TURMEL: European LETS Tour Report #8: Online LETS

Skip to first unread message

John Turmel

Aug 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/6/99

TOPICS: 1) European Tour miscellaneous; 2) Turmel's Best bet against
Cancer; GOLETS (Global Online LETS)


Tour Statistics:
So, the European trip is over and I've still got so much to
report. We stayed with 18 different LETS hosts and hostesses over 39
evenings of our 40-day tour and only had to use a hotel 1 night on the
longest leg. I learned about several groups trying to start up their
LETS Accommodations trading on the net and look forward to their
success at setting up a database I can shop in.
I spoke about LETS in over 20 public meetings:
GERMANY: Cologne(4), Bonn-Beuel(2), Hamburg, Nurnberg, Muenster,
Warendorf, Bad Neuenar, Mainz;
FRANCE: Paris(2), Savignac, Ste Foy, Libourne, Merignac;
BELGIUM: Betekom(2), Antwerp;
SWEDEN: Hoor, Lund, Stockholm;
AUSTRIA: Braunau,
FINNLAND: Helsinki.
I draw on 5 or 6 hours of stories with exhibits and skits for my
presentations. Much had to be cut. Most audiences got the same basic
1.5 hr material though one meeting which got 2.5 hours because
translation was not necessary and another meeting got 20 minutes of
ordered material due to the debate format.
I ordered a copy of the French CD debate and might transcribe it
when I get it. I should soon also have a transcript of the 2 Hour
Helsinki show for a fuller complement of topics covered. What I intend
to do is use those transcripts as a basic model and stick in topics
which were used elsewhere for the final version. Using the Finnish
LETS transcription as the structure, I'll add all the asides and extra
arguments I would have used in longer presentations. With the longest
show taking 2.5 hours worth of speaking. I am always tempted to
include the laugh tracks. If you realize that there's been laughter 6
times before, you'll get a better feeling for the mood of audience and
see the show in their eyes.
I've been told that the German articles are rave reviews for
Online LETS and I was told at the Paris ATTAC Conference in Paris that
my presentation was the Big Tobacco that stole the show. Online LETS
is a winner product in a sea of losing ones and it always enables me
to steal the show.

New Economics Foundation (NEF) at TOES 99:
I'm most surprised that after LETS getting major play by New
Economics Foundation flyer at last year's TOES 98 in Birmingham,
organizers planned that not a word would be spoken about LETS this
year and the New Economics Foundation said not a word about their last
year's high point.

Roman Catholic Priest started first German LETSystem
I found out that the very first LETS in Halle Germany was started
by a Roman Catholic priest. Does anyone know his name? We could sure
use his his help in getting the Pope to join Global Online LETS.

An Hour of wine for an Hour of coffee?:
Paul Imbusch's story about asking on the internet if anyone in a
Latin country would like to trade me his "Hour of coffee for an Hour
of wine" was always a big hit. People liked that right away and
immediately saw the potential of internet LETS.

Getting help:
Another big hit is Zigne Seiler's explanation that:
>"LETS has taught me how to ask for help. In the cash economy, you
>only need to know how to write a check but when you can't write a
>check, you don't know how to turn to someone and ask for help. LETS
>provides a circle of people you can ask for help."
JCT: This is the feeling of security from an extended family who
will always be there to help that many members are afraid of losing if
the system get too big.

