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Share a bike, find a babysitter, make a home wireless and other  needs for ad hoc services to find, rent, sell and hire could be made safer and easier for buyers and sellers with National E-Markets (NEMs). “Think Ebay writ large and better regulated.”

With more opportunities for short-term work more people gain at least slivers of employment. And slivers mean lot when people don’t have enough money for food and a place to live. 

Also many people can help each other as they help themselves with this approach, especially in this bad economy. What’s needed say experts is government mandated tighter/safer regulations so we can trust the online systems that private companies create to support this collective activity.  

British-based Connected Community: “How can such a system we brought into being? The private sector would fund these markets if Government could put the conditions in place…The Government needs to work much more with the natural behaviour of people. Selling time and possessions, rather than products as such, is very difficult to regulate, tax etc, but it can and should be done. The technology is not the problem, the problem is political will.”

Net Benefit author Wingham Rowan goes further and dubs such systems guaranteed electronic markets (GEMs).  In academic language he cites this ultimate public benefit: GEMs would run alongside ordinary electronic commerce, but disintermediation would mean that they would be less expensive. They would abolish the dominant position of large businesses, with all participants having to reach minimum quality and reliability standards.”

This is not a new idea – just an easier and cheaper one with the advent of online innovations. Better than the black market or unregulated bartering this approach enables the government to set standards for a system to be created by private firms in the public interest, making it safer for us to exchange goods and services – especially for short periods of time. 

Done right it leverages the efficient, people-serving strengths of democracy and capitalism.

Imagine if our local governments had a system like some British municipalities have to match people with limited free time with individuals and firms needing part-time or temporary staff. 

Currently, for some local and national e-markets we can gain some of the benefits of a NEM but not a GEM.  Usually these are group-regulated online services, often dependent on a dedicated, volunteer community manager as at my Marin freecycle chapter.

moving from me to we


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