On this page:
- A Philosophy of Policy – some of the pitfalls and shortcomings of traditional ways of thinking about Government Policy.
- Five Principles of Governance – the foundations on which good decision-making procedures and protocols could be built.
- “Policies”, illustrating how these principles and philosophy could be applied in the familiar domains of education, healthcare, transportation, housing, etc.
A Philosophy of Policy
Why the very notion of “government policy” is a deeply flawed idea.
At the bottom of the page is a set of “Policies” in the usual categories of Health, Education, Environment etc. But before that, it is worth mentioning some foundational points about Policy and Policymaking in general.
There are at least four very good reasons to believe that our traditional approach to thinking about and presenting policy is deeply flawed.
1. Everything is connected.
It is pretty obvious that thinking about, say, health without also at the same time thinking about food, environment, education, etc. is ridiculous. Every “policy area” is connected to every other and the thinking that lies behind separating them into their own departments is a big part of the problem.
Understanding the connections between things is at least as important as understanding the things themselves, and decision-making processes should reflect that.
“…every policy that is enacted ends up being, almost by definition, a divisive one.”
2. Policymaking is inherently divisive.
It is the job of the Government to formulate and propose policy and it is the job of the opposition to oppose, come what may. This supposedly provides “scrutiny” of Government policy, but all it actually does is to ensure that pretty much every policy that is enacted ends up being, almost by definition, a divisive one.
Every single thing has to be voted on – we have been led to believe that this is “democratic”, but is it?
The possibility of starting from first principles and building a clear consensus together, obviating the need to vote at all, is not even an option.
The whole concept is actually ridiculous when you think about it – a no win situation. Not to mention being wide open to corruption.
What we so innocuously refer to as “lobbying” is little more than a legalised form of bribery. The revolving door that exists between top Government posts and top posts in banking, PR and lobbying firms is well documented.
It is also worth thinking about the fact that when bad decisions are made by a single, central body, everyone must suffer the consequences. Distributed governance allows for different things to be tried in different places, affording the chance for some degree of experimentation and learning.
This whole notion of one small group of people coming up with a proposition to be argued over must stop and must be replaced by distributed, decentralised processes based on good faith argumentation, discussion and negotiation.
Fluid, adaptable, participatory governance is the goal.
“…making a policy today for implementation tomorrow is a certain way to formulate redundant policy…”
3. All “Policy” should under constant, active review.
How many times have we criticised a Government for not following through on a manifesto pledge that they made? How many Governments get accused of being weak when they “U-turn” on a policy? How often have we cried “Government never listens” when they doggedly pursue unpopular policy?
The truth is that unless gifted with the ability to know the future, making a policy today for implementation tomorrow is a certain way to formulate redundant policy, given the rapid pace of change in the world. Therefore, rather than formulating policies in advance and then arguing their merits, the Money Free Party advocates the fluidity that comes from the use of bottom-up, distributed, decentralised decision-making structures, trusting them to make appropriate decisions based on their particular needs and circumstances.
“…the cultivation of trust between both individuals and groups must be emphasised and embodied into the very process of policy making.”
4. Reconnecting people to governance.
The separation of people from the making of decisions which affect them is extremely damaging. It makes people feel powerless, alienated, frustrated, angry, bitter, resentful. It also seems pretty obvious that the more minds there are working on a problem, the more likely a good solution will be found and probably faster too. Therefore ensuring that anyone who feels they may have a contribution to make gets to be involved in the process is super important.
This is not revolutionary really, it is what democracy was always supposed to be about, right?
The last thing to say here is that good decision-making can only be done by capable people willing to work together. Our current system brutalises almost all of us on a daily basis to some degree or another, be it through poverty, loneliness, 60 hour work weeks, ubiquitous advertising, partisan and propagandised information, lack of leisure/relaxation/family time, crappy diets, customer care hotlines,… the list goes on and on. No person can go through all of this day after day and not be traumatised by it.
We therefore see a very real and immediate need to integrate “Social Therapy” with public policy making, healing ourselves and each other as we move towards healing the society as a whole. Participation and involvement, relationship and community building and the cultivation of trust between both individuals and groups must be emphasised and embodied into the very process of policy making.
See Social Therapy section for more on this.
This policies page is a constant work in progress, forever being added to, amended, updated. If you have any thoughts on any of these policy areas, you can be a part of their development by joining the party and discussing them on our FORUM. Each policy has its own thread for the cultivation of conversation and ideas around it.
Five Principles of Governance
Governance exercised at the smallest appropriate scale. One central authority deciding how EVERY school, hospital, taxi company, day-care, supermarket and pub is to conduct their affairs is absurd. The locations, populations, requirements, constraints, and a million other factors are always different. Not to mention the fact that when a central decision-making authority gets it badly wrong, EVERYONE suffers the consequences. The population of a town is the appropriate body to decide when they want their pubs and clubs to open and close. The parents, teachers and kids are the appropriate group to decide what their school is going to prioritise in its curriculum and so on.
Employing sound, reliable processes to arrive at decisions which lead to appropriate policies/courses of action. Beginning by articulating and acknowledging the needs and requirements of all those affected/involved and then building constructive strategies together. Non Violent Communication is one well established example of such a method, there are many others too.
Complete transparency. No discussions to take place behind closed doors, all records public and easily accessible. Trust is the single most essential ingredient to the healthy functioning of distributed governance structures and therefore things like secrecy, duplicity and bullshit are poison. Complete transparency is the surest way to build trust in a system.
Openness of access to participation. Anyone who feels that they have a contribution to make, either because they have some relevant expertise, because they are directly affected or just because they are interested, should be able to do so. A variety of perspectives, from lay to expert, from emotionally involved to dispassionate are ALL required to do good sensemaking, to get a balanced and truthful picture. And good sensemaking is an essential prerequisite to good decision-making.
Recognition of “Commons”. Mechanisms and protocols for the management, stewardship and where necessary rejuvenation of the Commons are desperately needed. Given that the concept of Commons barely even exists in our current political discourse, one could be forgiven for thinking that it is not an especially big deal, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is a vast subject and one in which there are no simple answers. There are tiny commons, such as a village green. There are global commons such as water which may in turn contain innumerable sub-commons such as individual lakes and rivers. Lots of things should be thought of as commons that are not: transportation, food and energy production, housing – things which everyone needs and to which universal access should exist. Then there are the “invisible” commons like information, education, trust, health, creativity and language. All of these need to be looked after, cared for, nurtured. And of course they all interact with each other in all kinds of ways. The world is a fantastically complex place and governance structures need to exist at a variety of scales and have the necessary fluidity to adapt to the constantly changing circumstances that emerge.
