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<nettime> Re: Open Source and Open Money
ernie yacub on Thu, 17 Jan 2002 01:08:22 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Re: Open Source and Open Money

One of the core ideas of open money is that anybody that uses money can use 
more, especially if it means they can get on with what they love rather 
than working for some globocorp.  LETS and other open money systems provide 
the means for all to have their own money.  Programmers, and others, can 
then be paid for their "hobby" in money that circulates within their 
communities and pays for some of the basic necessities of life.

Kermit nails the issue with this....

>So the interesting economic question about open source development isn't why
>some people do it for free.  Instead, I propose that we consider instead
>what kind of contractual instruments, other than those that impose legal
>monopolies, are capable of creating sustainable economies.

As Keith Hart wrote in his book, Money in an Unequal World, "money is the 
problem and the solution."  Conventional money, simply because of the way 
it works, creates unsustainable economies - corporations get bigger, people 
poorer, the earth suffers.  Because it is scarce, people will do anything 
to get it.

>Recasting the
>discussion in these terms can also make it clearer why the "open money"
>issue is related to the "open source" and "free software" discussions.
>After all, both currency and software license agreements are contractual
>instruments, and the issue before us is whether such instruments can enable
>a sustainable economy without resorting to the restrictive monopolies of
>central banking and copyright, respectively.

Community money is very different by design.  It is created in sufficient 
supply, by us, when needed.  It's only utility is as an exchange medium - 
it works when it moves.

What is also of great interest is how open source and open money will work 
synergistically to create the kind of world we desire.  Both arise from 
anarchist principles of mutual aid, which work best when we acknowledge the 

I have used free and share ware without paying for it, not because i didn't 
want to but because i am always short of money - that acknowledgement goes 
to the bottom of the list.  When programmers start accepting community 
money, i will be able to pay them.  Indeed, it will be a great pleasure to 
finally be able to acknowledge all the gifts that i receive with more than 
a thanks.

When i do pay you in a community money that you can use to buy groceries 
and computer gear, i am creating new money.  It is my commitment to my 
community that i am good for that money - my money is my word.

>Naturally, there are many possible problems with such a system.  What
>happens, for instance, if people establish accounts on a LETS system, "buy"
>expensive items, and then leave without ever having sold anything
>themselves?  Essentially, they've stolen from the community.

The first answer to this is seller beware - caveat venditor - do you know 
the person you are selling the expensive stuff to, either directly or by 
reputation?  The other answer is a question - as a seller, what have you 
lost?  The money you have been paid is still good - like getting normal 
cash instead of a cheque.  The system continues to function despite people 
leaving and dying with negative balances.

>   If too many
>people do this, the system will collapse.

What kind of community is this?  Certainly not one that i would want to do 
business in anyway.

>   Or what if everybody on the
>system is selling aromatherapy and no one is selling legal services?

This is the current state of most cc systems around the world.  When 
community money can buy groceries and pay the rent, then it will become a 
significant part of the economy.  We believe that is inevitable.

>   If
>there is a unbalanced distribution of products or services on offer, the
>system won't work.

Actually, it does work - persistent but not much used.  For the few who do 
use them, they are very useful.  One of the women in the Comox Valley 
LETSystem which has been operating for almost 20 years said she decided not 
to move from the valley because she couldn't find another community that 
she liked that had a LETS.

Thanks for opening up this discussion.  We see great potential in the 
convergence of open money and open source.

ernie yacub

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