PAUL GLOVER ESSAYS: community control of food, fuel, housing, health care, planning, education, finance.

Book Review:
Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender

by Paul Glover

I enjoyed Tom Greco's first book "New Money for Healthy Communities." It's a well-written, concise survey of alternate currencies.

My concern with "Money" is that it's written comparatively densely and reinforces the idea that money is a weighty subject. Local currency seeks to demystify money-- to make it clear that average people can comprehend and control it.

You need just four pages to say about money what needs emphasizing:

1) control of money decides who does well and who goes without.

2) control of money lending decides who gets to fix their house or start a new business.

3) federal money, controlled by big banks, is part of a game by which the rich get richer and the poor fall farther behind. Therefore,

4) to make sure that communities have enough money to start new businesses and support nonprofit groups, communities need to print their own.

Tom takes 200 pages to say that. This does not inspire common folk that we can take control of money. Straight talk in simple language is essential to empower the grassroots.

Moreover he presumes, in 16 pages, to provide a "manual" of local currency, though he participated in a 200-member system in a major city. There's a big difference between studying money and making it work, by trial and error. Theory and practice must walk together daily.
Notwithstanding, in six pages Tom lectures Ithaca HOURS on how to make local currency "better."

His FIRST prescription is the requirement that, for someone to receive their first payment of HOURS, they must pledge to return them to the system when they cease participation. This is not enforceable, is legalistic rather than generous, and merely discourages people from enrolling

Whoever first accepts an HOUR for goods or services is the person who gives it proven value. There is no need to deflate the money supply to discipline the person to whom the HOURS were issued.

His SECOND suggestion is merely aggravating, since Ithaca has already pioneered the process of making HOUR loans, since 1993, and would have issued far more loans had it the staff required.

His THIRD suggestion is already in place. The HOUR system caps the HOURS issued for system operation, and accepts HOURS for advertising in comparable quantity it issues to itself.

His FOURTH suggestion is that any HOUR grants be "underwritten" or backed by community donors. This misses the point of local currency--

1) we are expanding the money supply rather than merely shuffling money around.
2) we are backing local money with local goods and services, rather than by federal reserve notes which are themselves backed by $6 trillion of national debt. That is, we consider HOURS to be real money, while Greco calls HOURS "unfunded" because they are not backed by federal dollars.

If you're interested in joining this exciting movement, there are better sources of inspiration.

Glover is founder of Ithaca HOURS.

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