My Vows 2020-2024
My aim in life is to be a genuine leader in order to effect positive change in my home country of the United States and around the world. I am dedicated to a lifetime of work in the service of humanity, the Earth and the creatures that we share our home planet with.
In order to truly lead by example I feel that it is important to make personal commitments to hold myself accountable in my work for humanity. This page publicly shares my commitments.
These vows also intend to show an example of how we can dedicate ourselves to something far greater than ourselves and live lives that are truly in alignment with shifting our society and world to a more sustainable, just and equitable place.
My example is not designed for anyone else to follow exactly. I know that my example is extreme and most people cannot do just as I do. I live a life of great privilege and I acknowledge this.
I simply want to help others to examine their own lives and help them do what they can to contribute to a more just, equitable and sustainable society. At the same time, there are many highly privileged people out there who can do so much more. I hope to provide inspiration and an example to help them transition to a higher standard of ethics and be of service to people, all species and planet. I also want to set an example that politicians can follow to keep themselves accountable to the society they serve.
Some will look at these vows and see them as restrictive. In a way they are, but they also allow me to live the most genuine and pure life that I can. It allows me to truly align my actions with my beliefs. In many ways it is a deep sense of freedom.
My aim with these commitments is to increase my ability to effect positive change, not hinder it, and all of these commitments were designed in that manner.
I first made my vows April 8th, 2015. These are my renewed vows as of November 3rd, 2020.
I commit to these vows until November 5th, 2024. My vows are made in four year increments on United States Federal Election Days.
In summary I vow to:
-Donate 100% of my earnings from media to nonprofits.
-Earn no more than the federal poverty threshold per year.
-Maintain a minimal and reasonable net worth.
-Practice financial transparency.
-Adhere to ethical financial practices and not invest in or support unjust, inequitable or unsustainable businesses and systems.
-Not pay federal income taxes (legally, by making less than the federal poverty threshold).
-Distribute most of my work on my website and social media under a creative commons license.
-Practice transparency with my flights and offset all flights I take 3-fold.
Now in much more detail I vow to:
Donate 100% of my earnings from media to nonprofits and grassroots initiatives.
This includes TV shows and appearances, documentaries, books, product endorsements, etc. When it comes to any of these matters I do not enter them for a personal financial gain. The funds are donated directly to nonprofits and grassroots initiatives. This is a lifetime commitment.
To date I have raised about $50,000 for nonprofits and grassroots initiatives through my media revenue.
I document my donations here and share more information there as well.
Read: Nonprofits I Support
Earn no more than the federal poverty threshold per year.
I commit to earning no more than what is considered the federal poverty guideline annually. This is a lifetime commitment.
In 2020, that is approximately $12,000 for an individual.
By drastically limiting the amount of money that I can earn, I drastically limit the ability for others to purchase my decision making, my audience, my influence, or to sway my personal morals and ethics. I have freed myself to make decisions based on what is best for others and Earth rather than what is best for my financial wealth.
I have learned to meet many of my needs without making financial transactions and will continue to do so. Simple examples of this include growing my own food, doing work exchanges for lodging, utilizing wasted resources, riding my bike instead of driving, sharing with others and spending simple time in nature.
Not having an overabundance of money keeps my purchases and consumption in check and forces me to not buy stuff I don’t need, not waste stuff, be a steward to my possessions and buy used items.
My yearly earnings since my initial vows were:
2020 – $0
2019 – $9,760
2018 – $8,000
2017 – $5,000
2016 – $0
See details on my yearly earnings here.
Expenses being paid on my behalf. It should be noted that money is often spent on my behalf for basic transportation, food and lodging for speaking engagements, TV appearances, etc. I avoid fancy accommodations and opt for simplicity and economy, generally staying with a friend.
Non-monetary gifts and sponsorships. I support the gifting economy and accept small gifts sometimes. I am transparent with gifts and sponsorships and this is documented on my financial transparency page along with the ethics behind this.
Maintain a minimal and reasonable net worth.
Earning no more than the federal poverty threshold per year already reduces my ability to accrue a large net worth, but I also commit to owning a minimal and reasonable value of possessions and financial assets.
My financial assets will be maintained at or below an equivalent of the federal poverty threshold. This is about $12,000 or less currently. This includes cash, stocks, life insurance, retirement accounts, etc. (I have none of those as you’ll see below).
