Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Viable alternative to money

What if the concept of money, and value itself, was totally replaced?
  (+2, -10)(+2, -10)
(+2, -10)
  [vote for,

This is hard to think about, because we all take money and value for granted and we've never even thought of not doing that - so hold on:

What if nothing had a fixed value?

What if everything's "worth" was relative?

And, of course, you yourself are part of this everything as well. You literally have a worth, same as everything else.

What if none of that was "fixed"?

This would make for a society that is fully functional, just as today, except where the concept of "Fairness" replaces the existing concept of "Value".

The best way to understand this, is to imagine that you start off by owning yourself - just like you might own a company: using shares. You start with owning 100% of your own shares.

To buy food, the shopkeeper and you will initially agree on how many shares the produce will cost you - a meal might cost you 0.1% of yourself for example - and after you're fed, the shopkeeper now owns 0.1% of you.

Now, lets say you go and work picking strawberries for a day - you agree with the farmer that a days work will earn you 0.2% of the farmer. Awesome... and here's where it gets interesting - you got 0.2% of the farmer, but the shopkeeper owns 0.1% of you, so, the shopkeeper now gets 0.1% of the 0.2% of the farmer (that's 0.000002 of him, or, 0.0002% - a tiny amount, because these are small transactions, but nevertheless - an amount).

Now, add into that system a mechanism to "claw back" you own equity by swapping bit of people or things you own to get back what you paid of yourself earlier, and the idea is complete.

And there you have it! Food (and everything else) "costs" different amounts to different people, all based on their worth. The more "Respected" you are (teachers, doctors, etc) the lower other people are willing to trade with you. The more "Productive" you are, the lower again (because people want your "equity" more, because they know it is valuably income-producing).

Finally - add into this mix the concept of a universal basic income (UBI), and you can ensure that nobody will ever starve or go homeless - while at the same time limiting anything that society-deadbeats can buy - the more "worthless" you are to society, the vastly more expensive everything will be - so everyone is encouraged to contribute by doing anything thy like that other people will value, in order to improve their lot.

UBI could be either some kind of daily-minted societally agreed value system, or a tiny "leveling tax" that erodes everyone's own value over time to support everyone else.

The main thing to try and understand, is that this is totally incompatible with actual money. There is never any way to say how much anything costs in absolute terms - it's always different depending on who you are. This is a good thing, because the concept of "rich" and "poor" goes away, to be replaced with the much more valuable concepts of reputation and productivity.

cnd, Nov 20 2019

Wikipedia: In Time https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Time
2011 movie apparently inspired by the above short story. I thought it was pretty good. [notexactly, Nov 25 2019]

Time is Money, Lee Falk, 1975 http://mandrake-com...ry-by-lee-falk.html
Yes, some people *did* read Playboy magazine for the stories [a1, Mar 19 2024]


       This is predicated on the incorrect assumption that humans are nice, and will not immediately try to exploit, distort and subvert such an arrangement with a view to screwing over everyone else and trying to get the most they can for the minimum of effort, no matter what lies they need to tell to achieve it.   

       It is, therefore, more suitable for the "Utopian Twaddle" category, being as it is unrealistic, impractical, and doomed to failure. [-]
8th of 7, Nov 20 2019

       Hey, welcome to the HB, [cnd]. This is a well-considered and carefully thought out plan, which is never a good place to start. Take no notice of [8th], he's just... well, anyway, take no notice.   

       //the more "worthless" you are to society, the vastly more expensive everything will be - so everyone is encouraged to contribute by doing anything thy like that other people will value//   

       So, what happens if you're just lacking in talent, intelligence or physical ability?   

       Also, what if you trade away 51% of your own equity and discover you're no longer in charge?   

       And also too, how do you manage this system in reality? If I want to buy a pound of potatoes, how does the potatoshopkeeper know what my equity is worth?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 20 2019

       // what happens if you're just lacking in talent, intelligence or physical ability? //   

       You become a politician. Next question ?   

       // how does the potatoshopkeeper know what my equity is worth? //   

       In you case it's irrelevant as (s)he'll be too busy trying to remove you from the shop before you (a) steal things, (b) cause damage, (c) frighten away the other customers, (d) all of the aforementioned.
8th of 7, Nov 20 2019

       Hello and welcome cnd. I see you’ve met [Max] and [8th].   

       The concept of a moneyless society, and any system that disposes of the idea of accumulated (or inherited) wealth is good. We should all be valued on our own contribution, and have a right to some basic level of support. So [+] for the idea.   

       You’ve chosen to pitch in with something quite controversial, so you will have some negative responses, and challenges to support your assumptions. Be prepared for bones.   

       I’m guessing you’re British (from language/grammar).   

       Welcome again. Don’t be put off.   

       [8th], please be nice. It lulls them into a false sense of security.
Frankx, Nov 20 2019

       //We should all be valued on our own contribution// I'm not convinced that that's entirely true. Let's assume that I, by low cunning or high achievement, make a lump of money. In fact let's assume it is from high achievement. I choose to give that money to my daughter, as a gift, upon my death.   

