Tagrecession hacking

The Dropout Economy

Mobile Phone Chargers

sacramento tent city

Resilient communities hit Time:

Imagine a future in which millions of families live off the grid, powering their homes and vehicles with dirt-cheap portable fuel cells. As industrial agriculture sputters under the strain of the spiraling costs of water, gasoline and fertilizer, networks of farmers using sophisticated techniques that combine cutting-edge green technologies with ancient Mayan know-how build an alternative food-distribution system. Faced with the burden of financing the decades-long retirement of aging boomers, many of the young embrace a new underground economy, a largely untaxed archipelago of communes, co-ops, and kibbutzim that passively resist the power of the granny state while building their own little utopias. […]

Work and life will be remixed, as old-style jobs, with long commutes and long hours spent staring at blinking computer screens, vanish thanks to ever increasing productivity levels. New jobs that we can scarcely imagine will take their place, only they’ll tend to be home-based, thus restoring life to bedroom suburbs that today are ghost towns from 9 to 5. Private homes will increasingly give way to cohousing communities, in which singles and nuclear families will build makeshift kinship networks in shared kitchens and common areas and on neighborhood-watch duty. Gated communities will grow larger and more elaborate, effectively seceding from their municipalities and pursuing their own visions of the good life. Whether this future sounds like a nightmare or a dream come true, it’s coming.

Time: The Dropout Economy

(via Global Guerrillas)

See also:

My Evoke post Dinner 2020.

Posts tagged “recession hacking”

Trade School: Will Barter for Skills

trade school - barter for skills

From now until the first of March, OurGoods, an online barter network, is running a pop-up storefront on the Lower East Side of Manhattan called Trade School, where entry into classes is based not on money or talent, but on meeting the needs of a particular teacher. And while some classes like grant writing and butter making have already filled up, there’s still plenty of room to learn more about irrational decision-making and chair-bound pilates, not to mention composting and improvisation.

Read More – Good.is: Trade School: Will Barter for Skills

(via Kristin Wolff)

Products and services for the permanently unemployed consumer

Mobile Phone Chargers

Does permanent job loss mean that someone is no longer a consumer? In some cases the answer is yes: some people continue to spend as if they still had a job, and the inevitable result is eventual destitution. Once they run out of unemployment benefits, savings and credit, their purchasing ability decreases to the barest minimum provided by food stamps. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but this makes them rather uninteresting from a new product marketing perspective.

But other people may be quick to shed their biggest categories of expense, walking away from their mortgage and their car loan, allowing their medical insurance to lapse, and developing a new lifestyle that is well within their new budgetary constraints. They may couch-surf, take advantage of house-sitting opportunities or rent a spot at a campground by the season. For the cold part of the year, they may head south and, again, camp out. They may look for seasonal employment, do odd jobs for cash, or use their skills to repair or make and sell items for cash.

With their largest expenses gone, their disposable income may actually be higher. However, their needs and requirements are quite different, and since most product offerings target the settled, fully employed consumer, they are in some ways under-served. This is an area where new product development opportunities abound, and companies that gain a share of this growing market segment and build brand loyalty among this fast-growing consumer underclass will lock in a decade or more of profits and rapid growth. As a marketing strategy, it is not just recession-proof but actually recession-enhanced.

Club Orlov: Products and services for the permanently unemployed consumer

Should DARPA run the economy?

darpa robot dog

Above: One of DARPA’s many useful inventions.

This is from a year ago, but I don’t remember it:

Newly-inaugurated President Barack Obama has been urged by a top US spysat chief to revitalise America’s economy through the use of DARPA*, the legendary Pentagon barmy-boffinry bureau which has given the world the internet and the stealth bomber. More recently the agency has also sponsored initiatives such as mindreading peril-sensitive brainhat binoculars and brainchipped cyborg zombie insecto-bugs.

The recommendations come from Pedro L Rustan, a senior figure in the US National Reconnaissance Office, the secretive agency which handles American spy satellites. Rustan delivered his exhortations to Mr Obama in the form of an open letter to the aerospace mag Aviation Week, titled Refocus DARPA Beyond Defense.

Spy chief to Obama: Let DARPA fix economy

The open letter

In Japan capsule hotels become home

japanese capsule hotel

For Atsushi Nakanishi, jobless since Christmas, home is a cubicle barely bigger than a coffin — one of dozens of berths stacked two units high in one of central Tokyo’s decrepit “capsule” hotels. […]

Now, Hotel Shinjuku 510’s capsules, no larger than 6 1/2 feet long by 5 feet wide, and not tall enough to stand up in, have become an affordable option for some people with nowhere else to go as Japan endures its worst recession since World War II.

Once-booming exporters laid off workers en masse in 2009 as the global economic crisis pushed down demand. Many of the newly unemployed, forced from their company-sponsored housing or unable to make rent, have become homeless.

