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kestrel
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2022-07-21 05:40:51 (UTC)

The Good Friends Manifesto

Personal entry follows.
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I wanted to take a moment to jot down a few notes regarding a barter arrangement that I call the "Good Friends" plan. This is essentially a more formalized gift economy. This plan is incomplete and it's doubtful I'll have a chance to finish it. However I wanted to record some of these ideas before they disappear. Should you see value in any of this, feel free to take it and run with it. I don't need credit.

Just this evening, I overheard a discussion in which someone's alternative currency scheme shut down (in a kind way) for very legitimate reasons. Primary among these is that as soon as any alternative currency scheme gains some traction, the federal government - if not the state government - swoops in and shuts down the operation.

This rings true even if it's a volunteer arrangement. For example, if someone runs some kind of cottage business, and volunteers come along and provide work in exchange for some physical goods (like food for their family, or clothing, or some kind of physical good/s in exchange), the government will penalize the business owner and force them to provide the minimum wage, social security pay, and unemployment insurance. An alternative exists in which the business owner may register as a non-profit organization, though I know from experience that this takes time and money to establish, and there is a tedious amount of persistent paperwork involved. In essence, this state of affairs makes it financially unviable to depend on volunteers.

And this is assuming that the volunteers are any good...! There are more than a few stories about well-meaning small-business owners who agree to take in volunteers, but the volunteer is untrained and actually reduces productivity (particularly in cases where the business owner is already short-handed and can't spend time training people when the business needs to be run), or the volunteer brings in their kids with them and they trash the place, or the volunteers skim or steal from the business owner, etc.

Blah blah blah... So there are problems that need to be addressed. So I think I would want to detail a few things that anyone who wants to engage in this kind of relationship - that is, exchanging good for goods and/or services, and vice versa - follow these specific principles for maximum utility, persistence, and invisibility. A Good Friends relationship is best when it remains "under the radar."

1. There is no requirement for governments to neither be involved in, nor notified about, every exchange between two or more parties.
2. There is no requirement for neither currency of any kind nor written contracts to be involved in every exchange between two or more parties.
3. A party can refuse or end any arrangement, single or persistent, between themselves and any other party, for any reason. No justification is required, and no means no.
4. There are actually no formalized consequences for a party that does not follow-through with its end of the deal, so to speak. However, there is no "immunity clause" or guarantee of no consequences for those who haven't followed-through.
5. Good Friends relationships are most effective when they begin with an offer for goods or services, not a request.
6. Good Friends relationships are most effective when there is no hierarchichal conflict between interested parties. The greater the imbalance of social capital and/or community power between parties, the less chance they will become Good Friends.
7. Corporations may be recognized by certain governments and laws as individuals, but they are not welcome to be Good Friends.

If the previous principles sound foolish, naive, incomplete, or problematic, then it's unlikely you'll want to be a Good Friend of anyone else.

Maybe some of the above are redundant statements, however if that's the case then it's only repeated in an effort to engender the spirit of a Good Friends relationship. Ultimately, I'd like a common reply to a question about an exchange that previously took place to be as simple as, "Oh, they're just a Good Friend of mine and I wanted to help them out." I'm unclear as to the legal consequences of such a reply in all cases, but I hope it still has merit.

To Be Continued (?)


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