The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living Hardcover – Sep 1 2010
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"The fascinating story of an important social experiment, told with humility, insight and great humor. Mark is a brave and big-hearted character whose example is an invitation to all of us to change the way we live – not just because we should, but also because we might enjoy it. Essential" Chris Cleave, New York Times #1 bestselling author of Little Bee
"Intriguing. It makes several very important points. A powerful look not so much into the past as into the future." Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: Economics as if the World Mattered
About the Author
Mark Boyle founded the worldwide “freeconomy” movement. An economics graduate and former businessman, he is Irish and lives in Bristol in the UK. His website (justfortheloveofit.org) has become a hub for community sharing with over 20,000 members worldwide, many in the USA. His remarkable journey has been featured in a variety of media including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Huffington Post, New York Metro, The Thom Hartmann Program, BBC World Service, The Star of Canada, and many more.
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The obvious challenge is, we can't all do this. Someone has to write and publish the books. Some of us are simply less talented than others. Our modern life is set up for car travel, even if you hitch hike or get rides with friends.
Additionally, if we buy fewer products and services, we are displacing ordinary people from jobs. The only way to make this work on a large scale is to establish communities, as he discusses.
On the other hand, we can simplify our lives. I stopped watching television a long time ago (although I did go to a sports bar to watch the WNBA finals this year).
I don't drive a car, but to make this option feasible I live in a big city with a lot of other things that create a big carbon footprint.
Ultimately the book makes a powerful statement that's quite memorable. The author's matter-of-fact British style helps a lot. It will be interesting to see what he does next and whether the book can make a difference beyond a book and a few feature stories.
I'm glad I bought the book. And, I'm glad I read the two books back-to-back. Two great takes on one fascinating life strategy. Where Powers left me feeling very spiritual and took great pains to avoid judgment, Boyle gave me a constant sense of urgency and felt compelled to keep reminding me of my carbon footprint and wasteful ways. The book could have been too preachy, but Boyle is able to make his points over and over without putting the reader on the defense. That's effective writing. I also enjoyed Boyle's side-bars from everything to making paper to websites that promote swapping items as apposed to making more of something. I recommend both books. And, I recommend reading them close together. It was a great reading experience.
Author of Our Kids: Building Relationships in the Classroom
I will give you some examples of what I was hoping for.
During this year of no money he gains weight. This is despite being vegan, living off of mostly food he grew himself , foraged, or dumpster dived AND was extremely physically active. He would do 120 pushups every morning and ride his bike 60 miles a week. On the back cover of the book there is a picture of him with his shirt off and he is a beefcake. How did he accomplish this from a diet of chard and dandelions??? He did not write in detail on what he ate. Cooking? Again unclear - it almost seemed that all of his meals were steamed vegetables. For an entire year!!!! Then this gets into really how many meals was he provided as a barter exchange - again I have no idea because Mark did not elaborate. I would have been interested in what work did he do, and what kind of food did he get in exchange - I was hoping for all the nitty gritty. Finally, he had a vegetable garden going as he started his endeavor. Mark does not explain anything about the work done on this garden prior the start of the money less year. On page 135 he lists all the potential food he could eat during the summer. Nice list, but that is not telling a story. And what about the story during the non-summer months? The list has 31 items grown - does that mean Mark grew them all? That is an amazing feat in itself - but again, Mark does not elaborate.
I feel Mark glossed over various details to make it seem much easier to live with out money than it actually is. Some more examples: He supposedly drank from a river possibly exclusively. It did flood, and typically when rivers flood they get very murky - any issues drinking muddy water? Not mentioned.
He lives in a small trailer. Late fall and all of winter it is cold and dark around 6pm. How did he deal with this? Apparently a piece of cake. He has a hand crank flash light, and that is about all we know. How did he keep warm? What kind of clothes did he have? Bedding? He does not elaborate. If it is cold and you crawl into bed at 7pm - then what? Wake up 8 hours later in the dark at 3am? Mark does not explain - other that it is no problem. I suspect he was warming up as much a possible in peoples homes, or some building he was helping out at. I truly believe the cold and dark for months would be a struggle. He does not even allude to this, so I wonder if it is because he wants to maintain the impression that this lifestyle is so doable.
Towards the end of his moneyless year, he sets out chopping wood in March, so he would have it for fuel in case he decides to go for a 2nd year. What is unexplained is why did he have to do that for year 2 if he did not have to for year 1. Did he use up ALL the wood/fuel from other sources in year 1? No explanation.
He gets lonely and puts an ad out to find a date. Does not say where he posted the ad, and did any ladies respond. If none did - tells us about it. If some did, what did you do on your dates? How did it go? Who were the girls? Mark gives us nothing.
Mark writes about the great thing about hitchhiking is meeting great people. He does some hitchhiking, but does not give us a crumb on any of these great people he met.
He has skills in raising food and foraging. Not a peep about how he learned these skills.
I thought I was going to read a book full of daily life details on such an interesting undertaking. But what I got mostly was theories on what is wrong with the world, how it could be different, and only broad strokes on the daily life being moneyless.
Because Boyle was a business major at his university he has a good grasp of economics and a gift for making difficult concepts simple. Along with the wealth of information I gleaned from this book, finally understanding the credit crunch of 2008 was another benefit. Good reading. Important stuff.
He's learned that it takes a group of people to survive as he did better than on your own. That's one of the reasons he's such an oddity, I believe. When he ate moldy bread, a friend cared for him as he recovered. It was the kindness of strangers that carried him home for Christmas and back home to his camper.
The book reminds me more of someone living the hobo / squatter life for a year than someone trying to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. It does have some good tips though on living the hobo / squatter lifestyle. It serves as a reminder that we are better off in groups during times when we are forced off the grid through disasters or extended periods of unemployment.
I like the book, but know better than to ever do something like this alone. And he's not going entirely moneyless either. He's using other people's money to get them to do things for him. That's why I gave it three stars, too. Two stars for the story and one star because I like the way he writes.
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