On the Funding of Creative Endeavours

The question: “Will it make money” is so ingrained into our assumptive thinking, that we never question why everything has to turn a profit.  Unpacking those unstated assumptions can be very revealing.  There are certainly some things, especially creative endeavours, which are worth doing even if they don’t turn a profit.  That sounds sacrilegious and heretical, but that’s only because we never question why we think what we think, when it comes to human enterprise.

Baked into our orthodox way of looking at endeavours is a set of ideas about what is worthwhile to do, what motivates us, what rewards us and what is best for humanity.  In many cases, the baked-in attitudes are just plain wrong, but we seldom even realise it.  They’re based on a faulty philosophy, disproven and discredited many times over, but still accepted as the normal state of affairs.

Creative endeavours, by and large, improve the lot of humanity, by providing more utility, better living conditions, connectivity between people via shared experiences and/or more beauty.  They make life more liveable, generally speaking.  However, a lot of extremely worthwhile creative endeavours never get off the ground.  They don’t because they aren’t funded.  Unless the participants donate everything, nothing will happen.

Sometimes, of course, they do.  An admirable and mind boggling percentage of the time, artists and creatives will do the work, donate the time and materials and make it happen anyway.  Often they cannot, though.  If the project is broad in scope, it requires more resources than can be obtained via pure donations alone (unless you Kickstarter or Indiegogo it, I suppose).  Then, it’s an impossible dream and remains so.  Such projects are very expensive to fund, but you might ask, “Why are they so expensive to fund, why does the funding always come with so many strings attached and why are funds so scarce?”

Why the Expense?

There is an assumption built into the economy that it is quite ok to “earn” money for doing nothing more than giving permission for somebody else to do something.  You get value returned to you, for having created none.  In effect, you are permitted to exchange a promise to allow things to proceed unimpeded for actual goods and services of real value.  This state of affairs is known as “paying interest”.  An economy that works this way, predominantly, is said to be a “Rentier” economy.  The Mafia uses similar tactics in protection rackets.  Does a protection racket produce any real value?

Such an economy is predicated on the idea that, had the lender not loaned us the money (or permission slips), then they could have been doing something else with that same money and so you are obliged to cover the opportunity cost of the lender having diverted funds your way, instead of elsewhere.  You have to compensate him for limiting his choices and for his lost opportunities, as it were, for the sin of insisting he places “his” funds with your particular creative endeavour.  As we shall learn, this obligation is a complete fallacy and the funds were not his to begin with.  There was no money, until you borrowed it.  The lender could not have done anything with that money, because until you borrowed it, it didn’t even exist.  Why should you be burdened with any obligation to him whatsoever, in this case?

Why lenders should be the sole gatekeepers of what can and cannot be done, in a society, choosing which creative endeavours go forward and which are stillborn, is also without legitimacy.  Nothing qualifies the lenders or funders to be calling the shots about what gets done and what doesn’t, other than their pure assertion that nothing can happen, unless they deal out the permission slips that only they are allowed to create.  This is another fallacy, in fact.  Like all pure assertions, it crumbles under closer scrutiny.

Work can take place using all kinds of permission slips, issued by all kinds of different organisations, provided that the permission slips are generally accepted as currency.  The law might have been rigged to protect their monopoly issuance powers, but that’s only supported by violent assertion itself.  The biggest historical thug was the one that got to write such laws.  We’re upholding and respecting historical thuggery.  Their position as issuers of permission to conduct creative endeavours owes its origins to an ancestor’s willingness to shed the most blood, in order to establish and maintain their primacy; little else.

They’ve subsequently made up cover-story, self-justifications, like being chosen by God, being nobler and wiser, working so much harder or being more intelligent and genetically superior to all other men, but these claims are nonsensical hogwash and they know it.  The fact is that an ancestor was more psychopathic and willing to kill more opponents than anybody else, to establish their position at the top of the hierarchy.

They want the “something for nothing” economy to continue, because it allows them to enjoy opulence and luxury, without having to produce anything of real value for humanity, in return.  In effect, it’s a parasitic existence, by design.  Yes, they promise to maintain peace and good order for the society, but what is that other than a non-binding pledge to continue the temporary cessation of the bloodshed they themselves inflicted on humanity, to get where they were, or else to intimidate potential rivals with threats (and occasional demonstrations) of such bloodthirsty excess, that they don’t dare challenge for supremacy?

An alternative society is one in which we simply have everybody engaged in producing things of real value to humanity, without the burden of the parasites and their battle to sit atop a hierarchy.  The only people that are against this kind of society are the parasites, of course.  Them and everybody else that believes hierarchy is necessary for civilisation, which as has been demonstrated many times, it is not.  Unfortunately, that’s most people.  People are so intimidated by the violent thugs at the top of society’s hierarchy that they cannot believe in a society without one.  Yet, such societies are not only possible; they have been shown to work.

