Friday Flashback: The Virtuous Cycles of the Gift Economy

From two years ago: 

Gift Economy Cycles
Our society puts a value on human activities only when they can be monetized ñ when a transaction involving an exchange of money occurs. We tend to equate our time with money: If the ëmarket valueí of an hour of our time exceeds the cost of hiring someone else to mow our lawn or make a present for a loved one or look after our children or our home, we conclude that it makes sense to buy those services and to work longer hours to pay for them.

This false economy leads us to buy what we donít need, which requires us to work harder to pay for those unnecessary goods and services, leaving us even less time to look after ourselves and our own needs and forcing us, in a vicious cycle (cycle 1 in red on the chart above) of consumption and debt, to ëoutsourceí even more of the things we might be doing for ourselves. All this phony economic activity is added to the GDP and employment data. Do-it-yourself and other ëunpaidí work, and things we make for ourselves, are not considered ëeconomicí activities and hence not included in the statistics that drive our societyís political and economic decisions. No surprise then that the government encourages us to buy what we donít need and what we could provide for ourselves.

By contrast, the Gift Economy does not value monetized activity more highly than un-monetized activity. It suggests, on the contrary, that our time is invaluable and that therefore we should ëspendí it, as much as possible, doing things we love and things that are our personal responsibility, and only buy goods and services we cannot possibly provide for ourselves. In doing these things ourselves, we learn to do them better, more efficiently, more effectively and more economically, saving the cost of outsourcing them to a third party.

[The rest of this article explains how valuing our time highly produces Virtuous Cycle 2 (time-saving cycle) and hence Virtuous Cycles 3-5 (well-being, capacity and gift economy cycles), and why the existing political and economic powers are doing everything in our power toprevent us from doing so.]

Read the full article.

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1 Response to Friday Flashback: The Virtuous Cycles of the Gift Economy

  1. I looked into this when you first started talking about it back then. I realized that ( in Sweden at least) a lot of people do voluntary work. Some 400 hours a year. ( Compare that to 1600 hours a year work) That amounts to 1/4 of a working year…. That work should not be taxed, and it would be good if it could be recognised or rewarded in some way. I created COGS, circle of gifts as a gift currency. Unfortunately my programming skill let me down otherwise I was about to launch a web based gift currency. Its still a good idea… it would be tax free…..

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