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The Sufficiency of Money Game

Submitted by on July 18, 2010 – 1:23 pmNo Comment

The game can be played with one or several people.  You can play it by yourself, with your family or a group of friends or strangers.   Imagine for the duration of the game that there is no scarcity of money.   The financial constraint on the realization of your dreams and aspirations has been magically lifted.   All the players assume that they have all the financial resources needed to make desired changes in the community they collective choose to focus on for the duration of the game.   This community can be your family, a neighborhood, a whole region, or a non-geographic community like a community of interest (an internet-based group of people who care about solar energy, for instance).

Then you answer these three questions:

1.    What is your respective vision for this community?   What would you each like to see happen?

2.   What talents and support is needed to fulfill your aspirations?  Who are the other people or organizations you need in order to be successful?

If you play this game with others, spend the first round getting everyone to state and explain their dream or vision, and why it inspires them.   In a second round, explore what is needed to accomplish your dream and how you might be able to help each other.   You will often find that your respective aspirations strengthen and synergize each other in unexpected ways.

Some of the goals for communities that have come up when this game has been played can include things like quality child care, better education or elderly care, infrastructure repair, housing rehabilitation, environmental cleanup, arts, entertainment, music, dance, theater, fun, better public transportation; crime prevention

What you will discover when playing this game is that there is a lot of work that needs to be done in our communities, in our cities, among the people and the families that we live with and around.   And there are people capable of and willing to do the work — people who have the skills and the knowledge to achieve these things.  Our problems are not caused by a scarcity of people or ideas.  There are even organizations who have the skills to hire the people and put them to work.  This could all be done.  What is missing?

What is missing is money.   Everyone is waiting for money.   If one thinks about it, it is a fascinating phenomenon.   Imagine a Martian landing in a poor neighborhood and seeing rundown communities, people sleeping in the streets, children without mentors or going hungry, trees and rivers dying from lack of care, ecological breakdowns and all of the other problems we face.   He would also discover that we know exactly what to do about all these things.  Finally, he would see that many people willing to work are either unemployed, or use only a part of their skills.  He would see that many have jobs but are not doing the work they are passionate about.  And that they are all waiting for money.  Imagine the Martian asking us to explain what is that strange ‘money’ thing we seem to be waiting for.   Could you tell him with a straight face that we are waiting for an ‘agreement within a community to use something — really almost anything — as a medium of exchange’?   And keep waiting?

Our Martian might leave wondering whether there is intelligent life on this planet.

What this game illustrates is what Edgar Cahn, the creator of Time Dollars, means when he says: “The real price we pay for money is the hold that money has on our sense of what is possible — the prison it builds for our imagination.”   The fact is that there is enough work to be done for everyone in your community to keep busy for the rest of his or her life: work that expresses our specific creativity.  Have we become so hypnotized by our fear of the scarcity of money that we are also fearing lack of worth?

So what can we do?  The short answer is that we can create complementary currencies designed to fulfill social functions that the national currency does not or cannot fulfill.  A variety of such community currencies are already successful out work around the world.   What we need is two complementary economic systems working in parallel.   On the one side a competitive global economy driven by the mainstream existing national money system, and a cooperative local economy fueled by community currencies.   The competitive economy would be the familiar ‘jobs’ of today paid in scarce national currency, while the cooperative economy could encompass all kinds of activities that people are happy to pay for in community currencies always available in sufficiency.    Unemployment and underemployment could be resolved by people doing work at improving their communities, and payable in local currency.

Of course, this game doesn’t deny that there are scarce resources on this planet,  and that a scarcity based currency such as our conventional national money is appropriate to exchange such resources. The problem is that we believe that all our exchanges need to rely on that one single currency…

From The Future of Money (Lietaer, 2001: p. 145-147)