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

The Destiny of Dollars

by Paul Glover, The Ithacan, 11/1/07

Visiting Paris, Rome or the grocery store costs more dollars every day. The U.S. dollar's value is tumbling. After having been the world champion of money for sixty years, our dollar is staggering.

Since 1933 our money has not been backed by gold, nor by silver since 1969. American manufacture was the spine of dollar power until those jobs fled overseas. Domestic natural resources have been used up-- we've devoured 80% of America's original oil, most natural gas and richest topsoil. Effective military control of cheap foreign oil and labor is ending despite massive weapons spending. Federal Reserve Notes today merely represent $9 trillion of national debt.

All national currencies are deep in debt-- indebted to nature-- because human economies extract from nature faster than we replenish. This debt accumulates as more human beings than ever consume earth's fuels, metals, soils and water. Eventually, were the planet used up, money would buy nothing.

Today, though, some national currencies still buy more than others, because those nations control more of these dwindling resources. Russia's economy, crippled when the USSR ended, rebounds because it controls one quarter of earth's natural gas, and pipes it to europe.

So, to predict the destiny of empires and economies, and of your money, watch the flow of resources. China, currently the world's manufacturing powerhouse and owner of more U.S. dollars than any nation, depends itself on oil imported from the Middle East, South America and Africa-- just as we do. Burdened with one fifth of the world's population and fading soils, China will decline. Japan, a trading nation once so powerful that they owned America's biggest skyscrapers, has few domestic resources. Venezuela, by contrast, with far more oil than it needs, pulls Latin America from Washington's grasp. The Canadians are selling us natural gas, so their money gets new respect.
Rather than depending on massive extractive corporations, and our giant landfill economy, America's economic health relies on millions of tiny local economies, just as healthy lungs rely on millions of tiny air sacks. Reviving human economies means reviving local economies, ecologically.

 These essential regional changes have begun, led by millions of American businesses and nonprofit organizations, and recent college grads.

Among the many tools for rebuilding economies is local currency. Ithaca has pioneered this process with Ithaca HOURS (one HOUR = $10.00). Millions of dollars' worth have been traded since 1991. Connecting people rather than controlling them, community cash releases the creativity of area residents to trade more ecologically. Grants are made to community organizations. Loans are made, interest-free. Local government itself could be funded increasingly by local money. With extra money committed to regional development, we're more able to purchase local organic food, solar power, local crafts, energy efficiencies, and holistic health care.

Americans are now forced to build a far better world because the alternative is a far worse world.  Preparing our nation to thrive with one-tenth the oil and natural gas and coal begins at home Looking far enough ahead, towards the adulthood of your children, there will be little oil but we will be warm. There will be few cars but we will go faster to places more beautiful. In dry regions there will be no flush toilets but bathrooms will be more sanitary. The most secure housing will be built substantially underground. Cities will grow much of their own food.

Time binds us to great change. And in Ithaca, that Time is Money.

[email protected]


Hit Counter by Digits