The ECOnomy and our money system(s)

Let's move from the EGOnomy to the ECOnomy!

February 17, 2014

It made me angry, frustrated and sad to hear the latest news on the Dutch National Television: Alright, the economy is growing in the Netherlands again, but we, consumers, HAVE to increase our consumption. What is that kind of message? What is life about? About consumption and purchasing more stuff? I didn't think so. The LES vision: money is a mere tool and should always be seen as such, to develop equally and to stimulate human well-being, happiness, and ECOlogical well-being of our planet Earth. After all, both ECOnomy and ECOlogy are interrelated and it should advocate the equality and harmony between humans and nature. For instance, take the economy of natural resources. Clearly this is an interrelation with ecology and therefore, the economy can hardly exist without ecology. As such, wouldn't it be logical to take care of our ECOlogy? And have a system of ECOnomy rather than EGOnomy?! Then I watched this video below and got inspired to write something about our economy. 

That sad, what about the conventional money system?

The money system runs on debts. One has a debt at the bank, while another can extract money from that bank due to that debt. As such, within the money system, there are always people with a debt, otherwise the whole system will collapse. So, that means that always someone is worse of than another which therefore increases inequality. And since, as shown above, our economy is interrelated to the ecology, we can presume that the money system is not only related to debts and loans of human beings, but also of nature.

Research has shown (see books like 'The Spirit Level', Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, and 'Prosperity without Growth', Tim Jackson) that inequality increases psychological problems, not only for the less off, but also for the better off, like: anxiety, depression, anger, and frustration. This increases the feeling that you should better not be left out, therefore increasing the feeling of an anxious rat race of wanting more, working harder, consuming more (including natural resources), and always something more related to material stuff rather than psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being.


Solutions: alternative money systems

So what to do about this dire situation? What to do about this inequality and the emotional stress it causes? Well, there are other solutions. Take an example of the ECO side of both ECOnomy and ECOlogy. The ecology makes also use of efficient and effective use of the eco part of aspects. For instance, a tree provides food for worms, and these worms are good for the soil, and the soil is on its own again good for the tree. This makes it a closed loop in an efficient and effective manner for all the involved species. Nothing is wasted and all is used efficiently. And it is all provided and taken care off in a collaborative way, rather than competition like our economic and money system is. Now how does that ECOlogical part translate into an ECOnomy part?

There are numerous examples of this. Earlier, I have written about the Weconomy, Blue Economy, Green Economy, Circular Economy (see Real sustainable societies and 10-10: a day full of inspiration). However, here I shortly delve into the community solutions, the weconomy solutions, since the video also describes these and since I work on this through Den Haag in Transition with the (R)Economy workgroup.

The most well-known and important example are 'Time-bank' and a 'local currency'. Time bank works as follows: one provides labour, food, beverages, and/or services to another. The other needs to provide an equal aspect in return, either to the same person or to another. Through time-cards, one can keep count of how much is being put into the time bank by that particular person.

The other is a local currency and could also be used next to a time bank. The local currency is used for local products and services and it therefore stimulates the local market. It does not necessarily replace the national money system, but it can be a way to become more independent and less dependent on loans and debts

Due to the local aspects of these alternative systems, one is trading with its local community and this creates collaboration, a feeling of belonging to a community and a feeling of being valued. In addition, debts and loans at a bank may no longer be such a great aspect of a life anymore. This may decrease anxiety, inequality, frustration, anger, and the overall feeling of being in a rat race you can never win because everyone is in it and there is always one who has more.


What can you do?

At Den Haag in Transition (DHIT) I'm involved in the Economy workgroup. That may sound strange because I think economy and money are tools, but it is not as strange as it may seem. I do believe in that it is a tool, and even famous economists and experts are saying this (see the video), but to change the system to a more collaborative and a mere tool, I think it is important to do that from within the system. Therefore, we are looking at ways to integrate a local currency systems within The Hague.

Inspiried? You do not have to set a whole local currency or economy up by yourself, but you could work together with others to make it happen. It is inspiring, fun and gives you a feeling of belonging to a community.

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