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Mutual Records

Integrate Time Dollars and East German Accounting

by Sabine Kurjo-McNeill

Social connectivity comes from human contact - not just from trading. A huge potential of human contact is made when volunteering for a great cause, not just for one trading partner. And it is generally in this spirit that LETS organisers give of their time - for the benefit of the whole membership rather than their own. Hence TimeDollars are the natural tool for rewarding LETS organisers for their work.

     For the TimeDollar principle rewards time spent 'in the community': so many hours for helping a neighbour give you so many Dollars for your old age. That's the idea. LETS organisers 'do it for the community' so their old age insurance could be provided by TimeDollars in the same way as for the individual who helps another individual. TimeDollars for LETS organisers would solve the great limiting myth that the system account needs to be zero or above.

     LETS members could of course also join TimeDollar schemes individually, but on the organisational level, it would be marvellous if regional TimeDollar offices were to record all those hours that wonderful people spend spreading the LETS message and making LETS happen.

     In practical terms, this means that LETS Core Group members would use cheque books issued by a TimeDollar office as a way of recording the amount of time they spend on producing directories, newsletters or events for trading and socialising. And to relieve the tedious chore of recording members' transactions and cheques, members could adopt the model set by a former East German 'Tauschring': a Mutual Credit Carnet.

     This booklet turns current cheque books into mutual account records. Every transaction is recorded as a line with 1 a date, 2 a + column if you do something, 3 a - column if you are on the receiving end, 4 a balance for your account status and 5 the signature of your trading partner.

     This gives the TRANSPARENCY as well as the CONTROL that everybody wants: for every trading partner sees your account and you see the account of all your trading partners. Control comes not via a central body but through the mutual trust between trading partners before or after every transaction. And when the Carnet is full, the organisers can use it for community statistics, if they wish.

     This devolution of POWER from the centre to the membership on a financial level mirrors the evolution of CURRENCY from 'local poetry' to 'global TimeDollars': selfless volunteering is rewarded and one-to-one transactions become exercises in mutual trust and confidence building.Ultimately we have to shift from power to empowerment, not only on an individual but also a collective level.

     My mum uses her transaction booklet in a village near Berlin and I have attended the local trading afternoon where a 12-year-old recorded the sale of his self-baked cookies. Maybe people from socialist countries find it easier to trust their trading partners than 'long-term victims of capitalism'. But it's never too late for change, especially from limitations to freedom - for thought and for action - as Core Group volunteer for TimeDollars and as LETS trader with a Mutual Credit Carnet! Let's go for it, shall we? [Contact: Sabine Kurjo-McNeill,]



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