Unlike, government and central bank fiat currencies which promise nothing but their acceptance as tax payments, private currency vouchers promise to be redeemed for real valuable goods and services. If the issuer is trustworthy and can be counted on to honor their pledge of redemption, their currency vouchers can provide traders with an exchange and payment medium that is superior to government and central bank fiat monies. Such honest currencies are neither novel nor odd, but have a long history and are an absolute necessity for the decentralization of economic and political power and the emergence of a peaceful and equitable social order.
A few years ago I wrote up a proposal for a private currency voucher that I call the Solar Dollar which attracted some significant interest. My intention was twofold, one, to provide an independent payment medium for a local community, i.e., a currency that can be created outside of the banking system and thus empower participants in a local economy by compensating for shortages and mal-distribution of government fiat money, and two, to incentivize the shift of energy production, sales and usage toward solar and other renewable sources of electric power. My hope was that some electric utility company somewhere would implement the plan and become a model for others utilities to follow. That, unfortunately, has not yet happened but I am confident that it, or something like it, eventually will. In the meantime, I’ve continued to publicize it, and in 2021 I was invited to give a presentation titled, Solar Dollars–Empowering Communities While Powering Communities With Renewable Energy, for a virtual conference that was sponsored by the Zero Carbon Lab at the University of Hertfordshire (UK). Later that year, under the good auspices of Professor Ljubomir Jankovic, my original white paper was revised and published with the title, Solar Dollars: A Complementary Currency that Incentivizes Renewable Energy, in the academic journal, Frontiers in Built Environment.
Overall, the primary objective of my work has been, and remains, the decentralization of financial, economic, and political power. The most promising strategy for achieving that is the design and deployment of private credit currencies that are spent into circulation by trusted issuers that are ready, willing, and able to redeem their currencies promptly for the real goods and services that are their normal stock in trade. By breaking the credit monopoly that the banking cartel presently holds, and empowering producers and sellers of real value, it then becomes possible to reverse the longstanding trend toward ever greater power and wealth in the hands of the global elite who have captured the machinery of finance, economics, and government.
The Solar Dollar is a special case and example of a private credit currency issued by a trusted producer and provider of real value, but similar objectives could be achieved by companies in other lines of business, for example, by:
The issuance of local Farm Produce Dollars that would be spent into circulation by a single local farmer or jointly by a cooperating group of local farmers and ranchers, or by
The issuance of local Shelter Certificates that are spent into circulation by a single local owner of rental property or jointly by a cooperating group of local owners of rental property, or by
The issuance of Service Certificates by a local provider of some sort of professional or household services, or jointly by a cooperating group of such service providers, or by
The issuance of currency vouchers by all of the above producers/providers and others who band together to cooperatively issue a sound complementary currency under a common “brand.” Such a currency would provide a means of payment that is not only independent of the banking system but solidly backed by the combined production and distribution capacity of all participating businesses. (Many “community currencies” have been created over the years in many places around the world but virtually all of them are “sold” for government fiat currencies which defeats the main objective of creating a currency that is independent of government and the banking system).
All of these currency vouchers or credits are able to circulate as payment media throughout their local communities to enable trading despite any scarcity or unavailability of official money. There are many historical and contemporary examples of such private credit instruments, so most of what I’m suggesting has already been shown to be workable. The main problem I have observed is getting producers of real value to recognize the power they already have and to exercise it on their own behalf and that of their communities.
“The stream of political monies from the beginning to the present day runs deep and dirty, yet to suggest that money can spring from any other source is to surprise if not even to dismay. So has tradition dulled men’s senses. No matter how often the state fails to supply a virtuous money system, men rush back to it in desperation and beg it to try again. Indeed, until we learn that the money power resides in us, we must abjectly beg the state to give us an exploitative system because we cannot return to a moneyless civilization. Yet, no matter how often and earnestly the state tries to provide a true money system, it must fail because of an inherent antipathy between the money issuing power and the taxing power. A money issuer must be a seller who bids for money, not a taxer who requisitions it in whole or in part, as politically expedient and without a quid pro quid.” — pp. 25-26.
