Gavin Cameron pans LETS
>Date: Fri Feb 19 12:59:33 1999 >From: firstname.lastname@example.org ("Alan Sloan") >Subject: [lets] Re: Just to wind you up.... >I just thought I'd paste this from another list, authored by a Gavin >Cameron. it raises a couple of issues which have not actually been a >problem so far in my experience of LETS, but agreed, they are >potentially real enough. the strength of local LETS, ie their small >and personal nature, is turned upside down here. Community building >is being seen as isolationism. JCT: Just like we could be joyously looking at a half full glass of nectar or bemoaning it as half empty.
>"A quick note on local trading schemes. It seems to me that these >schemes have to potential to make the participants poorer rather than >richer. JCT: Most of the people who hail LETS the LETS anti-poverty system as a financial lifeboat are already poor and can hardly get any poorer. That it does make participants richer is far more credible than that it may seem to Mr. Cameron that it could make them poorer. In all the press reports I've ever seen and many I've posted at http://turmelpress.com/newpress.htm, I've heard umpteen actual positive reports and zero negative ones. Not once have I ever read of anyone saying that finding a way to trade their employment with a neighbor has been detrimental in any way. No matter how it may be seen by someone looking through economic glasses.
>For a start, they make it more difficult for locals to trade with >non-locals, so they are more likely to trade with other locals >who may not be as efficient as non-locals. JCT: I guess an economist could see it this way. By trading with his neighbors, he doesn't trade with more efficient outsiders. What the economist fails to consider is that he didn't have the money to trade with the outsider in the first place and it was only the joining with his neighbor in a new financial circle which allowed him to trade his employment for that of his neighbor and get that product at all, even if it is less-efficiently produced. Sure, poor people trading their employment with each other would not be getting the quality and performance they could be getting from professionals with cash but since they don't have the cash, getting an inferior product, if much inferior, is still better than not getting any superior product at all.
>It is worth stating that the only purpose of trade is that it >enables us to consume products more cheaply than otherwise - this is >the principle of comparative advantage. JCT: But it's only an advantage if you have the medium of exchange to exchange with. For those people who do not have access to any official medium of exchange, resorting to an alternate medium is always better than nothing.
>Local trading schemes are therefore a form of protectionism and can >therefore be welfare-reducing and also subject to inefficient >lobbying and rent-seeking activity." AS JCT: This seems much like the reasoning of the rich guy in http://turmelpress.com/gold.htm who'd would oppose LETS because it provided services that the government should be providing but couldn't afford. It does give us any idea how something as beneficial as LETS can be seen as something detrimental when viewed wearing economic glasses where the reality of the reports isn't as important as what it seems it could be like.
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