In Hoover's Vision, Gary Hoover reveals "the answer is almost never where you expect it to be or where you are looking for it." (p. 57) Similarly, he suggests a question to ask: "What's not in the headlines? Headlines...direct your attention to what everybody else is thinking about." (p. 63)
However, ocassionally an answer does briefly surface into the headlines. We have a moment of cognitive dissonance and then forget about it. For instance, here is a video of Peter Jennings talking about Ithaca Hours. It is revealed that community and small business are served by this local currency.
This news story is the exception. In general, the headlines are missing a major emerging trend of complementary currency.
Why is this relevant to Bootstrappers? All complementary currencies have one thing in common. They match unmet needs with unused resources. In particular, Bootstrap Austin has a wealth and variety of resources. Because of the nature of bootstrapping in the valley of death, needs are often unmet because of a lack of money.
Why should there be a lack of money? What is money? Bernard Lietaer defines money as an agreement, within a community, to use something as a means of payment. Secondary functions of money include a unit of account, a store of value, and a tool for speculation. Currencies do not necessarily perform these secondary roles.
Here are four assumptions about money that we have inherited:
- Money is geographically tied to a nation-state or union of nation-states.
- Money is created by fiat bank debt.
- Money is value-neutral.
- Money earns interest over time.
What are the undesirable consequences of these four assumptions?
- A monopoly controls the extent to which communities can pay for work.
- Since money is created out of thin air, a central authority is required to keep it artificially scarce. Even if there is work to be done and workers willing to do it, work often remains undone and the workers remain unemployed.
- Conventional money generally degrades quality of service and subverts trust. For instance, participants in Fureai kippu prefer the service over traditional service. 100% of economic theory (words) depends on this assumption that money is value-neutral, but consider what matters (action): We produce what we get paid for. If you still think it is value-neutral, try giving your spouse (or significant other) money as a gift and see what happens.
- Interest biases the system toward competition. People are required to compete with each other just for the means to perform exchanges. Interest fuels the need for endless unsustainable growth.
Conventional money is well designed for competition, expansion and war. Innovation in the valley of death is a time of play 12 and requires a different currency design. Complementary currency applied to bootstrapping is discussed in this article at WorldChanging.
The amount and variety of currency design innovation is staggering and although a lot has been learned about design choices, the development of these currencies are still experimental.
Although each complementary currency is designed to meet a particular objective and will not necessarily work in a different domain or region, this whitepaper shows how the Internet can make transparent trust and reputation. Trust, not money, is really the bottom line and the key is not incentives but identity and transparency.
Top Shelf Reading
We produce what we get paid for
At the Naropa Conference on Intentional Economics, as an example, Bernard Lietaer noted that the medical industry provides what it gets paid for: to keep sick people alive. Edgar Cahn provides more examples in his book No More Throw-Away People: The Co-Production Imperative. According to current economic theory, "it is growth when we build more prisons and more nursing homes, when we have to clean up toxic waste, and when a couple gets a divorce and has to hire two lawyers." (p. 48) Growth also includes paid child-care, absurd security infrastructure. Money replicates the values that it measures. The dollar does not measure family, community and democracy. Instead, even though the "the non-market economy supplies the fundamental substratum upon which the entire market economy is built" (p. 47), these examples show that economic growth exploits the hardship of that unrecognized non-market economy.