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das monde:
The scrip/coupon system is an attractive alternative to direct accounting because of no need of checking balances and spreadsheets. So "baroqueness" is a factor in the co-op design. How is your system an improvement on simple bookkeeping?

Book-keeping is book-keeping: you currently either use cash (scrip) or banks. I agree that scrip is attractive in its simplicity, but it is open to counterfeiting etc. and still has to be issued (how and by whom?) and accounted for. Once it's out there its out there. It does nothing to stop the free-rider problem of people issuing scrip, building up debit balances, and doing no babysitting themselves.

Key problems for the lack of scalability of LETS schemes are firstly the absence of a framework of trust. LETS schemes only work with people who know each other, and indeed they are a great way of enabling people to get to know each other and to build trust. Experience is that around 60 members is probably optimal and 150 members is probably the maximum before a LETS scheme either fragments or implodes.

The second problem is that LETS administration - which covers not just accounting but also communication of 'needs and wants', social events etc - is paper based and burdensome. It often relies upon goodwill - which eventually runs out - or upon systems allocating LETS credits to the managers, which typically builds up unsustainably large balances for them which then silt up the system.

That is why there are numerous fragmented initiatives to automate administration and communication - but all of them rely upon volunteers to develop. If automated - and it is simply a matter of the application of an algorithm to balances - the system I advocate would work just as well as any other.

The outcome would essentially be electronic scrip sitting in your mobile phone, and such systems already exist. I could imagine a Babysitting scheme where participants maintain balances on their mobiles periodically updated (the periodic levy and dividend) by Admin through a tweet-style broadcast.

Members could send out 'request for bids' also via tweets when they need a baby sitter......indeed, it's probably already been done many times. They would then transfer Baby Hours bilaterally by text when they come home.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Nov 17th, 2009 at 05:46:53 AM EST
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