Many who join the Talent Exchange see little difference between Talents and money. After all, both are used in a similar way to “get stuff”. Some believe that both are representations of “energy” and ultimately “do the same thing”.

On a superficial level, these observations are correct. Both are a means of exchange, used to facilitate exchange. Without them, life would be more difficult for everyday exchange. In situations where most relationships are impersonal (e.g. in cities), traditional forms of exchange would make life complicated. Having a means of exchange allows people to obtain what they require without having to provide something directly in return.

However, we need to look beyond the means of exchange aspect to discern the differences. Neither Talents nor money operates in a vacuum; each is an element of a system of exchange. The most important feature of money is that it “exists”, in that it has the property of quantity. There has to be a finite number of monetary units, or else it is meaningless. Anything that exists has to be created, and for something to be created there needs to be a creator. This is the crux. The creation of money is outsourced to private banks, which create money as debt. Money is created as a money-making enterprise, and at its source is fear, coercion and violence. Borrowers who receive newly-created money (loans) are obliged to return it with tribute attached (interest). In practice, this means that they have to give back more than they have received in order to redistribute to the lenders a portion of the wealth they create. Failure to pay tribute to the money-lenders will lead to dispossession and, ultimately, violence.

The monetary system is, thus, a redistribution system that forces producers to hand over a portion of their product to the “money providers”. Those who create and issue the means of exchange also control it, rendering the money system a control system as well. A system that forces producers to redistribute a portion of their product, distorts human relationships and forces producers into producing that which provides the greatest profit, not which is socially necessary or environmentally sustainable.

Talents, on the other hand, do not have the property of quantity. This means they do not exist and they have no creator. Talents are a unit of measure like litres or kilometres. Talents measure value provided or received; they are not media “transferred” between parties like money. As Talents are not created by anyone, no one can benefit from providing the means of exchange. This makes Talents fundamentally different from money.

Below is a table comparing Talents with money:

Talents Money
Talents focus our attention on “who can I help” Money focuses our attention on “how can I get more”
Talents are about sharing Money is about me
Talents are about creating Money is about acquiring
Talents are about giving Money is about getting
Talents are about satisfying wants Money is about creating wants
Talents measure the flow of energy Money diverts the flow of energy
Talents liberate Money enslaves
Talents connect Money divides
Talents can’t be stolen Money can be stolen
Talents spread wealth Money concentrates wealth, giving the wealthy power over people and nations
Talents come from “us” Money comes from “them”
Talents encourage sharing Money encourages greed
Talents encourage cooperation Money encourages competition
Talents reflect sufficiency Money reflects scarcity
Talents encourage honesty and openness Money encourages dishonesty, corruption and opacity
Talents focus on the local and building community Money is expansionary and seeks to monetise everything
Talents are based on love Money is based on scarcity (fear, force, coercion and ultimately violence)

There are many more differences between Talents and money. These are a subject for subsequent articles.