Charlie Eagles: A fresh Australia [3/3]

And so we hit the close. In this last article:

What if we could have free energy, under a system for localised, shared energy production? What if 75% of our government were rotated members of the public, like you and me?
What if eliminating drug law solved our drug problems?

Review the series here, beginning with Meeting Charlie Eagles.

Energy-quotient buildings

‘[The crux of this idea] drives business to solve our problem of renewable energy.

Each building [could be] constructed to an energy quotient. The efficiency of the building  will help, but to get over that mark the building has to produce energy [and/or] water.  It’s up to [construction companies] to decide what is the most efficient and effective way to get that building to produce power and/or water.

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This takes a city from using an external power source to the city having it’s own power source. This could be put into place, in my view, somewhere around a five year mark. From telling the public: this is what we’re going to do, to having it in place.’

One of Charlie’s friend’s pipes up at this point: ‘It takes longer just to introduce a carbon emissions scheme.’

‘Getting it through politics, yes. [laughs]’

‘No, no, no, with all of the bureaucratic thingies, you’re talking about wholesale changes on retail, wholesale, and then the administration of the electricity market, and then your government bureaucracies…’

This friend goes on to contest the idea, at length, with some in-depth detail on the nature and caveats of electricity distribution. Charlie responds thus:

‘Let’s assume, for example, that the energy created by a house is [designated by] the building company. They build the house, they build something with the house to generate energy.

Obviously, if everybody has solar, that generates problems in the market as far as supply and demand [per time of day] so that may be an example of where some building companies go to alternative methods. There might be a wind turbine on the house, or so forth. Which gives you a different market to what solar panels would, even though you’re fitting into the same grid.

The other point is that I was also going on the assumption that every building has a storage capacity for that energy, a battery system, and therefore it would feed off it’s own battery when it’s needed, and the excess after the battery would go to the city.

So, A. you have different choices of how you gain energy and B., you would have different choices of when you release energy, so you may store it, and then sell it at night, gaining a better price. Different size buildings and different size lands would give you different results.

[Because the excess power goes to the city] as the city expands, your capacity for producing energy expands with it. The abundance of energy lowers the cost so that energy will essentially be free. In turn, we could solve issues with water supply. Salt water costs a significant amount of energy to convert into fresh water. If we have cheap, fresh water that could provide cheaper, easier food production. After power, water, the problems of essential infrastructure are dealt with, we could focus on bigger things.’

 Election of government

‘Even a portion of government bodies should be comprised of members of the public. Kind of like jury duty. I would make it two-thirds or three-quarters.

At the moment, a majority of the members of the [reigning] Liberal Party for example, live and grew up in the same suburbs, went to the same schools, they’ve been insulated and have no real connection to the Australian people. They knew each other as children, they knew each others families, their houses were in sight of each other, that’s all they know. How can they make effective decisions for everybody else?

They have no idea what life is like on welfare, because they’ve never been on it. They don’t know what that struggle is like. Or to be homeless, or to try to get work month after month, year after year, and the best you can find is a casual, short-term dead-end situation. Or trying to be a student, [living] on an amount of money less than the dole. Everything gets given [to them].

If we rotate other people through these positions, we would have much more dynamics in our politics. Some people will make stupid decisions occasionally, but that won’t be the majority. It would certainly be no worse than the idiots we have now.’

Reducing the size of government

‘A lot of the ideas I’ve suggested reduce the size of the government.

Because you’re getting rid of welfare, you have less government departments, less government involvement. When you change corporations to co-ops, again, you’re actually reducing the size of government involvement.’

Drug laws

‘I think marijuana should be legalised – it should be sold and taxed at the same point of sale as alcohol. Every time that’s been done, and there have been trials, drug-related crime has dropped to twenty percent. Those selling cocaine, heroin, that’s dropped to thirty percent. This has been duplicated every time, just by legalising marijuana. We could kill the drug industry in Australia.

Portugal decriminalised all drugs and their illegal drug industry disappeared. Crime can managed by the way that the rest of us do things. Not by increasing punishments or sending every criminal to jail, that won’t change anything. Indonesia has the death sentence for those who smuggle drugs, and yet they still have an illegal drug industry despite that. The costs are simply higher as the risks are higher. They execute two people a year, nobody cares.

It’s [also] not really that hurtful. Yes, it can cause lung cancer because people smoke it. So eat it. Make butter out of it, put it in cakes, sell that at pubs. Ta-da! [laughs] Fixed problem! Would I have it? No. It makes me sick.


In summation:

‘Your life will be the same, but you’ll have more money, more opportunity, more self-esteem because you’re getting more rewards for your effort, you would know your rights, and the law, and have more input into your democracy.

If you lived in that world, and you looked back on ours, you’d think ours was bloody stupid.’

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Charlie Eagles: A fresh Australia [2/3]

[Continued from Charlie Eagles: A fresh Australia [1/3] ]
Regulation of business

‘I think every corporation should be turned into a co-op. So, in a way, a socialistic capitalism.

Capitalism itself is not a bad thing. If that short-term view [the short profit cycle endemic to corporations] could be changed to a longer-term view IMGP5918then corporations can start being more beneficial. If you can get the byproducts of a company supporting the world around them, just as a byproduct of their doing what they do…then everything starts to work better.

Where every business is a co-op, the employees of every business become investors in the company. Only the employees can be investors. Banks would be building societies. The effect of that would be significant, but it won’t change the way that we live.

If you’re an employee, by going to work you become a shareholder. You get your wage, and then your share of the profits from being a shareholder. There’s no other training, no management secret to spend years studying, you simply get a separate payment into your bank account. In having one job, you would have three incomes: your share of universal basic income, your wage, and your return on being a shareholder of the business you work for.

Much of your life won’t change. You still go to work, pay taxes, come home and watch TV, buy stuff from the shop. But you have more opportunity.

You’ll feel like you have more money in your life, and you feel like you have more freedoms, because you will.

