Friday, February 12, 2010

Free Economies

In the comments at the previous post, Sue sent me a link to the freeconomy community.  It's a cool site out of the UK but active in 126 countries.  You sign up and list all the skills you have to offer.  Then you can swap skills with other people who can do something you need.  It's a barter system.  We have something similar in K-W called Barterworks.  And, in case you don't know, we also have a Freecycle - like KCI's Free Store but regional....

It's hard to tell from the intro information at the freeconomy, but hopefully it doesn't have to be a direct trade, because you might want my typing skills but have nothing to offer that I need in return.  If there's some points involved, then I can work for you, but get work done by someone else.  Or you could write me a note saying I did two hours work, and I could cash it in for two hours for someone else.  But using points and notes is kinda like using money then, isn't is.

Money's a pretty handy marker of trade.  The problem with money isn't the currency itself, it's the potential for mass accumulation.  That potential for gain makes little cash register noises in some people's heads (ca-ching!) and leads some clever types to find ways to spend less on production by, for instance, blocking unions, or outsourcing to areas with lax labour and environmental laws, or hiring only women and children who are easier to control and lock in factories for 16 hours a day, or (let's cut to the chase) using slave labour.

Using local currency, like some do in the Transition film, is a very cool way to get around the big business profit through exploitation issues.  It forces people to think, whenever they shop, about where their money is really going. 

On Marks' blog, he writes about criticisms and particularly this one:  You're not saving the world by doing this.  I get that all the time.  Thanks for the heads up.  The difference is he gets it from anonymous irate readers, and I get it at home and work by those who refuse even to turn off light.  Yet, like Mark, I persevere in trying to make others aware about toxins in the food system (I got an answer on this that I'll write about later) and in not being wasteful.  I've lived like this my whole life because my parents, born just before the depression, trained me not to ever waste anything even a little bit of energy from a single lightbulb.  When is wasting energy or resources ever a good thing?

No comments: