SHEPIC (Self Help Ends Poverty In Canada) and Elsewhere Presents
A Proposal To Limit Tax Increases While Improving Current Levels Of Municipal Government Services
by Tom J. Kennedy

In recent years, the local media has been bombarding us with grim financial forecasts for the entire country and particularly for the Ottawa Community. Until now, all concerned partners in government have been worrying about sharing the "scarcity" unjustly, rather than addressing the obvious growing problem of traditional debt-financing at both the individual and government level - "interest" - which ought to be correctly labelled "USURY".

It is time to consider a pilot project employing the concept of "interest-free" financing, which is now possible given the ease of modern technology. Interest-free financing will solve the "scarcity" that faces every single citizen not only in the Ottawa community but in any community on planet earth.

The critical challenge is to not only avoid further labour strife within both the public and private sectors while saving face with the taxpayers, but also to implement the optimal solution which will benefit the entire Ottawa community. Members of "the consciousness raising community " in the Ottawa area are encouraged to thoroughly research the details of this timely proposal to determine if it can be launched as a worthy pilot project with the co-operation of local employers, employees, unions and municipal politicians.

This optimal solution ought to be pursued in the Greater Ottawa community. It is THE ONLY COMMON SENSE SOLUTION. It is a creative proposal worthy of endorsement by not only LETSYSTEM users and SDI (Self Directed Incomes) associates but by everyone. This particular proposal requests that experienced LETSYSTEM users, with the support of qualified economic advisors, have opportunities to make a series of formal presentations so that all municipal politicians will become familiar with the working prototype of the LETSYSTEM and how this innovative system of "interest-free" finance can be implemented with ease as a municipal pilot project to benefit every citizen in the Greater Ottawa area."

I am confident the result of such meetings will solve our current problems of sharing the "scarcity" and guarantee an "abundance" to our community. Frankly, a pilot project to implement the political application of the LETSYSTEM at the municipal level of government is THE ONLY COMMON SENSE ALTERNATIVE as this dismal Depression of 1998 deepens.

No one has yet accepted to pursue this proposal though I have submitted it to local Ottawa area politicians for seven consecutive years; so in the meantime, let's ponder some significant points about LETS. I have been a keen student of the LETSYSTEM for fifteen years and a satisfied participant for ten years (Though recently the inquisitors of the Ottawa LETS subjected me to the first LETS inquisition simply because I am an active part-time SDI entrepreneur. During the winter of 1997 the executive of the Ottawa LETS made a provision in the Ottawa LETS bylaws to refuse a membership to anyone who is a full time SDI entrepreneur).

The LETSYSTEM (Local Employment Trading System) is a community exchange system which generates abundance and moves economic transactions into the modern age of high-tech. The LETSYSTEM offers participating members an "interest-free" local medium of exchange commonly called "ecodollars", "greendollars", "sandollars", "shedollars", "social credits" or various other names which function independently of "interest-bearing" federal dollars.

A magazine familiar to municipal politicians called MUNICIPAL WORLD, published an
article in March 1986 which describes how "greendollars" are created:

The "greendollar," by mutual agreement roughly equivalent to the federal dollar, is 
created not by chartered banks in the process of lending, by individual members of each LETSYSTEM - on the strength of an implicit pledge to reciprocate with an equivalent  contribution in goods or services. The "greendollar" is created in the act of spending it..... "Greendollars" are in reality debits and credits in the LETS computer, for all intents and purposes like bank entries in a bank ledger. In small communities like Powell River, B.C., the computer is replaced by a hand written ledger. The system works. It permits a multitude of transactions which would be impossible were members exclusively dependent upon money coming in from the depressed world market for their resource-based products.

According to Don Havthorne, an Edmonton consultant with a background in economics, lending and research for Credit Unions in Western Canada:

LETSYSTEMS, like other co-operatives in the past, defy conventional ideas about what motivates economic and social behaviour. In LETSYSTEMS, goods and services are provided not only in anticipation of market rewards, but also to honour obligations undertaken by individual members. And like other co-operatives, LETSYSTEMS might well represent another breakthrough in economics thought and practice. 

