Labor: the New Gold Standard
By Paul Glover /

This article proposes issuing Hour-denominated currency nationwide, to stimulate creative and ecological economies, make grants to community groups, and make interest-free loans.

Twenty years ago I started printing money.  Soon after, residents of Ithaca, New York, began exchanging colorful cash featuring children, waterfalls, trollies and bugs.  Since then, millions of dollars worth of Ithaca HOURS have been traded by thousands of individuals and over 500 businesses.

HOURS have proven a flexible unit of exchange, strengthening local businesses, creating jobs, and enlarging sales tax revenue.  Each HOUR is valued at $10/hour, or one hour of basic labor.  Professionals may request multiple HOURS per hour of work, or trade them equitably.  HOURS weren't intended to replace dollars, but to replace lack of dollars.

Today, however, while much of America tilts beyond chronic recession into early depression, it is time to begin an orderly national transition from dollars to HOURS.  This profound heresy becomes perhaps inevitable, since dollars have become tokens of unrepayable debt.  And, bluntly, they're a tool with which speculators gamble our jobs and homes.

By contrast, HOURS are as steady as the clock, because minutes neither expand nor contract.  HOURS when properly issued represent basic labor that produces real goods and services.  As Adam Smith said, "Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things."

Federal Reserve Notes are shrinking as well because, like all national currencies, dollars are in debt to nature.  Feeding our treasure-to-trash economy, they spur degradation of the essential resources upon which commerce depends.

HOURS would be issued primarily through the proposed Green Labor Adminstration (GLAD), a nonprofit non-governmental WPA.   They'd stimulate the less instantly profitable green markets that big investors have too long avoided: energy-efficiency and retrofit, solar and wind, urban agriculture, co-op health care, and transit. Just like national currencies, HOUR commerce requires constant networking, with sharp calibration of issuance, to balance circulation.

Gold itself, still the most admired store of value, is not capable of transacting the needs of seven billion humans.  Total world supply is a sixty-foot cube.  Sooner or later, as soaring populations compete for declining farmland, gold would become worthless because it is not food.

Meanwhile, supplemental HOUR cash honors skills neglected by the formal economy, stimulating new enterprise and creating new jobs.  HOURS revive deflated sectors when issued through regional credit systems, community banks and credit unions, community-based stock exchanges and family farms; and lent interest-free to small businesses.  They thereby strengthen the dollar.  Just as healthy lungs depend on millions of healthy air sacs, macroeconomies depend ultimately upon the vigor of village and neighborhood economies.

Our Chinese creditors would approve America's transition to HOURS.  Their People's Bank sent representatives to Ithaca who soon received approval from then-Premier Zhu Rongji to start HOUR systems.  Time Banking also has its foot in this door, worldwide.

HOURS ease America's path toward sensible renewal. Putting HOURS to work, and ourselves as well, invites us to repair civilization.  Times change, money changes.  Thinking outside the box will become common, as the box dissolves.

Glover is founder of Ithaca HOURS and a dozen other community enterprises.  He lives in Philadelphia.

Hometown Money: How to Enrich Your Community with Local Currency
HOURS Connect People. Dollars Control People.
HOURS are Real Money. Dollars are Funny Money.
HOUR Money by Prof. Bob Blain
Trabajo: El Nuevo Patrón Oro

4.0 · 1
What's Next
Load Comments
Trending Today
People of Nowhere
2 min · 7,155 views today · I have heard and read different opinions about the wave of Syrian refugees who try to make their way in to the EU. Then I went to Lesvos. 7 days on the Greek Island gave me a...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 5,791 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 4,281 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
The Meaning of Mahu
2 min · 4,131 views today · Mahu is the Hawaiian term for people who embody both male and female spirit - or what Westerners call transgender.  This animated scene from the PBS/Independent Lens film "KUMU...
M.I.A. Just Dropped a Killer New Track in Solidarity with Migrants
5 min · 3,006 views today · Borders is dedicate to her uncle Bala, in a tweet posted this morning M.I.A wrote "One of the first Tamil migrants to come to the UK in the '60s who went [on] to inspire so...
Unbelievable Photos Show Factory Farms Destroying The American Countryside
Harrison Jacobs · 2,600 views today · Food production has become a race for maximum efficiency. When it comes to producing meat, whether chicken, beef, or pork, that race has fallen at the feet of the so-called...
John Pilger on Paris, ISIS and Media Propaganda
18 min · 2,254 views today · Afshin goes underground with one of NATO imperialism's greatest chroniclers, John Pilger. The award-winning journalist and filmmaker tells us how Washington, London and Paris...
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 1,887 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into A Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,842 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The Century of the Self (2002)
230 min · 1,541 views today · The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 1,521 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
600 Posters, 80 Artists - Brandalism Crew Take Over Billboards Ahead of Paris Climate Talks
2 min · 1,504 views today · Two days before the launch of the UN COP21 Climate Conference, 600 posters were installed in outdoor media spaces across Paris. 82 Artists from 19 different countries made...
HUMAN (2015)
382 min · 1,322 views today · What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery?  Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist...
We Created Islamic Extremism: Those Blaming Islam for ISIS Would Have Supported Osama Bin Laden in the '80s
Ben Norton · 1,246 views today · Jingoists conveniently forget the West's Cold War strategy was to arm the Islamic extremists that became al-Qaida
The Image Hollywood Created of Africa
3 min · 1,192 views today · After viewing Mama Hope's video, "Alex Presents Commando," Gabriel, Benard, Brian and Derrik (the Kenyan men in this video) told us they wanted to make one that pokes fun at...
Caitlin Moran's Posthumous Advice for Her Daughter
Caitlin Moran · 1,183 views today · My daughter is about to turn 13 and I’ve been smoking a lot recently, and so – in the wee small hours, when my lungs feel like there’s a small mouse inside them, scratching to...
Hiding the Homeless: What Happens When Cities Make Homelessness a Crime
13 min · 1,176 views today · A growing number of American cities are ticketing or arresting homeless people for essentially being homeless. The new laws ban behavior commonly associated with homelessness...
The Age of the Demagogues
Chris Hedges · 1,090 views today ·   Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at FreedomFest on July 11 in Las Vegas. (John Locher / AP) The increase in nihilistic violence such as school...
Syria's Climate Conflict
Written by Audrey Quinn, Illustrated by Jackie Roche · 1,080 views today · Was the catalyst for the current conflict in Syria a drought caused by anthropogenic climate change?
Australian Comedian Perfectly Sums Up Why Other Countries Think US Gun Laws Are Crazy
14 min · 895 views today · At least 10 people were killed and 20 others injured when a shooter opened fire on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Oregon Thursday, October 1. According to Douglas...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?