From: P.North@sheffield.ac.uk ("Dr. P.J.North")
Subject: Re: Sophisticated international barter system in sight
PN: In many ways my exasperated reply was
prompted by Sabines use of
astrology - rather than rational arguement - to promote LETS.
JCT: I found the astrologer's argument quite rational. As I
pointed out, if no one had known he was an astrologer, would they have
come to the same conclusion that there was something not rational? I
think the criticism is that associating LETS with an argument made by
an astrologer, even a rational argument, is not arguing rationally.
PN: My exasperation about this is that
it plays into the hands of
those who see LETS as a middle class plaything for those with the
economic wherewithall to play about with esoteric economic arguements.
What Hayek called the long tradition of monetary cranks".
JCT: Once it has played into the hands of people who see LETS in
this way, what will they do with it? Call LETS the fulfillment of the
dreams of the long tradition of monetary cranks? Which it is?
I would bet that every one of the monetary cranks mentioned were
complaining about the unsafe engineering design of the money system
and proposed their way, some good and some bad, of correcting it.
The most famous of the denigrated cranks was the engineer, Major
C.H. Douglas, who solved the problem of debt greater than money supply
by having the government spend a balancing amount of social credits
into circulation and cover the remaining balance with a National
Dividend to all citizens.
Since the problem is that the debt is greater than the money, it
is the other side of the coin to the LETS solution. Social Credit was
eminently workable though they used a compensatory negative feedback
loop to compensate for the positive interest feedback loop whereas
LETS cuts the positive interest feedback loop in the first place.
As a matter of fact, I would bet that the label "monetary crank"
will someday count to their credit rather than to their detriment,
especially when the label is attached by "dismal science" graduates
who have been infected with Money Madness by their study of Economics.
PN: My wish is for LETS to meet the needs
of those who are loosing in
the present economy.
JCT: Everyone wants LETS to meet their needs.
PN: And, given the competitive pressures
on the UK economy as a result
of spending cuts to finance the coming European Currency Union, and
pressure from the far east Tiger economies - are likely to continue to
loose this side of radical change.
JCT: These are pressures in the competitive federal currency
trading world. How the far east economies do will have no bearing on
how our economy can do once LETS is installed.
PN: Local currency models can help those
loosing - but, given that
people in poverty lack resourses, confidence, a feeling that they have
the power to change their conditions - and therefore keep themselves
sane with opiates like religion and astrology (but thats a cheap dig),
JCT: Two cheap digs. When I hear Mohammed, Christ, the Saints of
Israel, Buddha all inveigh against of the slavery of usurious debts
and for LETS, I do understand why good religions do help keep people
sane just with the vision of what Earth could be like without its
chains of exponential debt.
PN: they need help to get out of their
predicament. And that means
they need support from people with more resourses than they have -
from a government. Hopefully, from tomorrow, we will have a half
decent one here.
JCT: How decent? Other than installing LETS monetary reform, what
does he possibly expect Labour to do differently from the previous
debtor government? See my post "Labour surrenders to Bank of England"
about Labour's first act of submission to its debt bonds.
PN: LETS therefore needs to be taken seriously,
as a rational policy
that meets the needs of certain individuals, communities, businesses -
and doesn't meet the needs of others.
JCT: The Engineer says a LETS token system meets the needs of all
and would like to know whose needs it can not meet?
PN: It performs certain tasks well, not
JCT: The Engineer says LETS tokens perform all tasks well and
would like to know which tasks it can not meet?
PN: It needs to be slotted into place alongside
other initiatives, to
do certain tasks and meet needs that the mainstream economy doesn't
JCT: The Engineer says it should also take over needs that the
mainstream currency meet simply to lower the cost to the credit-user.
PN: It shouldn't displace mainstream economic
JCT: Darn right it should. It was The Engineer's intention from
the onset that LETS will supersede the world banking system in
liquefying mainstream economic activity.
PN: And to find out exactly where the place
of LETS is alongside these
other initiatives needs thoughtfull investigation - not claims (a)
that LETS is a global panacea -
JCT: The LETS Engineer does see Global LETS as global panacea.
That Peter, the LETS Doctor of Philosophy, does not will be an
interesting contest as the LETS continues its exponential growth. Some
of us see the big picture, some of us don't.
PN: that arguement will not wash for those
for whom the money system
works just fine thanks,
JCT: With all the starving paupers in the world, who cares about
the opinions of anyone so stupid as to think that the present money
system works just fine. Besides, when they realize that LETS puts the
unemployed back to work and cuts their taxes, it's all that they need
to like the idea of LETS. Most of them, other than bankers, are for
full employment too.
