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     CATHY CHILCO: There's a revolution happening here in Courtenay.
It's called the LETSystem and it allows its members to buy things that
they need without having a lot of cash on hand. And for the people of
Courtenay where unemployment is still a problem, this has become a way
to survive.
     The LETSystem is the brainchild of Michael Linton, a man with
various credits to his name: electrical engineering, computer
analysis, business degrees and a back therapy practice.
     For the past two years though, he's spent most of his time
running and promoting the non-profit LETSystem from his home in
     LETSystem stands for Local Exchange Trading System. New members
pay an initiation fee of about $15 to cover administration costs.
Trading is recorded using a currency called Greendollars which only
exists as a blip on the computer. Linton believes a LETS can solve a
community's unemployment problems.
     LINTON: I'm anxious, eager, obsessed perhaps, with getting that
message out to communities throughout the country.
     CHILCO: Courtenay's LETSystem has over 500 members who have
traded almost a quarter of a million dollars where otherwise there
would have been no business at all. In a population of 45,000 people,
about 25% are unemployed. People here have little cash but they do
have skills.
     CHILCO: Gail Pratt used to be a nurse. Now she sells hand-knit
sweaters for Greendollars. In return, she's bought appliances and done
renovations almost entirely for Greendollars.
     GAIL PRATT: There's a wide variety of services available and
almost anyone can partake in the system.
     CHILCO: Jeff Thomas can't keep up with the demand for his
     JEFF THOMAS: It's the greatest thing that's ever happened around
here because you don't need that much cash. You can go right into the
red to start off and eventually it will all balance out.
     CHILCO: Peter Walford is a dentist starting up a practice in a
community where many people can't afford dental work. When he has
cancelled appointments or a slow day, he takes patients with
     PETER WALFORD: In fact, I think that probably, without the
system, I'd have gone broke sometime over the last summer. Right now,
we bring in an extra $500 to $1,000 a month.
     CHILCO: The LETSystem works because it's more flexible than a
barter system. If Gail needs some firewood but Jeff doesn't need a
sweater, in a barter deal, nothing would happen. But with LETSystem,
you don't have to trade directly. You can credit Greendollars as
necessary to a central bank-style accounting system.
     GAIL PRATT: I wish to credit number 373 with 20 Greendollars.
     CHILCO: There are no debts, no interest charges, and no repayment
schedules. This is how a transaction in the LETSystem works. Elma
Knitter needs some dental work for her son. She goes to Peter Walford
who charges her 75% Greendollars and 25% cash. Peter buys firewood
from Jeff Thomas, 50% Green and $50 cash and phones in the
     PETER WALFORD: I want to credit number 478 with $70 Green for
     CHILCO: Jeff buys groceries from the food-store run by LETSystem
member Jim Loutts for 20% Green. And finally, Jim orders a sweater for
his wife from Gail Pratt.
     Each person treats the Green they earn as income. They keep
careful accounts and put aside enough federal dollars to cover the
income tax required.
     Very little cash has changed hands but everyone gets what they
need and they stay in business.
     Linton has managed to launch 20 other LETSystems across B.C., the
U.S. and into England. More and more high-powered economists and
academics are intrigued by the idea. Economist and politician Erik
Kierans sees it as an answer to a lot of people's needs.
     ERIK KIERANS: They're looking for institutions where they can put
their money and the money will stay in the community and be cycled and
recycled again from investment to consumer goods and back again. Right
now, we put our money into institutions and it could down in Argentina
buying guns or something like that because the bottom line says that
you can get 18% or 22% down there and only 12% in Canada or something
like that. So much of our money hemorrhages right out of the country.
     CHILCO: Guy Dauncey, an economist visiting from England, is
convinced it can work.
     GUY DAUNCEY: We have to remember that every single big new idea
that happened, like landing on the moon or flying or understanding
about meteorites was really weird to most people. It's easier not to
think about new ideas. And this seems to me something that could
potentially become big.
     CHILCO: All LETS supporters are certain of one thing. It cannot
be an alternative to our cash economy but as an addition to it,
LETSystem can create business where none existed before.
     MICHAEL LINTON: We think we've got an answer to the central
issue. The central issue is the structural problems of money and we've
got a method that handles that very nicely, thank you, without posing
any conflict or challenge with the existing system. We want to see it

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