Political democracy cannot work without economic democracy; and the money power is the franchise of the latter. — p. 35
It is the false concept of political money power that converts citizens into petitioners, and makes government a dispenser of patronage instead of a public servant. This power of patronage utterly destroys the democratic system of government – since the people cannot be both petitioners and rulers.” — pp. 78-79
Throughout my career as a monetary theorist, educator, and advisor, taking up where Riegel and others have left off, I have tried to influence producers, entrepreneurs, and social organizers toward effective action based on sound principles of credit allocation and management. But superstitious myths die hard and old habits are difficult to break. The great majority of people remain in thrall to official currencies. That is what the oligarchs depend upon to keep us in debt and under their control. I have learned to be patient and await the changes in financial, economic, and political conditions that will open people’s minds to adopting self-help and cooperative approaches to getting our needs met, specifically, the need for free and fair exchange of value in the marketplace.
Surely, the day will come, and is rapidly approaching, when the failures and demands of the dominant global central banking, political, interest-based, debt-money regime will become so clearly evident and abysmal that the only peaceful option will be for we-the-people to implement our own systems of exchange and finance grounded in our own initiative and judgment in allocating credit based on productive capacity and trustworthiness.
I long ago concluded that ALL of our institutions, systems, and structures of western civilization have been thoroughly corrupted by greed and the hunger for power which are reactions to false beliefs and artificial scarcities. I take that as given and try to avoid being distracted by it while trying to keep my attention and energies focused on what I think I can do to change things. What that has meant for me has been to learn everything I could about the money system as it exists — its inherent dysfunctions and dishonesties, and to discover and develop better ways of performing the functions that money is supposed to serve, especially the function of reciprocal exchange of value. The decentralized allocation and control of credit is the key to creating an honest, efficient, and sustainable system of exchange, and there are well established ways of doing that without the need for political fiat monies. Many of these systems, like the WIR Economic Circle Cooperative and the scores of commercial trade (“barter”) exchanges, have been operating successfully for many decades or longer.
What remains to be done are: 1. The optimization of the procedures and protocols used in credit clearing systems like the scores of commercial trade exchanges now operating in many countries around the world, such as the optimizing prescriptions I’ve made in A Model Membership Agreement for a Credit Clearing Service contained in my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, and, 2. The development of effective ways of dealing with interference from governments, banks, and the vested interests that is sure to come when these competing systems become big enough to be perceived as a threat to the status quo.
I consider the wave of cryptocurrencies that has emerged since the launch of Bitcoin to be attempts to address the second of these objectives by providing virtual commodities that are generated outside of the government/banking system and to hopefully provide some degree of anonymity and privacy in value exchange transactions. Those motivations are all well and good but reverting to the use of commodities, either virtual or real, as exchange media takes us back to a more primitive stage in the evolution of the reciprocal exchange process, and unlike real commodities, they have no inherent use value other than their use as media for speculation. Add to that the fact that the primary motivation in the creation of most “cryptocurrencies” or virtual “coins” has been profit seeking by their creators, and what we have now is a milieu that is littered with “shitcoins,” corruption, and fraud. It’s very difficult and time consuming to dig deeply enough to evaluate each new entry into the field, and I see no advantage in doing so.
However, the use of blockchain technology that accompanied the creation of Bitcoin may have a useful role to play in a credit clearing network or private credit currency as a way to create exchangeable “token” vouchers that represent a claim upon real valuable goods and services that the issuer has promised to deliver. Such vouchers would be real currencies.
Questions that need to answered about any currency:
Who is the issuer?
What is the value basis upon which the currency is issued?
In what units is the currency denominated?
Is the issuer, ready, willing and able to redeem the currency?
Is the issuer credit-worthy, reliable, trust-worthy?
Do they have the goods on hand or sufficient service capacity to deliver promptly?
What are the terms of redemption? In what form? When? At what rate in relation to the units specified (face value, discount, etc.?)
In what form does the currency exist? Paper notes, Physical tokens, Digital tokens, Ledger entries?
What other characteristics of the currency contribute or detract from its use as an exchange medium?
My Upcoming Presentation: Private and complementary currency systems
My Latest Article
There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit
Will 2023 Be the Year from Hell?
Central Bank Digital Currency, a the Totalitarian Nightmare
The Legacy and Vision of Dee Hock (b. March 21, 1929 – d. July 16, 2022)
I had occasion to meet Dee Hock in September of 1995 when we were both invited to participate in the first of a series of symposia titled Peace Building for the 21st Century, a semi-annual gathering that was jointly organized by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the World Business Academy, and Pathways to Peace and convened at the Fetzer Institute in Michigan. When prior to the meeting I read that Hock was CEO of VISA International, a rather lofty position in the world of conventional banking, I wondered how his beliefs and objectives about money and exchange could possibly find any agreement with my own. I soon discovered that my pre-judgments about him could not have been more wrong. During the symposium he impressed me as being a man of integrity and vision, and more a “monkish” philosopher than a banker.
