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The case for soft money

photo of Sepp Hasslberger

Sepp Hasslberger
22nd February 2012


Money is a tool to facilitate exchange.

Money follows, like everything else here on this physical plane, the principles of yin and yang. There is “hard” (yang) money and there is “soft” (yin) money. At this time, the world is dominated by yang money. My purpose with this article is to convince you that we need to find a better balance in matters of exchange and economics.

Do we need money at all?

There are two systems that have historically been used and that are – to varying degrees – still in use today, that allow us to exchange the fruits of our toil and those we appropriate from nature, without the use of money.

There is the gift, which does not require an immediate return. Actually, it’s nuanced. Some gifts are freely given without any expectation of return, but if we are talking about a “gift economy”, usually the expectation would be that everyone, in some way or another, plays ball. That means, you can’t just be a freeloader. Even in a gift economy, there is some expectation for all participants to pull their weight, meaning to participate in the giving. People who only receive and never give will find themselves marginalized, and rightly so. Flows do need to be balanced. If you only inflow (receive) and never get to the outflow part (the giving), things tend to get stuck. The inflow will stop sooner or later. The point is that, even in a gift economy, the principle of exchange cannot be violated with impunity.

Then there is barter. In a barter economy, we also need no money. The exchange is direct. The needs of one are matched with the offerings of another. It is rather cumbersome at times to find a match, and it isn’t always successful, but barter has been with us throughout history. It has served us well where money was not available or its use was not practical. Today, there are various initiatives to revive the barter economy. Computers allow us to provide better tools to match offerings and needs. Some of those tools merely let you choose from a larger number of diverse offerings. Others extend the barter concept from a one-on-one exchange to a circle of linked exchanges. A gives to B, who gives to C, who gives to D, who in turn gives to A. Circle closed. Barter has one big problem though. It generally has no time dimension. It is not easy, in a barter economy, to receive something today and to give maybe next week, or to provide your fruit to someone today when you actually don’t need anything of theirs right away. That is where money comes in.

Money is a placeholder in the business of exchange. It is a little reminder to everyone that you have already given and that, tomorrow, you are within your rights to ask that the exchange be completed. Money allows us to add the missing time dimension to barter-type exchanges.

You’ll find the rest of this article here:

Occupy Economy: The case for soft money

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One Response to “The case for soft money”

  1. Michel Bauwens Says:

    Sepp recommends this reaction which appeared on his own blog: http://blog.hasslberger.com/2012/02/occupy_money_-_the_case_for_so.html

    By Euroflycars on February 23, 2012 8:26 PM

    My comment of Feb 23, 2012, to Sepp Hasslberger’s article “Occupy economy – the case for soft money”

    As far as I know. Ying and Yang correspond to the fundamental duality of nature — hence, I don’t see how one of these two poles could be abolished. Much the same skepticism applies to those who want women to outnumber men in top positions: the really outperforming leaders we badly need are likely to be couples…

    Hence, we need a balance between hard and soft money — yet this balance is not so much a fundamental prerequisit as it is a resultant of a more fundamental balance in societal organization, i.e. the balance between the sedentary and the mobile elements of society.

    This balance, known in Nature as symbiosis, is what ensures the perennity of all livestock — not predation (as the current tenants of power tend to make us believe through movies like The Lion King, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Dysney’s latest documentary African cats), which is at best an epiphenomen of evolution, and at worst sheer parasitism.

    In order to sort out which elements of society should belong respectively to the sedentary and the mobile sectors, we have to take a closer look at symbiosis as Mother Nature has evolved it:

    The generic rule of symbiosis is collaboration between species, with a large predominance of vegetal/animal partnerships committed to the recombination of vegetal ADN between distant individuals, and subsequent geographical spreading of new identities through dissemination of seeds — whereby the first step, called pollinization, is mainly carried out by flying animals, and the second by both terrestrian and flying animals through their excrements containing non digested seed. Note that some vegetals do it all by themselves through airborne seeds of the helicopter or parachute type (which by the way reminds us that neither the windmill and the chopper, nor the parachute are human inventions).

    I guess hard money should belong to the sedentary sector (maternity hospitals, nurseries, kindergartens, public schools, colleges, universities, high-schools, utilities, public offices, hospitals, old age homes) with, however, part of its various professionnal actors as well as users pertaining to the mobile sector where independent and private entities (factories, offices) and their actors are yet predominant.

    This symbiotic societal structure calls for highly developped individual mobility, i.e. a degree of freedom of movement by far not granted by the automobile, as it is tightly confined to a one-dimensional infrastructure (the road network) not only belonging to the State, but also leading only to places where the State deems to let its citizens go to — whereby the only transport mode offering the required quality of individual freedom of movement is the vertical-take-off-and-landing personal aircraft.

    Moreover, in order to minimize the cost of access roads, buildings tend to concentrate along roads and road crossings — a phenomenon which has led to insanely huge urban concentrations and sprawling of suburbs, with the collateral damage of emptying the surrounding countryside to the profit of socially and environmentally damageable industrial agriculture.

    Hence, the first step to be undertaken is to have the Human Rights Chart’s first article stating that every human being is granted ownership of a portion of land sufficient to grow enough food for himself of herself, in order to get people out of their multi-storey urban dwellings and back to the country — which calls for large-scale land redistribution. The article should of course stipulate that personal land cannot be sold before the owner has reached a minimum age, and that the money can only be used for specific categories of investment, along with a limitation of land surface acquirable by any individual or entity.

    In Switzerland, the part of farmers is less than 3% of the population, whereas I guess it should amount to anything like 20% to 30% — and considering that state-of-the-art agricultural appliances and machinery allow for part-time farming, a new generation of half-time farmers could have their other half-time dedicated to any of the other professions, either by teleworking or commuting.

    Only once these prerequisits concretized, could we start pondering the best way to balance hard and soft money — noticing by the way that massively popularized individual aeromobility, together with the computer-based facilities mentioned by the author, would significantly boost the barter part of the new economy.

    Finally, since the substrate, i.e. the soil for a new, highly dynamic symbiot of the existing urban society has been created by this very same urban concentration in the form of emptied landscapes around the big cities, the transition might not be as slow as predicted by the author if in a first stage the actors of this new symbiot were able to rapidly occupy these empty spaces, thus ensuring their self-sustainability which I regard as a sine qua non prerequisit for the second stage, i.e. occupying the ailing urban economy.

    In order to greatly speed up the initial phase of the process, the architecture of the personal homes of the new farmer community shoud be of the spherical type standing on a slim stem, so as to look like a leaf tree from a distance when covered with vegetation — and a tiny sphere, at that, since neither kitchen, nor bathroom, nor laundry room are needed if the inhabitants can fly with their Personal Aircraft to collective sites where to take a shower, a swim, and a meal, while having their worn clothes processed in the launderette. Also this tiny sphere would be extremely lightweight compared to a rectangular house, so as to be transportable throug the airspace over long distances, which allows for mass-production of Personal Homes with a price tag comparable to a motorcar.

    After the PC, watch out for the PA and the PH !

    And I nearly forgot this: for practical reasons, the new-age part-time farmer community is deemed to entail a dramatic downsizing of dairy livestock in favor of vegetal crops, thus eliminating one of the biggest environmental pollution sources.

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