Think Globally, Bank Locally

Let’s create safer, saner ways of managing our money

| January-February 2010

When Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich and talk radio types rail about the Federal Reserve and Wall Street and international bankers, do the words fringe and conspiracy theory and even wack jobs come to mind? Me too. Or at least they used to—but that was before the economic meltdown shook the world.

Since then I’ve been talking with everyone I know, and some people I don’t know, about what happened to our money and why, what’s going on with it now, and how we can change the system.

I recently attended the Economics of Peace conference, sponsored by RSF Social Finance and the Praxis Peace Institute, and learned about a variety of positive and hopeful initiatives, including alternative, complementary, and local currencies, mutual credit exchanges, barter systems, and cooperatives.

One of the most compelling presenters at the conference was Ellen Hodgson Brown, the author of the book Web of Debt (Third Millennium, 2008). Brown laid out how we the people lost the power to create money and how we can get it back again.

Banking shenanigans have been with us since Babylonian times. According to Brown, we’ve also had egalitarian money systems that worked quite well. Before the Revolutionary War, each American colony printed and circulated its own currency. These currencies were not backed by commodities, like gold or silver. Instead, they were based on trust.

In Ben Franklin’s Pennsylvania and other colonies, people were willing to accept the local currency as legal tender, there was plenty to go around, and commerce thrived. But the British government intervened and forbade new issues of this colonial scrip. Taxes had to be paid in gold, which meant borrowing from the British bankers. The result was widespread depression, which was a key factor that led to the revolution.

Billy Halford
8/13/2011 8:12:24 PM

Thanks for the tip. Am looking now for a local bank. Hope you will keep Paul and Kucinich in the light.

Scott Baker_3
1/29/2010 4:03:25 AM

Anyone interested in setting up a State Bank in California should sign my petition on Change.Org like 560 other concerned citizens already have: Your e-letter will be sent to dozens of state officials, including the Governor, proposing a State Bank of California.

Arthur Edwards_1
1/13/2010 9:12:25 AM

The perspective that Ellen Brown offers may be compelling but is it enlightening? Having also attended the Sonoma conference I was interested by the question one young participant asked Tom Greco, essentially whether there was common ground between the solution he is pointing to and the state-bank idea of Ellen Brown. His answer was diplomatic. I would recommend anyone interested to read his book 'The End of Money and the Future of Civilisation' or watch his presentation at When you say: To escape the debt trap ... we need to ... restore the publicly issued money system of the American colonists. We .. need to create our own municipal and state banks. one might find oneself going from frying pan to fire. The question is whether 'we' as you use it means 'the state' or whether it could also be individuals working together associatively.