That impression was strongly reinforced when in 1999 I read Hock’s newly published book, Birth of the Chaordic Age (later republished as One From Many), which told his personal story along with the story of how the VISA organization came into being and became “the largest commercial enterprise on earth.” To give you a sense of what captivated me I will share just a few quotes from the book. In the prolog, Hock said, “We are experiencing and epidemic of institutional failure that knows no bounds,” and, “The organization of the future will be the embodiment of community based on shared purpose calling to the higher aspirations of the people.” Such an observation and expectation were quite remarkable and unexpected but consistent with my own observations and aspirations. Then, on the back of the dust cover I read, “We are at that very point in time when a 400-year- old age is dying and another is struggling to be born–a shifting of culture, science, society and institutions enormously greater than the world has ever experienced. Ahead, the possibility of regeneration of individuality, liberty, community, and ethics such as the world has never known, and a harmony with nature, with one another, and with the divine intelligence, such as the world has always dreamed.”
Such ideas could not have resonated more closely with my own, and as I delved further into the book I was delighted to find a great deal more of that sort of visionary, humane, and wise thinking and expression. I took some time to ponder all of that as I went about my own work trying to move forward toward the development and implementation of innovative systems of exchange and finance that would embody the values and aspirations that Hock and I seemed to share. Then, in January of 2001, I wrote to Hock and was pleased when he responded a couple weeks later. Rather than try to excerpt the essence of each letter, I think it appropriate to present each in its entirety (I don’t think Dee would mind).
I’ve been meaning to write you ever since I finished reading your book almost a year ago. I guess my procrastination is due to the fact that I was not, until now, clear about what I wanted to say to you, or how to say it so you would take it seriously.
Certainly, praise is due. The Birth of the Chaordic Age is a masterful story, but, of course, it is more than a story, it is a philosophical treatise – and a work of art, studded with gems of wisdom. (In that, your monkish, contemplative bent is evident). I’m most grateful to you for seeking out these gems and fetching them back for us to admire and use. I especially like your four ways of looking at things – how they were, how they are, how they might become, and how they ought to be. It serves me well in the research I’ve been doing, and serves to remind me of why I’m doing it.
I am in full agreement with the testimony of your vision which appears on the back of the dust cover. I believe that, in the present era, the thing that is “trying to happen” (as Willis used to put it) is a fundamental shift from elite rule (command and control) to a more participatory, democratic, inclusive, just, equitable, and sustainable order. This means that, in addition to our own spiritual and interpersonal work, there is a need for thoroughgoing restructuring of our institutions and the emergence of networks and communities which will supplant limited liability corporations and much of the government bureaucracy.
As I approach my 65th birthday, I have a sense that my most important work is yet to be done. Despite your great accomplishments, I have a sense that that may be the case for you as well. Of particular relevance for me is the area of money, banking, and finance. This is where I think I can make a major contribution, and this is what I want you to know.
You have the distinction of having been the leader who guided the development of the world’s first global payment system. Yet, you express dissatisfaction with the outcome. It doesn’t satisfy me either. You say (on page 193),
“I could think of no way to fully realize the concept by including merchants and cardholders as owner-members. The slightest hint in that direction raised a storm of opposition. We should have included them. Perhaps, with more time, tenacity, and ingenuity we could have.”
Well, storms of opposition should be expected when those in control are asked to share power. The bankers have been a privileged class for a long time. Why should they give up such a powerful and lucrative position? There is only ever one compelling reason – because they can see that it is in their best interests to do so, and they have the courage to let go. Are you ready to show them the economic “magna carta?”
For the good of the people and the planet, the monetary system must be changed and economic power must be more widely dispersed. The key lies in the payment system. There is plenty of ingenuity being applied to the “money problem” within the current grassroots transformational movement, within the commercial “barter” business, and within the realm of emerging internet commerce. Proper leadership can draw out sufficient tenacity. And, time? Well, “carpe diem.” “The future is not about logic or reason. It’s about imagination, hope, and belief.” (p. 152).
