Queens assemblyman proposes public payments system to add value to ‘unvalued’ work

Photo credit: Scott Morris/Qoin Foundation

Imagine a society where “unvalued” and undervalued work is equitably compensable and is part of a public payment system that is circulated within the community. This is the ambitious proposal from a pair of lawmakers, including one from Queens, and a Cornell professor known as an “Inclusive Value Ledger.”

On Oct. 13, Assemblyman Ron Kim, Senator Julia Salazar and Professor Robert Hockett unveiled the bill known as the Empire State Inclusive Value Ledger (IVL) Establishment and Administration Act, which would allow for the creation of a public savings and payments platform for New Yorkers.

Using a “universally trusted” digital debit-credit ledger system, the IVL would also allow residents to receive tax and remittance credits and government benefits totaling an estimated $55.7 billion in New York State.

According to the legislators, the IVL would transform and directly impact “soft” work including mentoring, tutoring, environmental preservation efforts, caring for the elderly and ill and community service. Often, these types of jobs are uncompensated or under-compensated and are performed by women, adolescents, retirees, family members and neighbors.

The IVL would liquidate $55.7 billion in public benefits and tax credits onto a free public platform in the form of digitized tokens available to all New Yorkers. These tokens could then be accessed on a single platform, either through an app or an e-card for necessities like groceries, child and adult care and public transit.

Kim and Salazar emphasized that the system, often described as a peer-to-peer system, would cut out third-party financial institutions and accompanying fees and extractive payments. Instead, New Yorkers would be able to directly transfer currency between each other.

“I believe that our proposal, the Inclusive Value Ledger, has the potential to be truly revolutionary. The creation of a free public savings and payment platform that all New Yorkers can use, not only to pay for goods and services but also to transfer money directly to each other through, could fundamentally reshape New York into a fairer, healthier, wealthier, and more inclusive place for all,” said Kim.

IVL partners and supporters who joined the lawmakers at Wednesday’s bill unveiling included the Qoin Foundation, Hudson Valley Current and the Chinese-American Planning Council.

“The Inclusive Value Ledger would be an important tool for compensating the crucial social and reproductive labor that makes our society function. We need to address the inequities that are built into our current economy and transition to an inclusive system that empowers all people to participate,” said Salazar.

In addition to the local economic impact, supporters emphasized the wider impact as a result of IVL. They asserted that the IVL could “dramatically accelerate” value creation and commerce as the system steadily grew the wealth and health of residents, businesses and the community at large. It would also boost commerce, productive activity and wealth-generation throughout New York State. Hockett and the lawmakers added that the IVL would also help to execute the Green New Deal.

Established by the Green New Deal Task Force, the Green New Deal is legislation that aims to address climate change as well as economic inequality.

“The Green New Deal challenges us to design greener money – a payments system that lets literally everyone earn, store, and spend value. Our Inclusive Value Ledger is just that – a public payment platform and system of digital wallets for every New Yorker and every New York business,” said Hockett. “All valuable work and all valuable products and services, including presently unpaid care work and environmental cleanup, will be instantly compensable; and all that is earned will be instantly savable and spendable. The boost to the state’s growth and environment will be massive, precisely because now both its money and payments systems will be just.”

Learn more about the Inclusive Value Ledger and its impact here.