Figuring out how to do this will be an enormous challenge and will require widespread participation. Widespread participation in turn requires that people be able to talk to and listen to each other and in order to do that, some measure of trust is needed and it seems there is precious little of that left in the world.
Corruption, secrecy, misinformation and deception are among the most corrosive and destructive forces to a cohesive society and in ours these things are so pervasive as to seem completely normal, to be expected. This is why the principles of transparency, open-source collaboration and sound process mentioned above are so very important. The understanding that we all live within, benefit from and are responsible for the Commons is the glue that binds it all together.
Click on the headings below to reveal or hide more information.
“…people of all ages, kids especially, are naturally curious and eager to learn.”
If we, as a society, had to pick one thing and one thing only to really concentrate on, it would probably be education. Because, if we can get that right, then a generation or two down the line we get everything else for free. Of course education doesn’t stand alone and is connected to everything else, but what might some of the ingredients of a really excellent process of education look like?
It might begin with the premise that people of all ages, kids especially, are naturally curious and eager to learn. Educators, therefore, should be there to guide, facilitate, offer expertise and keep them safe while they pursue their own lines of enquiry or interests.
“…concerned with the cultivation of skills rather than the acquisition of “knowledge”.”
It would understand that education is a lifelong process and that we are all capable of being both teacher and student. Anyone should be able to access the ability to improve themselves at any time and everybody has the ability to show someone else how to do something better.
It would be primarily concerned with the cultivation of skills rather than the acquisition of “knowledge”. There are few things which can afford a person greater satisfaction than acquiring the ability to do something with real skill.
Forcing a prescribed set of knowledge down the throats of all children, whatever their particular aptitudes or interests may be, cannot possibly be the best way to teach anything other than a hatred of learning.
Far better to practice and improve skills such as dialogue, chess, critical thinking, collaboration, self-discipline, painting, organisation, building stuff, time management, gardening, music, hiking…… there is a near endless list. With the acquisition and practicing of skills comes embodied, relevant, deep knowledge that brings satisfaction and joy to the whole of one’s life.
“Our education model is based on a Prussian idea from the early industrial revolution…”
This all sounds very nice, but there are various structural barriers in the way of serious, radical changes taking place in the way we think about education. Our education model is based on a Prussian idea from the early industrial revolution and its purpose was to produce competent, literate, obedient workers for the factories and mines. Regimented rows of children in uniform, sitting in silence listening to the teacher and then being tested on their ability to repeat with high fidelity what they had been told. That’s basically about it and little has changed in the intervening 150 years or so.
This paradigm has produced various structures, institutions and artefacts that support the continuation of that paradigm and so must be removed, or at least foundationally altered, before anything meaningfully different can emerge. A few of these things that need to happen are:
“…ranking children by scores in standardised tests serves only to pit them, and indeed their schools, against each other…”
1. The end of ALL standardised testing. Testing absolutely has its place in the process of formative assessment, but ranking children by scores in standardised tests serves only to pit them, and indeed their schools, against each other, inevitably creating huge cohorts of “losers”.
Only around 15% of students get an A and so straight away the other 85% are “worse than”. It is deeply divisive, cultivates a dependence on extrinsic motivators (reward/punishment usually), creates very high levels of entirely unnecessary stress in young people, and quite frankly it is utterly shameful that we do this to our kids, over and over again, throughout their lives.
2. The end of the National Curriculum. The idea of a prescriptive programme of study that ALL children must participate in is, we believe, anathema to real education. Indeed it amounts to little more than mass indoctrination. Once the need to rank and pit children against each other through standardised testing is gone, so is the need for standardised content. This would allow parents, children and educators to decide for themselves what is most important to them.
None of this is to say that numeracy, literacy and so on should be forgotten about, but rather that they should be treated as important life skills which can be learned in multiple contexts and not as ends in and of themselves. When a young child learns a language, it does so almost automatically out of a desire to mimic and communicate better with its parents, not because it is forced to go to classes. This is how learning best takes place.
“…universities become places where people gather together in pursuit of deepening their knowledge and understanding in community with each other…”
3. The end of the notion that education is the exclusive preserve of schools and universities. Once we understand that it is the learning that is the thing and not the qualification, whole new vistas of possibility for “student/teacher” relationships open up to us. Schools and universities become places where people gather together in pursuit of deepening their knowledge and understanding in community with each other, but individuals and groups also pursue their interests wherever they may lead. Be that the neighbour’s living room, the local church, the zoo, the art gallery or the park.
4. The end of age-based progression through the system. Moving up the ranks to the next level simply because the earth has gone around the sun one more time is ridiculous – the simple fact is that different people develop their capacities and interests at different times. If someone is starting to learn how to play the piano, for example, then they are a beginner whether they are 5 or 50. Grouping people together based on level of skill/experience/accomplishment rather than merely age would create a far more diverse and dynamic set of learning environments for everyone.
“…a whole fresh landscape of opportunity opens up to reimagine what education is…”
5. The end of compulsion. Learning is a joy and a pleasure and so forcing people to engage in it is actually completely unnecessary and sends entirely the wrong message. Only when driven by our own internal, intrinsic motivations and following our own interests and passions do we do deep, meaningful learning. Discovering and cultivating those is where the joy of learning is to be found.
Once these barriers are removed, a whole fresh landscape of opportunity opens up to reimagine what education is and could be about. Fortunately, it is not necessary to start completely from scratch. There are many innovative, tested and highly successful models already in existence. If you are interested in diving further into this domain, the Education section in the Further Information page of this website is a good starting point.
“Universal access to healthcare feels as though it is one of THE essential components of an evolved society.”
We British are super proud of our NHS and not without some justification. Universal access to healthcare feels as though it is one of THE essential components of an evolved society. However, it is worth putting the current NHS into a little historical context and to look at the consequences to a public service when it has to exist as it does in a world of money, competing interests and market forces.
