Category Archives: Prescriptions

Local Currencies—what works; what doesn’t?

Local Currencies—what works; what doesn’t?
By Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

Community  currencies, and mutual credit clearing exchanges are key elements in the emergence of a new economic paradigm. These approaches to enabling the exchange of value are not entirely new, they have a long and varied history, but their enormous potential and possibilities have become widely recognized only within the past three or four decades. This is largely the result of increasing disillusionment with conventional money and banking systems, the emergence of Bitcoin and other non-governmental, non-bank currencies, and the growing interest in decentralized, peer-to-peer approaches in all realms of human activity.

The latest wave of exchange alternatives has seen the emergence over the past few decades of scores of commercial trade or “barter” exchanges, and hundreds, if not thousands of local currencies. The scores of commercial trade exchanges that have  been operating in many countries around the world for the past four or five decades enable moneyless trading among their business members, and collectively “clear” tens of billions of dollars’ worth of trades annually. Their success provides the strongest proof of the viability of decentralized, non-governmental, non-bank, moneyless exchange options.[i]

On the other hand, the plethora of local and community currencies that have popped-up all over the world have not been so encouraging. The avowed purpose of local currencies has generally been to keep money circulating locally instead of “leaking out” of the community. It is hoped that by keeping exchange media circulating within the local community, the vitality of the local economy will be enhanced and local businesses will be better able to compete with large global corporations and merchandising chains.

That is well and good, but it misses the main point of what ails our communities, and our world. It is the very nature of the dominant political money system that is problematic. So, localization is not the end in itself, but the necessary means to an end, which is personal re-empowerment and freedom; community resilience, sustainability, and self-determination; and the revitalization of democratic governance. Community currencies and exchange systems provide an essential tool kit for achieving those goals but they need to be designed in such a way as to make people less dependent upon political money and banks. So long as we remain harnessed to the dominant money and banking regime, there will be little chance of significant improvement in the human condition, in fact, the trend has been exactly opposite. ….  Read the full article or download the full PDF.

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The Post–Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

Yesterday, I had occasion to watch Stephen Spielberg’s latest film, The Post, which tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the top secret government documents that came to be known as the “Pentagon Papers.” The film does a fine job of portraying an episode in history that everyone needs to know about and understand. These leaked documents, which Ellsberg hoped would help end the Vietnam war, formed the basis for a series of articles that were published by the New York Times and the Washington Post. A major point that the film brings out is the fact the Vietnam war was perpetuated over several administrations because no President wanted to admit that the war was unwinnable (not to mention, unjust). As a consequence, the lives of tens of thousands of American servicemen and untold numbers of Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians were sacrificed for no good reason.

Here is an NPR interview with Ellsberg originally broadcast Dec. 4, 2017:
https://www.npr.org/player/embed/568310782/568340893

I’m pretty sure that no mainstream media outlet today would likely be willing to do what the Times and the Post did back then, and I wonder how long it will be before the independent internet channels are also taken over or censored out of existence.

Greater government openness and transparency are essential to ending the war economy and the culture of war, but that will not occur until we the people empower ourselves enough to force politicians to bring it about. We need a strategy that can effect a power shift toward popular control, and I believe the most promising approach for achieving that is to decentralize control of credit-based exchange media. Private and community currencies, and credit clearing networks can circumvent political currencies and bank-created debt money. We’re running out of wiggle room so we had better not waste any time in deploying them.

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Addendum:
And while we’re on the subject of the Vietnam war, here’s a pertinent documentary that tells about another important aspect of the anti-war movement.

“In the 1960’s an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history. This sir-no-sirmovement didn’t take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in army stockades, navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services. Yet today few people know about the GI movement against the war in Vietnam.” http://sirnosir.com/

 

Disruptive Technologies are Making Money Obsolete

Broadly speaking, technology is the organization of knowledge, people, and things to accomplish specific practical objectives. It includes processes, practices, techniques and systems as well as things. So what are the disruptive technologies in money and finance? Or is that even the right question to be asking? Is it Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other so-called crypto-currencies? Is it the blockchain, “smart contracts,” “big data,” algorithms?

To find out, watch this 15 minute video, which was extracted and adapted from a longer recording of the presentation, I  made to the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 10, 2016. It describes how communities and businesses can escape the debt trap and become more resilient and self-reliant? New independent approaches to payment and reciprocal exchange are being deployed which are making conventional money obsolete.

Links to this video:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/ty7APADAa8g
Vimeo link: https://vimeo.com/245661935

Many thanks to Ken Richings for doing the hard work of editing and preparing the video for publication.

