JCT: My presentation is becoming smoother as I go along and I'll
publish a recap of the final version in my last reports. The German
newspaper articles are not fully translated yet but I'll post the
German version now and the translations later. They're almost
JCT: Ma presentation devient de plus en plus clair a mesure que
le voyage s'acheve et je publierai la version finale dans mon dernier
rapport. Les articles des journaux Allemands ne sont pas tout a fait
traduites mais je vais publier les versions allemandes maintenant et
les traductions plus tard. Elles sont meme un peu trop flattantes.
1) Bonn: General Anzeiger July 3 1999
Die spannenden Abenteuer des Ingenieurs
Von Christina Martinstetter
Picture caption: Den Banken und dem Staat hat John Turmel, der derzeit
zusammen mit seiner Frau Pauline eine Europareise unternimmt den Kampf
angesagt. Foto Max Malsch
BESUCH "Schael-Sick-Tauschring" begrusste einen illustren Gast aus
Kanada: John C. Turmel ist der Gruender zahlreicher "Tauschringe" in
seinem Heimatland und erzaehlte von seinem wechselvollen Leben
Schwarzrheindorf - "Guerilla-Anwalt", "Blackjack Koenig" oder
"Der Welt reichster Armer" sind nur einige der vielen Spitznamen, die
John C. "The Engineer" Turmel von den verschiedensten Medien verliehen
bekam, Der Kanadier sorgte insbesondere in seinem Heimatland bereits
fuer unzaehlige Schlagzeilen. Und immer wieder zeigen Zeitungen und
Fernsehen das gleiche Bild: Turmel mit einem weissen Helm, auf dem in
grossen Lettern "The Engineer" geschrieben steht, und einer Bibel in
der einen sowie einem Streikschild in der anderen Hand, das "Abolish
Interest Rates" ("Schafft die Zinsen ab") fordert. Am Mittwoch abend
war die schillernde Person zu Gast in Beuel.
Den Banken und dem Staat hat der studierte Ingenieur den Kampf
angesagt, da diese Institutionen die Menschen durch Zinsen und Steuern
in die Verschuldung trieben. Aus diesem Grund ist er auch ein
leidenschaftlicher Anhaenger und Gruender von zahlreichen "Local
Employment Trading Systems," Kurz LETS, die auch in Deutschland unter
dem Namen "Tauschringe" bekannt sind. Diese basieren auf dem Prinzip
"Tausche Arbeit gegen Arbeit" und nicht gegen Bezahlung. Bundesweit
gibt es davon mittlerweile 229, und immer wieder entstehen neue.
Derzeit befinden sich Turmel und seine Frau Pauline auf einer
Europareise. Diese fuehrte das originelle Paar jetzt auch auf die
Sonnenseite Bonns, um dem erst im Februar gegruendeten "Schael-Sick-
Tauschring" einen Besuch abzustatten. Die Stippvisite war zwar kurz,
dafuer aber um so informativer und interessanter. Fast drei Stunden
lang lauschten etwa 20 "Tauschringler," die sich im Hotel Mertens an
der Rheindorfer Strasse versammelt hatten, den Worten ihres illustren
Mit seiner temperamentvoll und eindringlich vorgetragenen
Lebensgeschichte zog Turmel die Zuhoerer sofort in seinen Bann. Denn
was der Kanadier erzaehlte, waere unter dem Titel "Die unglaubliche
Lebensgeschichte des John C. Turmel" auch ein guter Anwaerter fuer die
Bestsellerlisten der Belletristik. Das war jedoch auch Turmel bewusst.
Und um seine Glaubwuerdigkeit und die Wahrheit des Berichts der
einzelnen Lebensstationen zu unterstreichen, belegte er jede einzelne
mit Zeitungsartikeln. Hunderte davon, die Zeitungen aus aller Herren
Laender entstammen, hat der Kanadier in einem dicken Band gesammelt.
Der traegt den klangvollen Titel: "Die Abenteuer von John "The
Und die waren wirklich spannend: John C. Turmel erblickte am 22.
