C H A P T E R 6
What Can I Do to Help in the Transition Period?
THE GREATEST OBSTACLE to the transformation of the
monetary system is that few people understand the
problem and even fewer know that there is a solution. However,
since October 1987, when $1.5 trillion vanished on Wall Street,
people are more interested in listening. To be informed exactly
about the way in which interest and compound interest works is
the first step towards change. To be able to discuss the solution
and its varied implications is the next step.
BE INFORMED, INCREASE THE AWARENESS OF OTHERS
Start among friends and family members to experience how
far you can explain the issue. Then move on to people you
know less well and finally don't hesitate to talk to your banker,
insurance broker, local politician, journalists and media people.
Many discussions with professionals, bankers
and economists have convinced me that there are no "real"
difficulties, except the mental blocks created by educa-
tion and limiting belief systems about what money is and
how it should function.
Be aware that money is one of the central issues in many
people's lives. Therefore, it is linked strongly with people's
perception of themselves and the world. Generosity or
greed, openness or isolation, warmth or coldness - how
people behave in other areas will be reflected in their at-
titude towards money. Usually it is difficult to treat money
as a separate issue. However, you have to explain the way
in which interest accumulates wealth before you deal with
the symptoms which appear, e.g., in the social and po-
litical arena. Otherwise, the whole discussion may become
Be aware that monetary reform, although it is linked
to many other problems, is not going to cure all of them
automatically. It will not by itself provide for the poor,
the old, the sick or for other social needs. Monetary re-
form will make it easier to help these groups. But that does
not mean that we can do without special programs or
mechanisms to solve other social problems. The same
applies to ecology, conservation and other tasks.
Just following what happens in the world through the
media any day will increase your understanding of the
urgency and feasibility of this change and the responsi-
bility which everybody who knows of a solution carries
in respect to making it more widely known.
SPONSOR MODEL EXPERIMENTS
The most important precondition for an interest-free
monetary system is to set up some "real life examples"
which will give us an idea about the effects this change
may have on a larger scale.
Preferably, the regions or countries interested in a trial
run should coordinate their action in order to achieve a
greater validity in observing the results under different
social, cultural and economic conditions. The areas se-
lected should be large enough to provide relevant results
for the whole country. A high level of autonomy would
be desirable. That means that many of the goods and
services needed should be available in the area where the
The other possibility is to choose a region which is
depressed - usually because of lack of diversification - and
create an impetus for a more differentiated and stable
economy through the introduction of a new monetary
system. The latter case may be the more tempting because
where a situation is bad enough people tend to be more
open to change, mainly when they see - as in the case of
Wörgl (Chapter 2) - that they have everything to gain and
nothing to lose in the process. On the other hand, a rela-
tively active, diversified and economically healthy area may
also see advantages in the introduction of a new monetary
system very clearly and here the success of the change may
be evident faster.
It would create more validity not to limit experiments to
one or the other situation exclusively, in order to find out
what interest-free money means in different social contexts.
START A LOCAL EXCHANGE TRADING SYSTEM
Of all the attempts to exchange goods and services
outside the present money systems, the one Michael
Linton has started on Vancouver Island, Canada, is the
most easily adaptable to any locality and, therefore, the
best known world-wide.
The LET (Local Exchange Trading) System operates
quite simply as a system of accounts of "green" dollars,
without a fee on the money, but a small fee on each
transaction. People arrange among themselves how many
"green" and how many "normal" dollars each item they
sell or buy will cost. They pass on their credits and
debits to a computerized accounting center. Their limits
to go into debt can be determined, at the outset, and
changed when necessary later, in order to minimize the
risk for all participants. Obviously, the more people
participate, the more rewarding the system will be.
In this way, a small community near Vancouver
helped a dentist who was young and had no money to
build up a practice. The community built a house and
surgery, largely from green dollars. The dentist then
treated people for a certain percentage of green dollars.
The LET Systems work well in the beginning but in
some instances there have been problems or collapse (29)
where large surpluses or deficits occurred. In part this is
because with no circulation fee there is no incentive to
However, it still makes sense to support experiments
with different types of circulation systems than the one
we have at present, in order to enable people to understand the
functions and purposes of money better. Practical examples
provide a better learning experience than any book or lecture.
SUPPORT ETHICAL INVESTMENT
One immediate step everybody can take toward transition is
to see to it that their own surplus money gets invested in an
ethical way. As more and more people begin to realize its social
and moral implications, ethical investment in the U.S.A. has
mushroomed into a multi-million dollar movement. In the words
of Hazel Henderson, "a growing army of common folk have
stood on their doorsteps, smelt the rot and can no longer let
what they do with their money counteract with what they do
with their lives." (30)
Ethical investors look at their potential investments in
economic and social terms. People like Robert Schwartz, an
early pioneer in socially responsible investment, started by
eliminating from their list of possible investments the companies
that were major defense suppliers or had unfair labor policies,
polluters, including nuclear utilities, that were destructive to the
environment and those firms who made their assets available to
repressive government regimes like South Africa. (31)
Environmental awareness is not only a vital moral standpoint
but in many cases also makes good money sense, mainly when
the situation is bad enough through the previously ruthless
exploitation of resources. The nuclear power industry, for
instance, with its accidents and clean-up costs has
proven to be a bad lemon for investors in the
U.S.A., whilst alternative energy has done well lately.
The greatest advantage of an ethical investment policy is that
it can be put into practice right now. Whether we change the
monetary system sooner or later, ethical investment is a splendid
idea in any money system.