Hello! How are you doing?  I'm James Hasco.

Trying to explain, in a few words, our approach to money ... savings ... investments ... loans, things we usually think of when we think of banking, is not easy but I'll do my best to keep it short and simple. One has to first develop a feel for the distinctions we make between the three different aspects of our society. You have probably by now heard how we divide our life into the Economic sphere, the Human rights sphere, and the Spiritual/Cultural sphere. Any society is actually comprised of these three aspects, as each person lives and moves through them in his or her dealings with others. We just make it a point to clarify and consciously differentiate each area's special and peculiar characteristics and requirements. Understanding these differences turns out to have great implications for our day to day life. Even how we regard and deal with our money. No, especially how we deal with, and regard our money!

Money and capital, one might think, is basically an economic consideration. We have come to think differently, though money does of course have it's economic relevance in the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. But it has both great Spiritual/Cultural and Human Rights significance as well.

Money and capital, beyond being a piece of paper or a figure on an accountants records, is a representation, a symbol. What does it represent? To begin with, money represents very human things. It can represent effort, talent, will, desire, creativity, many intangibles that are required to obtain or spend money. It may sound odd, but where would value be found in money without these human qualities being involved. Except for the paper and ink, it is certainly in itself not a physical thing. True it can be exchanged for any number of physical things, but what we are paying for is the right to use, or control, the item or service as we wish; to possess it ... again, a non-physical concept. We want something because we need it for our survival or desire it for some subjective reason.  Possessing money gives us the power to possess things. With money we can do what we will with it, and with the things it buys. Our money and possessions have become closely linked to our personality, our sense of identity, and special interests and talents. How much we own, how much control we have over things, and sometimes even persons, has become important in our own self images, as well as what others think of us. Unlimited money, in today's world, sometimes seems to give one much power, at least certain types of power.

Without money, in order to survive, one has to try to do, and supply, everything oneself. Money is the coin of social economic exchange. The principles of specialization and division of labor do not work so well if we each have to personally find and contract with persons willing to exchange their own services and commodities for our own.

My wife and I were once in an intentional community which attempted to supply all it's own needs in this way, bartering, without the use of any symbolic representation in the form of monies of any kind. That was an enlightening experience, however our overall standard of living remained very different from the general population. There were a number of things which result from our modern technology, we had to do without, such as electronic appliances and entertainment. These cost money, and we simply did not have the time, trying to do everything for ourselves, to also make an abundance of things to sell for persons outside our immediate family for cash. This life-style had things to be said for it, but we could see little advantage to spending a lot of our time doing things we would rather not be doing, and doing them inefficiently without modern tools, in such small quantities. Going back to pre-industrial times did not turn out to be that desirable for us.  If for some reason we had to rely completely on a local economy, man to man, we could eventually get by, but life would be different. There are persons with talents and abilities, and natural resources in far away places whose products we have come to depend upon, and would feel shortchanged without. Money definitely makes long distance exchange easier and more efficient.

In this community we lived in for a year or so, there were other financial issues, which resulted in unpleasant consequences. We felt uncomfortable giving up our possessions to the common lot, and having to answer to others opinions on what we should have, what we should believe, (as subtle as these beliefs were,) and even what we should wear.  Being dependent on them for the food we ate, the land under our feet, and the roofs over our head, with no money of our own was a distinct loss of freedom. That did not sit well with us.  Not having a private, personal cache of money definitely put us in a vulnerable, subservient position. The point is, we have had some personal experience of economic history, both various types of socialism and capitalism, and other types of economy as well.  In our next move, homesteading, we had lots of personal freedom, but little social contact and had to do even more all on our own. Money, or the lack of it, still entered our minds every time we turned around.

We learned we would indeed be better off if time came we ever had to try to make do on our own, but again, we decided we need, and wanted, the social contact and exchange of a market economy which uses some means of symbolic coinage. Being limited to bartering or doing everything oneself is an unnecessary sacrifice. We like working with others, and spending our earnings the way we want to is not something we will willingly give up again.

In a Village, we can see all the people we want to see, when we want to see them, and there is a wide diversity of persons with a variety of talents and skills that we can "trade" with. With this many persons, I can choose occupations that I truly enjoy, and have especial interest and aptitude for. I earn enough money to carry me (and in my case, my family) through the time it takes to perform my duties here. And the greatest, rarest thing about New Liberty Village's set up is that there are unusual opportunities for anyone, regardless of age, sex, race, and economic status to receive training and financial backing to explore and develop their talents and propensities, and still remain independent and free as individuals.