The full Malaysia presentation titled, A World Without Money and Interest: A pathway toward social justice and economic equity, can be found here.

CBS Sunday Morning report-Creating new wealth on Sardinia, without cash

This recent report on the popular TV show, CBS Sunday Morning, highlights the effectiveness of direct credit clearing among buyers and sellers of goods and services–a way of doing commerce without the need for money or banks.

See also my own report from my 2015 visit to Sardex.

Universal Basic Income, an idea whose time has come…again

In ancient Israel, Mosaic Law, in addition to the division of the land among the tribes and families, delineated several ingenious provisions to assure the welfare of all. Recognizing the tendency in organized societies for inequities to develop over time, it prescribed such measures as the sabbatical year, the jubilee year,  gleaning and the prohibition of usury. Some of these, in some form, were carried over into the Christian era, but over time mercantile and industrial demands overshadowed social concerns. The mid-twentieth century saw tremendous gains in productivity along with renewed demands by the laboring class and racial minorities for a more just distribution of the collective wealth, but over the past 35 years many of the social programs that were instituted by governments have been under systematic attack by powerful reactionary forces resulting in massive increases in the disparities of income and wealth. These disparities bring with them increased violence, crime, addiction, and deteriorating quality of life for all.

Now, with automation rapidly reducing the need for human labor, the separation of livelihood from jobs is becoming an obvious necessity.

Here below are two pertinent videos, and this article mentions a few places where basic income allowances are being tried.

Thomas Greco’s 2017 Summer Workshop in Greece

Following last summer’s exciting and successful workshop in Greece, Thomas Greco will again this summer be conducting a workshop in Monetary and Financial Innovation for the New Economy at the Alexandros campus of the Kalikalos Holistic Summer School on the beautiful Pelion peninsula in Greece.

[Edit:During the 2017  workshop Tom will again have the assistance of Matthew Slater and the benefit of a guest appearance by Prof. Jem Bendell of Cumbria University (UK).]

View southward from Alexandros

In this week-long workshop we will examine the problems and deficiencies of both conventional money and local currencies and exchange systems, and delve into the principles and practices of innovative exchange and finance.

Over the past three decades, a great many complementary currencies and exchange schemes have sprung up, gained some degree of acceptance and notoriety, then faded away. This workshop will focus in on the reasons why none of them has become a significant factor in their community economies, and uncover the principles of design and implementation that need to be applied to make exchange alternatives more effective, robust, and scalable. It will also cover new ways of providing entrepreneurs with the resources needed to bring their ideas to fruition and achieve success in the marketplace.

Alexandros Center

Alexandros Center

This course is designed especially for social entrepreneurs, government officials, enthusiastic agents of change, and serious students who are ready to co-create a new sustainable and convivial economy from the bottom up. In this highly participatory workshop, we will use a combination of presentations, discussion groups (some on the beach), videos, and simulation games, to dive deeply into the process of exploring and developing innovative methods of finance, exchange, and value measurement. Participants will have the opportunity to showcase their projects and ideas and receive feedback from the group.

Here is an opportunity to work with one of the world’s leading experts in innovative economics, finance, and exchange, and to collaborate with like-minded peers to create a new economy that works for everyone, while enjoying a delightful summer holiday on the magical Pelion peninsula. Come join us in a process of inquiry, discovery, sharing and collaboration.

The workshop will run from 16 to 23 June, 2017. Space is limited so register early at http://www.kalikalos.com/community/x/exchange-finance-new-economy-thomas-greco/.

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 All the perplexities, confusions and distresses in America arise not from defects in the Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, as much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation. –John Adams, second president of the United States.

Just as the political monetary system trends power toward the state, so the system based on true money will release the natural forces that trend society toward private initiative, enterprise and democracy. Pending this fundamental reversal, all resistance to statism is futile. As long as the only available monetary system is political, exchange, that process by which the social order functions, will never accomplish its natural purpose, the development of prosperity and freedom.– E.C. Riegel, Flight From Inflation

A World Without Money and Interest

During my October tour, I gave three presentations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and another in Sardinia, Italy. Two of the Malaysia presentations were at the International Forum on Inclusive Wealth, but I do not yet have recordings of those. The third was an extended presentation and discussion (on October 10) at the Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies titled, A World Without Money and Interest: A pathway toward social justice and economic equity. Here below is the video of the proceedings, or you can watch it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/8BejigzDAVY. The audio only is here, and the slides that were used in that talk can be viewed here.