[ox-en] Re: Open Source and Open Money
- From: ernie yacub <yacinfo mars.ark.com>
- Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 10:36:57 -0800
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.
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
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.
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.