About Local Currency
By Scot Bergeron
There are a couple of different approaches to explaining community currencies and it can be hard or easy depending on the reader's understanding of economics. If your economics education was like mine, than you probably fell asleep in class and thought it a complete waste of time, but I can tell you, that concept couldn't be farther from the truth. Understanding the fundamentals of a money system, it's creation, issuance, and the management of that system can be very exciting. My teachers just didn't really know what they were talking about, as I have now discovered. Here I will try to give a more detailed explanation of community currencies.
Why not just use federal dollars? Well, if you're like me, at the end of the month, after paying my bills, I have very little federal dollars left over to buy some of the things I would like. Not everyone has this problem. Some people have plenty of federal money and may never feel the strain of it's scarcity. As federal dollars are slowly being funneled to the very wealthy from the money supply pool, there will be less and less federal dollars available to everyone, except of course for the wealthy elite. The process by which this happens, some call it globalization, is very interesting, but a bit too long to explain here. You can get detailed information from a video called "The Money Masters, How International Bankers Took Control of America." It can be rented at the Hood River Library, Encore Video on the Hood River Heights, and from the Fort Vancouver Regional library system (White Salmon, and Stevenson, etc.) Or, it can be purchased from www.themoneymasters.com.
In our region we have literally thousands of people who have skills to offer their community, and yet sit unemployed or under-employed, mostly because the people who would hire them (people like me) don't have enough federal dollars to do so! Those same people with skills to offer also need services and goods, but they too don't have enough federal dollars to purchase the services and goods they need. The key ingredient missing from the equation is money. Federal dollars are scarce, they're meant to be scarce, that's the way the Federal Reserve System is set up. RiverHOURS is going to put money back into circulation in our community. Since RiverHOURS can not be spent outside of our community they will never leave it, except for the occasional tourist who collects the notes, or the few that are lost. By having a complementary source of money in our community, there can be an increase of trading of goods and services. Did you know that when you spend one hundred dollars at a big box store, for example "Wal-mart", about ninety-five of those dollars get removed from our community. But, if you spend the same amount in RiverHOURS, all of that money stays right here to employ your friends and neighbors over and over again.
Community currencies are working around the world, putting people back to work, invigorating communities, making connections, and creating economic stability within specific geographic regions. Please check out some of the other local currencies in America at www.smallisbeautiful.org. Promoting the trade of local goods and services is just the beginning for RiverHOURS. We have some long term goals that we hope to achieve and with the support of the community there's no reason to think we won't make those goals. One of the goals we hope to achieve soon is to be able to make "no interest" loans to our community members. There are costs involved to run the RiverHOURS co-op and because of those costs there will have to be a fee associated with making loans, but the fees tacked on loans will only be enough to run the RiverHOURS system, which includes mailing costs, phone, web maintenance, accounting etc. The main point is that there will never be any profits made from interest. "Interest" has no place in a community based system. Interest, especially compounded interest, falls under the RiverHOURS steering committee's definition of "usury", and usury, like slavery allows people to profit unreasonably off the labor of others.
Later still, we are targeting larger businesses and public services to consider accepting RiverHOURS. First, before a large business or public service can accept RiverHOURS, they have to have a way of spending RiverHOURS. For example: Every county has people who plow the roads in the winter. These people are county employees. If the county employees would accept twenty percent of their pay in RiverHOURS, then the County seat could accept part of your tax payment in RiverHOURS. As more and more services climb aboard the local trade system, more and more RiverHOURS can be used to purchase goods and services. There's no reason that this could not expand to local electric companies, public schools, county services, etc. I am happy to receive RiverHOURS as pay so long as I can go out into my community and spend those RiverHOURS on things I need. Conceptually, a strong local currency can make a geographic region economically independent. We're all hoping for the best future, but should we ever see the collapse of the federal dollar, as many expert economists are predicting, the gorge region would have another economic system in place to soften the blow and carry us painlessly through the turmoil. The trading of goods and services could go on uninterrupted.
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2004 Gorge Local Currency Cooperative