OVER 50 TOWNS IN NORTH AMERICA NOW HAVE THEIR OWN CURRENCY

by Alan Pilote

You have read, in the previous article, that the banks want to impose electronic money with microchip cards, and eliminate cash. If government go along with the banks to impose this microchip, what are the people who do not want to accept it going to do? Will they have no choice but to starve to death? No, there is an alternative! Local communities can issue their own currencies, to answer the needs of their communities. Even if there is no money, or a stock market crash that causes money to lose all of its value, the productive capacity of a community still exists: cows will still produce milk, people of various trades can still use their talents and skills to help each other. Why should this productive capacity remain paralyzed because of a lack of money?

Even before the invention of money, there was barter: people would simply swap goods with one another, but as trade became more complex, it became necessary to employ some kind of system to note the value of the trade. Money, no matter what it is made of, is nothing but figures that are accepted as a means of payment, in exchange for goods or services. So a locality can just as well issue its own tender based on the production of the community.

The idea of a local currency is not a new one, and many communities have issued their own notes in the past, especially during the Great Depression, with over 400 localities putting them to use. Some of America’s larger cities, Detroit and Philadelphia for instance, issued millions of local dollars during the Depression.

Paul Glover, a citizen of Ithaca, New York, decided in 1991 to take up this idea and put it into application in his community of 30,000 inhabitants (plus the 10,000 students of Cornell University), and issue a local currency, called “Ithaca Hours”. Considering that the average of wages/salaries in Tompkins County (where Ithaca is situated) is ten dollars per hour, a One Hour note equals $10.00 in U.S currency. There are four denominations of bills in addition to the One Hour. A Half Hour is equivalent of $5 U.S.; a Quarter Hour equals $2.50 U.S., and the Two Hour bill equals $20.00 U.S. Instead of paying with conventional U.S., dollars bills, the citizens of Ithaca can pay for goods and services with these HOUR bills, at all the places where these bills are accepted.

Contrary to the conventional Bank of Canada or Federal Reserve Notes, these HOUR bills do not have to be borrowed and repaid to private banks, and they can remain in circulation indefinitely, by remaining in the local community. This system has been so successful that some people in Ithaca don’t use any American money at all; they can use Ithaca Hours for food, clothing, rent, dentistry, legal advice, home repairs, carpentry, computer training, and countless other services and goods.

Over fifty municipalities in North America are presently using their own local tender, based on the model of Ithaca Hours, and over 600 municipalities wrote to: Paul Glover (Ithaca Hours) Paul Glover, Box 6578, Ithaca NY 14851, USA. Tel: (607) 272-4330) to obtain more information about his system. A weekly program on economic news on the
French network of CBC said that its report on Ithaca Hours was the most popular of 1997.
 

KINGSTON HOURS
Several cities in Canada have also applied the same system. In Kingston, Ontario, the Kingston Hours began to operate in November, 1996. The concept is simple. It’s a barter system with a monetary base. First, interested people sign up to use the currency. In signing up, they agree to respect the value of the money, and they receive some Hours in return for backing the currency; they can begin trading right away! Everyone who signs up may list the services and goods that they are seeking or are willing to offer in exchange for Hours. These listings appear in a newspaper called “Focus on Kingston Hours”, which is distributed regularly all over Kingston.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, residents have been trading with Maritime Hours for five years now, and five or six other community projects exist within Canada. Over fifty community currencies have been launched in the U.S in the past five years, including Kansas City, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Montpelier, Buffalo, Albany, Philadelphia, Columbus, Cleveland, and Detroit.
 

LONDON BARTER BUCKS
A similar system was launched in February, 1998, in the city of London, Ontario, but instead of being called “Hours”, the currency are called “Barter Bucks”. For example, a Ten Barter Bucks equals $10.00 in Canadian currency. Like the Kingston Hours currency, the logo is printed with thermal ink that disappears when touched, in order to prevent counterfeiting. On the back of these bills, one can read: “This note entitles the bearer to receive its negotiated value in goods or services. Please accept it. Then spend it.”

The lack of available spending money means people can not afford to hire one another or buy as much from local businesses. Many of the dollars people spend are exported. With these local currencies, there is a lot of good will as well as good work exchanged, a sense of helping each other out. Neighbours get to know each other. They will come to value each other’s time and talents. London Barter is a logical transition from a
debt-orientated system to a system of mutual aid.
 

LOCAL CURRENCY SYSTEMS IN CANADA
(debt-free and tax-free)

Nelson, B.C.: Kootenay Hours /Suzy Hamilton, Box 843, Nelson B.C, V1L
6A5. Tel: (604) 825-9372 or (604) 354-1909.

Salmon Arm, B.C.; Shuswap Hours / Erik Hansen, 2151-21 St. NE, Salmon
Arm BC, V1E 3E4, Tel: (604) 832-6715.

Prince George, B.C.: Prince George HOURS/Andrea Dulmage, 715 Victoria
St. Rm. 208, Prince George, BC, V2L 2K5 Tel: (205) 964-0488 fax: (250)
562-4271

Calgary, Alberta: Bow Chinook HOURS / 233 10th St. NW, Calgary AB, T2A
1V5 Tel: (403) 270-3201 or 270-8832

Kingston, Ontario: Kingston HOURS / c/o OPIRG
(613) 549-0066 or Dave Steel, 262 MacDonnell Street, Kingston, ON. K7L
4C3 Tel: (613) 530-2215

Halifax, N.S.: Maritime HOURS / Robert Cervelli, Box 1151, Central
Halifax, NS B3J 2X1 Tel: (902) 492-8829

London, Ontario / LONDON BARTER/ BodyMind Centre, 149 Whortley Rd.,
London, Ontario, N6C 2E2, Tel: (519) 438-2756; Fax: (519) 438-6326


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