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on October 10, 2002
The Best That Money Can't Buy - Beyond Politics, War, and Poverty. In the context of these troubled times, the title itself seems the epitome of Utopian thinking. Within these pages, however, are not the meanderings of well-intentioned dreamers, but straight-forward analyses of, and solutions to, many of the troubles that continue to plague the world, in spite of - and often, under the present scarcity-oriented distribution system of advantage, because of - the vast technological achievements of the modern age.

Even the term Utopian rankles Fresco, who sees stagnation in the notion of a civilization that feels it has "arrived" at some sort of ultimate state of being. Rather, The Best That Money Can't Buy takes Utopia beyond an unattainable (and undesirable) dead end to an exciting, dynamic, and perpetual quest not for perfection, but for the next step in social development, pulsing with all the vitality of the unquenchable human spirit. The Best That Money Can't Buy takes all the most admirable, humane hopes and aspirations of humankind, dovetails them with known and developing technologies, and comes up with a comprehensive design for the future that surpasses any that have been offered thus far. Fresco's work doesn't just break new ground; he fuses it into glass viaducts to provide fresh water to the whole world.
Fresco's unique, streetwise background in behavioral science eminently qualifies him to identify the roles of culture and physical environment as shapers of much of humanity's past and present situation - and the surest footing for establishing a new direction for civilization, based on manageable data and enhanced communication, rather than the vagaries of philosophical remnants of an age of ignorance, scarcity, and superstition.
Fresco even takes into account the tendency of some humans to establish a pecking order of advantage by, for the most part, taking them out of the loop when it comes to making decisions based on their inevitable prejudices, psychological limitations, and an inherent lack of a sufficient knowledge base to render objective decisions that favor all members of society equally. Instead, Fresco leaves the arrival at (not "making" of) decisions to computers. An intimidating prospect to some, no doubt, until one considers the major roles computers play in things like landing jetliners safely or transporting one's messages across thousands of mile.
Particularly notable is Fresco's prescription for a new incentive system based on personal achievement and satisfaction, rather than on the shallow, socially divisive, and ultimately environmentally disastrous value system based on a ceaseless quest for exclusive access to ever more consumptive material possessions. The environmental impact (or lack of) under Fresco's proposed "resource-based economy" is profound, as are the social benefits. Producing the highest quality, most durable goods for common use by all not only guarantees the most efficient allocation of natural resources and energy, but has the potential to eliminate the vast majority of social ills born of the inequities of distribution so highly touted by champions of the present monetary system as one of its chief motivators of "incentive
A resource-based economy, as envisioned by Fresco, transcends the need for property and proprietary "rights" that present monumental roadblocks to cooperative endeavor. One need only consider the millions lost to the AIDS epidemic due to the refusal of pharmaceutical companies to allow the affected nations to develop their own, more affordable treatments; or the 13,000 who die each day from water-related diseases while private industry privatizes access to fresh water, to realize the inherent failures of the present property-oriented system to meet the basic needs of the human family

Any new line of thinking is bound to find its detractors in those who have found a measure of advantage in the current social arrangement, or even those who haven't, but remain culture-bound due to societal pressures and influences - especially those who hold onto the archaic notion that money is a viable instrument for rewarding contributive effort and distributing goods and services on the basis of whomever "deserves" them. Fresco's proposals are certain to raise the eyebrows, if not the hackles, of anyone who holds onto the notion of the "dignity" of work - a dignity which business, above all other spheres of human activity, has always been willing to forego in the name of faster production and expanded sales. Indeed, much of the psychological stress we see today is the aftershock of seeing one's usefulness rendered impotent by advancing technology.

The net effect of the Machine Age has been to elevate humans beyond the drudgery of arduous, dangerous work. Fresco simply extends this trend to the next level. While Fresco's work may appear threatening in its tendency to strip the human animal of its functionality, the trend is not of his making - but the proposals to manage technological change for maximum social benefit with minimal environmental damage are.

Good fences don't make good neighbors. They make selfish and uncooperative ones that in this age, where even one's thoughts are subject to copyright, can be a detriment to the information sharing essential to human betterment and progress. Fresco's thinking is not only out of the box; it's not even in the same warehouse. He cuts through the dilatory and inhibitive system of proprietary "rights" and leads the reader into an oft-mooted, but hitherto unrealized, distribution system in which all are not simply offered a chance for a leg up at someone else's expense, but afforded an equal footing simply because it's there for everyone.