When the National Health Service was created back in 1948, it had a very clear mandate and purpose: to make the nation healthier. By ensuring that every single person had access to quality healthcare without having to pay for it at the point of receipt it was believed that the NHS would, in time, largely obsolete itself by creating a citizenry so healthy that it would hardly be needed any longer outside of the need to treat accidents and injuries.
“…requiring more doctors and nurses and more money to treat more sick people than there have ever been.”
The NHS of 1948 had around 80,000 doctors and nurses and cost the nation a little under £13bn/year (adjusted to real terms). The NHS of today has over 350,000 doctors and nurses and the annual cost has risen to over £150bn. This may seem like progress, but note the 350% increase in the number of doctors and nurses and the more than 1000% increase in spending.
The population in 1948 was 50million, now it is 66million, an increase of just 32%.
One might be forgiven for thinking that the NHS has accomplished the exact opposite of what it set out to do, requiring more doctors and nurses and more money to treat more sick people than there have ever been. Of course there are other factors to consider here: older population, more treatable conditions, more expensive equipment, etc. But still, food for thought.
“…a healthy nation would be bad for the economy.
Disastrous in fact.”
We can even go one step further – it is not in the interests of the government or the NHS to create a truly healthy nation.
To do so would mean not just the obvious dramatic reduction in funding and jobs, but all the ancillary businesses that rely completely on the NHS for their livelihoods, such as laundries, bedmakers, cleaning products suppliers, caterers, pharmaceutical companies – the list goes on and on. This would lead to a dramatic fall in GDP and so a healthy nation would be bad for the economy.
Disastrous in fact.
This is a perfect example of the interests of institutional hierarchies (and the forces of money and markets that dominate them) coming into conflict with the very purpose for which the organisation exists.
“…NHS now spends more on maintaining its own internal architecture than it does on patient care…”
One would imagine that in the 40’s and 50’s the NHS was a pretty cool place to work. Feeling as though one was a part of something which was genuinely worthwhile, doing some real good for people, the newness of it, the camaraderie, figuring out stuff as you go, doing your best but making mistakes anyway, sharing and learning from each others’ experiences…. Must have been great fun.
The NHS of today, however, is absolutely stuffed full of policy documents, regulations and protocols, memoranda, books of standards and practices to be adhered to, league tables, targets, reporting structures, managers, administrators, safety officers, compliance officers, lawyers, accountants, site managers and, most dreaded of all, the HR department.
All these managers and administrators have to be seen to be useful, however pointless they may in fact be, and so are forever producing largely irrelevant documents for themselves and others to have meetings about, draft and redraft and finally circulate to the poor frontline staff who then have to look as though they are complying with this latest piece of bullshit while they get on with the job of actually trying to make sick people better.
It is for this reason that the 350% increase in medical staff went along with almost an 1100% increase in total spending – the rest going mostly to create a bloated administration.
“So how can these depressing outcomes be avoided? … One way would be to stop measuring the value/success of the NHS by how much money we pump into it.”
At some point, the “health” of the organisation, the survival and growth of the institution, became more important than its purpose: the health of the nation. The NHS now spends more on maintaining its own internal architecture than it does on patient care and spends almost nothing on preventative medicine, which was half of its original mandate.
Mental health care and community care are a complete shambles and it would not be an unreasonable observation to make of the NHS that more than 70 years on from its creation, the nation has never been less healthy.
So how can these depressing outcomes be avoided? How can we start to think about essential public services in such a way as to keep them focused on their actual raison d’etre?
One way would be to stop measuring the value/success of the NHS by how much money we pump into it. In doing so we are failing to recognise a crucial truth: the fact of the matter is that more money = more sick people and is thus, actually, a failure.
“Healthcare MUST begin from the perspective of increasing wellness…waiting until people are so ill that they need to visit a hospital is insane.”
Another would be to recognise the essential and thus equal value of all the contributions made within it. A hospital cannot function without cleaners and orderlies, but it can muddle through just fine without multiple tiers of administrative staff, all of whom earn substantially more and enjoy far better working conditions than do the cleaners and orderlies.
It is also worth thinking about the fact that the cleaners and orderlies see everything that goes on in the hospital, including all its grubby little secrets. It would be interesting to know how often the advice, experience or counsel of these humble functionaries is sought by those in policy-making positions.
This kind of thinking is symptomatic of profound value system disorders, so putting it right needs to begin at the level of values. Measuring everything in numbers means that the actual point of the thing, the wellbeing of people, soon gets lost.
Healthcare MUST begin from the perspective of increasing wellness. Treating the sick is but a tiny part of wellness and yet when we think about healthcare that is pretty much all we think about. But waiting until people are so ill that they need to visit a hospital is insane. If the manpower and resources that we currently allocate to the NHS bureaucracy were instead used in transforming our agricultural practices and properly educating the population as to how to take responsibility for their own health and maximising their wellness, we would have a dramatically healthier nation and would end up spending far, far fewer resources on treating the sick.
Healthcare is inseparable from education, food production, environmental preservation etc. and until we start to think like that we will continue to get sicker and sicker.
“…Common Law has demonstrated the ability to evolve and change with the times.”
The UK has a system of Common Law, copied all over the world, which has stood the test of time pretty well. Based on the very simple principles of “do no harm; cause no loss; do not breach the peace; do not engage in fraudulent dealings; you are assumed innocent until proven guilty”, it is easily comprehensible by all and something everyone can get on board with. Built on these simple and solid foundations, Common Law has demonstrated the ability to evolve and change with the times. And because Law is made in front of juries, the written Law is always tempered by and secondary to human judgement. Because of this, as citizens we are automatically deemed to have consented to be bound by Common Law, The Law of The Land.
“If laws can’t be easily known and understood by all then they are pointless.”
Where we get ourselves into trouble is with the legal system. Laws passed by Parliament are called statutes and are themselves bound by the principles of Common Law. Common Law stands above all. Parliament, being a creation of Man, can never stand above Man. Therefore, statutes do not carry the force of law until we consent to them. Legislative law is the Law of the Sea, the rules of commerce.
No citizen can possibly be expected to have knowledge of all of the statutes in effect at any given time and it is likely that each and every one of us has unwittingly “broken” these “laws” multiple times in our lives. If laws can’t be easily known and understood by all then they are pointless. More importantly, those who have special training or access to lawyers can manipulate to their own advantage those that do not. This creates an unfair and uneven playing field, leading to the very exacerbation of inequality, distrust, resentment and so on that so characterises our society.
