Which is the largest LETS?
>Date: Wed Jan 20 00:01:50 1999
>From: pdumais@powersurfr.com ("Paul Dumais")
>Subject: [lets] Which is the largest LETS?
>To: lets@onelist.com
>I would like to know which LETS is the largest? Is any one system
>claiming the prize, or is the largest LETS thinking large is bad an
>therefore shamefully keeping quiet. 
     JCT: As far as I know, the largest LETS databases exist in 
casinos. My Casino Turmel used a LETS currency and had over 4,500 
accounts. Yet, all transactions were between Account #1 and each 
member's account. 
     I think that the largest LETS database is in the Blue Mountains 
in Australia with over a couple of thousands accounts. 
     Finally, such a record may not last long as any large database 
could simply announce to its members that the LETS software has been 
installed and they all have a Green account. Whether they choose to use 
it or not wouldn't matter though I'm sure it wouldn't take long for 
most new members to see the advantages to using interest-free credit 
to purchase available products rather than interest-bearing money. 
>Ithaca New York appears to be the best. It's got printable currency 
>and lots of members. It's got a good web site and a great publicity 
>campaign. It also has a great start-up kit for people to buy and 
>start up new currencies. It also appears to have a good directory 
>service and at least one credit union which accepts Hours. You can 
>find their website at http://www.lightlink.com/hours/ithacahours/
     JCT: I'm glad you brought up Ithaca because they probably do the 
largest volume of trading because of their paper notes. Also, though 
they might have fewer members than Blue Mountains, many people accept 
their currency without actually becoming members, thus exhibiting one 
of the greatest benefits assets of using paper currency, one doesn't 
have to be a member to accept and spend Ithaca Hour notes. So there's 
the good chance that though Ithaca may have fewer actual registered 
members, they may actually have a greater number of users. 
>More specifically which LETS has the most trading members and which 
>has the highest trading volume? It would be interesting to analyze 
>the effect on the local economy of such a large LETS. If this 
>information is not readily available, I'd like to see it posted. 
     JCT: True there isn't much information available but Ithaca has 
been making much news over the last few years and have some estimates 
which swamp most other LETS. Of course, their notes have permitted a 
velocity of up to 40 while most LETS that do not use notes are stuck 
with a velocity of 1. It's not fair to compare the two since velocity 
1 LETS operate under such impediments that most are barely surviving 
and barely averaging an hour's worth of trading per person per month. 
Of course, some are wising up. 
>Date: Mon Jan 18 09:01:20 1999
>From: discovery@oneworld38.freeserve.co.uk ("John Thomas")
>Subject: News on Calderdale LETS
>To: johnturmel@yahoo.com ("John Turmel")
>Dear John, At a Members Management Meeting on Friday, 15th January, 
>it was agreed that we should look into using paper LETS currency.
>Consequently, each member will be sent a Green LETS Dollar from the
>Abolitionist Party of Canada for members scrutiny at the next 
>directory mailing. This looks good.
>The crucial point that took it was the impending Y2K problem that 
>makes chequebook dealing very difficult if the computers all go down. 
>True, we will have difficulty with the directory, but using paper 
>money can help overcome the chequebook problem
>I'll keep you posted on this. Frank McManus and Ken Palmerton are 
>keen. Regards John Thomas
     JCT: Calderdale LETS in the UK has over 400 members and John 
Thomas stresses a great point. I'd left some of the Abolitionist Party 
currency with Ken Palmerton and it hadn't dawned on me how useful 
paper notes would be with respect to the Y2K problem. Too bad I hadn't 
thought of stressing it myself though I've never worried about the Y2K 
problem because I always realized that we could take out all our money 
in LETS paper currency and not worry about banks crashing. This just 
brought that point to our greater attention. 
