In coming years, it will become increasingly important for urban economies to become stronger, greener, fairer, more resilient, and more diverse.
Many communities face difficult socioeconomic and environmental problems, such as debt, deficits, underemployment, decaying infrastructure, pollution, and inequities in income and wealth. Climate change is beginning to strain local economies and city and county budgets even further. At the same time, assistance from cash-strapped state and federal governments is becoming harder to obtain.
Urban areas are the front lines of climate change. They must reduce emissions, capture greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere, build dikes or other protective structures, and respond to direct damage when it occurs. Further, given the global scale of modern business, they must anticipate that storms and droughts in far-distant locations could interrupt local agricultural, industrial, retail, shipping, energy, water, and/or financial networks.
A local currency system could help.
Local currencies are springing up in cities around the world, including cities in the USA. In Bristol, UK, businesses can even pay their taxes using one. Most local currencies act as “buy local” programs. In one popular model, the local currency is purchased with national currency and then used to obtain goods at local stores. While these initiatives can boost a local economy and should be applauded, the full potential will be reached when the local currency concept is expanded to become a comprehensive local monetary/financial system.
As we envision it, a comprehensive system creates new currency, debt-free, manages the currency volume and circulation to prevent inflation, and employs a formal investment mechanism to channel the new currency to those businesses and projects that produce the greatest public good.
A blueprint is the Token Exchange System, being developed by the Principled Societies Project. The token system can help urban areas to:
Implementation of the token system does not require passage of new laws. And it is not implemented top-down, or through a government body. Participation occurs on a volunteer basis, and the new systems complement current ones. The system is governed by its users via an efficient form of online direct democracy.