The Midas Monoculture Part 1 and Part 2
By Edgar Cahn, JD, PhD, © 2016, all rights reserved
These papers are works in progress. Professor Cahn, an esteemed member of the Ethical Markets Research Advisory Board, welcomes feedback.
The Midas Monoculture-Part I
Midas: a Phrygian king who was given by Dionysus the power of turning whatever he touched into gold.
Monoculture: the use of land for growing only one type of crop.
We are living in a twenty first century version of the King Midas myth. We know how his wish to turn everything he touched into gold revealed itself as a curse when his food, his furniture and finally his daughter became inanimate gold. That story ended happily – when Midas prayed for forgiveness.
It remains to be seen how ours will turn out. But first we have to appreciate the extent to which a kind of digital alchemy has transformed everything we do, want, or value into a Midas-like fixation on the virtual, inanimate reality we call money. We gave up the gold backing in 1970 – so all we have is digits, backed by other digits.
Those digits now function as the language in which a rationale must be framed, a justification advanced. They are regarded as the format required to bring deliberative rationality to the choices we make and the priorities we must observe. We translate value to the language of price and we have become increasingly monolingual.
We have internalized Alfred Pigou’s statement that economic welfare is “that part of social welfare that can be brought directly or indirectly into relation with the measuring rod of money.” Economists assert their measuring rod yields scientific answers and is applicable to all decisions involving value – which means that every field, domain or discipline is subject to the preferences generated by the application of that measuring rod.. That alchemy purports to be able to transform everything we do, have, want or value into a digital medium labelled money.
We know better than that. We all relate to domains that are above and beyond market values: our loved ones, justice, democracy, endangered species, the environment, culture, human rights, free speech, patriotism, spirituality. Here, at least in theory, we reject market price as the applicable value metric. But we live in a money centered world.
Dialogs with government and foundation officials, with investors, businesses and non-profits, with communities and families are relentlessly framed in monetary terms: cost-benefit, return on investment, risk assessment, deficit reduction, opportunity costs and Gross Domestic Product. Our world is a world of numbers defined by the flow of money. Value is defined by price; present value is derived by discounting the future, and future value is projected from interest rates premised on holding all variables constant.
We have elevated a means to become an end. And our ability to cope with social problems and critical issues is circumscribed by the availability of money to address those problems or our willingness to bear the cost of borrowing. We are living with a political stalemate. With paralysis and polarization, disparities grow, capacity goes unrealized and inequities harden as class becomes caste.
This paper seeks to find a way out of this quagmire by proposing a reframing. A different frame provides a different lens through which to assess alternatives. Reframing doesn’t make a problem go away. But it can give us a new way of looking at the problem and consider what would make inroads on that problem.
In his best seller, Don’t Think of an Elephant, George Lakoff provided illustrations of how reframing can reshape our understanding of the issues. A tax can be framed as an investment in the infrastructure needed to advance the public welfare and safeguard our inalienable rights. Or a tax can be framed as a burden, as taking away from you something you have earned, an expropriation by government of wealth you created.
Reframing saved Obamacare from being declared unconstitutional. Five Supreme Court Justices had declared that they could not uphold the Affordable Care Act under Congress power to regulate commerce. Justice Roberts wrote:
“Congress already possesses expansive power to regulate what people do. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do. The Framers knew the difference between doing something and doing nothing.”
But then, Chief Justice Roberts saved Obamacare by reframing the individual mandate as a tax on the voluntarily uninsured which was within the power of Congress to enact.
Framing shapes how we see what we see. Framing determines how we choose and how we justify what we do. Currently, our political response to social problems is polarized. Left and right split. The right invokes moral responsibility and says blame the victim; the left points to capitalism, racism, sexism, ageism and other isms and says blame the system. The left calls for funded programs to hire experts to fix the system and human service professionals to help its victims. The right blames the victim: lack of a work ethic, failure to do what others similarly situated have proven can be done; and charging that the unfortunates are simply ducking responsibility by invoking “circumstances beyond their control” as an alibi.
This paper undertakes to reframe how we approach critical social problems. Hopefully, a different lens will enable us to come to grips in a new way with the frustrations we experience when neither government nor philanthropic efforts make the inroads we had hoped they would.
This paper asks: What if we characterized our inability to make headway on seemingly intractable problems as the result of being imprisoned by a conceptual monoculture — a fiscal and a value monoculture, a monetary monoculture – the Midas monoculture. Does that reframing help us understand the problem in a different way? Does it point to solutions which may have been previously unappreciated or under-utilized?
We know something about monocultures. Plant just one crop – and three consequences follow: (1) The entire economy depends on that crop. (2) The soil on which that crop relies is depleted and so future plantings require purchases of fertilizer and pesticide (3) That crop becomes vulnerable to viruses and pests which adapt to extracting nurture from that crop.
All three propensities of monocrop farming might be said to characterize the effect of money on our civic wellbeing.
1.Dependence on one crop: The 2008 crash taught us the entire banking system was fragile.
History tells us what happens to the economy upon failure of the one crop on which everything depends. In Ireland, one particular type of potato, the Irish lumper, became the sole subsistence food for one third of the country. The potato had three times the caloric value of grain, was cheap and easy to grow and slow to spoil. In addition, potatoes also provided the food for livestock, Ireland’s primary export to Britain. That made Ireland peculiarly vulnerable to a blight to which that specific type of potato was distinctively vulnerable. By 1851, 1 million Irish – nearly one-eighth of the population — were dead from starvation. By 1855, 2 million people had fled to Canada, the United States, Australia and elsewhere.
We can analogize Ireland’s exclusive reliance on potatoes for food and cattle feed to our peculiar and growing reliance on the finance industry. In 2008, the finance industry underwent a failure analogous to the Irish Potato famine. The crisis took the form of a liquidity crisis triggered by bursting of the US housing bubble which caused the values of securities tied to real estate pricing to plummet. Between 2008 and 2012, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation closed 465 failed banks. Bank failures triggered a major recession, failures of major businesses, extensive foreclosures and prolonged unemployment. The Troubled Asset Relief Program to bail out the banks in 2007-2008 totaled $700 billion. But, in addition to TARP, forty-nine other programs have been involved in the US rescue at a total cost of $14.4 trillion. Yet, in 2007 the total US GDP was only $16 trillion. One third of the value of the world’s companies was wiped out by this crisis. That looks like what happens when a monocrop fails.