Can you envision a federation of credit-clearing circles which include everyone who wants to be a member? Which is democratically organized and operated? Which allows each person the power to monetize some of their own resources and productive potential without having to pay interest to anyone?
It is my hope to assist in launching such a system. I believe that it is possible to assemble, right now, sufficient talent, resources, and commitment to get the job done. This could be your prototype socio-economic chaord which would demonstrate to everyone the kind of model needed for 21st century organizing.
I have no illusions about the willingness of bankers’ to accept such systems right now, but I must do what I can to harmonize how things might become, with how they ought to be. If we can create the seed crystal, the rest will take care of itself.
What do you say?
About two weeks later I received this reply:
Thank you for your most kind, thoughtful letter. Indeed, people in position of privilege and power cannot be expected to surrender it to others, especially when no better alternative has emerged which the public trusts and demands, which captures the imagination of the powerful and privileged, ameliorates their fears, and which is allows them to make an orderly, safe transition. Power is never given, it is always taken. How to take it without destructive confrontation and brute force is the perpetual problem. In my view, that can only be done by creating new concepts which do not attack and destroy the old, but transcend and enfold them.
There is no doubt in my mind that more than enough intelligence, communication capacity and experimentation has already emerged to allow such new concepts to be devised and implemented. However, to transcend and enfold a system that is already global, ubiquitous, deeply entrenched in all societies and organizations and embedded in the consciousness of the whole world is not something that can be done by any one person, or even a narrow segment of them. Nor do I have any illusions about the desperate need for better means of exchanging value among all people. We have had much contact over the years with many people in emerging systems of barter, local currency, internet commerce and alternate currencies – Bernard Lietaer, Hazel Henderson, James Fierro and a host of others.
One of the concepts we think will take shape within the Terra Civitas movement is something we call, for want of a better term, the “resource commons,” a coming together of people with financial expertise of all kinds, new and old, to reconceive and bring into being new concepts of organizations and instruments that “result in more equitable distribution of power and wealth, improved health and greater compatibility with the human spirit and biosphere.” That is, I think, precisely what you refer to, albeit in other terms.
We are simply overwhelmed with response to chaordic concepts. Opportunities to create such organizations in various fields already exceeds our present resources and capacity. This is not something we can, at the moment, call into being. The initial interest and impetus would have to emerge elsewhere. We might act as a catalyst, a “strange attractor,” to put in terms of complexity theory and would gladly lend what legitimacy and expertise we could.
I have no doubt that with sufficient commitment from a design team of the right thirty or forty people and a hundred or two others to critique the work and reasonable resources, a “chaordic, fractaled organization” for the purposes you envision could be conceived, perhaps even implemented, before the end of 2002.
Again, many thanks for your thoughtful letter and kind comments about the book. With all best wishes,
Of course, 2002 came and went and twenty years later we are still seeking allies, supporters and resources, and wondering what else it will take to make this grand vision a reality, but surely its time will eventually come. That is not to say that progress has not been made. Promising innovations and improvements in exchange processes and moneyless payments have been made in both the grassroots and commercial “barter” realms, and I continue to work with several of those groups and individuals.
I’ve been invited to be a keynote speaker at the 6th Biennial RAMICS International Congress in Bulgaria, October 27 to 29. RAMICS is the Research Association on Monetary Innovation and Community and Complementary Currency Systems which includes both academics and practitioners.
My illustrated presentation titled, Private and complementary currency systems: purposes, principles, practices, and performance, is slated for Thursday, October 27. It will summarize what I have learned over more than forty years of research and experimentation in this field, and describe what must be done to realize the full potential of decentralized private and community exchange mechanisms. You can see the full abstract here. For various reasons, I am planning to deliver my presentation remotely from Arizona. This congress promises to be exciting and productive, and if you wish to participate you can find program details here and register at https://ramics2022sofia.sciencesconf.org/registration. ____________ My Latest Article My latest article, The Money Economy Is Not the Real Economy: “The Global Banking and Financial System is Fatally Flawed,” was published last week by Global Research, and recently republished on Medium. ____________ There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit One of my most popular posts has been, There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit. If you missed it when I first published it, you may want to check it out. I’ve used metaphor to try to show how we have all become slaves to money and those who control money. Using water to represent money, I’ve also tried to show that we the people can free ourselves and take back control by thinking outside the box to end our fixation on political fiat money, and deploy better ways of enabling the exchange of real value that our own labor and creativity produce.
