When and Why to Not Use Money


Image credit: J_D_R, used under Creative Commons license.

From the cashless exploits of the Moneyless Man to the fascinating but hard-to-grasp concept of a no growth economy, we've seen plenty of calls for us to rethink our relationship with money. Thomas Fischbacher has posted an interesting piece over at the Permaculture Research of Australia, offering his take for activists on when to not use money, and why. The central tenet of his argument is simple—that money inherently means that somebody, somewhere has had to go into debt to the bank create it. And that debt will need to be repayed:

You work ten hours for me now and I pay you 200 dollars. In summer, I work ten hours for you and you pay me 200 dollars. In between, these 200 dollars will be in somebody's pocket, but as they have been obtained from the bank via taking up a credit, there is someone somewhere who will have to dig the banker's garden for an additional hour. What additional value has the banker given to society to earn this privilege?

I'm not sure Fischbacher's argument is saying that we should abandon money all together, but it is a useful reminder that money is just one type of contract among many. If we can get by with an informal agreement between neighbors, what's stopping us? From StreetBank's platform for sharing with your neighbors to young people rethinking prosperity in a severe recession, we're already seeing many folks circumventing traditional monetary transactions and still meeting their needs.

Like no growth economics, embracing simple living, or the manifesto for Slow Business, the more we can recalibrate our economic transactions so they actually enhance, not detract from, our quality of life—the better chance we have of creating a sane, rewarding and sustainable economy.

More on Alternative Economics
What Does a No Growth Economy Actually Look Like?
Simple Living as the Alternative American Dream
Slow Business: A Manifesto for Reclaiming Our Lives

Tags: Activism | Economics | United States

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