Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Safety in Numbers?

Here's a thought, partly to mark the coming of Financial Fools Day tomorrow.

What if those of us still working and sharing a broad set of values to do with changing the world for the better withdrew £100-£10,000 each (depending on our means) per year from the casino economy and created our own safety net fund.

It would basically be there indefinitely for all members who fell on hard times or hit cashflow problems or just needed a cash loan to get something worthwhile going, or to retrain, or.... It would also be a self-help community in a much broader way, encouraging people to coach, teach and generally help each other out. It is the same principle that banking and insurance should be based upon (safety in numbers, supporting a community), but patently isn't.

You could see it as a kind of Medieval guild for the sustainability and social venture sector - something that would for instance tide people over when they were in that interminable stage close to getting their funding or going through a cash flow crisis. Or when they broke their foot or needed some time out. This is of course why many of us do have some savings, but who knows what they might be worth in ten years given a perfect storm of longterm recession, climate change, peak oil...

Where would we put the cash? Well patently not in the casino economy. We could buy something valuable which would also have some liquidity/income/asset value so that it would have the flexibility to pay out more or less in different years? Like if we bought a load of farms together and those who needed the profit most in different years could have it. Or something.

It would have to be for people who cared more about the community than their selfish interests. In a way it is a return to the spirit of the communards or similar. But it could also fulfil quite a similar role to a BUPA or Aviva without skimming off millions, or risking the money it holds in trust with speculative bubbles, offshore banking, investor dividends and other "Toxic Thinking" (I got this phrase from Nigel Kershaw of Big Issue fame who I bumped into yesterday)

It's just a thought experiment. But maybe we should try it and see. If there is a 'we'...?

To give a 'people's money project' of some sort a home (& following the principle that it is a bit like a guild) I have just bought us a nice little URL for a start: Guildery.com

Guildery is an archaic scottish word as far as I can find out & referred to guilds of tradesmen, crafts, burghers etc. If we don't use it for this I will use it for something community based, eg the website for my new book.

eg this from Hansard, 1947 referring to the governance of Scottish cities: "The question which has to be answered is what special significant features the Guildery and Trades have which give them the right, this blatantly undemocratic right, to a privileged position in the running of our municipal affairs."


paul macfarlane said...


As Robinson Crusoe got his Brazilian plantation going strong and made sure everybody was taken care of after his final delivery, we can do just this.

We can create a bank of farms, or a farm of banks-- that we create with our own directors to make an alternate banking model...sustainable and answering ONLY to the public members and stakeholders--the collective Guildery indeed.

Keep me posted on this-I'd love to help out.

John Grant said...

good start, will share this around a bit then see, certainly seems working up :J

John Grant said...

Looks like the crew who gave us carrotmob are on the case with this one http://www.virgance.com/greenfund.php

Will try to find out more :J

paul macfarlane said...

I reached out again to the IBOG people who were very warm to me.. I'll keep you posted too as they were involved as well. stay tuned brother.

btw..have you watched this?