Every metaphor, of course, is limited but I am hoping that readers/listeners will come to understand that there are alternatives to conventional money that we can use to reduce, and eventually eliminate our dependence upon conventional political fiat money. Credit is the foundation of an honest system of exchange and we have the power to give credit to each other in accordance with our own values and objectives, outside of conventional banks and without charging interest. You can access the story on my website (audio with transcript) or on YouTube (audio only).
____________ Will 2023 Be the Year from Hell? Noted economic forecaster, Martin Armstrong, says it will and makes a very convincing case in this interview on Greg Hunter’s USA Watchdog podcast; and it is very instructive to see the remarkable story of Armstrong and his work in the documentary movie, “The Forecaster,” if you can get hold of it. Amazon.com says “This video is currently unavailable to watch in your location,” but you can watch the trailer on IMDb and buy the DVD here. The movie includes the story about the persecution he suffered at the hands of the US government, being imprisoned for 7 years without a trial, and eventually forced to plead guilty to regain his freedom.
____________ Central Bank Digital Currency, a the Totalitarian Nightmare
If that isn’t enough to get your attention and stir you to action, this article, Just Say No to CBDCs, by N.S. Lyons clearly describes the nightmare world the technocratic oligarchy has prepared for us and will very shortly pressure us to accept. Some difficult choices are in prospect.
____________ Despite the gloom and doom that these present circumstances portend, I believe humanity has never been in a better position to create a world of peace, freedom, and conviviality. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “When the people lead, the leaders will follow.”
____________ Permission to reprint contents from this newsletter in whole or in part is granted on the condition that full credit is given and a link to the original source is provided. – t.h.g. To forward this newsletter to a friend you can send them this link or the link to it on MailChimp where yiu can also subscribe to future newsletters.
During 2019 and 2020 we recorded a series of ten podcast interviews with leading experts and social entrepreneurs who have been working on developing and implementing improved means of exchange aimed at making the economy more equitable and ecologically sustainable. Each podcast is valuable in its own way and the series in total provides an excellent overview of what one needs to know to get a proper start to working in this field.
Among practitioners, Will Ruddick and his associates at Grassroots Economics continue to make exciting progress in developing Community Inclusion Currencies and organizing exchange circles throughout Kenya and other parts of Africa. Our September 2019 discussion with Will is a treasure trove of information about their innovative work that will be of great value to others who aim to organize similar exchange alternatives. Listen to it here.
One of my most popular posts has been, There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit, in which I’ve tried to show how we have all become slaves to money and those who control money. Using water in this little fable to represent money, I’ve also tried to show that we the people can free ourselves by thinking outside the box to overcome our fixation on the sort of money that has been provided for us and over which we have lost all control.
Every metaphor of course is limited and what I am hoping that readers/listeners will come to understand is that there are alternatives to conventional money that we can use to reduce, and eventually eliminate our dependence upon conventional political money. It is credit that is the foundation of an honest system of exchange and we have the power to give credit to each other in accordance with our own values and objectives, outside of conventional banks and without charging interest.
You can access the story on my website (audio with transcript) or on YouTube (audio). Or listen here.
Earlier this month Prof. Richard Werner posted a video on YouTube, which I thought was quite good in explaining the way banks create money, but I felt moved to post a response to it that provides some fundamental concepts and clarifies what is required to start regional alternatives to dominant centralized banking system and political fiat monies. I recommend that you watch Werner’s 10 minute video, and then contemplate my responses.
Prof. Werner makes many good and important points in this lecture, about how money is created and allocated by huge banking institutions which gives them enormous power over governments, people and the economy. Yes, control of money needs to be decentralized and democratized. Public and community banks are important elements in achieving that but they exist within the current dominant paradigm of creating money by making loans at interest, which is a fundamental flaw that forces a growth imperative. Debt grows exponentially as time passes so there is never enough money to enable all borrowers to pay what they owe. A distinction must be made between “exchange credit” and “investment credit.” The former should be allocated without interest to producers based on the value of goods and services each is able to sell immediately or in the near-term; the latter should be the reallocation of existing money from savers to entrepreneurs. The exchange function can best be organized as credit clearing circles, like the original WIR cooperative circle that Werner mentioned, then these various circles can be networked together into a global system of exchange. I have been articulating these points and more for the past several decades, most recently in a webinar I conducted for the University of Hertfordshire in November 2021: 2021-11 Transcending the present political money system–the urgent need and the way to do it. (https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/2021-11-hertfordshire-preso.mp4). The Q&A that followed is at https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/12/herts-qa.mp4. _________________
Thank you for the insightful comment, Thomas. What are your thoughts on the concept of interest in general? Is a interest-based financial system doomed to always end with enormous inflation culminating in financial collapse? _________________
That’s a very good question. One must distinguish between primary interest that banks impose on “borrowers” in the process of creating debt-money, and secondary interest that is demanded by those who hold existing money when they lend it to others for whatever purpose.
