Google 10^100 project submission

8. Your idea’s name (maximum 50 characters):

Threebles for a Sustainable Economy

9. Please select a category that best describes your idea.

Opportunity: How can we help people better provide for themselves and their families?

10. What one sentence best describes your idea? (maximum 150 characters)

Merging best practices to create financial stability, monetary integrity, real wealth and healthy planet through new community-based money: Threebles

11. Describe your idea in more depth. (maximum 300 words)

Externalization of costs is the core issue to solve to achieve sustainable business practices. Some businesses use Triple-Bottom-Line practices which add People and Planet metrics in addition to the existing Profit ones as an attempt to address this issue. However, this requires each business to internalize massive complexity of external impact measures and rely on them ignoring their conflict of interest with reporting poor performance.

There is an easier way.

To determine a company’s impact on people, ask the people; to determine their impact on the planet, measure inputs and outputs, then have these figures effect the company’s actual costs through triple bottom line money.

Businesses optimize themselves to their incentives. Dollars teach them to focus solely on profits because they are coupled with a credit rating solely based on financial metrics. That rating determines the cost and availability of money. Integrating externalized costs into the cost of money is the beginning of Triple-Bottom-Line Economics (3ble).

Threebles employ a triple-credit-rating comprised of people-planet-profit scores. Feedback ratings given by customers, employees, vendors, neighbors, etc. comprise the people score for a business which is sets its interest rates. Report cards from environmental watchdog groups combined with self-reported metrics about resource inputs and outputs determine the planet score and sets transaction fees. Normal profit scores determine credit limits.

Threebles are anti-inflationary because they are issued by mutual credit, so every credit exists by virtue of a counterbalancing debt for a net ZERO in circulation. All debts actually can be repaid unlike dollar debt.

Threebles are a B2B currency backed by the goods and services by businesses in a local trade network. They do not replace dollars; rather they function in parallel (like corporate gift certificates) with greater amounts of business able to be transacted through threebles as more businesses join the network.

12. What problem or issue does your idea address? (maximum 150 words)

Rapid resource consumption, climate change, and diminishing air and water quality are raising awareness of negative externalities of the way we do business. Also, recent financial collapse brought many, who never questioned the structure of our monetary system, some sudden painful awareness of some of its fundamental flaws.

Threebles ensure monetary stability by having a money supply that expands and contracts in response to actual market demand without creating inflation, and ensures the possibility of repaying all debts.

Threebles increase accountability and transparency of businesses, reduce negative externalities by creating feedback loops which directly effect the cost and availability of money for a business, and they provide access to new capital for local and responsible businesses.

Through community/participatory feedback, businesses learn how to treat employees, contractors, vendors, neighbors and their community better. Threebles also provide incentives to be more environmentally responsible, by actual measurement of their carbon footprint, resources consumption and waste.

13. If your idea were to become a reality, who would benefit the most and how? (maximum 150 words)

Threebles help business by supporting small and medium-sized, local businesses who are likelier to innovate more quickly. These are the core of our economy, the foundation of local capacities, the primary source of new jobs and what makes neighborhoods interesting and unique.

Threebles help people by giving them a forum for feedback and amplifying their voice with tangible financial impact while improving local opportunities and economies.

Threebles help community by connecting people to each other and to entrepreneurs who are trying to address community needs and providing an avenue for incorporating community values into the feedback metrics for business.

Threebles help the planet by managing metrics of resource waste and use while creating incentives for businesses to allow assessment of their environmental impact.

Threebles help the economy by providing community-managed currencies which provide a stable foundation for a local economy despite national/global currency fluctuations.

14. What are the initial steps required to get this idea off the ground? (maximum 150 words)

Target existing networks of businesses and groups within the sustainability and relocalization movements (BALLE networks, Transition Towns, Micro-Credit organizations, Community Development Corps, relocalization networks, Independent Business Alliances, chambers of commerce, etc.). I have a dozen communities interested, but they currently lack funding.

Establish online directories with feedback and rating functions for people, self-reporting from businesses about their practices, and scoring/report cards from environmental watchdog groups (see for example). Build as open source toolset for rapid proliferation and widespread support.

Implement local trade exchange as a mutual credit currency with electronic transactions and account ledgers. Interest/demurrage rates, transaction fees and available credit all adjust according to the people-planet-profit credit ratings respectively. Again, Open Source trade exchange tools are required.

Promote the opportunity in a handful of these communities to establish healthy participation so that the other communities (with less funding) can point to them as success cases.

15. Describe the optimal outcome should your idea be selected and successfully implemented. How would you measure it? (maximum 150 words)

The beauty of an electronic currency is that it easy to measure activity, impact and use. We can query transactions records, track usage patterns, business practices, performance trends and participation.

Short-term measures: Dollars of community capital created, dollars circulated, jobs created, number of local businesses sustained (by their reporting), number of business ratings performed, number of community members engaged (in use or in rating), new relationships established (through social networking tools in the directories)

Long-term measures: Evolution of responsible business practices over time, environmental improvements, waste reduction, increased recycling/compost/reuse, quality of life for people and environmental conditions

Long-term vision: Widespread network of local Threeble exchanges which enables responsible global commerce while ensuring every participating business is accountable to a community and every business becomes a social enterprise as they compete for increasingly more powerful positive externalities to get more favorable credit terms