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Living without money

 
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Living without money is nothing more than saying can we live without a widely agreed upon mode of acceptable exchange. The following from Wikipedia - notice what the Nixon admin did:

Fiat money
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yuan dynasty banknotes were the earliest fiat money.

Fiat money is money that derives its value from government regulation or law. The term fiat currency is used when the fiat money is used as the main currency of the country. The term derives from the Latin fiat ("let it be done", "it shall be").[1]

Fiat money originated in 11th century China,[2] and its use became widespread during the Yuan and Ming dynasties.[3] During the 13th century, Marco Polo described the fiat money of the Yuan Dynasty in his book The Travels of Marco Polo.[4][5] The Nixon Shock of 1971 ended the direct convertibility of the United States dollar to gold. Since then all reserve currencies have been fiat currencies, including the U.S. dollar and the Euro.[6]

and this from that radical zine Forbes:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/pascalemmanuelgobry/2013/01/08/all-money-is-fiat-money/


A good way to answer the question is to use the cliche "if - we - were - living - on - deserted - island" would money have value scenario.


 
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:Nina, I only answered in a general way to the title of the post!


I thought so but all the same I read through my posts and realized they sounded too all-or-nothing. [I have a habit I of saying things too strongly and then I have to correct them afterwards. Over the years this correcting has become almost a routine: sometimes I do it when there is no need for it Sorry everyone for babbling about myself and now back to the issue!]




Xisca Nicolas wrote:
We all agree I guess that we need to find other kind of wealth than money, and find other ways to exchange.


Yes, I think many of us agree on this one. I am one of them. Then there are many people on this forum who believe there is nothing inherently wrong with the current capitalistic system, all it needs is some adjusting so that it takes the environmental issues better into account. I respect this view too.

Xisca Nicolas wrote:In France exists the SEL = Système d'Echange Local.
Great, no need to translate!

But the currencies are based on the Euro! It was obvious when the country change from francs to euros!!!
I had proposed to use the hours and minutes as a currency, but they did not want to calculate so much for the change.... (sigh...)
I know that the idea has gone its way and that some groups use time as their currency!



There are time banks also here in Finland, I believe several actually. They use time as basis of their currency, I think the one in Helsinki calls its currency "Tovi" ("Moment" in English). What makes the system complicated is that they also exchange goods, not just services. Or at least they did at some point, I don't really know the actual situation right now. But I do know that time banks now have some problems with taxation. Some people view time banks as "grey economy" meaning that they don't pay taxes and that is wrong. The debate is going on and no one knows of the out come, will time banks be taxed in the future or not. But to tax time banks transactions would mean that someone in the tax office would have to convert Tovis to euros - taxes are paid in euros. In my mind this would be a setback to the system. The idea that Tovi has a value in euros and can be converted to euro doesn't sound appealing to me.

Xisca Nicolas wrote:

But the point was that only the rich can afford to downshift and save natural resources and the poor will just save natural resources because they have to which is not at all the same thing.



Which poors... The industrialized "poor" that still can buy more than their food are the ones who buy more low quality stuff, which have a very bad footprint because they must be thrown away quicker. they also buy more junk food.



Yes you are right on that one. It all depends on the country too, what the ecological footprints of different classes are. Many studies seem to have come to the conclusion that here in Finland, where the costs of living are high (especially housing and food) climate is cold and the biggest use of energy is heating the houses, it is the rich who have the biggest ecological footprint. They have the biggest apartments and they can afford to have several cars and so on. Although the rich are able to buy organic food, good quality stuff and so on, they also buy more stuff. "The poor" in Finland are people who can only just pay their rent and food but have no money left for much else. Or they are people who cannot pay their rent or food but the state takes care of these basic needs for them, but they still do not have very much money to spend on stuff. But you are right that the little money they do have will go to low-quality stuff because they want to get as much as they can for the few euros they have to spend. However, when adding all up, the ecological footprint of the poor is much smaller than that of the rich, in Finland. (When I talk of the poor I mean relative poverty, there are no people living in absolute poverty in Finland).

All these studies on ecological footprints are useful up to a point but my fear is that what will happen in my country (and perhaps in many other countries too, but I fear that Finns are particularly prone to this) is that people will get stuck on these comparisons, the poor blaming the rich and the rich blaming the poor, and all of that is not going to take us anywhere. The best strategy would be to acknowledge that our system is not good and we need to build a better one. Not get stuck on who was the most environmentally destructive in the past but focus instead on the solutions, ie. permaculture, of course!


Xisca Nicolas wrote:WE are the fools who prefer to get a few dollars, euros or pounds more...
...nd prefer to forget that our money is used by the banks as eggs that will hatch for them.

Stopping this is very easy.
Refuse the interests and keep your money in the account that bring you nothing.
Just because it will bring them nothing either.



Now that is an excellent idea! If everyone would do that the economic system would collapse because it would mean no more lending money to fuel economic growth and our system doesn't work if there is no growth (which is the best proof in my mind that our system is fundamentally unsound). A sudden collapse is of course not desirable but if we were to slowly but surely move into this direction, building alternative local economies at the same time then that is a strategy I'm enthusiastic about.
 
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Nina, I also say things strongly, and so I warn in my signature!
for me, this is just the best way to go ahead, because we are so slow for moving and changing, even when we want to.

About time as a currency, I really mean it for exchanging goods!

Yes it is easier to exchange 1h of math lesson for 1h of website building or car repairing.

What makes it exciting though, is to think "how long am I ready to work in exchange of getting this second hand computer"?
Do we forget that the money we earn is also about how many hours (full time, part time...) we work?
France also has a tax problem: I am almost sure that it depends if the person is professional in the proposed field of good or service.