A consequence of allowing the Rentier economy to persist is that it places a huge burden on value creators to fund people that want to do nothing, other than assert an entitlement to accumulate permission slips that grant them access to goods and services of real value.  In other words, value creators have to create surplus value, just to repay all the free riders that gave permission slips to the enterprise, so that it could proceed, with something of real value.

If you think about the number of rentiers in the supply chain of any creative enterprise, there are those that loaned money for premises, those that wish to collect rent on the premises, there are the loans and rents for all the workers in the enterprise, the loans and rents that must be serviced for the companies that provide food, which the workers must buy to live, the loans and rents that accrue to every supplier of every raw material and utility used by the enterprise, and so on.  There are far more people with their hands out, expecting to be paid just for giving permission, than is spent on actual raw materials and labour.  It’s an overwhelming majority of the value generated by a creative endeavour that must, ultimately, be spent in paying rents and interest payments to somebody, at some stage.  Even paying workers is actually paying them and their landlords and lenders, not just each individual employee.

The money, the permission slips to proceed with the creative endeavour, is made up from thin air, not taken from reserves held in a vault and has no value at all, until the borrower pledges real value, sweat and assets to repay the loan.  Nobody is unable to withdraw or spend their savings, because their money has been loaned to somebody else.  Money is not held in named shoeboxes.  Instead, money is made up, as a loan in a ledger and immediately re-deposited in an account, where it is regarded as an asset, in the bank that does the lending.  Investors never use a wad of saved cash they had under their bed to fund a creative endeavour.  It always starts as a made up loan, at some point in the chain.  This is where money really comes from and it’s the biggest con known to mankind.

Incidentally, this is also why student loans are fraudulent and illegitimate, by the way.  Thinking about the education of a student as a creative enterprise, why are you obliged to a permission slip issuer for doing the hard work of becoming something better and more valuable to society, through your personal learning and creative endeavour?  They offered no consideration (i.e. funds taken from a vault), paid no opportunity cost and did nothing more than “print” the money, based on your promise to repay it with interest.  All the biggest thugs in society did for you, the student, is suspend their prohibition on you going forward with your education.  Instead, they gave you permission.

Like some kind of Mafia, all they did was the analogue of not burning your business down to the ground, in the dead of night, unnoticed by corrupt authorities, because you agreed to play along.  The threat of impeding your progress, as a student (by denying you a student loan and hence access to further education), only works because everybody plays along.  The Mafia’s permission slips are the only thing accepted as currency.  Educators could accept any currency, or barter for real goods and service that you could provide, but they remain afraid and unwilling to do so.

Real estate and financial speculation, margins on all raw materials, the interest charged on employees’ own mortgages – all these are speculative demands, placed on any creative endeavour that is attempted and all are returns to the idle for doing no work and creating no real value.  That’s a lot of money for nothing.  Think how much cheaper it would be to fund creative endeavours if you didn’t have to pay real value to idle speculators, at every point in the supply chain.

Things could be very different.  Another attitude to take and way of looking at funding the arts is that you can fund it out of the proceeds of the sale of real assets you already own, or with cash you have saved, just so that the thing the creative endeavour wants to produce comes into existence.  No profit need be required.  The existence of the thing, thus created, is its own reward.  This can be thought of as patronage and is often the model underpinning crowd funding.  Nobody wants to make anything from the enterprise, other than seeing it come to fruition.  Of course, baked into the supply chain is still a lot of financial speculation, rentier unearned income and margins on real estate inflation and other things.  You’d have to address the entire supply chain to waive all the hidden “money for nothing” charges.

Some people in society are allowed, by laws they corruptly bought and paid for, to have written in their favour, to issue the permission slips (money), but everyone else is, by legal definition, a counterfeiter.  Why should this be?  Isn’t this just a rigged game, with the government and legal system in collusion?  Who gave them the monopoly on permission over human affairs?  The answer is that an ancestor of theirs seized it, without a popular mandate, through bloody violence.

As it stands, so many really valuable things on Earth are never done, by people who could and would do them, simply because they cannot overcome the burden of all the idle hangers on.  The bottomless drain of unearned income, in the sense of doing no value creation to get it, is unfillable.  Other endeavours fail to go ahead for no better reason than the whims of the permission slip issuers.  Even if the project can make money, the lender can still withhold permission, for no particularly good reason.  Some kinds of investment simply go out of fashion.

Why So Many Strings Attached?

People or organisations that fund creative endeavours almost invariably attach a long series of terms and conditions to the funding.  It’s not enough to make money for dubious reasons.  They wish to exert control over the conduct of the enterprise, having funded it.  Why should they do this?  If they wanted to control a creative endeavour, they could start one of their own.  They have the money (or do they? – it doesn’t exist until somebody pledges to pay it back, in real goods and services of value and if they issued their own money to their own enterprise, they’d have to work at creating real value, rather than living a life of idleness, supported by unearned income).  However, as unqualified as they are to impress their wishes upon the creative people running the endeavour, they still do.  They almost cannot help themselves.

