This section is an invitation to investors and software developers to create a new economic system to run in parallel with the monetary economy.
The Caring Economy is envisioned as a cloud based IT system to provide collaborative space. Its primary purpose is to provide new work opportunities for the unemployed/under-employed, without having to wait for the monetary economy to realise their talent.
Collaboration is at the heart of every economy. The objective of the Caring Economy is to provide a mechanism that allows people to collaborate to create economic output, even where they do not have access to conventional jobs. It should speed up reallocation of resources during a recession, delivering quicker access to productive activity. It is targeted towards the people who bear the greatest costs - the unemployed and the unpaid. It is planned to run along-side the conventional monetary economy, to continue to reap its benefits.
The purpose of an economy is to channel people to collaborate, to create consumable output. The Caring Economy is a framework to allow people out of work to collaborate with each other, to allow them to participate in the economy even where the conventional economy fails to provide them with the opportunity.
The monetary economy has some great merits. But it also has some weaknesses. One major weakness is the delay taken for an advanced economy to rebalance itself when it has become unbalanced. One reason is that resources are disproportionately held by relatively few people. During a recession, resources lie idle. Because the are in the hands of the few, many are not available to the unemployed in their quest to find work.
Recessions reap devastating monetary and emotional costs on a relatively small number of people. They impose substantially lower costs on vast numbers of the others. The fact that the emotional costs are not measured means that we probably underestimate the true cost of a recession, both to the people who bear a disproportionate share of its cost and also those whose monetary loss is less dramatic but whose sense of financial security is severely undermined.
The Caring Economy proposes the creation of an online space for productive collaboration. It needs to be accessible to everyone without charge. As with the monetary economy, its output should be capable of either direct consumption or combined with other input/output to produce further output. The ultimate destination of all its output is direct consumption, which can be located either within the Caring Economy or the Monetary Economy, or both. The hope is to focus support on activities that will provide producers within the Caring Economy with direct benefit from the Caring Economy; and/or a first step on the ladder of the Monetary Economy; and/or a means to improve the efficiency of the Monetary Economy; and/or an enhanced quality of life.
The Caring economy's method of reward is more subtle than its Monetary Economy counterpart. In the Caring Economy, non-monetary rewards come in the form of mutual end-user consumption. It bears no direct relation to production or support of the efforts of others. In part, it is intangible. Ultimately, the benefits accrue to producers and non-producers alike. Reward comes from the overall benefits generated by the system, rather than directly from individual input. But it would wrong to dismiss the Caring economy as communist-laced recipe for free-loading, unmotivating failure.
The core of the Caring economy is output that can be consumed or combined directly from the open space. An example of directly consumable output is entertainment videos; an example of directly re-useable output is online training which equips people to become more productive.
The system must be capable of collaboration in a way that does not remove control from the initiator(s), but which facilitates working together. It must also be capable of indexing/advertising output, facilitate overt peer review, automate portfolio generation and provide flexibility to develop new areas of activity not facilitated by the system.
The system will need to develop in line with its use. Below are a number of suggestions required to get the project started.
3.1 System functionality
The system needs to provide a flexible space for people to create or upload output either alone, in collaboration with selected others or in collaboration with anyone who chooses to participate. It needs to provide the means to deliver output for consumption where applicable. It should be free by default, but with the option to charge for output. It needs to keep track of creation, participation, consumption and consumer ratings sufficient to allow generation of a Portfolio of Works. Above all, the system needs sufficient flexibility to accommodate self-creation of new means of participating.
3.2 System requirements
The system needs:
- Content space (eg. books/skill training/reviews/articles) and linking facilities (pressure groups)
- Requests for collaborators (eg. Sound engineers, video production, IT skills)
- Rating system/notification if chosen to receive updates
- CV generation
- Integration with the full range of social media (feeds , mailing, messaging etc)
3.3 System contents
Areas identified initially as suitable for the Caring Economy include:
- Education/Skills exchange
- Social work/Charity
- Professional advice/support
- Enhanced productivity (eg. gardening, perhaps with sharing in gains)
- Sharing experiences
4. Example applications
Example applications include:
- Financial management/advice
- Skills transfers/exchange
- Pressure groups
- Local safety/environment schemes (road - layouts, pot hole notifications/cycling/playgrounds)
- News analysis (newspapers)
- Job hunting/virtual work ideas/experiences
- Local activity planning (eg. walks, garden parties, teas, discussion groups)
- Product/Film reviews
- Make-up advice
- Game creation