TURMEL: European LETS Tour Report #7: Sweden, Finnland

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John Turmel

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Jul 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/31/99
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Topics: 1) Norway Dag Agens internet article; 2) Lund LETS with
Sydsvenska article (Swedish); 3) Bad luck and lousy road signs; 4)
Helsinki LETS; 5) Stockholm JAK Magazine interview; 6) Bonn farewell;
7) Malfunctioning Money System atrocities; 8) British Airways Boobs
Again.

1) Norway Dag Agens xnternet article
I'd thought we might visit a LETS acquaintance in Norway but that
couldn't be arranged. There had been some info referring to LETS at a
web site though:

http://www.dn.no/aapen/art/1998/19980905/12281.html
19990417
Seddelpressen i Tarzans hjemby og Unterguggenbergers pengemirakel
Ner valutaspekulantene hugger lxs og renten presses i vfret, finnes
det alltid en utvei. Som e trykke egne penger. Av ESKIL ENGDAL, JENS
M. JOHANSSON og HALLVARD SKAUGE (tegning) Det kan vfre nyttelxst e
kjempe mot renten. Til og med farlig.
John Turmel veknet en natt i 1993 opp stiv av kulde i en liten
celle i Ottawas varetektsfengsel. Det var mxrkt. Politiet hadde lett
etter Turmel i en uke. Dagen fxr hadde politiet etterlyst ham over
hele Canada. Da ble han tatt. Tiltalen var illegal gambling. Selv var
han overbevist om at politiforfxlgelsen hadde en helt annen bakgrunn.
Krigen mot renten. I nesten 20 er hadde den ne 47 er gamle kanadieren
kjempet sin ensomme kamp mot bankenes rentepolitikk. En kamp som ifjor
fxrte ham inn i Guinness rekordbok for e vfre den som har stilt som
kandidat i flest politiske valg - hele 44.
Og tapt samtlige. Kampen mot renten startet for alvor da han
trakk Bank of Canada for retten i 1980.
Turmel mente banken drev illegal gambling og sammenlignet
lenerenten med den avgiften du betaler for en sjetong i et kasino.
Turmel forlangte at Ontarios Hxyesterett forbxd Bank of Canada e
kreve rente pe len. Han tapte saken.
Istedet allierte Turmel seg med en annen gruppering som ville
renten til livs. De som hadde en utbredt tro pe at valutaspekulasjon
kunne fxre til universell bankkrise og en total systemkollaps. De som
kjempet for utbredelsen av lokale valutaer og byttesystemer.
Systemer uten rente. Seddelpressen i Tarzans hjemby. Det kan
lxnne seg e kjempe mot renten. Ved e trykke egne penger. I 1990 slo
krisen til i smebyen Ithaca i det nordvestlige hjxrnet av staten New
York. En rekke store industribedrifter demonterte maskinene og flyttet
sxrover.
I Ithaca steg andelen yrkesaktive som levde under
eksistensminimum til det hxyeste i USA. Byen, som kun var berxmt for e
ha vfrt innspillingssted for Tarzan-filmer pe 50-tallet, stoppet opp.
Entreprenxrer som gikk til de lokale bankene ble mxtt med krav om
skyhxye renter. Samtidig med at krisen akselererte fikk den unge
journalisten Paul Glover et stipend for e studere den xkonomiske
utviklingen i regionen. Glover mente at tilstanden var ille, se ille
at han istedet begynte e trykke egne penger. Glovers idi var e skape
en lokal valuta, "Ithaca hours" basert pe et byttesystem melt i timer.
En "Itacha hour" ble verdsatt til en times arbeid - eller 10 dollar.
En lege kunne gipse et xdelagt bein mot en bilreparasjon. En
snekker kunne fikse en xdelagt garasjedxr mot en frisxrtime. Med
"ordentlige" sedler ble systemet langt mer fleksibelt enn ved normal
byttehandel.
- Vi laget vere egne penger da vi oppdaget at dollaren kom til
byen, trykket noen hender og forsvant for e kjxpe regnskogtxmmer eller
utkjempe kriger, sa Glover da den lokale valutaen ble introdusert.
Mens den "ordentlige" valutaen jaget rundt i verden for e finne den
beste renten, skulle den lokale valutaen finnes rett nede i gaten og
arbeide i lokalsamfunnet.
I dag aksepteres "Ithaca hours" av nesten 2000 lokale
forretninger og brukes av et par tusen innbyggere. Den lokale
handelsstanden stxtter valutaen, og enkelte av bankene aksepterer den
som delbetaling pe len. Alt fra teateret til byens beste restaurant
aksepterer "hours". Men hvordan kunne en lokal patriot plutselig
kopiere opp en haug med gule papirlapper og likestille den med
dollaren? Amerikansk lov tillater at man trykker lokal valuta se lenge
den ikke kan forveksles med den virkelige dollaren. Og at det betales
skatt for de transaksjonene som er gjort i lokalvaluta. Etter at
Ithaca ble mer kjent for sin valuta enn for sine Tarzan-filmer, har
