Exploring Pagans and their relationship with that earthiest of earth symbols, money.
Charting a new course with money
A few months ago, my fellow blogger Deborah Blake wrote about establishing a daily divination practice, something which I have have been doing, first with my personal coin divination system and more recently by using the Lymerian oracle. Recently, in response to the question of, "What will today bring me?" I drew kappa, which means, according to the translation of Apollonius Sophistes, "To fight with the waves is difficult; endure, friend."
Usually that one doesn't give me a super-good feeling.
Not everything is as it seems, though. That evening, I attended an information session for the Hudson Valley Current, a complementary currency that I am helping to beta test in my neck of the woods. This event was to get more participating businesses for when the currency goes live on May 1.
This complementary currency is entirely electronic, unlike some of the others which have been tried, such as BerkShares. While the exchange rate per unit is equal to one US dollar, the value is derived from the production of a good or service. For example, I write articles for a paper which also accepts this currency. When I am paid on an invoice, Currents are created: I get credited and the paper gets debited the same amount. I can use what's in my account to pay for services from other participating vendors -- or even more than what's in my account, because I'm encouraged to allow my account to be negative as well as positive. This isn't a savings plan, it's the flow of money.
To fight the waves is difficult.
Inviting people to overspend what they've got seems disastrous on its face, at least to a debt-averse person like myself. The idea feels like it's a disaster in the making. But there are safeguards. For one, there's a limit to how far negative -- or positive -- my account can get. For another, there are real human beings watching the activity and nudging it along.
"If we see that someone has had a negative balance for awhile, we'll help them find ways to earn more Currents," said executive director Chris Hewitt at the event. Similarly, if someone has more Currents than they know what to do with, they will suggest places that might be a good fit for spending them.
<rant>This is as good an opportunity as I'm going to get to address a big point of disagreement I have with the Hewitt. I am opposed to capitalism, and do not believe "current" should be capitalized, because currency is not a singular thing which can be so named. We do not capitalize dollars or pounds or francs. Euros often get the capital, presumably because of the link to "Europe," but I think that's bad practice. Those currencies which are capitalized are using non-English rules, with which I can't rationally object. But currents should not be capitalized, so I'm not going to do it anymore.</rant>
The core idea is that money is a means of facilitating transactions, not a store of value. In other words, you don't get wealthy by hoarding currents, because their value is in their movement. On a religious level, I definitely appreciate the flow of money. On a pragmatic level, I'm intrigued, but only because I have consciously suppressed my negative associations with owing money.
Debt is not the same as flow.
As this market grows, and the services available to me expand, I look forward to becoming an active user of this complementary currency. I'll post occasionally about my experience.
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