That fixes the finances of everyone living in the country. it’s not much of a change, but it gives you options. You change jobs, you change who you’re invested with. You switch banks, same thing. It amounts to less complications in your life.

You will get “Why would people run businesses if everybody’s a shareholder, what would be the point?” There are people that do that and they’re shareholders. Look at your Mom and Pop corner store, staff of 2. That’s pretty much the way they do it already! Nothing changes for them. The bigger the business, the better your returns.

Within the bigger businesses, your profits are shared amongst every employee, from the city offices to the country towns rather than being limited to a small set of individuals.
This comes back to what I was saying about “change the system, to change the symptoms” in that suddenly you have more money in rural areas. This encourages more people to stay in or move out to country towns, developing them, which will flow on to farming communities.’

Free telecommunications

‘An idea has very little value until it’s expressed. So if I have an idea, for example, a [method for] cheap and easy farming in third world countries. It has no value until the idea is put out there. Ideas grow when they mesh and merge with other ideas. So what you really want for the growth…of society and then the growth of mankind is for ideas to mesh and merge and join. This is how we’ve advanced from caves. Quite simply. If nobody got the ideas for farming tools or the printing press, then we wouldn’t have the world we have today.

So, to develop ideas, you really want a good level of education across society, academics particularly I guess, but you also want a way of getting [ideas] out there. You can’t necessarily rely on your media to do that for you.

Having an effective communication system means that problems in society will come to attention faster. You can deal with issues faster, you’ll be able to connect with people better, society will function better. So if you have free communication, you have a better connection of ideas which is advancing your culture, and advancing your people. So you’re putting yourself ahead in the race by streamlining how society functions.

This gets back to an idea which, from a military perspective, and you’ll see this in Sun Tzu’s Art of War, if you know more than your enemy does, you have a huge advantage.

If you translate that to a civilian situation…imagine your country is like an army, if all of your soldiers can communicate better..your chance of success, as an army, against an opposing force is greatly increased. If every soldier can communicate to every other soldier, quickly and efficiently..if I can talk to you better, talk to anybody in Australia better, then that’s going to be to all of our advantage. If I can’t communicate then problems come up on a massive scale. On top of that you’re also allowing businesses to connect to the market easier and faster as well, so you’re also increasing the nation’s finances, the exchange of monies and so forth.

So while it would cost the government money to have free communications, the benefits would outweigh it’s cost. It’s just a matter of reorganising how we do things.

Corporations..have a stranglehold on what people communicate. But if it was government-run, you wouldn’t have those controls, so therefore people could get whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, however they wanted, which would be fantastic for academics, education, businesses, and all sorts of things.

Tesla-powered public transport

‘I believe that we should have more and better public transport. The case for that increases as the population increases. The more people you have, the more people you need to move. If we [all rely on] cars, you have traffic problems, you need bigger roads, more roads, and arguably, the problem increases at a greater rate than the population. Particularly if you have one vehicle per person, which is fairly common.’

I’ve seen issues like that predicted if not present with Uber in some cities. A sudden burst of cars on the road, some argue, is going to lead to more problems that it really solves, even economically.

‘Going to school in Brisbane in the 80s, and into the 90s, I saw the Brisbane had a lot of traffic problems. The city was expanding, and they tried to increase traffic flows and increase the size of roads, those sort of standard ideas. It didn’t work, or wasn’t working fast enough. They were steadily increasing budgets and spending more money but not fixing the problem because the problem was just escalating [with them].

So they redesigned the public transport system almost completely. They increased the number of buses and trains, moved train stations, increased the size of car parks at each station and encouraged people to park there. They incorporated all public transport under one system. That actually solved their problem by shifting people away from private transport.

I would change the public transportation system so that public buses were powered by Tesla motors.

Looking at the Tesla Model S, the whole underside of the car, from the front to the back is a series of batteries, which effectively function as one. At each corner of the car is an electric motor driving that corner’s wheel. As you engage with the functions of the car, steering, gears.. computers translate that to each wheel. It performs roughly the same as any other car of it’s size and weight, but because it’s electric it has a faster pick-up time than a petrol-powered car in the same class.

In America and now in Australia, there are Tesla power stations where you can plug your Tesla car into the Tesla power stations, and they recharge your car for free. With the Tesla power stations, at least as I understand it, in America they’re covered by solar power. So it costs effectively nothing to power the power stations and therefore it costs nothing to power the car.

If you apply that to public service buses, then you’ve got a much bigger area for the battery, you can have a motor on each wheel, and plug it into a Tesla power station, just as you could with the car.

Therefore you could reduce the cost of running the bus dramatically, because you’re not paying for petroleum fuel, which these days is expensive, and it’s going to become more expensive. [Applying Tesla technology] to public transport, to me, seems like a logical solution.

Councils could have a contract to Tesla where Tesla would manufacture the drive mechanics of the buses, and the power stations. [This would be] on the condition that the public doesn’t pay to use public transport.

Tesla [win] because they have the sole contract to manufacture these, the public is winning because they’re no longer paying for public transport. Which moves people around, allowing them to get to work easier, to be more productive, it also moves ideas around faster, which means you get more development, and a better economy. You’re also reducing demand on petroleum which is not only better for the world from an environmental perspective but it’s also cheaper for the country.

I’m not using this to push the profits of [Tesla], it’s just that they are in the lead as far as electric cars, at the moment. There are many other companies that have electric drive trains on their cars, but they’re doing it more as hybrid models. They haven’t done it to the scale or affordability of Tesla. Making that sort of a demand to [Tesla] would increase demand in that market as well, [stimulating] competition for public transport solutions.’

Charlie Eagles: A fresh Australia [1/3]

When I first introduced Charlie Eagles, I mentioned his plan to revitalise and transform Australian government. He relates that it’s simply a first step, that by fixing issues in our own country we would then be in a position to fix issues with the world.