We presently use the standard National exchange dollars as our "chit's". We always think of possible eventualities when, for any number of reasons, the economy at large might falter, and we don't want our fortunes to go down with it.  We don't want to be too dependent on the present ways of doing things.   We are particularly interested in our local economy, though not exclusively.

In our Investment and Financing programs, the capital that individuals invest in our bank is judiciously allotted to individuals and/or various privately run talent agencies who help search out local talent, and encourage and enable individual's expression of propensities and aspirations.   Our bank functions as the clearing house for the capital needed for this local growth and maintenance of our local economy, but it is carried out by individuals, in their private businesses, not some social committee, or government agency. Our government stays out of economic endeavors altogether, except when questions of human rights between men and women arise. This is a tremendously important difference between our society and past attempts at joint community efforts.

The nature of our economic associations, allows us, by the amount of profit various economic endeavors receive, to determine which directions the community needs to take; where more energy and resources could be applied to good effect.  Perhaps there is a scarcity of garages. William is busy day and night, and he cannot seem to catch up with his orders for repairs. He is forever looking for more help, and yet he is charging more than the going rate in other towns.  He is putting away a lot of savings, and his hard work and initiative is paying off, but he is the first to admit that the village could use another garage.  He can sit down with us (if he chooses, of course) and work out an equitable plan whereby he himself can help train new mechanics, shop foremen, and perhaps form a partnership with someone else to be the entrepreneur for a new garage. Each person, from the janitor to the entrepreneur, and the persons investing their money, all have an above-the-board, open part in this new venture, and can work together associatively to make it a success.  No one has to participate, anyone can pull out at any moment.

So persons, and groups of persons, invest with interest paid back to them for the use of their principal, similar to standard banking practice, though there are really great differences between our way and the old. Money invested is in turn used to develop or expand local individual endeavors that provide services, or produce products within New Liberty Village. Anyone with entrepreneurial and leadership skills can apply for financial aide to begin a business or service of their choice, some referred to us from the "Spiritual/Cultural" talent development branch of our society, such as the I Beam Talent Agency across the street.

Anyone with their own means can operate totally independently as well. Those who begin with little but raw talent can however, achieve their dreams faster working in association with others.  Rather than spending a lifetime trying to save up enough to open their own business, obtain necessary training, or purchase the expensive "means of production" tools or buildings, persons can come to mutual financial agreements with us.  We are not speaking of welfare, or give away programs, but personal responsibility and advancement.  Many different economic associations have began this way in New Liberty Village.  Each person involved receives his due according to agreements worked out at various points of his career, within a particular association, and according to the contributions to the business rendered. Some persons are interested in only earning enough for survival of himself or herself, or the family. Others work longer hours and train for higher paying positions.   At any time a person can withdraw from any association, and work on his own, or take a position in another association. We like the freedom such arrangements offer.

So you see, it is individuals which control capital and the means of production, not government, or even our economic associations. Our government assures us that our rights are upheld equally. Our economic associations provide the means and arena for most efficiently fulfilling our needs and wants, but it is human initiative and will that determines how and where capital is spent, who earns the money, how it is earned, and how much.  I repeat, it is essential in understanding our system, to see that the "Spiritual/Cultural" branch, of which this Bank is a part, is in essence, a function only of free, private individual endeavors, not the government. Each person working here in economic association, with individual contracts and agreements, recognizes that he or she is involved with non-physical values and realities of great moment to individual lives, not "filthy lucre, usury and greed" as sometimes suspicioned! 

The leaders of the different businesses (and anyone else that wants to, actually)  freely choose to meet together periodically, and discuss community needs and surpluses, along with leaders from the spiritual/cultural areas, and the elected public human rights officers.  Each of these representatives from each of the different spheres of social life have their own takes on any social event, but the fact that each man and woman carry within themselves all three aspects allows for a real understanding and identity with the differing points of view.  It is here, the three areas interface, with each remaining distinct and separate. We don't pass rules and regulations together, we talk. We have no one-state government that handles the economy, the spiritual life, and the governing functions, all under one roof. Nor do we have three separate governments, but government, with very circumscribed activity!  Economic activity is allowed to succeed and grow under it's own direction and requirements, as is individual life and education, and the human rights governing body operating under the principles of a true democracy.   Hmmm, I said I would try to be brief. Not so sure how well I am doing on that score!

