Alternative Currency

I’m reading Cory Doctorow’s semi-satirical novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Perhaps the most intriguing concept in the book is that there is no currency, as we would recognize it. This is because there’s really no work to be done and so earning money in exchange for labor is an almost meaningless concept.

Instead, “woofie” is given based on mutual respect (whether its for a job well down or a good conversation). Woofie is used as the de facto currency, and will buy you anything you need, but it also seems to be self-reproducing. In other words, I don’t have to give up my own woofie to give some to another.

It’s a neat idea, and it makes sense in a society where one’s social capital is more important than one’s labor skill. It seems to me, however, that this would produce hyper-social societies, where “loners” are doomed to be poor, and only the super-rich can afford to take a social holiday.

4 Comments  »

  1. > “woofie” is given based on mutual respect (whether its for a job well down or a good conversation). Woofie is used as the de facto currency, and will buy you anything you need, but it also seems to be self-reproducing. In other words, I don’t have to give up my own woofie to give some to another.

    Jct: That’s how a LETS timebank works.
    “IOU-1-Hour” is given based on mutual respect (whether its for a job well down or a good conversation). “IOU-1-Hour” is used as the de facto currency, and will buy you anything you need, but it also seems to be self-reproducing. In other words, I don’t have to give up my own “IOU 1 Hour” to give some to another.

    And in Africa, you can transfer “I(IOU-1-Minute) by cellphone already!

    • Zachary Kurtz says:

      That sounds interesting, but I’m wondering if “time” is the most accurate way to valuate one’s labor.

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