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‘One of the biggest problems in the world – and it affects us, it affects Africa.. are how third world countries relate to Western countries.

Developed countries are still, by and large, quite parasitic. We rely on smaller countries to supply our goods and services, the debts that they have keep our economies afloat. We can’t really save the planet until we fix third world countries, and we can’t really save them until we fix our own problems. It doesn’t matter whether the approach is on the human aspect, environmental or economic. At some point you realise, you can’t proceed until you clean up the mess your house is in.

We need to enable third world countries to grow into their own entities, encourage better living standards and economic growth. We can’t do that until we stop being parasitic, and to get there, we need to change how the first world operates within itself.

We’ve come a long way in the past 50 years, a lot of things have improved.. indigenous rights, rights for women, gay rights, environmental legislation, those needed to happen but we’re still so far off.

Plenty of people disagree with me:

“Women have got too many rights, men are an oppressed minority! There’s so much green tape on everything, I can’t make profit anymore!”

The thing is that we haven’t gone far enough.

More legislation isn’t the answer, we do have too many rules and restrictions, what we need is a change of attitudes and methods, a change of the system.

When Wall Street made it’s disaster and let the American people pay for it, the problems of the American people got worse. Rates of crime, domestic violence, drug abuse, all increased rapidly from that point. The more successful society is, the lower those rates are. Look at Germany, Norway, and so forth, these problems are virtually non-existent because they have such support for their people. There’s a direct correlation.

I would like to see society grow to a point where these issues are resolved as a byproduct of a successful design. The easiest way for a person or a business to be successful is by doing something that others won’t do, hence we have politicians rigging elections, corporations dumping toxic waste, and so on. I’d like to steer us in a direction where that [productive influence] is constructive rather than destructive.’

Your mantra is “Change the system to change the symptoms.” How would you change the system?

‘If I was to change a country, this one for example, there are some things I think would need to be done to improve rates of productivity, efficiency, for everyone and everything involved. For our collective future. And I don’t see any other way of going about this. I had initial problems with this idea, I think the world will debate it for a while before they settle on it as an inevitable conclusion.

(Over several sessions, I went on to prompt Eagles on the points of his plan, as outlined in Meeting Charlie Eagles. They are presented below, in condensed form, sans prompts.)

The Constitution

I would change our constitution to be based on the International Declaration of Human Rights. I want to have that taught all the way through school so that people understand what they can and can’t do, and what’s expected of them up to an international level. Kids should be taught the basics of Australian law in highschool as well.

We should become a republic with a Bill of Rights supporting that Constitution, that way we can make our own decisions without being directly affected by other countries, as we are.

Social security

Universal Basic Income should replace social security.

The basic idea is that everybody gets an amount of money [from the government] greater than the dole. It raises the basic living standard so that everyone has not only a basic subsistence wage but the ability to innovate or invest in business. It’s not welfare, it replaces welfare, as a citizen’s right.

The  concept is that the income is a royalty based upon your ancestors efforts in making your country as good at it is. It enables people to grow out of poverty. People need to be able to not only survive but to improve their lives, and to preferably achieve their goals.

“With [universal] basic income, everybody gets an amount of money greater than the dole. Everyone has the means not only to basic subsistence but the ability to grow out of poverty. That’s it.”

Most people in the middle and lower classes struggle to get by, day to day. They go to work, pay the rent, put food on the table so that they can go back and do it again, and their life doesn’t change. There’s no room to improve their situation because they have no avenue to do so. If we give them the finances to make choices, they can say: I can now pay off that debt, invest money in my own business, move to a better house, buy a car. Change their lives to become more effective. The theory is that everyone has the capacity, at a minimum, of being able to improve their situation.

That’s it. No questions asked, the money goes straight into their bank account, all they have to do is spend it. We’re not giving people free money, nor wasting it because it’s collected back in tax anyway.

People ask ‘Well how is that not socialism?’, or ‘How can we afford it?’ My answer to that is, you’re overthinking it! You don’t need all of this welfare state stuff, you can get rid of all of it. You can get rid of dole payments and the questions Centrelink [the welfare arm of the Australian Government] ask, like.. “What is the sexual preference and age of your flatmates?” Who gives a shit?

Why is someone paid to read that crap, how is that important in the face of the fact that if I don’t get this money, I’m going to die?! Instead of paying pointless bureaucracy to evaluate who is eligible for what, we can just take that money.. and give it to the people.

People say ‘But wait, why give money to the rich?’ ..It still costs less than paying the wages of the people who work at Centrelink! There are so few of [the rich] that you can actually save taxpayer money!

The other thing about Universal Basic Income is that people say: well if people didn’t have to work, they wouldn’t go to work.

People want to be valued and to feel like they’re achieving something, they want recognition. The way to do that, generally speaking, is to work.

So even if you give people enough money to take care of all of the problems in their lives, they’ll still go to work because they need to feel like they’re achieving something, even if their job was picking up rubbish. Not everybody wants to be a famous movie star. If there was a choice between being a  checkout chick and a famous politician or a movie star, realistically most people would choose to work at the supermarket because it’s far less stressful.

Taxation

I also think we should change the tax system. I think  10% GST is good, I think it should be on everything.

I’d get rid of income taxes, almost all the other taxes we have.

I would install a 1% electronic transfer tax so that every time you use EFTPOS, or an ATM, that’s 1% automatically done behind the scenes, you don’t even notice it.
It will affect corporations, and banks, which do millions of transactions per minute, because that’s a lot of money shifting very, very fast. That would make more money than 10% GST.

But what it’s taxing is not the everyday person. It’s mainly taxing businesses, and particular businesses that deal in money as their product. And it’s all done automatically.

“Imagine the effect on people if you have no luxury tax.
When the cost of a Mercedes Benz is not much more than a Ford.
When you have no income tax, you won’t have up to 40% of your income going directly to the government. [We] won’t need it.”

