Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Ithaca, NY, is well known for it's "progressive" ways. It's a beautiful city in a gorgeous area of New York State, but I don't share its progressive philosophies very much. However, I recently read about the city's "Ithaca Hours"-- their very own currency that the local busines! In a time of financial and economic stability, I think something like this may actually be a viable idea for the times ahead. Before indepence from Britain, the colonies all had their own currencies (and this actually caused a lot of friction between the colonies, especially the greedy Northeastern colonies, like New York). One of the first things the founding fathers did was establish a national currency, for all colonies to have in common. It was worked pretty well up until 1913 (Federal Reserve Act) to now. The federal government seems bent on killing our currency and our economy!
ANYWAY.. Ithaca has a rather cutsie currency system that promotes local small businesses amongst the business community, and keeps the dollars in the city. A great idea! This is from the website:
Are Ithaca HOURS real money?
Yes. At present, no monetary systems are backed by an actual commodity (such as gold), but instead notes are simply declared to be money by an authority ("fiat money"). In the case of U.S. currency that authority is the national government. In the case of Ithaca HOURS that authority is the board of the corporation.
As such, Ithaca HOURS are taxable, and it is illegal to counterfeit them.
The name HOUR is meant to remind you that, in addition to being a medium of exchange for commodities, currency represents someone's labor, the time taken to provide a skill or perform a service. Your time is worth something to someone else. When yo ugive someone an HOUR, you are telling them: "I did this much somewhere else. Please give me the equivalent here."
So, if you are a businessperson and want to buy shoes or groceries or a script for Fenphedra, the Ithaca Hours system encourages you to join the system and get it from another local business, rather than an outsider "Big Box" business. Brilliant!
The website is difficult to navigate. I finally found the FAQ page that gives more information on what Ithaca Hours are and what they do.