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The Wall Street Journal’s article on local currencies misses the mark

Last year we were contacted by the Wall Street Journal, who were interested in speaking to our MD Diana Finch about our work here at Bristol Pound.

While we welcome robust criticism and are always eager to educate people about complementary currencies, we were dismayed at the dismissive tone of the finished article. Diana’s input was distilled into a single quote and the piece seems to have been pre-positioned to show local currencies as a frivolity, with interview answers greatly truncated to support that angle.

In response, Diana writes:

It’s disappointing that the tone of the article and comments depict local currencies as at best a well-intentioned stab at utopia, at worst a waste of time, effort and resources. 

The current financial system serves the global corporates well – wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few whilst the majority struggle, all the time being (mis?)-sold the dream of consumerism through the mainstream media.

Local currencies are an ethical attempt to counter that, encouraging people to support small businesses at the heart of their community. The impact is still limited; the movement is still small. But the aim is to keep money and jobs local, instead of further helping the rich corporates and their shareholders to get richer. Yes, Bristol will always have a worldwide hinterland in this era of globalised production. But many services and some goods (like food) could be more localised, to create homegrown jobs, reduce inequality and reduce transport-related carbon emissions.

It’s interesting and valuable to read comments and questions from people who read the article; hopefully the following replies will be of some use for people who are interested in learning more. If you have any questions please ask us in the comments or feel free to email [email protected]

Question: What’s wrong with depending on a traditional bank? And, how on earth does a local currency cut down on trading long distance? Is every product in the local non-chain market produced locally?  Doubtful….

DF: “Local currencies are not banks. They are just currencies. But if you ask what is wrong with the traditional banking system, let’s just remember the financial crash of 2008…

Meanwhile, yes, not everything I consume can be produced locally, but lots can, and I choose to buy locally produced goods, and use locally delivered services, whenever possible.

The mainstream financial, corporate and media systems fuel a consumerist approach, with the ease and appeal of consuming goods front and centre. But the reality is that this approach is outstripping the earth’s capacity and creating misery around the world in various ways. I applaud any attempts that encourage us to think twice about how easy or appealing our current economic reality is.

If it helps reduce dependence on traditional banks and cuts down on the carbon emissions that come with trading long distances, all the better.”

Question: How in heck does trading with local currency “cut down on the carbon emissions that come with trading long distances”????? boy, anything and everything is stuffed into the rubric of climate change, thus rendering it even more idiotic than normal.

DF: By localising supply chains as much as possible, goods-miles can be reduced. Yes, my coffee will always travel thousands of miles, but my potatoes, bread and beer can be locally produced.

If you have any questions about Bristol Pound, please feel free to ask them in the comments – you can also visit our website to learn more.

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