Equal Dollars, technically and legally speaking, is not a bank. But I often talk about it like it is; I like the idea that we can take the same basic setup, with a wildly different approach, and do something different and innovative and, most of all, something that works.
So imagine a group of four bankers assembled in Philadelphia late in October to strategically plan a response to a crisis that is similar to the one faced by larger banking groups in this region.
Many banking organizations are finding that the high rates of unemployment along with slow economic growth make it difficult if not impossible for customers to pay back loans or apply for new loans. This is leaving the banks with reduced operating income; the possible write down of assets along with difficulty in using available funds to increase their loan portfolio.
Our local banking group had already reduced its lending rate to 0% interest and waived fees for new loans but similar problem(s) persisted as customers found it difficult to increase earnings and fund their personal accounts. Borrowers were expressing concern that they lacked sufficient funds to meet their payment obligations and/or could not find ways to earn more funds to meet these obligations as well as fund their desire for more goods.
Our banking group decided that it was time to design a new intervention although it would significantly veer from standard banking practice in the larger community. We determined that the bank had the responsibility to establish new rules that would permit the bank to issue some currency into the community. The bankers realized that since they were establishing the currency rules they could act to address the worry of their members by issuing additional currency in return for specific kinds of labor only. The new rules under consideration are intended to recognize the value of contributions to the community – as defined by the bank itself. The recognized contributions might include:
Voluntary donation of time to:
1. Coach children under 12 years of age on an individual basis.
2. Help individuals over 70 years of age to manage a daily chore such as shopping and/or getting to a professional appointment.
3. Provide free labor for an established religious or community institution to improve local community facilities.
The Bankers are now considering the mechanisms that would track the labor contributed and provide, what the bankers labeled as “Community Service Gratuities”. The amount of the Gratuities would be limited to 25 units of currency for four hours of time or less and 50 units of currency for over four hours in a given day. The Bankers are also considering imposing a limit of only two days in a given week or six days in a given month that can qualify for these “Community Service Gratuities.”
Concern about the argument that such actions could possibly deflate the currency value led the Bankers Group to unanimously agree that this special program may be suspended at any time by the bank.
For more information on how to access this special offering, see our press release here.