LETS abolish money?
If you listen to the enthusiasts they can recreate communities, cure unemployment, undermine the
multinationals and even provide an alternative to the global capitalist economy. What can? LETS or
Local Exchange and Trading Schemes.
This is what the enthusiasts say. First, Harry Wears from Haverfordwest:
“I’m really enthusiastic about LETS. I think it’s the most exciting mechanism for social change I
have ever come across. In LETS, debts don’t accrue interest and there is no pressure to pay. A
LETS cheque can’t bounce, nor a LETS business go bust. LETS sees money as a symbol but, unlike
sterling, it can’t be manoeuvred to the detriment of people using it” (Woman & Home, October
Then Donnachadh McCarthy from Southwark:
“It is a system to recreate a community economy which we were losing because of multinational
companies and big supermarkets. Money which comes into Southwark is used once and then leaves
via the banks which use it to finance projects elsewhere” (Independent, 13 December 1993).
And Ed May of the New Economics Foundation:
“With mass unemployment in Britain many people have the time but not the cash. LETS gives them
access to things they would not otherwise have” (Guardian, 12 March 1994).
Finally, from the same Guardian article by John Vidal:
“The implications, say the theorists, are enormous. In a cash-starved economy (one in five British
households is severely in debt), despite the existence of wealth in the form of skills and resources,
traditional exchange is hijacked by a lack of cash. With local currencies, as long as people make
their goods and skills available, their exchange can go round and round. ‘The community therefore
becomes richer,’ says Paul Ekins, a green economist”.
It is, of course, absurd that people who need things should go without even though the skills and
resources to provide for them exist. We can go along with the LETS enthusiasts in denouncing this
scandal of unmet needs alongside unused resources. The difference between Socialists and L