The Best That Money Can't Buy is not for the faint at heart - but then, neither are the inevitable challenges of an increasingly complex world. Humankind can simply sit idly by and let a handful of elitists direct technology for their exclusive benefit, or they can themselves be the pioneers of a culture in which no one, and everyone, is elite. Perhaps bold works like this will dissipate some of the fog of scarcity thinking and embolden, and empower, more people to reach for that next level of understanding.
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on June 6, 2002
The Best That Money Can't Buy: Beyond Politics, Poverty, & War by futurist and inventor Jacque Fresco is a seminal, ground breaking vision of a grander, more humane future borne of the advantages of science and technology as well as human concern for the well-being of other people and the planet. Individual chapters address how to help basic human nature evolve beyond enlightened self-interest for a better tomorrow in this wondrous, compelling, superbly illustrated, hope-filled, highly recommended treatise.
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on May 18, 2002
A book like this was long in coming, but finally it is here! As a long time seeker to newer and better solutions to the problems our society is facing, I have never read such all-encompassing proposals as those put forth by Mr. Jacque Fresco in `The Best that Money Can't Buy'.
The ideas presented in this book are nothing short of groundbreaking and brilliant.Imagine a Society where Money is obsolete and no longer required, where technology is put full-force in service of mankind,and where all resources are declared the common heritage of all people.
This book goes against the competitive trends of Corporate Globalization which we are seeing today,trends which are slowly shrinking out the middle class and empoverishing vast numbers of people while an elite few are becoming ever-more wealthy.When the prime directive in our society is Profit rather than People, it is the inevitable result to have a constantly diminished quality of life, an erosion of our environment, and an increase in social unrest in all parts of the world.
Mr. Fresco has researched and studied this problem for the past sixty years, and this book contains a comprehensive blue-print for a new culture in which the development of humanity's full potential is put at the forefront, as well as an emphasis on the conservation of our Earth and it's natural resources.What is so revolutionary is the marriage of high technology with a people-oriented culture.A world For the people, By the people. The net result is a society where we are liberated from the oppression of constantly trying to survive, and are free to finally pursue the untapped potential that is in each one of us individually, and collectively as a species.
As Mr. Fresco has stated, `Our civilization hasn't even begun to get off the ground'.
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on June 1, 2002
This book by Jacque Fresco is the best statement I have yet discovered in articulating
a realistic and humanistic future made possible through technological achievements. Not only
is Fresco's vision possible, it is necessary if humans will survive on planet earth. Fresco speaks
clearly and he also illustrates his concepts to leave no doubt about their plausibility.
As a passionate explorer of futuristic thought, I can't praise this book enough for conveying
hope to future generations and for clearly paving the way. It also speaks volumes on morals,
private and public. I recommend it to the libraries of all high schools and communities.
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on June 23, 2003
After reading the The Best That Money Can't Buy, I had to meet Jacque and Roxanne. Off to Venus I went! Without a doubt this is one of the most important books that any individual can read. Lets just hope that your mind is not in a straightjacket.
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on March 1, 2016
Great buy.
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on July 30, 2002
The "Left Behind" theology to the contrary, Jacque Fresco writes that we can't depend on "the divine intervention of mythical characters in white robes who descend from the clouds" to solve our problems because they are "illusions." It doesn't follow, however, that the kind of systematic social engineering Fresco advocates will work, either, because it's not taking into account some relevant facts of reality.
One, Fresco assumes that humans are born as the blank slates assumed by radical behaviorist ideology, instead of having neurological predispositions for all sorts of nonrational, reproductively-driven behaviors as shown by the rapidly growing field of evolutionary psychology. We have "politics, poverty, & war" partly because there is a hard-wired human nature that social engineering as such can't change. Supplying people's physical needs through a conjectural "resource-based economy" won't necessarily make them more sociable; they're likely just to devote more time towards noneconomic status-seeking as they go about forming dominance-submission hierarchies to show off their relative reproductive fitness, and violence can't be ruled out as a possible strategy. The history of well-provisioned aristocracies suggests that growing up in a state of affluence & leisure doesn't always bring out the best in people.
Two, in the real world property rights have demonstrated their value as a social institution for getting people to manage their resources and tools properly, giving them incentives to work hard, defer gratification, plan for the future, etc. Declaring the world's resources a "common heritage" is a guarantee for disaster, even though it sounds good according to socialistic ethical theories that aren't based on real human behavior. Fresco's plan is just a nonstarter in the sort of world we live in.
Three, Fresco doesn't seem to appreciate that in the money system we have now in the U.S., access to property ownership is available to everyone. A proper way to view one's relationship with the American economy is to find ways to get the balance of payments going in your favor. If you pay Federal income taxes, buy bonds and Treasury bills so the government has to pay you interest in return. If you buy a lot of things from a profitable, publicly traded company (current scandals aside), buy stock in the company so that it pays you dividends while the stock appreciates in value. You don't really benefit from our system as a consumer and a debtor, but as an owner of equity and a creditor, and you can leverage yourself into that position through some planning and self-discipline.
Perhaps because of his advanced age, Fresco seems not to have upgraded his worldview all that much since the late 1960's, when he and Kenneth Keyes published _Looking Forward_. Back then his vision of the 21st Century presented many futuristic ideas that were progressive in the context of its time, but his current proposals have a kind of "retro future" feel to them. Someone well read in the history of borderline sciences can detect in Fresco's book ideas derived from General Semantics, Technocracy, Inc., Buckminster Fuller's "design science," radical behaviorism, proposals for a cybernated "leisure society" and other early and mid 20th Century intellectual fads that never got very far because they couldn't make the case for their validity, necessity and real-world effectiveness. The fact that we've avoided disaster with the money system despite Fresco's warnings decades ago suggests that his proposal for social reconstruction is a solution for some other planet's problems.
The history of ideological utopianism the 20th Century shows that we have to be extraordinarily careful before we conduct another social experiment where we jettison a system that works tolerably well in favor of one that merely sounds good. While Fresco's vision of life in the latter 21st Century does address some of my concerns, in general the frontier of advanced thinking about the future seems to have passed on to where the Extropians and Transhumanists are doing their thing these days.
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