“The global economy is much worse after the 2008 financial crash,” Francis Ayley asserted. “The usurious money system is a Ponzi scheme. It’s collapsing.” Usurious means loans must be repaid with additional interest — so the money system requires infinite growth, an impossibility on a finite planet. At some point it folds like a house of cards.
We need alternatives to take its place. That’s where the local currency movement comes in.
In 2006 we videoed Francis about his regional Fourth Corner Exchange. This time we recorded an engaging conversation with Francis and his wife Lia in their home near Bellingham, Washington.
Francis noted that bankers control how much money is issued (as debt). They make sure there’s never enough bank-issued money, and thus the ever-present scarcity.
By contrast, Fourth Corner Exchange members issue money as they exchange goods and services. They’re in control. Their exchanges strengthen relationships, cooperation, and community. Members have created millions of dollars worth of transactions, all exchanged via the internet.
Their currency is “Life Dollars,” each valued at one hour of someone’s time, or an hourly living wage in their local community. Each member decides what their product or time is worth, and offers it to others online. Some ask for US dollars in addition to Life Dollars, for example if they spent cash for materials.
“All exchanges are negotiable,” Lia explained. That’s one way relationships are created between members. She noted that professionals can place a higher value on their time than, say, a semi-skilled worker, to reflect their educational investment and business expenses.
The biggest challenge? Getting people to change their mindset from scarcity to abundance. After a lifetime of bank-issued money and its scarcity, it’s hard for most of us to break out of the mental cage and see money being created in a plenitude of exchanges.
I think creating durable local exchanges outside of the debt-money system are an integral part of building community resilience and autonomy. I wish Fourth Corner Exchange was in our home town! [fourthcornerexchange.com]
Start one in your community! Francis and Lia are expanding Fourth Corner Exchange into The Life Currency Cooperative Exchange. You can join the new emerging cooperative economy by starting a local chapter. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.