When a monocrop goes down, the poor and most vulnerable are hit hardest. That happened in Ireland. Likewise, in the USA, the greatest impact of the 2008 recession was felt by minorities . Various studies report that between 2005 and 2009, Hispanic households lost 66 percent of their wealth and black households lost 53% compared to white households which lost only 16 percent. By 2010, when the overall unemployment rate was approximately 10 percent, it was 16 percent for blacks and 13 percent for Latinos. In the richest nation in the world, 45% of African American children, 39% of Hispanic children and 51% of the children in public schools lived in poverty.
Bank failures, fiscal crises, budget deficits and a deep recession have all provided a continuing reminder of the fragility of our underlying financial system. Bernard Lietaer, monetary analyst and an architect of the euro has pointed out repeatedly that that situation is partly the product of government having delegated a central function of money making (and interest) to the private sector. Banks are authorized to make money by lending ten times the amount they hold in reserve. Then governments go into debt by borrowing from those same banks and paying compound interest on the money borrowed. The debt then grows exponentially over time. Arguably, this is a problem of our own making, compounded by a political system where moneyed interests by buying elections can preserve their private money creating power.
- Extraction of moral nutrients from the soil of community. Just as a monocrop extracts critical nutrients from the soil, a fixation on the pursuit of money drains personal relationships, depletes informal support systems, commercializes professional callings and contaminates democratic processes. Just as a monocrop creates increased reliance on external resources (fertilizer and pesticides), so too, in the civic domain, the loss of organic support systems and the erosion of social networks escalates dependence on paid professional services provided by the non-profit industrial complex.
We have witnessed this parallel depletion of trust, of community engagement, of social networks, of associations in the civic domain. Putnam sounded the alarm in Bowling Alone noting that attendance at a public meeting on town or school affairs was down 35%; service as an officer of a club or organization, down 42%; service on a committee for a local organization down 39%; membership of parent-teacher associations: down 61%; average membership rate for thirty-two national chapter-based associations; down almost 10%; and membership rates for men’s bowling leagues: down 73% (Ferguson, The Great Degeneration p117).
Pursuit of digits has now permeated every sector creating a normative monoculture where the purpose of every undertaking becomes infected with a compelling and even overriding mandate to generate a return measured in terms of dollars. The practice of law has become dominated by the need to generate billable hours. Bankers and fiscal advisors, supposedly trustees with a fiduciary obligation to invest savings and nurture home ownership, became unscrupulous profiteers lining their own pockets with commissions skimmed from uncollectible subprime loans. Corrections charged with rehabilitating criminals became a privatized prison industry offering shares on Wall Street – where profit would be assured so long as law enforcement officials kept the “hotel” fully occupied with minor offenders who could be labeled dangerous. Prison rates in the US are the world’s highest at 724 people per 100,000 compared to 581 in Russia and 145 per 100,000 in Great Britain (whose culture is most like ours).
The practice of medicine now has consigned many physicians to piecework with per minute quotas for patient contact that turn health care into writing prescriptions, proliferating expensive hi-tech tests, over utilizing surgical procedures and assuring profits for insurance companies. Mental health practitioners have been largely reduced to prescription writers of opiates and tranquilizers. Universities look more and more like on-line, digital degree factories. Research institutes and non-profit organizations have become grant writing sweatshops.
Teaching salaries, bonuses and retention are determined by success into turning students into efficient test taking testing machines. The charter school movement that might have promoted innovation and reduced bureaucracy became a way to cream the best students from the public schools, and dump the worst test takers back onto the public schools once per pupil fiscal allocations have vested. Classroom management has been turned over to police officers repackaged as School Resource Officers who in turn channel African-American students into the school-to-prison pipeline. Public safety (as we saw in Ferguson, Missouri) became transformed into a mandate for police to maximize citations for minor violations in order to extract revenue from low income, African-American neighborhoods.
As for the public sector, similar monoculture thinking is at work. When the twin towers were destroyed on 9-11, the president’s formula for enhanced national security was “Go shopping.” Despite ample basis for doubting that Iraq was concealing weapons of mass destruction, we proceed to invade Iraq on the assumption that declaring war represented an affordable investment in national security because of the oil revenues it would yield. Our Department of Agriculture, headed by leadership drawn from food processing companies and trade associations failed to provide adequate protection from Mad Cow disease and weakened slaughterhouse inspection practices resulting in a resurgence of E.coli bacteria, listeria and other hazards.
Then, there is the Constitution. The Supreme Court has converted the Second Amendment right of the citizenry to resist tyranny into a personal right to buy virtually any kind of weaponry, to use it for unspecified purposes and to carry such arms for possible use wherever they please. Elected politicians put their own careers on the line if they dare to recommend any form of gun control. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court converted free speech into a right to spend unlimited money to influence elections. The superpaks unleashed by Citizens United and its progeny have now turned democratic elections into bidding contests for the patronage of the super rich.
Spiritual awakening is now packaged by megachurches as an “abundance” theology that promises wealth. The non-profit world has evolved into the non-profit industrial complex where leadership must focus on revenue and grantsmanship. They find themselves immersed in shark-infested waters as efforts to promote civic engagement becomes abandoned in the competition for grants and contacts to deliver service. The historic role of non-profits as catalysts to mobilize the community has now been replaced by their transformation into a service delivery system where their organizational survival requires identifying a distinctive category of vulnerable people whose continued dependence on specialized services can provide the “sustainability” required by funders. Any originating vision of civic empowerment has become subordinated to securing contracts for service delivery to a dependent, disenfranchised clientele. Their specialized knowledge and expertise makes the case for greater specialization. Meanwhile organic, uncertified, uncredentialed civic participation, community-based efforts, mutual help, and informal care go begging for crumbs.
The real externality generated by money is when we allow money to function as the primary definer of value, we become morally insensitive to the consequences. We somehow convince ourselves, as David Korten has noted, that:
Economic inequality and environmental damage are regrettable but necessary and unavoidable costs of growing the GDP. GDP growth in turn eliminates poverty, drives technological innovation to free us from our dependence on the nature, and brings universal and perpetual prosperity for all. There is no viable alternative to a profit driven free market economy.
Insensitivity – ethical and ecological – is the primary externality of a system that elevates money and the ability to generate money as the paramount and exclusive measure of value.
- A monocrop is peculiarly vulnerable to viruses and pests which siphon off nurture from that crop.