utbredelsen av byttesystemer og lokale valutaer eksplodert i USA. Over
800 samfunn USA, Canada og Mexico trykker egne penger eller har
innfxrt byttesystemer. Systemer hvor pengene kun sirkulerer lokalt og
er befridd for renter. Millioner av Ithaca hours er i dag i omlxp.
Men en egen lokal valuta forutsetter at lokalsamfunnet ogse tror pe
den. Valutasystemer hvor hjemmelagede menstruasjonsbind i bomull,
psykoterapi og kunsttimer var det eneste som ble tilbudt, bukket raskt
under.
Pe 90-tallet ble lokale valutaer se utbredt at da en representant
for den amerikanske sentralbanken, Federal Reserve, ble bedt om e
kommentere fenomenet, svarte han pe fxlgende mete;
- Hvis du vil betale en bil med kyllinger, og bilselgeren
aksepterer kyllinger som betaling, er det ok for oss.
Unterguggenbergers pengemirakel. Det kan nytte e kjempe mot renten.
Til sentralbanken stopper deg.
I 1932, i den lille, xsterrikske landsbyen Wvrgl i nordlige
Tyrol, stupte xkonomien like bratt som alpefjellene rundt. Hele Europa
var rammet av depresjon. I Wvrgl passerte ikke togene fra Innsbruck
mot Wien eller Ljubljana like se ofte som fxr. Bygningsarbeidene hadde
stoppet opp. Familier sultet. Arbeidsledigheten var 35 prosent.
Wvrgls ordfxrer, Michael Unterguggenberger, en gammel lokomotivfxrer,
bestemte seg. Han ville trykke opp egne penger - Freigeld - og fordele
dem pe byens arbeidere. Resultatet ble det som ne kalles "Det
xkonomiske mirakelet i Wvrgl". Ordfxreren var overbevist om at renten
var den store fienden. Rentene gjorde pengene til en vare som det var
mulig e spekulere i.
Spekulasjonen ga et ustabilt marked som bremset omsetningen av
penger. Ner prisene gikk ned, ville de som satt med pengene vente pe
bunniveet, slik at de handlet da det var som billigst. Og ner prisene
steg, ville de helst ikke handle i det hele tatt, resonnerte
ordfxreren. Rentene gjorde det ogse mulig e tjene penger uten e
investere i varer eller tjenester. Konsekvensene ble fatale for
arbeidere og kjxpmenn.
Unterguggenberger hadde sluttet pe skolen som 12-ering, men hadde
nettopp lest den tyske forretningsmannen Silvio Gesells bok "Den
naturlige xkonomien". En bok som fikk den kjente, engelske
sosialxkonomen John Maynard Keynes til e utbryte: "Fremtiden kommer
til e lfre mer av Gesell enn av Marx"! Wvrgls lokale xkonomi skulle
vfre rentefri. Men dette var ikke nok for e xke omsetningshastigheten
pe shillingssedlene. I tillegg, bestemte Unterguggenberger, skulle den
lokale valutaens verdi synke med in prosent i meneden, med mindre
innehaveren hver mened kjxpte et frimerke som kunne festes pe baksiden
av seddelen. Dette ville stimulere sirkulasjonen av penger.
"Frimerkeinntektene" gikk til et fond for fattige. Med den menedlige
verdireduksjonen ville ordfxreren presse sine innbyggere til e bruke
pengene sine istedenfor e spare. En modell som var stxpt etter Gesells
tanker. Unterguggenberger lyktes med sitt eksperiment. Etter ett er
hadde arbeidsledigheten sunket med 25 prosent, mens den nasjonale
ledigheten hadde steget med ti prosent. Kanalerer og broer ble bygget,
hovedgatene asfaltert, kloakksystemet ble renovert. Wvrgl fikk til og
med en ny hoppbakke. I underkant av 300 xsterrikske byer planla e
fxlge Wvrgls vellykkede eksperiment. Men da satte sentralbanken foten
ned. Den gikk til sak mot Wvrgl. Og vant. 18. november 1933 ble
eksperimentet forbudt av xsterrikske myndigheter. Stinn av gryn. Man
kan lene uten e betale rente. Hvis man bare lener til marsvinpass.
I 1983 fxrte en dramatisk renteoppgang til at store deler av
industrien i byen Courtenay i British Colombia bukket under. Behovene
i byen var de samme etter krisen som fxr krisen. Men pengene manglet.
En lokal xkonom; Michael Linton satte i gang et system for
byttehandel, "Local exchange and trading system" eller LETS. Systemet
fungerte pe samme mete som i Ithaca, bortsett fra pe ett punkt; Det
ble ikke trykket egne penger. Istedet ble det gitt rentefrie
kreditter, og medlemmenes mellomvfrender ble samlet i et datasystem.
Byttesystemet skapte boom i den lokale xkonomien og systemet spredde
seg fra British Colombia til England, Kasakhstan, til Australia. Og
til Es.
Solveig Viste er kasserer i bytteringen i Es og en sterk
tilhenger av ordfxrer Unterguggenbergers eksperiment. Og Michael
Lintons ideer.
- Det er jo slik penger skal brukes!
- Pengene skal forenkle handelen, ikke begrense den. Viste har
vfrt med siden bytteringen i Es ble startet i 1993. Da var de seks
personer, ne er de 170 medlemmer og den stxrste av om lag 20 norske