Shall we leave the lifeboats when the mothership comes along?
It embodies trust in a group of people you can depend on, much
like sailors who survive on lifeboats together getting very dependent
on each other. This certainly does make it understandable why so many
people fear losing their cozy self-help circles if they join in
national or international trading. But is it worth staying in the
lifeboat after the mothership has arrived so as not to lose the
coziness and friendship generated by facing the hard times together?
They think they'll miss the camaraderie of fighting the elements
together. The social bonds built up between two warriors fighting in a
just cause or for mutual protection. Sure it will change things when
it's no longer so scary out there. Right now, you love your LETS
because you've met a ring of people who've banded together on their
lifeboats and feel secure in the LETS relationships they have forged.
And they think going back to one big ship is still recipe for
disaster. But not if the one big ship is not being captained
optimally. I'm for joining the mothership no matter how many friends
I've made in the lifeboats.
But I finally solved that objection to outside trade by pointing
out that they could keep the Directory of their circle as local as
they wanted to print it without needing to prevent outside trading if
desired. Globalization of the accounting process has no effect on the
localization of the self-help process. The self-help process via the
local Directory is the result of the local accounting process. The
same self-help process via the same local Directory can also be the
result of the global accounting process. It's the fact that either the
global or the local accounts are 1/s accounts that generates the self-
help relationship, not that they are local or global. Global
regenerates more self-help connections than local does so it's
preferable because there's a Global directory people can use too.
The winning argument against local only is the fact that external
trade solve one persistent problem with the small LETS we're talking
about. Connection to the external network allows members who have few
skills to offer and most often find themselves mired in commitment can
now be hosts to out-of-town guests in order to pay back their
commitment. All it takes is a spare bed and no more specialized skill
to be a host than good manners. But it does allow people who have
little else to offer to pay those they owe locally with international
Though rarely raised lately, the "L" in LETS means "Local"
argument is immediately laughed out of the room when I suggest they
ask their children to explain why Captains Kirk and Picard think the
whole Earth can be "Local."

Easy Paper Hours for small LETS systems:
In Merignac France, Winston Smith mentioned that once a 1-
velocity LETS gets 100 members, accounting becomes onerous. They were
originally promoted as 1-velocity systems purely as a precaution
against government objection. If every transaction was recorded, no
one could claim someone might not declare their it on their income
tax. But just as banks are not responsible for frauds using their
tokens, there's no reason a LETS should worry about being responsible
for such frauds using LETS tokens. Accounting for every transaction is
a stupendous and needless waste of time. The statistics amassed are
not worth the price when we can have it for almost free. They could
handle 5,000 members for the same accounting expense with a 50-
velocity paper local currency as they do now.
While I was discussing the notes with Winston Smith, I suggested
they could simply write the regular checks they already use in
standard denominations which are then reused rather than deposited
with the accountant. As long as systems are small and everyone knows
each other, these kinds of standard checks have little risk. If I were
a 1-velocity checking LETSystem, I would immediately ask that members
make out their checks in the recommended denominations.
I drew lines on a standard page to make six checks, all value 1/6
of an Hour, 10 minutes: adds up to one Hour on the page.
I drew lines on another page to make up six checks at 1/2 Hour,
30 minutes; adds up to 3 more Hours on a page.
I drew 6 more checks at 1 Hour for 6 Hours on the page,
6 more checks at 2 Hours for 12 Hours on a page,
6 more checks at 3 Hours for 18 Hours on a page.
I found that it only took 5 printed pages to provide a checkbook
with 40 Hours of currency which most people work a week in Canada. You
could start with your LETS lending everyone 1 Week in local currency
to everyone for the cost of 5 pieces of printed paper each. If you can
use different colored paper, so much the better.
If your LETS has fewer than a couple of thousand members and
already uses checks, this is the recommended way to switch over to a
local paper currency. Open a cashier's account whose product are the
tokens and subtract 40 Hours from everyone's account who signs out
their checking currency.

Local currency issued by local businesses
Then Winston had a brain-storm. They had a large Bio-food
manufacturer who wanted to get involved with LETS. If he put his ad on
the bills, he could write off the printing costs for some very fine
paper notes as well as being a center to sign members up. I amplified:
get four other sponsors for the designs of your other denominations of
currency. Why not? It doesn't have to be pictures of the CN Tower like
Toronto Dollars or local land-marks like Ithaca New York. We have
Canadian Tire dollars which I would already accept as valid commercial
local currency. And finally, why shouldn't every store owner not be
able to order some LETS checks with the picture of his store on it?
In all my travels, other than the model currency designed by
Felix in Sarignac, I found no actual working LETS which had a velocity
greater than one. So their machines are all operating at a minimum
power and face problems not associated with high powered systems like
Ithaca Hours. They have virtually no businesses while high-velocity
Ithaca paper Hours are used by almost everybody in town. I hope they
amplify their power soon.