Occupy Wall Street brought to national consciousness the extent to which the finance industry has extracted the abundance generated by our economy and channeled it to the wealthy. The stock market more than doubled in value since the recession. Since the richest 5% own about 80% of all non-pension stocks, guess who got it? Disparity widens the further one goes up in the income distribution. The top 1% of income earners went from receiving roughly 10% of all pre-tax income from 1950 to 1980 to receiving approximately 20% of all pre-tax income. And fully half of that gain (10%) went to the very top .01%. That one-hundredth of a percent went from receiving 3-4% of all pretax income to receiving 10% of all pre-tax income. The richest 5% of households gained at least $1.6 million in new wealth. If the US had the same income distribution it had in 1979, each family in the bottom 80% of the income distribution would have $11,000 more per year in income on average, or $916 per month. Yet, half of the U.S. population lives in poverty or is low-income, according to U.S. Census data.
In Predator Nation, Charles Ferguson spells out the incestuous relationship between moneyed interests and politics. Corporations hired
former politicians as lobbyists, contributing to political campaigns, hiring academic experts to testifying antitrust cases, and so on. They merged with each other, sent production offshore, and cut the wages and benefits of their employees. They sought and obtained weaker antitrust enforcement, exemptions from environmental regulations, tax breaks, favorable accounting standards, protection from foreign competition via domestic content requirements. American companies also resisted attempts to strengthen corporate governance. They kept public sector salaries low, thereby increasing their ability to subvert policy through revolving door hiring. They weakened regulations, enforcement, and penalties for violations, and virtually eliminated any risk of criminal prosecution. (P. 291)
Thomas Piketty has documented the dynamics built into our fiscal system that relentlessly drive inequality and with it entrenched disenfranchisement:
When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based. (6)
In Capital in the Twenty First Century, Piketty documents how and why our fiscal system and capitalism together relentlessly drive inveterate inequality, entrenching disenfranchisement which in turn “radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based.” This is not a temporary situation, Piketty claims. To the contrary, those moments in time when governments act to restrain financial institutions are the rare exceptions, not the rule. Piketty has alerted us to the way in which one characteristic of money – interest and the rate of return –generates disparities by converting money from a medium of exchange into a commodity in its own right. He has sounded a wake-up call to a previously unappreciated long-term problem of money.: Money enables us to build systems that achieve extraordinary productivity. Yet that same monetary system also generates serious structural issues – externalities – that we ignore collectively at our peril.
Shopping: the primary function and responsibility of Citizenship
We are valued as consumers because we spend – and that generates profit. As producers, as a work force, we are not valued. We are simply a cost factor that decreases profits for owners. Profitability increases when labor costs are reduced – so we export jobs overseas to countries with lower paid labor forces. Increasingly, we see labor costs reduced by technology, smart programs, artificial intelligence and robots. So far as possible, the Midas monoculture will consign us to the role of consumers. Here’s what that means according to John McKnight and Peter Block:
The essential promise of a consumer society is that satisfaction can be purchased. [W]e have come to take our identity from our capacity to purchase. To borrow from Descartes, “I shop, therefore I am.” This dependency on shopping is not just about things; it includes the belief that most of what is fulfilling or needed in life can be bought – from happiness to healing, from love to laughter, from rearing a child to caring for someone at the end of life.
We have the illusion that we can buy what we used to produce: family and community. We depend, more and more on what others provide that we can buy. We rely less and less on what we can do for each other. Work is not defined by what we do; work is defined by what we can get paid to do.
Monetized systems promise to supply all but they fail more and more of us. System after system – public education, child welfare, juvenile justice, family support, neighborhood development, elder care – are in various stages of dysfunction and malfunction. Government becomes the scapegoat. And we increasingly lack trust in our own collective capacity to do anything. Ultimately, we lose faith in our ability to take effective collective action. We learn how to distrust each other – unless it comes with the dollar’s imprimatur: In God We Trust.
This is where we end up if we allow ourselves to be controlled by monocrop practices. Yet, in agriculture, we have developed ways to deal with the consequences of a monocrop. This paper undertakes to reframe our approach to the problems in our civic economy as externalities generated by a monoculture in the hope that the reframing can lead us to new thinking and new strategies. In the world of agriculture, experts advise us on how to counter those externalities with strategies to promote “polyculture.” How do we take that wisdom and, by analogy, apply it to the field of economics.
In agriculture, there are established ways to counter or reduce the externalities generated by a monoculture: (1) planting different types of crops, (2) diversification that restores the nutrients that the monoculture has extracted, (3) letting the land lie fallow, (4) crop rotation. All of these create a polyculture that offsets the damage done by monoculture without eliminating the original monoculture crop. In different ways, they substitute a long term return that promotes sustainability for the short term profit generated by monocrop farming.
What if we approach social problems as byproducts of our reliance on a monetary monocrop? What would polyculture look like if transposed to the civic domain of informal support, neighborhood support, community-based support? How do we create an ecologically healthy economy? How do we bring life forces back into neighborhoods and into community. How do we restore the quest for justice to economics? What might be the civic equivalent of diversification, crop rotation, letting the land go fallow and organic farming?
There is now a growing awareness of the negative externalities that money and markets create but there has been no distinction between externalities which flow from the nature of money and market and those which flow from its exclusive dominance as a monoculture. Such an analysis might enable system change initiatives to garner broader support if framed as creating a polyculture in the civic domain in a way that mirrors polyculture farming practices that are generally accepted. Hopefully, that reframing would change the dynamic from a zero sum battle over redistribution to a win-win dynamic advancing growth, well-being and equity.
The MIDAS Monoculture Part II
The Pathway to Renewal from Monoculture to Polyculture
Given the dominance and power of the Midas Monoculture, what can be done to mitigate its controlling and deadening impact?
In agriculture, polyculture offsets the three negative consequences of monoculture: (1) providing resilience that mitigates the disaster that would otherwise cascade from the failure of the monocrop; (2) restoring nutrients to the soil that the monocrop has depleted; and (3) warding off the fungi, pests and rodents that have adapted to extract sustenance from the monocrop. The challenge is to set an analogous process in motion to advance the emergence of a civic polyculture that can cumulatively mitigate or prevent the externalities generated by the Midas Monoculture?
The quest is urgent. Capitalism will continue to drive growing disparity exponentially. Class is already hardening into caste. Structural racism remains pervasive and feeds despair. Despair finds expression in withdrawal and in violence. Political polarization is on the increase reflecting a deeper public rift on the role of government and the terms of mutual interdependence. Democracy has been radically undermined by superpacs. And the profit driven extraction of natural resources puts in jeopardy the planet’s capacity to sustain life.
