Many thanks for your interest and for taking the time to read this letter. I hope that the thoughts expressed within resonate with your own perspective and help to provide compelling ideas on how to make our world a better place.

Why are so many countries retreating from their liberal beliefs?

If you listen to the media there is a lot of discussion and theories about what has caused so many countries to shift away from Liberalism.  The most prevalent explanation is that there is a large percentage of working class people that feel disenfranchised, believing that globalization and immigration have had negative impacts on their well-being.  While on the surface this might be a plausible explanation, I believe that there is a much deeper reason that has caused this apparent decline of middle class incomes and unemployment.

Globalization and increased trade have been largely facilitated by modern communication systems.  These systems enable instant communication between companies and their supply chains irrespective of location. Without this communication infrastructure it would be impossible to subcontract out manufacturing processes to the current degree. Picture Apple trying to design and manufacture their next iPhone using traditional mail, it would take years to coordinate.  All of the back and forth communication would make the requirement for various subcontractors’ components to seamlessly integrate together extremely difficult to manage.  In this hypothetical scenario, the more practical solution would be for companies such as Apple to manufacture their products locally as this would substantially decrease product development times and costs. 

Many countries are choosing to confront the issue of reduced incomes and unemployment by conveniently blaming globalization.  While blaming others might provide temporary gratification, it does little to address the root cause that’s creating this widespread disenfranchisement. I think it’s important to note that technology is a facilitator; it enables both the potential for good and bad. History has shown us that the survival of our species, nations and clans is often dependent upon applying new technologies in ways that allow us to amplify our capability, enabling greater control over our surroundings.  For lack of a better analogy, Pandora’s Box is open. Most people want to expand their influence on the world; once methods to achieve this become known it’s almost impossible to place this knowledge back in the “Box”.  Moving forward with our current situation involves accepting this reality.  Technology has allowed us to achieve many great things such as curing disease, improving crop yields and giving us the ability to express ourselves in new ways. In the hands of the wrong people it can also be used to forcibly exert control over free will. The solution to the dilemma of technology lies within understanding how we can apply technology in ways that benefit our society without compromising our freedom.   

What is the root cause of our disenfranchisement?

We live in an exciting time as technological advancement is reshaping our world at an unprecedented rate. Regulatory bodies such as Governments contain several layers of checks and balances that often inhibit them from adapting to technological change quickly enough. It is easy to become despondent at the inability of these organizations to adapt with the times.  What’s important to realize is that often simple changes can unravel a complex web. The secret to enacting consequential change lies within identifying the key or root cause of the situation.  Once this has been identified the element of this change can often be easily applied causing the entire complex regulatory system to reshape around it. As citizens of this nation, I believe that it’s our responsibility to constantly look out for these key elements of change. Furthermore, it’s irresponsible to question our system as a whole as major foundational changes will result in needless suffering.

The key to the current disenfranchisement lies within the value of knowledge.  Since the creation of the computer we have been moving away from a manufacturing based society towards a knowledge based one.  The difficult thing about knowledge is that it isn’t tangible.  Unlike shoes, bricks or cars it isn’t something that can be easily traded as it doesn’t physically exist.  Furthermore, it’s extremely easy to transfer knowledge once the initial discovery or idea has been identified. 

The difficulties of representing the value of knowledge are best described with a thought problem: imagine if you discovered a magic wand that could easily replicate any product or item.  Think of all of the amazing things that you could provide for your friends and family, exotic cars, luxury jewelry and the latest fashion items are a couple of things that come to mind.  Think about how much these individuals would appreciate your newfound ability, needless to say you would be a huge hit.

The thought provoking part of this hypothetical problem occurs once the fictitious version of you decided to replicate the wand.  After a while there would inevitably be a desperate situation or insurmountable pressure from your loved ones that would likely cause you to do this.  Now, imagine if this process was repeated several hundreds of times. Eventually the value and uniqueness of your wand would greatly lessen as everyone else would also have one. If this situation were to play out as described; hopefully you would feel a deep satisfaction about the profound benefit that you provided to others by replicating your wand.  At the same time, you would likely feel a bit resentful about giving up this unique ability, especially if your actions weren’t recognized by others or fully appreciated. 

Knowledge is much like this magic wand; it can provide many benefits to society.  At the same time it can also be discouraging for the discoverer of a new idea to freely share it with others.  The reason for this is that the act of freely sharing knowledge often goes unrecognized and as a result doesn’t provide a clear identifiable benefit to the discoverer.  Without a clear benefit, people that have shared knowledge in the past become discouraged about doing so again in the future.  This lack of incentive restrains society from unlocking the many potential benefits that could be realized from freely sharing knowledge. 

