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Can you suggest a different or better rule/s to use in our society instead of the current exchange rule?

Why is our society based on the exchange rule? For instance if we go to the supermaket and get food, in exchange we have to give some money to the owner of the supermaket. If we want to have water in our houses we have to pay a water company so they can supply it to us.

I can see this rule being adopted thousand of years ago by our ancestors and back then it probably made sense. They possibly could not come up with a better idea. But why in the 21st century are we still using it? Why can't we come up with a better or different rule?

Has anyone a different rule or rules to suggest that we could use instead?

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  • Jun 20 2012: Credit contracts. Before currency in some civilizations there were credit contracts. No currency exchange. Just bartering of services at the equivalency of certain amount of credits. It's being utilized currently in the Greek economy using Cloud technology and smart phones. I think it's considered illegal at the moment, but it seems to be working nonetheless.

    In terms of developing another system, I think some are being developed albeit as business ventures themselves. There's a service called Fiver or Fivver or something like that where you render a service for $5 and you keep $4 if someone pays while the provider takes $1.

    It's collecting all sorts of random talents in exchange for a currency.

    As far as a better idea, I've always been a fan of developing a society on the pillars of self sufficiency and sustainability. Products and services rendered are for improving the first two on a deeply profound level and not on some superficial or instant gratification type level. But in developing an exchange system in that, I have no idea where to begin.

    Maybe we need to throw out the idea of "instant exchange for services rendered." It requires to get instant access, we provide instant payment. Maybe we could look at developing more long term exchange rates similar to natural systems. For example, a grocery store sells organic cantaloupe on the condition you try to grow cantaloupe in your yard next year and help supply the store itself. Doing so allows a larger farmer to pursue another crop for a similar exchange or allows him to recharge his soil. What this means though is that enough people say, "Eh, screw that. I'll just take the cantaloupe." Then everybody goes hungry. A motivator stronger than any currency.
  • Jun 21 2012: Edmond,

    Maybe we have to change our conception of "exchange." I just started reading a Derek Jensen book where he discusses briefly that in nature a bear eats the fruit of a bush, but doesn't exactly give the bush anything. Then the bear poops and more bushes grow.

    What if we could develop a system of "exchanges" like that? Instead of real-time methods, perhaps more of a delayed response to help productivity. It's similar to the bartering system Colleen participates in her community, but it could probably be tweaked.

    Also, going back to the bear and the bush, sure the bear seems to be just taking, but I think it's important that it too contributes to the growth of the resource. It's almost as if we need suppliers and makers. Suppliers have the knowledge to grow or get materials. Makers have the skills to use those supplies as well as contribute to harvesting or developing tools for suppliers.
    • Jun 21 2012: I understand your point Zac. Nevertheless I am not convinced that we need a system based on exchange in order to make our society work.

      We could instead give and get no one would be excluded from this rule. Everyone must give something or a service to society in order to get something back.

      I can think of 6 things that we should all get regardless of what we contribute to society.

      1) Water
      2) Food
      3) Shelter
      4) Medical care
      5) Education
      6) A mean of transport

      Can you think of something else?
  • Jun 21 2012: Thanks for all your replies.
    Bartering or credit contracts are always based on the principle of exchanging something or services.
    I am instead looking for a rule or set of rules where exchange is not necessary.

    1. you give, but you don't receive. i doubt you want that.

    2. you get, but you don't give. it is luring, but where do you plan to get things if nobody gives?

    3. you don't get and don't give. this is the neanderthal way of life, and not very pleasant.

    What about:

    4. you must give and you must get ??

    Why do we have to exchange goods or services in order to survive? Why cannot we support each other
    without exchanging?
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    Jun 20 2012: Edmond,
    I cannot think of a better way, and there is another way which also started thousands of years ago. I, and many other people participate in bartering, which seems like a very practical exchange. We all have talents, skills, or material goods that someone else wants and needs. Bartering may not work on a large scale, but it works wonderfully on a local level. It can be as simple or complicated as one wants to make it.

    I have LOTS of plants in the gardens for example. I give lots of them away, and often help people design and build gardens. One friend for whom I built gardens, checks my vehicle, changes the oil, makes sure everything is running ok.
    Another friend may give me wine, fresh baked bread, specialty food items, lunch, dinner, etc. Lots of folks help me with tasks around the house and gardens that I do not have the skill for, or cannot do myself. If I didn't get this help, I would be hiring someone to do the work. If I could not give away plants, they would be going into the compost pile, because I simply have too many. So bartering is beneficial for all of us:>)
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    Jun 20 2012: using logic, there can only be 3 other methods

    1. you give, but you don't receive. i doubt you want that.

    2. you get, but you don't give. it is luring, but where do you plan to get things if nobody gives?

    3. you don't get and don't give. this is the neanderthal way of life, and not very pleasant.
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      Jun 20 2012: To embellish this a little, you could in theory have a society in which some people only give (or typically give and seldom receive) and others only receive (or typically receive and only occasionally give). Those roles are either enforced by some governing body or occur on an opt-in basis.

      Systems of forced servitude or a caste system might work this way? Planned economies? Neither has a pretty record.

      Doing this on an opt-in basis, where people decide what to offer and what to take without any sort of expectations of a balance of some kind seems unsustainable in a society, though it might work within a very small group.

      I am not arguing for either, as I think exchange systems tend to be both more efficient and more fair in practice, counting the sort of exchange system Colleen describes as an exchange system and allowing for some transfers without exchange.. I am only trying to put some shape to options for purposes of the conversation.
      • Jun 21 2012: Fritzie,

        This kind of reminds me of ant colonies. Where roles are specific to types of ants, except in economic form.
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    Jun 20 2012: What wrong with the current rule?