Jubilee 2000
I met many LETS members who were also members of Jubilee 2000. I
arranged my meeting with Nuernberg LETS after meeting Heinrich
Haussmann at the Jubilee 2000 Chain of Debt in Koln this year. and
several others. I pointed out that Jubilee 2000 is one of the best
chances at solving the debt problem if we can get them to aim at the
right target, debt growth for interest rather than all debt including
that for the honorable principal. They've got the right golf club but
they're not aiming at the hole.
I'll pay the debt for army and police to handle strife;
I'll pay the debt for doctors, nurses who protect my life;
I'll pay the debt for all engaged repairing road and sewer;
I'll pay the debt for social servants helping out the poor;
I'll even pay the debt for bureaucrats with no regret;
But I will never pay the debt for interest on debt.
I will accept the debt for people's time at useful toil,
But paying debt for money's time is why I'll always boil.
Writing off the debt won't provide the poorer countries with
money, only with the option of getting in debt anew and it will only
start all over? And it will prompt the banks to call the loans of the
industrial world causing a banking collapse. It can't and will not be
If we are going to have a Jubilee in 2000, we really need the
LETS members who are also Jubilee supporters to be the ones to call
upon Jubilee 2000 to help install a Global Online LETS as a way of
dealing with the debt crisis themselves rather than ask governments to
do in time for it to succeed by 2000. As Christ said in Thomas 95: "If
you have money, do not lend it out at interest." He did not proscribe
debt, only interest on debt." He even once said "Lend expecting
nothing in return." This may be unfamiliar to most preachers but of
all Christ's adages but it's the one that needs most be preached.

The ATTAC group which has arisen to fight financial injustice
with the Tobin tax on financial transactions which is another way of
trying to get it from the rich to give to the poor.
Consider the real problem of borrowing the principal and owing
the principal and the interest:
A million people pledge their collateral to borrow 10 pails of
water from the bank pumphouse and all dump it into the economic pool.
They all gamble on paying back 10 pails plus some interest.
At 10% interest, how many people can bring back 11 pails? How
many people lose their collateral?
At 20% interest, how many people bring back 12 pails? How many
people lose their collateral?
At 50% interest, how many people bring back 15 pails? How many
people lose their collateral?
Given that the demand for interest creates an immediate shortage
of money, poverty, I consider the Tobin tax to be splashing in the
pool with little consequence. Finding a new way to take it from the
rich to give it to the poor may help deal with the greater inequities
but will not deal with the original shortage owed to the pumphouse.
So you LETSers who are ATTAC members, it is up to you to help
steer ATTAC's monetary reform sights away from depriving the rich to
satisfy the poor and towards ending the initial deprivation.
It doesn't matter whether they take it from you until you're
broke at the point of a knife or a pen, it's stealing. Now, if such
large anti-debt groups can be focused in the next few months on the
realistic elimination of interest rather than the unrealistic
elimination of debt, Jubilee in 2000 can be on track.

Focus on debt growth mechanism:
There is a wonderful online convergence of interests by anti-
money groups around the world who will soon discover that only
interest need be abolished with LETS banking software, not the total
debt. and be in on the kill. Interest is losing its power every time
someone uses a new interest-free local currency instead of the federal
interest-bearing one. It is gain from a transaction the banks do not
get and never get again. And the goal is to kill the interest feedback
the quickest. That is how we'll be judged. Let's invite all these
anti-money groups to be in on the killing of interest to lift our
yokes of debt oppression before the end of this year and in time for
Jubilee 2000.

Looking for Belgian, Finnish, German, Swedish LETS softwares:
I'm trying to complete my list of available LETS software on my
web page. Now I have:
LETS: Michael Linton, Canada
LOIS: LETS Office Integration Software: Jerry Vahrman, UK
QLETS: Chris Hohner, CanadaQLETS: Chris Hohner, Canada
SEL French Software: Winston Smith, France
Timedollars: Edgar Cahn, United States
I'm particularly interested in knowing if there is any German,
Belgian, Swedish or Finnish software or I'll assume they use some of
the English software.

