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.’

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Charlie Eagles: Everyday Crusader [1/2]

You mentioned previously that you used to work for Amnesty Australia and Greenpeace. Could you tell us about that?

IMGP5952‘I first started volunteering in ’91, it was just typical volunteer work with Red Cross, Salvos [Salvation Army], that sort of thing. I went from there to do voluntary work with a disabled children’s school.

It was a very strange time, and a very busy time. I was finishing school, working at the disabled children’s school, I had my job as a thief, and I was working for somebody else at the same time, as well as extracurricular activities and sport. It was really exhausting, I didn’t get much sleep. Working at the disabled children’s school was one of those moments in my life that changed me.

Many years later an ex suggested I join her and volunteer with Amnesty. I thought eh, okay, they’re just another big organisation like Greenpeace, some big ideas but with very little impact on my life. When I first started working there, I was looking for the catch.. that piece I wouldn’t agree with. But as I became involved, I realised that their statements and beliefs, their views and what they were trying to achieve were almost exactly those conclusions that I had come to: how the world needs to be as opposed to the way it is.

[Initially] I fell into a lot of debates at Amnesty but eventually I realised that where there was a difference of opinion, I was wrong.

For example: as a teenager I thought that in a criminal justice system, an eye for an eye made sense. If a thief steals something, they should lose something of equal value in return, if a murder kills someone, well they’ve set their own punishment for themselves. As a teenager it made sense, and it’s something that can be easily grasped by people.

As I aged though, and thought about the world, I realised that view was wrong. The state needs to set a better example, it needs to be that thing which other people should aspire to. There’s no point in bringing people down to your level, because they won’t encourage change, you want to bring them up to a better level. This is where the state can’t have capital punishment, because you’re saying that killing is okay.

Along with that was the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: the bare minimums which we should expect from each other, anywhere in the world, before we even try to achieve anything. The ability to live anywhere you want, the ability to marry whomever you want, the ability to not feel under threat at home or work.

They had discussed these ideas as part of the evolution of their ideals and moved past it. I was still holding on to old, childish ways of thinking.

Because of my experiences, living on a farm as a child, facing certain situations, I could face certain things and engage in certain work that others couldn’t.

My dream job would probably be to work as a Human Resource Manager for Amnesty Australia. Why? I could be the guy helping other guys, helping other guys save the world. As a job description, that’s pretty cool!’

Does any particular campaign stand out? Something you were proud to be involved with or especially passionate about?

‘Growing up, my father was quite an abusive man, my mother took the brunt of that. One day my friends at Amnesty told me that there was a team of people that needed somebody involved who had first-hand experience with [domestic issues], so I joined, hoping to help.

It was the Stop Violence Against Women campaign and 90% of those involved in it were women. Immediately they wanted to know why I wanted to be involved, as a male, the very thing they were trying to protest against.

I said, ‘Hang on a second, you don’t know anything about me, you don’t know my story,’ and so I told them about my father, my depression and anxiety, my mother feeling suicidal and going to the doctor with bruises, court cases.. in the end they were like “OK! You can join!”‘

Even in an organisation like that sometimes people lose sight of what they’re doing, they might have the right idea at heart but they miss that their actions run counter to what they’re trying to accomplish.

We went on to national meetings with representatives from the government, business leaders, corporations, industry members who were involved in the community, which led to changing the law.  All very exciting, flying all around Australia. Some of them I already knew from working with the Department of Economic Development here in Tasmania and those connections served me well. So that was one of my successes, going from being on the backfoot coming into the campaign to helping change the law.

The way we changed [domestic violence law] is not sexist at all, by the way. It’s very much about humans, the same rule can be applied to men or women, there’s no gender bias. A lot of meninists rant “Agh you’re giving women too much power! How are we supposed to date women, we’re already in trouble with them?” Read the rules, there’s no gender bias. You can have complete role reversal and still apply it.

The other success came from manning a stall at the Falls Festival, down here in Tasmania. We just had petitions for people to sign, items to give away, t-shirts and stuff, but a lot of people down there of course just want to see bands, get drunk and party. They didn’t want to be bothered by big questions suggesting the world’s getting worse, and so there were pretty much ignoring the stall. I got very frustrated at this, but by arguing with the Falls Festival committee, I had access to bands, and by speaking with them, I got bands like Regurgitator wearing Amnesty shirts and promoting us on the main stage. At that point it became trendy to have Amnesty stuff and EVERYBODY was at the Amnesty stall.

For the next couple of days we took the national record for the number of signatures for that type of event in that year. Most of the bands from that point were either wearing Amnesty stuff or promoting them from the stage. it was really cool seeing bands go on.. “Amnesty! Save the world! Sign some Amnesty stuff..” being part of that, it was fun. That just came from getting off my ass and doing something because I was frustrated..’

I find that’s what a lot of people lack, including me. Sometimes you might conceive of how something might be improved or.. say someone working with you might have thought ‘Hey, what if we could get the bands to wear our shirts?’, but they wouldn’t go and make it happen.

‘Why not?’

I’m just saying that I don’t think a lot of people would, because they lack the initiative or..

‘Because they’re too embarrassed or something?’

Or they doubt their capabilities.

‘When it comes to asking questions, there’s no harm in trying.’

Exactly! But a lot of people don’t..

‘I’m still extremely lazy! When it comes to observing patterns, seeing inefficiencies in the way people are working, seeing that one thing that could be changed which would make a huge difference. Most of the time I don’t act on that. I basically act on it when it’s annoying me so much that I have to fix it.

People look at me and go: “Oh, you’re so motivated!” 80% of the stuff I’m not doing! If I’m only solving 20% of the problems I see, what’s your problem?

I don’t hold myself very highly or have a particularly big opinion of myself at all, yet other people do, at times. The question is not how have I done things better, or my successes and so forth, that’s not the question.. the question is: why haven’t they?

I’m no better or worse than anybody else. So when you ask me what made me get off my ass and speak to those bands, to me the question isn’t: why I’m special, it’s what was stopping the 3 or 4 people working with me?’

I think people accept limitations because they feel they’re supposed to, or because at some point they’ve internalised the idea of a personal limitation, regardless of their ability.

‘Because society has shaped them to be as limited as they feel they should be? Why? How is that good for anyone?’

I agree, I’m just saying that’s what happens.

‘”Stick your head in the sand, it’ll be safer.” No, you’re no safer, you’re just blind to how unsafe things are!’

[laughter on both sides]

‘Be your own hero, be whoever you want, I really don’t care, but we’ve got an amazing world, we could be amazing people..

It’s particularly important right now that we stop seeing things as other people’s problems. People are like: “Oh, I like this government right now because my investments are doing well.” That is a very selfish, single-minded, pointless, useless point of view. It’s so frustrating.

I find it amusing when I get involved in debates and the other party is like: Wait, why are we even talking about this, it’s not like it effects either of us. On a bigger level, these issues affect all of us, there’s an essential human decency to strive for in the world.

‘Not only that, but we’re all interconnected now. People go: Oh, American politics, whatever, it’s irrelevant to us. Not at all, American politics affects Australian politics. Everything they do affects us! Who America chooses as their next President? It’s effectively like choosing our own President! The amount of impact it has on us is actually quite significant.

So things like that first meeting at Amnesty where I was questioned for being male.. I could have turned and walked out.’

But then you wouldn’t have changed anything.

‘But then I wouldn’t have changed national law, which made things better for everyone. Sure it wasn’t just me, but we are all part of that bigger picture, and that picture affects every part of our lives.

This is particularly important right now because, like the Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times”, these are the interesting times. Things are happening so fast on such a dramatic scale that it’s frightening. The only reason we don’t realise how important this time is, is because we’re in it. It’s always hard to see the impact and the shape of a situation while you’re in it. Someone standing on the outside can see the solutions, just like that. We need to step back. I can’t let it go.’

Jessica Chloe Grey

My first legitimate model shoot was with the kind heart of Jessica Grey.  An amateur model hailing from Hobart, Tasmania, Jess was eager to secure some experience, and was happy to work with me as a fledgling, would-be photographer.

Jessica Chloe Grey

Jessica Chloe Grey

I would say that Jess aims to be a commercial model, happiest front and foremost in the photo. Hence, looking and feeling her best dolled up, I first considered office and business district locations where we might position her as a glamorous city girl. But in consideration that it was one of her first shoots, and certainly mine, I decided to setup something a little quieter: a foray into the Hobart Rivulet Park.

While I am happy with these shots, there are always lessons to be learned. In this case, I think we could have taken more close-ups. I was aiming for something like “candid girl next door, captured chilling out in the park.” As natural as possible. My yearning for Jess to be an element of rather than the object of the session is reflected in a multitude of shots taken with Jess looking off into the distance, but  in retrospect, some of the best may have been where she was in her element, working face to face with  the camera.

This speaks to the tips I’ve been given: choose the right model for the right shoot. But as a first effort, I think we were effective together.

For any legitimate queries on her availability, please, contact Jessica Chloe Grey through Facebook.

 

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.