Re: Time-Based Economics
From: Allen Butcher (
Date: Sun, 7 Sep 1997 11:41:46 -0500
Hi, I'm not sure that I am posting this the right way, riding the
coattails of another transmission, but it might work.

I have a new thread to start, dealing with the issue of labor
organization in community.

I'm not really ready for prime time with this, as I'm working on a
is a small part.  I can't get the whole concept into this short e-mail
thing so you'll have to try to get from this what you can.)This last
third of the 20th Century there has been quietly growing an
economicsystem that does not rely upon a monetary system for the
production and distribution of goods and services.  Time-based economics
is a viable alternative economic structure that respects natural law and
transcendent ideals, by manifesting a culture of personal, social and
environmental responsibility, in a stable, sustainably-paced economy.In
the past, economic alterantives (such as local currencies and labor
exchanges) were usually developed as a response to economic depressions,
but time-based economies have been developing in this period of economic
growth.  The reason is that the monetary system tends to destroy
community, while time-based economies build community.PLENTY PARADIGM -
Time-based economic systems generate economic activity by the agreements
individuals make to contribute their time to the system, which manages
and records their hour contributions.  This encourages cooperative values
of caring, rational altruism, mutual advantage, sharing, and
participatory or consensus-governed communitarianism.SCARCITY PARADIGM -
The debt-based economic system generates economic activity through the
process of creating money, which begins with bank credit, or loans made,
and ends with the creation of debt.  This encourages competitive values
of artificial scarcity, rational self-interest, comparative advantage,
greed, and monopoly capitalism.THE MONEY-FREE ZONE - Using a labor credit
system to create a money-free zone involves starting a community-owned
business (or members pooling income from jobs). Money comes into the
community bank account, but is not used internally among members.  LIKE
FIGHTING FIRE with FIRE - Starting a community business, coordinated by a
labor credit system, is like setting a backfire to stop a forest fire,
since it serves to protect the community's money-free culture from the
influence of the scarcity paradigm.  In this way, income sharing serves
to replace the monetary system on successively larger economic scales.The
Plenty Paradigm - In time-based economies the world's natural resources
are shared, and individual labor contributes to a common wealth (by
maximizing public goods and services) which provides for individual
happiness through a system of "rational altruism."  With a sharing of
wealth, fear of economic loss or exposure (fear of scarcity) is reduced
and greed is not rewarded.  Happiness, then, is found as much in working
for the good of all, as in work for personal benefit.  In the plenty
paradigm, the service or labor credit is the root of public good, and
rational altruism is the process by which individuals work for mutual
advantage.There are two different types of time-based economies:  those
that are anciliary or complimentary to the monetary system, and those
that are a complete alterantive to it, supplanting the monetary system. 
Both, however, value all work equally.  One hour is worth one credit,
regardless of who is working or what type of work is done.SERVICE CREDIT
SYSTEMS  (using "time-dollars") are supported by local governments,
non-profit organizations and for-profit corporations as they help
low-income and other people to work together.  People earn hour
time-credits for providing services to one-another, or for working in a
community program, and bank those time credits for when they need a
service.  Since this relies upon moral obligation and a norm of
reciprocity, they are not a "commercial exchange," and therefore have
been ruled to be tax-exempt by the IRS.  Service credit systems are
rarely used to coordinate labor in businesses, and thus can not be said
to create a mone-free zone in the same way that "labor credit" systems
do.  (See:  The Time Dollar Institute, 5500 39th Street, N.W.Washington,
DC  20015  202-686-5200 CREDIT
SYSTEMS  have been created by intentional communities to coordinate both
domestic work and income producing labor.  Since such communities do not
pay salaries or wages for labor, the IRS has created a section of the tax
code [501 (d)] providing for them an exemption from corporate tax and
from the Social Security tax.  One requirement (among several) is that
business income goes to a central treasury from which community expenses
are paid.  Thus, labor credit systems are designed solely as a means of
coordinating each individual's contribution of time or labor to the
community, and do not involve the exchange of property among people (as
local currencies do), or involve the regulation of an individual's access
to goods and services.  Equal access is facilitated by any number of
methods of equitable distribution, including budgeting or as-needed
access.  Typically, members agree to a weekly hour-quota of labor, with
"over quota" work accumulating for vacations.  This assures that everyone
knows their fair-share labor contribution to the community.  The labor
supply is budgeted to managers of work areas the same way that money is
budgeted, and sick time and pensions are reductions of personal labor
quotas.  Individuals then enjoy a "radical flex-time" labor system,
changing jobs or their schedule as they like.  (Federation fo
Egailitarian Communties, Tecumseh, MO  65760)********I lived 12 years in
rural labor credit societies (East Wind in Missouri 60 adults + children,
Twin Oaks in Virginia 100 adults + children) and now I am trying to begin
an urban community using some kind of combination of service credit/labor
credit system.  Need to finish this mongraph then get the community
design proposal together.  Let me know what you think.                   
 Allen Butcher
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