I believe this behaviour is rooted in ego, power and hierarchy.  In order to assert and reinforce their status and position at the top of the hierarchy, they throw their weight around and impose their own aesthetic values on the enterprise, in an attempt to somehow “prove” their superiority to other men.  They do it so that they can remain on their perch, unchallenged.  Rich lenders and funders love to control other people and call the shots, because it prevents their monopoly on permission issuance to be challenged.  It’s a subtle form of violence.  They hate sharing and any form of egalitarianism, because that undermines the very hierarchy whose existence (and their position within it) permits them to live lives of idle speculation.  They attach strings to funding to maintain their ability to avoid having to create real value.  These are people with zero belief in their own powers of creativity.

Why Are Funds Scarce?

Because nobody can stop them, funders fund whatever makes them richest and most powerful, fastest.  They can do this instead of funding those enterprises that are most worthwhile for humanity.  Unaccountable to anyone, they do it just because they can.

Funds are scarce because the monetary system we operate is a legally sanctioned, collusive monopoly, shored up by state violence, designed to prevent everyone from feeling and acting wealthy.  The morality we are taught is that these promises made, to repay with interest, have a moral authority and sacred covenant nature, which is inviolable before God, but that’s just clever PR.  What the monetary system, with its explicit hierarchy and buildings that look like religious temples, really comes down to is a bunch of elites, in the hierarchy, not wanting to share abundance with humanity.  This is how the elite maintain the inequality between themselves and the rest of the populace.  Scarcity is invented and the majority of people are told they are debtors.  When inequality increases, it is because the elite demand higher levels of opulence and differentiation, or insulation from, the plight of fellow human beings – nothing more.  It’s a trick.

Scarcity is a function of some arbitrary rules about how much a lender can lie about the funds they currently hold in reserve, in their vault, how much violence they are prepared and willing to exert, to extort the interest payments they feel are their due (and which have no legitimacy, in reality, whatsoever) and the pure whims of the lenders, because no-one dares oppose them.

Why Do We All Play Along?

We let them get away with this byzantine method of funding creative enterprises, unchallenged, thereby placing obstacles in our own way, when it comes to proceeding with our own creative endeavours.  We honour these permission slips as currency because we fear the issuers.  For their part, they pick us off, one by one, using state violence, if we resist.  We’re scared of their retribution and of being denied permission to do the things we want to do, as if divine permission is theirs to give.  It only is because we all play along.

Given how little real value investors contribute to the establishment of a creative endeavour and the fraudulent nature of the permission slips they loan, to enable the creative endeavour to get on with it, their claims to beneficial ownership over the enterprise must be tenuous, at best.  The patron doesn’t provide anything of value, but merely propagates a monetary fraud, rooted in violence.

The economic and monetary system that prevails is a human choice – one which serves to limit the existence of the products of creative endeavours.  The limit arises because creative endeavours are made extraordinarily expensive, due to the hidden “money for nothing” charges attached to everything the enterprise tries to do and because funders can deem creative enterprises “out of fashion”, withdrawing their funding support, for no better reason.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

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About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: https://michaeltopic.wordpress.com/. There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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2 Responses to On the Funding of Creative Endeavours

  1. Patrick Gregston says:

    A number of great questions come from this- and the simple answer is that money is flexible. We agree on its value so we can prioritize for our personal choices. It isn’t just the capital that does this. Everybody chooses. Why else would people buy food that isn’t? Or work their asses off doing crap work to them buy some luxury rather than fill their own needs?
    Creating the environment where a creative work has value is pretty much what the art/museum sector exists for. Unfortunately, that group is as rigid and narrow as most religions. So most artists, without ‘credentials’ or a proven ‘market’ are then left to just do cool stuff because they want to. Sometimes the right elements fall together and great stuff results. An architect I know has a pingpong table that is a 16 inch thick piece of granite. Polished and just the right size, the main expense was the the six pack of beer he had to give the truck driver who brought it to his home when the building ownership decided not to use it for a meeting room.
    He had a forklift at home ( he lives on a pretty good sized property with a workshop the size of a barn, and thus the lift) so there was a call to some craftsmen who helped place and balance it to level. It is a very cool thing, and a lively table- no give on this surface!
    Back to the conversation where one cultivates a perception and understanding so that the resources to generate a creative project manifest. All actions occur when the actors perceive an opportunity for them. Making a creative project contribution appear as an opportunity can be offer to put the funder’s name on it, or it can be something less crass or direct. But that’s it. Generating a proposition that the other person sees as opportunity. Over and over until one has sufficiently enrolled the resources required.
    Doing this is often a creative endeavor itself, and most typically derided as “sales”. But real value rarely requires the onerous aspects of sales. It requires a dream and the ability to get others to dream it.

    • Very interesting thoughts, Patrick. Funny that everyone measures the worthiness of everything by the opportunity for themselves, in it, rather than the opportunity for humanity, though.

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