This article asks: how do we create the civic equivalent of poly culture? What does that mean?
How do we initiate it? How do we enable it to go to scale?
This Article submits that getting to polyculture involves a four part answer: (1) Recognition of and focus on the Core Economy; (2.) CoProduction as the Framework and Methodology to Renew the Core Economy;( 3.) Complementary Mediums of Exchange to value labor and people that the market devalues; and (4.) Incubators for Change to generate a continuing stream of change agents to produce Polyculture.
I.The Core Economy.
Creating a civic polyculture means renewing and enlarging an economy we know well: home, family, kinfolk, neighbors, community. In designating that sphere as an economy, we return to the root Greek word, Oekonomica – management of the household — from which the term “economics” originated. While not formally included in the Gross Domestic Product, the nonmonetary economy of household and community provide the basic ecosystem for our species.
In the 1970’s, Hazel Henderson designated it the Love Economy. Neva Goodwin, an ecological economist, has designated that subsystem the Core Economy. The Core Economy supplies the foundation, the substratum that underpins the entire economy – public, private, independent.
Economists have long acknowledged the existence of an economic sphere outside of market. They have designated it the “nonmarket” economy. But within that nonmarket economy there is a distinct economic sub-system comprised of household, family, kinfolk, networks, neighborhood, community and civil society.
The Core Economy generates a volume of activity estimated to equal at least as much as 40% of the GDP. A partial catalog of the Core Economy’s productivity would include: rearing children, preserving functioning families, creating safe, vibrant neighborhoods, caring for the frail and vulnerable, standing up for what’s right, opposing what seems wrong or unfair, producing a work force (including corporate CEO’s) that doesn’t steal, holding officials accountable, and making democracy work. Most of that goes unrecorded and unrecognized by the GDP. Nonetheless, the Core Economy has always played a critical role in addressing basic needs. It is the economy that needs revitalization and growth.
An Overdue Imperative: Explicit Acknowledgement of the Core Economy
It took decades for environmental economists to get us to appreciate that natural ecosystems provide critical life support services that even a multi-million dollar biosphere was unable to duplicate. In the past, we have ignored the economic significance of those natural systems, taking them for granted as infinitely renewable — until we had damaged them sufficiently that our own lives and well-being were imperiled. It wasn’t until 1985 that scientists realized the significance of what their instruments had been telling them since 1976: that there was major thinning of the ozone layer in the stratosphere.
In much the same way that we ignored the ozone layer, we have ignored, overlooked, and undervalued the Core Economy as if we could always count on family, neighborhood, community, and civil society to be infinitely resilient, capable of absorbing all manner of toxicity and yet retaining adequate residual capacity for self-renewal.
Moving from the Midas Monoculture to a Polyculture begins with a recognition of and concern for the entire ecosystem that supports life – for our species and for other species. Home, neighborhood, and community are the ecological niche of our species. To the extent that we have permitted the Midas monoculture to run unchecked, the toxicity and pollution of market value contaminates and fouls our habitat. We might consider polyculture to be basically an environmental preservation effort. Polyculture represents the framework we need to make our habitat viable, to make it possible to raise our young, to care for our elders, to address the toxic impact of the externalities created by that monoculture.
An ecosystem perspective provides the starting point from which to protect and restore the fragile human biosphere that requires trust and decency, that nurtures healthy neighborhoods, preserves basic human rights and sustains democratic governance. The survival of our species depends upon the restoration of our habitat. Just as we depleted the ozone layer, we have depleted the Core Economy of family, community, civil society. We need to restore the Core Economy to health and vitality
The Framework and the Methodology to Generate Polyculture
We are not Robinson Crusoe stranded on some desert island. We live surrounded by the monetary economy. In that context, creating a civic polyculture entails forming purposeful partnerships between money economy and the core economy.
Each of us has untapped capacity that may be invisible to us. Our ability to listen to each other, to care for each other, to comfort each other, to come to each other’s rescue, to recognize and oppose what is unfair, to come together in small groups to make things happen – these are universals, they define us as human beings. They are not scarce – so they have little or no market value. But that is the world of peer support, of extended families, of elders helping elders, of youth groups, of neighbors helping neighbors, of affinity groups and networks that come together. It is the ground source of movements for social justice. And it is the world that we live in, the social world that sets unspoken, internalized norms that shape behavior. That is the world that can birth polyculture.
Partnering with the Core Economy to offset the externalities generated by the Midas monoculture takes change: change in the ways that human service organizations, institutions, professionals function; and change in the roles that individual clients and the client community play. That partnership has a name: co-production.
The term, Coproduction in relation to public services, was coined originally by Nobel economist Elinor Ostrom to describe and analyze the dynamics that emerge from collaborative partnerships between the community and specialized institutions. She noted that when government enlisted the citizenry in undertaking a public project or rendering a public service, good things happened. Residents of the favelas in Brazil partnered with the government to design and create a superior waste management system. They combined the larger pipes that were laid by the government with smaller pipes installed by residents. That sewer system cost less and snaked more efficiently through and around the hilly terrain of the slums. Ostrom noted that a similar benefit had emerged in Nigeria where schools encouraged and enlisted parents in ways that enhanced their children’s schooling. (until the national government put an abrupt end to local engagement).
Political scientists subsequently documented how neighborhood watches enhanced crime control; curbside trash pick-up made waste management more efficient; parent campaigns enhanced public education systems; and consumer groups promoting wellness effected changes in health care. For a brief period, coproduction became fashionable. Public officials coping with budget cutbacks began incorporating citizen participation in program structure.
In Great Britain, co-production was formally incorporated in a request issued by the city of Camden for competitive bids by the providers of mental health services. The invitation for bids asked:
- What role would you envisage for service users= in the development and delivery of your service?
- How does your service identify and mobilize service user’s strengths? Please illustrate your answer with reference to previous contracts?
- How does your service support clients in finding ways to help others, including fellow service users, family, neighbors and the local community. Please illustrate your answer with reference to previous contracts?
- In what ways does your organisation support client-based membership groups which can function as informal support group, peer group or extended family?
Co-Production is premised on the notion that we can make progress on the most intractable problems if we enlist the strengths of the very populations and neighborhoods that we tend to classify as “ at-risk” or “targets” or beneficiaries. It is, in fact, the hidden but implicit framework that underlies many of the most promising innovations undertaken around the globe. People previously classified as “ the problem” can be a distinctive resource. CoProduction takes many forms – but all of them generate a sense of unexpected and unlimited possibility.
