April 10, 2012

Time Banking in Relation to “Job Creation”


Some people worry that time banking will “compete with job creation”. Someone in my time banking google group just mentioned encountering that argument again. So although time presses at the moment, I wanted to jot a few notes on this. This is a work in progress.
It’s usually better to lead with an affirmative argument, and add any negative argument to that. Even if I thought, “what we have is terrible, and so I want to try something different for its own sake, even though I don’t know if this would be any better”, I wouldn’t want to put it that way. But I do think time banking is actively better than the cash economy, and not just different. Therefore:
1. To be part of a time bank network is more fulfilling and resilient than to hold a job which earns you some cash. You not only have the benefit of a plethora of offered services (just like if you held cash), but you gain the benefits of giving to others as well, and you have all of this within a human framework which can build community, social life, and has many possibilities for strengthening political and spiritual life as well.
2. As for well-paying jobs, those aren’t coming back anyway. The 1% has been permanently destroying them for decades now, toward its goal of restoring a feudalism far more vicious than the medieval variety. The pace of this destruction has accelerated in recent years. To look at time banking as competing with a hope which is a pipe dream is to look at things wrongly. Whether we have time banks or not, those jobs are gone forever. The system which controls “job creation” wanted them gone, and they’ll remain gone. Time banking, on the other hand, is completely in the people’s hands, and we can make of it whatever we wish.
We can add, as a preliminary or supplementary argument, if it seems necessary: There’s no evidence that time banking hinders job creation. Jobs are created or destroyed according to the imperatives of Wall Street. For example, “offshoring” was never actually more efficient from a textbook capitalist point of view than keeping manufacturing jobs within Western countries. But Wall Street wanted those jobs destroyed and rewarded or punished stock prices accordingly, so offshoring became the standard practice.
Philosophically, we should be clear that it was never legitimate for elites to enclose our human work as their “property” and then parcel it back to us in the form of “jobs”. This is immoral and irrational, in addition to not working on a practical level. (The definition of something that works: That it increases the general happiness, freedom, prosperity, social stability, and decreases unhappiness, decreases tension and stress, decreases violence. By these measures, capitalism and its “employment” model are dismal failures, and abominable hypocrisies.) It’s also an unhistorical anomaly. For the vast majority of humanity’s natural history our labor power was nestled within community networks, and inextricably bound with social and spiritual relations.
The employment model as such is unnecessary, immoral, undesirable, and doesn’t work according to its own premises.
So for these reasons I’m clear that time banking and other relocalization actions and structures aren’t trying to “co-exist” with or merely supplement capitalism or the employment model, let alone be just a temporary band aid to tide us over until those are restored to some spurious notion of health. With these actions we’re trying to build the new within the crumbling structure of the old, to survive its collapse, to do whatever we can to help undermine it, and most of all to have the new networks in place to replace it. That’s what I mean when I say time banking is on a vector away from capitalism, toward full economic democracy. That’s what I mean when I call for all things to be measured according to their democratic vector. 


  1. Of interest (found it by way of NC): http://exiledonline.com/recovered-economic-history-everyone-but-an-idiot-knows-that-the-lower-classes-must-be-kept-poor-or-they-will-never-be-industrious/

    “Poverty is that state and condition in society where the individual has no surplus labour in store, or, in other words, no property or means of subsistence but what is derived from the constant exercise of industry in the various occupations of life. Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization. It is the lot of man. It is the source of wealth, since without poverty, there could be no labour; there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.” — Patrick Colquhoun (circa late 18th century)


    Comment by Tao Jonesing — April 10, 2012 @ 11:11 am

    • In the strictly denotative sense, that’s true, since the accumulation of “wealth” by stealing from those who work is necessary to keep a minority in a wealthy state. It’s necessary for civilization in the strict sense, i.e. the congealment of (by definition parasitic) cities. Keeping people in a state of poverty, then, is necessary in order to force them to keep performing this labor, the fruits of which are almost all stolen.

      This is part of why liberals, in spite of many of their alleged principles, are always in practice either ambivalent toward this organized crime, or support it.

      (By “parasitism of cities” I refer to hierarchical stuctures and support structures for those hierarchies. Of course I don’t refer to shantytownism in all its forms, which is also a product of those hierarchies and goes on their ledger.)

      Comment by Russ — April 10, 2012 @ 11:56 am

  2. Russ, have you become familiar with P2P, open resource “Bitcoin” alternative currency?


    “What is a good way to concisely explain Bitcoin?

    Bitcoin is a new kind of money. It’s the first decentralized electronic currency not controlled by a single organization or government. It’s an open source project, and it is used by more than 100,000 people. All over the world people are trading hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin every day with no middle man and no credit card companies. It’s a startup currency which has never happened before.

    Bitcoin is the first digital currency that is completely distributed. The network is made up of users like yourself so no bank or payment processor is required between you and whoever you’re trading with. This decentralization is the basis for Bitcoin’s security and freedom.

    Email let us send letters for free, anywhere in the world. Skype lets us make phone and video calls for free, anywhere in the world. Now there’s bitcoin. Bitcoin lets you send money to anyone online, anywhere in the world for less than a cent per transaction! Bitcoin is a community run system not controlled by any bank or government. There’s no wallstreet banker getting rich by standing between you and the people you want to send and receive money from.

    Bitcoin is more efficient than all competing currencies. This will drive its adoption in the same way computers were adopted, in that computers made people more efficient in competing in the marketplace. Of course the early adopters will become rich, and I think they deserve it for having played a key role in the development of Bitcoin. A currency has value by it being widely used. Bitcoin is a startup currency with a deflationary bootstrapping economy. Its use spreads by providing the speculator incentive.

    Bitcoin is going to be the biggest opportunity for innovation that the world has seen since the industrial revolution. An idea whose time has come.”

    Comment by Pete — April 12, 2012 @ 10:36 am

    • Thanks Pete. I’ve heard of those before, but I don’t know much about it.

      Comment by Russ — April 12, 2012 @ 11:35 am

  3. Bitcoin still sounds too distant and complex for this person. I personally believe we ‘d be wise to simplify our lives as much as possible and that includes not depending heavily on computers and technology. These are very vulnerable devices and I don’t like putting my life in Bill Gates’ hands.

    Time banks sure are a great way to meet wonderful people-I’ve met some very special folks that way 🙂

    Comment by DualPersonality — April 16, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

    • I agree that anything dependent upon the Internet (even leaving aside proprietary threats) is by definition not fully sustainable and resilient.

      I also agree, including from personal experience, that time banking is a great way to meet people, in addition to its economic benefits. 🙂

      Comment by Russ — April 17, 2012 @ 3:49 am

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