We were lounging around the swanky penthouse last night, dispensing wisdom whilst indulging in adult beverages, when the idea came to Jake Swank that Swank Life devotees needed their own currency. “Do not pass go. Go directly to jail!” came the hue and cry from the room. You can’t create your own currency, right? Uncle Sam will shut you down faster than a shake of a cat’s tail. In fact, a gent by the name of Bernard von Nothaus was recently convicted for circulating a private currency known as the Liberty Dollar.
But it seems that Bernard’s mistake was in coining metal money. There are several examples around the country of local currency in the form of paper being circulated openly. The idea is not to supplant the federal currency but rather to create an incentive for the community to spend their money at local independently owned participating shops.
The controlling language from the United States Statutes goes something like this: It’s a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine, or both is you make or pass any metal coins “intended for use as current money, whether in the resemblance of coins of the United States or foreign countries, or of original design.”
Notice anything? It doesn’t say a blamed word about paper money. Some legal theorists say we should assume that the prohibition applies equally to paper, but we have working examples from:
Ithaca, New York
Strange as it might seem, the federal government has refrained from interfering with the local currency plans of these three cities, perhaps realizing that the idea poses no threat to federal sovereignty and actually seems to be helping the local economy.
Before we all run out and start our own currencies, though, we should be aware of a few real world obstacles.
1. Few businesses are cash-based any more. Most run a high volume of debit and credit cards instead.
2. Not many businesses use local suppliers anymore.
Does the mean the idea of a Swank dollar is dead in the water? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Someone, somewhere simply needs to figure out how to debit and credit accounts with a local currency.
But will the idea of a local currency even work? All it needs is for a group of people to believe in it. Ever since the gold standard went away under the Nixon administration, federal paper money has continued to exist only because people still belief in its stability, which sort of seems like sitting up late at night waiting for the tooth fairy.
What say you, Swankies?
The Jake Swank Team