Posts tagged ‘value-creation’

November 24, 2008

A cashless society?

I’m following a VERY interesting blog that develops scenarios of a cashless society or a society with alternative currencies system. The discussion in the blog called Kashklash is animated by very interesting people, such as Bruce Sterling, Joshua Klein, Nicolas Nova, Irene Cassarino. It explore the scenarios dominated by digital currencies, online communism, Bartering systems and many other hypotheses. There are also some interesting dilemmas: Bruce Sterling for instance, propose the question of how to rob a cashless bank. I was thinking of another question: what happens to tax and the whole taxation system?

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We can see the taxation system from two points of view:

1. The taxation system generates income to be spent in services of public utility, thus offering equal opportunities to access to fundamental social services, such as healthcare, transport, etc.

2. The taxation system redistributes the wellbeing created by value-creation activities.In this sense it is a way to withdraw a percentage of value created by some citizens, in order to reduce inequalities and redistribute wealth through public services and infrastructure

Currencies are a good tool to provide quantitative measurement for the second point of view: money is essential to quantify value creation and therefore to calculate the percentage of withdrawal, it may not be 100% correct, but it works reasonably. If we get rid of currencies or replace them with more uncertain or qualitative tools -such as solidarity, trust or time -the redistribution of value creation becomes much more complex. Some government have considered this. The Danish government, for instance is regulating Local Exchange Trade Systems (LETS), though I do not know how. The blog also report of a similar initiative taken by the Chinese government.

If we consider alternative currencies without considering alternative ways of redistributing added value we risk to end in a US-like individualistic system. How do we do that? Can we even think of a solution in this scenario? This, from my point of view (as a designer) is a very interesting dilemma.