The MFP therefore advocates a move away from the use of legislation and (as described in more detail in the Transportation Infrastructure section) towards the use of sound, easily understood principles in distributed, decentralised, nested governance structures to figure things out.
“Even with everyone acting honestly and in good faith, people can come into serious conflict simply because they see things differently.”
The really profound change here would be for the Criminal Justice System to be renamed and reframed as a Conflict Resolution Service.
While, as already stated, there is much worth preserving in our current system of Common Law and trial by jury, in a criminal justice system the goal is to decide whether a defendant is innocent or guilty of an alleged crime and, if guilty, to assign an appropriate punishment to the convicted offender.
A conflict resolution service would instead seek to answer the questions:
“why did this happen?”
“what is the best way forward from here, given that what has happened has happened?”
Conflict and friction are thus seen as potential opportunities for growth and discovery rather than winning and revenge. To use an analogy, when the rubber hits the road, it is friction that propels the car forwards. But the friction needs to be managed and directed. If it is not, the tyres screech and spin, making lots of noise, producing lots of heat, causing damage to both car and road, but taking the car nowhere.
The energy of conflict can be destructive or constructive, depending on how it is dealt with. Effective methods of conflict resolution can actually propel the society forwards in all kinds of ways and so becoming more skilful at this, both at an individual and a societal level, will pay enormous dividends.
Nobody ever holds ALL of the truth. We can be right and still be in direct conflict with someone else who is also right. However “correct” our perspective may be, it is never complete. The diagram to the right captures the essence of this idea very nicely.
Even with everyone acting honestly and in good faith, people can come into serious conflict simply because they see things differently. The really cool part is when the conflict reveals a deeper truth that was unknown before and only through the resolving of the apparent conflict could the deeper truth be revealed.
“…these kinds of skills in the population, skills which improve the richness and resilience of the social fabric…”
Protocols such as Restorative Justice and Non Violent Communication are just two examples of existing models that work according to these kinds of principles. By seeking to understand motives, bring victim and perpetrator into dialogue with each other, get to the heart of the nature of the loss or wrong that was suffered and arrive at mutually satisfactory resolution, real closure and actual Justice can be achieved.
Sometimes a sincere apology is all that is needed to put things right. There are innumerable forms of restitution that could be employed – there is freedom to get creative. The imposition of restriction or punishment may be the best or only way sometimes – again, we can use our imaginations.
The point is that this should be a collective process that we engage in as communities; recognising not only the value to the society of the effective resolution of potentially destructive disputes, but also the value to each of us as individuals in participating in that process; as we do so we all become better communicators, more empathetic, fairer, more tolerant.
The development of these kinds of skills in the population, skills which improve the richness and resilience of the social fabric, is covered more thoroughly in the Social Therapy section.
“I do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law.”
This is the oath sworn by all police constables when they begin their careers. Perhaps substitute “Queen” for, say, “Community” and there is really not very much that needs to be changed here. The origins of British policing lie in community. Constables were personally known to those on their beat, were trusted to be fair minded and were interested only in keeping the peace.
“…a great pity and represents an immeasurable loss…”
These days, alas, there are very few beat constables left. “Keeping the peace” has somehow morphed into “preserve and protect the corporate state apparatus” from the disruption caused by what is becoming an increasingly disgruntled population.
As a result, police now are armed with not just batons, but mace and tasers too, wear bullet-proof vests and many now even carry guns. Because of the loss of daily, intimate contact with those they are sworn to serve and protect, the police are no longer trusted and have become increasingly seen as thugs and stooges. In many ways, the police and the people are in conflict with each other, when the exact opposite should be the case.
This is all a great pity and represents an immeasurable loss to the fabric of the society. Just as with the health service and so many other things, exposure to an environment in which so-called “efficiencies”, budgets, careers and interdepartmental power games rule over the actual quality of what is being done, policing has degraded into a hollowed out shell of what it should be.
“…a much greater emphasis to be placed on skills such as counselling, conflict resolution and communication.”
It seems as though the remedy would be a return to the original principles articulated in the oath and the re-emphasis of community in policing. Selecting constables from a community to serve that community is the right starting point. Figuring how to co-ordinate the activities of multiple constables into areas and multiple areas into effective national coherence comes after that. We have it very much the wrong way around right now.
Alongside this would come a need for a de-emphasising of things such as combat, use of force and knowledge of legislation in officer training and a much greater emphasis to be placed on skills such as counselling, conflict resolution and communication.
“Once again, we are faced with the reality that our current systems, based on money, profit and market forces, are incapable of meeting basic human needs.”
The homeless charity Shelter estimates that there are around 280,000 people currently homeless in the UK. That’s 1 in 200 adults. That a country as wealthy as ours allows this to happen at all is deplorable enough, but in the context of there being over 200,000 homes standing empty, it is utterly needless too. Local government spends fortunes on short term fixes, putting families up in B&Bs and paying wads of cash to rentseeking landlords so that the poor and desperate may live in often squalid conditions.
This solves nothing. Once again, we are faced with the reality that our current systems, based on money, profit and market forces, are incapable of meeting basic human needs.
“…this is actually more of a logistical problem than a construction one…”
Shelter from the elements is among the most basic human needs of them all. There is no question that in a civilised society housing should be as universally accessible, free at the point of receipt, as healthcare and education are today. Getting from here to there may be a challenge, but one well worth taking on. Imagine the peace of mind that comes from knowing that whatever happens you will ALWAYS have a decent roof over your head. Imagine what that does for the society as a whole. Given that the housing stock already exists to house everyone immediately, this is actually more of a logistical problem than a construction one in the short term. A few examples of useful short-term action might be:
“…housing should be Commons…”
- Where properties are standing empty because they are derelict/abandoned/unfit for occupation, they should be restored to functionality immediately and included in the social housing stock.
- In the cases where the empty property is a second/holiday home, an investment property or a repossession, a request is made of the owner to allow their property to be used, terms to be negotiated in good faith.
- There are tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of 3,4,5 bedroom homes being occupied by single people or couples. It seems reasonable to suppose that many of them might prefer to live in something smaller that requires less maintenance and upkeep. Or maybe some might be happy to make rooms available. Or have the house converted into two or more dwellings. If these kinds of things could be accomplished easily and painlessly, many might volunteer. Of course nobody is forcing anyone, but simply making the request could pay big dividends.
