Economics is a transdiciplinary approach that values nature's wealth,
the life support systems we depend on, and justice issues between
species and into the future. (This definition is evolving).
I have worked on:
County Community Cash: a local currency program based on the
Ithaca Hours model. Community Cash existed from 1998-2000.
U.S. Society for Ecological Economics promotes the ideas of
with Conventional Economics::
are only a few, but they are my top pet peeves:
There is no such thing, but neoclassical economics says that most
Domestic Product- Not a good indicator for economic growth. Says
bad things like a car crash and war are good for the economy.
Monetary System- Money is loaned into existence by banks which
require it to be repaid with positive compound interest, and backed
only by debt. Those two characteristics are the cause of the growth
imperative in our economy. They make our monetary system unsustainable.
For example, when Charles Hurwitz bought Pacific Lumber Company
with junk bonds, the trees did not grow as fast as the compound
interest, so he started clear cutting old-growth redwood trees to
pay the high-interest. Richard Douthwaite, Margrit Kennedy, and
Bernard Lietaer have written about these problems. I have links
to their websites at the bottom of this page.
Recent articles on that topic:
Mike Sandler in On the Commons (reposted from Huffington Post): The Money Commons
that selfishness will lift all boats- This is a mis-reading of Adam
Smith, and it serves CEOs very well. It helps them justify the gross
inequalities they perpetrate, and leads many economists to disregard
poverty as a problem they can do anything about.
a co-founder of Sonoma County Community Cash, a local currency program
based on the Ithaca Hours
model. Sonoma County Community Cash existed from 1998-2000.
There were two denominations, the 1 Hour bill and the 1/4 Hour bill.
The bills were printed on specialty paper made from recycled U.S.
currency, and featured a California Oak Tree and a Farmer's Market
drawn by local artists. Initially, the Hour was worth about 10 U.S.
dollars. It was accepted for goods and services by about 300 individuals
and a few dozen businesses in Sonoma County, California. Due to
governance issues, the program lost momentum in late 2000. Around this time, some of the organizers began using the name "Sonoma Time." However,
several individuals are still working on ideas for a local
currency in Sonoma Countyand systems to support local businesses. The E.F.
Schumacher Society has documented the local currency movement,
and promotes it as a project for community-based ecological economics. Here is a list of former local currencies in the U.S.
learned from Sonoma County Community Cash:
join a local currency program for many reasons. If those reasons
are not in alignment among the governance committee, then you
may have diverging ideas as the program grows. For example, some
people wanted to make all labor valued equally, while others wanted
to make the currency acceptable to professionals who charge more.
(This is the Hour-for-hour dilemma of the Ithaca Hours model)
- Be "complementary" not "alternative." You
will not be able to replace the U.S. dollar. Have smaller goals
with your program, goals that you can accomplish. For example,
promoting local businesses, or encouraging certain types of economic
the currency to accomplish a specific goal. This will give you focus on a niche need and help create a success story to inspire others. For example, design
your currency to help people obtain daycare, or to buy food from
farmers at the farmer's market. Edgar Cahn's approach with Time
Dollars is on the right track, but I think you can still have
scrip, or have a computer based and scrip system co-exist.
the Monetary System:
System- Money is loaned into existence by banks which require it
to be repaid with positive compound interest, and backed only by
debt. Those two characteristics are the cause of the growth imperative
in our economy. They make our monetary system unsustainable.
of the distortions of our monetary system is when Charles Hurwitz
bought Pacific Lumber Company with junk bonds, and the trees did
not grow as fast as the compound interest he owed on the bonds,
he started clear cutting old-growth redwood trees to pay the high-interest.
The fact that additional currency is not added to the economy in
order to service the debt incurred by the loans that created the
money means that there will always be a group of "losers"
who are unable to pay their debt service and are foreclosed on by
the banks. Slowly, over time, the banks are gobbling up the real
economy. The interest rate (and its mirror image, inflation) mean
that the level at which banks gobble up assets is constantly rising.
That's why it feels like everyone is running on a treadmill that
is constantly speeding up. Hmm...
economists and journalists do not understand the debt backing of
the U.S. dollar. So, when Enron collapses, or banks become insolvent
due to home loan foreclosures (when debt goes away, money disappears
from the balance sheet), they don't realize that this represents
money literally being sucked out of the economy. The typical Keynesian
approach would be to inject government spending to overcome the
short term recession. But, with the Iraq War, so much money is being
injected overseas, that it causes inflation, the dollar loses value,
and the Keynesian approach loses some of its power. We should be
looking at larger scale reforms and changes to the system.
can we do about it?
thinking about money like a public utility. Why should we rent
our Federal Reserve Notes from banks? Don't they belong to the
there alternatives to compound interest?
local and complementary currencies. Read the books below. Convene
a local economics discussion group. Design a local currency?
issues are complex, and I don't think most of the American people
are prepared to take this issue on. The Populists and the Farmers
movement in the late 1800's were. Maybe monetary reform will resurface
again. The creation of the Euro caused some people to think about
our monetary system. Maybe some economists will begin working
on monetary reform for sustainability, like Richard Douthwaite
and FEASTA have.
Douthwaite, Margrit Kennedy, and Bernard Lietaer have written about
the problems of the monetary system. Richard's book is the best
introduction to the subject, and culminates in an interesting proposal
for an international energy-backed currency that would promote ecological
sustainability, and help countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Bernard's book takes a big picture approach, and he is respected
as one of the top complementary currency experts in the world. I
have links to their websites at the bottom of this page.
currencies which represent real wealth can be a tool for community
development. For more information on this, look at Margrit Kennedy's
book in the links below.
Ecology of Money, another essay,
and Inflation-Free Money
Future of Money
and Jon Jopling's Gaian
Democracies (The Global Monetocracy)
Barnes's Capitalism 3.0.
Forum for Stable Currencies and here
The Tierra Fee and Dividend System and Carbon Trading and here
US Basic Income Gurantee Network and blog
Author Richard C Cook writes about Dividend Economics an credit as a public utility
in the UK Guardian about Monetary