we all long for. Nothing in our world exists in isolation, not even ourselves, and definitely not the physical things we measure that manifest from the unseen and unheard quantum forces we have yet to explain.

Isolation is disconnection. Disconnection in auto-poetic systems, or biological self-making terms is death. We die when our interdependent operating systems disconnect. As in, we die when our breath that grounds us into this body and mind we have identified as ourselves leaves us. When we measure in isolation, like when we divide and subdivide atoms, we run into nothing. When we separate material from spirit, we are also left empty as in why our possessions can never make us rich.

Yet, we continue to isolate.

The most corrupt in our culture are also the most spiritual in outward expression. The most extractive in our society are now seen as the most generous philanthropists. The most advanced material technologies are now borne from reductionist logic that looks at the observable without realizing that we affect what we observe by the act of observation itself. Yet, isolation has now become the standard of innovation. We measure things in separation and then try to put it back together as if it has meaning out of relationship, out of context, out of the totality of everything connecting to everything else. Carbon credits offset climate change as if CO2 is the only factor contributing to global warming? Really?

As society, we know that isolation is the most effective tool for compliance, as in why solitary confinement exists. Yet, we have been systematically isolating ourselves to create a culture of consumption to substitute our longing for connection. Perhaps to absolve ourselves of our personal responsibility and guilt, to focus on material possessions as the only way forward, but now we are long done. We not only have enough things, the things we truly value were never things at all. It’s time to stop and wake up.

2. Thought is the delusion

There is no technical solution to deliver us from this reality. Technology since the time of fire has been neutral. Technology cannot ever save us from the tendencies of our minds to override our hearts. We are born from love to seek love and we long for any expression of it. When that expression is not assured, our minds take over to make meaning of this existential void we call life. With a life of suffering ahead of us, we want to know all that we can learn, we want to control all that we can measure, and we want to continue this as long as we can.

Yet, the more we think about omniscience, omnipotence and immortality, the more we are susceptible to clever thinkers amongst us to hijack those dreams for their own benefit at the expense of ours. In the past, this used to be called religion, as in the 72 virgins waiting the devoted willing to blow themselves up…now its the technical version of the singularity co-opted by the clever technorati to promise us genetically engineered immortality while we collect all the worlds data to be available at our cognitive will to control our world against all the elements out to get us.

We can think of more ways to measure capital, more ways of measuring progress, more ways of weighing decisions and more ways of ranking one set of behaviors over another, though the more we measure, the more we create imaginary standards. Standards, that other than the winner, the rest of us will never measure up to.

Thats the whole point of any game.

To have a single winning position with various degrees of losing positions. We cannot gamify our way out of this extractive existence, any more than the problems of capitalism can be solved by more capitalism. No one ever really owned space and/or time, they coexist with our consciousness irrespective of our imaginary claims on them.

Yet, now we try to own everything from spaces to time to the air we breathe and the water that sustains us. Everything is now for sale, including our ideas based on the projection of the ideas of others before us, and even our innate sense of compassion. When cuddling is for sale by the hour, we have obviously failed as a society.

Quantification only provides the measures for qualities to flow. The only objective of quantification is to control. One can argue that it is to improve, though improve what? How deeply we are loved? What is the measure of that? Qualities cannot ever be measured, they can only be mapped relative to other qualities. For example, the quality of physical beauty can be mapped relative to the quality of symmetry. However, when symmetry is quantifiably measured and then used as a standard for physical beauty, we get unrealistic standards that can only be Photoshopped, while missing out on the beauty of imperfections that allow us to see beauty in everything that exists.

Quantities exist in relationship to qualities.

One only provides the structure for the other to be appreciated. When they are out of balance, we have the world that we have now. A profoundly sick society trying to solve its diseases with more diseases of the mind. Projecting thoughts to trick the essence of our being, to believe that we are only the choices that we have identified as ourselves. Forgetting that we are not this body, we are not this mind, we are something much much more.

3. Love is the solution

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return. The profundity in this lyric from 1947’s Nature Boy is timeless. This is not romanticizing a reality outside of the context of anything operational, it is at the core of why we do what we do. If there is anything more profound to relieve our existential dilemma, I have yet to feel it!

Behaviorists like Dr. Eric Berne in 1962 even framed it within the game lens of human relationships. Outlining our social dynamics to the extent that the success of all of our transactions, or the basic unit of social exchange, is simply about whether or not we match each other’s intentions stroke by stroke to ensure that we are recognized for our existence and that ultimately we are worthy of love.

Today, we are having an unfavorable reaction to a socioeconomic paradigm, that is iterating this same sequence of:
1. The structuring of our time with what we identify as our identities…
2. Practicing the protocols of the feedback loops of exchange we can create predictability with…
3. Curating the collection of these exchanges, or cultures that we co-create with for a consistent and persistent reality…
The current iteration, however is founded on a questionable premise to deliver this sequence through material security. It’s irrelevance is now apparent in a society that has iterated way past the production constraints once necessary for our survival, yet the meta game we are still playing seems to have forgotten why we are doing what we are doing in the first place!

We now count the things that probably shouldn’t be counted to trade for things we have produced a surplus of, and we propose keep track of it by units of unsecured debt, now called our money, which are supposed to represent all of our values as units of measure, means of exchange and stores of value.

It’s not working!

When wifi is free but water isn’t, and when a cacao farmer has never tasted chocolate, it is obvious we have failed. Failed to integrate into that one infinite loop that has been made clear time and again through art as the truth, when life has been a series of lies to the contrary.