Co-Production provides both the framework and the strategy for transcending and transforming the Midas monoculture. It enlists people (children, women, the disabled, the elderly) devalued in the Midas monoculture. And it puts them to real work that the Midas monoculture either takes for granted or devalues. It does so valuing that work and these people restoring moral nutrients to home, family, community, civil society. If we consider that the Midas monocrop treats human labor for sale, then these folk doing things the market does not value are definitely a different kind of vegetation. That is civic polyculture. They are motivated by the difference they are making and their own sense of purpose. Intrinsic value displaces extrinsic value as the reward. The work they do resists commodification; it is priceless.
CoProduction in Action: Illustrative Examples
Habitat for Humanity. From its outset, Habitat for Humanity incorporated an obligation to help others as part of the process for securing a home that you and others help to build. Homeowners are expected to put approximately 500 hours of “sweat equity” into both their own and other project homes. This sweat equity acts as the down payment on the home. Habitat does more than build houses; it builds community.
Partners In Health In 1994, in a shantytown outside Lima, Peru, a pair of Harvard-trained doctors, the founders of Partners in Health, were faced with a seemingly overwhelming threat. New strains of vaccine resistant tuberculosis were being discovered among the local population . The root causes of the new mutations were the traditional treatment regimens being followed haphazardly by those who had already contracted the original disease. Against all advice from the World Health Organization, Partners in Health turned to the community itself to fight the disease, hiring indigenous people, training them to become caregivers and to take responsibility for monitoring the treatment regimens of those infected by the disease. The results equaled or surpassed anything done by state-of-the-art interventions in major cities of the US.
Doctors Without Borders In Cambodia and Viet Nam, Doctors without Border faced a runaway AIDS epidemic with just enough medicine to treat 300 individuals. AIDS carried such a stigma that it was impossible to get people to talk about AIDS or how to prevent it. Yet, that “identity” was a critical asset. To maximize the potential impact of the available medication, Doctors Without Borders made it known they would only treat those individuals who would commit to becoming AIDS prevention activists. The medicine became the payment for activism, and the activists spread through their communities showing pictures of themselves as emaciated AIDS sufferers and as healthy individuals. They explained to their fellow citizens that AIDS was not an inevitable death sentence, but that it could be cured by medicine, or better yet by prevention. The rate of new infections plummeted.
POWER (Positive Opportunities for Women, youth and families Engaged in Recovery) Women who had come back from prison, been suffering from addiction and had lost their children to foster care used a pay back in community service hours as a central therapeutic tool. The women earned time credits to pay for their therapy and transitional housing by teaching teenage women about AIDS, HIV and sexual abuse.
Roots of Empathy A five month old baby is the teacher. Each month, the baby visits the class. The children arrange themselves cross-legged in a circle around the blanket and the children sing a welcoming song and a good-bye song. The children want to see how the baby has changed since the last visit: eating, playing, laughing, trying food, rolling over, a first tooth coming in. Through observation of the baby’s emotions, children learn to talk about their own emotions and the emotions of others. The children reach out to include others, especially those whom they might otherwise have rejected or snubbed: classmates in foster homes, with autism, whose parents are refugees from other countries, or others who have witnessed domestic violence or been deserted. Babies seem to know which children are unhappy or troubled. They reach out to them. Children who have felt excluded are draw into a circle of inclusion through empathetic contact made by the baby. Bullying decreases over the year. So do other forms of aggression. Empathy for other children increases.
Opportunidades A program called Opportunidades in Mexico and Bolsa Escola in Brazil provides mothers with a cash incentive to make sure their kids get to school and get adequate nutrition. Poor families with children receive direct payments. In return, they commit to keeping their children in school and taking them for regular health checks. That reduces current poverty, and gets families to invest in their children. The payment is important but some its impact comes from reinforcing the mother’s sense of self-esteem and contribution .
CoProduction: Basic Principles
If built into the design of initiatives and interventions, co-production can create a new work force and inject a new framework for public purpose interventions. Drawing upon multiple examples and extracting common threads, certain fundamental values and operating principles emerged. They function as guidelines for those seeking to effect system change. This is an abbreviated synopsis:
An Asset Perspective: Every human being has capacity to help in ways that others needed.
Honoring Real Work: Work that the market did not value – caring, mentoring, civic participation, cultural celebration, social justice campaigns, environmental preservation – done by people not in the labor force was still real work that needed to be recorded, valued and rewarded.
Reciprocity: One way helping transactions disempower and devalue people who receive help. Giving back empowers those who receive help. Pay-it-forward needed to be part of helping.
Community: We are social beings. The privilege and confidentiality of professional services can perpetuate isolation and vulnerability. Collective events and projects can empower.
Respect: Those with power and wealth need to be held accountable by those in community who may be silent and who feel powerless. We need to create ways to amplify their voices
There is now a fidelity index that enumerates simple, small steps to augment coproduction. These have been incorporated in two co-production audit instruments for use by individual change agents and organizations seeking to advance collaboration with clients and with the community to generate co-production.
III. Learning Credits and Service Credits
Complementary Mediums of Exchange to Value Labor and People the Market Devalues.
As we undertake to effect change, the significance of an appropriate medium of exchange has been largely overlooked. Bitcoin has provided a major wake-up call: Governments are not the only entities that can create money. Thanks to technology, we are now discovering that there are mediums of exchange that we ourselves can create. People need additional ways to exchange what they have for what they need.
There are at least two complementary currencies that can be coupled with money to take us out of the Midas monoculture: learning credits and service credits.
Learning Credits The ability to transmit learning gained across generations should rank high on a scale of Darwinian assets. Humans had learning going on in the caves and jungles. In the thirteen century a system of degrees (Bachelor, Maser and Doctorate degrees) came into existence. Degree granting authority empowered universities. In the 1900’s, the Carnegie Unit and the student hour became adopted for measuring educational attainment.
Increasingly, we are utilizing degrees and academic credits as a medium of exchange to generate and reward critically needed labor. Service learning, practicums, internships, community service requirements, residencies and clinical education all utilize academic credits and degrees as the medium of exchange to generate learning that could only come from labor and labor that would not otherwise be available.