I would have an import tax, to offset imports from other countries and protect workers.  That’s only necessary while we have third world countries. If the situation in third world countries was improved, you wouldn’t need an import tax.

The final tax would be on only those things where you want to increase the cost for the benefit of people, for example the tax on cigarettes. It makes a stupid, large amount of money, but it’s there to discourage people from smoking, the same as the tax on alcohol. Marijuana, as well, if you legalise that.

You would have no other taxes. Income tax, luxury tax, all that tax, gone.

People will pay less tax, yet the government will be making more money, and there’s less tax forms to fill out.

Those most affected would be those dealing internationally and those dealing in say, cigarettes. But most people, they’ll only be aware of the 10% GST, which we already have.’

Charlie Eagles: Everyday Crusader [2/2]

Why Greenpeace?

‘You can’t have the world without people, and you can’t have people without the world. Greenpeace are big enough to make changes. I’ve been involved with the Wilderness Society as well, but that’s much more of a local or even a national thing. Greenpeace is big enough to make waves.

I’m very much into human rights, civil rights, helping people be better because there’s nothing you can do in this world without people. You cannot climb Mount Everest without other people. You cannot explore Antarctica, you cannot go into outer space without other people. You cannot mow your lawn without affecting, if not involving other people, somewhere along the line.

“…there’s nothing you can do in this world without people. If you get the people right, theoretically the rest of your problems will become a lot easier.”

Unfortunately, we don’t get the people right. Humanity still suffers from slavery, for god’s sake, or racism, and sexism, and all that rubbish which just makes our jobs harder. It makes all of our lives harder. All because we perceive some group of people, in fear, of being something that they’re not and so we create division where there really doesn’t need to be.

But people are just one half of the equation, the other half is minding our environment. it’s all part of the same thing, all a matter of responsibility. If we have more of a teamwork-focused and responsible approach to how we do things, we’ll have a greater positive impact on others, and our environment.

There’s no disunity here, it comes down to: how we engage in our world. We’ve had the industrial age, the computer age, I’d love to see an age of responsibility: where we [each] engage in our greater world, with each other, and bring forth a new way, a socio-political revolution if you like, a change of perspective and attitude.

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“I invest time with Amnesty to help people, I give money to Greenpeace to help the world.”

I remember reading in the past that Greenpeace had been labelled an international terrorist group. With that kind of drive at their core, can you, as with any group driven by an intense ideology, can you trust their information?

‘Greenpeace are on a list as a terrorist group?’

Apparently. They venture into international waters and attack say whaling ships sometimes. Maybe that’s an interference with business, but..

‘More to the point, they used to, they don’t anymore. They actually stopped doing that because that gave them [too much] negativity. There are groups such as…’

PETA?

‘Sea Shepherd. Which do those physical actions now, storming whaling ships and things like that. Also, any group that’s going to call another a terrorist, as we’ve seen in history, as with Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia, [the ruling party says] “this group has different ideas to me, they [need to be wiped out.]”

The outliers are tarred.

‘Exactly. They’re doing different to what I want, so they’re out. In some cases, even in Australia, Amnesty has been called a terrorist group. Australia says: We want to put people in [detention centres in] Nauru. Amnesty says: You can’t do that. So Amnesty’s a terrorist organisation, surprise, surprise…

That literally happened in Australia. Amnesty were basically pushing the U.N. message, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a non-profit organisation.

I can’t see how Amnesty or Greenpeace are terrorist organisations, they just ask questions: “Is this right?”

I’ve noticed with a lot of groups, they’ll take an extreme example to influence the audience.

‘Yeah, emotionally manipulating the audience. Pretty much every group including corporations do that.’

But because they’d use that tactic, like any other, to elicit a response and to get people involved, can you necessarily trust all of their surface information? Or do you look into their campaigns for yourself and go: Well yeah, in this case that’s exactly what’s happening.

‘Well as with any idea, you should research it, it goes without saying, because there’s a lot of misinformation and propaganda all over the place from every organization, [as well as from] social movements, Facebook, politicians, corporations… if you have the time and the interest, and the motivation. As for emotional manipulation, it’s very difficult to motivate the public on the facts, whether you’re selling a product or getting signatures.

Does that make them untrustworthy? Well that comes to what they’re doing it for, and how it’s presented. If a company [says]: this frog is endangered, therefore you must support our company which is Shell Petroleum, well that’s false advertising, one doesn’t work with the other. If Greenpeace says: this frog is in danger from the petrol companies, we want to be able to protect them. Is that lying? Well, no, because that is actually the case. It’s not about the method, but [their purpose], always look for the pattern.

With Greenpeace and the Wilderness Society, have there been subjects you’ve disagreed with them on or campaigns you haven’t wanted to be party to?

‘With Amnesty, most of our disagreements stemmed from the ideas I developed as a teenager, but where our ideas were in conflict, I later decided that I was wrong. There was one situation where I disagreed with them and they changed.

Long ago, the Amnesty groups from various countries couldn’t protest about issues from their own country. I also saw that governments weren’t always a problem, more often than not, corporations are the source of an issue.

Since then, Amnesty has changed to allow say Amnesty Australia to cover issues of Australian origin, for example Nauru, but they’ve also shifted focus from making sure governments are doing the right thing, to making sure governments and corporations are doing the right thing, which is a huge change for Amnesty. Corporations have grown to shape what governments do, instead of the other way around, and fundamentally they make the decisions after you cut through all the crap.

As for the Wilderness Society and Greenpeace.. in the 80s and 90s Greenpeace were often promoting “save the cute and fluffies” and didn’t have a lot of idea on how [to practically achieve their goals.] There didn’t seem to be a plan, it was just “Oh my god, this thing is cute!”

Greenpeace has changed it’s position and has tried to protect the environment, looking out for it’s long-term potential while allowing humans [to live.] Their ideas have changed to where it’s a good idea to support them as opposed to them being just a bunch of tree-hugging hippies.