PN: and (b) the avoidence of mystical nonsense
and wishfull thinking
that makes proponants of LETS seem to be cranks.
JCT: Again, I would point out that Sabine's column was not
mystical nonsense. It was a cogently reasoned prediction from a well-
published futurist. It's true that as a LETS philosopher, Peter might
worry about proponents of LETS seeming to be cranks but as a LETS
engineer, I know that the crankiness of the vendors and installers has
as little to do with LETS engineering design as crankiness of the
vendors and mechanics would have to do with automobile engineering
PN: On the question of LETS and business.
Yes, I know about
international barter, and Ithaca Hours, and WIR. But these alternative
models are not LETS.
JCT: Take it from a LETS engineer, no matter what you call the
tokens, no matter what the rules of issuance, no matter what the
medium, they are all 1/s token systems and they are all Employment
Trading Systems. Philosophical differences are not engineering design
differences and to say that identical engineering designs are
different is an philosophical distinction I choose to ignore.
PN: They meet the needs of business as
they are designed differently,
JCT: They are not designed differently. They are used
differently. Though the needs they serve may be different, the token
systems themselves are always identical no-feedback 1/s models.
PN: and do different things far more effectively
JCT: The Banking Systems Engineer says there is nothing LETS
cannot do as effectively and more effectively than any other monetary
system and I would like to hear of any example.
PN: Given the almost complete failure of
LETS to attract much more
than small ecological and community businesses - who join as their
market are likely to be members of LETS and as they want to spread co-
operative ethics (well thats the findings from my research on
Manchester LETS anyway).
JCT: That is not the case in Ithaca New York where their LETS has
not failed. Just because other systems have not
proven as successful in to attracting businesses as Ithaca does not
mean that they will forever fail to follow Paul Glover's example.
PN: I don't believe that (a) large scale
businesses will ever join
LETS (as opposed to other local currency models)
JCT: Isn't it funny that you don't think large scale businesses
will ever join LETS when the astrologer predicted they themselves
would start their own LETS that was so big and useful, everyone would
have to join it to enjoy its benefits. Somehow, in this case, I think
the astrologer sees the future better than the philosopher.
PN: and (b) if businesses do use other
currency models to exploit me -
why should I welcome that?
JCT: Because there is no basis to assume that you can be as
exploited by your interest-free debt to them as you can be by your
interest-bearing debt to them.
PN: Why should I be anything other than
OPPOSED to anything that makes
the capitalist system survive another minute?.
JCT: It's not capitalism you should be against. It's monopoly
capitalism. After all, didn't Paul Corr II 8:14 says that with LETS,
"he who gathers much will not have too much and he who gathers little
will not have too little?" There's nothing wrong when capitalism
allows the better producers to be paid more and when capitalism is
based on something everyone has, manpower, and not based on something
not everyone has, collateral, it becomes the synthesis between the
communism ideal and the capitalist ideal.
LETS is the synthesis between Communism and Capitalism.
PN: I don't really care about the method
of exchange - I care about
being exploited. And as through 'relationship trading' LETS just
doesn't have the same power relations as the mainstream economy, then
it has value as a programme for social change.
JCT: So while it isn't very big, it still has value as a
programme for social change but when it gets very big, it will have
the same power relations as the mainstream economy because for those
users, it will represent much of their mainstream economy.
PN: There is long tradition of socialist
and anarchist thought that
relies on a free society coming about from the gradual extension of a
sphere of co-operation that grows within the capitalist mainstream (as
capitalist enterprises grew within feudal society) before growing to
such an extent that they threatened the logic of capitalism (ie,
people had an alternative to being exploited.
JCT: And of course, the only way that can happen is from the
gradual extension of a LETS sphere of economic co-operation that is
now growing within the capitalist mainstream before growing to such an
extent that LETS will threaten the logic of monopoly capitalism and
deliver common capitalistic credit for all.
PN: Then there is a revolution -
or the capitalist system prevents
these alternatives from operating. That, for me, is the value of LETS.
JCT: What? That the capitalist system cannot prevent LETS from
operating too? I agree. LETS can't be stopped short of world
dictatorship and this is one revolution that reporters keep pointing
out is not only a token revolution.
PN: Any one that wants to read more of
this should look at the Jewish
philosopher and advocate of Khibbutzim Martin Bubers book "Paths in
Utopia". Yours - on the last day of Tory rule. Dr PJ North
JCT: Tell me he advocates counting our wealth with interest-free
chips or I want to know how he proposes his Utopia handle bankers
eternally foreclosing on victims of exponential debt.
a comment to John Turmel