In order to significantly capitalize on knowledge one must presently:

-          Uncover a unique idea.

-          Find a way to use this idea to create a product that is valued by others.

-          Convince capital holders to provide the founder with the necessary resources to produce & market this product.  While trying to convince capital holders to invest in this idea, it’s important not to share too many of the details as they might be tempted to steal this idea for themselves.

-          Produce and distribute the product in an effective manner.


There are very few people within our society that are capable of conducting all of these activities successfully.  In addition, even for these unique individuals a lot of things outside of their control must go right.  Think about all of the amazingly talented people that have started down this path only to hit a snag of unfortunate circumstances.  In addition, think of all the incredibly talented people that are very capable of uncovering knowledge but lack the other necessary skills required to productize it.  This knowledge reward process is extremely daunting to complete. As a result most people quickly become discouraged often giving up on their dreams.  

It has often been said that there is great power in knowledge.  This power exists because knowledge can be leveraged to gain influence, ensuring the survival of those who withhold it.  In summary, the advent of modern communication systems has greatly increased the transfer speed and accessibility of information.  This increased accessibility has provided countless benefits and has also caused most advanced societies to become predominately knowledge based.  Unfortunately, the rate that information can be shared at within advanced societies creates an extremely competitive marketplace.  This marketplace only rewards select individuals that possess a complex and broad array of skills that are required to capitalize on knowledge.  In turn, these select individuals exert a disproportionate influence over the rest of the populace.  This overly complex reward mechanism for freely distributing knowledge is the root cause of widespread disenfranchisement.  It makes it very hard for most ordinary individuals to receive compensation for their ideas and to positively contribute to society. 

The Simple Solution

Uncovering new ideas and freely sharing information with others needs to be a more recognized practice in our society. As previously mentioned, our monetary system is currently structured to primarily reward productization (integrating knowledge into a good or service).  Raw knowledge isn’t directly valued as it has historically been very challenging to measure the transfer and value of information.  Imagine, trying to compensate all of the people that provided Albert Einstein with the fragments of knowledge that were utilized in the creation of his General Theory of Relativity.  Without an automated mechanism it would be an extremely daunting task to determine everyone who helped influence his work.  Furthermore, it would be almost impossible to assign a monetary value to these individual contributors.  For this reason, societies have determined that it is much easier to reward individuals and companies that applied knowledge through productization. 

My educational background has opened many doors for me and I feel very fortunate to hold an Advanced Engineering Degree.  I have a lot of friends who didn’t receive much educational support and have had tougher time finding work.  Without the right educational background or the array of skills necessary to productize knowledge, it’s very difficult for young people to receive well-paying jobs.  On the other hand, there are also a lot of talented retirees that wish that they could contribute more to society.  Many of these individuals would like to work a couple of hours a week. Unfortunately there are not many skilled positions that will facilitate this type of part time arrangement.

The simple solution to a lot of the societal issues that we are presently experiencing is to create a mechanism that effectively compensates individuals that freely share knowledge with others.  We live in a knowledge based economy but utilize a monetary system that was designed to promote manufacturing and consumption.   Imagine how great it would be if the video game genius that lives next door could create a useful computer program that helps thousands of others.  In return for this free software, this developer would be recognized and receive fair compensation for his or her efforts.  Think about the incentive that this developer would then have to create more useful programs to be shared with others.  Most people have some unique knowledge or creative element that isn’t being fully utilized.  Developing a simple mechanism to incentivise people to share this knowledge and their creativity would unlock a massive amount of untapped potential.

This sounds great, but how do we create such a mechanism.  The good news is internet companies such as Google and Facebook have already done a lot of the hard work for us.  These companies have created effective mechanisms that can be used to compensate individuals for content generation and knowledge transfer.  These mechanisms are automated and work by gathering statistics on how often information is accessed.  In addition, the quality of this information is determined by analyzing how this content was utilized.  Unfortunately there are a couple of shortcomings with the current approach.

Google and Facebook receive compensation by productizing the content, data and the knowledge of others.  This productization occurs by offering advertisements alongside information that is presented by these websites.  When advertisements are clicked on, a percentage of the revenue generated by Facebook or Google is sometimes then provided to the person that created the content.  Unfortunately, this compensation is minimal and often not reflective of the underlying value contributed by the person.