The net worth of my physical possessions will not exceed this same guideline.
I have been downsizing and simplifying my life since 2011. I adhere to the philosophy to “live simply so that others may simply live.” I believe that society and humanity would benefit greatly by sharing our resources rather than needing one of everything for everyone.
Most of my possessions are tools that help me to accomplish tasks such as a simple tiny house for shelter and safety, a bicycle to get around and a computer to do my work.
My net worth is updated yearly here.
Read also: I Promise Never to be a Millionaire, My Tiny House 2015, My 111 Possessions 2016-2017, My Tiny House 2018-2019, My 44 Possessions 2020
Practice financial transparency.
I am transparent about where I earn money and all the companies I have any financial involvement with. There is no hiding of my financial involvements. I am always open to questions about my involvement with money and will answer those questions.
Read My Commitment to Financial and Corporate Transparency for more information, for a record of my financial income and a record of my involvement with companies.
Adhere to ethical financial practices and not invest in or support unjust, inequitable or unsustainable businesses and systems.
In 2012 I pulled my money out of all investments that had any involvement in businesses that do harm to Earth and humanity. I no longer have any destructive investments. This is also called “divesting.”
In 2015 I removed my money from the big banks, which have extremely low ethics and cause incredible destruction, and switched to a local credit union.
(Currently I have no credit union or bank account and use cash).
Read: How I’ve Worked to Defund Injustice from My Life
Read: Why I Switched to a Local Credit Union
Read: 11 Reasons Why I Canceled My Credit Cards
Not pay federal income taxes.
The US government puts hundreds of billions of tax dollars into war, prisons and corruption and I do not support this. Paying federal income taxes is a direct investment in the prison industrial complex and mass incarceration, which disproportionately put Black people in jail. These systems profit off incarceration and are largely paid for with taxpayer dollars. A large portion of Federal income taxes go directly to the military industrial complex, waging war on other nations for unjust reasons.
Some see me as a mooch on society for not paying taxes. They aren’t looking deep enough. In my lifetime I will contribute far more to my country and the world than the average tax payer does. I will do this by means other than paying federal income taxes. I have created a tax system for myself that more accurately represents and benefits the everyday person, rather than contributes disproportionately to corporations, the wealthy and to the injustice and destruction of much of humanity and our Earth. I do this by donating 100% of my media revenue to nonprofits and initiatives that are largely underfunded by public dollars but are necessary for a healthy society and the Earth.
Note: I’m doing this in a completely legal manner through voluntary simplicity. By earning less than the federal poverty threshold I do not earn enough to owe taxes. This is a lifetime commitment.
Since I’m not paying into social security I won’t be taking from it.
Distribute most of my work on my website and social media under a creative commons license.
This includes all the content that is on my website such as my photos, videos and blogs. My work and content will always be accessible to as many people as I can manage, regardless of who they are or how much money they have.
Read: Creative Commons- My Work is for the Greater Good of All
Although I will not personally charge for my work, I will work with companies that make money from my work, such as a TV show or a publisher for a book, as it would greatly hinder my mission to not use some of these outlets. When I do work with another entity that owns the rights to the work then their policies will be followed. Again, 100% of the money I would make from this is donated to nonprofits.
I aim that the educational information in my books, TV shows and other paid content is generally also available in my free content online. An individual who doesn’t pay may not get the exact same experience as a paying individual but they do have access to the knowledge I share.
It should be noted, I do support others making a living from their work in an ethical manner. This is simply a system that works for me.
Offset all flights that I take 3-fold and practice transparency with my flights.
I have created guidelines in order to use flying a tool for creating positive change during a period of transitional ethics. I have committed to offsetting the carbon emitted my from flights 3-fold using the highest standards of carbon offsets available and to publicly recording every flight that I take.
I document my flights and offsets here.
In a time when it is commonplace to put self above humanity, I aim to live in a way that does not put myself disproportionately above others. I want to live in a manner that is beneficial to the Earth, my community and myself and does not cause unnecessary environmental and social destruction.
At the same time I want to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life myself and lead by example in this manner. For me that means living a life that is close to the Earth and close to nature.
I commit to sharing my messages and means of achieving these goals in a manner that is attainable and accessible for others.