Showing LETS Island before Interest Island
I once tried doing the difference between Interest Island and
LETS Service Charge Island by doing the LETS Island first and the
Interest Island second. Somehow, it doesn't seem as effective as
showing the trick first and then showing them how it works without the
trick later. They're always stunned when I'm about to roll dice the
last guy, stop and turn over my cap to show that there's no money left
in the economy to buy the last guys' product. Is it better to have
them see that all the product gets sold on LETS Island and then show
why the product can't all be sold on the other, or vice versa? I'll
just have to give the good system before the trick system a few more
times to really tell.
Rolling dice instead of flipping a coin also seems better.

JAK, Toronto Dollars, Barrington Premium
Toronto Dollars takes in cash put in the bank so the interest
gained can be used to support charities and pay system expenses.
Members receive equivalent Toronto Dollars for their cash which they
can spend anywhere else in their LETS community. Such a system was
used by Sparta in Greece. Caravans had to buy in for local Sparta clay
currency with their gold and cashed out their Sparta clay currency for
their gold at the end of the trip. In both cases, the system got to
keep the interest. This is workable. Independent from world money
markets, it can't crash with world money markets.
Barrington Massachusetts sells its paper currency too and also
saves interest in the same way but rather than give a portion of their
interest to making interest-free loans a la JAK, they give a portion
to their members as a premium for changing to Green. You only pay $90
dollars for $100 dollars worth of local currency! Workable. Can't
crash. Faster growth
Sweden's JAK bank takes in the Kronors to lend most out interest-
free to its members. Members receive equivalent credits to their
account but no notes they can trade with. Workable but vulnerable to
world money market manipulations and members do not receive any
trading benefits.
Community Way gets businesses to donate local currency to
charities for volunteers who then spend it in those businesses who
receive charitable tax-deductions. Workable but businesses can only
obtain it as customers come into their stores. Not getting any local
currency themselves to spend like Toronto and Barrington stresses the
"donating" aspect rather than the trading. The "donating" part would
be far better received accompanied by the "trading" advantages. All
alone, it should prove a hard sell. But also an attractive feature of
an ideal local currency bank.
So the optimal model would combine the best features of all four
A la Toronto Dollar, a secure local paper currency;
A la JAK, micro-lending to members after system expenses;
A la Barrington, premium for involvement.
A la Community Way, financing good works.
It should not be too difficult for all four systems to integrate
the best structures of the other three into their own.

Much French information not available:
I've had great difficulty trying to find the history of SEL in
France. Though there are almost a dozen groups with messages going
back several years and I subscribe to two, most do not let anyone but
members read their archives and no foreigners may join. So it's
difficult to say what if there has been much of interest being
discussed though it would be interesting to follow their development
and learn their history.
I belong to sel-...@egroups.com and sal...@egroups.com , I'd
appreciate it if anyone who belongs to another list would make a copy
of the message archives and post it for the world to read.
I've set up a few listservs for different language postings such
as let...@egroups.com for France, let...@egroups.com for German,
let...@egroups.com for Finnish, etc.
I think posting such archival histories will be great use to the
whole community in learning about the early development of LETS around
the world.

One other topic that I never delivered in public but seemed to
enthrall most people was when I explained what I bet was the best
bet to beat cancer: apricot seeds and urine.
Find out more about the Vitamin B17 cancer-killing cyanide bombs
in apricot seeds at:
There's cobalt bombing, laser bombing and there's B17's cyanide
bombing of cancer cells. I'd bet on the chemical rather than the
electromagnetic radiation attack.
Find out how urine is not waste but the best medicine money can't
buy at:
It also revitalizes long-thought-dead hair follicles.
But if I had a buddy with cancer, I'd stuff him with apricot
seeds and recycle the vitamin B17 through his own urine all day long.
I already did a report on Urine Therapy in my Third British Tour
in the Latest Posts

