Our monetary system simply serves as a means of exploitation not a means of barter.
This is the strap line in today's Indy: "Bulgarians are flown to Britain, live in packed caravan compounds and pocket just £45 a week to pick fruit for Britain's biggest retailers". This is a story that we have all heard many times. The British don't want to work for peanuts, farms want to make a profit, supermarkets force prices down, shoppers want to pay the least amount for their food... so the only answer is to find someone else to exploit, and Bulgarians and Romanians are the target this time.
When I visited Marden a few weeks back at the start of their barter scheme there was a discussion on whether to charge for goods based on an arbitary price similar to shops or whether to pay on how much time an activity took. This led to the question of whether one person's time is more valuable than another.
Should a solicitor exchange their time on the barter scheme at the same rate as a cake maker? Should a gardener charge the same rate as an architect? For me the simple answer is yes, we should all have equal value. People claim that their skills and expertise, acquired through years of training mean that they are in demand and this justifies their high prices. I suggest not. I suggest that over time people could enter these professions to ensure job security rather than to make a handsome profit.
Of course this is utopian dreaming, but there is a very real case for limiting maximum and minimum wages to help prevent exploitation. There is also a very real case for having these maximum and minimums applied globally because most of our exploitation is with foreign workers.
We also need to keep thinking about the stuff we buy in human (and oil terms). How many hours labour did it take to produce the T Shirt that costs £1? And how are we replacing labour with buried, non-renewable, energy when we automate production and what effect does that have on the factor owners and workers?