>I think if we take pride in the achievements of large and powerful 
>local trading systems, we can accelerate the birth of an interest 
>free dollar which can be community controlled and more useful than an 
>interest-based one. I know the Ithaca pages have success stories 
>posted there. Various UK LETS currencies seem to be quite large as 
>well. It seems their physical proximity would make combining a 
>natural step also.  
     JCT: I've always been amazed that so many people who see the 
value of the small LETS for their communities can't expand that idea 
to see the value of big LETS for the whole nation or the whole world. 
>I'd like to thank John Turmel for his inspiring dedication to 
>economic change. I am taking it upon myself to make LETS currencies 
>popular wherever I call home. I've started many interesting debates 
>with people who have never contemplated the idea of interest free 
>currency. Though I don't expect to change people's minds directly or 
>quickly, simple discussion can do a lot to make people think about 
>such new ideas and eventually question currently held beliefs.
     JCT: That's the major benefit of Local LETS. We can point to the 
great results of the small model and suggest that there's no reason 
larger models shouldn't work even better. It's the reason I threw my 
funds behind LETS in the first place. Not because I believed that 
"small was best" but because I believed that "if small works, large 
can too, and better." 
>Lets keep the debate growing! Talk about LETS with people who don't 
>have a clue. Rent a billboard. Give out URLs, mailing list info, and 
>news group info to people who otherwise think that interst on loans 
>is a necessity! 
     JCT: Absolutely and we don't even have to be able to explain how 
the current system goes wrong, only how the LETS system works right. 
Anyone who has followed my debates in Economics knows how difficult it 
is to convince anyone of what is wrong with the current system but not 
even Prof. Flaherty has suggested there's anything wrong with LETS. 
Once anyone sees the value of LETS, how much of a leap is it for them 
to see the value in being able to trade not only with your local 
circle using your own interest-free credits but also with everyone in 
the nation or the world?
>Such ideas are like viruses. An idea like this can 
>lie dormant in the mind of the dogmatic for years until the right
>circumstances allow it to grow and break down his foundation. I can't
>wait for the day LETS banks advertise 0% interest loans right along 
>the banks of money lenders. Will I live to see the joyous bank runs 
>that follow media announcements of the popularity of interest free 
>currency? Oh no! The poor bank share owners. Surely LETS will cause 
>bank shares prices to plumet. I can't see any way for banks to 
>prevent losses once global interest free currencies start threatening 
>popularity. People will start smelling the winds of change and 
>investers will flock to sell their bank shares. Maybe someone should 
>post a graph of bank profits and we'll take bets as to when it we'll 
>see a worldwide drop in bank stocks.
     JCT: Though some LETSers have been quoted as saying that LETS 
poses not threat to the orthodox banking system, you've seen that in 
reality, it does. Sure the banker and investors will decry the day 
that their corporations cannot compete but then they'll simply offer 
LETS accounts themselves and be forced to accept payment in service 
charges just like everyone else. So there's no reason to assume that 
the banks will come crashing down. Their technology will be able to 
deliver LETS services far better than we, LETSers, ever could built 
such services ourselves. They'll just have to get used to being paid 
with only service charges and no more interest. And depositors will 
simply have to get used to their money appreciating in buying power 
rather than getting more "depreciated" money in interest. Shouldn't 
be all that hard though. 
>I'd also like to discuss what people are doing to create interest 
>free currency in their workplace. Many of us hold full time jobs in a 
>company which have clients which are almost exclusively foreign to 
>the scope of the local currency. Has anyone been able to get part of 
>their wages in the local currency? Paul Dumais
     JCT: LETS just aren't that big yet. Yet, once your government 
joins, borrows some Green, spends it and demands some of its taxes be 
paid in Green, then everyone in town will accept it and being paid 
with Green will be a logical consequence of government taxation in 
     I think the experience of the Argentinian provinces who set up a 
Government LETS in the mid 1980s, would be of great interest. See: 
     So, though there aren't too many large LETS yet, it won't be long 
before some large database decides to install it for its members and 
becomes the largest LETS in the world overnight. 

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