       Are you saying that society should not allow that? We already have inheritance tax, meaning that the government gets a big chunk of money every time it's passed along (as well as when it's earned, when it's spent, and when they feel like it). Frankly, I'm not interested in a society where my efforts can't benefit my children (or whoever else I decide to leave things to).   

       It's also notable (and has been noted many times) that the abolition of hereditary wealth has wiped out a large group of philanthropists who were prepared to gamble on new ventures or simply give their money away.   

       I'm against hereditary poverty, but I'm also for hereditary wealth.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 20 2019

       //limiting anything that society-deadbeats can buy - the more "worthless" you are to society// Sounds like a type of Stalanism with the volume control up full. What are your proposals for dealing with troublesome dissenters? (as I would be)
xenzag, Nov 20 2019

       [cnd] if you want to shoot one dissenter as an example, I won't stand in your way.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 20 2019

       I read that as a compliment.
xenzag, Nov 20 2019

       We read it as targeting coordinates ...   

       // [8th], please be nice. //   

       Ahhhh ... got it, is it our turn to be the Good Cop ?
8th of 7, Nov 20 2019

       //Good Cop//... you know we’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. But if you start with Shih Tzu rather than Rottweiler, we might be able to extract more ideas/fun in the long term.
Frankx, Nov 20 2019

       Also, how does the concept of "rich/poor" go away (aside from hereditary wealth - see above)? For instance, suppose I invent something that everybody wants. I make it, and as the sole manufacturer I say "You can buy this, but it will cost you 3% of yourself, adjusted for your personal value." So, pretty soon I own 3% of a lot of people, and I am (for all intents and purposes) "rich" - all you've done is substitute a more complex measure in place of money.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 20 2019

       I don't understand. Currencies and prices already float, no?
theircompetitor, Nov 20 2019

       And morealso, suppose I am a customer wanting to buy this new and amazing product. I will clearly argue that my "value" is very high, so I have to pay less than 3% of me. But the seller will argue that my "value" is very low, so I have to pay more than 3% of me.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 20 2019

       // What if everything's "worth" was relative? //   

       It is already relative, as the prices get set by supply and demand.   

       // meal might cost you 0.1% of yourself for example - and after you're fed, the shopkeeper now owns 0.1% of you. //   

       How does the % get determined in such circumstances?   

       // you agree with the farmer that a days work will earn you 0.2% of the farmer //   

       How do I agree on that? How would I be able to say that a day's work will be worth that particular percentage? I need to know the relative value of their equity.   

       // add into this mix the concept of a universal basic income (UBI), and you can ensure that nobody will ever starve or go homeless //   

       So, how would the UBI work under these circumstances? Do I slowly but surely get back my own equity from everyone who has it?   

       While that may be a fairer way to define UBI, this idea does not explain how would UBI work under such system. Currently, similar UBI impleementation can be achieved through linking back the consumption to production, say, through making products bought be treated as investments (cosumption back-propagation tax, that buys stocks of companies making the products you buy) into companies. I.e., if you bought a lot of milk, you'd naturally own part of those enterprises that make it.
Mindey, Nov 20 2019

       Act 5,924, scene 11,423. In the potato shop.
enter Pocmloc, and PotatoShopKeeper.
Pocmloc: Hail, fair monger!
PotatoShopKeeper: Hello.
Pocmloc: OK I want 5kg of Maris Pipers please.
PotatoShopKeeper: Certainly sir. That'll be 0.1% of yourself.
Pocmloc: Well actually I'm running a bit low of my personal equity the day. I was out at a spaghetti-tower-building festival at the weekend and my team won the height-to-base ratio contest and so I had to buy all the rounds at the bar. But, I have some [8th]s here. Could I offer you 25% of an [8th]?
PotatoShopKeeper: What? Never heard of them. No way.
Pocmloc: OK well how about 0.001% of a [MaxwellBuchanan]?
PotatoShopKeeper: Now you're talking, but I wouldn't take less than 0.0023% [MB], because the transaction costs are steep on that one.
Pocmloc: Hmm that's tricky.
PotatoShopKeeper: Do you have any [BankofEngland]s?
Pocmloc: Well yes, of course, doesn't everyone? How many [BankOfEngland]s do you want for the potatoes?
PotatoShopKeeper: Well the usual rate is 0.000,000,000,007 [BofE]s per kg.
Pocmloc: Excellent. Here's 0.000,000,000,1 [BofE]s.
PotatoShopKeeper: And your change, 0.000,000,000,075 [BofE]s
Pocmloc: Perfect, thankyou.
PotatoShopKeeper: Enjoy the rest of your day!
exeunt, pursued by an economist
pocmloc, Nov 20 2019

       [Pocmloc], you've nailed it. Actually, isn't it what Ethereum already allows us to do, when everyone's got a cryptocurrency? The only way that I see this working, is if we have global risk estimate (say, through open data and proofs of contributions), and a large computer that estimates the prices of those tokens, rather than having the market decide them. However, how do we make the computer that prices well?
Mindey, Nov 20 2019

       You could think of it in terms of "respect" or "trust".
To continue the shopkeeper example, when you first purchase, you are "unknown", so things will "cost" you more. But once you've been a few times, the shopkeeper trusts you, so the "price" drops. Equally, you come to trust that the shopkeeper will have what you need and reward them with loyalty.
Of course, the most difficult part of this "alternative" is keeping track of all the microtransactions. But I guess there's probably an app for that...
neutrinos_shadow, Nov 20 2019

       One problem with this system, as proposed, is that it's all virtual. Unless there's meticulous and universal record keeping, there's nothing to stop me spending 10% of myself at each of eleven shops.   