About footprint: yes I do not understand that when one can afford it one builds a bigger house. So yes, the richer the heavier the footprint. And about accepting that junk goods that deteriorate are made, the poorer the heavier the footprint. But you are very right for that:

my fear is that what will happen ... is that people will get stuck on these comparisons, the poor blaming the rich and the rich blaming the poor, and all of that is not going to take us anywhere. The best strategy would be to acknowledge that our system is not good and we need to build a better one.

the general tendency is to feel powerless (the issue is so big!) and thus find culprits! Something like "everything would be better on earth if only we could eliminate x or y". All the extreme systems are based on a fear and a proposed solution in terms of "eliminating". This is often eliminating a certain behavior and not the people! Focusing on the solution could also sound like starting with looking for our responsibility.

I like when Paul says something like this, to focus on solutions and not on being angry at bad guys. Except that you cannot say that you are not angry when you are. And internal anger is unhealthy! Well, further on, as anger is very good for kicking one's ass and reacting, am I really "good" all the time? That is why I do not want bank interests.

And I have also decided that I will no more buy from Amazon, since an author told us here that they are responsible for price increase in books! Haha, no, Amazon is not the only culprit, as they have helpers... all their buyers, so it included myself. The problem is that the "walk your talk" attitude is costly to myself... And it is not so visible to me that it is costly to banks and big monopolies.
 
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i think the only vote that really counts is considering each of your dollar bills as a voting ballot!

its a small step but on an individual level its something one can do, consider very carefully what you are voting for with your dollar bills (or whatever other government recognized currency).

i'm very interested in alternative currency systems and systems of local exchange, a resource based economy, where money is just a tool used to make barter easier- rather than the other misuses and manipulations of the exploitative.

a lot of the alternative currency projects i have seen take off for a while seem to not work that well, or just dont get enough people to get into them to make it a good alternative. definitely seen some labor banks of hours, and alternative currency take off. at least for a while, and theres a lot of interest there...people are wanting this more and more lately especially...

the thing seems to be that there needs to be central large stores that back the currency, this is what i think it takes to have some thing like this take off in a huge way. so you knew there was a HUGE store, with most of your shopping list available, that accepts this currency, its more desirable as a real alternative.

another key thing could be that they also pay for their supplies and items for sale in large part with this alternative currency.

cause otherwise its just not big enough to take off and theres no central large places that will accept it, or even can accept it because they have to pay for the lights and store front in cash money, not the alternative currency they get so much of...i have seen this make places like the food co ops and different places that had accepted it, stop taking it because this becomes their issue- they get too much of it and cant circulate it easily and still have to pay their bills in cash.

then when the food co op stops taking , a lot of the momentum runs out because people arent as interested in it if they cant see where they can spend it easily.

i have visioned connected to the idea of trying to foster an alternative currency, and even tried to talk everyone i know into some form of this idea, a place where people could bring in just about anything they make locally and sell on a small scale (or well even on a large scale, but this would be more aimed towards a small operation where people dont produce enough to have their own business).

everything would have to be from within a hundred miles of there, with some possible exceptions for extremely useful simple things, toilet paper, canning jars, basic building stuff, etc. when the store would buy the things they would take anything of reasonable selling quality without preference, and offer to buy with either dollars, or TWICE the amount in local currency.

or maybe you could even do half and half, if someone wanted a little cash and a little of the alternative currency....but the point being you would give so much more value to those who would choose the alternative currency, and it could be used right at your store, as well as gained from whatever you brought in to trade....

i would seriously love it if there was a place like this every hundred miles or so =)

actually i have recently seen some small versions like this happening, and its very cool, but not neccessarily using alternative currency.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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People who work full time for the official currency, spend time in transport, spend time to take children to sport, music etc...
...do not have time for the local currency.
Even looking for free food, foraging etc, takes time.
Getting what you need from different shops takes more time than an all-in-one-place.

Before living without (or with less) money, we might have to start with "living with time"!
A little bit difficult to know where to start from actually!

Well, what makes my life possible is maybe no children, and surely no debt. I sold my house and my car, bought a less expensive place and that's all.
I accept to live with money for bartering and think the freedom problem is money as a debt.
 
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OK, this was an old thread. But right now this subject happens to be interesting to me (again). I am thinking over my 'future plans', how to accomplish all I want using as little money as possible. I am aware it is not possible without any money at all. Some needed things can only be paid with money, and in some cases you need to accept money for your products or services, because trading isn't possible.
By reading some interesting information from different (Dutch) freeconomy and freecycle websites and watching a video of the moneyless man in the UK, I found many things that are possible, even easy to do, without using money.
The most important is to start with a group of people (community or whatever you call it). The more people, the more skills, the more knowledge, the more interesting points of view. They bring in different materials (waste or growies) and tools (sure, money was paid once for those tools) to use for the project. The members of that group are the first 'trading partners', and this small group can grow out to a larger 'trading system'.

Only one problem I have imagining this 'money-low project' ... I can't figure it out in the country I live in now. A (sub-)tropical region makes it much easier (no heating or warm clothes needed) as well as a country without much rules and regulations ... And to come in such a country, at least I need to fly there in an airplane ...
 
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I stumbled on this thread by accident... and as it is a bit contentious, I'm not sure I want to touch it.  But here we go.  I am an American, born to a lower-middle class family.  Started working at age 14, always held 2 or more jobs up to age 30.  Still couldn't get ahead.  In 2011, I quit my job, packed up my kids, and left the USA.  I landed in Africa.  No, I didn't escape the need for money - but I sure don't need as much of it.  I don't heat my house, I don't own a car, I am not connected to the grid.  I grow/raise 80% of my foodstuff, I have no monthly bills.  The government still gets their hands in my pocket any time I buy from the market or a supermarket, or use public transport.  (VAT is 16%)  But in our remote village, we still barter a lot.   We recently made a deal with a neighbor to do the labor of putting sweet potato lines between our trees.  We provide the land, they provide the labor, we split the harvest.  No money changed hands.  I love that, and we make those kinds of deals a lot.  Banks here are pretty crooked and unstable, so I don't keep my money in the bank.  Instead we have, as my husband says, "four-legged bank accounts," and "feathered bank accounts."  We put our money into animals which have a ready market, namely goats and chickens.  First, they pay us "interest" in eggs and offspring.  Second, they are very "liquid" in that if we have a financial need, we can usually unload one or more in less than 24 hours.  I miss my family and friends in the USA, but I love the life we've created here.  I work hard on the farm, as hard as my body will allow, but I'm still able to be present for my kids, and have time to work on my art and writing. I have a LOT less stress.  Life moves at a much slower pace.  We make about $400 USD a month, from farm income and some related off farm income.  Unfortunately we aren't able to save much of that yet, but still, we live a pretty comfortable life, and I wouldn't go back to the USA for anything.
 
