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A Currency Proposal for Liquid Ownership

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
30th September 2013


A proposal by Apostolis Xekoukoulotakis:

A currency proposal

This is a currency proposal that tries to block the accumulation of money to a few people.

During the last years, people all over the world have witnessed the destruction of their livelihoods while at the same time a few people became richer and richer.
That had led to the mobilization of people who called themselves the 99%. This raises the question of what alternatives there are that could create a world with fewer inequalities. This currency is proposed as a solution to this problem.

First of all, we need to understand why we have such an inequality today. To do that, we first have to analyze the production and exchange process.

The exchange process

The most basic example is that of 2 people producing and exchanging their products. The exchange ratio will be determined by 2 factors, the use value one gets from the product and the effort the other put to produce it, and vice versa.

But there are boundaries,one’s capabilities cannot exceed a value and thus one would have to put at least a specific amount of effort. Moreover one’s needs are not that different than other people and even if he had a lot of needs, he wouldn’t be able to give more than his capabilities allow him to produce. None of the above differences can explain why some people earn more than 100 times the average person’s earnings.

The only way to explain this difference is that a person is able to have favorable ratios than others in multiple transactions. Since the amount of his product is bounded by his capabilities, the number of transactions with his product are bounded as well.

On the contrary, if one chains multiple transactions, then assuming that he is able to have favorable ratios in many transactions, he could theoretically increase the value of his products indefinitely. How could a person then be able to find such a chain of transactions?

Let’s analyze this.

For an intermediary transaction to increase the value of the first person, there must be a reason why the second person would forfeit part of his value.

Some reasons:

a) the second cannot do without the first’s product

b) rarity of the first’s product

For those reasons to exist in multiple chained transactions with multiple products, it would be quite impossible to happen if it were consumer goods.
(try creating an example)

On the contrary, this is possible with industrial goods.

Now, I will describe the production process that lead to the accumulation of money to a few people plus my proposal to the problem.

It is important to understand 2 properties of the production process.

The production process

a)the cycle of accumulation: Even today that we have a centralization of power, in order for money to create more money, one needs to spread an amount of money to multiple people, the workers who will work for the capitalist so that he eventually gets more money. Thus this cycle of money starts from a centralized point to a distributed number of workers and eventually back to the centralized point.

b) There are 2 types of work in most production processes, the one is the initial work for the construction of a factory or other tools. This is called fixed capital. The other is the work of the people that operate the tools and the factory. The second workers cannot pay in advance the first workers. Thus they rely on the capitalist to give the money and in return they sell their working power lower than the price they would ask otherwise.

Now I’ ll give an example.

Let’s say that we are able to track the transfers of property, either products or money.

Lets also assume for this example that we only have worker cooperatives that own the tools they are using in direct contrast to current capitalism.

Capitalist –>Factory Workers –>Workers—>Consumers—\
^ |
\——————————————————————————/

Cap gives money to factory workers, and they give him a factory. Cap gives the factory to the workers, and they accept to give him back a percentage of their earnings.
Here lies a problem:

The money that the capitalist payed the factory workers is different than the money he got from the Workers. This is due to b).

Because the reason the capitalist managed to have favorable ratios was that he had a lot of money/products at a specific time, the next deal, he will make, will be even more favorable since he has even more money/products. Thus the production process gives an increased probability to have favorable exchange ratios for those who have money. This, I argue, is the reason of accumulation of money/products.

The proposal

My proposal is that the workers in general,(here the factory workers) should be able to reclaim back their products and the money one gets from them in a future time.

This is how it can be done.

At any time, the workers(here the factory workers) make a cheaper offer of their products to the consumers (here the workers).

At the same time, they are obliged to build a new factory for the capitalist.

Thus, they switch back their old work with new work.

If we allow that, there can be no profits for the capitalist, or the profits will be decentralizedly split between the factory workers.

Thus because of a) we have a distributed ownership of products/money.

Till now I have used the term money quite vaguely. What I really mean is that each worker/worker cooperative creates his own currencies which correspond to the products they make.

ex.

I make clothes, thus I have a t-shirt currency.

I own 5 bread currencies, 30 chair c. and 6 motorbike c.

I give 6 motorbile c in exchange for 2 car c.

Unless I explicitelly state that the car c. is for personal use and thus non-transferable, the motorbike workers could reclaim their 6 motorbike c. and thus the 2 car c. i got.

They could offer to give my 6 bike c. in exchange of 1.5 car c.
I would receive 6 new motorbike currencies.

[edit]Liquid Ownership and Worker Cooperatives

A big problem of Worker Cooperatives is that of having workers own the tools they use. Because some workers might not have a lot of money to participate in the capital accumulation of the worker cooperative, after awhile worker cooperatives tend to become capitalistic.

On the contrary, if we are able to sanitize lending money, then any worker could get a loan and any worker cooperative could always have the perfect distribution of ownership. Thus creating a coalition of worker cooperatives that accept the below rule becomes an easy problem.

“All workers have equal ownership on the tools of the production and an equal part in the decision making.”

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3 Responses to “A Currency Proposal for Liquid Ownership”

  1. Matthew Slater Says:

    I can’t see what is advanced by making this argument.
    There is no shortage of arguments for equal ownership of the tools of production, and little evidence to suggest that these matters are decided by weighing up arguments.

  2. Apostolis xekoukoulotakis Says:

    This is a proposal that blocks the accumulation of money to a few People.
    I could argue that there hasn’t been another currency that can achieve this, so this is by itself an advancement.

    Equal ownership is one of the prerequisitives for this solution to work.

    Apart from the above, this is not a theoretical proposal. A software implementation is under way.

  3. sebastien Says:

    An old debate on production/ownership which is simplified.. and overcomplexified with a lot of currencies..

    Replace all of your currency by time as currency… everyone has time, even in time of crisis and money devaluatiom…. can exchange against product (accumulation of the processing time by the various layouts of the product)… organize by task to arrange for different worker speed. and evaluate cost of ressource by time /effort to replenish (like wood) or by rarity of commodity (oil coke which can be evaluated by resource needs spreaded among future generations)

    Competition remain between the various industries to offer smaller time cost and performance. Needed industry could have a factor/value increased due its rarity or high demand.. like offering 1h30 of work for 1 hour task gathering trash. or adjusting prices as per demand. logic in that is that hard work requires more rest /energy consumption than easy task job. maybe a maximum of 2h per hour of task should be implemented to avoid unfair accumulation. and the prices of each job would be gradually evaluated by needs/demands…

    so all of your distributed ownership would resolve in time currency, which is much simplier… and fair.

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