bytteringer.
- Men fortsatt er de fleste av medlemmene slike som meg.
- Slike som deg?
- Venstrevridde kvinner mellom 30 og 40 er. Valutaen i Es heter
gryn. n gryn tilsvarer in krone. En times arbeid er i utgangspunktet
satt til 70 gryn, men timeprisen er forhandlingsbar. Renter eksisterer
ikke.
- Selv har jeg ne en rentefri gjeld pe 2500 kroner. Men til
hxsten fer jeg bedre tid. Da kan jeg servere pe noen fester. Og fe
kontoen min opp pe pluss igjen, sier Viste. Ner du melder deg inn i
bytteringen, fer du utdelt et sjekkhefte. Kontoen din starter pe null.
Og mellom fire og seks ganger i eret fer du tilsendt nyhetsbrevet
"Byttenytt", med en oversikt over ringens tilbud og etterspxrsel.
Solveig Viste blar opp, setter pekefingerenunder "Hjelp tilbys" og
leter seg nedover.
- Der! Hun bxyer seg frem.
- KaninferiehjemI ner trenger man ikke det? Ellers kan du kjxpe
alt fra brukte komfyrer, vaskemaskiner, maiskolbeblad-dukker, takpapp,
lite brukte txybleier og kanoer. Alt fra bacalaolagingshjelp,
munkebakingshjelp til undervisning i engelsk konversasjon eller
afrikansk kormusikk, ideer til taler og konsulenthjelp vedrxrende den
politiske utviklingen i Ghana.
- Vi setter grensen ved konebytte og seksuelle tjenester, sier
kassereren. I 1996 omsatte bytteringen for 60.000 gryn. Ifjor var
omsetningen halvert.
- Vi merker nedgang ner konjunkturene stiger. Da har folk mye
penger og liten tid. Bytteringen er bedre egnet i nedgangstider, da
folk fer mindre penger og mer tid. For dette tar jo endel tid. Solveig
Viste smiler. Og innrxmmer at hun enkelte ganger heller bare hadde
gett i banken, tatt ut penger, betalt for tjenesten og ferdig med det.
Uten e vfre se forbannet sosial.
- Det kunne ha vfrt deiligI men jeg er ne en gang fenget av denne
ideen Endelig til vfrs. Man trenger ikke e bekymre seg for
rentexkningen. Hvis man kan leie ut et konferanserom mot pizza. Jens
N. Engelstad, tidligere banksjef i Kreditkassen, er ogse fenget av
byttehandel. Han vil bare drive i mye stxrre skala. Og tjene penger:
- Likheten mellom min bedrift og bytteringene er betydelige. Men
de er idealister, jeg driver butikk, sier han. Engelstad har nettopp
etablert Norsk Barter Sentral, pe lisens fra det stxrste
barterselskapet i USA, Itex Corporation. Ifxlge Engelstad omsatte
Itex' internasjonale byttehandelssystem for mellom fem og ti
milliarder kroner ifjor. Og Engelstad har allerede knyttet til seg
rundt 30 norske bedrifter, deriblant SAS, Tybring-Gjedde og Best
Western Hotel Karl Johan. I USA er antallet medlemsbedrifter 50.000.
Se nfringslivet er epenbart interessert i byttehandel. Men
nfringslivet kaller det barterhandel i stedet - selv om prinsippet er
det samme.
I Itex-systemet kan en hotelleier leie ut konferanserom og fe
betalt i pizza fra Pizza Hut, eller i dataprogrammer fra IBM. Eller
annet som medlemsbedriftene i bartersamarbeidet kan tilby. Han kan
renovere hotellet selv om han mangler kapital, fordi han kan lene fra
bartersentralen og betale tilbake ved e stille hotellrom til redighet
for andre bartervenner. Skatter, moms og andre avgifter skal betales
som om handelen var gjort i vanlige penger. Men Engelstads
barterverden skiller seg kraftig fra vanlig pengexkonomi pe et
sentralt punkt: All gjeld er rentefri.
- Ner det gjelder handelen gjennom Norsk Barter Sentral, trenger
ikke vere medlemmer e bekymre seg for dagens dramatiske
renteutvikling, bekrefter Engelstad. Han innrxmmer til og med at
renteutviklingen snarere er en fordel for hans sentral. Norsk Barter
Sentral tjener nemlig brorparten av pengene sine pe de ti prosentene
provisjon bedriften tar for alle transaksjoner.
Og: - Omsetningen av barter xker i nedgangstider. Vere medlemmer
har et mindre behov for e lene penger i banken enn andre, vere
medlemmer kan lene rentefritt i barterkroner. Det er jo en mulighet
som blir ekstra attraktiv ner bankenes lenerenter fyker til vfrs, sier
Jens N. Engelstad. I oktober 1987 skrev Jens N. Engelstad det fxrste
prospektet til sin bartersentral. Men fxr han var ferdig, kom
bxrskrakket.
- Den gang rakk jeg ikke e dra nytte av de derlige tidene, sier
han.
) 1998 Dagens Nfringsliv.
JCT: I noticed Michael Linton's, Paul Glover's and my name so I
tried to get in touch with these people but had no luck. If anyone can
read this and find anything of interest, could you let me know?
The Viborg Denmark visit also fell through though we did get to
pass through Denmark on our way to Sweden and mailed postcards from
Copenhagen.