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Didn't read th whole thread but I wanted to put in my two cents (haha)--
--everyone here is right, but you're talking about apples and oranges
--there is no such thing ontologically as "the government," some mysterious Them that comes along and takes our money or passes laws or makes us believe things.  WE are the government.  WE are the people.  Money is not inherently needed to have a piece of land be cultivated.  It can be a way of persuading some people not to come along and steal my crops, but it isn't inherently helping the crops thrive or the sun shine or the water soak into the soil.  Money is a social construct.  And it IS going out of date as we speak.  It WILL be gone one day.  Just as surely as we went from the barter system to using money for exchange, we will one day have gone to a win-win post-monetary exchange system where we all focus on maximizing the gross benefit for everyone involved.  People already do this with friends and neighbors sometimes, and there's no mystical reason we can't do this on a global scale.  We just need to change our beliefs.

It's really important to understand the theoretical, and the practical.  Why? because it feels so much better to be aiming at the stars than aiming at the end of one's nose, and it's really important to start from where your feet are at the same time.

the Practical:
Now, I know there are some "bad apples" out there who do want to come along and steal your crops (have you pay taxes, sell you stuff you don't really want or need, etc.) and a lot of followers who don't recognize that they'd be way happier if they didn't participate in that system.  Ultimately we would ALL be happier, no exceptions, since we are all one big family, and denial of this is simply a lack of honesty, a compromise.  But we have to start from where we are, and where we are is mostly money-based.  So, for now, we take only as many steps forward as we can while "obtaining a yield" individually and taking care of ourselves.  We may need to make tough choices to turn away the beggar at the door who hasn't chosen to go forward with the changes, so we will have enough for the person who has.  If you can make more money, do it.  You sell the $5000 ham and have fun and educate a few people about permaculture in the process? great.  You sell the $5 ham and pay a few more bills? great.  Whatever is easiest for your individual personality.  Some people just can't stomach the former, others the latter.  

In the future, we can all have ham of the quality of the $5000 version.  We won't eat things excessively or obsessively to fill a void, but we'll enjoy the best-quality version of things when we do.  Of course we'll feed hogs on mast and let them roam free in pollutant-free areas, we won't have any pollution.  All of these things--"expensive" and cheap--can be put toward building the wide new world.  

 
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Maureen Atsali wrote:I stumbled on this thread by accident... and as it is a bit contentious, I'm not sure I want to touch it.  But here we go.  I am an American, born to a lower-middle class family.  Started working at age 14, always held 2 or more jobs up to age 30.  Still couldn't get ahead.  In 2011, I quit my job, packed up my kids, and left the USA.  I landed in Africa.  No, I didn't escape the need for money - but I sure don't need as much of it.  I don't heat my house, I don't own a car, I am not connected to the grid.  I grow/raise 80% of my foodstuff, I have no monthly bills.  The government still gets their hands in my pocket any time I buy from the market or a supermarket, or use public transport.  (VAT is 16%)  But in our remote village, we still barter a lot.   We recently made a deal with a neighbor to do the labor of putting sweet potato lines between our trees.  We provide the land, they provide the labor, we split the harvest.  No money changed hands.  I love that, and we make those kinds of deals a lot.  Banks here are pretty crooked and unstable, so I don't keep my money in the bank.  Instead we have, as my husband says, "four-legged bank accounts," and "feathered bank accounts."  We put our money into animals which have a ready market, namely goats and chickens.  First, they pay us "interest" in eggs and offspring.  Second, they are very "liquid" in that if we have a financial need, we can usually unload one or more in less than 24 hours.  I miss my family and friends in the USA, but I love the life we've created here.  I work hard on the farm, as hard as my body will allow, but I'm still able to be present for my kids, and have time to work on my art and writing. I have a LOT less stress.  Life moves at a much slower pace.  We make about $400 USD a month, from farm income and some related off farm income.  Unfortunately we aren't able to save much of that yet, but still, we live a pretty comfortable life, and I wouldn't go back to the USA for anything.



Maureen, what part of Africa are you in? Your situation sounds amazing...
 
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Maureen Atsali wrote:I stumbled on this thread by accident... and as it is a bit contentious, I'm not sure I want to touch it.  But here we go.  I am an American, born to a lower-middle class family.  Started working at age 14, always held 2 or more jobs up to age 30.  Still couldn't get ahead.  In 2011, I quit my job, packed up my kids, and left the USA.  I landed in Africa.  No, I didn't escape the need for money - but I sure don't need as much of it.  I don't heat my house, I don't own a car, I am not connected to the grid.  I grow/raise 80% of my foodstuff, I have no monthly bills.  The government still gets their hands in my pocket any time I buy from the market or a supermarket, or use public transport.  (VAT is 16%)  But in our remote village, we still barter a lot.   We recently made a deal with a neighbor to do the labor of putting sweet potato lines between our trees.  We provide the land, they provide the labor, we split the harvest.  No money changed hands.  I love that, and we make those kinds of deals a lot.  Banks here are pretty crooked and unstable, so I don't keep my money in the bank.  Instead we have, as my husband says, "four-legged bank accounts," and "feathered bank accounts."  We put our money into animals which have a ready market, namely goats and chickens.  First, they pay us "interest" in eggs and offspring.  Second, they are very "liquid" in that if we have a financial need, we can usually unload one or more in less than 24 hours.  I miss my family and friends in the USA, but I love the life we've created here.  I work hard on the farm, as hard as my body will allow, but I'm still able to be present for my kids, and have time to work on my art and writing. I have a LOT less stress.  Life moves at a much slower pace.  We make about $400 USD a month, from farm income and some related off farm income.  Unfortunately we aren't able to save much of that yet, but still, we live a pretty comfortable life, and I wouldn't go back to the USA for anything.



