Saturday, February 26, 2011

Time Banks

Time Banks have taken a while to catch on, but now they're being run by the City of New York and the Freelancer's Union. This year Mayor Bloomberg started NYC Service, a time bank for New Yorkers.

Freelancer's Union calls it "mutual aid in the form of an alternative currency system"; it's basic bartering. Bartering is as old as trade itself, but it's becoming more popular than conventional currency in today's feeble economy.

Time Banks are good for the cash strapped and those on a budget, but you have to have a skill to offer. They work like this: you donate an hour of your time to someone else and that hour you "donated" can be stored in a database and used to "purchase" an hour of someone else's time.

At the Freelancer's Union they say that everyone's time is equal, but I don't agree. A doctor's time, for example, should be worth more than mine. He can slice me open and fondle my liver without killing me; I can consolidate his student loans or write him a nice short story. That's not an equitable exchange, especially when you consider how much it cost him to pay for medical training in a New York Ivy League university.

But say you were an accountant needing some work done on your house; you could reach an agreement with a like-minded contractor without quibbling over fees. Or say you needed to learn photoshop and could offer one hour of training in return? This type of bartering could keep everyone in the community employed.

Visit Time Banks here for more information.

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