It's Time for the Time-as-Currency Movement

Dear Professor Wolff, I have been trying to submit a repeatedly revised letter about the time-as-currency movement to the New York Times Op-Ed section for consideration for publication for months. I need support getting them to consider it. Most people don't know a thing about Time-Banks, Time-Exchanges, Time-Networks, etc., even though they exist across the United States and elsewhere. I wanted to ask if you had heard about the movement when I heard your great presentation in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, but my question was the only one of its kind from the audience, and only the questions that were in the majority were considered. (I spoke about it afterward with Alan Minski.) At the very least, I hope you will please consider Dr. Edgar S. Cahn's contributions on the subject to learn more, or advocate to have him as a guest speaker on yours or a related radio show. We all need to know about this viable, economic, grassroots alternative. As I have suffered with a disability that has resulted in chronic homelessness, the local Time-Bank came through as a support system many times, while social services did not. I have my own personal experience to offer on the subject too. Yours in service, Alicia Sterling Beach

Official response from submitted

The way I get into the subject of time-based currencies (or exchange systems) is to see them as interesting attempts to move away from the capitalist system and the currency arrangements it has favored. In capitalism, money involves two basic sorts of transactions. The first is simple exchange where a certain value of one commodity is exchanged for an equivalent value of another commodity. The second is a very different sort of exchange, one in which a certain value is extended by person A to person B who then responds by extending to person A more value than person B received from A. By such an exchange A appropriates a surplus value. The profit drive in capitalism is this second sort of exchange that involves inequalities. Critics of capitalism, of its profit drive, and of their social effects have always sought some way to negate the second sort of exchange.....and time-based currencies have been one result of that search. What we can say is that a time-based exchange of equivalents - as the rule governing such an exchange system - would at least expose the inequality at the base of profit in a way that capitalism, in contrast, hides and disguises.

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  • Alicia Beach
    commented 2017-01-18 02:42:54 -0500
    Thank you Dr. Wolff. While time-as-currency exposes the profit motive, it also supports a grassroots, care-giving, environmental, and social currency that the monetary system does not. When I suffered from chronic homelessness as a result of a disability—where social services failed me—I experienced first hand, as a member of my local time-bank, the way the time-as-currency system fosters a healthy interdependence. As you have spoken so eloquently about, capitalism encourages independence/isolation psychologically, but a toxic dependence on big business. Yet with the technology available today, time-banks, time-exchanges and time-networks are easy ways to build social currency within all manner of independent communities, from children’s schools to senior centers to homeless housing, and accelerate local food production through shared community gardens, backyards, commonlands…all the while sharing and ‘capitalizing’ on untapped labor, i.e., the neighbor who is cash poor harvests the backyard food for the family that doesn’t have time to tend their own garden, much less give their excess food away. Everyone participates voluntarily, in their own way and pace. So participants don’t have to be locked into a long term, business model, with the profit-motive and a manipulated, risky dollar as the endgame, as is necessary with a co-op.
  • Alicia Beach
    tagged this with Important 2017-01-18 02:42:53 -0500
  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-01-17 21:37:04 -0500
  • Alicia Beach
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-01-17 17:25:02 -0500