Labor: the New Gold Standard
By Paul Glover / paulglover.org

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.  paul5glover@yahoo.com

SEE ALSO:
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
Trending Today
6 Toxic Relationship Habits Most People Think Are Normal
Mark Manson · 11,499 views today · There’s no class in high school on how to not be a shitty boyfriend or girlfriend. Sure, they teach us the biology of sex, the legality of marriage, and maybe read a few...
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 11,447 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
How Does Addiction Relate to Our Relationship to the Living World?
Sarah Levine · 6,297 views today · The recently published piece titled ‘The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think' gave me a lot of food for thought for how we relate to...
Protests Intensify, Spread Across France as Workers Refuse Submission
Andrea Germanos · 4,157 views today · 'What we want today is for this movement to spread,' says unionist.
Sacred Economics with Charles Eisenstein
12 min · 3,923 views today · Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and...
Something Extraordinary Is Happening in the World, And Most People Haven't Noticed
Gustavo Tanaka · 3,403 views today · Most of us haven't quite realized there is something extraordinary happening. A few months ago, I freed myself from standard-procedure society. I broke the chains of fear that...
A World War Has Begun - Break The Silence
John Pilger · 2,448 views today · I have been filming in the Marshall Islands, which lie north of Australia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they ask, "Where is...
Permaculture Has Some Incredible Solutions For Transforming Suburbia Into Resilient Communities
Chip Richards · 2,392 views today · Rather than waiting for society to all agree how we need to live in a different way, by focusing here in the suburban household, people can actually get on with making...
Why Spirituality Is the Key to a More Visionary Politics
Ronan Harrington · 2,269 views today · Progressive renewal lies in a deep recognition that we are not choosing our current lives.
The System Is Failing. We All Know It. It's Time to Start Talking about What's Next
4 min · 1,904 views today · Growing inequality, political stalemate, and climate disruption prompt an important insight. When the old ways no longer produce the outcomes we are looking for, something...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into A Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,796 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Face It: Our Democracy Is a Sham. We Don't Have a Real Say in Most Decisions That Affect Our Lives
CELDF · 1,728 views today · Are we able to stop fracking and other threats to the environment from coming into our communities?  Are we able to protect local farming from sewage sludge or factory...
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 1,684 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
The Most Eco-Friendly Nation on the Planet Is Now Carbon Negative
Carolanne Wright · 1,563 views today · Lodged between two of the most populated countries on earth — India and China — Bhutan may be small at 700,000 souls, but it has a mighty role to play in showing the world how...
Brené Brown on How to Reckon with Emotion and Change Your Narrative
Brené Brown · 1,395 views today · The most powerful stories may be the ones we tell ourselves, says Brené Brown. But beware—they're usually fiction.
Changing Everything Except What Needs Changing: What's Missing From The Renewable Energy Debate
Steven Gorelick · 1,314 views today · Among climate change activists, solutions usually center on a transition to renewable energy. There may be differences over whether this would be best accomplished by a carbon...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,241 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
The 'Sexy Lie' We Should Be Talking About
12 min · 1,185 views today · "I am here today to talk about a lie." That's how politics professor Caroline Heldman opened her Jan. 2013 TEDxYouth San Diego talk on the topic of sexual objectification. "I'd...
"Women Can't Play Music"
Joanne Stephens · 1,104 views today · Self-esteem holds us back and undermines our happiness; but it can be overcome
Ikigai - Finding Your Reason for Being
Chip Richards · 1,033 views today · What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning? When asked what is the single most powerful contributing factor to one’s health and vitality, integrative medical...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Labor: the New Gold Standard