So in my last post (…More Beautiful World) I talked about the next step into a sharing economy that would really meet our needs. Here I want to get practical. The sharing economy I’m talking about would not be confined to money, there are many ways of giving and receiving resources and getting our needs met, and confining ourselves to monetary exchanges is highly limiting. However, given the world we live in, ignoring money will not work either. I know a number of people who live lightly and have found ways to trade and reduce needs, to where most of their needs are around housing and utilities. So to meet the needs for basic resources and economic security of these folks (and others) we will have to find a way to get money to those who need it and don’t have it.
One of my assumptions is that every person in our economy will contribute in some way. If someone is getting no money from a “job” in the world, my assumption is that they have time and they will be willing to give their time and skill to meeting the needs of other community members. So the question before us is, for people who either because they can’t find paying work that fits for them, or because what they do is tremendously meaningful, and they can not find a way to get paid for that, or maybe especially as we develop our economy, they prefer to work within the community,; How do we get those folks the money or major resources they need to live?
One way would be for some community members who own housing to donate free or very low cost housing. But even in these cases, and in the many other cases where money is needed for basic needs, there is the question of how do we get people to give their money to others, and how does that distribution happen?
I want to propose a couple of models, and to hear your ideas, too.
1. Compassionate Sliding Scale
In this model people would share some of their skills and goods with no desire for return financial or otherwise, and they would have other skills that they would ask market price for (possibly the skills they considered “work” skills), and those who could and felt good about it, would pay fully (or more), but those who did not, would pay only what they felt able to pay. Barter would also be an option if that felt good for both parties. In some exchanges, a service would be exchanged for money just as in the regular economy, but the spirit would be different. I would give you my skill because I care about your well being, and you are a part of my community. And you would give me money because you appreciated me and wanted to contribute to my well being, not because you”owed” it to me. In this model, if you are person who can usually afford to pay, you would have security of knowing if you lost your job or your fortunes changed in other ways, that you would not lose any of your services within the community, You would still get your produce delivered, and your car fixed. You would still be able to see your counselor. This is real social security.
One of the advantages to this model, is that people with modest financial needs would probably have these met as they shared their services, even if these are services that would not be economically feasible to offer as part of the regular economy.
An alternate form of this model is the tipping model where services would be free, but if you had economic resources you would be encouraged to express your appreciation for gifts you received through money as well as other ways. This avoids the issue of what something “costs” but would probably result in less money being passed to those who need it.
2. The Security Pot
Another system would be to fundraise from members within the community who have financial resources and have a pot of money that be drawn upon to meet people’s needs. We would have to talk about what the standards would be for this, how much could be given, how often, etc.
I would tend to have some standards like, the individuals must be using all the government aid that is available to them (some support in applying for that might reduce needs), and that if anyone received financial aid from the community, it would be expected that they would find someway to offer a significant amount of services, to create balance.
3. Open Request
People who had financial needs would be encouraged to ask for those needs to be met, just like all other needs, and people in the community would respond as they felt moved. This system in the simplest, but also I am guessing would provide the least actual economic security.
I would love to hear your feedback on these models and others you can come up with. Both just your general opinion of the models, and how these models would work for you, with the economic conditions in your life.