Februar 1951 in Rouyn/Quebec das Licht der Welt. Nach einer sehr
erfolgreichen Schullaufbahn schrieb er sich 1974 auf der "Carleton
University" in Ottawa/Ontario. fuer das Fach "Electrical Engineering"
ein. Auch dort erwies er sich als "Star" Student. Mit ganz besonderem
Interesse und Engagement widmete sich der junge Mann einem Kursus, den
Professor Walter Schneider im letzten Semester anbot und der sich "Die
Mathematik des Spielens" nannte. "Das war der erste und einzige Kursus
seiner Art in ganz Kanada" erzaehlte Turmel. Ich schloss ihn mit der
Note "A+" der bestmoeglichen ueberhaupt, ab."
Eine Leidenschaft war neugeweckt und veraenderte sein Leben. "Von
1975 bis 1978 wurde ich professioneller Spieler, gleichzeitig
Professor Schneiders Lehrassistent", so Turmel. In diesen Jahren
unternahm er mehr als 50 viertaegige Exkursionen in die zahlreichen
Casinos von Las Vegas." Doch den dortigen Casinos war der Kanadier ein
viel zu erfolgreicher Blackjack-Spieler und damit auch ein eher
unliebsamer Gast. Turmel erhielt Hausverbot.
Eine Zusammenfassung seines weiteren, wechselvollen Lebens bis
zum heutigen Tag zu geben, ist schwer. Festzuhalten ist in jedem Fall
folgendes: 1976 schloss Turmel sein Studium ab, doch er spielte
weiter. Im Jahre 1979 begann er damit, sich als Kandidat fuer das
Parlament aufstellen zu lassen. An erster Front, so glaubte der
Kanadier, koenne er besser fuer sein grosses Ziel, die Legalisierung
des Gluecksspiels, kaempfen. Seine Versuche, zum Abgeordneten eines
kommunalen oder nationalen Parlaments gewaehlt zu werden, brachten
Turmel zwei Eintraege ins Guinness Buch der Rekorde: An 47 Wahlen nahm
der Kanadier bis heute teil. Rekord Nummer zwei: Genauso oft, und
damit ist Turmel auch weltweiter Spitzenreiter, hat er auch verloren.
Zwei Casinos eroeffnete der Kanadier im Laufe der Jahre. Etliche Male
wanderte Turmel wegen seiner Spielleidenschaft ins Gefaengnis.
Auch heute noch lebt das Ehepaar von den Gewinnen, die der
pfiffige Kopf Turmel beim Blackjack-Spiel erzielt. Darueber hinaus
reisen die beiden Kanadier um die ganze Welt und besuchen die
Tauschringe und LETS aller Herren Laender. Den Beueler
"Tauschringlern" gab "The Engineer" mit auf den Weg: "Bewahrt euch
euren Tauschring. Es gibt so viele Gelegenheiten, bei denen er euch
Der "Schael-Sick Tauschring" hat das Vereinslokal gewechselt. Die
folgenden Treffen finden am Mittwoch, 21 Jul, 1999, 18. August und 8.
September, jeweils ab 19Uhr im Hotel Mertens, Rheindorfer Strasse 134
statt. Weitere Informationen erteilt Brigitte Guenther-Sun, unter
JCT: See: http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel/bonn99.htm
3) Amsterdam July 13
We took a day to visit Amsterdam. We were a little saddened by
such a beautiful city being littered with garbage. As we sitting in
restaurant, Pauline struck a conversation with a gentleman who joined
us for dinner. He asked what she thought of their fair city and when
she answered that it was too bad that such a beautiful city had to be
so dirty, I knew we'd have to get into LETS to explain why.
I mentioned that the only reason Pauline could feel this way was
that she was aware of the LETS program which could put the young to
work cleaning up cities. Then we got into a whole discussion of how
timedollars and LETS could accomplish that. The guy stayed with me all
When I asked him what he did, he said that he was involved in the
justice system dealing with probationers. So naturally, a LETS paid
community service program had to interest him. I asked him if he was
in the policy or enforcement and when he admitted "some policy," I
knew that I might have stumbled onto someone looking for a better way.
