In the last twenty years, a local alternative currency model referred to as “the Unity Dollar” has been trialled in a few towns in Eastern Canada. While these experiments ran, they achieved some positive results in terms of easing the economic burden of participants alongside the provision of a few important lessons for future local currency advocates. Given the present economic and political climate, with ever-tightening covid restrictions/pressures and the looming threat of a “Great Reset”, the time has come to seriously consider locally based alternatives to the conventional financial grid. The following text, which was recently prepared to explain the Unity Dollar project to Canadians, is nevertheless accessible to all people of good will the world over. The specific name that might be given to a local alternative currency based on this idea of a “universal coupon” is, of course, changeable and, as with many of the more minor details of the project, can be adapted to suit time and place, as well as local cultures and conditions.
- Many Canadians are familiar with Canadian Tire "money", which they can use to offset some portion of the total amount of Canadian dollars they would otherwise have to exchange when shopping at Canadian Tire. The Unity Dollar idea is similar in this respect (piggy-backing on the national currency and thereby reducing the expenditure of Canadian dollars), but different in others.
Unlike Canadian Tire "money", Unity dollars aim to be a type of universal coupon, "universal" in the sense that they could be used at any business that would sign on to the Unity programme. The more businesses that accept it, the more powerful it would be as an adjunct to economic activity, and the greater the benefits that would flow to individuals, families, and the community as a whole.
Unlike Canadian Tire "money", the Unity dollars could be spent by the recipient business on raw materials, intermediate products, or finished products that are produced by other businesses who accept Unity.
Unlike Canadian Tire "money", which people receive in exchange for spending x-amount of Canadian dollars at the store, the Unity dollars are provided to consumers who sign up for the Unity programme on a regular basis at some designated amount in the form of a "dividend" based on the real power of the community to produce and consume. It is that real power to meet human needs that gives value to the Unity dollar (and indeed to all forms of money). This dividend could be distributed in person at monthly Unity Fairs, or else electronically.
- The significance of the dividend as the method for injecting Unity dollars is that this money or "universal coupon" enters the local economy debt and interest-free, so there is no third party that profits disproportionately from the community's productive potential, nor is there any third party that can stop, slow, or otherwise manipulate the capacity of a community to produce by failing to provide a sufficient volume of the means of exchange. Money follows the real production, rather than money controlling or conditioning the real production. In a community that was run 100% on Unity would, of course, be completely independent of the conventional banking system and the government currency. Dependency on "their" system is how "they" are able to impose unpalatable conditions of all sorts on the population. Unity, once established (time is of the essence), thus offers a way out if ever we were to get squeezed too hard by the powers-that-be viathe "Great Reset" or similar programmes of oppression.
- The immediate benefit to the consumer is that he will be able to make his Canadian dollars from incomes earned go further; i.e., the Unity dollars allow him to save Canadian dollars that he would otherwise have had to spend and to spend or invest those dollars on other things. Put briefly, the Unity dollar dividend increases the consumer’s purchasing power and that helps him to better meet his needs.
- It is also important to emphasize the utility that the Unity Dollar project has for businesses. Both businesses and consumers must be well served, not one at the expense of the other. Firstly, businesses must be free to determine how much Unity they will accept as a discount vs. how much they will accept in Canadian dollars for their goods and services. The project must work for them. If a business will accept Unity to Canadian dollars in a ratio of 1:9 or 10%, then presumably they have figured out that that is the ratio that will most benefit them. They can raise or lower that ratio as they see fit. The benefits are at least twofold: one is that they can spend the Unity dollars they receive from consumers at other businesses for things that they require to operate and thereby save Canadian dollars which they could spend on other things (debt repayments or replacing working capital, etc.). The second is that by increasing the consumer's buying power, businesses should benefit from increased turnover and make more money by being able to sell more to the public. It is also crucial that businesses who agree to accept Unity dollars honour their commitments to consumers. They could post a "Unity accepted here" sticker in their windows.