sorry, didn't have that kind of experience so i was wondering how difficult it is to gauge the value of a particular goods or labour.
i guess the key is both parties are happy?

i think it would be really good to have such a life, with low stress and a happy go lucky life. i would love to barter trade with my neighbours
 
Maureen Atsali
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Eddie,
I am in a rural village in Western Kenya.
 
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Shelly Randall wrote:I believe money is a convenience.  If I'm a butcher, it's hard to carry a side of beef to my neighbor to pay for some candles.  How is he supposed to make change?



haha i can actually visually him calculating and passing you 3 candles and 3/4 of a candle stick to pay for that slab of beef. lol
yeah i think money as a medium of exchange is the most convenient.

just that money is abused by a lot of those-who-could that may not be appropriate. not sure how bank manipulate money is appropriate.
 
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Well this seems to be a super old thread, but it was linked in the daily email, so....

I will add my bit.

I actually gave away pretty much everything I owned when I was 19. I lived in various places and worked where and when I felt the need. I didn't live without money, but I lived with a small handful of possessions. A few changes of clothes, a kettle, a radio. That was about it. The reason I needed money was for shelter, and for food. And because of this need, my soul did not feel at ease, I didn't want to be part of the rat race, or work 9-5 for the boss.

So when I met someone a few years later, who had bought and renovated an old ruin, and was attempting to grow their own food, I was very interested, and joined them to help with the process. We put in our own water supply and sewage, and we lived without electricity for many years. We worked on the land, and were lucky to have a lot of local stone and slate readily available to build and work with. (this is how I got into permaculture).

But no matter how hard we tried, for many years, we never managed to totally do without money. We lived on very little, but we never lived without any. Tools were the main thing we needed. None of us had any skill with smelting metal, and although I often used pieces of slate, attached to sticks, to hoe with, and other makeshift things, we needed saws, axes and so on, just to cut firewood to keep warm. Now a purist would say, all metal items can be replaced with flint, slate or pottery. And in theory this is true. But not many people in the modern world have the skill to make these things, or even the materials. Candles were another thing we never managed to have enough of, without buying them, even though we had several bee hives, but we could have expanded that. I did learn an amazing amount of skills though. I learned to spin, weave, make baskets, make flour from acorns, bake with the most random ingredients, forage for wild plants, treat basic ailments with herbs, make tinctures and infusions, grow stuff and save seed, take cuttings, make clay from what I dug from the earth, fire pots, work with wood.. the list goes on and on...

So my eventual summary on living without money, is that it is possible, however it is very very hard, and mostly it is hard because we don't have communities of people who are making different things to trade, but it is also hard because we can't run machines without fuel, or create them without metal, and although it is possible to make things with clay, wicker, twine and wool etc, it is super time consuming. Buying machine made things is something we have come to rely on very much in the modern world.

So eventually I opted for making a small living from my art. It is something I love to do, and also something that I managed to get a regular income from, but it doesn't take up all of my time, and I can work on my own timescale, as and when I feel the need. I use my small amount of money to buy things that I can't make, and that I do need.

And now I have quite a lot of things which I now call 'luxuries'. I have to admit, electricity is great, I love being able to read with an electric light, I love the computer/internet, I love my washing machine. Those are the things I missed the most, when we lived more frugally. But the things I miss about those early days, are the peace, it was so deeply peaceful. And also I miss the challenges, every day brought a new challenge, and I found it so invigorating and honestly satisfying to solve each one. And there are a few things that I never went back to, even after having more money again, television, dishwashers, soap, detergent, a car, to name but a few. Because some things we think we need, and we really just don't need them at all.

So I guess my take on this whole 'living without money' thing, is yes.. it is possible, if you want to give up a lot of the modern things we take for granted, mostly those related to electricity. Of course it is possible, because all human beings lived without money a few hundred years ago anyway, and they lived perfectly happily. I would recommend to anyone, who has never tried living with very little, to do it for a week, or a month, or a year, just so they can appreciate what they do have more keenly. But it is certainly not easy, and I would personally recommend that living more frugally, and naturally, is much better than trying to live without money altogether.
 
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My wife's village is very primitive and quite remote. It's in a deep gorge where they have never had a motor vehicle. Every house is made out of coconut and bamboo, or just bamboo. Metal roofing and a lack of headhunters, are the only indicators that it is not 1,000 or 5,000 years ago.

They use money. There's quite a bit of barter, within the community, but before making an exchange of goods, they mostly try to get a few pesos out of the person instead. Only when it's determined that a deal cannot be struck, they resort to barter. This is because they don't necessarily want the thing that the other person has to offer. They want to be able to take the value of what they have sold and store it or to obtain a different item than what the person has to barter.

So quite often a cash deal is made even though the person doesn't have cash.... I will sell you these bananas for 200 pesos. You don't have 200 pesos, so give me your extra machete, then when you go to town to sell some corn, you can come back with my two hundred pesos and I'll give you the machete back. Everybody with something to sell, seems to be running a pawn shop. This causes much discord, because sometimes people will try to keep the item even when the person comes back with the money. And it ties up a lot of useful things that people would be better keeping at home, like the extra machete.

