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At first, LETS met with significant opposition. Leftists thought it was a plot of the right, and to the right it sounded like a communist takeover. Some business people thought it was a trick to take money from them. Men appeared more suspicious of the proposal, but women were significantly more pragmatic. "We should see if it works for us, and if it does, then why not use it?" Most members were fascinated because the system is easy to use, and because it has a self regulatory growth potential which is dependent on the number of transactions the system can absorb. LETS can be combined with the existing money system quite easily. The origin of green dollars is totally decentralized and is related from its root level to the creativity of those who earn it. Because green dollars cannot leave the local area to buy Japanese cars or dresses from Hong Kong, every commercial transaction encourages the development of local resources. An unemployed mother in Courtney expressed her satisfaction this way: "... it gives me the feeling I am doing something for the community, because every time I buy something with green dollars, I know I am helping someone improve their financial situation."

THE WIR NETWORK AND SIMILAR ASSOCIATIONS Switzerland has had a country-wide exchange network since 1934 whose goal is to provide enterprises with reasonable credits and to help its members to get higher turnovers and profits. The WIR (pronounced vir - short for "Wirtschaft" = economy in German) was founded by sympathizers of the Free Money System, the so-called "Freiwirte" (Free Economists). As an exchange ring the WIR works on the same basis as the LET System and similar to barter clubs: a cashless accounting system is run by a central office, cash withdrawals of deposits are not allowed and, therefore credits can be interest free. In 1990 WIR had about 53,730 members, 16,788 official accounts and a half yearly turnover of about 0.8 billion WIR, as the unit is called. The WIR, as a unit of payment, has the same value as the Swiss Franc. Because WIR money needs information to function in order to connect up supply and demand, the administrative group publishes a monthly magazine as well as three catalogues per year, showing products and services offered within the system. The WIR defines itself quite openly as a support system for middlesized business in competition with stronger and larger enterprises, helping those companies to fight an ever larger and intervening government. The organization is structured like a bank, and has its main office in Basel, seven regional offices throughout Switzerland with a total staff of one hundred and ten employees. Payments are made with forms not unlike normal bank cheques, with credit cards and bank forms. All transactions are either credited or debited by the central office. Savings do not accrue interest, and loans are charged only a minimal fee. Money is "created" in that a transaction takes place, exactly as described for the LET System. The difference here is that it is a nation-wide system and that it is limited to business. In 1990 the costs of the WIR organization were covered by a quarterly membership fee of eight Swiss Franks or 32 SFr per year, plus costs of 0.6 - 0.8 % for every transaction. In spite of an almost 60-year success in Switzerland the cooperative barter system has not been repeated in any other country in Europe. There are several reasons for this. In Germany in 1934, after countless 51

Margit Kennedy (!) - Interest and Inflation Free Money  

Copyright 1995 by Margrit Kennedy) (Published by Seva International; ISBN 0-9643025-0-0; 1 2 LIST OF FIGURES:..................................

Margit Kennedy (!) - Interest and Inflation Free Money  

Copyright 1995 by Margrit Kennedy) (Published by Seva International; ISBN 0-9643025-0-0; 1 2 LIST OF FIGURES:..................................

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