When times get tough, the tough . . . switch currencies.
A fascinating report in The Atlantic tells of the upswing in “local currencies.” In the United Kingdom, the Brixton Pound is being floated, engraved on its paper notes the likes of “David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust era.” Pegged to the British pound, it serves mainly as a scheme to promote local business and trade, though maybe it’s a tad more than mere boosterism.
Bavarians are also “enthusiastically using the local currency as a protest” — the local currency being the Chiemgauer. And “similar currencies have popped up around the world,” including in Canada and the United States.
The Atlantic story also mentions the idea of a “time bank,” a one-step-up-from-barter method based on labor hours and (in some cases) accounting for a variety of skill levels. Such “systems are in use all over the world . . . though the organizers are careful to make sure that the time is never given a specific value in a hard currency, which would open the door to taxation from governments.”
That caveat shows how barter and labor time exchanges might seem the more “revolutionary,” from, say, an establishment point of view. It’s worth noting that the idea’s greatest early proponent was Josiah Warren, America’s genius utopian experimenter and theoretician of “individual sovereignty.”
Less of a radical, Rep. Ron Paul echoes eminent monetary economist and Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek by promoting the “denationalization of money,” arguing that government policy should allow all currencies to float, getting rid of all taxation on trade amongst currencies as well as repealing all legal tender laws.
For my part, I would greatly enjoy spending a Ziggy Stardust banknote.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.