That's how it goes in the most primitive place I've been. Money is really convenient and it reduces misunderstandings and intentional skullduggery.

Because of the general lack of cash amongst poor people, they have pretty much invented another currency. Charcoal. Charcoal is very light, non-perishable and it has a known value, which can be determined, based on how much it sells for at the highway. So this seems to be the least inconvenient barter item. Bags of charcoal can be passed from one household to another, as a medium of exchange and this can happen many times, until either someone burns the charcoal or they haul it up to the highway and sell it. It's really just an inconvenient place holder for money.

This is how quite poor, mostly uneducated people who live a long way from any bank are doing it.

If we got rid of all of the money tomorrow, people would invent it next week.
 
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Walter Jeffries, it sounds like you're saying that since barter is a form of currency, we may as well just use bank notes and coinage.

I don't think it's really possible in the modern world to live without money being spent on your behalf, even if you don't spend it yourself. In this respect, you are right that we can't live without money.

However, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Barter, although a form of currency, is more permie than "filthy lucre" because it takes resources that have been created, cultivated, gathered, salvaged, recycled or repaired locally and redistributes them locally for the benefit of the local community. It also builds healthy interdependence and a more self-sufficient, resilient community.

Greenbacks on the other hand promote decentralized wealth distribution, unhealthy competition, a financial caste system, avarice and a strong connection between wealth and the value of human life. So there's really no comparison, except that they are both methods of exchange.

Although the govt would love for us to pay taxes on our barters, there's very little they can really do about it if we don't. Even if the govt could somehow levy taxes on barter, it would be very easy to stay under the radar. I mean, we know that a great percentage of the population works under the table and the govt can't do anything about it even though they are paid in govt-printed money. So enforcing taxation upon barter would be a losing proposition in terms of money spent on undercover agents or however they would have to do it.

By your reasoning, it seems that since it costs money to buy seeds and amend soil and buy gardening tools, and since my time is worth at least minimum wage if not much more by virtue of my education and experience, I may as well go buy my veggies at the store. Maybe in dollars and cents, you're right. But there's more to life than dollars and cents, which I think is the spirit of this thread.
 
M Wilcox
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Dale Hodgins wrote:So quite often a cash deal is made even though the person doesn't have cash.... I will sell you these bananas for 200 pesos. You don't have 200 pesos, so give me your extra machete, then when you go to town to sell some corn, you can come back with my two hundred pesos and I'll give you the machete back. Everybody with something to sell, seems to be running a pawn shop. This causes much discord, because sometimes people will try to keep the item even when the person comes back with the money. And it ties up a lot of useful things that people would be better keeping at home, like the extra machete.

If we got rid of all of the money tomorrow, people would invent it next week.



Wow, Dale, you make some really good points! I guess barter would work better in a situation where people chose to do it even though they could use money if they had to. When it's a choice and not poverty-driven it could be more of an ideals-driven system.
 
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Money is interesting because so many people mention paper money and coins, but in the world today, it is not often used.

I use cash almost exclusively, but it is a dying currency type for sure. But because it (money) is something everyone wants, and yet cash itself is in such short supply, cash rules. Consider this, in the United States there is only $500 in paper currency for everyone in the United States, the bulk of "spending" being done electronically.

This is so true, because on many, many occasions, in my dealings in cash, I have drained the bank of its cash. On a few occasions they have asked me to come back the next day and pick up the remainder.





 
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From Daniel Suelo's website:

I simply got tired of acknowledging as real
this most common world-wide belief called money!

I simply got tired of being unreal.

Money is one of those intriguing things
that becomes real because you believe it is real.
Wild Nature, outside civilization,
runs on gift economy:


I am putting more of my eggs into the gift economy. And I find it really rewarding.
 
pollinator
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I am going to hazard an answer to the original question posed in this thread and say that, no, it is not possible to live without money.  Without federal reserve notes?  Sure.  It may be difficult to do in the modern age, but definitely possible.  But without money of any kind?  No.

Any attempt to do so would require living without society, and human beings are inherently averse to that.  I mean, if you're talking Richard Proenneke living alone in the wilderness for decades, then perhaps yes.  (Although even he had occasional replenishments of supplies flown in, which implies that he purchased them!)  But 99.99% of humans refuse to live like that, and likely couldn't survive even if they tried.

Thus, to be realistic, you are talking about people living in societies.  In societies, to make production work, people require a means of exchange.  Direct barter will only get you so far.  It has inherent limits.  For efficiency, tokens of value are used to facilitate exchange.  Those could be paper currency, valued objects (such as precious metals), religious icons, IOU notes, seashells, acorns, whatever.  Some may have inherent value, others may have only symbolic value.  Regardless, once that value is agreed and they are used as a medium of exchange, they become currency.  And that means money.
 
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As many have mentioned above I do think it is better to focus on living in a way that we use less money, than to try to go 100% without. We don't want to handicap ourselves, or alienate ourselves from the family and communities around us.  We do also need to care for our health if we want to continue functioning and being an inspiration for others.

To offer some perspective that is relatable, I once entered a competition called the "Eat Local Challenge", and it was optional whether we wanted to go 100% or 80%, or even less.  Being that I am somewhat competitive and enjoy doing things that most people would consider impossible, i opted to go with the 100% challenge. For 1 month eating only food that came from our area, of which the boundaries were easily determined because it was an island.  Long story short I won the challenge - getting first place. I did, however, learn by going through the process that 80% as a daily practice would be much better for my own well being.  

Most of the sustenance provided by others within the island community comes from highly mono cropped and non organic production. To get anything relatively clean and grown in backyard type settings often costed 5x as much, and used significant time and attention span - two forms of spiritual currencies.  Also, my wife did not join the challenge with me, and it was not something that really excited her.  I found myself often having to cook separately, and eating alone.  

