What does it do?
The system is thus far only connecting P2P care relationships with organizations and governments. We are aware of the potential needs of how a group/cooperative can practically use the MWS, with a general direction of accumulating Relationships and the associated CCs together. However, we have not begun to explore it yet.
A user can use the Micro-Welfare System (hereafter ‘MWS’) to:
- Overview their PTs and CCs
- Receive PTs for their Activity in Self-Relationship or after a CC is dissolved
- Manage their PTs
- Monetized PTs for validating a contract
- Compose CCs with their monetized PTs
- Co-manage their CCs with the other PT owner in a Relationship
- Initiate a CC payment under a Relationship
- Invite the other PT owner to consent a CC payment of their Relationship
- Co-consent a CC payment of a Relationship with the other PT owner
- Paying for a service and goods to a ReUnion-friendly cooperative with their partner.
- Distribute subsidies to CCs in CS-3 contracts
- Overview of the circulation of CCs to inform their subsidy policy
- Crowdsource repeating patterns of contracts to inform policy/legal/political reform
A reasonable concern about a welfare system for interpersonal relationships is its bureaucratic efficiency. To increase the efficiency of welfare distribution, ReUnion utilizes Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). Proof-of-Relations aims to relieve administrative labor to authenticate whether the contract reflects the relationship properly, through the lens of new kinships. The PT tracks care Activities between users and the CC is a measuring unit of micro-welfare so that government subsidies may be automatically distributed.
A CC functions as the unit of rewards that helps the PT owners, communities, organizations, and governments to distribute funding and subsidies. PT is a unit of rewards for PT owners’ respective Activities within a Relationship, and its amount contributes to the total amount of CCs in the Relationship. PTs do not lose their independence as they continuously accumulate and are turned into CCs. PTs’ independence helps the system to determine how much PTs each PT owners should receive after a Relationship and its associated CCs are dissolved. Because PTs and CCs are generated by the users via contracts, both currencies create a distribution system according to each user’s needs.
For example, in the Second Contract Stage (CS-2)
Ari and Elliot agree to give 50 euro per month to validate their childcare sharing relationship. They agree to take care of each other’s child together. They use Activity contract (PTs) to keep track of their hours and favors for each other to assure that their mutual contributions to each other remain in balance. After 12 months, the accumulated value of their CCs is 1200 euro [(50+50)*12]. If Ari and Elliot wish to end the relationship, their CCs will dissolve and split based on the PTs they accumulated respectively. For instance, over the period of one year, Ari has done 582 Activities for Elliot or for the shared need of their relationship, and Elliot has done 394 Activities. Then at the moment of contract dissolution, Ari receives Ari-PTs worth €715.57, and Elliot receives Elliot PTs worth €484.43. Ari and Elliot can continue to use their PTs to combine new CCs without needing to contribute more money.
During the 12 months of their contract, Ari and Elliot may need to use a local cooperative daycare for extra assistance, at the rate of €40 per hour. They can take out an equal amount of CCs from their relationship wallet to pay the daycare rate.
In addition, in Third Contract Stage (CS-3):
If Ari and Elliot decide to continue their collaboration for another year, they can either choose to stay in CS-2 or apply to become a CS-3. According to the government’s policy, the Ari-Elliot Coin can receive 100 euro per month based on their former exchange of care. After 12 months, the accumulated value of their CCs is 1200 euro (100*12). If Ari and Elliot wish to end the relationship and they have performed equal hours and favors for each other, their CCs will dissolve and each of them receives PTs worth 600 euro. Ari and Elliot can continue to use these PTs to combine new CCs without needing to put in more money.
During this 12-month period with government subsidy, Ari and Elliot may still need help from a local cooperative daycare, at a rate of €40 per hour. They can take out an equal amount of CCs from their relationship wallet to pay the daycare. However, this time, as the government is subsidizing their CCs (composed by PTs), they effectively paying the daycare service with their care Activities (PTs).
It is important to note that all our economic questions in only in a directional exploratory stage, including how the PT rates for Activities, the mathematical equation between PTs and CCs, our monetary and liquidity policy, the currency circulation within ReUnion and the value exchange between ReUnion, organization/government, and ReUnion-friendly cooperatives, and so on.
In the following text, we illustrate our directions with numbers and simple math, knowing that they are flawed and expecting them to change after later research. We gladly welcome input from readers.
We aim to design a reward scheme that assures qualitative exchanges in the interpersonal relationship. PTs and CCs are designed to incentivize people to stabilize their informal care relationships, but the basis of reward scheme (i.e. how does the value of PTs determined by the activities, how does the PTs determine the value of CCs, etc.) is still under exploration and debate.
Our exploration is forking between two directions: a pan-reward unit scheme that is associated with time (timebank), and a reward scheme that is associated with the hardship of the care contribution (categorization of care). Both schemes have their pros and cons:
The positive effect of a timebank, or similar derivatives, is that an ‘objective’ meter can avoid escalating potential haggle moods between people, which if often contributing to the downs of a relationship. However, this effect can only work when the project is happening in a community where everyone has a similar condition so that there will not be a huge margin between people in terms of contribution. Moreover, when the timebank scheme covers a large enough group and has life-long guarantees, then the risk of doing heavier care work than others will be distributed among a much larger group and on a life-long timeline. The former condition is not fitting to ReUnion’s vision, and the latter is not something that ReUnion can guarantee right now and, therefore, does not qualify as a scheme for a small local pilot.
