By Nathan, on August 30th, 2011
Everyone, it seems is very concerned about the economy. But what do we mean by economy? Merriam-Webster defines “The Economy” as: “The structure or conditions of economic life in a country, area or period.” Most people are referring to “The Economy” as a general state of national monetary and job creation. But what if we look at it on a local or even household condition? It becomes more than just money and jobs, doesn’t it? “The Economy” becomes about quality of life, mood, money, food, stress, peace, etc. Much more than money and job creation. And a good local economy does not translate into a good national or international economy (at least not directly, or obviously). We are going to look into two options for sustainable economy upswing on a local stage today: Worker Co-Ops and Time Banking.
Worker Co-Ops, in short, are a type of business that is cooperatively owned by its workers. It is an open organization, based in voluntary participation, all policies and decisions are voted on democratically (1 member = 1 vote). Many Co-op workers receive some compensation for their work with capital more often being re-invested into the business. A worker co-op is more focused on its members than the generation of profit. Because of the people first nature of this business model, it is picking up popularity among those stung by corporate job loss, not ready or willing to start their own business, or want a more compassionate and organic way of making their way in the world.
Time Banks organizations that organize volunteer services in exchange for Time Dollars. Time Dollars (1 hour of service = 1 Time Dollar) translate into non-monetary currency to be used on services that you might need or want. There should be no actual monetary value attached to any service. The philosophy is that everyone has something that they can contribute, regardless of their professional standing. The bank logs in time volunteering for each contributor and what each contributor is willing to offer in services. Then the contributors can use their Time Dollars on services they want or need. There is no monetary value to the services, just time. This provides a different sort of economy which is quite altruistic. It attends to needs from a community building perspective that spreads across all income levels equally. It should be obvious that Time Banking will not pay your bills, but it will ease some of your cares and help you avoid adding new bills.
When looking at economy as a whole system of well-being, by reeling the economy back to a local (and therefore manageable) level we can improve our quality of life without needing incredible amounts of money or non-local corporate markets.