What did help me win the challenge was the fact that I was already mostly living a permaculture life. I am well practiced in producing my own sustenance and foraging for what is available from the environment around me.  At the time I also had an awesome network of small farmers to tap into.  

During this challenge I made my own salt from evaporating clean ocean water, processed invasive species from our area including a pig and some pheasants, got milk, ghee,  butter and cheese from a friends cow sanctuary, honey from another friend who is a beekeeper, and a regular supply of fresh fruits from a few farms that i know don't use pesticides and herbicides.  Leafy greens I mostly wildcrafted. Starchy tubers and roots I was growing, and made up a large portion of the meals.  I also had close to a  hundred 5-6 year old Shiitake Mushroom logs entering their last legs of production. The mushrooms I ate almost daily, and had enough to be able to barter with occasionally for the things i wasn't producing or foraging for myself.  

This was on all a permie-stead that was totally off grid, although I did opt to eventually get a solar panel with a small battery. Water was 100% supplied by the rain, but I did use money to buy a berkey filter, which im still not sure if it is as good as claimed.  I was working toward becoming less dependent on some of these other things as I was able to learn alternative methods.  Ideally the solar panel would catch the sun energy and put it into a natural thermal mass instead of an expensive battery that would end up being toxic trash eventually. Im certain that there are ways we can naturally purify water for drinking without dependency on plastics or other industrialized products, but I haven't quite gotten that far with my evolution yet.  

So what were some lessons from the Eat Local Challenge?

I found that Id rather spend money on food that comes from the other side of the planet if its grown regeneratively or in a permaculture type setting, than to by from a neighbor who grows GMO monocrop with jug solutions from the store.  Nutritional needs may not always be met locally, especially for somebody suffering from mineral imbalances.

It also became more clear that relationships are key factor to living well.  Going 100% to get some attention might be great, but going 80% and keeping good relations alive, while keeping a better nutritional balance - is better.  

When it comes to money, it is a very difficult to talk about.  In practice people generally treat it as a form of God. Its all too often the bottom line of any decision.  The world we live in is so deeply conditioned to depend on this system, and protect it, that trying to go against it can destroy relationships and personal well being.  That, to me, is not worth it.  Id rather go 80%, save some of my own sanity, and  remain functional.  For me it is a better way to be an inspiration to others.  We don't want to alienate ourselves too much from the world around us if we want to make necessary changes towards much needed better directions.  

The question for me is how can we use money to become less dependent on money?  

What are other forms of natural currencies that we can tap into, and begin playing with?  

The more we do this, and share/teach about it, the further away we can get from a system that has been created by people with questionable motives.



 
Matthew Nistico
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Nina Jay wrote:Then there are many people on this forum who believe there is nothing inherently wrong with the current capitalistic system, all it needs is some adjusting so that it takes the environmental issues better into account. I respect this view too.


This statement caught my eye while skimming through the many contributions to this thread (so many! so much to read!).  I think it touches on something important, but misstates it slightly.

I don't actually believe that the capitalist system needs adjusting to take environmental issues better into account.  I think that capitalism works as intended just the way it is.  I believe instead that human beings need to re-educate themselves on environmental issues, thus developing different values to live by and teach to their children.  When that occurs, you will see them interacting with each other in different ways that reflect those changing values, and trends in the larger economy will naturally, inescapably follow suit.

The economy is typically discussed as if it were this massive, monolithic, inscrutable, and unstoppable force that just happens to people.  Like it were some massive object that falls onto us from out of the clear blue sky.  And while at times it may certainly feel that way, that isn't an accurate or particularly useful way to view it.  "The economy" merely represents the collective effect of billions of individual choices made by billions of individual people.  Most of the time, most of those people are going to make choices based on what they perceive as being best for themselves and/or for their immediate loyalty group.  This is simply human nature.  It is the product of millions of years of evolution and is not subject to change.  That is the strength of capitalism: it recognizes human nature for what it is and doesn't pretend to change it.

However, what a person views as "best for themselves" in any given economic encounter is subject to many factors and perspectives.  First of all, some people are just pathologically greedy, and sadly there's no way around that.  But most people are making choices more rationally than that, based on various factors as they perceive them.  Yes, they all want what's best for themselves, which phrase might seem to imply narrow self-interest and short-term thinking.  But it doesn't have to.

Longer-term thinking can and should also come into play.  Then, consideration of what is best for oneself also takes into account things like adhering to principles of fairness, whether according to internalized moral norms or the perceptions of others.  Things like adhering to the law, so to avoid censure or punishment.  Things like deferring immediate gain in favor of positive future outcomes.  Things like investing in the physical and social capital of one's community, from which one will inevitably benefit.

People often assume a false "selfish vs altruistic" dichotomy when it comes to economic choices.  But doing things that might be called altruistic often end up benefitting oneself in the long run.  All it takes is some longer-term thinking and a broader perspective.

Similarly, with enough education and awareness of environmental issues, a lot more people would come to realize that making economic choices that "are good for the environment" are also sound investments in one's own long-term wellbeing and economic success.  Thus, I don't see that capitalism is failing on the environmental front.  I see that few people from prior generations were taught to think of themselves as interactive participants in the larger environment.  Once they do see that, and they realize that the global economy is actually just a subset of the global ecosystem, I believe you will start to see economic patterns within the capitalist system shifting to the benefit of environmentally sustainable activities and away from destructive/extractive activities.  It's a bottom-up type of change.
 
