By Jack Peat, Editor of The London Economic
Last night I sat in a Mayfair pub surrounded by Gold Card waving, Bentley driving, suited and booted by-products of a concentrated capitalist hub and accepted a truism that has become so eroded it hardly makes any sense on the streets of London any more; money don’t make the world go round.
I’d just received an email from adventure builder Jaimie Mantzel who’s currently constructing a 40ft catamaran on the shores of Panama after vacating a four-story-high geodesic dome in the wilderness of Vermont. After giving up his US Green Card he left North America with his family and spent two months travelling around Chile only to find that the South American country had already become exposed to the unscrupulous companies and media-infused mind control that had forced him to leave the US.
“The street markets are being squeezed out of existence just as they were in North America,” Jaimie says. “The general populace considered the big box stores to be more respectable than the lowly street vendor. I learned very quickly that radio, TV and newspapers were full of advice to stay away from the dirty street markets. It’s the same story I’ve heard a million times before; unscrupulous companies campaigning against anyone who dared grow and sell regular old non-pesticide, non-GMO food.”
Money. “That was Chile’s big flaw”, Jaimie added. “They were doing very well economically and it was attracting the worst of the worst.” And he’s right. Chile is among the top countries to receive foreign direct investment (FDI) in South America and is in line to be the beneficiary (open to interpretation) of US$102 billion in investments by 2016. “In the end I decided that I needed to go to a place that has less money,” Jaimie says, so he set his sights on Central America and spent a few weeks in hostels and campgrounds before temporarily settling on Loma Partida with an eye on buying an island.
But in the interim the focus is on relaxing, and anyone who knows Jaimie knows that his version of relaxing generally includes some ridiculous project. This sometimes manifests in constructing giant robots, other times his attention is directed at building a home in the wilderness with an on-site lumber mill and workshop under an airplane hangar, but this time he decided on a 40ft solar powered catamaran.
“I have to admit I’m loving it,” Jaimie says. “Figuring out how to make efficient propellers, learning how to build all kinds of things with fiberglass and generally getting up to my eyeballs in inventions is where I love to be. It was at this point that I started really forgetting about the rest of the world. I decided to commit to being in the area.”
Two months, 200 gallons of resin, nine rolls of fiberglass, and 100 sheets of plywood later and Jaimie stands looking at a 39ft long, 23ft wide catamaran typing an email to me as I waited on a curry drinking beer with a friend immersed in a conversation contemplating how one defines success. The Mayfair district of London is swarming with money, but for what? For most, the nice cars and sparkling wines are distractions, ways to switch off after a stressful nine to five. It begs the question, we concluded, that if you want to switch off from your job, why are you doing it?
“I’m excited about my days, and more importantly my kids get huge grins on their faces with they get on the boat or talk about how they’re going to make their own boats soon,” Jaimie says. “I look at what we’re doing here and wonder why we as a species would allow a culture to blossom that prevents such pioneering spirit. People tell me that not everyone can live like we do. I disagree. If you eliminated all the jobs that waste peoples time, the middleman jobs, jobs where one person is making sure another person is watching another person who is watching the first person, if we simply refused to waste our time regardless of the pay and instead did what we thought to be right, imagine how well we could all live, and imagine how much we could accomplish.”
Des’ree once said, “money don’t make the world go round”. As we finished our warm ale and headed back home through the crowds of Mayfair dwellers it all became very apparent; we’ve all forgotten that.