First there was the barter system. The advantage: you can’t have infinite goods and most goods perished if not used or lost value. The disadvantage: difficult to store most goods and difficult to value things exactly.
Then the currency was introduced. This allowed us to exchange stuff easily. It was much easier than exchanging a cow for some grain. But the barter system was still alive for one thing… And that is goodwill. If you have done something good for me, someday I will do good to you too. I ‘owe’ you this help. But then as money became dominant and people ran after money, people forgot this classic barter system. Also in today’s system it is difficult to implement such a barter system because of the complexity of the world. The main reason for this thought process being the whole system of healthcare.
A very nascent idea, so is very weak.
Today if you get a treatment from a doctor, you need to pay him money. You can’t pay in any other currency. So the poor people are the ones who lose out in this system. It effectively means that you should have sold something to someone that benefited the person. The person then paid you money and which you then paid to the doctor. But what if I helped some other person, he paid me ‘goodwill’ and then I paid the doctor this. In terms of the barter system it is not currently possible as I don’t know if I will be able to help the doctor back. But maybe I can help someone else and then he pays me goodwill which I pass on to the doctor. Currently the only motivation for doctors is money. Many good ones already do it for the goodwill, but they are not many enough.
It sounds quite abstract and even I am not fully convinced with this idea. The first impulse will be to implement this system in money itself. That the goodwill i am talking about may itself be money. But there are drawbacks.
The currency of this new goodwill system would be : “thank you” and “I appreciate that.” Currenty there is no way to really thank someone rather than giving money.
The first drawback being that it is difficult to value goodwill in terms of money. Just like you cannot measure the value of the employees in a corporation and people are doing research to be able to measure them in terms of money and show them as ‘assets’ in the balance sheet.
Originally published at paramaggarwal.com.