WinCo Foods as a Central Bank

A 4 AM feverish dream about supermarkets becoming the vanguard in actually implementing an Universal Basic Income for the people

Have to wake up at 4:20 AM to write this because it comes from a recurring dream that is so specific it is scary. Trying to remember the main aspects of it.

In the first iteration of this dream, perhaps a month ago or more, I dreamed about a giant, for-profit, cooperative supermarket (probably from me using a WinCo Foods in the past) that somehow operated an UBI (Unconditional Basic Income) currency system for its customers. I wrote a detailed memo with technical suggestions.

Now I have dreamed about it again, and the “lawyers” (or other supermarket corporate staff) had given back their assessment of the original memo. Somehow I remembered everything I’ve suggested from the first one, and then I added notes for each item. (Or at least that is how it all felt.)

The dream was specific about the parameter “16%.” I can only guess that’s the demurrage rate of the UBI monetary system. That can only be per annum. That’s greater than Gesell’s 12%, and Freicoin’s 5% I was betting on.

16% is about one sixth of 100% (A sixth would be 16.66666…%).

I said in the original memo connectivity and communications infrastructure was critical, as was tight integration with all the other systems the supermarket ran. It was agreed.

The “lawyers” were responding with their understanding of the UBI system, as they probably had never thought about such a thing before. They characterized the UBI money creation as an “attack” on the system (as in attacking “profits” or “shares” through dilution?), and the demurrage rate as an “attenuation” on that “attack.” This was just their way of signaling they understood how it worked (since they approved it for implementation — whatever the “implementation” meant, specifically).

There was a bizarre, specific, obscure technical optimization in my original submission that the “lawyers” did not comment on. I dismissed it as unimportant for now. It mentioned “56K modems.” That must be pure dream garbage/noise. Or perhaps it was the way my brain interpreted the need for cheap tech.

My dad was in it. He was the Director of something in that supermarket/coop.

The supermarket was enormous. It was like a giant aircraft hangar or submarine dock (like a Deus Ex level). It had escalators in it and a suspended second floor in a few sections, but only a single, overarching, extremely high ceiling as you’d find in an over-sized warehouse. The supermarket entrance is from memory: I’ve been in that supermarket; it was probably the first one I remember entering as a small child (perhaps why it seemed so big).


Now that I’m done dumping what I remember, let’s think about it.

Supermarkets:

  • Have tons of food in them. Food is the embodiment of “social security;” (we have already established that socialized, public Healthcare solves that part of the social security equation, the same way socialized, public Internet access is rather obvious, leaving “food” as the next big thing to be Socialized, and the dream suggests that food distribution must be directly UBI-fied);
  • “Food insecurity” is a predictor of riots (and failed states);
  • Physical existing people starving outside of a supermarket is essentially an outrageous, horrendous bug ticket in capitalism/trade societies. It epitomizes how capitalism is an incomplete, broken fragment of a system run by stupid, self-centered monkeys that don’t really believe in themselves as a whole and that was never supposed to run like this;
  • Supermarkets already identify their customers with tons of dumb and irrelevant loyalty/discount programs;
  • Modern supermarket chains amass ridiculous/outrageous amounts of profit;
  • Food waste in supermarket chains is a huge problem; US for one wastes 60%(?) of its total food production. That, coupled with the starving (3rd world) or economically insecure (1st world) people outside of supermarkets, is only a symptom of a broken or incomplete overall social system;
  • We know how to turn supermarkets into coops (for one, I’ve seen WinCo Foods); So what if the population around a supermarket are members of the co-op as well, somehow?
  • Isn’t a supermarket like the mini-state of a community (a state, not a State, as it does not judge, torture or wage physical war on anybody)? By paying an UBI (an inner money that is redeemable and burned IN the supermarket by construction, I assume, but that can also be circulated and spent elsewhere as an “alternative” form of money, i.e. in a community) it is becoming more profitable, not less. As the community thrives, so does its “consumer market” — which spends their increased total money there. UBI means businesses (i.e. rich people’s designs) take a small hit = Consumers have Social Security = Consumers have more money = Businesses get more business, more money, more profits than the original hit. That’s the UBI case in a nutshell.

Perhaps this dream is merely an UBI analogy (the State as a giant supermarket), or an UBI thought experiment. However, it felt eerily real. As if a literal supermarket co-op chain could and should issue their own UBI-monetary-system alternative money to be enmeshed with their actual local community of customers. (A thing I see happening in a place like the US, but I find difficult to see it working here in Brazil).

It is rather simple. The supermarket issues a customer card for all people who identify as customers. All cards of all people get loaded with a fixed, constant amount of points (representing $ to spend at the supermarket), which are originally minted. The points on all people’s cards run a centralized UBIMS (UBI monetary system) which means all points rot at what is apparently a 16.6667% rate per year, which means a person’s card balance peaks at 5 times whatever the yearly point ($) income is. [The Lua code for simulating that is: “b = 0; for i=1,100 do b = b + 12000; b = b * 0.8333333333333; print (i,b); end”, where “12000” is the yearly point income]

Supermarket checkouts are carried out by people already, which can even do ID checks if required (probably not) or ask for updates or filled forms or anything like that (which they already do with their endless array of loyalty/reward card programs).

What is not a specific part of the dream, but is significant here, is the possibility of people using the supermarkets’ points program as money (a “local currency” if you will), much like mobile phone company “minutes” were used as currency somewhere in Africa as people used their old-school Nokia phones to SMS other people “minutes” by sending SMS “minute transfer” transactions to an SMS server run by the phone company.

Except we’re in 2017 and there’s no reason not to make this a “blockchain” of some sort (i.e. a public ledger). The “supermarket” is still the central bank, so it retains cryptographic keys to be able to issue new money-generating accounts into the system (as well as having the ability to revoke them).

The supermarket solves both the problem of providing a base market for the currency, as well as solving the identification problem for a community.

So many problems of all sorts are solved by this that I am still recovering from the shock.

It totally, completely transforms the job of working at a supermarket, for everyone that works for it.

It completely solves the Supermarket Paradox, in which it cannot remain as it currently is, barring people without money from just walking in and taking what they need (which is as weird as an hospital barring people without money from getting emergency care) but at the same time, very unlike hospitals, it cannot simply let anyone walk in and let them grab anything they are able to carry, for obvious reasons (you cannot walk into an hospital and load up on an arbitrary amount of healthcare — hospitals cannot be cheated, you have to be damaged to get anything out of it, and nobody damages themselves on purpose in countries with public healthcare just to troll the system).

And, more importantly, it provides a pathway for an actual, “libertarian” (non-US sense of the word) implementation of UBI. Anyone can start a WinCo Foods chain or store. You do not need a monopoly on violence. You do not need to be a State. You can be a “private citizen,” and you can implement an UBI now — as long as you get together with other people and actually do it, actually solve the problem, using whatever tools we have available right now, including those of “business” and of the “State.”


Who’d guessed the Socialist Supermarket Chain would become Cooperative Sovereign Banks issuing anarchic/libertarian “local money,” that is also “global” because it is on a block-chain cryptographic system, and that implements an Universal Basic Income accessible to all that can walk to one of its stores and identify themselves? Solving food distribution while at the same time solving sovereign money creation and an actual monetary guarantee? And increasing profits, both in the “money” sense and in the sense of an increased wealth for itself and all of society?

Henry Kissinger said whoever controls food, controls the people. The Rothschild clan said whoever controls money, controls the state (laws). So perhaps it is time to solve both problems and finally implement a way to secure our own control of ourselves and of our society.

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