In his blog, The Alternate Economy, Tristan wrote an interesting but rather long piece about employment. When I complained how long it was he invited me to summarise it, so here it is, my attempt, the original is here.
Employment, by Tristan Nagler
“In our employment world today you can perform a service, make a product or engage in trade, and the pay you get depends on where you are in the hierarchy and how well you do your job.
Judgement by superiors is pretty fickle.
You can earn more by producing more.
But as a producer you are bound by the prices offered by traders.
Maximizing profits means squeezing producers.
Producers are forced to constantly think of cheaper ways of producing their goods in order to compete.
Traders provide a service. They often handle transportation and distribution of goods.
Traders are the middle men in our economy. Their success depends upon their ability to convince the consumer that the object they are trading is worth more, while at the same time convincing the producers that the object is worth less.
This is a source of imbalance, between people within and across countries.
Farmers and other producers in poor countries stay poor and people who are disconnected with production in rich countries get lazy and fat.
In an economy of generosity there are only two ways to participate. You can either become a producer of resources, which includes manufacturers. Or you can perform a service, which includes distributing wares that are hard to find in your community.
You can eliminate the trader by creating a system Tristan calls ‘The Credit Vault. The Credit Vault purchases resources at set prices.
The Credit Vault will have no control over changing prices, only the community as a whole can do so. If someone wishes to skip the Credit Vault and offer their apples to their neighbours at a higher price,that is allowed. The Credit Vault is a machine, run by computers, which helps to facilitate trade.
The Credit Vault works in a similar way for services.
If they are particularly motivated they may offer their services privately as well in order to increase their income.
Availability and transport will operate on a maximised proximity and delivery system, worked through the web.
Housing will be available to people according to the needs of the community.
Welcome to an economy of Generosity.
If we can eliminate the middle men, we can create an economy of Generosity.
The system works through the generosity of the community.
Through generosity, all of the unpleasant aspects of life can either be solved with technology or shared by the community.
It is possible. It requires a complete change in our way of thinking.
It requires some administration, but not too much.
It requires trust. Trust in yourself, and trust in humanity. But first of all it requires Love. It requires you to feel that you are worthy of such a system. I believe that you are. I believe that we all are. I trust in you!
I would like to comment on Tristan’s blog on Employment. I guess there are many who say it sounds like Communism, and some may say it sounds like how the Amish live.
Others may say that it is how many people in village communities currently live, and I would think that would be true. And of course, in many of those communities the people might well be extremely happy.
As it is said, the devil is in the detail, and it is easy to question how the choice of products would really be managed without a market system, how quality will be maintained without a quality cost from the producer, how innovation will be encouraged if everything gets paid for and so on.
But before the negatives start getting counted maybe we should truly start valuing the positives, what would work better under Tristan’s system than the one we have. I would guess for those without work, or without meaningful fulfilling work, the positives would score highly.
It seems to me that the current system of economics is not working for the full and meaningful employment of everyone, so it has to be different. It is not working for those young people who are not working or are not happy and fulfilled in their work. It is not working for those who have to go to work to earn a living but would rather, for the moment, ‘work’ at bringing up their children. It is not working for those being made redundant in their 40’s and 50’s and 60s, and it is not working for those who have gone past an arbitrary retirement age and would rather still be working at something than just looking at the gravestones.
So it seems to me the alternate economy is needed. Whether it is Tristan’s version or something else, I don’t know. I think it will need to link to ideas on currency, on which Tristan has also written, and there are quite a few novelties on community currencies nowadays.
Good luck Tristan!