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Time Is Money

I just had an awesome idea for getting the economy going again. Instead of trading money for things, we'll just trade "time" for things. I know what you're thinking -- that sounds a lot like barter and we'll just run into the double coincidence of wants problem. But I've thought up an extra twist. We'll make up certificates, and each one is good for an hour worth of labor, any labor. We'll use them like money, except that they'll be more ... fun.

I know, I know, you're thinking this will never work, because low-skilled people will take advantage of the system by earning their hours doing something "money-cheap" like pet-sitting and then spending them on something "money-expensive" like wedding photography.

But, see, I know a guy at the Associated Press, and I bet I can get him to write an article celebrating how much money the advantage-takers are saving by using "time dollars" without even mentioning that (necessarily) people on the other sides of the transactions must be losing just as much:

The 28-year-old, who is fluent in English and Spanish and earns time dollars as a medical interpreter and by offering rides and pet-sitting, thought she would have to scale back when her fiance's hours at work were cut in half. Then fellow Community Exchange members suggested she use time dollars to pay for services that would typically cost hundreds of dollars.

[...]

In all, the wedding cost about 200 time dollars. By spending her time wisely, Villacreses figures she saved about \$2,000.

What's more, if she were using wicked regular dollars, then (assuming she could still trick people into trading expensive things for inexpensive things) she might be saving money at the expense of strangers or faceless corporations or maybe even foreigners. But thanks to the magic of time dollars, she's saving money that might have gone to people in her own community. That makes her part of The Circle of Giving!

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