Debt, Obligation, Empathy

We're continuing the beautiful meandering discussion from the last time we met. The pieces below are just for reference, we can pick and choose what we need.

This first part is from the end of the Business or Friendship discussion guide:

What's a transaction? What kinds of transactions are there? Is there a difference between a 'transaction' and an 'exchange'? Are transactions always fair?
Exchange is all about equivalence. Both sides are keeping accounts, it's okay for both sides to keep account! Also, the entire relationship can be canceled out, and either party can call an end to it at any time. (paraphrase of) Debt p.103
What is the relationship between people in a transaction? Are they equals?

討論逐字稿: Business or Friendship? 2014/10/5 discussion

These are notes from the discussion that include partial transcripts of what we said.

Sharing is like I have something I can give part of it to someone I want to give it to.

A transaction is like I give something to someone else and at the same time I expect that person to give something in return, like feedback, or an object
Of equal value?
Transaction may mean the same as 'private goods', that means a thing has it's own property rights, so the owner is the only one that can use it, sell it, dispose of it, so in the market, private goods can be transacted. At the same time, private goods are hard to share with other people. For example, if you need a pencil, you don't often share it with other people.
A pencil? It is very easy to share!
Use simultaneously, no.
Money is hard to share.
You can share a house! Share the right of use with other people.

What's easier to define: a business transaction or a friendship?
Or, what's the difference between the two?
Well, is there emotional affection involved? Are there emotions involved?
But business transactions can be emotional?
I'm talking about affection, or bonding.
A friendship has more bonding?

討論逐字稿: CES

From the discussion "CES: A different way to exchange value"

Concluding Statements:
How does the way in which we exchange value impact our relationships with other people?

I will say a lot, I’m sorry. In my opinion, in a barter system, you have to trust the people who provide the things, for instance I exchange this one with her water because I trust her water is good. In the money system, like the modern system, you have to trust in the one who produces the money, endorses it. You have to trust the gvt, that's why we think the US dollar is good, and the Russian not so much, because they're not stable. This kind of money is less valuable.
And for the CES system, I think you first have to trust the accounting system, you have to trust the record in a transparent way, and you have to trust the people as well. Like in yahoo knowledge. If the people are just kidding, and they don't really contribute some valuable knowledge, I wouldn't join this community. So I would say in the first barter system, the people, their connections will be tighter.

I don't have a novel idea but I will try to express it. I think the different way to exchange value, of the two kinds of ways to exchange value, the difference between the two systems is about the distance between people. Some ways to exchange value will enlarge the distance between individuals and some will bring them together. So if we use the way to exchange value over a larger distance, we will have less empathy.

CES: A different way to exchange value

CES stands for Community Exchange System. There are many substitute trading systems around the world, known as Community Exchange Systems, Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), Mutual Credit trading systems, Trade Exchanges or Time Banks. Most of the info we're discussing today comes from a South African organisation that provides a web-based service to help people organise a CES in their communities. This does not represent an endorsement of this information or system, we're using the information as a jumping-off point for a discussion of how we can exchange value in an economic system.

Questions to start the discussion:
How does money work?
How does an economy work, at basic?
Does money 'exist'?
What is 'barter' and why is it of limited value?
Which came first: currency, barter, or credit?

The Money Gap
There is a 'money gap' between the skills/offers/talents/gifts of sellers on the one hand and the wants/needs/requirements of buyers on the other. Money is supposed to bridge that gap, as a medium of exchange. But what about when you don't have enough money to exchange for what you need, because the skills you can offer don't buy enough money in the markets available to you? How do you get what you need?

The 'Existence' of Money
The main problem with conventional money is that it 'exists', or at least we are encouraged by the commercial banks to believe that it exists so that they can 'lend' it to us at a price! As such it has to be created, distributed and the amount of it restricted and controlled. As money comes into existence when commercial banks grant loans, every unit in existence is based on a unit of debt. This determines the quantity of money, which has nothing to do with the amount of money people require to live decent lives. Such money is also based on speculation, because it is loaned into existence on the premise that it will be paid back in the future with interest.

「思‧英語討論會」will begin on 2014/9/19

The RO Studio is happy to announce that our regular Friday「思‧英語討論會」discussions are starting once again on September 19.

The discussions will take place regularly on Fridays, and each discussion will be listed in advance on the sidebar to the left. However, please check the calendar to the left to confirm that the discussion will take place.

To register for the discussion, please contact Angela at


Hi all! The RO Studio is on hiatus for the summer.

Check back in August for our fall schedule of workshops and discussions!


Meg Jay: Why 30 Is Not The New 20
"The best time to work on Alex's marriage is before she has one."
--Meg Jay's supervisor

"To achieve great things, you need a plan and not quite enough time. "
--Leonard Bernstein

Identity capital: something that adds value to who you are
"Identity capital begets identity capital. So now is the time for that cross-country job, that internship, that startup you want to try. I'm … discounting exploration that's not supposed to count, which, by the way, is not exploration. That's procrastination. … Explore work and make it count."

Do as I say, not as I do!

What are your guiding principles in life?
What are the things you value most?

Teaching a Person or Child to Care
Surveys reveal that in the United States, parents from European, Asian, Hispanic and African ethnic groups all place far greater importance on caring than achievement. These patterns hold around the world: When people in 50 countries were asked to report their guiding principles in life, the value that mattered most was not achievement, but caring.
--Raising a Moral Child NYT 4/11/2014

Is it important to teach people to care?

How do you teach people to care? How do you teach children to care?

When a child does something right what do you say?