Thursday, August 20, 2009


This is my last piece on the 'Participation and involvement needs'. Along with meaningful work and energy to accomplish it, organization to get the work done, and transportation to get to and from wherever, I ended by listing 'Trade (of some sort)'. Here we are getting back into the subject of economics.

In my post on 'Protection from Poverty' (6/18/09), I mentioned that our economic system isn't the be-all/end-all of ways to deal with our need to get things from each other. As a friend of mine pointed out, if we don't believe that we need to do everything for ourselves (and I hope anyone reading this has figured out I'm not advocating some type of pure self-sufficiency), then we need to figure out how to do some small degree of specialization--recognizing that some people so somethings better than others. And that's economics. You have some thing I want. There are much better ways of getting our needs met than simply taking what we want.

For one thing, as I mentioned in my earlier post, there is the idea of a Gift Economy. We could just give stuff to each other. I also talked about the Solidarity Economy and, in my post on Participatory Economics and Economic Theory (7/8/08), I mention the theory of Participatory Economics as well as Starhawk's 'minimal agreements for a new economic system'.

Another form of 'economics', that some subsume under the Solidarity Economy, is local currency, actual locally printed money, that is only good in a certain area, which helps keep the money in the community. Some of the 'Transition Towns' have encouraged this as an attempt at 'relocalization'. (See my post on Transition Towns (10/16/08) for more on the Transition Initiative.) There are also groups that simply trade time without any actual currency changing hands. (I mentioned this in my Protection from Poverty post.)

And, then there is good old fashion trade or barter. You have something I want, I offer something I think you might want. My point is that there will be a need in the future to be able to exchange goods and services. I'm not sure there will be a need for money.

The Gift Economy--A website run by feminist thinker Genevieve Vaughan packed with information on gifting, including links to the entire text of her book For-Giving
Ithaca Hours--One of the largest local currencies in the US
Parecon--ZNet sponsors this website which will tell you all that you want to know about Participatory Economics; among other things it contains the text of four books (Parecon: Life After Capitalism, Looking Forward, Thinking Forward, and Moving Forward) that Michael Albert has written about Participatory Economics
The E. F. Schumacher Society Local Currency Program--Resources for creating local currency as well as information on BerkShares, a currency based in Berkshire County, Massachusetts

See also the Resources in the Protection from Poverty post (6/18/09)

Quote of the Day: "In a very real sense, we are the economy. The economy begins with the work we do... the often unpaid,'informal' productive work--like child care, housecleaning, bartering, and sweat equity--we do." - Susan Meeker-Lowry

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