 The reason for this minimal amount of compensation becomes evident when thinking through a hypothetical example.  Imagine a big sports brand that wants to advertise their new 3D printed running shoe.  Let’s assume that they are planning on selling this shoe for $100.  Of this amount, the manufacturer might decide to set aside $2 from every shoe sale for internet marketing.  This $2 represents the amount of money that can be captured by Google or Facebook.  After paying their expenses and profit to shareholders, these internet companies might pass along 25% of this $2 to individual content creators.  This hypothetical 50 cent end result represents the current value of knowledge using this type of system.  Unfortunately, Google and Facebook have extremely competitive market places for content.  As a result, only the most famous content providers are able re rely on this form their primary income.  Thinking about it in another way, it would likely be a lot easier to work one hour at a minimum wage job then it would be to create a YouTube video that was watched by 10,000 people.

The bizarre thing about this shoe example is that the manufacturer like most companies would utilize lots of internal software to develop, manage and produce their product.  Most of this software likely contains large amounts of open source elements.  Open source elements are software routines that are developed and freely shared by individual computer enthusiasts.  The people that write this free software understand that they will receive no direct compensation for their work.  Without these software routines, the internet could not exist in its present form.  Furthermore, these software routines form a lot of the backbone for our modern communication systems.  Without present day internet and communication systems the manufacturing cost of this hypothetical shoe would increase exponentially. Although it’s impossible to measure (as there is no current method to evaluate the value of knowledge), I am fairly confident that this shoe would end up costing more than double the original suggested selling price.

Taking this analysis one step further, there is clearly a large benefit that this shoe company receives from the open source software community.  Let’s be ultra conservative in the example above by evaluating this benefit at $30 per shoe.  In addition this company must also see a return on its internet advertising investments.  Let’s again be very conservative and value this benefit at the break-even point of $2.  In addition, this company has likely also received a lot of free benefits from the academic community.  For simplicity, let’s not include this in our calculation.  It is evident from this simple tally that this company is a significant beneficiary of knowledge and content.  In this example, the total value of content and knowledge received by the company is $32.  For this amount, content providers in this hypothetical situation received $0.50.  In other words there are a lot of private individuals that are helping out this company while receiving little or no compensation.  This example highlights how internet advertising firms are helping to compensate some individuals for their work.  Unfortunately, the scope of these services is only capable of rewarding a very small percentage of the overall benefit.

The mechanisms that Google and Facebook have created are truly revolutionary as they are able to directly compensate people for knowledge and content generation.  Unfortunately these systems are advertising based.  This means that they are only effective at compensating individuals that produce content which captures our short term attention.  Sadly, content that which more time to absorb is not well suited to this mechanism as it’s far less interesting to advertisers.  In addition, more in depth content takes much more time to produce. As a result, useful societal contributions such as open source software and educational videos are rarely financially recognized by internet advertising firms.   Without a mechanism to reward freely sharing knowledge, two things will continue to happen:

1.      Products will be arbitrarily cheap as companies are significant benefices of individuals that choose to help our society by freely sharing their knowledge.

2.      It will continue to be more difficult for individuals to contribute to society as the necessary skills to productize knowledge will become ever more challenging to gain.  This inability to contribute will foster even more disenfranchisement as only a select number of individuals will be successful in this type of environment. 

 The simple solution is to introduce a new mechanism that values freely sharing knowledge.  Think about how amazing it would be if high school kids could easily contribute to our society by writing new software routines that could be used by industry.  Or if retirees documented and shared the considerable knowledge on a specific skill set that they have accumulated over years of hard work and experience.  The possibilities and benefit of increased knowledge transfer are exciting and endless!  Simply put, there is a massive untapped resource that exists within our society.  Directly compensating individuals for sharing knowledge incentivizes ordinary people and makes it much easier for everyone to be a part of something bigger then ourselves. 

The Details:

As previously mentioned, internet companies such as Google and Facebook have given considerable thought on ways to incentivise individuals to create and share content.  After years of implementation and optimization, these firms have created a very effective mechanism that monetizes knowledge transfer.  Unfortunately, these techniques have been applied in a very narrow way that only rewards knowledge transfer for advertising based purposes.  My proposal, is that we apply this same proven knowledge based reward system in a much broader way that benefits our entire society.  

In order for this type of system to have a positive benefit to society, a couple of fundamental principles need to be followed:

·       The value of knowledge should be based on its overall benefit to society.

·       Individuals need to be fairly compensated for their contributions.  In addition, the system that is put in place needs to be sufficiently simple so that ordinary people can easily share their knowledge and receive their reward or recognition.

·       Only individuals and corporations that partake in this system should have access to this free information (i.e. other countries should not have access to this knowledge unless they join our program and accept the governing mechanism that we put forth).

