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No Money Guy

No Money Guy

by Christine Hogg / 08.02.2012

Whether you’re Gerald Majola or Rob Taylor, cash worries us all. Most of us can’t get enough of it, or maybe you feel that the only way of finding peace is to give some of yours away. Generally, the more you have of it, the more you’re scared of losing it. We all have that friend, who never has a cent or a cigarette, but is overly generous on payday, when he lives like a rock star for a few nights. And of course, a lot of us just find it hard to suss out a way to make bucks without doing something that’s entirely soul destroying.

Enter Adin van Ryneveld, the No Money Guy, who might have found a way of avoiding this age old problem. Adin bartendends at Penthouse on Long, in exchange for a roof over his head, as well as chow, booze and smokes. The reasons behind his five-year project of living without money, purely on barter, might have changed, but the inspiration is still ubuntu. Initially, he wanted to set up a profit-based business that gave its profits to a good cause. But doubts arose. “You know those campaigns where they say if you buy this yoghurt we’ll give five cents to this organization?” he asks while we’re having a chat on the rooftop of Penthouse on Long. “You never know if they’re doing it because they want to build houses for poor kids or if they just want to sell yoghurt.” Adin was concerned that people would mistake his altruism for a marketing strategy that feeds on guilt. At the same time, after learning about our scarily fucked-up debt-based monetary system, he noticed that giving away money won’t help anybody in the long run. He had to find a way to live without it.

No Money Guy - Opening Image

When Adin started compromising with capitalism, he still largely depended on others to help him out. “If it wasn’t for other people then I wouldn’t have been able to survive,” he explains. Things such as toiletries or airtime had to be bought by helpful supporters in exchange for a service that was of value to them. Discovering the Community Exchange System was a blessing. It operates online and allows members to exchange services with a unique currency called talents. It’s not debt-based, because there’s no fear of the currency running out, as money does in a traditional economy. This in turn means that everybody has a fair chance of getting loaded. There’s no central bank to rip anyone off. What this means is, if I clean your windows, for example, my account will be credited with 100 talents, if that’s what I decide to charge, and you lose a 100 talents. As long as you have a service to offer, or an object to sell that somebody needs, you’ll be able to earn talents. This is different to our current economy in which businesses can go bankrupt simply because there’s not enough money in circulation. On top of that, everyone else has full access to your account balance, which on some level encourages members to use the services of those who don’t have it all that well, in order to help them on their feet again.

Apart from discovering CES, Adin managed to move away from upright sponging through establishing a direct exchange relationship with Penthouse on Long. He’s even offered advertising space on his right arm, for companies to tattoo their logos on, in exchange for equipment like cameras and laptops. Through launching the brand Ubuntu Digital the project has taken on even greater dimension. Buying airtime, for example, might soon be less of a problem. “Now that I have a brand, Cell C and Ubuntu Digital could go into business, for example,” he points out. It’s also a nexus point for having a lot of fun, without money. Ubuntu Digital have already thrown a series of gigs on the rooftop of Penthouse on Long and more are to come, as well as a festival that’ll take place about an hour out of Cape Town. The parties cost 100 talents to get into. If you’re not registered with CES you can do so on the spot and a 100 talents will be taken off your account. It’s important to Adin that potential supporters have a good time and realise that it’s not about an iron-willed battle against the system. “I’m not against capitalism and I’m not for it either. Actually, I’m not against anything.”

Banksy

But parties are not going to resolve the disparities and injustices of the global financial system. A popular alternative exchange system, however, would be beneficial for South Africa’s communities as a sort of backup plan, for someone who has lost their job but needs their roof to be fixed, for example? Although Adin agrees, he has no intentions on focusing on township exposure at this moment. “Do you know that saying, oh you’re preaching to the choir?” He asks. “I think fucking preach to the choir and teach the choir how to sing better, get them better fucking instruments and shinier outfits so that when they sing more people wanna come and listen.” And while some may brand him a Long Street hipster activist, Adin emphasises that approval has to happen organically and that he’s not planning to change the world, but would be happy if it does change.

Adin hopes that he’ll have built enough networks to continue to live without money even after the five years are over. There’s one thing, however, that would make him ditch the project straight away. “If I had a kid, I’d start using money immediately to support them.”

*The next Ubuntu Digital party is on 11 February, featuring DJs such as Richard Marshall (sSHADOWORKSs) and Fletcher (African Dope) – and both get paid in talents.

