By David J Weston
Recently, the Swedes sent a resounding ‘No’ regarding adopting the euro, and a correspondingly resounding ‘Yes’ to retaining their own currency, and controlling their own financial destiny.
While the euro is largely a European issue, there is a message for others — that control of a country’s, or a region’s means of exchange is a prerequisite to control of its economy and culture. The attempts of corporate finance to persuade a people to adopt a centralised currency, like the euro, is a strategy of centralised control, in which so-called ‘free trade’ is a bedfellow.
The other side of the coin — so to speak — is highlighting the importance of subsidiarity currency, that is, currency as a local means of exchange which serves the local community or region, and not the privatised branch banking system.
In 1985 I was invited, and gave a paper “Green Economics: the Community Use of Currency” to The Other Economic Summit in London. The major points of my paper are documented in The Living Economy edited by Paul Ekins of the New Economics Foundation. I pointed out that localised currencies have been used successfully throughout recent history, and that the basic principles behind them are still valid.
Here, then, is a proposal for the establishment, via the Scottish Parliament, of a SCOT — Scottish Currency for Organic Trading — a currency whose value will be based on organically grown food.
This currency would be valid in Scotland only, for the settlement of debts, and the payment of taxes — two of the legal prerequisites of a ‘currency’.
SCOTs would be distributed in several ways. One, as credit and subsidies to organic farmers, who will indeed be able to pay, in part and eventually in whole, their taxes, and be able to pay for staff and for Scottish produced items they need.
Another distribution would be that, upon arrival in Scotland, tourists would be encouraged to purchase SCOTs at tourist and government offices, at a (say) five per cent discount. Retailers would be encouraged to accept SCOTs, effectively giving the tourists a five per cent discount.
The retailers would be able to use the SCOTs to buy organic food, pay staff, and trade in Scottish goods and services, and of course buy organic food, at SCOT prices, to the great benefit of the Scottish economy, and concurrently themselves. As the currency would be protected, by not being allowed to be traded on money markets, the value it represents would remain in Scotland, instead of being haemorrhaged off, as currently happens.
There will be other advantages, and to help understand them, I recommend reading Jane Jacob’s Cities and the Wealth of Nations, particularly Chapters 10, 11 and 12.
See also David Weston’s articles Green ‘Win-Win’ Economics: Tourist Exchange Punts in Wales in our May 2000 issue, and Underground Economy: Financing the London Tube in the January 2002 issue.