Time-banks, if not implemented well, would be akin to a ponzi scheme

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Published: November 7, 2019 1:16:35 AM

Given that the state predicts that the 60-plus segment would account for 25% of its population in the next 30 years, it believes a time—or social—credit system would help people avail social security services based on these social credits.

ponzi scheme, time banks, Robinson Crusoe economy, Social security schemes, consumption, pension, moral incentive scheme, US, social credit systemIn recent times, the concept has found resonance with the emergence of time-banks.

A Robinson Crusoe economy is a thought experiment that is often used in economics to explain difficult concepts with simplicity. One of the best examples is of consumption and pension. The example is of an island where there are only two categories of people, young and old. The young can climb trees and get coconuts, and they part with their earnings so that the old can survive. The example works well till the time the young keep tending to the old, as once the cycle breaks, there would be no older people left since future generations won’t tend to the old. Social security schemes were designed on this idea. In recent times, the concept has found resonance with the emergence of time-banks. While the concept dates back to 1820, the first time such a bank was set up in the US was in 1995. As technology has allowed proliferation of apps to keep track of social credits, more countries are adopting this approach. Madhya Pradesh, last week, became the first state in India to implement such a concept.

Given that the state predicts that the 60-plus segment would account for 25% of its population in the next 30 years, it believes a time—or social—credit system would help people avail social security services based on these social credits. To illustrate, if a person were to give one hour to volunteer work at a shelter for the elderly, she could, in her sunset years, encash that one hour of work from another volunteer for her care. Although the approach is novel and, given the right technology, trackable, the idea would only work if the state can ensure that there are enough number of volunteers always. At present, the state claims to have the support of Rajya Anand Sansthan, which has a force of 50,000 volunteers. Social experiments like these do sound good, but without support, they often fail. Cuba is a good example. Che Guevara’s videos of working on docks, and helping labourers as part of the moral incentive scheme did work wonders, but it failed once there was nobody whose example the masses could follow. Maybe the state’s ministers can lead from the front to make the idea a success. Otherwise, it would sound as ludicrous as the ministry that launched it—adhyatma (spirituality).

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