WithoutMoney

There is considerable interest to discuss money and currency issues. The only conceivable reason for this can be that many people are unhappy about the current money system. So there is the wish to change, improve, or replace it with better system or augment it with AlternativeCurrency. There are a number of questions and a number of problem connected to this.

Money and economy. Money is tightly bound to the economic system. When people are unhappy about money, it is not clear whether the money is the reason or the economic system. So changing the money system may imply changing the economic system. This might be a hen-and-egg problem. Alternative money systems might for example scratch the surface but never have in impact on the real economy.

Motivation. It is not entirely clear what the motivation for this is. Is it that the majority of people - me too - feels to have not enough money? Is it that the gap between the extremely rich and extremely poor is too wide? (but how much are we really willing to give away to poor people in Africa or Asia?) What exactly is the problem that we want to solve? If we do not define that, any experiment will just have aestetic value.

No money. Many people believe that money itself, the way of calculating and keeping account of the value of goods and services, is the source of all evil. They believe that an economy beyond capitalism, an economy without money, should be possible. It seems that projects like Linux or Wikipedia seem to prove that the importance of money for successful competing is almost nilified. So there seems to be reason enough to think about how an economy could work totally without money.

This leads to the intermediate question: WhatIsEconomy.

How could we work and live without money?


re “Linux or Wikipedia seem to prove that the importance of money for successful competing is almost nilified”:

It’s true that they show that competition can happen without money. But it should also be mentioned that they don’t make a strong argument that “an economy without money” is a good idea, because intellectual goods have properties that physical goods don’t have; namely, you can have multiple copies of them almost for free (economically, IP has the property of being a WikiPedia:Public_good). You wouldn’t necessarily expect that what works for this special case would also work for other things.

I don’t disagree with the conclusion that “there seems to be reason enough to think about how an economy could work totally without money”, but the way the paragraph is written it makes it sounds like plausibility has already been demonstrated via OpenContent, whereas I think that is not the case.

For what it’s worth: The TwinOaks, they sort of operate “without money.”

The system is more complicated than what I’m going to describe, but this is how it was described to me:

  • They take all the jobs that need to be done.
  • People say, “Oh, I want to do that,” and take turns at the board, picking how they’re going to meet their work credit requirements.
  • At the end, there are some things that nobody wants to do. Those are split up, more or less, equally.

They have planners who work out long term plans. Planners are elected. Planners show what they come up with to people, and if people don’t object too much, that becomes the plan.

Now, they aren’t in a money vacuum: The external world requires taxes, and they need things (like medical) that they need money to pay for. So they operate several businesses, such as making hammocks, growing tofu, and indexing books. So there’s still money there. But it’s not a major fact of their lives.

I think everyone has a $50/month allowance.

They have zero crime (unless it involves outsiders coming in and doing something weird,) with the exception of petty theft of candy bars and the like.

TwinOaks sustains 100 people, I believe it’s 80 adults and 20 children.

If money is only convertible to a ‘good’ or ‘service’, then maybe the credit needed to do your work could be extended by your promise to supply some amount of ‘good’ or ‘service’ within some time period? I guess we would still need some sort of point system, but maybe interest could be avoided.

> You wouldn't necessarily expect that what works for this special case would also work for other things.

Maybe not necessarily, but what if regular physical objects - especially those used in production could be made available “at cost”? Would that be good or bad for community? How about for profit? Wages?

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