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A lot of folks here talk about the negative aspects of taxes, and how to avoid them in order to live moneyless. I cannot disagree that most governments do things their taxpayers do not like, and often get bloated either with corruption or with all of the work to try and curb corruption - often with both. But.
Governments also provide services for the taxes they collect, which benefit moneyless people as well. Riding a bike to town? You are probably taking a road that was paid for by taxes. Hitchhiking? Ditto. For the guy living in the UK, he has access to taxpayer funded health care. Dumpster diving would be a lot more dangerous to your health if the garbage truck didn’t pick up the leftovers on a regular basis.
Now, the guy whose blog started this thread lives in a cave in Utah, and expresses the philosophy that if he gets injured and there is nobody around to gift him healing, he would be content to die. maybe he would stick to his guns in the case of a serious health issue. I am trying to decide if that level of consistency in his philosophy would be admirable. I don’t know if Mark Boyle (the UK guy) has the same philosophy, since I haven’t shelled out $17.50 for his book.
I guess my point is that, as many have pointed out, money is (among other things) a convenient proxy for labor, and taxes are a way of ensuring that the labor to create things we all benefit from is performed. Unless you are living entirely isolated from society, you will reap the rewards of the common good, and it is worth acknowledging that.
 
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Eric Thompson is correct. "I think a key to frugality is living beneath your means".
I don't think that you can live totally without money, certainly not if you have a family, or for any length of time. Barter is a way to sidestep the obligation of paying a sales tax to the Government: The Government cannot tax an exchange when they have no idea it even happened. Or you could move to a State where sales taxes are not collected.
However, we all have to pay real Estate taxes and we have an assessor that comes periodically to our house and checks if we have new 'stuff' so he can increase the value of our home and tax us on that value.
I hear that you may be able to sidestep this obligation as well by living in an actual mobile home: One that you can move so that you are never more than 6 months in one location. Of course, if you do that, you can kiss good bye to your ability to feed yourself from a garden or a plot of land. Dumpster diving is not something I would want for myself or my children. It certainly is not safe and I feel an obligation to the children born to me to provide as best as I can for them. Being homeless falls in the same category, and you can add personal safety to the list of problems with this lifestyle.
Help your children develop skills so they can find an occupation where they will be happy, even if they are not as rich as others, and follow the same rule: Try to live beneath your means. anything else is fraught with hazards and misery.
 
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Some posts in this thread, as well as Daniel Suelo's blog, reminds me a lot of Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (minus the telepathic gorilla!) While ancient etymology and seeking the deepest roots of a problem may be interesting, I personally feel more like looking at the situation as it is today, and try to find ways to live nicer.

I have this idea that currency is only necessary in societies with very low levels of trust between people. Say that we were living in a society with a high level of trust (difficult, alien concept, I know, but bear with me!) In such a society, if I have something I don't really need, and meet someone who does, I'll give it to them. Why would I demand that the same person, at the same time, give me pieces of metal, printed paper, electronic tokens or other symbols of "value"? If I trust that, in my own time of need, someone will give me whatever I need, why would I demand being given something that can be "traded" for aid or material resources at a later time?

I also think there is an intrinsic connection between trust and more egalitarian societies, one that goes both ways. Trust breeds egaliatarian relationships, egalitarianism breeds trust. A person who lives in a trustful society will not hang on to resources not needed, but rather let them go where they are needed, and thus the society will become egalitarian. On the other hand, anyone who has been raised to believe that everyone is out to exploit them, will pre-emptively exploit others to "come out ahead".

For me, the gift economy idea seems like a great way to make nicer societies. Incidentally, it's also very much in keeping with the core principles of permaculture...
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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I see this thread came back up again! Nice. I'm still interested in the topic ('money, can we do without?'). I read what I wrote 4 or 5 years ago. I can tell you: I'm still busy trying to be in a 'network' of people who do their best to use as little money (the kind created by the banks) as possible.

I am not creating this network, it is growing around me. People who are busy with the  activities I do, from the same 'love of nature' (or the permaculture ethics), are also interested in things like barter, gift-economy, exchange trade, etc.

There's a small group, within this 'network', having conversations (real life!) on the subject of money, what it is, what it isn't and how to use it less. We agree with many here that it's impossible to live totally without money while the current system around us is a 'money-system'.

Last month a new book was published about this subject. In Dutch. Written by someone who had grown up in several countries, but then as a teenage boy came to the Netherlands (as far as I know his parents were Dutch). He writes about his own experiences and thoughts.

One of his experiences is living without using money for a year. Maybe some here would say: he did NOT live without money. What he did was work-trading, like a wwoofer, without paying for it and being paid in food and shelter, not in money.

I don't think this book will be translated. It took him several years to write it (I followed the progress, he sent e-mail-newsletters about it). He wrote it in a poetic style, difficult to translate. If you can read Dutch, you can find more here: https://raymundo.earth/nl/geld-gaat-nooit-over-geld/over/
 