The Ottawa-Carleton Credit Unions must have leaders similarly as insightful as Don Havthorne who will recognize the LETSYSTEM as a pioneering idea whose time has come. Perhaps the Ottawa-Carleton Education Credit Union, the Ottawa Community Credit Union and/or other local Credit Unions will see the benefits of arranging for LETSYSTEM accounts to be opened for the selected groups of Ottawa citizens each serves.

With an initial pilot project and the eventual implementation and growth of the LETSYSTEM, local taxpayers could look forward to paying absolutely no "interest" on future, local education debt or otherwise. The current system of debt-financing which extracts "interest", forces taxpayers to pay for two or three capital projects while getting only one.

Implementation of the LETSYSTEM at the municipal level will vastly reduce the "interest" charges of capital projects and increase the likelihood that they will continue to be undertaken even during this current depression. The LETSYSTEM can be identified as a job-creation scheme in these trying times of significant downsizing and unemployment. Private contractors will be encouraged to build and renovate public and private buildings and their payrolls (which will operate with a portion of "greendollars" otherwise known as "circulating receipts" or "tax credits") will boost the spending power of not only of their employees, but also their sub-contractors and other businesses in the Ottawa community. In fact, the function of any LETSYSTEM is to induce a local community to spend itself into unprecedented economic health with an "interest-free" currency.

What better way to introduce the citizens of Ottawa to the real power of the LETSYSTEM than to kick-start this perfect "interest-free" system of economic exchange by inviting all of the citizens of Ottawa on board whereby they are taught the benefits of accepting a portion of their respective salaries in "barter credits". When local Mayors and Councillors arrange to accept these "tax credits", "greendollars", "sandollars",  or "shedollars" as partial payment for property taxes, both public and private employees will be motivated to accept in "greendollars", "sandbars", "tax credits" or "shedollars" an amount at least equivalent to this partial amount of annual property taxes which the respective, local city hall has agreed to accept as payment.

This pilot project would free up ample, unused cash so that no one would have to lose a job to meet local government budget restrictions during these times of increasing cutbacks. Local mayors and Councillors could be lobbied by members of the Greater Ottawa community to assess property taxes without "interest" by accepting these interest-free "barter credits" from thousands of citizens with local LETS accounts.

These "barter credits" can in turn be used by the local governments as partial payment of public employees' salaries and the local Ottawa-Carleton Credit Unions could administer the LETSYSTEM accounts for a fee in "barter credits" payable jointly by the employers and employees. Anyone will accept these "barter credits" as long as there is a growing data base of places to spend them.

A renowned, though little known model of an "interest-free", local economy based on concepts similar to the LETSYSTEM is the GUERNSEY EXPERIMENT, which was introduced in the Islands of Guernsey about 180 years ago. It still operates successfully, having restored that island's frail economy where their unemployment rate is zero, their standard of living is high and they have absolutely NO "interest-bearing" debt-financing. Currently, there are about 60,000 permanent residents in Guernsey.

A working LETSYSTEM can easily fund with ease a percentage of the necessary and legitimate needs of our local community without incurring "interest", which accompanies traditional forms of debt-financing. A municipally operated LETSYSTEM will not only solve the immediate threats of service cuts and raising taxes, but will also establish the Ottawa community as a respected leader in the 21st Century for proposing such a timely and creative plan to restrict tax increases, while maintaining current levels of public services. Local public and private employers, in co-operation with unions might even jointly market a "proven, workable plan" to other cities and towns for cash, "greendollars" or a combination thereof.

There are many  "LETS" and "Barter" websites with links to browse and further your learning process. If anyone can be of help in aiding Ottawa (or any other community) public sector employers, private employers and politicians to better understand how a functioning LETSYSTEM of alternative, "interest-free" finance can redeem jobs during this deepening Depression of the 1990's please write, telephone, fax or email The Cyberclass Network, P.O.Box 9333, Ottawa, Ontario K1G 3V1  Tel: 1.613.746.9702   Fax: 1.613.747.6666