- More and more commercial property is standing empty as online shopping takes over from the high street and more people work from home. Repurposing some of this to make more residential stock available would be a relatively simple matter.
- It is really important to understand that homelessness is about more than simply not having a roof over your head. The set of circumstances that led to the person becoming homeless in the first place were likely pretty traumatic. And a life on the streets carries its own traumas. Therefore, along with rehoming people has to come a network of support structures to help people heal, get back on their feet and start finding a passion to follow in their lives. See the Social Therapy section for more on this.
“Once housing is Commons, we can simply move about as we wish.”
In the longer term, we believe that housing should be Commons, where nobody owns their home, but everybody has access to one. Some kind of right of exclusive/permanent residence would be established so that nobody could be kicked out of their home, but would expire at death and the property re-enters the common pool. There are a few actions that could be taken to take us in that direction:
“…building trust, community, relationship and resilience…”
- Gifting property to the Commons. People could stipulate in their will that their house is to be made a gift to the Commons. A body such as a National Residential Property Commons Trust could be set up, whose dealings would, of course, model the principles of transparency, inclusion and sound process articulated in the introduction to this section.
The idea of giving away their most precious asset will be a pretty outrageous notion to many. Stipulations that, for example, their children could live in it could be made which may go some way towards assuaging those fears though. The fact is that the shift away from seeing our houses as financial assets to instead viewing them as valuable Commons is a profound one, best done step by step.
- A national property exchange. Whether to upsize or downsize, get a change of scene, move closer to family, there are always going to be reasons for people to want to move house. Right now this is a tiresome, time-consuming and cumbersome process, replete with paperwork and legal hoops to jump through. Not to mention bloody expensive. Once housing is Commons, we can simply move about as we wish. Live in Swansea and want to move to Liverpool? No problem. There are plenty of nice places in Liverpool. Take whichever one you fancy, move in and your house in Swansea is now available. Simple, right? No messing about with price differentials, stamp duties, solicitors fees, estate agents, mortgage applications, blah blah blah.
Clearly it won’t always be quite that simple, although in time there is no reason it couldn’t be exactly that simple. But until then, maybe there is a shortage in a particular place and 3 people want the same house. Who gets it? Who decides? Well, first of all if there is a genuine shortage, then urgent attention should be given to remedying that. The creation of abundance solves so many disputes before they even have a chance to happen. But until then, it just needs to be settled as well as it can be. Effective conflict/dispute resolution is covered in detail in the Law & Crime section.
“It is hard to imagine that anyone would NOT want to be a part of a community that explicitly supported each other and worked together…”
3. The expansion of community living, co-housing and the like. The ideals of building trust, community, relationship and resilience come up again and again on this website. Apologies if it is getting dull, but these things are super important, so they bear repeating. They are also the very same things that reside at the heart of community living. It is hard to imagine that anyone would NOT want to be a part of a community that explicitly supported each other and worked together, that was largely an independent and self-sustaining unit and in which everyone is well known to each other.
This does not have to mean a complete loss of privacy and independence, nor does it mean having to live in huts or caves. Co-housing affords each person or family a chance to live in their own private home, while at the same time having shared spaces in which to eat, meet, play, celebrate, grieve and perhaps worship together as a community. Burdens and benefits alike are shouldered and enjoyed together. Decisions that affect everyone are made collectively in the best interests of the community as a whole.
Having people around you that you KNOW you can trust to look after your kids, keep an eye on things when you go on holiday, be there when you are sick or injured, being part of a unit which is capable of meeting its own needs – this is what real security is.
4. Updating, improving and expanding housing stock. This is an ongoing process. There is plenty of room for improvement of the existing stock – from basic repairs to double glazing and better insulation to the widespread placing of solar panels and wind turbines on roofs, there is plenty of low-hanging fruit to be picked immediately. As new technologies come along, further refinements can be made.
Part of the purpose of the housing exchange mentioned above would be to highlight areas of surplus and shortage. Where there is a surplus, is there anything that can be done to make that place a more attractive one to live in, encouraging new residents in to take up that slack? Where there is a shortage, how best to meet it? Could it have been anticipated?
Recent advances in construction technologies mean that houses can now be “printed” in very short time frames. Utilising such innovations allows for the possibility of responding very rapidly.
“The poor nutritional value and high chemical content of our food leads inexorably to a wide range of health impacts.”
This is a really, really big deal. The cavalier way in which we go about extracting food from the environment is profoundly destructive, pretty much across the board. Whether you care to look at meat, fish, or arable farming you will discover that what we are doing is wholly unsustainable, not to mention super unhealthy. The poor nutritional value and high chemical content of our food leads inexorably to a wide range of health impacts. From cancers to diabetes, from high blood pressure to strokes to cardiac disease – all are hugely exacerbated by the poor quality of the food we consume.
There are, as always, many strategies that could work in harmony with each other, at varying scales, to transform not only the way we produce food but its quality too, while at the same time revitalising the land.
Listed here are just a few.
“…simply leaving the land alone and letting nature do her thing, is the single most effective way to repair some of the damage we have done…”
1. Vertical farms. Particularly helpful in urban situations, these multistorey growing environments are able to provide optimal growing conditions for a wide variety of crops. By utilising minimal amounts of land and dramatically less in the way of fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and water than conventional farming, vast areas of land could, over time, be returned to the wild.
“Rewilding”, simply leaving the land alone and letting nature do her thing, is the single most effective way to repair some of the damage we have done to the countryside. The destruction of millions of miles of hedgerow that our farming methods have necessitated in particular have had a devastating impact on wild species.
“Organic farming can actually be far MORE productive than intensive monocropping…”
2. Using permaculture/organic farming principles. As mentioned in the Climate Change section, the world’s topsoil is near death. The rich communities of micro-organisms that make up a healthy soil have been under attack for decades by the excessive use of chemicals and have come close to collapsing altogether. Returning to the simple ideas of rotating crops, not ploughing so deep, leaving fields fallow, re-establishing hedgerows, using ruminants to graze and fertilise, composting to cycle organic material back into the soil and so on, these practices would quickly rejuvenate the soil. As an added bonus, this regeneration of the soil also sucks a bunch of CO2 out of the atmosphere, locking it up in the soil.
