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Lift Review: Local Money: What Difference Does It Make?

LOCAL MONEY: What Difference Does It Make? By John Rogers 
Publisher: Triarchy Press, U.K. 2013. 59pp, Resources 1p, Questions for Study Groups 2pp. ISBN: 978-1-909470-19-4.

‘LOCAL MONEY’ is referred to by the author as a pamphlet, rather than a book, as it is so short, simple and clear as an introduction to a complex subject. Briefly, it sets out to explain how local currencies work, their benefits and problems, and suggestions on action for the reader. It is very suitable for a study group. For the reader who is new to the subject, or who wants an introduction to the topic but does not have time to read a longer book, this is ideal.

The first chapter outlines a simple story of a group of people and organisations using a local currency in association with the national one.  All the actions are currently in use successfully in various places around the world. The benefits are clear. Then we read of the advantages and disadvantages of national money – which we all use now, and “90% of which is working to create a profit for the banks and investors.” Readers new to the topic will be surprised by some of this information, such as “Bank notes and coins are minted by the government and make up just 3% of the ‘money supply’. The rest, 97% of modern money, is put into circulation by banks and building societies through loans.” Various ideas about reforming money are then explored, such as The Positive Money Campaign, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, and the ideas of supporters and opponents of local money.
Next is an analysis of the upsides and downsides of local money – what it can and cannot do – before a detailed description of various well-established systems in England (Brixton Pound), Wales (Blaengarw Time Centre), Switzerland (WIR Bank), Brazil (Banco Palmas), and the USA (Equal Dollars). The systems are all quite different in their aims and methods, so the reader can assess their relative advantages in different situations. Information on the situation in each in this year, 2013, is very helpful. Wisely, the author then answers a range of objections and criticisms of the systems, before going on to advise on actions which readers can take.

As a quick overview of the subject, this pamphlet is an excellent introduction. The information is readily comprehensible for the novice in this subject. Frequent footnotes refer the reader to useful Youtube links and other books, articles and websites, for further details. The most comprehensive and recent resource would be “People Money: the promise of regional currencies” which is co-authored by John Rogers together with Margrit Kennedy and Bernard Lietaer, published 2012 by Triarchy Press.
Readers who would like to know more about how to start up action of this kind in their own community, particularly a small one rather than a city, would be disappointed to find there is no help here, besides considering the range of types in successful action – but there is plenty of detailed advice and suggestions on “How to implement a regional currency” in “People Money” (above), which includes examples from New Zealand.

Altogether, this pamphlet is extremely valuable as a starter in the field of community-strengthening alternatives to our present exploitative money system.

LIFT's Latest Book Review

This changes everything: Capitalism vs the climate
klein thunberg
Naomi Klein interviews Greta Thunberg in New York - September 9, 2019.


Reviewed by Juliet Adams

 This is one of the most important books in LIFT.

It explains everything about what’s wrong with our world (well, almost!). It tells us about everything that is being done and that can be done to change the situation and save our future (well, almost!).  

If Naomi Klein had included any more topics the book would have been too heavy!  

Don’t let that put you off. It may take a lot of time to read; maybe you’ll even skip some  pages (I couldn’t!) But it will enlighten you with its detail, thoroughly backed by references, on so  many important topics, revealed in everyday language with clarifying examples.

She writes: “So my mind keeps coming back to the question: what is wrong with us? What is really preventing us  from putting out the fire that is threatening to burn down our collective house? 

“I think the answer is far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things  that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated  capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of  this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting  catastrophe – and would benefit the vast majority – are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media  outlets.”

Not only does she explain how and why things have gone wrong with each aspect (climate  change, fossil fuels’ dominance, free market fundamentalism, big business and greenwashing,  misplaced dreams of technology, greedy exploitation of the planet and its people, to name a few) ;  she also explains for each one the actions that have been taken and are being taken to remedy  them.

She doesn’t just leave that till a chapter at the end, as many writers do.

One LIFT member has pointed out that she has not explained the rising tide of alternative money systems that could reduce the power of those controlling many of the problems.  A good  point.  Maybe that will be her next book?  This book is inspiring!



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 Wanting to read one of our great books but just don't have time?

Just ask Juliet for a summary, she has several available by email including:
  • "Blessed Unrest", by Paul Hawken
  • "Fleeing Vesuvius", by FEASTA and LE
  • "No More Throwaway People", by Edgar S. Cahn
  • "Sacred Economics", by Charles Eisenstein
  • "The End of Money and the Future of Civilization", by Thomas H. Greco
  • "The Future of Money", by Bernard Lietaer
  • "We the People", by John Buck and Sharon Villines