Service Credits TimeBanks are an indirect product of both the Civil Rights movement and President Johnson’s War on Poverty. The legislation implementing that effort required “maximum feasible participation of the poor” as a core element of anti-poverty programs. Compliance with that requirement generated extraordinary results. Programs started systematically enlisting clients as essential partners and coworkers needed to run Headstart, the Job Corps, Foster Grandparents, Manpower Development Programs, and Community Action Programs. War on Poverty programs surfaced a vast, untapped store of human capacity in the most disadvantaged communities. Discretionary grants generated legions of non-profits with leadership honed during the ‘60s and ‘70s.
In 1980, President Reagan declared that the federal government had declared war on poverty – and poverty had won. Funding cutbacks ensued in the ‘80’s. And TimeBanking as a new complementary currency was born to harness the vast capacity that the civil rights movement and the war on poverty had made visible. The first “service credit” programs were funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as an initiative to provide support to enable frail elderly persons to remain in community. It did not take long for creative thinkers to apply TimeBanking to multiple social problems. TimeBanking provided a vehicle to turn coproduction from an idea to an operational reality.
CoProduction Generated by Service Credits. In different contexts, different categories of people who had been designated “problems” were earning Time Credits in programs which produced results that astounded the experts.
Eldercare: The first TimeBank programs were funded in 1986, by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Those programs utilized Time Credits (called service credits) to enlist the well-elderly to provide care and support for the frail elderly. It became clear that once valued as contributors earning “service credits”, the well-elderly were empowered to do more than provide elder care. Social networks formed that took on a life of their own. And intergenerational applications of TimeBanking to child care were amongst the first to emerge.
Community Building: In 1996, the Annie E. Casey Foundation decided that TimeBanking might be a useful tool for use in its nationwide community-building initiative. The foundation’s focus was on children; the premise of its investments in community-building was that it takes a village to raise a child. Timebanking was the currency that could build that village by creating a new kind of extended family.
Cross-Age Peer Tutoring If third graders lack reading skills going into fourth grade, a downward spiral is predictable. Enlisting fifth and sixth graders to tutor second and third graders has been validated as an evidence-based approach. In Chicago, over 5,000 students earned Time Credits tutoring and being tutored. One hundred Time Credits could be redeemed for a recycled computer. Test scores rose; truancy and bullying fell; schools using TimeBanking to drive cross-age peer tutoring were removed from academic probation.
Youth Courts. In Washington DC, Chester, Pennsylvania and Madison Wisconsin, special courts with teenagers as jurors dealt with peers who had committed some offense. The offenders were also sentenced to jury duty. Youth court jurors earned Time Credits and each Youth Court site had to develop ways those credits could be spent or cashed in for events and rewards. Consistently, however, rearrests fell dramatically. Restorative justice and peer justice resonate nationally.
Parent Support Network In Providence, Rhode Island, families with children who were bipolar, schizophrenic, autistic or emotionally disabled were able to use TimeBanking to create a resilient, organic extended family. The state found it preferable to fund a network of family support centers utilizing TimeBanking rather than removing and institutionalizing kids and charging the families with abuse and neglect.
Homecomers Academy Elsewhere, persons returning from prison designated themselves as Homecomers and earned Time Credits by enhancing community safety. They would get up each morning to provide safe passage to enable elementary school children to get safely to school crossing gang territory lines. We see other examples of TimeBanking addressing substance abuse, neighborhood violence, homelessness, and more.
- Incubators for Change: A Stream of Change Agents to Produce Polyculture.
Polyculture will not come all at once. Non-monetary strategies will be needed on a scale that dwarfs isolated examples of coproduction. Setting up experimental pilot programs with controls is expensive. Even gathering baseline data on existing practice to compare it with results from pilots involves research. And once an approach is proven effective, system change is not automatic. Phasing out one practice in which staff and organizations are invested takes time; launching new initiatives takes multi-year funding. CoProduction initiatives designed to generate documentation and incorporate evaluation could begin to redefine Best Practice in different fields.
Based on past efforts and exemplary projects the potential for breakthrough is enormous. But that potential cannot be realized if there is no vehicle for producing cycles of projects and a stream of dedicated, trained change agents. And those change agents will need to have more than a shared commitment to breaking out of the Midas monoculture. They will need knowledge of how coproduction initiatives can be introduced and where there are success stories they can point to. To the extent that complementary currencies can activate, mobilize and channel untapped capacity, they will also need basic competency in how to introduce and utilize complementary currencies to advance polyculture. There is presently no obligation to incorporate coproduction as part of organizational practice or as an obligatory element of standards of care as presently defined.
Taking CoProduction To Scale: A Proposal for University-Timebank Partnerships
A joint venture by universities with TimeBanks (or kindred community organizations committed to system change) would provide the pathway to make coproduction obligatory and generate a stream of polyculture initiatives. To make headway in transforming the delivery system, CoProduction needs the enhanced legitimacy that universities can provide.
The missing piece is an institutional vehicle that can fulfill several functions (1) capture the collective knowledge about coproduction initiatives from the field, (2) disseminate that knowledge as part of the training to persons enrolled in a changemaker career service/learning path, (3) provide support and guidance to change agent teams based in community (4) provide development, revenue-generating and grantsmanship to community-based sites where changemaker teams have initiated co-production pilots, (5) provide successive cohorts of changemaker students knowledgeable about how to create transitions and pathways for host organization. (6) provide organizational development guidance to enable local organizations and institutions to internalize and institutionalize coproduction as a central operational strategy for realizing their own mission. To achieve this, coproduction can only be operationalized by an ongoing sustainable flow of changemakers. They need to understand coproduction, be embedded in community and trained to collaborate with community groups to design and effectuate community-based system change.
That prompts this proposal for a new kind of institution: University-Affiliated Changemaker Institutes that offer a Changemaker Course of Study coupled with a practicum designed to advance coproduction. A stream of changemakers and social entrepreneurs committed to expand coproduction could emerge from the creation of a Changemaker Course of Study offered by university-affiliated Changemaker Institutes. The course of study would include a practicum that embeds student teams as changemakers in community-based settings. (See Appendix A for an enumeration of workshop topics)
As one of the most effective ways to implement co-production, those changemakers may find it useful to know how to use TimeBanking (and perhaps other complementary currencies) to promote civic polyculture. Currencies that have a way of measuring value not determined by market price have been utilized to stimulate extensive civic engagement. Three such currencies could contribute to the emergence of a polyculture economy: (1) service credits (via TimeBanking), (2) learning credits (via academic credits), and (3) reputation credits (via social media).
