‘Unity’ Key to Economic Revival?
By Mark Anderson
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Just as Wall Street reform legislation that includes a limited audit of the Federal Reserve System was signed into law, a Sustainable Michigan meeting at an Ann Arbor library on July 25, which focused on local control and self-sufficiency, included a presentation on an interesting alternative to using only Federal Reserve notes for purchases.
Ypsilanti resident Bob Van Bemmelen’s presentation did not outline a typical local currency like New York’s “Ithaca Hours” and others used around the nation, useful though they may be. Taking grassroots monetary reform to new horizons, his explanation of the “Unity” coupon currency revealed that, by all indications, Unity could be a workable implementation of what is known as “social credit.”
Social credit is a comprehensive reorientation of the monetary system. It recognizes the need for a non-welfare dividend to be paid to all citizens regardless of their lot in life to supplement their employment earnings and reduce the need for incurring debt and for relentless labor just to live. Designed for maximum freedom and little or no taxation, it shows that money must be created and used democratically by a citizenry to whom the money system belongs—rather than autocratically manipulated by private, central bankers as their exclusive profiteering scam. Such a system could be adopted nationally by a legislature willing to end the age of conquest engineered by today’s central banks.
Social credit is based on the work of late Scottish engineer Clifford Hugh Douglas, whose books such as Economic Democracy outlined the profound problems brought on by society’s bondage under central banking and the affiliated commercial banking system. This is facilitated by mountains of public and private debt and a profound lack of purchasing power for Main Street America. This prescription for poverty is then extended into every state, county, city and hamlet in the United States and throughout the world.
Van Bemmelen’s project is still in the planning stages. However, others have applied the Unity scrip concept in Canada with some measure of success, according to Benoit Ouellet of Quebec, a Pilgrims of Saint Michael (PSM) member and social credit activist who spoke at the Ann Arbor gathering. Ouellet said rural stores in Canada are already accepting up to 100 percent of the Canadian version of Unity for purchases. Ouellet, whose PSM group has a social credit congress in Rougemont, Canada each September, also shared a touching story of a lady whose Canadian home burned down but was rebuilt by neighbors with donated labor and materials, and through the use of Unity to cover some of the expenses.
Van Bemmelen explained to the Ann Arbor audience, as he outlined for AFP earlier in an exclusive interview, that the U.S. version of Unity would start with a sponsoring association that “spends” Unity into circulation interest-free, since no loans or banking are involved. Association members, who may or may not make a small, annual voluntary donation to cover sundry expenses, each receive the Unity coupon-currency regularly, which merchants regard as coupons. But Unity also functions as a currency, paid as a dividend to citizens who do not need a “job” to get it—along the lines of social credit. The dividend in the form of Unity helps fill in the purchasing power missing in today’s “money drought” economy.
Advertising on the back of the Unity coupons, which come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50, covers the printing costs. A list of participating merchants is to be compiled, but since only so many merchants can advertise at any given time, merchants do not have to be advertisers to accept Unity, as Van Bemmelen explained to an interested audience.
Groups such as Sustainable Michigan, which hosted the Ann Arbor meeting, or other nearby groups like Think Local First, which champions buying from locally owned merchants for all needs, could adopt the Unity and become the sponsoring organization, or a new group could be formed. Other Unity groups that may take root in cities across the United States could readily accept Unities from any originating location, enabling the system to expand while maintaining its local character.
Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as the editor for AFP. He and his wife Angie provide photographs and video of the events they cover for AFP. Listen to Mark’s radio show at republicbroadcasting.org, Sundays at 7pm central. Email him at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(Issue # 32, August 9, 2010)