Now many of us are proposing grand systemic solutions to heal the damage, as if projecting another one-size-fits all grand vision will bring the heterogeneous sensibilities of the unwashed heathens to order. What are we doing really? Are we really working towards serving life, or are we still iterating on the same existential sequence described earlier?

Should we continue to disguise our need for stimulation, recognition and structure by announcing our awakening on Facebook, practicing pricey retail retail versions of ancient and indigenous spirituality, outlining and promoting lofty ideals and grand plans that goes over most people’s heads, or is this when we come clean and speak in the language of the heart that all of us understand?

The language of love.

Qualities of life over quantities of possessions. To assure ourselves that we indeed are worthy of being loved. It is the greatest thing we could ever learn. It is all there is. We are simply the pieces.

Let’s recognize the obvious and let’s loop it back.


When we recognize the obvious the realization is simple. The value we are seeking is what is simply true. Truth serving quality. The only way to arrive at the obvious truth is negate all that it is not. In the context of our modern investing, there is an abundance of untruths to choose from. The arbitrary instruments of arbitrage or interest rates only exist to secure value relative to the quality of yield on our investments.

When you realize the obvious about what we really value, than the monetary measures of valuation become largely irrelevant. True value is in the quality not the quantities.

Investing in business ecologies, or groups of businesses interdependent on each other is a start. These business ecologies now emerging can eliminate systemic costs by sharing all forms of assets, including intellectual property and ownership across every participant, and managing the inherent uncertainty of a marketplace in flux by principle, over managing risk by prescription are now emerging everywhere out of necessity if not anything else.

Today’s investor would be wise to invest in business ecologies that form to share abundance amongst all its members, not just its institutional lenders. The definition of stakeholder can now be expanded to include customers, suppliers, distributors and more, and we even have decentralized agreement tools like DACs, DAOs and DAPPs (Distributed Automated Companies, Distributed Automated Organizations and Distributed Automated Applications respectively) to facilitate seamless exchange of agreements to cover everything from dynamic equity contracts to contextual value based currencies. These instruments, at least in theory, no longer need external value guarantors like governments who now defer that responsibility in the “God they trust” printed on the faces of their fiat currencies.

Beyond progressive business ecologies focused on the serving the greater good, the other obvious realization is of course the nature of capital itself. As painful as it might be, we are at a juncture in our civilization that either reestablishes the founding premises of our operations or perish from this planet. Capital, as in the financial instruments of measuring future promises of material security, based on extracting and wasting the earth’s limited resources without any accountability is highly volatile and obviously unsustainable.

For modern money to hold its value over time despite the impending bond bubble that will try to extend the promise, and then the gold bubble promising to tie it to a non-perishable limited supply precious metal which can now be manufactured in a lab, will likely go through their boom and bust cycles faster than ever before. The integrity of anything measured outside of its immediate value to people is precarious at best. Communities will ultimately have to determine the contextual values of the currencies. Currencies that are actually current with their core values. In other words, the need for a centralized third party to guarantee the agreement of exchange will inevitably diminish in comparison to the dynamic agreements people can make amongst themselves…using any agreement as currency or no currency at all.

The simple truths around value are becoming apparent everyday. Ecology is the economy, health is the true wealth, trust is the only currency, love is the real work. The ability to express these ideals technically and efficiently in a decentralized peer-to-peer fashion is becoming more accessible everyday. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were just the beginning. New forms of self-referential value creation tools are emerging. Decentralized, untraceable and unkillable solutions are now emerging to disrupt the capital game from the old paradigm in a huge way. The smart money already senses this, and it moving from the old pump and dump trading game to long term investments based on missions that serve humanity instead of extracting from it.

We will go from rewarding individuals who benefit themselves at the expense of the system, to finally rewarding individuals who benefit the system by the contributions of the missions they are living into. This is a very different investment paradigm than the one we have grown up with.

Capitalism had always benefitted by keeping employees poor and customers rich to continue the accumulation of capital. Now, as the whole systems gets ready for a reboot, we are quickly realizing that our customers are also employees somewhere, and that whether we like it or not, everything connects to everything else.


Let’s make investment exciting once again! Let’s bring value back into valuation! Value has always existed beyond our limited ideas of empirical valuation, within the premise of a market system that is no longer sufficient in capturing the whole of our symbiotic existence on this living organism of earth we call our home. Value, like beauty, is everywhere, though not everyone sees it. To only measure it by existing empirical terms misses the point entirely.

As the ancient Greek proverb states: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” This is the new principle of prosperity.

It is time for us to reinvest our resources now to reimagine another reality that works for all of humanity. To redesign beyond the dying systems that had once served us to escape diseases of the body, yet now they disease our minds and hearts. To reconnect to the relationships that make us whole. The value is and has always been in the relationships between things, not the things themselves.

We can redefine those relationships to measure quantities of things relative to the qualities of life that mean the most to each of us. These qualities are universal, because we are nothing short of the universe itself being conscious of its own existence.

The transition points exist everywhere when we open our eyes to look closer.

From co-operative, not for profit, shared ownership resilience in the face of unpredictable markets, to decentralized digital tools to manage agreements of all kinds without corruption by human tendencies, to focusing on technologies and practices that regenerate natural capital in all forms, the opportunities for sound investments are everywhere.

The only real criteria for evaluating any of the next narratives for systemic prosperity is value. Regenerative real value over returns. Value in terms of what people everywhere truly care about, above and beyond the cultural and cognitive layers of nonsense we tell ourselves.

The only thing to look for, the only thing to reinvest in, is well…