Both universities and students are asking: where will they find a footing in the future? They are asking how will they secure a livelihood in a world changing at an unprecedented rate. Learning how to be a changemaker will impart a critical work readiness for the world they are entering.
When in New Zealand, in response to earthquakes, students left the classroom and created a student army to enable the surrounding community to cope with the demolition, the Canterbury University faculty responded by specifying a list of Work Readiness Skills and a co-curricular list of Graduate Attributes The work readiness skills are: communication, initiative and enterprise, leadership, learning planning and organizing, problem-solving, self-management, team work, technology. The attributes spell out the contexts in which those skills were acquired and manifest: Bicultural Competence and Confidence, Community Engagement, Employability, Innovation and Enterprise and Global Awareness.
Students who master those competencies, know how to make use of complementary currencies and who have actually implemented co-production at actual sites would bring a critically needed capacity. In addition to any standard transcript, they would bring a problem-specific portfolio with grant proposals, videos, testimonials all documenting community engagement and coproduction. They also create proposals and business plans for social enterprises with fiscal viability based on budgetary projections of revenue and expenditure in multiple currencies. In New Zealand it was anticipate that a new break-even point would emerge more quickly if labor inputs advancing community building objectives could be compensated, in whole or in part, with TimeBank hours.
Developing a Changemaker Institute Prototype: Collaboration by TimeBanks USA and Universities
This article proposes that universities function as incubators for such co-production initiatives, combining two currencies: academic credits and time credits to embed start-ups in the community and, leading to the establishment of coproduction as an obligatory best practice rewarded, and even required, by funding sources. That is beginning to happen.
An organization called Ashoka that invests in social entrepreneurs has created Ashoka University to designate colleges and universities as Changemaker Universities that recognize the need for a new kind of curriculum that equips students to be changemakers. TimeBanks USA is introducing coproduction at several of those universities.
At the University of Maryland, a student team has been working to develop Pay It Forward software that would enable users to connect with their friends, narrow down the opportunities for volunteering by time, category and local, and record the volunteer work on a user profile that could be viewed on social networks such as LinkedIn or Facebook. The research proposal contemplated that the volunteer work log would be used to earn coupons from participating corporation sponsors.
Historic Black Colleges and Universities are wrestling with how to maintain their historic mission where the end of segregation puts them in direct competition for their former clientele. Their role is remains critical. Institutional racism is alive and well. Coproduction could reshape their mission as catalysts.
Land grant colleges and universities created after the Civil War to enroll former slaves and bring technology to farmers, workers and rural communities now face a parallel challenge in a world with the capacity to produce abundance where the Midas monoculture perpetuates hunger and malnutrition. Coproduction might provide the framework and TimeBanking the social technology needed to enable land grant colleges to reknit those communities, reduce isolation, eliminate food deserts by generating local production of the produce most needed to promote health.
One prototype for such Changemaker Institutes is now emerging from collaboration between TimeBanks USA, and University of the District of Columbia which enjoys simultaneous designation as an Urban Land Grant College and an Historic Black College. In a joint undertaking, the UDC’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Science (CAUSES) is collaborating to bring TimeBanking as a social technology to these urban homesteads in Washington DC that are resisting gentrification. TimeBanking is considered to be a social technology that can advance urban sustainability
Generating a stream of UDC college students embedded in community as change agents could birth a new epoch. They would function as urban Agricultural Extension Agents, cultivating food deserts, seeding neighborhoods with coproduction projects and planting social enterprises as seedlings that would bring a vibrant civic polyculture to terrain left barren by the Midas monoculture. A practicum that enrolled students as changemakers would deploy teams to provide the people-power, the sense of mission, and the institutional capacity needed to reduce the gross disparities in well-being to which communities of color in the nation’s capital are subject.
Subsequently, other universities might follow suit, undertaking to provide their students with the knowledge and tools needed both to survive and contribute in a changing world. Civic polyculture provides the framework. Coproduction provides the vehicle and TimeBanking the instrument for discharging that stewardship faithfully. Creating that legacy would inform mission. The creation of a Changemaker Course of study would become an imperative. Changemaker universities could take a polyculture movement to scale.
Going to Scale: Anticipating the Coming Tsunami
At least three phenomena are creating the potential market for a stream of changemakers trained in the use of complementary currencies to implement co-production. All three are making “rediscovery” of the core economy imperative. They are: aging, global warming and refugee flow.
Aging: Baby boomers in the United States are reaching 65 years of age at the rate of 10,000 per day for the next 17 years. Since 80-90% of the care needed to enable those aged and disabled to remain in community is “informal support,: the need to strengthen those “informal” systems of care (family, kinfolk, mutual support societies neighbors, networks) will escalate. In 1999, the Supreme Court declared in Olmstead v Zimring that state practices that placed persons with a disability involuntarily in nursing homes when they could remain at home with community-based care constituted discrimination and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Following Olmstead, Congress amended Medicaid by adding Section 1915 (i), to increase community-based services. Regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services provide that
“the development of the service plan take into account the extent of family or other supports, which we refer to as ‘ ‘ natural supports,’ ’ for the individual, and section 1915(i)(1)(G)(ii)(II) of the Act requires that such plan identify needed services. We interpret these provisions to indicate that to the extent available, natural supports should be explicitly included in the service plan.
Every state is required to develop an Olmstead Plan that provides that community-based option. Informal care of the kind provided by the Core Economy constitutes a major element of the community-based care that must be made available. The unpaid informal care that prevents institutionalization in a nursing home was recently valued by the RAND Corporation at $500 billion per year.
Global Warming and Climate Change: Natural disasters are likely to be more frequent as the dynamics of climate change takes their toll. The economy of the future will be dealing with rising sea levels, tsunamis, storms, fires, hurricanes, natural disasters as well as aging populations. The public sector will need to invest in efforts that enhance communities’ collective capacity to mobilize in response to challenges that affect the community at large, whether those challenges are demographic, social or environmental. The challenge: developing alternative strategies that will enhance resilience and collective efficacy. When Lyttleton ,New Zealand was hit by a series of earthquakes, TimeBanking provided the critical connectedness, local knowledge, trust, accessibility and capacity needed both immediately and in mobilizing for the long road back. Similarly, in Miami, when Hurricane Andrew struck, it was the local TimeBank that had the knowledge and connectivity needed to enable the National Guard and the Red Cross to function when they arrived.
