Monday, June 25, 2012

Oh-oh! The pound of Brixton

No, this is not a post in my Empoprise-MU music blog. This is a post in which I ask the question, What is money?

At the end of the day, money is an item (a piece of paper, a piece of metal, an ear of corn, or perhaps even a virtual currency) that is assigned a particular value by two people who use it in exchange. Perhaps this definition is not technically correct, but the key part here is that two people agree upon the value of the money.

I live in a place where three hundred million people (or most of them, anyway), agree that the United States Dollar has a particular value. Even people outside of the United States assign a value to our dollar.

There are currencies that are issued by other governments. Some are convertible to other currencies, while some are not.

And then there are currencies that are not issued by any government at all. The chief example of this is gold. (A question to companies that sell gold - if gold is so valuable, and its value is expected to skyrocket if Obama or Romney or Marilyn Manson becomes President - anyway, if it's going to appreciate in value so much, then why are you so willing to sell it to me?)

And then there is a currency issued by the B£ Community Interest Company called the Brixton pound. Let me tell you about it:

To begin using the B£ all you need to do is:

Exchange pounds sterling for B£s at issuing points
Spend B£s with participating businesses (instead of sterling or in part-payment)
Ask for B£s in your change
Accept B£s yourself if you trade in Brixton
Ask your staff or suppliers if they will accept (part) payment in B£s
Give B£s as gifts or to pay for informal activities, e.g. baby-sitting
… and keep them circulating!

The idea is a "locals-only" concept of having people in Brixton do business with other people in Brixton. But there's no reason why the Brixton Pound couldn't be adopted by people elsewhere, such as in Ontario, California.

At the time I wrote this post, there was one establishment that allowed you to change Brixton pounds back into pounds sterling. This helps people accept the currency. Of course, if you prefer pictures of David Bowie to pictures of the Queen, you'll keep the Brixton stuff.
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