Letters to the Editor
Hi Eric, Your piece in YES! Weekly was really excellent [“Local currency project garnering support, gaining speed”; Aug. 3, 2011; by Eric Ginsburg]. You did a great job of presenting the facts accurately and conveying the spirit of the project. I especcially appreciate it when I contrast some of the abysmal tv coverage we’ve had recently, where the reporter feels at liberty to just make up “facts” and string them together any old way.
I would like to call one thing to your attention that needs to be addressed — a really easy mistake for people to make, and you made it. In the second paragraph, the article reads, “They are in the process of drawing up a formal agreement with a local bank to back the currency, allowing people to trade it in for federal US dollars.” The problem here is with the word “back.” Our bank is not “backing” our local currency. It serves strictly as a conversion site where people may exchange dollars for local currency and local currency for dollars. The fact that the conversion goes both
ways is also a significant point, for merchants and consumers will not only be taking in local currency to get dollars in exchange, but will be bringing in dollars to get local currency in exchange. It’s a two-way street. (I can even conceive of a scenario in which there is a lot more interest in swapping dollars for local money than the other way around.) The most important point to address, however, is that the bank does not back our money. It merely allows us to make deposits — dollars or local currency — and to make exchanges. The local currency will be backed by the “full faith and credit” of the good residents of Greensboro, their skills, values, sense of cooperation, sense of acting for the common good, their resources, intelligence, heart, trust, abilities, good will and commitment. In the last analysis, it is the willingness to accept a currency, any currency, that makes it a viable means of exchange. The issue about what “backs” a currency is a muchly contested, hotly debated and quite philosophical one. The only thing the project will hold our bank responsible for is keeping the accounting records straight and serving as a depository and exchange site. That is not the same thing as backing the currency.
Well, how to amend what you wrote in just a few words…. You could change the sentence to read, “They are in the process of drawing up a formal agreement with a local bank that will serve as a depository for local currency and a site where federal dollars may be exchange in one to one parity with local money and vice versa.” Would you mind issuing a tiny retraction on the backing claim? Just use your judgment as to the best way to do it.
Again, we are grateful to you for your fine and intelligent reporting. Your style is clear and coherent. Would they were all like you.
Signe Waller, Greensboro