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    I read through all of the posts and I have to wonder if money was behind most of the thoughts. My wife and I got out of the "rat-race" a few  years ago. We are not rich, probably not even what most people would consider well off financially. However, we do have a couple of credit cards and a debit card. Like it or not we live in America and there are times we need them. We try not to use the credit cards except for emergencies and these are few and far between. But they do happen. Just last week the wife of a dear friend passed away. We wanted to go to the funeral. That took money as we needed to buy gasoline for the rental car which took a credit card and money to rent. We didn't want to put the mileage on our own vehicle. We pay taxes on not only our land but on anything we have to purchase from the stores. Not everything we desire can be traded for in our area. Our purchases are few but they are there nonetheless. The computer I am on is just one example. We are purchasing milk right now as none of our animals are giving us any. That's about 2 more months away. Like it or not we have to give them a break and the law here doesn't allow me to trade for any from another farm. And yes, I know there are ways around that but no one around here is willing to lose their property over it.
    We get buy on about $25.00 a week in groceries. For 2 people who babysit 3 grandchildren (2 are teenagers) after school 3 days a week, I consider that pretty good. We didn't eat out very often and we do not pay for entertainment with the exception of Amazon Unlimited because we are both voracious readers. We are fortunate enough to  have our small farm paid for but it took about 20 years on a 30 years mortgage. Someone had to work off the farm for that to happen because we needed to make sure we had the mortgage payment and health insurance. In our case my wife, who is a nurse, chose to do it because of my medical issues. I raised our children and during that time we spent much more money because the schools were always raising it and we wanted our children to fit in. Also, 3 of the 4 children took music so we purchased instruments, and yes one was a drummer. Second hand clothes were bought along with new ones, especially shoes as we wanted them to fit properly. That took more money.
    Now that our children are grown up Renee and I stay home. We don't need to work off the property to meet our needs. The property meets our needs and generates enough that we can help others. In fact, little by little, we are upgrading our house, which was built in 1852. It really does need some TLC. The back door was out of my league so we had to go to Home Depot. Almost $3,000.00 later we are still waiting for the screen door. Guess who used their credit card? But it does look nice and Renee is very happy so .....
    Oh, I forgot to mention that the grandchildren have figured out that if they sell animals at the local county 4-H fair they can make money. Guess who took out a small personal loan from the bank to buy his wife a travel trailer so she could take a break every now and then while at the fair? Correct again. And, of course, the place where we got the trailer didn't know us and was a few hours away so it took money which came from the bank, which takes payments so we are back to needing money.
    I guess my point is that in today's world we require a form of payment which is called money just to "fit in" and live day to day. Yes, we can get by for a short time without spending any. But if we desire to be a part of a first world country we have to pay the price. Being safe and having access to the luxuries we are used to means having some form of government. Do I personally think they are too large? Yes. But that is not the discussion. Money is. Having everything we are fortunate enough to have requires having money. We don't have to spend a lot each day and we can definitely spend it wisely. The important thing is to spend it on bettering yourself, your family, and your world. Don't support things which hurt those things I mentioned. A good example for me is that this year Renee and I are not going to purchase any prepared foods at all. Less chemicals, less packaging, less garbage in the landfill, etc. Instead we are going to use the extra money to support kickstarters that we believe will make a difference.
    It is money that is evil. It is how it used that can lead to hurting that does us harm. Maybe the discussion should be how to go back to the basics to save money.... and from there how to use it just a little more wisely.  Jeff  
 
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We're one of the oldest IC's in the US. We've had people living here for years. Hundreds, probably thousands, of people coming and going. And we've seen just about every kind of philosophy and life way there is. Including the "no money" people. They don't like money. They don't want money. They are determined to live without money. They don't need money. Before us, some lived in abandoned buildings, dumpster dived, lived with family or friends, walked everywhere. The most recent guy without money, walked bare foot everywhere, wrapped a blanket around himself as a sort of kilt/dress, and never spent or had a dime.

The problem was that he was perfectly happy to eat the food WE bought. He lived in the cabin WE built. HE stayed warm burning the wood WE provided. Produced using the chainsaw and gas WE had to buy. HE never lived without money. HE just refused to provide any of the money it took to cover HIS own needs. That is not living without money. That is just living on the charity of people and a system that provide everything required for an indolent person to live. ~~Don't misunderstand, he was a very nice guy. We enjoyed his presence for a good amount of time. But his lack of money to buy a bar of soap and his lack of money to buy some toothpaste, did in time become a sort of push.

Money is not evil or bad. It is merely a symbolic representation of value. It makes trade easier and more efficient. And, it is something no one can live without. You need money to buy the toothbrush to use to brush your teeth. Or you have teeth problems. You need money (or at least your neighbor needed money) to produce and purchase the blanket you are wearing. The simple fact is that unless you are willing (and able) to live in the woods and create every single thing you wear, eat, cut with, cook with, etc., you are going to need money, -or be gifted with money that someone else produced.

We humans have needed some form of value representation since the very earliest days we stepped from the trees. "Money" then may have taken the form of a pretty stone people traded for. It sometimes was little more than a twist of wire used as a medium of trade. But whatever came between needing and consuming was in fact money is some form or other.
 
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Folks,
perhaps this might help: Michael Tellinger's book, "UBUNTU Contributionism".  you can find it on Amazon.
in it he describes a detailed, well-researched method of ALL OF US to live without money.  you can learn more at their website, onesmalltown . org.
it is called the "One Small Town" movement, and we all should support it (i do).
it is already underway, with participating towns in Israel, the UK, and soon the USA.
take care,
dave
 
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I dislike much of the excesses of capitalism--hedge funds, private equity, "vertical integration," the drive for "growth" above all else.

However, I don't mind paying taxes and I don't mind using money (i.e. currency).

I am very much in favor of the "gift economy" as discussed above. Money can broaden my personal gift economy beyond my own small trusted circle. I live in a large city. I can give away my currants and pawpaws to people in my neighborhood, but I am not going to be carrying extra fruit around with me everywhere I go. I can easily carry around pocket change and small bills, though, and hand these out for the asking or to those in obvious need.  These are the "gleanings" of a modern urban society. A few dollars to the "streetwise" vendor, a handful of coins to the man shaking a cup outside the grocery store, a dollar to the "bucket boys" who give the street its rhythm. They can aggregate the small tokens from strangers and spend the proceeds as they wish.

On a larger scale, intangible money (my bank account, my credit card) can be used to send "gifts" to people I will never see through charities, and can be used to support groups, businesses, organizations that align with my values (like buying a slice of permie pie).
 
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I think there is always an exchange when we live in a community. It might not be money but even with Contributism there is an exchange of "something" for something else. Is a verbal agreement to help someone in the future after they have helped you buck hay a currency of time?  A local currency better than a dollar? I can't do everything. Being frugal, financialy responsible is not the same as not using a currency of some type. Assigning a value to an hours worth of time whether a dollar or a potato still is value for effort or skill. I love a good trade but for convenience a known ephemeral value is placed on the trade for convenience I call it a dollar. I didn't exchange a dollar but there was an exhange of items. Portability of a known and accepted thing is where currency is used.
 
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