Will 'Time Bank' Put People Out of Work?

Do you want to put these landscapers out of work?
Do you want to put these landscapers out of work?
Elvert Barnes/Flickr

So there's this thing that's growing in popularity among the brainiacs and do-gooders in Silver Lake these days, and it's called a "Time Bank."

The idea of it sounds groovy and interesting, but an unintended consequence of the Time Bank is that it may put you, me, and a whole bunch of other people out of work. Let's discuss further...

The Time Bank works like this. You join and offer a service that another person in the Time Bank can use. For example, you're a landscaper and someone in the Time Bank needs her flowers planted. You plant flowers for that person and get credit in the Time Bank for that time.

When you need help with something -- say, filing your taxes or learning how to play the guitar or having your dog walked -- you go to the Time Bank and find someone to help you.

"Instead of separating our community into those who need and those who provide," reads the homepage of The Arroyo S.E.C.O. Network of Time Banks, "we recognize that we all have needs and gifts to share."

Like we said, it sounds really groovy, especially when used as a kind of volunteer service that poor folks can utilize when they don't have the money to pay for a service. But these things can unravel and spread with highly impactful, unforeseen consequences.

We can't help but wonder that if the Time Bank is merely used as a cheap, free way to get your taxes done or to have your flowers planted or to have people do tons of other jobs that you would normally pay someone to do, that a whole bunch of people will lose their livelihoods and will not be able to support themselves or their families.

Maybe we're being a bit alarmist, but already Silver Lake is dealing with a controversy over "Airbnb" operations in which vacationers can rent out a room at someone's home at a discounted rate rather than stay in a hotel -- which not only affects the bottom line of hotels but the livelihoods of hotel housekeepers, bellhops, room service waiters, and many others.

And L.A. Weekly's Gene Maddaus has recently revealed the brouhaha over app ride shares that's angering taxi drivers, who could lose tons of money.

"We are an interconnected community of people who help each other by sharing our abilities, talents and experiences," the Arroyo S.E.C.O Time Bank states. "By both giving and receiving, we learn to appreciate the value of each and every member and also come to believe in the value of our own contributions."

Maybe so, but people are already appreciating the value of others -- and they do that by paying folks hard-earned cash for their skilled work, which helps them earn a living.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow him on Twitter at @PRMcDonald.


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