The primary interest causes debts to banks to grow exponentially because the interest payments do not, for the most part, go toward consumption expenditures but to ever expanding pools of capital held by “capitalists.” Thus, the money supply available for repayment to the banks is always deficient unless the banks create more money by making more “loans” to stay ahead of the extinction of money that occurs when principal payments are made. The empirical evidence of debt growth over time clearly supports this; I call it the ‘usury conjecture,” which I hope will eventually be proven mathematically and/or through some realistic model of the system.
The so-called “business cycle” that oscillates between inflation and depression is natural result of that inherent flaw in the centralized, interest-based debt-money regime. The interest must be paid, one way or the other. Quantitative easing by the various central banks amounts to life support for that failing system. It is essential that the new system be ready to take over before the plug is pulled on the old one or it dies in a chaotic collapses.
Capital can dominate only when exchange media are scarce, either naturally (commodity money like gold and silver) or artificially (centrally controlled debt money). When exchange media are abundant there is no basis for demanding interest. That abundance derives from reconnecting to the real economy of valuable goods and services. As E. C. Riegel clearly showed, only producers are qualified to issue (credit) money. That is money that producers SPEND into circulation and is accepted by others as payment based on the issuer’s credible promise to accept it back as payment for their own goods and services that they are ready, willing and able to deliver immediately or in the near term. That credit money can take the form of currency vouchers (physical or digital) issued interest-free by individual producers, or more effectively, issued jointly by the members of credit clearing circles. Those circles can then be combined into a global network of exchange in which trade credits are allocated and controlled locally but are globally useful as payment. I outline that system toward the end of my previously mentioned webinar (https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/2021-11-hertfordshire-preso.mp4). Once that system is in place, interest on secondary “loans” will give way to returns on equity shares as a way of funding capital formation.
I appeared on today’s Intercoin show in conversation with crypto entrepreneurs that covered a range of interesting topics including cryptocurrencies, NFTs, exchange alternatives, and digital savings mechanisms. View and listen on YouTube, https://youtu.be/6FXsuBMG2VY.
It may not be a basic necessity for life, but mobility surely is a basic necessity for living in a modern economy and for having a decent quality of life. This fact is increasingly recognized, and in response, many cities have been subsidizing public transit, and now many are considering making public transit completely free to all riders.
Kansas City, Missouri implemented fare-free rides in response to the pandemic and then made free rides generally available in 2021. Tucson, Arizona, where a large portion of public transit costs have long been covered by the city budget, and where discounted fares have been available to certain low income groups, responded similarly to Kansas City and is now considering making zero fare rides on its Sun Tran system permanent for all.
A recent article titled, Is Universal Basic Mobility the Route to a Sustainable City?, reports that the city of Oakland, California has recently begun a pilot project aimed at providing universal basic mobility (UBM), which according to the article, involves “a combination of policies, funding, and partnerships that aim to provide all members of society with a basic level of access to mobility.”
My own extensive efforts to help cities become more sustainable have been focused largely upon finding ways to provide them with locally created means of payment that are independent of the banking system and the federal government. Local currencies have a long record, hundreds of them have been created over the past few decades, and hundreds more appeared during the Great Depression of the 1930s. A properly issued local currency can help make a local economy, not only more sustainable, but more robust and prosperous, and enhance the quality of life for local community residents. It can do this by reducing the community’s dependence upon the centralized system of money creation and allocation and handouts from the federal government, and by using its own local production of goods and services as the basis for creating sound payment alternatives to fiat money.
