Money has value based on the mutual agreement that money has value. This means money only has the reality we give it. So why not agree on a universal currency? It doesn't have to be universally accepted right away. If a large enough pool of individuals are willing to agree upon its value they can trade
goods for these imaginary credits. Receiving goods in exchange for credits will inforce in the minds of people the value of the credits, and they are in turn willing to sell things for credits.
I'm kicking around the idea of starting an online auction based on universal currency. People might decide to sell personal items that the're just glad to get rid of anyway. A goldfish bowl, some old highschool textbooks and so on. Each user who signs up to the site will start with a certain number of credits. They can post things which people will bid for in exchange for credits in order to earn more credits. Or they will use their credits to bid on other items.
Thus far the whole system works in a vacuum with a fixed amount of credits circulating back and forth between registered users in exchange for goods. But eventually the amount of transactions going on will be limited by the total number of credits in the entire community. So a way has to be found to inject more credits into the system. So you have to set up a way for users to produce something of value in order to earn more credits.
For instance, the auction site could also contain a Q&A service based on any conceivable topic where experts sign up and answer questions in their various fields. The people who ask the questions then rate the quality of the answers given by the experts and this is how the experts earn points.
Or the site could contain a distributed computing application like the SETI project does. Users register and download the software and contribute their PC's idle time to processing a difficult math problem or simulating certain chemical reactions for cancer research, etc. In return for their PC time they make an hourly wage of points that can be used for bidding in the auction.
Then, one thing leading to another, people can start selling things for points at a fixed price. Start off with the fun, gamish auction but as people become more and more serious and accepting of the value of credits, turn the site into an actual online catalog where you can purchase items from businesses willing to sell merchandise for credits. And why would they do this? Because they can also BUY merchandise for credits from other users in the community! All without having to spend a single cent of "real" cash.
This won't work for people who purchase the stock they sell from vendors, of course. They would have to work out some elaborate triangle arrangement where they purchase stock, sell it for points, use the points to purchase items of more value than the stock they sold, and then sell those items for "real" cash elsewhere. There might be people willing to do that, to work out deals with businesses that are selling merchandise in exchange for points. But the primary focus at first would be actually finding such businesses.
They would have to be people in the creative field. People who write their own books and articles. People who make various arts and crafts or usefull widgets and nick-nacks or software as a hobby. In fact, software could become quite a popular product in this arena. Developers would write their own mini-apps such as Windows themes and skins, or universal calculators, or games, or their own home-brewed firewall programs, or mp3 players, and sell them for points. But people who make their own products would be the first credit-based businesses.
I can't really predict the exact course of evolution of this system, but if it can catch on in peoples minds, they will find ways to make it work.
This will make it possible for people in India for example, where the American dollar is 44 rupees, to purchase something for the exact same point value as someone in America. And then sell it to support their families. And I can only wonder at what effect this would have on the corporate giants of the world. In fact, I'm very interested in what effect this would have on the corporate giants of the world if it really caught on in a big way. What would happen?
Even if you don't think the idea would work, just the thought of scaring the bejeesus out of bloated billion-dollar international monopoly sweatshop-running S--t F--ks by means of a universal currency backed by the anarchic power of the net is enough to get me off.