       A much more practical system would be to make the transactions physical. So, if I want to buy a new helicopter, it's going to cost me an arm and a leg. I'll then need the helicopter adapted to be flown with only two remaining limbs, and for this presumably I will have to stump up, foot the bill and pay through the nose. Of course, if someone offers to do the adapting for less than that, I'll jump (well, hop) at the chance and bite their hand off - I'd definitely give them a thumb-up to go ahead. On the other hand (hey, gimme that back!), I might opt for a jet ski instead of the helicopter - I'd give my eye teeth for one of those.   

       The revised business model for weight-loss clinics would need some serious work.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 20 2019

       Less vaguely reminiscent of "The Merchant of Venice" using [MB]'s adjustment.
Skewed, Nov 22 2019

       How about we just use a renewable bodily resource instead of limbs & digits [Max], so blood then, supply & demand means universal donors would be worth more, so seeing as I think I am one (hmm, I'll have to see if I can find my donor details to check that), subject to confirmation of my own blood type (of course), I like that idea.
Skewed, Nov 22 2019

       Welcome to the half bakery. Wine is extra, don't pop the hullaballoon, beer is in the fridge, and watch out for the cudgels.
Voice, Nov 22 2019

       See David Graeber, Debt (2011) p.46 on (in fact the whole book really).   

       The idea above is shown basically to be how the entire concept of money originated.   

       I.e. not an original idea, superseded thousands of years ago, etc.
pocmloc, Nov 22 2019

       Welcome, [cnd]. This idea bodes well for your halfbaking career.   

       But: This might be the worst idea I've ever read. It's not the worst-conceived, or the most evil, but it has enough of each that it could be the worst overall. Therefore, take my fishbone as an honor.   

       Also, WTAGIPBAN.
notexactly, Nov 25 2019

       Interesting how nobody seems to have thought "how can we make this work", and most who chimed-in seems to have thought "how can we burn this idea down".   

       The "worth" of an individual is entirely algorithmic - no shopkeeper can set a price for a specific person - they set a global rate from which every shoppers price is determined based on and the respect commanded by the role each individual plays in society - doctors/teachers end up "paying less" (specifically - being able to afford more), while politicians, and every other role where society finds themselves unimpressed with ends up being able to afford less... which is entirely the point of this. You get "rich" in this new world, not by trying to "get more money", but instead, by trying to "command more respect" - which basically means do more good, be less of a shit, be more honest...   

       Deadbeats who can't figure out how to contribute anything that anyone else values, end up being unable to afford anything more than whatever "essentials" the UBI system grants them (basic food, lodgings, and healthcare).   

       Inheritance and gifting would probably still exist; so would scammers and thieves and politicians and tax...   

       @8th - your comment is the most amusing: this system specifically introduces a way to deal with the parasites you introduced :-)   

       Semi-relatedly, with some decent homomorphic encryption and graph-theory, this monetary system could be implemented without requiring any blockchains or centralized systems - just some decent math, a network, and an app (and some serious effort building inheritance / loss / theft / mistakes / etc handling into it)
cnd, Mar 18 2024

       I would be interested to see how you're going to assign global value without global information.
Voice, Mar 18 2024

       //entirely algorithmic [...] based on [...] respect//   

       So, does the algorithm measure how much other people respect you? That's difficult, because most other people have never heard of you. And the people who know you best might not have turned over all their personal data (including their opinion of you) to the algorithm.
Or, does the algorithm measure how much other people respect the *type* of person you are? That means (a) an arbitrarily constructed typology, and (b) an immediate rush to game that typology.
Or, does the algorithm decide how much *it* respects you? That means all of the problems above, plus a likely absence of transparency, plus the problem of generally creeping everybody out.
pertinax, Mar 19 2024

       Over four years since your last appearance [cnd]?   

       Was it a coma? you have a working time machine? or is it a cryo chamber you have in your possession?   

       Hoping for the cryo chamber.   

       Comas are a little mundane after all, ten a penny .. well, maybe a little more than that since the price of cudgels went up, but Sturton has one already and he still hasn't figured out what inflation is .. and a time machine is just so last century isn't it, you always end up there sooner or later when you have one.   

       We have of course discounted the idea that (having once found it) you just weren't interested enough in this wonderful edifice we lovingly call the halfbakery to bother with another visit for such an extended period of time as far too silly an idea to be worthy of any serious contemplation ;p
Skewed, Mar 19 2024


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