People will tell you that we couldn’t produce enough food without all the chemicals, but this is simply not true. Organic farming can actually be far MORE productive than intensive monocropping, as well as yielding better quality and more diverse produce. It is, however, more labour intensive. In other words, more people would need to become involved in the process of food production, at least initially. This more hands-on approach to the way we get our food would be wholesome and enriching in all kinds of ways, not just nutritionally.
“Even if it is just a few herbs
in a windowbox, it is something.”
3. Community farms, allotments, gardens and windowboxes. Following on from that idea, there is no reason why absolutely everyone who wants to shouldn’t be able to produce some of their own food. Watching things one has planted and looked after grow is a great pleasure. Perhaps not for everyone, but for most.
Even if it is just a few herbs in a windowbox, it is something.
We would very much like to do whatever is possible to make the home and community growing of food a widespread practice, the norm even. Seed exchanges, neighbourhood markets, tool libraries, access to expertise and advice would all be facilitated and expanded way beyond what is available now. These little tiny contributions, added all together, could make a huge difference to the demand placed on the remainder of food production, as well as enriching our relationships with each other and with the Earth.
“It really is a win win win and is among the most accessible and effective first steps we could take together.”
4. Eat way less meat. There really is no escaping this. Whatever one’s views are about this, we just have to face that fact, it’s as simple as that.
It takes at least 20 times as much land to feed people with meat than with plant based foods. The environmental impacts are enormous and the cruelty and brutality of treatment are beyond description. Ruminants (cows, sheep etc.) do have a role to play in the permaculture cycle and could still be slaughtered and be sold. But the scale at which we currently consume meat is simply not viable.
The truth is that if the costs which are currently externalised for free to the commons were accounted for, meat would be priced at a level which would make it economically impossible for most people to eat much of it anyway. So the real question is whether we wish to continue these subsidies and the false markets they create, or would those resources be better employed elsewhere?
In short, we believe that the way forward is a more distributed, localised approach to food production. There are so many advantages to this model over our current practice of huge, industrial scale operators supplying so much of what we eat. We are much more connected to our food, leading to better diets, better relationships in our communities and far greater overall resilience in the food supply. Localisation means less transportation of goods around, less pollution and fresher produce. It really is a win win win and is among the most accessible and effective first steps we could take together.
“While reducing emissions is unquestionably a good thing, it is far from sufficient.”
Climate change is undeniably one of the biggest challenges ahead. Figuring out how to not only reduce the impact we are having, but also how to put right the damage we have done, will require dramatic changes.
However, focusing all of our attention and energies on CO2 emissions is, in our opinion, a mistake. While reducing emissions is unquestionably a good thing, it is far from sufficient. The mass extinction of species, destruction of habitats, fouling of soil and water, excessive use of chemicals and many other widespread practices present equally grave threats to our future survival on Earth. Studies suggest that there may be as little as 30-40 years left of fertility in the topsoil, for example, after which crops will become far less bountiful.
“…could on its own remove enough CO2 from the atmosphere to more than offset all human global emissions…”
So, as well as lowering emissions, we also need to completely reorganise all kinds of things, not least the way we grow food and manage land. The return to permaculture principles would begin to restore the microbiota in the soil. As the soil comes back to life, it draws carbon back down into the soil, locking it up. Were this to be done globally, it could on its own remove enough CO2 from the atmosphere to more than offset all human global emissions, actually lowering atmospheric CO2 levels.
The point is that there is not one single life system left on this planet which is healthy and so dealing effectively with climate change needs to be tackled in the broader context of environmental degradation, from a variety of directions, using a multitude of approaches. But underlying it all MUST be a widespread recognition that we come from the Earth, depend completely on the Earth and that to befoul the Earth is to injure ourselves.
“One of the key messages that the MFP hopes to get across is the impossibility of effectively tackling these kinds of issues using the tools of money and markets.”
Do we as a society have the skills, manpower, resources and technology necessary to transform our agricultural, land management, energy production and transportation systems into sustainable ones? If the answer is “yes” and yet we are choosing not to do so, then there must be something wrong with the way in which we are organising ourselves.
One of the key messages that the MFP hopes to get across is the impossibility of effectively tackling these kinds of issues using the tools of money and markets. The incentivisation of profit over sustainability will ALWAYS thwart any attempts at meaningful change. There will always be players seeking to game the system to make money and they will continue to do so for precisely as long as the incentives remain.
The Money Free Party believes that the way we treat livestock, not to mention the natural world, is shameful. Subsidies and incentives, both visible and invisible, exist at every level of the food production industry which severely distort the true costs of things, allowing us to buy meat, for example, at prices way below what they would be if the true costs of production were included. Costs such as the loss of habitats due to land clearing to make way for soya fields to feed the cattle. Such as the poisoning of rivers and lakes with toxic runoffs. And such as the widespread exposure to high levels of antibiotics and growth hormones in the meat-eating population.
Therefore our policy would be to remove subsidies to all large producers of meat and insist that all previously externalised costs be accounted for. One study estimated that a Big Mac, priced according to these ideas, would need to cost around £12. Those who wish to eat meat are free to do so, but they must also bear the true cost of their choice rather than unconsciously externalising it onto everyone. Surely that is only fair.
“…accept the notion of transportation as Commons and not as a commercial venture…”
This is an excellent context in which to explore the concept of nested governance structures. If we can accept the notion of transportation as Commons and not as a commercial venture seeking to make a profit, then we can take a completely different approach to planning it. Attempting to come up with one, national, co-ordinated transportation network that meets everyone’s needs is WAY too complex an undertaking for any given group of people, however clever.
Instead, a transportation network is better conceived as the emergent result of decisions taken by many different groups of people at a variety of levels. Each decision is made at the level of effect, by the people being affected.
“…we are far more likely to cheerfully abide by decisions with which we may disagree if we felt we were at least heard.”
For example, consider a city bus network and imagine that there are 4 “tiers” of governance involved in its planning. (Tiers is a potentially misleading term here as it could imply hierarchical levels when in fact these tiers are nested within each other, not stacked on top of each other.)
- Tier 1 we might call “Neighbourhood”. This would consist of a number of households, say somewhere around 100.
- Tier 2 we might call “Community”, which would be made up of, say 15-20 Neighbourhoods.
- Tier 3 could be called “District” made up of some number of Communities and
- Teir 4 would be “City” consisting of the sum of the districts.
