Money is not the Only Value Measurement System

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By Geoff Chesshire at :


"What I have learned is that we are missing a huge opportunity by conflating credit (reputation) with money (exchange medium/measure). The missed opportunity is the ability to recognize the value of all that we receive without payment, without which we would have nothing to exchange, no economy and no life. A more general notion of "currency" is any medium/measure for recognizing flow of value. Money is not the only kind of currency, as exchange is not the only kind of flow. Likewise, a more general notion of "credit" is reputation for actually doing good, for contributing to the vitality of the systems in which we participate. Credit is not merely capacity for debt-service. For example, the sun does not receive payment in exchange for the energy it provides to the earth. However, it has such a solid reputation for reliably providing this energy that we take it completely for granted. Plants do not receive payment for photosynthesis, which provides us with food, clothing, shelter, fuel and much more. However, they have a reputation for providing incredible abundance and diversity of valuable products. Likewise the animals, and even people working under miserable conditions. Community organizations and volunteers typically do not receive payment for their many essential services, certainly not commensurate with the value of these services. Family members do not receive payment for household work; neither is the value of this work recognized as contributing to the economy. The solution to the problem of how to recognize these flows of value is not more creative use of exchange accounting, because this would entail further enclosure of the commons and strengthening of disastrous hierarchical systems of domination. The solution is to give recognition, reputation and credit for all of this unrecognized flow of value. Credit establishes the capacity of people and businesses to participate in the economy. However, more fundamentally and additionally, this recognition establishes the reputation of all of the participants (not just people and businesses) for their contributions to the economy, not only to the production/consumption economy of market exchange, but additionally to the natural economies of family, community, bioregion and planet. This is how we can begin to recognize these living systems as valuable both in their own right and for their service to us. This is how we can learn to contribute to the health of these systems, instead of merely exploiting them as externalities. To account for these contributions, the key is to develop quantitative measures of system health, and to recognize the extent to which various kinds participation in the system contribute to these measures. We need to think about what makes life worth living, and start using measures that correlate with vitality, diversity, resilience, abundance, joy, etc. We need to stop using economic measures that promote scarcity, exploitation and fear. Ecology is real economy, minus the hubris of our species."

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See our entries on

  1. Wealth Typology
  2. Levels of Wealth
  3. Wealth Acknowledgment Systems