The categorization of care can recognize different levels of hardship in different types of care work and may lead to a more qualitative effort if the categorization is done well. Yet the categorization itself is introducing a new layer of politics and can induce more intensities between people. For us to understand different types of care exist in all sorts of scenario, we inevitably need to analysis care work in different sections and categories. However, whether it should be rendered into our reward scheme still bears a question mark.
Fiat is invested to validate PTs. Validated PTs can then be invested in the creation of a Relationship contract, CS-2, with another user. Once invested in a CS-2, the PTs become unique CCs and the Relationship’s communal fund (wallet).
In a CS-3, CCs are predominantly funded by subsidies. CCs store the funds and receive subsidies for the Relationship. If they wish, users can continue to invest their money in these contracts. PTs are generated by making Activities and keep track of the Activities.
CCs are stored within linked to the Relationship smart contract (i.e. A relationship contract between Ari and Frankie will have their distinct currency as “Ari-Frankie” CCs). The values of the CCs, however not have been determined by a defined liquidity model at this moment, are related to the fiat of the validated PTs and the care activities between the PT owners. As such, when a CC dissolves, it automatically divides into PTs and returns to the PT owners respectively. The associated fiat is locked in the CCs until the Relationship contract ends, and after which it is returned as monetized, but not tradable, PTs to the users. Please note that the monetary policies for the CCs and PTs, as well as the mathematics that determine the token valuation and division still being researched.
Further research must be conducted in order to determine if and how CCs will exist within the ReUnion Network as fiat, to ensure the ramifications are within the parameters of our goals. Additionally, while the platform may be used for personal reflection and life management with PTs, we also aim to create more incentives for people to keep CCs and continue to participate in the collaborative economy ReUnion proposes (see section “Connecting to Local Cooperatives”).
Although the contracts in the ReUnion Network are not geographically bound, given the often-physical demands of care work, most of the activity exchanges will likely take place within reasonable geographic limits. Therefore, ReUnion aims for the CCs to be used to pay for services or goods that are provided by local providers that are near at least one of the user’s geographic locations.
This will be an opportunity to connect with local cooperatives. There are several reasons and benefits to do so:
First, collaborating with local cooperatives supports and simulates local cooperative economies, encouraging an economy in which workers are the predominant owners and managers. Often, care work cooperatives are not able to compete with competitors and the market based on price because of the lack of large funds necessary to pay the workers a fair wage and ethically run a business. When government subsidies are available to reward the care exchanges inside the ReUnion Network, users have an incentive to make transactions with ReUnion-friendly local co-ops with the CCs they accumulate in their Relationships. Moreover, ReUnion helps care work cooperatives become more competitive with non-cooperative-based solutions since the government subsidies to the user help offset cooperatives’ higher absolute cost.
Put succinctly: in CS-3, users pay the co-ops by conducting their care Activities. The co-ops receive the same payment for their work as they would from other customers. The government pays the same amount of subsidy for their social workers, while supporting double or more care needs, repairing social solidarity and alleviating loneliness as a public health crisis.
Second, local cooperatives can become a community service hub through the CC mechanism. Cooperative workers may create their own PTs and may offer to combine their tokens with other users’ PTs to create Composite Coins. This will be helpful for people who are, or become, socially isolated.
Third, collaborating with local cooperatives allows people to connect with care workers in an equal way. By joining as a user, cooperative workers will gain a personal care network that might be more difficult for them to build and is something that is traditionally ill supported by society, as care work is extremely undervalued by society and the market. A disproportionate number of those who do care work are some of the most precarious and socially and economically underprivileged people. This is particularly visible with the overwhelming imbalance between gender, race, class, and legal and economic statuses in the field of care.
The low payment of care work makes it hard to recruit those of privileged gender, race, and class positions to this type of work. However, if we want to have a better society of care and solidarity, we must involve more people in care labor. We must recognize the fundamental value of care in our society.
By being within a shared network in which the units of value exchange symbolically and literally constitute caregiving, as the direct fulfilling of a care need; and care receiving, indicating the right to receive and respond to care, the connection between a care worker and a care receiver is less of a replaceable, employment relation. The care relation is less removed, which is more so associated with taking care of - including the identification of a care need and responding to it via a resource [such as giving money], but not by directly doing the care act. Ideally, such an arrangement may considerably increase the care worker's ability to negotiate, resist against abuses, mediate conflict between having a direct point of exchange between the caregiver and the care receiver, and have affirmative consent and review that the care given was what was needed and was adequately received. This aims to foster a social culture that recognizes the fundamental value of care and its full scope of practice.
Notably, we keep in mind the importance to expand the cooperative categories, such as farming, food, local productions, legal service, psychiatric services, and more, so that a cooperative economy ecology can be developed in the future. This ambition is largely practical: on the one hand, it increases the incentive for care cooperatives to accept CCs as payment (even without a fiat exit scheme) because they can use it to exchange goods. On the other hand, an economy of solidarity needs to extend beyond a limited definition of care and into care as a methodology, an ethos for sustenance at large. As CCs are programmed for collaboration, they are a premise for an economy that demands the awareness of others and includes nuances in relationships. By enabling a market based on such a currency, we can change the transactional nature of traditional free markets.