Basically, the concept builds social capital in a different way. As Cahn notes, "The Time Dollar currency, which consists of service credits, enables human beings to redefine themselves as assets, each and every one with something special to contribute -- regardless of what the market economy says. When all hours are valued equally, when the tasks are essentially those which families and neighbors have always done for each other, and when the obligation to repay is backed by a moral norm of reciprocity rather than a legal norm of coercion, then one is outside the market economy and outside the constraints of feasibility imposed by market wages and the availability of tax dollars for the building of social capital."
Time Dollars could do amazing things. They could strengthen community of place and counter the centrifugal tendency of money to uproot community in pursuit of maximum return.
They could create and reinforce an ethos of reciprocity because each hour spent creates both an expectation and an indebtedness.
They could create a social etiquette that makes it permissible to reach out to help others without invading their space and makes it possible to accept help without feeling one is accepting charity.
So there you have it! If there is need for a "fix," let's really explore ideas that are consistent with fairness and the heritage of togetherness that has made West Virginia a special place. Furthermore, we would build a New Economy for those who really need and deserve it!
David, a professor at WVU Tech, is a Gazette contributing columnist.