Spaceweaver     Tue, Nov 4, 2008  Permanent link
This is a very creative and attractive idea. Regretfully it suffers from a few serious difficulties that are not obvious at first sight:

1. In order to implement such a system, one must establish a consensual and pretty rigid system that defines what is a task how long each task should take as a norm etc. Additionally the measures of influence and capacity should be established quite rigidly for such a system to be stable. How would you measure capacity and influence anyway? It seems to me that the underlying social system needed for such implementation will have to be very ordered centralized and rigid. What if not everybody agrees to how tasks are defined and their associated value? Is there a place for competition? For dispute and resolution?

2. People having niche capacities might become extremely influential in a manner that does not make any sense: Suppose I am a person who is accomplished in performing one very specific complex yet boring task no one else is interested in doing. I become the only one that can perform such a task, and since it is a very needed task I will probably gain a lot of influence by performing it. But me being the person I am, have no great ideas or tasks I need to ask anyone else to do. The influence and time that I will aggregate will not be recycled into the community, value will be lost.

3. The system proposed does not encourage creativity and innovation: Suppose I am an extremely innovative person who has an idea that amounts to a paradigm shift in the community I live in. Like it is always with novel paradigms, no one recognizes any value or utility in my ideas because everybody is still bound to old conceptions. No matter how capable or influential I might be, it will be very difficult to implement my ideas simply because they are outside of the consensus about what is valuable. I will have to spend a lot to gain very little in terms of my goals. Probably I will exhaust all my time achieving very little or nothing. This example shows that in general such a system as proposed here does not encourage change and innovation.

Money as we have today has many serious drawbacks. Yet, it realizes a very high abstraction of value, and therefore a very high degree of freedom. This freedom is an immense power that drives our economy, but this freedom allows for misuse and abuse as well. It seems to me that the system proposed here creates a high level regulation in the definition and usage of value, but it also seriously restricts the freedom represented by money. I think the problem we should address is how to responsibly handle the freedom that money as a concept allows and not how to restrict this freedom to ensure a morally balanced behavior.
     Wed, Nov 5, 2008  Permanent link
I like these ideas a lot. They're definitely the best first steps I've seen so far towards what we're looking for here. Of course, spaceweaver's comments here show that this very prototypical concept has a lot of wrinkles to be ironed out. Also, I'm going to ask a hard question here... How do the people less able to contribute work into this? Take, for example, someone with no legs. They're generally less able to contribute, so would they have less equality in time? Is there much capacity for balances in such a system?
Wildcat     Sun, Nov 9, 2008  Permanent link
see this: Time Dollars Service Exchange
nom the puppet     Wed, Mar 4, 2009  Permanent link
This is a really interesting alternative theory of value. Also a couple slight concerns, ones we don't have to worry about in the next few years or more, but still interesting to think about is deflation due to space travel in a relative universe, product/owner distinctions breaking down as computers outpace human production and taking the concept with it, suicide vs change debates (memory storage, identity issues, temporal abolitionists).

@spaceweaver: concerning #2: They will probably have to function as most people in that position do— as a connector. If they are needed by everyone, and they have a monopoly on that supply, they will be useful for bringing people together and spreading ideas, like a watering hole. They would have a tremendous social responsibility that could be checked by the population through coordinated voluntary labor/consumption strikes, but most necessities that don't provide for the public efficiently enough are usually out-competed by making them obsolete through innovation or price reduction. But most of these people doing the boring jobs will ultimately be calculators with no conscious functions. (hopefully)

concerning #3: innovators may be those complex function monopolizers in #2 but with interesting tasks. Because innovation is so difficult to measure in long term value, it will either have to be considered a sunk unknown cost or it will be felt in effects that are shared by all.

concerning #1: maybe a task could have a root of:
seconds of personal time + tip/consumer appreciation = value

this way, tip will account for the demand of the capabilities of that person's time while still endowing everyone with a base allowance as a given fact that they own their labor, over-tippers will be overwhelmed with offers thus creating a pressure to conform to standard pricing in public arenas, but still allowing for rare aberrant personal exchanges of appreciation to have more value. Under tippers will be pressured to conform up to normal price due to the reductions in offers of services made for their time, but still encouraging smart shopping practices. The best producer will become the most capable consumer. All producers will have an open source receipt system to track their average tip, that must be verified with the consumers checkbook in an international database. The problem is stopping hackers from price-gouging their appreciation values by gaining control consumers' checkbooks. It might encourage slow industries in the beginning, but with the level of technological capability available to us at the present it shouldn't be too hard to find the means of comfortable subsistence at an affordable cost. Hand made things might take on a whole new luxury value that couldn't be expressed in our old economic system.

I'm going to throw an idea out here, I'm not sure where it goes and I'd like to get a second opinion: What do you think of the statement 'Human subsistence and reproduction is an act of labor and should be treated as such.' in relation to the Ecommony ideas in this thread?