Asylum seekers: Refugees present a phenomenon with which the Midas Monoculture is ill equipped to deal. Even nations with benign traditions are now taxed to the limit to absorb the vast new streams of refugees. Given the unrest we are seeing worldwide, an investment must be made to stabilize shattered and strife-torn communities and effect resettlement for those who flee life-threatening conditions. Short term public sector investments and charitable donations will not suffice to build more self-sufficient communities, create networks of mutual support or bridge generations. And that will require innovation because power relationships shift to the young when households rely on children to be their bilingual translators and spokespersons. Aid for refugees must identify and incorporate tools that reduce dependency, promote self-sufficiency and facilitate integration into the surrounding community.
The Future: A Preview
In dealing with each of these phenomena (aging, global warming, refugees), the public sector of the future will need increasingly to partner with the Core Economy. The need is to nurture the renewal of an organic grassroots infrastructure that can mobilize entire neighborhoods, organize streams of disconnected volunteers, engage in fluid problem solving, and generate feedback loops to inform and refocus initiatives by all sectors, public, private and non-profit. Our concept of a public infrastructure (sewer, electricity, fire control, civil defense, police) will have to undergo transformation to nurture these fluid social networks, sustain connectivity, expand trust, and harness information systems. This will require a radically different way to generate necessary public action that combines initiatives and prototypes that have already proven effective. Ultimately, this will have to happen on an unprecedented scale in order to deal with these multiple global — and escalating – phenomena. CoProduction provides both the framework and a strategy needed. It fulfills a fiduciary relationship to our ecosystem best summed up by a Native American aphorism:
“We did not inherit the land from our ancestors; we borrowed it from our descendants.
The Change you want – what whole systems thinking adds
Identify the system or systems that you wish to change
Apply whole systems approach (whole = greater than sum of parts – emergent qualities
Soft Systems Approach b. Systems Dynamics Approach (stocks, flows, feedback loops)
Determine whether the problem you wish to tackle is a problem or a “ wicked problem.”
Review the six steps in the cycle for organized change (Vision & Values, Observation and Diagnosis, Design, Strategy & Tactics, Action, Review and Learning)
Effecting Change Power – change actions – leverage
Gain insights into the “ three faces” of power
Make choices as to how you will address the power dynamics in the situation you wish to change.
Seven Action Modalities: Interest, Blueprint, HR, Promotion, Network/Social Media, Learning, Emergent
- C. TimeBanking, CoProduction™ and Community Weaver
Learn TimeBanking as an asset-based tool for achieving system change
Use Community Weaver software to conduct an asset inventory of classmates
Learn the five core principles of co-production
Apply the co-production audit as a baseline measure for assessing change.
Draft a system change problem statement making the case for coproduction as a system change strategy
Idealized design, resources and grants
- Using an idealized design approach to project your personal vision for change
Write out your design for change, to include your purpose, vision, goals and objectives if a straight problem or (b) if a “wicked problem” (or “ mess”), action patterns you might set in motion.
Learn where to look for leverage, and apply that knowledge to seek out strategies for change.
Determine what is measurable at this time.
- first steps
- Engage with others for constructive input
Create a resource map
Analyze grant proposals that have been funded, the outputs and outcomes proposed
Gain introduction to grantsmanship, the elements of a grant proposal
Make a presentation to the class of your design for change to test its appeal to a community group or non-profit organization __
 There is nothing new about diatribes against money. Mathew’s admonition –Ye cannot serve God and mammon” is simply a reformulation of Deuteronomy “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” The prohibition against usury is a primary command in Deuteronomy. Jesus did not condemn money. He condemned the love of money as the root of all evil and drove the money changers out of the temple. Islamic banking prohibits the charging of interest. Arbitrage and derivatives are what Aristotle characterizes as “ making barren metal breed.”
 See, Henderson, H, Creating Alternative Futures (1978), Paradigms in Progress (1991, 1995), Building a Win-Win World (1996). This is that portion of the nonmonetized economy that Hazel Henderson in the 1970’s designated the Love Economy (see www.hazelhenderson.com for introduction video). This analysis builds upon her work.
 See Nobel economist Becker, G. S. (1981). A Treatise on the Family. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press and MacArthur genius, Folbre, N. (2001). The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values. New York, The New Press. Hazel Henderson estimates that the Non-Monetized Economy, consisting of both the Love Economy and Mother Nature generate productive activity fully equal to that of the monetized economy.
 Natural ecosystems perform critical life-support services upon which the well-being of all societies depends. These include: purification of air and water, mitigation of droughts and floods, generation and preservation of soils and renewal of their fertility, detoxification and decomposition of wastes, pollination of crops and natural vegetation, dispersal of seeds, cycling and movement of nutrients, control of the vast majority of potential agricultural pests, maintenance of biodiversity, protection of coastal shores from erosion by waves, protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, stabilization of the climate, moderation of weather extremes and their impacts, and provision of aesthetic beauty and intellectual stimulation that lift the human spirit. Gretchen Daily, Nature’s Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystem (1997).
 As the percentage of ozone in the atmosphere decreases, the amount of UV-B radiation reaching the surface increases. It’s the UV-B radiation, not the ozone itself that is of concern because the invisible wavelengths are linked to skin cancers and other biological damage.
 Sabine O’Hara notes “Sustaining functions, such as caring, nurture, support of physical and emotional wellbeing are undervalued or go unaccounted for since they are not easily measured in input/output ratios. It is telling that the sustaining functions of human communities are provided by the so-called “informal” sector, traditionally through women’s work or by the external function of nature. Neither sector is accounted for by customary measures of wealth in GNP or GDP, a fact which has long sparked discussions regarding the adequacy of such measures. Sabine U. O’Hara, Valuing socio-diversity” International Journal of Social Economics, Vol 22 No 5,
 Appendix A
 Families are mobile; more and more families are headed by a single adult. Adult children do not live under the same roof as their parents. More and more women are in the work force. Short of some highly unlikely open-ended commitment (via insurance, Medicare and Medicaid) to buy unlimited amounts of commercially provided care seven days a week, we need to create the functional equivalent of an extended family that can provide (a) informal support, (b) be available at odd times, (c) reduce social isolation, and (e) respite for the primary caregiver. Reducing social isolation becomes a realistic goal if TimeBanking supplies ways by which the recipients of care can also function as contributors, companions, helpers and support networks rather than allowing systems to define them exclusively by their needs and disabilities.