I find these kinds of coincidences interesting. You never know
when someone who might have the power to implement a government
sponsored LETS will see it as a way out of his "no money" predicament.
3) Antwerp LETS July 14
We visited with Robert Siera who is a computer programmer deeply
involved with the Antwerp LETS. At the meeting, I spoke 2.5 hours with
no need of translation to about 15 people including three from the new
Vivant political party. They have one elected member in the Belgium
Parliament and I urged them to push all political parties to promote
LETS. Belgium just threw out their old government and the new
government is a coalition of parties including the Greens. This is
important because the Greens are also represented in the German and
the Finnish Parliaments. If the Canadian, American, British Greens
already endorse LETS, they could be persuaded to promote a national
and European LETS more forcefully. With the help of the Greens from
other nations, they could champion LETS in the European Parliament for
One amusing fact is that Robert lives in the suburb of "Mortsel"
in Antwerp which in French might be translated into "mort=dead"
"sel=LETS." "DeadLets" may be the name but I don't think that will be
with Robert working on the job.
My presentation was well received and the LETSers and politicians
then spent time discussing in Belgian how they could cooperate. Again,
Pauline's report will contain much more of the more personal
information but Robert was a pleasure to meet.
I was speaking to one girl as she was leaving and she told me
happily that she'd earned her bicycle and accessories on LETS.
I think Rob crystalized perfectly the kind of complementary tag-
team Pauline and I represent. He said "You pound, pound, pound it into
the brain, Pauline caresses, caresses, caresses it in," with pounding
his fist and then caressing hand
I am quite aware of Pauline's effect on people. She is a true
empath. After 5 minutes with Pauline, you feel like chuckling. After
10, you've been laughing for 4.
Usually, on our trips, Pauline does the driving and I do the
sleeping and working while on the road. But this trip, we had a
standard transmission which Pauline doesn't drive so it fell to me.
But this allowed Pauline to stay up late with our hosts and thoroughly
charm them by presenting the softer sides of our project.
I often wonder if she isn't more effective a speaker than me. I
keep presenting the great new technical aspects while she keep
presenting the great new social results.
I have absolutely no doubt that Pauline in now one of the finest
LETS speakers that I know. She can enthrall audiences for hours with
the stories of how LETS have helped poor people cope. Something I
don't have the time to do. She actually imparts a fervor for the
beneficial upgrade to LETS money that I can't seem to do.
Sure they were mostly all enthusiastic about the future potential
of spending their LETS credits anywhere in the world but stressing how
LETS was supporting them right now while they were fighting for the
global fix made her pitch uniquely valuable.
I really think I'm going to save up to send her on her own
speaking tour of Europe again. She's been invited to spend a month in
Somali to help them set up some LETSystems, maybe she could get two
birds with one stone and do a speaking tour before or after Africa.
But I don't apologize if I pound it into people's heads. After
all, people are still dying of their debts around the world. But to
have someone to skillfully massage the technical message into their
social consciousness seems an invaluable trump. I can be as brutal as
I want with those who disagree knowing she heals the bruised egos that
may result. After all, if you want to argue with the banking systems
engineer about the banking system, there's a higher than average
probability that you're wrong.
So with Pauline to stroke, caress and massage the social
implications in, I can pound, pound, pound the technical ones in.
Without making enemies.
I think that when they finally publish the controversy about
holding a dialogue with Turmel in France, we'll see that those we won
over to the bigger picture won't be shaken. The controversy about me
is taking place on a listserv sel...@egroups.com which is only open
to French LETSers and to which I may not subscribe. Those French
listservs to which access is granted and I can reply, sel-info and
saloir, have not carried any of that information. But I know the
effect that Pauline's had and doubt that anyone can have found very
much to criticize me for her smoothing my cutting edges.
4) Hamburg LETS meeting July 15
We got to the Hamburg meeting at 5 minutes late. Birgit Koch had
arranged a large room with about 40 Hamburg LETS members. Again, the
speech was well received even though many aspects had to be cut short
due to the need for translation. Still, when I heard some members
explaining some points to the others, it meant that they'd got them
and would be able to explain them from then on.