2) Lund LETS with Sydsvenska article (Swedish);
JCT: The trip from Warendorf to the Lund area in Sweden took all
day because of the two ferry rides. I'd never been on such ocean-going
ferries before and they were nice operations. But we got there late at
night and Bo Ljungqvist came out to meet us on his motorcycle. We
spent a couple of nights in Hoor.
He has an ecological schoolhouse with live-in students learning
how to live off the land in a sustainable way. Needless to say, LETS
is their preferred accounting system as it seems for most ecology
minded people these days. They grow all kinds of food in a garden and
two green-houses, raise some animals, and stay in touch on the
Internet. Everyone spoke great English and gave us much useful
information about LETS growth in Sweden and Europe.
There had been a misunderstanding and the meeting in Lund had
been slated for July 21, the day I had expected to drive to Stockholm
and take the 6p.m. ferry to arrive in Helsinki at 9a.m. the next
morning for the July 22 meeting. To stay the extra night for the Lund
meeting, I'd have to drive to Stockholm on July 22 and fly to Helsinki
rather than use the ferry the night before. So that's what we did. I
wrote to Salla in Finnland telling her that we'd not be on the ferry
but on an early evening plane.
So the next night, July 21, we drove to Lund for the opening
meeting of their LETS organized by Anders Ohlsson at a social center.
He'd seen me at the Jubilee 2000 festival and when Bo mentioned I was
visiting, he decided to start a Lund LETS and got some great coverage.
The Lund newspaper gave the new LETS a front-page headline.