·       The governing mechanism should be heavily automated and should take very low overhead to run.  In addition the governing body should encourage thoughts and contributions that support the values of our Liberal Democracy.  

There are many ways to finance this type of knowledge based reward system.  I am very open to ideas and hope that readers will share their own input on how to best accomplish this.  One idea that I have is to finance this type of system using a Goods and Services Tax (GST).  Financing the system using a sales tax certainly comes with drawbacks.  That being said a GST could be compelling as sellers of goods and services are currently significant beneficiaries of the free knowledge provided by uncompensated individuals.  If this type of system was used, it’s important that the revenue collected from any increased GST be reallocated directly back to the people that share useful knowledge. 

Usefulness of knowledge should be determined based on a couple of factors:

1.      Usability by companies that sell goods and services.  An automated mechanism would record when digital knowledge is utilized in a product or service.  It’s important to note that this mechanism needs to compensate all forms of shared knowledge or content (art, writing, blogs, etc.).  That being said, usability by companies is an especially important metric.

2.      Consumption rates.  How many times the content is viewed or accessed. 

3.      Feedback from individual users.  This is similar to Facebook Likes and Amazon Reviews.

Over time the overall sales and effectiveness of companies that utilize this freely accessible knowledge would be recorded.  The ensuing growth of these companies would then be compared to the broader marketplace to determine the overall value of this knowledge.  If a GST was used to finance the system, the sales tax rate should be constantly readjusted over time to ensure that individuals are continually compensated for some portion of this knowledge transfer.

One important question is why Canada? The answer to this is that we are in a truly unique position.  I believe that Canada is one of very few countries that could effectively implement this type of system.  We have a very progressive government that is still interested in perpetuating Liberal beliefs and ideals.  As a result, it would be in our Government’s best interest to ensure that this knowledge based reward system was structured in a way that rewards contributions in a fair and healthy manner. In addition, several other large democracies are choosing to turn their backs on freedom.  This change in social direction has resulted in a leadership vacuum.  Simply put, the world will be looking for a new forward thinking leader that has their best interests in mind. Who better then Canada to instill the trust necessary for this type of leadership and support.

I truly believe that the information based reward mechanism outlined above could usher in a new knowledge based era.  So many people are disenfranchised, as it has become increasingly difficult to make a living and positively impact the world around us.  The root cause of this difficulty lies within the inability of our current system to financially recognize freely sharing knowledge.  The good news is that internet companies like Google and Facebook have developed a simple mechanism to reward individual content creators.  This mechanism could be easily adopted in a way that incentivises ordinary citizens to openly create content and share knowledge.  The resulting abundance of untapped knowledge that would ensue would be used to strengthen our economy for years to come.  In addition, if access to this knowledge was based on accepting our Liberal beliefs, other countries would be compelled to join and adopt similar ideals. I hope that I have effectively conveyed the critical necessity of a system that adequately compensates knowledge.   I believe that this type of system could be easily implemented and would have many profound societal benefits.  Furthermore, Canada is in a very unique position to effectively implement this type of system.   Wouldn’t it be exciting to be a part of creating a mechanism that has so many positive benefits and that revolutionizes the role of individuals in our society. 

Next Steps:

I have many more detailed ideas on how to effectively implement the knowledge reward mechanism that has been outlined in this letter.  I would love to share these ideas, especially if others express interest in the concepts outlined.  

My pledge to you: if I receive enough interest from this letter that I will dedicate 1 day a week and 10% of my income into making videos and media that helps to outline the concepts described above in a more entertaining and easy to understand format.  Ultimately, it would be great to attract Canadians that are heavily involved with technology and regulations to create a volunteer based committee.  This committee would be tasked with creating a detailed framework outlining how to best implement this type of knowledge based reward system. 

My pledge for you:  it’s easy to take a back seat in life and let others concern themselves with the details.  The unfortunate thing is that the people that are interested in making decisions often have a vested interest in the outcome.  If we are going to solve this issue of disenfranchisement in a way that we are all proud of, I am going to need your help.  An easy and hugely helpful way of doing this, would be if you could take 30 seconds to follow the link below and digitally sign this document.  In addition, this link contains an option to be sent more details on how I believe this knowledge reward system should be structured.  Signing this document will also show your support to my idea, indicating that I should continue along this path.  In addition, it would also be very helpful if you could forward this email onto other Canadians that might be interested in the content of this letter.

Thank you very much for reading this letter.  I hope that the concepts contained within resonate with outers.  Please feel free to write to me, especially if you input that could help.


David Stelzer

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