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Can We Create Our Own Currency?

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By Ben Cohen

George Monbiot suggests a completely different way to mitigate the effects of the financial crisis:

In his book The Future of Money, Lietaer points out - as the government

did yesterday - that in situations like ours everything grinds to a

halt for want of money(1). But he also explains that there is no reason

why this money should take the form of sterling or be issued by the

banks. Money consists only of “an agreement within a community to use

something as a medium of exchange.” The medium of exchange could be

anything, as long as everyone who uses it trusts that everyone else

will recognise its value. During the Great Depression, businesses in

the United States issued rabbit tails, seashells and wooden discs as

currency, as well as all manner of papers and metal tokens. In 1971,

Jaime Lerner, the mayor of Curitiba in Brazil, kick-started the economy

of the city and solved two major social problems by issuing currency in

the form of bus tokens. People earned them by picking and sorting

litter: thus cleaning the streets and acquiring the means to commute to

work. Schemes like this helped Curitiba become one of the most

prosperous cities in Brazil.