Vermont Freedom Currency (VFC)

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By Steve Moyer
June 1, 2007

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Proposal Overview

Many Vermonters feel overtaxed, underpaid, overworked or some combination of all three. We have an abundance of physical and human resources but a shortage of money. The money system has failed to balance human needs with available resources. Vermonters need a little relief. We need a new economy.

Vermont Freedom Currency is a single pure silver coin worth 10 Community Credits. A single coin is worth $10 with the State of Vermont for any service, fee or tax. This assures community credits hold an established value for purposes of barter.

These coins would operate as a voluntary barter currency accepted by individuals and businesses who choose to accept them. They are not legal tender and cannot be converted into dollars except by a mutually agreeable private sector transaction, such as might be done through e-Bay or Craigslist.

Community Credits can circulate inside Vermont as an alternative currency to increase needed services to Vermonters, reduce taxes, and provide choice and flexibility in the economy.

How will it work?

A single coin minted of .999 pure silver and identified as "10 Community Credits" will be sold for $10 to anyone who wishes to purchase it. It will initially be made available through town clerks, state offices and banking institutions as well as the Vermont government web site. The coins also could be marketed through the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.

Each coin is underwritten by the State of Vermont to be worth $10 towards any State service, fee or tax. It also will be accepted by transportation authorities for bus passes

State colleges for tuition, and state-funded community health centers. Since we all know the coins have value with the State we will have faith in them as Vermont currency.

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The coins will cost between $3-5 each, depending on the size of the coin and the cost of silver. At current silver prices the coins can be minted commercially for $4/coin. This means that the State makes a profit of $6/coin for each coin sold which is not returned to the State for redemption.

Even for those coins returned the State, there has effectively been a $6 interest-free loan for however long they were in circulation. These would be commemorative coins that would be sold to collectors throughout the world and to tourists. If collectors then the State permanently held the coins would receive a net revenue gain of $5-7 per coin. That's a little bit of relief for Vermonters!

Differences between money and credits

The Constitution of the United States gives Congress the power to "coin money and regulate the value thereof." Since Community Credits are collectable coins that the State chooses to honor for payment of any State service, fee or tax, conflict with the Federal Government can be avoided.

Community Credit coins are NOT legal tender. They are voluntary currency and cannot be converted into U.S. dollars except by private sale at a mutually agreeable price. No one is required to accept them as payment for a debt.

The coins are CREDIT rather than debt. The State can regulate the quantity of coins in circulation, their redemption value for State services, and which programs and non-profits participate to prevent inflation and maximize the positive impacts on taxes, the Vermont economy and the quality of life for Vermonters.

The value of the credits to the State could be changed by legislation providing that a sufficient period of prior notification has been provided to the people.

Orders for the coins could be placed through State agencies and via the State web site prior to the initial release of coins. Collectors from around the world and Vermonters who want to support this alternative currency could empower Vermont Freedom Currency without any initial monetary investment by the State. Since at least two replacement coins can be purchased for every coin sold, there is no need for deficit spending in order to create more coins.

What good are Community Credits?

Community Credit currency can be used for any financial transaction connected with any State agency which requires the payment of a fee for a service or by selected State-funded non-profit organizations which charge fees for services. This might include health care centers, bus passes, campground fees at State Parks, hunting and fishing licenses, driver's licenses, professional certifications, car registrations, as well as all fines or taxes.

For example, if you had a bill with the State for $55 you could pay $50 of it with five Community Credit coins and $5 with U.S. Dollars.

Some coins would come back to the State in ways which do not actually cost the State the ten dollars of value per coin. Someone might choose to go camping because they have the coins. It they had to pay with dollars they would skip it. The cost to the State is much less than the redemption value since the cost of operating the campground has only increased a modest amount.

This also applies to bus passes, health care services and tuition for state-supported schools and colleges. The cost of providing bus service to a community is not directly related to how many people purchase bus passes. The majority of the cost is in having the bus run its route for even one rider. Adding more riders does not increase the cost very much.

The majority of the cost of running community health centers and colleges is for infrastructure and employees. Providing more health care services or teaching more students does not necessarily increase the cost significantly. More value can be given to Vermonters for less cost per service delivered. More with less.



Marketing, promotion and Issuance

Coins could be packaged with a brochure explaining how they work and the history of money in Vermont. This package could include a directory of businesses that accept coins for purchases. This packaged coin would be profitable for both the State and Vermont businesses.

