Why Alternative Currencies Work
In regard to Julia Pergolini’s May 30 Between the Lines column (“Reinventing Money: Alternative currencies like Ithaca Hours and BerkShares boost local economies”), I think it is important to note the real power behind a commercial purpose local currency such as BerkShares or Bridgetown Bucks stems from the number of local transactions a note goes through before being exchanged back into national currency.
A local BerkShare note is estimated to go through five local transactions before being converted back to dollars. That is a local multiplier of 5. Compare that to a dollar spent at WalMart or another big box store where just about 15-20 cents goes back into the local economy. The big box transaction has a local multiplier of about .15.
The basis of all economic growth is keeping that money in your community and building the local economy. Complementary currency is a wonderful tool we can use to help build the local economy and these programs don’t cost the city or state on dime; they are privately funded and run by non-profit organizations.
Via web comment
One Man’s Meat
This is in response to Eli Ingleson’s letter last week about meat production (“Soy and Nuts, Not Meat,” May 30): It is true that the production of meat has an impact on the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—that much is not in question. Still, I do question the science on the size of that impact. My doubts arise because many of these claims are being promoted by corporations that are trying to sell you on alternative products. Yes, we do need a better way to produce meat, but until we have universal regulations on production, there will be producers doing it on the cheap, avoiding best practices in order to make more money. I think we can produce meat with less detriment to nature, but not while allowing mega-producers to pocket so much of the green that they care about. However, the push toward soy is no better. Soy is produced in a cheap way in order to put maximum profit in the pockets of the businesses that push it. Most of the studies and positive claims about soy come from the soy industry itself. (On a personal note, I have tried some of these soy-based products and to put it bluntly, they suck.)
Until we stand up for proper production of all food products, we will not return to the health that our nation had 50 years ago. Also, humans are meateaters, a fact unlikely to change. So we need to work on clean ways to produce both meats and vegetables or we will cheap our way into extinction.
The Land of Milk and Honey?
With all the debate recently for amending the United States Constitution in favor of certain issues and/or those constituencies, perhaps a more appropriate amendment should guarantee each citizen of the United States the right to food, clothing, shelter and medical care.
The Bible makes references to the promised land flowing with milk and honey. All one has to do is take a trip to the grocery store and to witness the fact that, if anywhere is close to exhibiting the characteristics of “the promised land,” this country is it. Yet somehow we are still unable to meet the four basic needs every citizen has. In this land of surplus “milk and honey,” there is absolutely no reason why the four basic needs of every U.S. citizen cannot be met. Some would argue that food stamps, thrift stores, public housing and Medicaid already meet these needs, but in the words of President John F. Kennedy, “This country is divided between those who have never had it so good and those who know we can do better.” I think we can do better: Resolved, it shall be the right of every United States citizen (in order to further guarantee the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) to receive food, clothing, shelter and medical care that is adequate to meet their basic needs.