“…the overall solution to the best way to organise the City bus network has not been designed per se, rather it emerges…”
Each tier imposes and has imposed upon it constraints from the tiers above and below. And so, while the overall planning of the routes to achieve broad city coverage might best be done at the level of city, it has to be informed by the needs of all of the tiers nested within it. Similarly, decisions at the individual route level as to which route will incorporate which places of interest, shopping centres, etc. are probably best taken at the District tier. BUT, districts must also be in communication with each other and with the Communities nested within them to avoid unnecessary duplication or omission of coverage.
Deciding where each individual bus stop should go is best done at the community and neighbourhood levels. Planners at the city level are working at the wrong level of resolution to make such decisions. The key thing is the interplay between these tiers of decision-making. Communication runs both vertically up and down the 4 tiers and horizontally between tiers of the same level. No one dominates over another, each works out its own solutions at its own level of resolution and communicates it to the tiers above and below.
“The advantages of these emergent solutions that spring from the interactions between nested agents of governance are many.”
The key point to understand is that the overall solution to the best way to organise the City bus network has not been designed per se, rather it emerges from this interplay.
The two gifs on this page give a pretty good intuitive, visual sense of how these nested agents fit together across scales.
The advantages of these emergent solutions that spring from the interactions between nested agents of governance are many. People at every level feel that they have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process and we are far more likely to cheerfully abide by decisions with which we may disagree if we felt we were at least heard.
Better decisions can be made, acceptable to a broader range of interests and perspectives, when more voices are heard.
And collaborating on decisions that actually affect us makes us more trustful, helps us to build lasting and resilient relationships and gives us a greater sense of sovereignty over our lives.
“…exercising of appropriate constraints and effective feedback loops of communication and negotiation…”
This city bus network is, in turn, nested within a regional and ultimately national network, not just of buses, but of trains, trams, ferries, etc. Each village, town, city and region has a certain amount of freedom and autonomy to organise its own transportation services as they see fit, but must also operate within the constraints of the larger domains in which they are nested.
Constraints imposed by the national tier might include things such as all cities drive on the same side of the road, use the same traffic light sequences, go clockwise at roundabouts, have a central bus station with good connections between intercity and local buses.
Similarly, a particular town may not want intercity buses arriving at certain times of day and this acts as a constraint on the region.
The idea is, therefore, that through the exercising of appropriate constraints and effective feedback loops of communication and negotiation, an efficient and effective national network emerges from the sum of the relationships between all the “Babushka dolls” of networks nested within it.
A key feature of RBE is the idea of “private sufficiency, public luxury”, or, as George Monbiot put it in his 2017 Guardian article,
“Public luxury for all or private luxury for some: this is the choice we face.”
A place to live, furnishings and decorations, clothing, a phone and/or a computer, other personal items – it is entirely sensible for people to have permanent possession of such things. However, for many if not most of the things we need in life, not only could we just as well share them, to do so would actually be better in all kinds of ways, so long as we had easy access to them when needed.
There are potentially hundreds of items that could be shared rather than individually owned. From tools and books to kitchen appliances and music/film libraries, decoration and construction equipment, jewellery, seeds, barbecues… eventually even things like clothing and cars could be included.
As these ideas take hold and the notion of distributed ownership and universal access (Commons in other words) increasingly become the norm, as well as representing a dramatic reduction in resource demand and waste, the idea is a profoundly transformative one psychologically: deepening trust and a sense of interdependency grow right alongside.
“…widespread expansion of local capacities … strengthens the local community while at the same time building enormous additional resilience…”
Two courses of action that the MFP would embark on immediately are:
Creation of Access centres – these are essentially lending libraries, but not just for books. Tool libraries already exist and we would seek to strongly incentivise and facilitate the creation of access centres for as many items, and indeed services, as possible.
Expansion of local capacities/infrastructure – there is a huge amount that could be very quickly achieved in the areas of power generation, water and waste treatment, food production, road maintenance, education, community care and many other domains. A general and widespread expansion of local capacities in these areas strengthens the local community while at the same time building enormous additional resilience into the nation as a whole.
Both of these could be hugely facilitated by the repurposed military described in the Armed Forces section.
Going forward, anything that can be sensibly taken out of the transactional economy and be made sufficiently abundant to be universally accessed as commons, will be. Food, transportation, energy and water, even housing – these are all basic needs and none should be denied them.
“It would be a great shame not to make good use of this mighty resource.”
The Money Free Party is unequivocally opposed to war. It is NEVER a justifiable course of action.
That said, we have highly trained, highly disciplined, well equipped, well motivated armed forces, populated with men and women eager to be of service to their nation. Working together in pursuit of a common objective is right at the core of what the military does and in many ways they are an example to us all. It would be a great shame not to make good use of this mighty resource.
“…play a central role in organising and implementing the radical redesigning and rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure…”
We would therefore propose a repurposing of our armed forces, bringing all of our service personnel home so that they might play a central role in organising and implementing the radical redesigning and rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure that will be needed to help the society transform and heal. This “military that isn’t a military” could be one of the greatest assets that we have. The array of skills and capacities at their disposal would be of immeasurable value.
For the members of the armed forces themselves, with the threat of being shot at or blown up removed, serving becomes a much different proposition. By being able to be at home with families, see friends and engage in work that actually helps people, it becomes enriching rather than, as is so often the case, soul-destroying. No more PTSD, no more loss of limbs or eyes, no more having to live with oneself having shot a kid dead or blown up a village.
“The camaraderie, unity of purpose, mutual support and complete trust that characterise the armed forces would be excellent medicine…”
Under such conditions, the notion of National Service takes on a whole new meaning and might well become a highly attractive calling for many. The camaraderie, unity of purpose, mutual support and complete trust that characterise the armed forces would be excellent medicine for many of us. Once the threat of being sent to war is removed, some form of National Service could well become the norm.
A deep, complex and thorny issue…
…which provokes powerful, emotional responses in people. Clearly it is not possible to “solve” this problem and ongoing, good faith examination and argumentation is essential to navigate it. This is a perfect example of where the setting of targets, making of promises and being in any way certain of the future just hampers the ability to enter into good faith discussion.
In order for such discussion to occur, it seems important that a couple of basic truths are acknowledged by all:
1. Many of the people who seek to come here are doing so because conditions where they come from are intolerable. Few want to leave their home if their home is a pleasant and hospitable place. Traipsing half way around the globe with children in tow, with no money and no idea of what fate holds in store is not a journey many people would undertake without powerful motivation to do so.