As usual, the LETS Smartcard and Email LETS by Internet Service
providers are emerging as the most dazzling exhibits. They readily
saw all the advantages of a high-velocity paper medium and promoting
savings with Consignment stores and Pensioners accounts.
But I expanded the notion of saturation triggers. Municipal
saturation triggers would be getting the telephone or power companies
or municipal government using and accepting LETS.
But the notion of the Global saturation trigger of getting our
Internet Service Providers to offer email LETS accounts in Hours
exploded onto the debate arena.
Solving non-skilled members' negative accounts by getting them to
host visitors trading accommodations was another big hit. Several LETS
Travel networks have been and are being implemented. Now it's just a
matter of getting them all onto one database.
And as usual, at every presentation, I play the "mort-gage"
death-gamble on the Interest Island and the same game on the LETS
"Service Charge" Island. Nothing brings home the silliness of interest
better and it often leaves people stunned.
I could tell that one member couldn't see the difference since
the banker on LETS Island was getting paid the same 20% in service
charge as the banker on Interest Island had demanded. A couple of guys
took over and explained quite forcefully why everyone on Interest
Island ended up broke and everyone on LETS Island, including the
banker, prospered year after year.
See: http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel/bankmath.htm or
http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel/t99eu5.htm for French.
After the meeting, we went out to a pub with some of the members.
A couple of them pulled out copies of the Bonn General Anzeiger
article to show me. It was huge and very complimentary.
Rheinhold Kisse mentioned that he had organized an inter-LETS
trading network for the 10 Hamburg systems. I suggested he take the
next step and try organizing the same thing for all of Germany's LETS
so we could trade with France's LETS.
I realize that these reports may be short but it's basically the
same speech over and over again and Pauline's report will be much more
5) Nurnberg LETS July 16
Then we zoomed down to Nurnberg and arrived at the meeting place
at exactly the same time as Heinrich Haussmann. They'd arranged a nice
supper for about 20 people. Heinrich had been at the Jubilee 2000
festival where I'd ad-libbed my way onto the stage to speak about
Tauschrings. He gave us some pictures he'd taken of me on stage which
was handy because Pauline isn't sure if her camera had malfunctioned
at that point.
One key point raised was whether the government would step in to
stop LETS once it got really big like the Austrian government had
stepped in to stop the local currency experiment after Worgl had
eliminated their unemployment problem. Worgl then shared the Great
Depression with the rest of world. Unemployment and poverty again
arose and the Bank of Austria could report that the elimination of
unemployment had been successfully averted.
I could only point out that with the governments of Australia,
United States and Great Britain making LETS earnings for the poor non-
taxable, such support would certainly prevent other governments from
opposing a system supported by these large governments. I think LETS
is now too well-entrenched for any government to stop it. But I will
work on a much more complete listing under the Government Endorsements
section. There are so many political parties to list that it's quite a
Again, we met another Jubilee 2000, Dirk Bruhl. Again I got to
point out that if they were successful in their demand to have the
banks cancel the debts of 42 Third World countries, then the banks
reserves would go down and they'd have to call in 10, 20, 30 times
that amount in our loans. All a man has to accept is that forgiving
that debt means they'll demand he pay off his mortgage at the same
time they demand a whole lot of other people pay off theirs. The
banking system as it is now wired up is designed to crash.
Forgiving the debt can't happen. The G8 leaders only threw them a
small bone this year. This is the reason so many official groups and
politicians can jump on their bandwagon. You can promote it all
you want knowing the repercussions are to great for it to ever be
But focusing on the debt growth, stabilizing the debt growth,
before we look into the question of what should forgiven, is the only
way to go. Try telling the guy whose car you want to buy on payments
that you believe in writing off debts and you might not get the car.
Tell him you won't pay interest might still get you the car. So I
sincerely hope that all these Jubilee 2000 supporters we met at TOES,
ATTAC, many LETS meeting, try to get Jubilee 2000 to focus on the
objectionable part of the debt and not the honorable part too.
The next day, Heinrich showed us brought us to two booths that
the Nurnberg LETS had set up in town to enlist new members. They work
on an Hour system and all the volunteers were being paid for their
efforts. One girl told me she was a social worker and used to spend
time helping people for free but not any more. Now she makes sure to
get all her time recorded. And her contribution has increased.