Sydsvenska Dagbladet July 20 1999 (page 1)

Lund kan fa egen valuta
Av Freda Roijer

Det finns planer pa att starta en sa kalad bytesring i Lund, dar
man byter varor och tjanster med varandra. Priset satts i en lokal
valuta som ska vara fri fran rantor och inflation. Projektet
utvecklades i Kanada pa 80-talet.
- Den forsta etappen blir det val mest applen. Datortjanster,
harklippning och massage ar ocksa tankbara bytesvaror, sager
initiativtagaren Anders Ohlsson.

Lund kan fa system med lokal valuta (page 2)

Mote halls i morgon for att skapa en bytesring som tros kunna pressa
priserna i Lund.

LUND- Lund kan komma att fa en lokal valuta.
Kritiker till dagens bankvasende vill skapa ett lokalt
betalningssystem i Lund utan rantor och inflation. Det kalas
LETSystems och ar redan verklighet pa flera stallen i Sverige.
- OM DU HAR APPLEN som du vill bli av med kan du salja dem till
mig for ett pris som vi enas om, forklarar Anders Ohlsson som ar
eldsjalen bakom projektet.
- Vi skriver en sorts check och transaktionen bokfors hos en
administrator. Pa ditt konto star det plus och pa mitt star det minus.
Du kan anvanda overskottet till att kopa nagot som bjuds ut av nagon
av de andra medlemmarna i bytesringen.
For att man inte ska kunna kopa en massa varor utan att sjalv
salja nagot infors en lagsta grans pa kontot.
Tanken ar att varorna ska bli billigare utan de dolda
rantekostnader som idag utgor en stor del av priset.
NARHATEN MELLAN saljare och kopare gynnar samtidigt miljon
eftersom transporternaminskar.
En hake ar att vinstdrivande producenter kanske hellre saljer
sina varor till ett hogre pris i kronor i stallet for till ett lagre
lokalt pris.
For att det hale ska fungera kravs ett stort antal saljare och
kopare, med manga varor och tjanster att erbjuda.
Anders ohlsson ska forsoka engagera foretag till bytesringen.
- De som kan tankas vara intresserade ar butiker som Klotet, som
har en uttalad solidaritetsprofil. Andra fortag kanske nappar pa den
uppmarksamhet och publicitet en bytesring skulle fa.
PA SIKT VILL Anders Ohlsson aven fa med kommunen i projektet, sa
att delar av kommunalskatten kan betelas i lokal valuta.
-Da ar man som skattebetalare garanterad att pengarna stannar
inom kommunen och inte spekuleras bort pa aktiemarknaden eller
forsvinner i investeringar nagon annanstans.
Den lokala valutan ska fungera tillsammans med kronan.
- Man kan tanka sig att en del av priset betalas i kronor och en
del i lokal valuta.
"Hur kan den lokala valutan undvika inflation om kronan samtidigt
minskar i varde?"
- Den lokala valutan behover inti ha nagot med kronan att gora
eftersom den bara ska anvandas for varor och tjanster som produceras i
Lund, menar Anders Ohlson.
Han medgert att utbudet riskerar att bli ganska magert.
- I forsta etappen blir det val mest applen. Datortjanster,
harklippning och massage ar ocksa tankbara bytesvaror.
Far man med sig butiker blir det mer intressant. De kan da betala
loner och hyra i lokal valuta och sa utvidgas systemet.
MARKNADSPLATSER kommer att uppsta dar kopare och saljare kan
motas. Varorna och tjansterna kommer at redovisas i en katalog.
For att finansiera det hale finns olika mojligheter.
Eventuellt tas en medlemsavgift ut i vanliga pengar.
En annan variant ar en sorts skatt, dar de som har pengar kvar pa
sitt konto i slutet av manaden batalar en viss avgift. Detta skulle
samtidigt stimulera aktiviteten pa marknaden. I slutet av varje manad
kan man formoda.
Det finns ocksa en mojlighet att lana ut pengar for att befrias
fran avgiften. Helt utan ranta naturligtvis.
Hittills har ett tiotal anmalt intresse for en lundensisk valuta.
I morgon kommer kanadensaren John Turmel till Lund for att beratta om
sina erfarenheter av LETSystem och hjalpa till att starta en
organisation kring det. Man ska sedan pejla intresset for att starta
en bytesring i Lund.
- Blir vi hundra som vill vara med ar jag jattenojd, sager Anders
Ohlsson. Men vi startar aven om vi blir farre an sa.