It is also worth remembering that in many cases, the causes of the horrific conditions in which these people find themselves are the wars we have waged and the exploitative extraction and business practices we have inflicted on their home countries.
It therefore behoves us to be compassionate to our fellow man and to offer sanctuary.
2. The influx of large numbers of people who do not speak the language or understand the customs impacts the society significantly, however far-reaching the goodwill of the host population may be. Without proper planning, severe strains can be placed on housing, healthcare and education systems, transportation networks, social security etc. These things have very real impacts on the lives of many people and labelling those who make this point xenophobes or racists is simply not helpful.
Somehow we have to understand that both of these things are true at the same time. Once we do that, then we can embark on that difficult and complex discussion as to how to best balance them, rather than arguing over who is right.
“…energy should properly be a part of the Commons…”
A shortage of energy limits all kinds of other possibilities, so ensuring energy abundance is of central, foundational importance to the society.
As an essential ingredient of modern life, energy should properly be a part of the Commons, universally accessible and so abundant that it comes without a price tag attached to it.
“…burning of fossil fuels is completely unnecessary. Has been for decades…”
The focus here is on electricity, as pretty much any device can be powered electrically. Even things like aeroplanes, for which electrically based propulsion systems do not yet exist, alternatives could quickly be found.
The continued burning of fossil fuels is completely unnecessary. Has been for decades, actually, but it was far easier and more profitable to keep using them in the short term than to grow alternatives for the long term. Look where that thinking has got us. Again. We have built our entire civilisation on a resource that was ALWAYS going to run out at some point. Madness, but that’s how we roll.
“As a global society, we use less energy in a year than arrives at the Earth from the Sun every hour.”
As a global society, we use less energy in a year than arrives at the Earth from the Sun every hour. And that’s before taking into consideration all the energy there is available in the movement of air and water and in the heat of the Earth’s mantle. So there is clearly no shortage of available energy, it is merely a question of harnessing it.
This requires a multi-dimensional approach to energy production, across a variety of scales and employing a diverse set of strategies.
Energy produced > Energy used = Abundance
The energy abundance equation is pretty simple. If production/storage capacity is always greater than potential demand then we have energy abundance. Thus finding ways to waste less is just as valid a strategy to achieving abundance as generating more.
At the household level, for example, there are efficiencies to be made by insulating, using LED bulbs, high efficiency appliances and the like. At larger scales, localisation of production reduces the loss in transit that occurs when electricity is relayed over larger distances.
It is worth examining a little more closely the domains of production and storage of electricity before going on to look at how we might think about the organisation, infrastructure and governance thereof.
Production options – solar is not ideally suited to UK conditions, although in the summer months it can be pretty productive in much of the country. What we have lots of in the UK is wind, coastline and moving water and it is in these places that the bulk of our energy future lies. At least until geothermal is realised.
- Wind and solar – most people are pretty aware of these. It is worth mentioning, though, that in the UK we have virtually unlimited offshore wind capacity as well as lots of exposed, windy areas on land. The biggest limitation of these two renewables is that they produce lots of energy when conditions are right and little or none when they are not. Storage of the surplus generated in the good times to be used later is therefore a big part of the puzzle. Storage options are discussed below.
- Wave power – harnesses the surface movements on the ocean to create pressure which generates electricity. Various design possibilities are being explored. Again, wave power is somewhat erratic, but has enormous potential. At the moment it is not quite “commercially viable”, but it is absolutely a viable option in terms of the energy that could be produced.
Read a very interesting article about marine energy here.
- Tidal power – unlike the previous options, this is a predictable and reliable source of power. By harnessing the movement of the oceans as the moon drags them around the Earth, propellers drive turbines which generate electricity. No fuel, no emissions, completely reliable. To give you some idea of what tidal could be doing for us, South Korea has constructed a tidal power station capable of generating enough energy to power almost 14million homes. Learn more here.
Fortunately, most of the technology required to achieve this transformation is already in existence, ready to be scaled up. Once we are able to see clearly enough to ask ourselves whether we have at our disposal the technological capability and access to the necessary resources to create an abundant and sustainable energy supply, rather than how much it will cost and whether it is profitable, solving a lot of these problems actually becomes pretty easy. Energy is a good example of this.
Localisation, decentralisation and distributed, interconnected networks are the key ideas.
“There are as many ways to think about and visualise this notion as there are imaginations.”
Much as in the Transportation section, a constructive way to view this is the idea of nested agents, from the individual level all the way up to the National. Each of the tiers has a role to play on both sides of the energy abundance equation.
There are as many ways to think about and visualise this notion as there are imaginations. There is really no limit to how many of these nested levels there can be, nor any hard rules as to how many there ought to be. The divisions are always somewhat arbitrary and the boundaries are often somewhat fuzzy and we need to learn to get comfortable with, even embrace, that fuzziness.
Fuzzy, messy, complex, unpredictable, fluid – is how the world actually is, and our systems thinking needs to better reflect that so as to have the necessary flexibility to be able to adapt to different domains, circumstances, needs, population densities, etc.
For the purposes of this example, a ten-tier model is being adopted.
So, we can say that individuals are nested within households,
households are nested within blocks
blocks are nested within neighbourhoods
neighbourhoods are nested within communities
communities are nested within districts
districts are nested within boroughs
boroughs are nested within towns/cities
towns are nested within counties
counties are nested within regions
regions are nested in Nation.
“Added together, these could produce a very significant proportion of power needs, both domestic and commercial, on site.”
Solar panels and small wind turbines can be placed on roofs, heat exchangers in gardens. Roof tiles and glass that generate electricity already exist and flooring materials that generate electricity from pressure are not far away. Added together, these could produce a very significant proportion of power needs, both domestic and commercial, on site.
From the block or neighbourhood levels upwards, we need to start thinking about storage. The biggest shortcoming of most renewables is the sporadic nature of the power they produce, so when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, that surplus power needs to be stored to be redistributed when needed.
So, blocks and neighbourhoods would be their own little mini-grids, with the households within them connected to battery or gravity based storage facilities. Perhaps a generator for emergency backup in rural or remote areas.
This can all work well in suburban environments, even small towns. But in urban environments, the population density becomes too great for such methods alone to suffice.