Something for nothing - Page 9

Free food. Free pot. Free haircuts. Free music. Free paint. Free Wi-Fi. Free phone service. Free sex events. Free urban adventures ... our guide to the essence of cheap
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Buy a Muni pass before the end of the month, and you can share your old one; it's good for three days of free rides at the beginning of the month ... Almost every used bookstore has a free box; mostly crap, but sometimes some gems .... The Cal Sailing Club in Berkeley offers free introductory sailing sessions on summer Sundays; for the schedule and details check out www.cal-sailing.org. San Francisco Brew Craft offers free beer-brewing classes every Monday night at 6 p.m. 1555 Clement, 751-9338 ... You can catch free outdoor movies at Jack London Square in Oakland every other Thurs. night through August (www.jacklondonsquare.com/newscenter/upcomingevents) ... Free Shakespeare in the Park performs The Comedy of Errors Sat. and Sun. afternoons in August and September at the Presidio Parade Grounds (schedule at www.sfshakes.org/park/index)

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FREE TRADE

Go ahead, give it away — that's the way the next economy may work

By Cecile Lepage

The 2003 documentary film The Corporation established that corporations were psychopathic entities, prone to irresponsibility, manipulation, and remorselessness. Now writer Douglas Rushkoff contends that we — the human beings — have started to act like corporations. His new thought-provoking book — Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back (Random House) — retraces how society has internalized the corporate values that disconnect us from one another. The current economic meltdown, he argues, is our chance to overthrow this dysfunctional model. We talked to him about a very different economy — one based on things that are free.

SFBG Your outlook is bleak, but you are still optimistic enough to see a way out. What's your plan?

Douglas Rushkoff This crisis is an opportunity to start doing things for each other. First we have to be daring enough to enter gift economies, where we exchange favors freely and openly without even keeping track, just assuming that it's all going to work out. So if someone needs tutoring or help mowing his lawn, you should do it. Eventually we'll realize how much less money we need to earn to get what we need.

SFBG You acknowledge that accepting favors in exchange for other ones feels messy and confusing to us. Why is that?

DR We're afraid of being indebted to somebody else. In order to accept something from another person, you also accept your indebtedness and acknowledge your gratitude. Money feels cleaner to us. People prefer hiring a person to babysit for their child rather than accepting a favor from the old lady down the street — because if you accept, what social obligation have you incurred? What if she wants to join you at your next barbecue? What if she now wants to be your friend? So now we all have to work more to get money to buy things that we used to just exchange freely with each other.

SFBG You blame the corporations for convincing us that we are self-interested beings. How did they achieve that?

DR They thought that the mathematician John Nash's bad game theory applied to real life. A number of experiments tried to show that human beings made decisions like poker players for personal short-term gain and assuming the worst about other people. None of the experiments actually worked: the secretaries they did the experiment on behaved collaboratively and compassionately.

The better scientists, like Dr. Glynn Isaac, an Africanist from Harvard, demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that food-sharing and collaboration are what allowed homo sapiens to survive.