Let’s speculate

March 14, 2013

Let’s print our own money.

It’s not quite as wacky as it sounds.  I’m sure we’ve all heard about local trading schemes like the Brixton Pound, where people in a single location set up a complementary currency with the twin aims of boosting the local economy by keeping goods and services and money in circulation, and of boosting local trade at the expense of faceless multinationals.  And, yes, there are lots of different local schemes using variants of barter systems where people trade skills, shelf-building for plant-watering (The classic example is the infamous Baby Sitting Co-op)

Well, I propose we invent a national complementary currency.  I haven’t come up with a groovy name for it yet, so in my head at the moment I’m calling it groats.

Here’s how it works.

You work one hour, you get one groat.

Basically, that’s it.

Well… there might be a little more to it.  Let’s do another thought experiment.  Let’s imagine the National Minimum Wage isn’t just £6.19 an hour.  It’s £6.19 in GBP and *1 in GBG.  Six pounds nineteen and a groat.

Suddenly everyone on the minimum wage has twice as much discretionary spending.  They can use their pounds to pay their rent and buy food, and spend the groats on beer and fags.

No-one will accept them?  Well where are Tesco and Sainsbury going to get the groats from to pay their workforce next week?  In week one the government will give them as many groats as they would need to pay a week’s wages based on their last PAYE return.  In week two, they’re on their own.  So firms will take groats, because they’ll need them to pay their own workforce.

There’s an imbalance?  Well there are two ways a firm (as opposed to an individual) can get groats; they can get them from customers in exchange from goods and services, or they can buy them from the Government GroatQuango (GGQ)  Where they might be rather expensive…

For an individual, though, it’s simple.  You work an hour, you earn a groat.

Wait a minute, what about pay differentials?  Does the teaching assistant get paid the same rate of groats as the Minister of Education??  In a word, yes.  One groat = one hour’s work, whether you’re Waynetta Slob or Wayne Rooney.  Don’t worry Wayne, you’ll still get more cash per hour, but only the same number of groats.

What about people without jobs?

That’s easy.  The Ministry of Works will provide you with as much work as you desire.  Walk in off the street, talk to the helpful person behind the counter, and within fifteen minutes you’re guaranteed to walk away with something useful to do, for as long as you want, for a groat an hour.

Oh, didn’t I say?  The Ministry of Works doesn’t pay minimum wage.  It ONLY pays in groats.  These are jobs that are useful but not necessarily economic.  You might find yourself picking up litter or planting bulbs on your local grass verge, or reading to a child in your local school or a pensioner in a local care home.  You might be on the counter in a local charity shop or temporarily helping supplement overworked regular staff answering the phones in a government office.  You won’t be taking the job of someone on a proper job, the kind where they pay wages as well as groats, but you’ll get as many groats as you want, or at least the number commensurate with the number of hours you want to work.

Groats, needless to say, would not be taxable.

Like I say, I’m just speculating.  Is the redistribution of wealth any more reasonable or desirable than the redistribution of work?

This post is the ninth of my ten sponsored posts in aid of Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s #twittermillion effort for Red Nose day.  Again, I’m very grateful to everyone who’s sponsored me thus far… and for those who haven’t got round to it yet… https://my.rednoseday.com/sponsor/wendybradley.  Hint hint!

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