Fungible Funds

Fungible Funds

With all of the twists and turns of the economy, people may be
feeling at the whim of the market’s touchiness. But Seneca Burr and
Paul Saint-Amour in Swallowtail remind us that– even
in the U.S.–capitalism is not the only system out there, nor does
it have to be the main one.

‘These days when we think of the word ‘economy,’ we envision the
baffling, impersonal machinery of the national economy,’ they
write. ‘This Economy with a capital E is the monolith that all
roads, both national and personal, lead to, an edifice as immovable
as it is incomprehensible to the average citizen.’

But there are other, more subtle ‘markets’ that govern daily life,
one being the ‘gift economy,’ the basic system of most households
that relies on ‘reciprocal favors founded in goodwill rather than
dictated by contracts.’ (The writers point out that the original
meaning of ‘economy’ (from the Greek ‘oikonomos’) was ‘the rules of
the home.’)

But just how much of a gift economy remains in the U.S., and how
does it survive amid capitalism’s ‘buy, buy, buy’ imperative? The
writers say the Internet is one vestige of a gift economy because
it has not been commodified– yet. ‘The nature of the gift lies in
its donation and circulation,’ they write, ‘ The moment that
process is halted, the market takes over, the gift economy dies,
and the community pays dearly for its loss.’
–Julie Madsen
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RELATED LINKS:
Bartering Networks, Jennifer Haupt,
iVillage


Natural Capitalism,
Paul Hawken, MotherJones

Bartering Services Taking Off in Twin
Cities,
Harvey Meyer, The Green Guide

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