Which is the largest LETS?
>Date: Wed Jan 20 00:01:50 1999 >From: firstname.lastname@example.org ("Paul Dumais") >Subject: [lets] Which is the largest LETS? >To: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org ("John Thomas") >Subject: News on Calderdale LETS >To: email@example.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 Green. I think the experience of the Argentinian provinces who set up a Government LETS in the mid 1980s, would be of great interest. See: http://turmelpress.com/np2.htm. 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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