“Well, who else is going to do it, if it’s not the banks?”, asks the man, in response to a suggestion that the power to create money might not be an appropriate function of a private, profit-making corporation. Well, a public, democratically-accountable institution might be a good place to start, I suggest. “But that’s what the Bank of England’s for isn’t it? Where the money’s printed.”
At this point I realise I didn’t explain myself properly the first time. A couple of more wisely-chosen sentences later, and an expression of vague horror passes across the man’s face. Excellent – this is the reaction I was going for in the first place.
Glastonbury, a place where real life problems are to be forgotten or ignored, doesn’t seem to have an atmosphere conducive to explaining the ills of a debt-based currency and an endogenous money supply. I’m surprised though; during a weekend of collecting email addresses, I come across just a handful of frowns and averted eyes – escapism has stimulated openness.
In fact, the problem with which I’m faced is having to tactfully withdraw; quick chats have turned into full-blown debates – time is passing and I don’t have many email addresses yet. The other Positive Money volunteers tease my pitiful signup rate without mercy. Well, I have other talents, such as the ability to mix Araldite really, really well.
As a tool for drawing people in, we decided to indulge in some creative destruction, of the monetary kind. No, we’re not burning it – I thought about this, and was inspired by Dadara’s ‘Transformoney Tree’ at Burning Man, but unfortunately we don’t have the equivalent of a $1 note here in the UK. Instead, we opted to ‘destroy’ UK coins, by gluing them (with the aforementioned Araldite) to a solid canvas.
Our point? We might have the power to destroy money, but we can’t create it – conversely, the commercial banks do have that power, and we don’t believe they should. It seemed to go down pretty well (a healthy number of £1 coins were donated) and, crucially, offset my inability to attract large numbers of new Positive Money supporters.
Are you going to a festival this summer? Well, you may be surprised how receptive people are to learning about ‘serious issues’. So, take some flyers, a book and some facts, and recruit some new supporters for Positive Money.