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.