Something like the Wilderness Society is where I’ve had the biggest amount of conflict. They still have a fighting in the trenches, survivalist mindset, that they’re being assaulted. They started by fighting governments, and [had some large victories], but they still don’t have much of an idea on how to [effect long-term positive change.]

Yes the environment is important, but I would, for example, rather see a change to the way our cities work so that they are more self-sustaining. So that we don’t need dams, or power plants, or to cut down rainforests to survive. If we can reduce our footprint on the environment, we’ll save it. That was the source of my clash with the Wilderness Society.’

Charlie Eagles: the Ethical Thief [2/2]

‘It was wise to give up,’ Charlie continues. ‘With the inherent risk, every time I stole something it was like rolling the dice, really a form of gambling, so I had a pretty good run.. Towards the end, people asked me, as I was asking myself, if I wanted to go bigger. I could have. Upscale, invest money, rob banks.. but that was a lot of investment, and I decided that was not the direction that I wanted to go.

If something went missing in my area people began to assume that I did it. As it was – I figured it out one day – if I divided the number of items I was stealing, say, by the number of hours in a day, I was effectively making at least one dollar every 90 seconds. I effectively retired in my 20s. Not by stealing money, just by retrieving things for others.’

How do you feel about property now? Should we still have individual property, is it critically important?

‘I’m not really attached to money or items. Could I live without my computer? No. Without my phone? Yes. But mainly I’m attached to my computer because of all the ideas I’ve written down, the artwork, the concepts that are on it.

My point of view has evolved..from when I was young. [Looking at] ex-smokers or ex-alcoholics, they are the biggest “smoking is bad” or “alcoholism is bad”, the same  with migrants: some migrants will suggest that migrants are the biggest problem in society. Being an ex-thief, I’m not very “you must be protective of your things”.. it’s the connections between people that have more value, your evolution as a person, the advancement of society and how we all function together as a collective. That’s far more important than: “I have stuff.”

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I think we distract ourselves with stuff too much these days. There’s too much focus on consumerism. My father had the view that those with the most toys wins, but wins what? Wins how? I disagree with that view. I think it’s destructive to society and the world around you to have that view. “I have the most toys therefore I’m the best regardless of the fact that all of you are worse off. Whatever, I don’t care.” It’s not helpful. It’s not assisting growth in any way, shape, or form.

Everything that exists in nature is in a constant state of growth or decay, whether it’s suns, or plants, species, whatever.. except for some human concepts like God. God is an unchanging thing that can’t work because it doesn’t work the way anything else in nature works. I’m not saying that any particular belief system is wrong but that everything natural in our world is changing. ‘”My stuff is good” can’t work because it doesn’t work the way anything else in nature works.

I think that the way we relate to objects should be more organic in that way. Yes, things come into your life and leave your life, and accept that. Rather than just go: I need to gather more stuff.

If I have something that’s beneficial to other people, I’ll often just give it away. For example, if I have friends or flatmates that are short on money..I’ll just lend them some money. But when I lend money, it’s not money I need.. if it doesn’t come back then I know that’s a risk I’m taking.

Ideas are valuable, but like money has no value if it’s stagnant, if you have an idea and keep it to yourself, you may as well not come up with the idea. What’s the point? it’s not doing anything. If you share it, you might connect it with somebody elses ideas and we end up advancing.’

Do people have the right to cause indirect harm by hoarding? Should we have a society where people are able to hoard stuff for themselves?

‘Yes. If everybody was very giving and outgoing with everything, that [would] become a weakness. The same if everybody was selfish and greedy. You need a balance. We need different types of people.

As has been covered in many books and graphic novels, if everybody is the same, then everybody has the same advantages, but everybody has the same weaknesses. If everybody is the same, you only need one event to wipe out everyone. You need variety to give strength to the species.

One of the things I like about Australia is that we’re a multicultural society. Having people from different backgrounds gives us different perspectives, which gives us different answers to any problems which come up. I see that as Australia’s strength. [Migrants wanting to change things] is a good thing, because it means we’re [being inclusive] of different perspectives.

You’ll find with my views that there’s a time and place for everything. That [something is] not necessarily wrong.. where it’s right. There is too much focus on might is right, those with the most toys wins and that’s been used an excuse for the Reaginist type capitalism to support the super-wealthy, at the expense of everybody else. We need some people like that. Should we all be like that? No. But we need some people with that kind of drive.’

I read that when Donald Trump was building his empire, his big trick wasn’t his ability to make awesome deals, it was in manipulating local councils, influencing them to muscle people out of properties using eminent domain so that he could then buy them and then raze properties, or do whatever he had to in order to build one of his casinos.

Is there ever a situation where eminent domain is valid? Should government have the power to say: you know what, we need to take your stuff because the bigger picture is more important?

‘Well, yes. There is a need for governments and councils and so forth to make judgement for the benefit of the people. The example you gave of Trump is not for the benefit of the people. It’s for the benefit of one person and his corporate greed.

Am I upset for Trump doing that? No. Because he was following on the idea of capitalism…operating within that sort of objective. The council was the one at fault, their job was to look after the people to protect them from predators. Trump was doing his job.

It is a good example of how our..capitalist..model needs to change. Looking at it a different way, if you changed the way governments worked with people, would that scenario have come up? Possibly. There’s always going to be corruption..somewhere, but you can minimize the effects. If you can reduce the avenues and opportunities for corruption to gain a foothold then you’ll reduce the effect of that corruption on society.’

Obviously you’re very big on the importance of human and civil rights e.g. everyone should be able to take on opportunities and hopefully the means to take up those opportunities, for the betterment of society. But it’s implicit that as a basic unit of society, the individual is critically important. If we don’t protect individuals, then what’s the point? So can a person ethically be sacrificed, their property taken, their choice devalued..?

‘You’re talking about the offset of the individual versus the collective. This is one of the big issues that have been discussed for decades, at least, if not centuries, and this is brought up a lot in capitalism versus communism.