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RESPONSES (12)
  1. nero says:

    “It operates online and allows members to exchange services with a unique currency called talents. It’s not debt-based.”

    I’m not a financial instruments guru, so please explain to me how those two statements do not contradict each other.

    “This is different to our current economy in which businesses can go bankrupt simply because there’s not enough money in circulation.”

    Please explain this.

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  2. Naaier Ditcher from Khayalitsha says:

    @nero – they are total contradictions and of no intrinsic value or merit for the reasons given. What this strategy ultimately strives for is to allow deadbeats and misfits to survive comfortably without paying a cent of taxes, while still comfortably using the public amenities that the rest of us pay for.

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  3. Andy says:

    I think when he says “debt based” he’s referring to the global financial standard of these reserve banks that print money in a vacuum – without an intrinsic value system underpinning the cash.

    CES has been around a long time and it’s a very simple community economy. Instead of simply bartering your services directly, you can have a 3rd party “keeper of value” – known as a talent – that allows you to sell your services or products and buy the services or products of someone else entirely. The talent is only as valuable as the people in the community offering their services. There’s no central bank printing talents and there’s no inflation – beyond the value that each person gives to their skills, products or services. Each talent, is underpinned by the individual who does that work, product or service.

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  4. pnut says:

    I think the dude’s heart is in the right place, but it sounds like he can’t really communicate clearly what he’s on about. And that’s a major failing. He needs to read a shit load more and maybe even go and edumacate himself with a bcomm before people will take him and his message seriously.

    I mean offering his right arm for tattoo branding is just stupid. And frankly, it’s just like starting a business with your body as the product. Which just reaffirms the whole money-based capitalist system he seems to be rebelling against.

    Beyond that, it’s quite a parochial, suburban outlook. That whole “preaching to the choir” speech is a load of crap. If he really gives a shit about revolutionizing the monetary system and the way we humans deal with money, he should take it to the impoverished communities – of which South Africa has many. Otherwise this whole thing risks being confused with his pursuit of a long street lifestyle, without wanting to actually do any work to sustain it, while riding the meme of global mistrust and anger towards the 1% and the capitalist system.

    Adin, grow some balls educate yourself and move to Khayelitsha.

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  5. Andy says:

    so many kaks and no debate? wtf

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  6. nero says:

    @Andy: “Each talent, is underpinned by the individual who does that work, product or service.”

    The system assumes that the individual will actually DO the work you require in exchange for a talent you have “spent.” Much in the same way that you assume that a builder, or store, or stripper will actually give you something of value in exchange for your paper money ZAR notes. The one system is as “debt based” as the other.

    I take your point about artificial inflation due to Reserve Bank issuing of notes, but surely the number of talents you can get for a product or service will increase as that product/or service becomes more scarce or sought after. So it will be subject to normal inflation?

    Disclaimer: Everything I know about economics I learnt playing Monopoly.

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  7. Andy says:

    Nero

    I hear you. I know a few people who use the CES (mainly hippies living in Scarborough) and as far as I can tell it works. The only failing is that there aren’t enough people in the system to really operate as an alternate economy so all you end being able to buy is aromatherapy massages and home made carpentry etc.

    I think you also get to set the talent price for your work. So it’s as open ended as you want – and if you value your services too highly you probably don’t get any business. And vice versa so the system is surely not immune to basic supply and demand inflation.

    In terms of it being debt based. I don’t think you can get talents on credit. But there might be an angle there. Bringing the global financial system to talents… start a credit bubble in CES… 😉

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  8. Adolph says:

    I’m sending SARS investigators after those fucking hippies right now.

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  9. nero says:

    So this “money” will work with hippies but not strippers? I see a flaw.

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  10. Andy says:

    well theoretically if the stripper wants to buy some home made organic cheese or some driftwood furniture, you might be good.

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  11. simon says:

    or if the stripper wants to learn to surf 😉

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  12. No Money Guy says:

    hey Chrisitine!

    thanks for writing this and starting this kind of a conversation in the public arena 🙂

    ok, I have to say something guys…I am lank surprised to see so many kaks against this project and so few kifs in support of this. having said that, nobody said this would be easy…comments like the ones this post got just prove how well designed and efficient the system is in convincing people that money is the only way of doing things.

    ok, so I am gonna take some time and respond to each of these comments. even though I disagree with most of them…there have been some valuable points raised that I would like to address. let’s see where this goes!

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