- One of the key participants in the Ontario experiment has explained to me that when they ran the pilot in his neck of the woods they used to ask the participating businesses if they wanted to advertise as businesses accepting Unity on the back of the Unity dollars. The revenue thus obtained was used by the Unity executive to offset the printing costs of the Unity dollars themselves.
- A Unity app with electronic dollars and transfers would, in this day and age, make a great deal of sense by making the joining and using Unity easier, more efficient, more versatile, etc. However, with all that is going on in the world, there is a very strong argument for at least keeping an old-fashioned paper-based version going. This way, if the electrical grid or the internet goes down, production and consumption facilitated by the medium of exchange of the Unity dollar can nevertheless continue.
- Sometimes questions are raised regarding the danger of counterfeiting and inflation. While I would argue that modest and/or irregular injections of counterfeited Unity dollars would probably not only not hurt, but only grease the wheels of commerce, I do think that there is some danger posed by a massive counterfeit operation which could be used to bring the whole system down. If Unity dollars were to become so plentiful that businesses could not make use of them, these businesses might decrease the amount of Unity they would be willing to receive for their products/services and if that reduction were to proceed to an extreme degree, it would make Unity valueless and purposeless. Some way of preventing counterfeit Unity from entering into circulation should be found. Having said that, insofar as Unity piggy-backs on the national currency, this would act as a break on how far counterfeiting could go. If you have lots of Unity dollars that you've printed in your basement, but you have no Canadian currency to pair up with it, it won't help you much. Also, as Unity is injected freely as a dividend, it is not something that could be bought, or sold, or cornered - anything like that would be ipso factoevidence of suspicious behaviour.
- One of the chief tasks of a Unity executive would be to gauge what the optimum level of Unity dollars to be injected might be. We would like, ideally, for the right amount of unity to be circulating in a community, not too much nor too little ... just the right amount to ensure that as much of production as is desired can take place and be delivered to satisfy legitimate human needs.
- Regularly scheduled Unity Fairs or markets where the community would gather to get to know each other and also to learn which businesses accept Unity and to even spend Unity at the fair itself, while enjoying music, arts, sports, or what have you, is an important aspect of the whole Unity programme. Another variation is to centre the Unity project around a community garden where people would meet and much of the same sort of activities would take place. There is a world of possibilities here and each executive could determine in each respective locale, what sort of venue and activity might best serve their particular community as a regular meeting point.
- While the Unity project is very democratic in its aspirations of serving the community by providing it with a debt-free and interest-free medium of exchange to supplement Canadian dollars and to grease the wheels of commerce, it is important that the rules of the system and the operations of the executive (while being completely transparent and fair) are not opened to democratic debate. C.H. Douglas, the founder of Social Credit, once observed that while the determination of policy (what we should do or aim for) should be democratic, the carrying out of policy, i.e., the administration, should be hierarchical, i.e., a dictatorship. The idea here is that Unity offers something of a particular nature to the community, let's call it, to speak metaphorically, "tennis". People who want to play golf can start their own club. In order to cast the widest net, it is also best to leave any particular ideology or messaging besides the economic and social benefits of the activity itself out of it. Important info regarding what is happening in the world (the danger of covid "vaccines", etc.) could be discussed by individual members with others on an individual basis as each sees fit and such contacts might serve as a doorway to a whole new perspective for some people.
- Finally, it must be emphasized that the Unity Dollar project, while incorporating certain key aspects of Douglas' monetary reform ideas is not full-fledged Social Credit. When we speak of Social Credit we are speaking of reforming the whole financial system at a national level ... it's a top-down change, whereas Unity is bottom-up. Given the current political climate, bottom-up change is what is most accessible to us at the moment. If the present national and indeed international system falls apart and a new, sane and rational government is eventually installed in Ottawa, then we will have an opportunity to work for systemic, institutional change of the kind that Douglas argued for so many decades ago.