Communism is about the collective and the sacrifice of the individual versus capitalism where the rights of the individual are seen as more important than the health of the state and community. What I want to see [is a situation] where both have the opportunity to grow. You’re not sacrificing one or the other, and I believe it is possible.’

A balancing act...

Not even a balancing act. I don’t see why it should be seen as a competition. I’m not saying we need to sacrifice individual rights so that society gets better. I’m not saying we should all move to communism. I don’t see how that’s going to work. You start sacrificing individuals, you end up with mess just the other way.

Where the actions and the rights of the individual can support the community and the greater good, the actions and the rights of the community can support the individual. They can both be held aloft. This isn’t a black or white, they don’t have to be opposites, they both can be supported.

..With what I’m proposing, there’s nothing stopping individuals and their successes. It’s just your motivations and your successes. The drive of the individual pays back to the community. So by your drive, by your actions, you support the community, and the community supports you.’

People go: “Oh! You’re sacrificing the individual for the collective!”, well no! It doesn’t have to be.. it can be each person working together, gaining more..’

I just want to clarify that, these aren’t necessarily my objections, I’m more predicting the kind of knee-jerk responses you might get from readers, coming from certain preconceived ideas or from association with various political groups. I’m considering what ideas are they going to have in response, and what are their questions going to be.

‘You’ll get a lot of people like that when we present these ideas, as I did when I was first exposed to these ideas. “Oh my god, this is never going to work!” It’s too dreamy, or it’s too left-wing, or it’s too communist.. something like that.

“Capitalism has broken it’s restraints and is running amok. That being said, it’s not a monster that needs to be killed, it needs to be tamed. But that in itself isn’t the solution, we need more.”

All I ask you to do is think about it. Think about how it ties in together, think about the reactions to the changes [to be covered soon], think about whether it would be better or worse, and why, in comparison with our present system. What you will find, as I did, is that the present system is not only inefficient, it is failing to the point where it’s basically already failed. We just don’t know it. We are at a stage where we need to change how we do things. We’ve gone from feudalism and so forth.. we need one of those changes again. We’re at that level, we just don’t want to admit it. Capitalism has broken it’s restraints and is running amok. That being said, it’s not a monster that needs to be killed, it needs to be tamed. But that in itself isn’t the solution, we need more.’

 

Charlie Eagles: the Ethical Thief

At one time in his life, Eagles worked as a professional thief. Hearing the story, I’m reminded of Bruce Wayne slumming it in Batman Begins, learning the dark side for the sake of gaining knowledge for the light.

He lounges against a long black counter in his sunlit kitchen. Lean and somewhat bedraggled, clothed in a black t-shirt and faded jeans. A fresh coffee sits to the side. He picks it up occasionally while speaking, but his hands, for the most part, are busy gesticulating.

‘[Working as a thief] you’re always in a state of paranoia. While it’s a 9-to-5 job, you’re always worried that you’re going to get caught, that something is going to go wrong. In a way, it’s like being a police officer – you never switch off.

It wasn’t anything glamorous.. Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor or sneaking through mansions stealing jewellery. It was nothing like that. Most of my work was in item retrieval. For example: a couple breaks up, the guy won’t return a necklace which belonged to the girl’s grandmother. She would hire me to retrieve and return that necklace. It’s essentially about risk management: because it’s an illegal job there’s a lot of observation and planning. You want to reduce the amount of risk required to get the job done.’

How did you become involved? Was it simply a situation where you were having a chat with someone one day and they asked ‘Could you do this for me?

‘Well, not exactly. I’d been stealing things for a while. I was a thief for 13 years, 6 of those I was working for others.

The first thing I stole was a pen. And the one time I was caught by police, I stole the policemen’s pen. It was a fountain pen.. big surprise from me, being an artist.

I was forging documents for people at first. As an artist I had decent handwriting so it worked. Then they might ask: ‘Oh, well, if you happen to be good at stealing stuff, could you retrieve this for me?’ Because it was something that I was doing anyway, I had no problem with it.

I never took anything that someone needed. It would be just the cream from the top – the little thing that no-one notices, that no-one cares about, the things you would never miss. Two dollars worth. You do that en masse.. it pays really well.’

Last time we spoke you elaborated on your philosophy, and your ideals, designing a new country as a teenager.. How did you reconcile that interest and drive towards making a new ethical world with being a thief?

‘Well I wasn’t a thief because I needed to be. When it comes to doing something illegal, there are basically two types of people: those who do it because they need to..and those who do it for psychological reasons.

[Those who turn to criminal activity are often suffering] under the government crackdowns we have on welfare, the hunt for “dole bludgers”, and [other unhelpful government interference] making it harder for people to get work. This forces more people to be unemployed, putting them in increasingly difficult circumstances, so they turn to other means to support themselves. The actions of our government effectively increase crime when they leave people with no other choice.

Then there are those who are doing not because they need to, but for psychological reasons.

As a child I began to live two lives. There was the person I presented myself as to keep my parents happy, where I was everything that they wanted me to be, and then I had my life.
The first time I wanted to run away from home, I was 4. I knew that there was no way I could support myself, the government wouldn’t let be on my own, and the only other option was to live with a different family, which could have been worse anyway, so I stayed. I developed an attitude of independence and self-reliance. I knew that I had to generate my own income, but there was no way anyone was going to hire me when I was that young.

But, being a thief grew more out of that thrill of doing something you know you shouldn’t be. It made me aware that I was alive. To be inside someone’s house, right around the corner from where the owner is standing, two feet away, getting in and getting out with no-one ever knowing you were there, that adrenaline rush.. I don’t think I slept that night.  It became a way for me to form my own identity, proving to myself that I was no-one’s slave, that I could be me, and developing my own understanding of who I was.

You could say that yes, I was a parasite, living from the property of other people but within that, I was also being generous. Like Robin Hood, I was shifting items [between owners], and would never take something that people needed.