Proper issuance requires a basic understanding of the essence of a currency and what is required to make it sound and acceptable as a payment medium. A sound local currency is a credit instrument that is spent into circulation by a trusted provider of goods and/or services that are in regular demand. The accepting party then has a claim against the goods and services of the issuer. The issuer must be ready, willing, and able to redeem the currency, not in cash, but by accepting it back as payment for goods or services that they already have available, or soon will have available for sale.
Mobility is extremely important not only to the local economy by helping people get from their homes to the shops and their places of employment, but also to people’s physical and emotional health. Low income and disabled people are the most dependent upon public transit, so making transportation easy and inexpensive is especially important to them. On the other hand, providing those services constitutes a major expense and the question of how those expenses are to be covered remains a stumbling block.
It occurs to me that a community currency can play a role in providing universal basic mobility (UBM). The public transit agency qualifies as a trusted provider of transit services that it is ready, willing and able to provide at all times. That qualifies it to spend a currency (“Transit Tokens”) into circulation, using it to pay for goods and services that it needs for its operations, or even for services that benefit the entire community. Transit Tokens could be spent into circulation by the city government in return for work done voluntarily by citizens, work that is in the public interest, like graffiti abatement, trash pick-up, street beautification, aiding the homeless and disadvantaged, and many other things that contribute to our quality of life but for which funding is generally hard to find.
Why not keep transit fares at some modest level but accept payment not only in dollars but also in Transit Tokens? Those riders who are able to work can easily earn them and at the same time gain a sense of purpose and participation in the community. Others who are willing to volunteer may not be able to donate dollars, but most are able to do some useful work to acquire Transit Tokens which they can then donate to homeless people or to nonprofit organizations that can then distribute them to others in need.
Further, if Transit Tokens are made generally transferable they can circulate amongst local merchants and throughout the local economy to provide an exchange medium that is supplemental to the supply of dollars, giving the community a source of homegrown liquidity that boosts the local economy and makes it more self-reliant. The issuance and circulation of Transit Tokens can be a good start toward reclaiming “people power” and rebuilding our local economies and a democratic society.
On July 12, 2021, I presented my Solar Dollar proposal as part of a two day virtual conference titled Pathways to Resilient Zero Carbon Cities, organized by Zero Carbon Lab, School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire (UK). Following that presentation, I was invited to submit a paper describing my proposal for publication in an academic journal. That paper titled, Solar Dollars: A Complementary Currency that Incentivizes Renewable Energy, has now been published and can be read or downloaded at https://doi.org/10.3389/fbuil.2021.785145.
In this isssue I describe what private currency vouchers are and how they can help solve the money problem that I’ve been writing about for the past 35 years. Here’s the full table of contents: You can read the entire … Continue reading →
Unlike, government and central bank fiat currencies which promise nothing but their acceptance as tax payments, private currency vouchers promise to be redeemed for real valuable goods and services. If the issuer is trustworthy and can be counted on to … Continue reading →
Last year (2021) I gave a three part webinar presentation for The Henry George School of Social Science. In case you missed it, here is the description and the link to the recorded sessions. For each part you will find … Continue reading →
Whether one likes it or not, the end of money as we’ve known it is at hand. From a more or less conventional perspective it may look something like what David G.W. Birch describes in his Forbes article, Payments In … Continue reading →
In this issue: The Legacy and Vision of Dee Hock (b. March 21, 1929 – d. July 16, 2022) I had occasion to meet Dee Hock in September of 1995 when we were both invited to participate in the first … Continue reading →
I’m a little late in posting this here, but if you didn’t see it when I first sent it out, I think you will find it interesting and useful. 2022 June Newsletter ― Reconnecting the Monetary Economy to the Real … Continue reading →
During 2019 and 2020 we recorded a series of ten podcast interviews with leading experts and social entrepreneurs who have been working on developing and implementing improved means of exchange aimed at making the economy more equitable and ecologically sustainable. … Continue reading →
One of my most popular posts has been, There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit, in which I’ve tried to show how we have all become slaves to money and those who control money. Using … Continue reading →
This little vignette written by Don Werkheiser remains one of the best concise explanations of inflation I’ve ever seen. It was published in the spring 1982 edition of Green Revolution, the journal of the School of Living a non-profit organization … Continue reading →
In light of the current surge in the rates of inflation in countries around the world, the dominant political monetary regime is once again being called into question. Perhaps this time there will be sufficient interest and concern about its … Continue reading →