3) GOLETS (Global Online LETS):
All these suggestions about making small LETS grow from the
bottom up are useful but the prime directive is to make LETS grow from
the top down.
I have written a letter to my Internet Service Provider, aol.com,
requesting a Global Online LETS "GOLETS" on my email menu:

>To my Internet Service Provider: AOL.COM Canada
> The LETS "Local Employment-Timetrading Software" is having
>remarkable success around the world.
> http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel is my web site which details
>how the European Parliament has funded not only the four LETSystems
>in Bradford UK but also the LETS in Vaasa Finnland and the Barataria
>Project's four LETS in four different European countries. Many
>British Local Authorities have long-funded their municipality LETS
>and some even joined. The British Parliament now has a pro-LETS local
>currency motion before it. The Australian Parliament passed such
>pro-LETS legislation 3 years ago and American Internal Revenue
>system 10 years before them.
> I have found that a GOLETS email account for world-wide
>timetrading is a big hit among both online and offline LETS members.
>If offline members never had an incentive to get online before, they
>will now. The years have seen many variations on LETS: MLETS, QLETS,
>and I want to designate the "Global Online LETS" as GOLETS.
> http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel/urlsnat.htm hosts a list of
>hundreds of LETS web sites and articles around the world to help
>explain why we find GOLETS email accounting so desirable. Several
>sites are hosted by groups starting up private online LETS
>Timecurrency systems.
> LETS are the shopping centers for our timecurrency and I and
>many online friends, acquaintances and associates will gladly jump at
>the chance to pay our ISPs put our GOLETS shopping centers online. I
>would personally be quite willing to pay double or more for my AOL
>service package if you install GOLETS at my email menu. I give you
>carte blanche. When I can email my first Hours from that online
>GOLETS account, you can send me your bill.
> My friends around the world are starting to make the same
>request of their ISPs. I will be switching my service to the first
>nearby ISP which provides me with online GOLETS and I think most of
>the world's online LETS members and supporters will switch too.
> Hoping this is a great incentive to quick action, I am,
>Sincerely yours. jctu...@aol.com