I developed rules – no stealing from friends and family, never take something that someone needed, and I also developed an understanding of property. Items don’t have a view that they belong to you – that teaspoon..

[Charlie gestures to a discarded teaspoon on the counter]

‘I claim it as my teaspoon, but it’s not, that’s just my view of the teaspoon. A teaspoon is an inanimate object, it doesn’t care. The same thing applies to all of our stuff – we don’t really own anything. The only thing we own in our life is our decision to be alive, or not.’

I presented the same argument in college. Someone might argue, “No, that’s my laptop.” No, you can call it that, but your possession of it is simply a social agreement.

‘When you claim something as your own people agree with that because it’s simply easier to agree with you, than to debate with you.

I came to realise that it was similar to the hacker’s mindset of breaking into computers simply to share information, because they believe in the freedom of ideas. If I have an idea, it would be selfish of me to keep it to myself if others can benefit from it. It’s the same principle, applied to property. In some tribal cultures, they don’t have an idea of theft, everything belongs to the tribe, to the community. A person uses it for a time, but then it’s returned for the community to use.

So in a back to front kind of way, I developed a community-minded mindset like that. I didn’t break anything – to me, if I broke into someone’s house and they arrived home screaming “I’ve been robbed!”, then I haven’t done my job. Because I would plan most of the jobs, I would also observe the results. So often, I would steal something and then watch how that would affect them. In some cases, I would steal something that someone needed, realise it, and then return it. It didn’t happen often, but it did happen. In some cases, by removing an item from a person’s life, I’d improve their life. So in a sense, I was mindful that there was respect for other people.

It probably sounds like I’m making excuses, trying to say that thieves are better people. Don’t get me wrong, I was a bad guy, but my point is that it changed the way I viewed the world, in comparison with the way that society told me things should be. I was basically testing my own views, ideals, and morals, leading me on the path of: What is right? What is wrong? What should change? By developing my own ideas, I wasn’t a sheep. It helped that my mother was a journalist, and questioned me on everything, but this was just another part of developing an idea of how the world could be.’

I can relate to that. Growing up, I was never a thief, but from the age of 8 or maybe younger I began to question the world. On the one hand, my mother always raised me to question everything, to question everyone, to never blindly accept the word or authority of anyone, or accept things simply because someone suggested “that’s the way it should be” or something like that.

I also saw the hypocrisies of society, the two-faced bullies of the world, contradictions in religion, the imperfections in our systems.. I thought: there’s got to be a better way.

I made the philosophical decision to simply dump all of it. Rather than just go along with some bullshit that everyone else was happy to go along with, I decided to search out the truth for myself, and form my own morality. And so I did. But taking it to an extreme! I did in some cases, whatever I wanted to, on a full-blown path of deciding my own ethics for myself because the code of the world simply wasn’t good enough.

If the world couldn’t live by it’s own standards or respect me by them, why should I follow the leader?

‘Yeah, that’s basically what I was getting at. In my father’s case, he was very much a capitalist, a businessman chasing after money. While what he did was legal, he probably caused far more damage to people than I ever did as a thief.

I did some quite vigilante-type stuff as well.. for example, somebody was a bully at school, beating up kids or whatever. They came back to their room to find their room gutted – like there was simply nothing in it, not a speck of dust. Vacuumed. I shifted everything.. just to make a point. Being a thief was probably the thing I’ve been best at in my life. People look at my artwork and say “Oh, you have amazing artwork, blah blah blah..” but my being a thief was my greatest success.’

Meeting Charlie Eagles

Strength, compassion, dignity.

These three words are written on a little whiteboard, pinned to a set of metal shelves just inside the entrance to Charlie Eagles’ bedroom. It may as well serve as an office: the door is usually open, and his friends enter readily. Boxes of Warhammer gear sit at the front of shelves packed with classic novels and an aging collection of CDs. A Guy Fawkes mask hangs above a wall of reminders: personal to-dos, money lent, favours to be returned.

‘Is that a quote?’ I ask.

‘It’s basically a distilled version of my outlook on life. Strength, compassion, and dignity are the traits I try to embody. Inner strength, compassion for others.. I always try to help people if I can, and I remind myself to be a decent and respectful human being.’

Below the three words are written two dot points:

  • Life; if you’re not having fun there’s no point!
  • If the world is not better for you being in it, then you’re just being a burden!

Charlie stands at 6’2″. At 41, his shoulder-length hair carries a streak of grey, but despite the age, he lives with the spirit of a teenager: anything is possible, ideas can and do change the world. He carries an effortless confidence behind a gentle, friendly, and open demeanour. If Charlie had a catch-phrase, it would be: ‘I’ll do what I can to help you.”

IMGP6005

When I mentioned that I was looking to move away from shooting landscapes to explore portraits, Charlie was the first to volunteer as a subject.

‘So I was thinking,’ I began, ‘that [as part of my portraits project] in order to capture the essence of people, to help them reveal who they really are, or how they would like to be perceived… it might be best to start by building a basic profile of whoever I’m looking to work with. Spend time with them on a regular basis so that I can capture them in their element.’

‘I’m not sure if you’ll really get to the essence of a person if you look to describing them by their habits, or what they do on a daily basis, though’, Charlie suggests. ‘For example, you might see me most days sitting in my bedroom, playing computer games, or reading a book. But that’s far from defining who I am or what I’ve achieved.’

When I first asked Charlie how he envisioned himself i.e. if he could fully express himself in physical form, what would he look like? All he could specify was a ball of fiery, white, clarifying light. Knowing Charlie and his motives, this wouldn’t be a misleading depiction.

The ideology he presents argues for the growth of human society into something organic and integral, where humans might work together voluntarily, not as pawns of an all-encompassing system, but preferably in mutual understanding and interest in a greater good. There is no room in his vision for the disconnected Randian hero, but neither is there room for the corrupt politician, lawman, or CEO. He sees the world as possessing ceaseless boundary for growth yet holding the maintenance of our humanity as of crucial importance.