Special coins could be made with additional words placed onto them for events like the Arts Festival, Reggae Festival, Jazz Festival and County Fairs. These coins could be sold as commemorative coins as well as currency for the event.

Adding a ring of text around the center of the coin does not require a new dye for each custom coin. The State could choose to sell the coins to specific event sponsors at the minting cost prior to the event and collect the remainder after the event.

This would make it attractive to event sponsors since the coins could be used to finance the event to some extent. It would be an "interest-free loan" to the sponsor from the State to help increase tourism and economic activity. Every coin that leaves the State generates revenue for the State.

The coins could be re-used many times during the course of an event, each time generating revenue for the event sponsors and tax revenue for the State.

Ski resorts might choose to maintain a storehouse of coins to sell to their patrons. They could choose to accept the coins for payment towards lift passes and other services.

Restaurants could offer a free coin to guests who spend a specific amount of money. This would be equivalent to offering a coupon except that the State of Vermont will receive the benefit, particularly if their guests are from out-of-state and keep the coin as a souvenir.

Grants offered by the State could be denominated in some portion of U.S. dollars and some portion of Vermont Community Credits.

Business contracts with State agencies that require a bidding process could allow bidders to indicate what portion of the bid amount would be acceptable in Community Credits.

Specific budget programs or initiatives could be partially or wholly funded with community credits.

Businesses that choose to accept the coins for goods and services could receive a free web page on a Vermont web site for the currency and a listing in the directory that is distributed with the tourist package.

Citizens could propose projects to the State or their local municipality that would be funded by Community Credits allocated by the State. These projects would not require additional tax monies, providing that the coins had already been purchased and returned to the State.

Tax Relief

It's easy to see how increasing State revenues by selling these coins to visitors and collectors can provide some modest revenue increase and therefore a potential tax reduction. The more events that are held in Vermont, the more revenue is raised through the sales tax.

Some state-sponsored activities and programs could be partially funded with Community credits, reducing the amount of taxes needed for these services. Examples include

Public libraries
Tutoring students
Day care centers
Hospitals and Community Health Centers
Senior centers
Hospice Home care
Transportation services
Cleaning up roads and public parks
Landscaping of public properties

The State could sell Community Credit coins in lieu of bonds. Since there is no usury on Community Credits the amount due in the future would be less than bonds.

Why should you support this?

Money needs competition. Tyranny can be defined as "no other choice." The old adage "don't put all your eggs in one basket" is a prudent advisory for us to seek a diverse collection of economic solutions. Total dependence on U.S. Government money is foolish. Independence only exists when there is a choice.

The economy is political by its nature. Governments create money and regulate its use. Our Federal Government is taking us in the wrong direction, toward increasing debt, endless aggressive wars to maintain global economic hegemony, and dependence on the Federal government and Federal "debt money."

Vermont can set an example for other States for how an alternative state-based system can take us in the right direction --- towards increasing economic freedom and independence, lower taxes and locally sustainable economies based on credit with the State rather than debt to impersonal corporations and unknown foreign investors.

The Vermont State motto of Vermont is "Freedom and Unity." Two currencies can be better than one, especially when one is based on credit with the State. The Vermont government could decide in the future to issue credits in another form, perhaps electronically, to expand their utility. Someday we might all have our own electronic currencies on the Internet, once appropriate standards are developed.

This proposal gives Vermonters added flexibility in their economic lives. It can reduce taxes and provide more services to Vermonters. It is a "more with less" proposal.

It is the natural resources of the land and the skills and resources of the people that make a sustainable economy possible. Fundamentally, it's the faith we have in each other which matters most; the currencies we use for trade are the "grease" of the economy rather than the substance of it. A healthy economy builds healthy communities.

The existing money system is based on debt. It is unsustainable and will eventually need to be radically changed. The Vermont Freedom Currency system is based on credit with the State and faith in our neighbors. It builds stronger community and provides people with choice.

Freedom is all about choice; the more choice we give ourselves the more freedom we experience. Since Vermont Freedom Currency is voluntary nobody can be forced to participate. It works to the extent that we cooperate with each other. It therefore teaches unity, trust and faithfulness by its nature.

Let's get "out of the box" of thinking that our economy can only have one currency. Freedom lies in choice and if there is "no other choice" then we are not free.

Vermont Freedom Currency provides a little bit more freedom for Vermonters: freedom from taxation, freedom from dependence of U.S. currency, and freedom to create new and more efficient ways of sharing the many blessings of modern society.