JCT: If the world is going to make any headway on the problem of
the growing debt in time for a Jubilee in the year 2000, you should
write to same request to your Internet Service Provider too. All these
recently-formed anti-debt groups around the world must use the
leverage of their ISP patronage to insist they deliver an Online LETS.
Despite the efforts of these many groups to solve the debt
problem by the year 2000, it looks like there will be little change.
Our only hope of celebrating a Jubilee over world debt by 2000 is by
collaborating together on getting Online LETS Hours checkbooks. If a
global saturation trigger like getting our Internet Service Providers
to provide us with email LETS timecurrency services, the world will
all be hooked up by next year's Jubilee 2000 party in Canada to
celebrate eradicating the interest-poverty disease world-wide.
Getting our Internet Service Providers to provide the Internet
world with Online LETS seems the optimal strategy and that's what I'm
going to be working on till the end of 1999. As far as anyone is
concerned, if you email me that you owe me some hours in our mutually
accepted fashion, I'll be happy. Everyone with an email address has a
LETS account and will learn how to use it.
To fully appreciate my happiness at the potential of Online LETS
accounts, you must remember I've had some local currency experiments
which did not turn out to be winners. LETS is my one contribution to
banking systems engineering in long list of tries.
In 1981, I incorporated "Turmel's Social Credit Computer" to
effect trades in interest-free social timecredits but had little time
to nurture it along and it fell into disuse.
In 1982, Michael Prot and I produced a "Greenback" software for
national interest-free timetrading. This software was offered for
electoral approval and remains yet unelected.
In 1984, Michael Linton and I produced the "Local Employment-
Trading System" LETS software for local timetrading with Greendollars
or any other currency name. As I plugged away politically, Michael
nurtured the little LETSes along in their initially tiny but, I knew,
exponential growth. In the 1990s, with a new-found freedom of
communications from a new-found Internet which my "Social Credits" and
"Greenbacks" never had a chance to ride, LETS took off. People
understood interest-free money when it was explained to them in terms
of Time money, not gold or cash. Timedollars, Hours, also exploded
onto the world scene under the banner of "local currency."
But most timecurrency systems still use the 1-velocity blueprints
offered while we feared government. Recording all transactions was
perfect protection. Primitive but better than no local trade at all.
Now, government approval continues to grow and use of high-
velocity local currency is starting to happen. In America, I know of
no new LETS or Hours systems that do not print high-velocity local
paper timedollars for use in the community and all report wonderful
reinvigorating effects and little accounting expense.
In in tour, I spent much time explaining how interest feedback
makes the banking system malfunction and how the LETS interest-free
banking does not. I then explained how system performance could be
optimized. I then explained the local saturation triggers, getting the
telephone company, power company, government to pay LETS paper credits
into circulation where 100% would instantaneously find the local
currency very desirable.
I pointed out the national saturation triggers with national
telephone companies, national government, national industry (Canadian
Tire Stores). If Canadian Tire wants to lend its Canadian members some
Canadian Tire LETS dollars interest-free, I'll accept them in payment.
What struck most people as most awesome again and again, it took
away the breath of many or took the wind out of the others' sails, was
finding out they could start emailling their checks verified by a
public noticeboard instead of writing your paper check verified by
your LETS accountant. We can start doing it already for free with the
email functions our ISPs already provide! We just save our LETS
financial transactions in a file for forever reference, your financial
life story in LETS Hours, not inflatable money.
Some people who had been doubters had the wind taken out of their
sails of objection only after I mentioned Online LETS. They saw how we
could do it already because I am already planning to send them an
Online check for the accommodations I owed validated in public rather
than at the central bank while storing my gains and expenses in my
Email account myself. While offering handsome payment if my Internet
Service Provider will do it for me. And pay handsomely for a nice
friendly Directory database to shop where I can spend it. Any other
internet addresses like me.
The people who had their breath taken away saw the ease with
which our Internet Service Providers could quickly touch the lives of
almost everyone on earth with interest-free LETS timecurrency accounts
Online. Germany reports new LETS members due to the advertising for
Global Online LETS in the Bonn newspaper article. France has reported
enthusiastic new fans and supporters of the Online LETS. It's fair to
say that the learning about Global Online LETS left enthusiastic
supporters everywhere we went. It is not hard preaching to the
converted. It is getting easier preaching it to the unconverted.
And I'm curious. in future speeches, after explaining how Global
Online LETS can be done, I'll try leading in with the 15 second
recommended "Our Father, who art in Heaven... forgive us our debts as
we forgive our debtors," and take of poll of how many would vote to
abolish interest and join Global Online LETS now? How many will say
"Amen to Global Online LETS Now?" I'll try to report the statistics.
So asking my Internet Service Provider to do it for me saves
me joining an international LETS currency database growing from
scratch. The internet offers several many small LETS trying to go
online and having to built up a database from scratch. I prefer my ISP
reprogram my already existing email software.
Anyone who wants to join me in pressuring our ISPs to deliver
Global Online LETS service can subscribe to gol...@egroups.com to join
me for discussions about Global Online LETS. Send an email to:
I have posted my ISP letter. Please post your own before joining
the discussions. And do your best to explain to them why it is worth
so much to us.

Pauline's Report will be quite substantial with so many LETS
visited and so many new exhibits and pictures to consider. It might
take a few months.
My final report will await the translations of the French and
Finnish presentations, the French report and the foreign press.
I thank all of my European correspondents for your receipt of
these reports.
If you would like to continue getting this kind of LETS
information, then you may subscribe to gol...@egroups.com where you
get everything written by the actual warriors in the online arena or
tur...@egroups.com where you get everything I write about anything.
John C. "The Engineer" Turmel, Founder, Abolitionist Party of Canada
915-2045 Carling Ave., Ottawa, K2A 1G5, Tel/Fax: 613-728-2196
LETS Abolish Interest Rates http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel
For TURMEL topic http://www.onelist.com/subscribe.cgi/lets

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages