Saturday, May 21, 2005

Community- & Eco-Money: Alternative Currency Systems

Mostly we take money and the currency system as a "given"... almost as if there is only one way in which money can circulate, be used... and affect the lives of people.

However, as one of the earlier posting (The Eleventh Round - A Fable) pointed out, the current monetary system, by its very nature, tends to promote inequality and social disharmony. Moreover, the global currency speculations of the FX markets tend to make local economies dependent on FX operators, and promote instability.

There are, however, many alternative currency systems in the world (e.g., Times Dollars, LETS (Local Exchange Trading System), Calgary Dollar, etc.), which are localised, promote stability and cooperation, and provide a more sustainable alternative. According to Bernard Lietaer there are more than 4,000 of such complementary currencies in operation around the globe.

Here is one example (given the facts: that 66% of human beings who ever reached the the age of 65 are alive today, and $trilions of unfunded pension liabilities and rising healthcare costs, such alternatives make immense sense):

Japanese "Relationship Tickets" and "Eco-Money"
Thursday, February 5, 2004

Two types of local currencies have been created in Japan to promote community, environmental conservation and health care. Hureai Kippu, or "Caring Relationship Tickets", were created in 1995 by the Japanese Welfare Institute so that people could earn credits helping seniors in their community. Sometimes seniors help each other and earn the credits, other times family members in other communities earn credits and transfer them to their parents who live elsewhere. A surprising part of the project has been that the elderly tend to prefer the services provided by people paid in Hureai Kippu over those paid in yen.

This may be due to the personal connection developed between users of the currency.

The second form of Japanese currency, called "Eco-Money", is a community currency much like Calgary Dollars, used to connect neighbours in obtaining the goods and services they need.

In the town of Kuriyama, Hokkaido, for instance, second grader Ami Hasegawa paid 1,000 kurins to get her favorite toy fixed. The kurin is the local currency that was named after the township. Ami's father earned 3,000 kurins for fixing the handrail of a staircase in a neighbor's house. And her mother paid 1,000 kurins to an elderly man who wrote addresses for her on postcards in beautiful handwriting.

In spring 1999 Kusatsu in Shiga Prefecture became the first city in Japan to use eco-money, calling it the Ohmi, which is what the prefecture was called in the old days. Several other cities followed suit with currencies of their own, with Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, calling it the dagger (borrowed from the local dialect) and Takaoka in Toyama Prefecture.

Some 30 more communities across Japan are introducing such currencies. Some municipalities plan to use the money to plant trees and reduce garbage. Eco-Money Network Secretary General Masanari Nakayama stated, "Eco-money is a way of getting neighbors to help each other out and to deepen their ties to the community."



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necronomy said...

One nice question:
reading this news, where is the difference between legal and not legal, official and non official currencies?
One of the capitalism rules is competition.
Everything is just fine while number of the real competitors is 0-zero.
Legal (and not only) spectacle is guaranteed, soon or later...

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