Wednesday, September 30, 2009

There are Alternatives: Local Currency

I've been thinking a lot lately about the TINA argument applied to globalization. TINA is short for "There is No Alternative," and it's a phrase that Margaret Thatcher was fond of using when speaking of her free-market reforms. It's also a phrase that people apply to globalization, suggesting that we cannot escape it.

One of the insecapable aspects of our global economy is the use of currency, which then implicates us in all kinds of problems, including the love of Mammon and a host of other problems (see Chapter 3 of my book). Money is fundamental to our being globalized; when we use it, we participate in global flows of currency and capital. (Does that make sense?)

But Sunday's Washington Post reports on the use of a new local currency in the London borough of Brixton: Brixton pounds. The idea is to encourage people to shop and spend locally. You exchange one British pound for one Brixton pound, but you can only use the Brixton pound in the local area, and only at selected businesses that choose to accept it. Bill McKibben reports on a similar alternative currency idea in his nice little book Deep Economy. I'd love to see other people doing this.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting stuff. I hadn't ever heard about this idea before. I wonder who is in charge of printing the currency--are they creating a local central bank? I don't think the article mentioned this. I wonder where people can exchange their pounds for Brixton pounds--banks, businesses, city hall, middle of the street? Interesting.