Here, on the Southern Cumberland Plateau, there have been a number of recent attempts to establish a barter community. One uses Face Book to publish barter opportunities, but it has become just an online yard sale. A local farmer’s market accepts food stamps and engages in some barter. Craig’s List offers a section for barter. Old time rural residents of Grundy, Marion and Franklin Counties have been adept for years at striking good barter bargains. But the fact remains that barter is difficult. Matching two needs to two haves occurs rarely and usually with a lot of unsatisfying compromise. All advanced civilizations rely on some form of universal currency to grease the wheels of commerce and stimulate trade within the economy.
And what of “the economy”? How’s it going out there? Even a casual observer will notice that “the economy” is increasingly distant. Globalization has expanded the marketplace for goods, services, finance, labor and everything else far beyond our reach or control. One impact of globalization is that it seems the only export growth sector for America is jobs, especially those that are high paying, manufacturing or high tech. For several decades we have been told that America is a service economy and that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing as long as you have a high paying job and can buy cheap things imported from China or India. That makes you feel pretty wealthy.
Service economies function on lots of credit and lots of consumption. That worked pretty well as long as the housing bubble and easy credit pumped up our false sense of prosperity. When that popped, we bailed out the big banks and wall street investment firms with trillions of dollars of inflation generating fiat cash. Oh yeah, that wasn’t a one-time thing as promised. We’re still doing it.
Meanwhile, the government keeps telling us that inflation is low and under control. But those of us not on food stamps have noticed a big difference in the cost of our every day expenses, things like groceries, gas, health care and insurance. Meanwhile, tried to get a new loan for a house lately? That huge cash infusion into the banking industry doesn’t seem to be trickling down. Wonder where all that money went? It’s still in the toilet and someone forgot to flush. Can you imagine the inflationary impact if it had actually gone into our consumptive economy?
But the real elephant in the room is the US Dollar’s status as world currency tied to the petrol dollar. There have been rumblings for some time that it’s time to change that. In early 2012, Russia began selling oil to China without the intermediary US dollar. The dike is cracked and many informed people believe it will take more fingers than we have to keep it plugged. How many guns, fighters, tanks, air craft carriers and military bases will it take to force the world to continue using an inflated dollar? When the dike fails and another currency becomes the global currency (Can you say Renmimbi or how about Yuan?) what will become of the good old $US? I have a framed 100 trillion dollar note from Zimbabwe on my book case as a reminder of what happens to all currencies when there is too much of them floating around to represent the value of their underlying goods and services. Ever wanted to be a trillionaire? Just move to Zimbabwe and you can enjoy that status.
These are just some of the reasons we have been considering alternative currencies for a long time. We believe in proactively preparing for things. We believe in being self-sufficient. And, there are many more benefits to stimulating the local economy by keeping cash circulating locally. For a quick look at the benefits and how local currencies can work, take a look at this short video.
Surprisingly, there is nothing illegal about printing your own currency and there are a number of very successful examples of local currencies in the USA. BerkShares in upstate New York are one of the most successful. Here is a list of local US currencies. You will note that, while there are several, they are still uncommon.
We think we have a unique approach to implementing the Sewanee Dollar at the Village on Sewanee Creek. It can work initially in a very small economy based on systems already in place. Over time, we hope to grow our economy and the benefits of participation to encompass business transactions in a much larger area. Interested? Inquire Here.