Seattle Permaculture Guild
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Believe it or not, sometimes I sit down and read about economics. (A few good titles are at the end of this column). Recently, I was on a long train ride and my groans and laughter raised many eyebrows nearby.
“Is that a novel you’re reading?” people would ask. “No,” I’d answer, “just something about the U.S. financial system.”
Why do I find U.S. economics so ridiculous? From a long view it’s just not sound. Endless growth on a limited planet? Some people make money and others just move it around? People in power can pull money out of thin air? The meaning of the word ‘mortgage’ comes from the phrase ‘death-pledge.’ It just doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.
Aren’t there some creative alternatives so that we can opt out? How about local currencies? Imagine a Puyallup dollar that worked rain or shine, Wall Street or not? I remember being confused about the Depression when I first learned of it. If there are people and there’s work to do, how can there be unemployment? An alternative currency makes local business stronger. Plus it’s more fun. I’m rich in ‘Life- Dollars’ right now, a new Puget Sound currency. It sure would be nice though if I could spend it at more Puyallup businesses...(look up fourthcornerexchange.com)
Another useful opt out is to choose investments wisely. I’d rather invest in an education that teaches me skills rather than molds me into the marketplace.
Or how about investing in nut trees? They take years to grow, then you and your kids can eat loads of nuts all the time, free of charge.
You want to raise real property values? How about solar panels, a lawn-turned-victory-garden and an outdoor kitchen where you cook with your neighbors? Maybe a house’s value should be for the people who live in it, not for its resale.
I guess I just don’t see the sense of having all sorts of money when I feel that security lies with things not in the bank. That’s why so many traditional cultures existed with a gifting economy. If I usually give my surplus to my friends and family, (i.e. ‘putting it into the bank’) then there will be someone else’s surplus that may come back to me. If the community doesn’t exist, our hard work just divides us.
Security is abundant ecosystems and communities, full of food and everything we need. That’s an investment I’m willing to make, and that I can trust into the long future.
Here are some books I suggest reading: “The Future of Money” by Bernard Lietaer, “Money: understanding and creating alternatives to legal tender” by Thomas H. Greco Jr. and visit www.chrismartenson.com/crashcourse.