Re: `
From: Tom Patton (tomunison.com)
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 1994 11:22:37 +0600 (CST)

On Fri, 25 Feb 1994, Gordon wrote:

> Andre G. writes,
> > 
> > LETS sounds to me like a way of avoiding taxes.  Ordinarily, if I pay
> > Bob to build a garage for my house, and Bob pays me to set up an
> > accounting system for his construction business, then that's taxable
> > income for us both.  If we're exchanging imaginary "credits" instead
> > of "real money," I suppose it's a different question.  No doubt the
> > government will find a way to get its cut eventually, however.
> > 
> 
> It may be implemented for that reason, but another reason for LETS is that it 
> promotes a self-sustaining economy, develops local skills, and prevents the 
> loss
> of money from the community.  Everyone works together because their credits 
> don't count in the outside world.  It's a carrot-stick system for promoting 
> community.  The St Croix Valley Greens are implementing a LETS system among 
> their members.
> 
> - Gordon Weil
> 

This sounds like a system here in Austin called United Business Network,
where people or small businesses can provide services for others in the
Network in return for "Network Dollars".  $N are worth $1 each, and people
charge around market value for services, although it's actually a little
less in most cases.  A certain percentage of the transaction has to be
paid in cash to the administrators to cover costs and taxes (and make a
profit??? - I don't know).  I've seen a brochure for this, but that's
about all I know. 

In addition, I read about a town called Ithaca (I think) in New York that
actually has a locally printed currency.  The article was in Mother Earth
News about 6 months ago (I don't have the issue handy - if anyone's
interested, I can post it later).  The medium of exchange is called Ithaca
Hours and all people offer services based on a 1IH per hour of work
regardless of what the job is.  They mentioned that several local
restaraunts, markets, and even places like dentists office accept the
Hours as currency.  There is some adjustment to the 1IH/hour scheme for
services that involve many peoples' time or expensive equipment, for
example a dentist.  

The organizers/administrators of this system seemed very interested in
spreading the system to other locales, and had information packets that
explained the legal/social barriers to implementing such a system.  I
can't remember how they worked around Uncle Sam and the IRS, but I'm sure
there must be some provision for taxation...I thought I remembered from
some Gov't class that it was illegal to print your own currency, but
apparently it's not.

The primary purpose was to allow people on the fringes of the economy to
participate, and to emphasize local talents, goods, and services over
those from far away places...It was a very interesting article.

A couple of the questions I had were things like....

I can bake some bread and give it to my friend...That's legal.

Can I bake 20 loafs of bread and give them to 20 friends in exchange for 20
Ithaca Hours??? Does the Dept of Health or some such critter need to give
me a permit first???

How about the same question with things like vending in public places, or
dealing in controlled substances such as home-brewed beer or bows and
arrows???

Anyone else heard of this place?

-tom patton
tom_patton [at] unison.com
Austin, Texas


  • Re: ` Tom Patton, February 24 1994
    • ` Gordon, February 25 1994
    • Re: ` apguirard, February 25 1994

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