New York Times: For Some in Japan, Home Is a Tiny Plastic Bunk

(via Mister X)

Crowd sourced package delivery concept

I have mental picture of millions of people driving back and forth to work (and other places) over and over again. It’s almost like Brownian motion. Even if people rarely took long trips, there would be plenty of this routine, back and forth motion to ship all the packages we could possibly want, if only there were a service that gave a percentage of these drivers the right incentives, information, and infrastructure to hand off the packages at the proper moment. USExpress could be that service.

To make this more concrete, I’ll use my father as an example. His commute is about 120 miles, round trip, five days a week. That means he drives 600 miles a week, just going back and forth to work. Suppose that my Dad picked up 5 packages somewhere near home, dropped them off somewhere near work, and then reversed the process on the way back. Let’s say he did that just once per week, forty-five weeks out of one year. By making a few extra stops he will have driven 60 miles with 5 packages 90 times. That’s 27,000 package miles, which I have to think is a lot more package-miles than my parents actually send out every year via existing shipping services.

ram them down: UsExpress, a business idea

(via Global Guerillas)

Investors see farms as way to grow Detroit

Acres of vacant land are eyed for urban agriculture under an ambitious plan that aims to turn the struggling Rust Belt city into a green mecca.

Reporting from Detroit – On the city’s east side, where auto workers once assembled cars by the millions, nature is taking back the land.

Cottonwood trees grow through the collapsed roofs of homes stripped clean for scrap metal. Wild grasses carpet the rusty shells of empty factories, now home to pheasants and wild turkeys.

This green veil is proof of how far this city has fallen from its industrial heyday and, to a small group of investors, a clear sign. Detroit, they say, needs to get back to what it was before Henry Ford moved to town: farmland. […]

It is the size and scope of Hantz Farms that makes the project unique. Although company officials declined to pinpoint how many acres they might use, they have been quoted as saying that they plan to farm up to 5,000 acres within the Motor City’s limits in the coming years, raising organic lettuces, trees for biofuel and a variety of other things.

LA Times: Investors see farms as way to grow Detroit

(via Brainsturbator)

America’s ’shadow economy’ is bigger than you think – and growing

Pinning down the informal economy is as tough as catching a fake Louis Vuitton vendor running from the police. But it’s huge in the United States – larger than the official output of all but the upper crust of nations across the globe. And, due to the recent recession, it’s growing.

Whether that’s good or not depends entirely on one’s point of view. The rise of the informal economy is either the flourishing of entrepreneurship among America’s poorest or a drag on legitimate businesses that play by the rules. Here, on Harlem’s Malcolm X Boulevard, you can find both.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about America’s shadow economy is its size. Long associated with colorful street hawkers in the developing world, the shadow economy makes up a larger portion of the economies of countries like Greece (25 percent) or Mozambique (more than 40 percent) than it does in the US. But because America’s economy is so much bigger, its shadow economy amounts to nearly 8 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) – in the ballpark of $1 trillion, estimates Friedrich Schneider, an economics professor at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria. That’s bigger than the GDP of Turkey or Australia.

There’s nothing particularly ominous about the shadow economy – at least, not the one Professor Schneider measures. He doesn’t include illegal activities like drug trafficking or counterfeiting. The transactions he looks at involve the legal production of goods and services that are not taxed and may violate labor laws.

The article concludes:

Off-the-books work “is probably neutral to good,” says Alfonso Morales, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He argues that formal and informal economies are linked and cannot be neatly separated.

“People who make their money in unregulated businesses probably spend it in regulated ones,” he says.

Christian Science Monitor: America’s ’shadow economy’ is bigger than you think – and growing

(via John Robb)

Time for a Real Jobs Stimulus?

Some sobering statistics:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the start of the recession in December 2007, the ratio of job seekers to job openings was 1.5 to 1. Now six unemployed workers chase every available job. […]

Economist Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute says the economy has lost 6.7 million jobs since the beginning of the recession and that the stimulus bill thus far has generated 750,000 jobs. But in addition to the nearly 7 million jobs lost, the national economy has failed to add the 127,000 jobs per month needed to keep up with population growth. “The real employment hole is 9.1 million jobs,” says Shierholz. “The stimulus bill is great, but it will only generate 3 to 4 million jobs. […]

“There are so many things in the package completely unrelated to creating a job in the next 18 months.” Only 11% of stimulus money was targeted toward infrastructure, and less than 10% of the jobs created have been public sector jobs.

Time: Time for a Real Jobs Stimulus?

(via Workforce Development via Kristin Wolff)

Malaysian utilities cutting off electricity to squatters

Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) has stepped up efforts to curb Non-Revenue Electricity (NRE) by dismantling illegal connections from squatter colonies here.
Its enforcement unit saw hundreds of metres of illegal wires being seized during a three-day operation from Tuesday.

Daily Express: Power thefts in 12 KK squatter areas

Via Robert Neuwirth, who writes:

If the point is to get people to pay, to turn non-revenue into revenue, then why not work with the squatters to create a solution. It’s such a simple thing, really. Just a slight change in mindset. The South African group Abahlali baseMjondolo has demonstrated in a series of reports that ripping out electrical lines in shantytowns causes deaths, as people return to using candles and lighting fires. There’s a cost in lost revenue and a cost in human lives.

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