Other social service agencies also had booths so I wanted to give
Heinrich and example of how would not only spend my time pitching the
people walking by of how it could help them but also the other
organizations in the area of how it could help them perform their
duties. I grabbed a few of their LETS flyers and took Heinrich over to
the Youth Support Services booth to explain how LETS could be used by
their government department to an enthusiastic young worker. We
explained it to him over half an hour and I suggested that they invite
Heinrich to do a presentation to their department and left them
exchanging phone numbers. So something could come out of that. And he
didn't even meet Pauline.
We stayed at the home of Marina Danser whose four adult children
were now out on their own. She is lively activist who donates
generously to finance social projects and worked both of the LETS
booths all day. A real live wire. Pauline will report more on her
One interesting thing that Heinrich showed us was a piece of 1931
Depression era German local currency from the town of Ulmer with a
demurrage charge like in Worgl. I don't know what happened and perhaps
Heinrich can send a to le...@onelist.com about what happened to it.
I spent the evening with Mr. Hans Juergen Sauerbrey, who is
associated with "Sealand," an old World War II platform erected at sea
which was not destroyed after the war with the other such platforms
and where a group of squatters took control and managed to get it
declared a sovereign territory from where they could operate a pirate
radio station. Like an embassy, they also have extra-territorial land
near Berlin and Hans was considering setting up their own LETS money
system. He told me there were ways to have the US Federal Reserve pay
400% if you put up $10 million. I hope he can't prove it. And I hope
that he does set up or join a LETS.
6) Muenster LETS with Zeitung article (German). July 18
JCT: Kay Browatzki organized the translated Muenster LETS
meeting. It was attended and well received by a couple of dozen
members in a room of a local pub including a very delighted reporter.
They didn't print his name but his article:
Muenster Zeitung July 20 MS3
Tauschringe als Alternative
(No reporter's name)
John Turmel besuchte LoWi e.V.
Picture Caption: John Turmel protestiert gegen die Macht der Banken
und engagiert sich Fuer Tauschringsysteme als alternative
Muenster (MAF) - "Tauschen statt Zahlen" ist der Leitsatz des
LoWi e.V.(-Lokale Wirtschaftsinitiative),des Tauschrings fuer
Muenster, der sich im Maerz 1996 gegruendet hat, um "eine neue,
gerechte und soziale Form von Arbeit, Handel und Markt"
auszuprobieren. Ueber die Entwicklungen und weitreichenden
Moeglichkeiten von Tauschringen, auch auf internationaler Ebene,
informierte der Kanadier John Turmel, der sich seit 1984 mit diesem
Das Engagement dieser schillernden Persoenlichkeit geht auf das
Vorhaben zurueck in Kanada das Gluecksspiel zu legalisieren. Um dies
beeinflussen zu koennen, kandidierte der einstige Casino-Besitzer und
(bis heute) professionelle Gluecksspieler fuer politische Aemter.
Hinzu kam sein Protest gegen die Macht der Banken, die mit Zins und
Verschuldung das Wirtschaftssystem bestimmten. Es folgte im Laufe von
20 Jahren die Teilnahme an 47 Wahlen, die er allesamt verlor. Das
brachte Turmel nicht nur einen Eintrag ins Guinness Buch der Rekorde,
wie er lachend berichtete, sondern auch viele Einsichten in
Seiner Ansicht nach fuehren Zinsen und Hypotheken nur dazu, dass
Reiche immer reicher und Arme immer aermer werden. "Ich weigere mich,
Steuern fuer Schuldzinsen zu bezahlen." Mit Beispielen aus Bibel und
Historie unterstrich der Kanadier temperamentvoll, das solcher
"Wucher" nur zu verurteilen sei. Die einzige moegliche (zinsfreie)
Alternative: "Local exchange and trading systems," wie die Tauschringe
im angloamerikanischen Raum heissen.