JCT: I'm told it's a nice article and I'll post the transcript
soon.
At the meeting, all the chairs were taken by a couple of dozen
people who all seemed to like the show. There was one girl there who
had some questions of an economist nature dealing with how we treat
the pensioners who do not have estates upon which to base their access
to a LETS credit line. I admitted that I'd write it off if their
estates couldn't settle up after they had died. They're probably
worked hard all their lives and had lost much to interest and I'd chip
in pick up the tab if they died negative. Just like Timedollars in the
States. The elderly get to call on all the system resources and they
don't have to worry about a negative account if they can't pay. I want
the elderly to forget about money problems and have a happy
retirement. Once LETS opens accounts up to the elderly, things will
really blossom.
One of the original founders of the 20,000-strong JAK interest-
free "piggy bank" system attended and was in agreement all the way.
Anyway, I hope that Anders gets his mayor to apply for some European
Community funding like LETS in Britain, Holland and Finnland have
already done.
At the end of the meeting, Anders thanked me with a beautiful
picture book on Sweden, a treasured souvenir. Pauline got everyone at
the meeting to sign it.

3) Bad luck and lousy road signs:
The next morning we started early for the Stockholm airport which
was around 700km away. And about two hours out, I got a ticket for
speeding. I'd gotten used to the high velocities in Germany and France
and he got me doing 158 in a 110 zone. I got out of the car, put up my
hands and said "Guilty." He broke out laughing and this wouldn't
prevent me from making our flight. He said that a Swedish citizen
would have lost his license for several months then and there and he
could take me into town to face a judge since it was over the 140km
seriousness threshold. But he put me down for 140 and a 1000 Kronor
fine and let us get on our way. We missed the plane by minutes.
Of course, our public servant wasn't the real cause. The failure
to tell the direction highway E4 got me split onto the wrong one in
Stockholm because of a sign with a plane for the airport. When we get
to the airport, it's a little field and I know something is wrong.
This is the Stockholm airport, not the Stockholm International Airport
which is 40km along the highway to the north on E4. I would found it
if they had indicated which of the two E4 lanes led north.
I am still awe-struck at the failure to include directions on
their highway signs. I cannot think of a less optimal thing to do and
I am truly saddened that such incompetent engineering has not been
corrected. I could complain for hours about the times I had to slam on
the brakes to stop as we arrived at the highway which named only the
cities each lane takes us to while we wanted to go north. If that city
was on the northern route, that was the way I'd go. But I had to stop
everytime or gamble on being wrong if I was going too fast to stop
safely and picked one of the E4 lanes. This cost me several long
excursions before I could turn around.
So anyway, with the combination of the ticket and the wrong
airport, we missed the 4p.m. flight to reach Helsinki at 6p.m. by only
a few minutes. The next flight would reach Helsinki by 7:20, still
time to make the end of any meeting.

