Unmet Needs and Unused Capacities: Time Banking as a Solution
In market economies many human activities have little or no money value; these include, especially, the kinds of caring labor that are supplied, mostly by women, mostly in homes and communities. Nevertheless, there is, as ever, a great need for such activities. At the same time, wealthy societies are producing ever more people who suffer from feeling that they have little or nothing of value to offer to the world. Retired people, in their growing numbers, are the most obvious examples, but teenagers and other youth, who in other societies can contribute significantly to the well-being of a family or a community, are seldom seen as assets in modern economies. Market-dominated societies have had difficulty expressing the value of work that is not organized for profit. Such work is undertaken in the public purpose economy, consisting of governments and their agencies as well as non-profit organizations. Much of this kind of work is also undertaken in the core economy, where households and communities carry on their internal activities of resource management, production, distribution, and consumption. The core economy and the public purpose economy, together with the market economy, are a trio that are differentiated by their goals; by what kind of demand they respond to; by how they define and reward work; and by what kind of currency they use. TimeBanking is an innovation in currency that turns out to affect all of these areas by getting us out of the binary box that classifies all contributions in just two ways: work (defined in market terms), or volunteering (defined as uncompensated labor). Responding effectively to different values and goals than those recognized in the market, TimeBanking has been shown able to respond to a wide variety of unmet needs by creating relationships where everyone can get some of their needs met, and everyone is valued for what they can offer.
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