Diese Initiativen sind auf lokaler Ebene inzwischen mit grossem
Erfolg weltweit verbreitet, sei es als organisierte
Nachbarschaftshilfe oder als groesserer Zusammenschluss, an denen sich
auch die Kommune beteiligt und wo sogar eigenes "Tauschgeld" kursiert.
Die englische Stadt Bradford bekam fuer ein derartiges Projekt gar EU-
Mittel bewilligt. Turmel riet zur Nachahmung und legte gleich das
In den USA werden Tauschringe sehr viel ernster genommen. Viele
soziale Probleme liessen sich entschaerfen, Arbeitslose mit einbinden
und vieles andere mehr. Nun sei es an der Zeit, das Ganze
international, zum Wohl auch fuer die Dritte Welt, zu vernetzen. Eine
elektronische Zahlweise und der Einsatz des Internets werde bald
erprobt. Vielversprechende Aussichten, wie Turmel findet. Voller
Enthusiasmus wuenschte er den Muensteranern eine gute Entwicklung
Turmel im Internet: http://www.cyberclass.net/turmel
Kontakt zu loWi e.V.: montags 16-18 Uhr, mittwochs 17-19 Uhr,
Umweltzentrum, Scharnhorststrasse 57, tel 532171. Treffen jeden ersten
Freitag im Monat um 12 Uhr in der Blechtrommel.
JCT: I'll publish the English versions as soon as I get them.
The story of how the sick pensioner benefits from LETS is really
getting better. Also we had all these new exhibits from the France
LETS to show them. They had all the same problems of small systems
LETS and I've learned to soothe those who fear losing their local
connections to a larger system. I explain that though they can now
trade outside of their circle, they can still issue their own circle's
directory and keep their local connections strong that way. It seemed
to quell many doubts. The Noticeboard stays as local as they like it
but they can send checks anywhere in the world if they want and
collect from anywhere too.
Again, we stayed with Hans Werner in Warendorf who showed me a 50
talent note he had created with a picture of the LETS member. Just
like the LETS from California. Pictures on the checks. Even the banks
don't have this kind of sophistication yet.
We discussed the fact that the Greens were part of the Government
and how to get them promoting LETS more prominently. It's another
coalition government and getting multi-party support is working in
other countries where politicians see the results of LETS first-hand,
why not everywhere they get to see the same results? Looks like
they're going to turfed out for the old government having failed to
solve the money problems they others couldn't solve previously. LETS
could give them a needed boost.
The next day, he got an accordion from a cousin and accompanied
me on his guitar while we played songs for several hours. The next
day, we left for our Nordic tour through Denmark, Sweden and Finland
which will be in my next LETS tour report #7.
There have been so many flashbacks of interesting things that I
had not included in my previous reports that I'll be posting some
extra reports with those extra comments.
As for translations into other languages, the presentation is
being transcribed in French and Finnish from tapes with the Finnish
into English, maybe the French too since it was a debate rather than a
As for the quality of my French being joked about as bad
"translation software," I didn't have access to my mother, Therese, a
former translator and perfectionist and had to do my best. It's the
reason I haven't transcribed the other reports into French. I'm always
embarassed at the number of corrections she finds though I still find
it hard to believe that the message still isn't very clear. Of course,
these are getting the masculine and feminine gender of neutral objects
often wrong and all the attendant accords of adjectives but the words
are mostly spelled right and in the right order. And the tape will
show whether deficiencies in my command of the language would
necessitate a translator.
But, after I'd pointed out that almost everyone I met in Europe
spoke pretty great English including many French and then asked Mom to
start translating my reports into French, she suggested that she
didn't have to since those who spoke English could explain it to those
who don't. So, though I'd love to be able to offer my French readers
translations of past and upcoming articles, it won't be possible.
As I've offered to translators in Austria and Finnland, I would
owe anyone who will translate into French, German, Finnish, Italian,
Swedish, etc, two (2) Hours per hour as an expense against my
Engineer's Statement of Account for providing the world with LETS. Or
you can use them for accommodations in Canada until the statement is
So if you would like to translate some my past reports or any
other web site materials for me, I'll see that someday you'll be
credited for those Hours if not by the Government, then by me or any
LETS group I'm associated with.
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