4) Helsinki LETS
When I got to Helsinki, I'd had trouble getting in touch with
Salla Laurilehto who had organised it. Around 8p.m., we made contact
and she informed me that she had waited at the ferry that morning to
take me to the morning LETS meeting she had organised! It hadn't
occurred to me that it would be a morning meeting. We thought we'd
flown to Helsinki for nothing. And the reason she didn't know was that
I'd failed to note that she was going to be on vacation and wouldn't
have access to her email. A sad break-down in communication.
Salla joined us at airport and mentioned that she had run for the
European Parliament as a Green candidate and Vassa had received
European Community money to finance their Vassa LETS too. Also, the
Barataria project at http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel/urlsnat.htm is
an attempt at starting LETS in Scotland, Spain, Amsterdam and another
city with European funding again. So Bradford is not the only LETS to
have been funded with European government funds! And now I've urged
Germany, France and Austrian LETSers to go get some too.
She's in favor of a Global LETS currency and a local one for use
at home. I don't mind a local one too though I don't think I'd use it
much when my global one can be used for all my local transactions too.
One card seems simpler than two.
She didn't much like the thought of LETS being tax-free for the
unemployed like in Australia, US and Great Britain. Social services
were really appreciated by the Finns and they are willing to pay their
taxes for it. Of course, she's leading the fight to get LETS currency
accepted for taxes on the LETS income earned. And of course, if she's
successful, she'll have pulled a saturation trigger and her whole
community will accept their Green.
It seems that two media had found out I was coming and contacted
Salla. Then when I didn't show, she had to cover and I hear she did a
great job handling the interviews. I think we'll be hearing and seeing
some great things from Salla in Finnish politics and I've urged her to
get the Finn Greens officially online supporting LETS with the
Canadians, Americans and British. And soon the French, German,
Belgian, Austrian and Swedish Greens too. And as many other parties as
possible. But all those LETSers out there who are members of Green
parties, are your parties officially in support like those in
Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain?
Salla took us to stay with Kirsi Myllys, another remarkable LETS
member. She's an educated, erudite young woman who does Finnish -
English translation. She put together a press release to a dozen
Helsinki media that we'd be doing my presentation again at the KEPA
people's center the next day. It didn't much matter how many people
showed up because Kirsi was going to tape the speech for those who
missed it.
The next day, there were only 5 people and no press but Kirsi
caught on so quickly to the benefits of bigger LETS that she's
transcribing the tape in English and then into Finnish as well as
passing on copies. So the message will certainly still be around even
though I'll be long gone. The same in France with the Ste Foy la
Grande CD.
Kirsi also provided me with a list of Finnland web sites which
I've added to http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel/urlsnat.htm . Check
them out if want to find out what the Finns are saying about LETS.
There is some English.
For the rest of the afternoon, we saw the sights of Helsinki. In
the major square in town, opposite each other are the University and
Government buildings. On the third side rising above them both is the
Church. And on the fourth lower side is a home where a rich man used
to live. It was probably the moneylender they all owed their debts to.
And his house should have really been the highest house on the block
since he really ruled their economic activity behind the scenes.
We spent a pleasant evening with Kirsi surfing the net for LETS
sites on http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel/urlsnat.htm . Their number
is starting to stagger. So many people explaining LETS in their own
ways.
---

5) Stockholm JAK's Rantefri" Magazine interview:
The next morning, we caught our flight to Stockholm for an
interview with Maria Lovfors, redaktor of Sweden's 20-000 member JAK
rantefri (interest-free) magazine.
In their 1999 edition 1, there's a story by Marianne Passe
(Styrelseledamot i JAK Medlemsbank) titled "Dkilda Varldar." I can't
imagine it's critical though I'd wonder what a banker had to say
about it. Perhaps someone may translate it for us Anglos. Perhaps
Maria would post the Swedish versions to our le...@onelist.com group?
In their 1999 edition 4, there's a story by Helena Hammarstom on
LETS titled "Gor din egen valuta." On the back page are printed some
local currency notes with pictures of food, bicycle, leaf, hair brush,
and teddy bear.
Their mailing address is JAK Vasagatan 14,541 50 Skovde, Tel:
0500-464-500
This brought about a whole new angle on how to amalgamate the
Toronto Dollar concept with the Barrington Massachusetts Hours and JAK
interest-free lending.
Like in a casino, businesses get Toronto dollar chips in exchange
for their cash. They can use these tokens to buy and sell in all
participating stores in Toronto and if they don't spend them but
choose to cash out, they get 90% cash back. The drop (money taken in)
is stored at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and the interest
earned goes to fund their LETS and charitable projects. I approve if
not wholly endorse this method of getting the benefits of local
currency in circulation. There is a better way.
JAK also takes in money but doesn't give out local currency, they
credit your account. And like a bank, people queue up to borrow the
interest-free loans. This is nice. Truly worthwhile. But it's
dependent on the old money system and when it crashes, JAK goes down
with it.
All it would take for the Toronto Dollar system to turn itself
into a JAKLETS is for them to take the money out of the bank and lend
it out interest-free in microloans to the community like JAK does.
People claiming their money back go the top of the list for all new
funds and payments coming in.
And obviously, all JAK would have to do to turn its JAK into a
JAKLETS is for them to give out handy tokens of value that members can
use to trade with instead of merely crediting their accounts.
Interesting, isn't it?
But the nicest improvement I heard about was from the Barrington
Hours in Massachusetts where they sell their Barrington Dollars not
only to the businesses but also to customers for a discount. They buy
$100 Barrington Dollars for $95 federal dollars which they can cash
out for $90. It's taking in less float and giving the customers a win
to induce them to bring more local currency into circulation to
replace the cash. So the ideal JAKLETS would incorporate all these
features.
Maria got a couple of hours of tapes and should be able to do
quite a column. I hope she posts it for our inspection.

