According to the Guardian, renewable energy provider Good Energy has agreed to accept the Bristol pound in payment for electricity and gas bills. The company claims to be the first in the world to accept payments in local currency. Bristol residents already use the Bristol pound to pay for groceries, bus fares and council tax (ie real estate taxes).
The Bristol Pound is an alternative currency launched in 2012 to help keep cash in the local community, as opposed to the deep pockets of multinational corporations.
Run as a not-for-profit partnership with Bristol Credit Union, the Bristol pound is the first city-wide local currency in the UK and the largest alternative to Britain’s national currency (pounds sterling). There are approximately 750,000 Bristol pounds in circulation.
Local or complementary currencies are an ideal way for communities to opt out of the corporate money system. Their use has expanded exponentially since the 2008 downturn, especially in European countries like Greece, Italy and Spain. Devastating austerity cuts have left millions in southern Europe with no access to euros, the official currency.
My town New Plymouth has their own local currency, the New Plymouth talent, though it’s not as widely circulated as the Bristol pound. We also have a Time Bank (which I’ve just joined), which allows members to earn time credits providing services for other members. They can use these credits (instead of money) to purchase services from other members. It’s a great alternative for unemployed, retired and disabled residents who are short on cash due to the economic downturn.
(This is the eighth in a series of posts about ending the role of private banks in issuing money)
“Somewhere in our history we took a wrong turn and today we are reaping the consequences. If we don’t step back to evaluate the root causes of the rolling economic crises, our civilization is in danger of collapse.” – Clive Menzies
A few years back, Clive Menzies, president of British Fund Building and member of the Free Critical Thinking Institute entered into an ongoing dialogue with the London Occupy movement. The result is a radical monetary reform proposal to fix the global economic mess. In the video below, he is presenting it to the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (translation: a high-powered group of investment bankers and stock brokers).
In his presentation, Menzies attributes the current crisis, as well as capitalism’s recurrent boom and bust cycles, to the alienation of the vast majority of the global population from the commons (i.e. communal ownership of land and natural resources that ended with the Enclosure Acts) and the prohibition of any discussion of this catastrophic event in contemporary economic discourse. (This is a topic Fred Harrison discusses at length in The Traumatised Society.)
Most of Menzies’s talk focuses on the urgent need to abolish our current debt-based (bank-controlled) monetary system. For five main reasons:
It drives systemic inequality by allowing those with more money than they need to exploit those who need money.
It drives unsustainable, exponential debt growth because the interest cost rises faster than society can create wealth to pay it.
It discounts the future, driving environmental destruction – it makes a forest worth more as sawed timber than as an ecosystem preserved for future generations.
It demands exponential GDP growth, rapidly depleting finite resources – 3% GDP growth means the economy doubles every 24 years which means extracting resources at twice the rate and throwing twice as much away.
It drives inflation.
He also demolishes the prevailing myth that a person’s existence on this planet is only justified by paid work. In a way it’s deliberate falsehood more than a myth. There is only enough “productive” work for 50% of the adult population and the vast majority of income in contemporary society is generated via “rent-seeking” (i.e. charging interest or rent or extracting and exploiting publicly owned natural resources).
Menzies lays out a monetary reform proposal that would abolish interest exploitation by the private banks who currently issue and control global currencies. Instead it would empower governments to issue interest-free sovereign currency.