Because of our close contact with each other through our economic associations, and the intimate sense of community we have developed, we could at any time handily convert to our own mediums of exchange, symbolic of our personal investments, and the relative value of the commodities our money will purchase.  

Reflecting the threefold nature of money and capitol, the bank stands in an intermediary position. Persons come in who have earned more by their skills and efforts, than they can immediately use, and invest in our saving programs.  Because our expertise does not include the evaluation of individual talents and aspirations, we let other persons with this training talk with, and evaluate applicants for financial aide.  We are a business, and of course must operate on solid businessline.gif (5735 bytes) principles.  As a business, we make profits from our services. Persons come to us because they get value for their investments, like any other business. No one has to deal with, or through us. I started this bank with my private initiative, but like other business that choose to do so, each clerk, each officer is his own business, his own boss. We are all consciously working together for mutual benefit, including our customers.

All this occurs alongside standard, common, economical/governmental admixtures of present day societies. We have a big Mac restaurant, you will notice, along with an Exxon, and we are subject to the tax laws of the land like everyone else, of necessity. We have hopes that someday, more and more communities will see the wisdom of our ways, and even nations! Then economic associates can freely trade local to local, even across national boundaries.  Now are these high hopes or not? Now, what do you think of all this?

Kindly POST any input concerning banking systems, economic theory, alternative money systems, LETS, etc. . . And thanks for your patience! (editor's note:   Hey, we need some help here! Anyone got some expertise in this area? Here is your chance to shine!)

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Banking and Capital Discussion Group

December 22, 1999
karma mechanic, THE _FOCI@

The inspiration to speak is from the mention of Exxon and Mcds in the same sentence as 'necessity' and in the same paragraph as shared wisdom in communities and nations. The environment issues surrounding these (rain forests, dolphins, oil in water rather than in the ground) should be a flag to the avoidance of these in the overall avoidance of 'Babylon'.

Now, since the issuance of criticism should be balanced by triple praise:
The search for 'talent' without the necessity for the talent to have a substantial colateral is a strong faith that is nearly unparalleled in a 'bank'. The agreement to become equitable without direction also seems good for 'building' outside what is allowed by traditional/conventional methods. Alas, this takes faith since Big Sister seems to rule.
i have not much expertise here. i worked at banks and insurance places of different kinds years ago. i have not had a checking, savings account, or credit cards in over eight years now.
Basic input now. Would love to brainstorm more later.    Ted

December 22, 1999

Yes, in my opinion as well, Exxon and McDonalds would not belong in an ideal society. When I wrote: "All this occurs alongside standard, common, economical/governmental admixtures of present day societies", I meant to convey that New Liberty Village lies within in the setting of the rest of the world, as it is now. The villagers have not waited for the whole world to change to begin new ways of doing things, or for ideal surroundings. At this stage of its development its citizens are still subject to the laws (and taxes) of the country and domain it is located in. While many do not hold to the practices of McDonalds and Exxon, and in fact do not patronize their businesses, there are still many persons living in the village who do patronize them. Eventually, maybe the citizenery will come to the consensus that such companies can not hold business within their township because of human rights impinged upon by these companies ecologically harmful practices. At a point further down the road, perhaps the government at large will itself have adopted the methods and perspectives of New Liberty and their separate, independent Rights division. Big (and small) business's activities will be closely monitored and regulated in respect to such harmful practices.

As a business, our bank does indeed require assurances that it's investments are warranted and that if contracts are broken, the means of production that has been provided for use is passed to someone else who can make good use of it for the betterment of the community. The funds we provide are not gifts without legal commitments and contracts, and are subject to review and repossession. Our courts provide hearings and redress for civil suit. NLV is not a utopia with only perfected citizens.   It is a way of taking things as they are and hopefully making them better.

You say: The agreement to become equitable without direction also seems good for 'building' outside what is allowed by traditional/conventional methods. Alas, this takes faith since Big Sister seems to rule. Could you expand upon this further? I am not clear on your meaning, but I'd like to be.

Like you, Ted, economics is not my area of expertise, and I hope visitors come along that have deeper understanding than I do, and new perspectives, and will share them. Till then, guess we have every right to exercise our imaginations. Jerry B, editor NLV

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