A dynamic man, and a thought leader, Eagles is a dreamer who has experienced the world as few do: from prosperity to poverty, by choice.

‘My father always wanted to make his first million by the time he was 40,’ Charlie relates. ‘He reached it at 41. By the time my parents divorced, they were worth several.’

‘Wow.’

‘He is almost the complete opposite of me. He’s greedy, self-centred, obsessed with money and financial success. He’s short, squat, a dwarf-shape, blonde and blue-eyed. But he and I, we do share the same fear, of getting to be an old man, where you can’t do anything and realising that you haven’t. For him, life was about “those with the most toys wins”, “greed is good”, etc. Whereas I want to leave a legacy and make the world a better place. If people don’t appreciate me, then I had no effect, no value.’

Charlie unearths a stack of books from within the mass of shelving.

‘I was raised on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Machiavelli’s Prince, How to Win Friends and Influence People, all of that kind of stuff…’

He tosses me a copy of Ricardo Semler’s ‘Maverick!’

‘That, is probably the best management book that I’ve ever read.’

He also offers a copy of No Logo, and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

‘I’ve read Maverick,’ I offered, ‘and Nineteen Eighty-Four I read as a teenager. I’ve read most of Orwell. It’s a good depiction of the dynamics of different groups in society, and ironically [the events in the novel] are so close to where we are now. People with a keen eye who can see the greater movements within society can recognise these poignant warnings but it doesn’t…’

‘People take it as simply naysaying…’

‘..Or they dismiss things as if it were conspiracy theory.’

Charlie’s voice piques with an idea.

‘One of the things I came to realise about myself is that I love finding patterns. Everybody’s brains work well, but in very different ways, even among geniuses. I’m good at perceiving patterns, particularly among society and groups of people.

The other part of me is that I like improving things, and making them more efficient. It’s like looking at a jigsaw puzzle and seeing a piece in the wrong spot. It may be very similar to what should be there, but not quite. I have this drive to achieve balance. Combine that with patterns and it becomes an obsession: Society is wrong. This piece of the jigsaw should be here.’

“With the right change, we could erase a whole mass of problems in an instant. We waste so much time putting Band-Aids on symptoms instead of fixing the over-arching problems.”

‘I can relate to that…’ I interjected. ‘Seeing the greater issues in society and knowing that there are ways in which they could be easily fixed, if only we had the right implementation.’

‘These problems could be so easily fixed,’ he agrees. ‘Take universal basic income. It’s an easy solution, to a big problem. A whole spectrum of problems in society could be fixed, but I can’t move the jigsaw piece.’

Charlie laughs and one can sense the familiar ring of one laughing in the face of futility. He’s lived with this frustration for so long, like a general at an impasse in a war, with no action left to take but to laugh in the face of an impossible situation.

We went on to conduct interviews over several sessions, and by my second visit, Charlie had drawn up a basic graphic illustrating the points to a plan for refurbishing Australian society:


 

Benefits of capitalism without the drawbacks

Have

(These together will lead to a self-sustaining system.)

  • Universal Basic Income
  • New Constitution and Republic (based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
  • Only 4 taxes.
    • 10% GST
    • 1% tax on electronic money transfers
    • Import tax
    • Smokes and booze tax
  • Socialistic capitalism (All businesses are co-ops)
  • Free telecommunications (encourages communication and business)
  • Public bus services based on or sourced from Tesla
  • “Energy quotient buildings”

No

(Because they would be superfluous!)

    • Income tax
    • Luxury tax
    • Social security
    • Minimum wage

‘This all fits within a mantra of mine,’ he explains. “Change the system, to change the symptoms.”

Eagles suggests that a lot of help in society is targeted to addressing the symptoms of problems, rather than the root cause. His aim is to identify and to solve those causes, resolving most issues, at once. ‘If you don’t believe me, just look at the patterns in society, and they’ll show you the truth.

My one concern with all this is that… people will take me as too idealistic. Not that I think anything in this article would surprise anyone, well maybe five people that I know on social media.

[As a child] for a long time I’d wondered why there were so many things wrong with the world. In a typical journalistic approach my mother asked, “How would you do it differently?” So I started writing down ideas, and those ideas started to merge and mesh. By the time I was in my early to mid-teens I started to collect these ideas together into a book, basically defining how to build a new country. Like Lenin began from Marx, and the founding ideology of America, I felt that we needed a new ideology with the fresh ideas we have today, thanks to the evolution of technology, science, social advances, and our global society.

I felt that we could live by something better than a code written some 200 or even 2000 years ago. But these were the ideas of a teenage boy. I’d do it very, very differently today.

“I could say that as a child I had a dream that I was friends with everyone in the world, and all my friends were friends, but it doesn’t say nearly as much as:

I was a teenager who wrote a book full of ideas to help save the world.”

I’ve participated in marches, rallies, and protests for just about every good cause you could think of, helped countless people.. strangers come up and thank me for the help I’ve given them. I’ve saved people I’ve never met, changed their lives, changed national law! I’ve driven illegally over half of Australia, been overseas and seen things you wouldn’t imagine. But then I meet someone on the street and they’ll suggest that I’m simply a bum because I don’t have a car, “get a job”.. for fuck’s sake, there’s far more to life than money!’

Despite his lofty origins, Charlie currently works as a roadie. He recently returned to study at University, and works with Amnesty Australia when he’s able. And of course, he makes extensive time available to assist friends with activities such as conducting interviews for a fledgling blog..

I offer my perception: ‘I think you’re a good example of someone easily misjudged by common standards of success. From the outside, people can assume so little by these shallow ideals of what a person should have, or be, but you’ve obviously accomplished so much in your life.’

Over this series we’ll explore the more interesting aspects to his history, alongside the ideas Charlie presents, and how and why he believes they would benefit society.