6) Bonn farewell;
Then we stopped at Bo's place again on our last leg back to Bonn
and then our departure from the Bonn-Cologne airport.
Brigitte Guenther had invited Paul Imbusch and a couple of other
interested LETSers to a final evening in Germany at their local LETS
meeting pub. Then we repaired to an open air cafe on the Rhine.
Getting off worked like clockwork. We checked out luggage in 2
hours before boarding then raced to drop of the auto rental at Arndt
in Cologne. When they realized that I'd done an extra 8,000km. over my
free 4,000km, and that I'd owe them more for the mileage charges than
I would if I rented the car for the next two months and parked it,
they gave me an 800 mark rebate that made it now worthwhile to pay the
mileage charge. That was nice of them to suggest it. I'd rent from
them again. Then Brigitte drove us back to the airport and we had an
easy half-hour before our trip home on British Airways.

7) Malfunctioning Money System atrocities;
I noticed a couple of interesting media tid-bits which reinforce
the seriousness of replacing the malfunctioning money system with the
LETS money system:

Daily Mail July 27 1999
Baby killed by salt overdose
by Roger Scott

A Heartbroken couple issued a warning to other parents last night
after their baby died from eating too much salt.
Tiny Leroy Elders, just three months old, had been given
liquidised adult food, including breakfast cereal.
His parents used it instead of specially-prepared baby rice and
rusks because they thought the ingredients were the same and it was
not so expensive...
JCT: Another one bites the dust courtesy of the malfunctioning
money system which forced the parents to seek cheaper food.

Express July 23 1999
Fuel poverty "a scandal
The problem of pensioners and poor families who have difficulty
paying fuel bills was yesterday condemned as "a continuing national
scandal." The Government's Environmental Audit Committee attached the
"persistent problem" of fuel poverty, saying: "It's contribution to
30,000 extra winter deaths - including some caused by cold within the
home and the fact that up to four and a half million people are
significantly affected - should be addressed with the sort of urgency
and determination usually reserved for more sudden crises here and
abroad."
Campaigners Friends of the Earth called the findings a "damning
indictment" of the UK energy use and urged the Government to back fuel
conservation measures with a Bill in the next Parliament session.
JCT: Let no one underestimate the import of the installing the
better money system where these kinds of things could never happen.
The malfunctioning money system is killing people. In a myriad of
ways. I didn't argue that interest rates were genocide of the poor in
the Supreme Court of Canada six times without these kinds of stories
to back up my argument. Almost every non-natural death can be
partially attributed to the malfunctioning money system, suicides,
crime, ecological disaster and extinctions, all of it.

8) British Airways Boobs Again.
As for my missing luggage from the trip over, one of the
suitcases in the airport bag was sent on to me the next day in
Cologne. The other suitcase which had all my hand-outs and exhibits
was taken from the same lost airport bag and sent back to Canada. Now
we'll have to snailmail them out incurring extra postage costs. My
baggage carrier dolly with 8-inch wheels has disappeared and as of
now, they think the file is closed.
More bad news from British Airways. They lost one of Pauline's
suitcases on the trip back! We just got it two days later but I wonder
what are the odds against a couple losing a bag both ways. I hope it's
still high.
Finally, the worst news of all is that they will not deal
customer service by email at their web site. Snail mail and faxes are
the only media they will use for complaints. I wonder why.
So that's the end of the 1999 European LETS Tour, if not the
reports on it. Much more has come to mind as I discuss with Pauline
the views that she will put into her report. My last reports will
include all the new things I've learned and have not yet mentioned as
well as the final most polished rendition of my LETS lecture.
I must thank Kirsi in Finnland who has already provided me with
the transcript of my two-hour presentation in Finnland.
--
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

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