A new way – starting communally, expanding regionally

A combination of a new monetary unit, basic income and ecological price regulation

In cooperation with Harald Orthaber (FLi / zfs: Technisches Büro Landschaftsökologie – interdisziplinär  http://www.fli.at,), Sonnenzeit (http://www.sonnenzeit.jetzt/) and Erdpapiere (http://www.erdpapiere.org) we are working on a concept, for a socially and economically necessary provision of basic needs that is also ecological and fair.

It’s time to change the frameworks and remodel our economy

Our current economic system cannot continue operating without social justice and regards to ecological use of nature. Additionally, our monetary system is in need of a reform, as its purchasing power is permanently and through money creation periodically endangered. Its unrestrained handling has been a danger to social peace for decades, creating monetary injustices and tensions.

The new changes of framework conditions can be applied on a small scale – regionally, on site – as well as on a larger one – nationally to globally – as a consistent concept. Or in the words of former social-democratic Austrian MEP Hannes Swoboda on Europe 2020: “It would have to be an economic system that recognises the boundaries of the Earth’s ecosystem and acts upon that while at the same time not accepting inequality but instead reducing it – on a national, European and global level.”

Following the current system, the presently developed model can be implemented simultaneously and step by step. Effects can be scientifically assessed and documented. Citizens are invited to mould and fine-tune the modules. Positive progress can be realised in everyday life immediately.

Changes of framework and instruments for a social-ecological transformation of our economy

a.) Time-based currency as monetary unit. This monetary unit is often already successfully in use in local exchange trading systems. As a first framework change this complementary currency works as a readjustment of the current monetary system. Time-based currency frees us from inflation and deflation while allowing a transparent assessment of mutual work performance. It is also integrated in a legally secured national taxation system.

b.) Basic income. Another part of this new framework is a time-based basic income that sees part of the services provided as a communal service and thus is distributed equally between all members. This provides the potential to contribute to society of one’s own accord and solid economic base earnings for service and production providers. Taxation of this basic income happens in accordance with the current system.

a.) and b.) form the “socially and economically necessary instrument for the provision of basic needs”. Every human should be entitled to payment of the basic needs (food, clothing, energy, habitation, mobility) in job-sharing communities, municipalities, regions, nations. The scarcity of payment is being eliminated.

c.) Ecological price regulation. This third change of framework rewards sustainable consumption behaviour. Low and ecological consumption affects the personal “time bank account” positively (bonus), while conversely unsustainable consumption leads to a malus. Concerning taxation, this function should not be relevant. A bonus should be seen as a tax credit, not as monetary income through labour or exchange of goods.

c) is the “ecological and fair footprinting instrument” Every human is entitled to equal access to renewable natural goods (humanity is part of nature, Earth belongs to all of us equally). The equal consumption of nature is regulated with the use of ecological footprint markings on products and distributed periodically (ensured by personal “ecological accounts”). It is fair because periodic overconsumption has to be bought with time-based currency (work) that is paid to people consuming less then allotted. Their base consumption would be “cheaper” and they would need to work less. Fair ecological prices with the effect of environmental conservation is coupled with “monetary” transfers.

Download all of the above on one page (PDF).


Fritz Hinterberger

Go here to find out more about the research area Sustainable Economic Policy and Global Responsibility