This TV program(produced by NHK, NHK Enterprise 21, and Group Gendai) is broadcast on May 4 1999 and rebroadcast on the following day on the NHK BS 1 in Japan, and presents various alternative monetary systems with the two-hours-long tape that records NHK's interview with Ende realized in 1994. A book based on this program was published with some further reports on Feb. 25 2000 by the NHK shuppan(titled Ende no Yuigon, NHK-Shuppan. ISBN: 4140087730, click here to buy it online(in Japanese)), but for now I'd like to present you only what's reported on the TV program.
The reason this page has more links than other pages is that I wanted you to see that this page's contents aren't limited to the theorical fields but really supports various regions' economies. I'd be grateful if you could see an alternative movement related to Ende's ideas on this page. Both your comment, suggestion and report on this theme is welcome and click here to contact me.
In 1994 Ende proposed NHK a new TV program project. It's on the current monetary system, and Ende says many of the current issues(such as ecology, poverty, wars and spiritual devastation) are related to the money's one. Ende says as follows: "So I suppose we should place the money again as a value which corresponds to the reality of the works and goods. And for this purpose everybody should think seriously on what's the core and what should be changed in the current monetary system. I think this is a crucial question which will determine if human beings can go on surviving in this planet or not. The point is the recognition that the money we pay to buy a bread at a bakery and the one we use at the stock market as capital are two types of different ones."
Next on the screen the International Library of Children Books where Ende's ones lie now is shown and a book titled "Geld & Wachstum"(Money and Growth) by H. C. Binswanger(a Swiss economist) is presented as one of Ende's reference on money. Having seen Ende to change opinions directly with him, Binswanger attributes the economy's mission to grow forever to the interest's existence. "The way people coin money and to increase is very similar to the way alchemists did. The alchemy was produced by people's desire. It tries to fabricate gold from lead, and the way of thinking to change something conventional like lead into something precious like gold is common also in the modern age, for they print money increased by the interest. Such money goes wild, affecting both the environment and our moral. Whenever you think of money you can't forget our moral. Inside the money lies the moral questions," he says, on the interview with NHK On top of that Margrit Kennedy, architect and author of "Geld ohne Zinsen und Inflation"(Money without interest and inflation, in German and in English), also appears on TV. After struggling always with the cost questions whenever she planned the architecture that doesn't harm the environment. "The interest brings the problems for the future. If the interest go on swellings as it does right now, my calculation says that sooner or later within the two generations we'll be in for eithert the economic ruin or the ecological collapse. This is the fundamental problem. Believe it or not, you can reach this result with a computer. Only a small amount of people profit from this system. In the U.S. today 1% of the population possesses more than the rest(99%). In short, some countries are poorer and poorer, with their ecology being devastated. On the other hand, very few go on sucking up the huge profit. This is the current economic system," says she, appealing the need to change it.
And here we listen to Ende's tape that says: "In any city in the world where old culture remains, cathedrals or templs occupy its center where the order's light comes from. Nowadays it's replaced by banks' buildings. I depicted the scenes where money is worshiped and people do prayer to it as if it were something sacred on my latest opera based on "Hameln's Flute Player". There somebody says "Money is God," because money berings miracles. It increased and is umperishable. But money, contrary to God, was produced by people. If you look for something that doesn't exist at all in the nature but is produced absolutely by human beings, it is money. So it's important for us to see the past," tells Ende, showing the importance to study the money's history. On the screen appears Katsuto Uchihashi, a Japanese economic analyst, and comments his idea as "marvelous."
Ende goes on telling: "As far as I know, it began with Silvio Gesell(1862~1930), the first man to think of it(monetary system). He posed a these that insists that "Money must age" and says "money must disappear at the end of the economic activities." It's like the blood that is made in the marrow, circulate inside the human body, and is discharged when it ends its mission. By circulating our body works well, and our health is kept. He insisted money is like blood which circulates inside a organic body called economy," says Ende, and the TV puts spotlights on Gesell. After immigrating to Argentina at 24 and succeedingas an entrepreneur, he witnesses the South American economy with inflation and deflation due to the monetary policy's disorder, which brought national economy on the verge of the bankruptcy, thinks that the monetary system has a lot to do with the social order, and proposed the alternative monetary system called "free money" on his book "The Natural Economic Order"("Die Natürliche Wirkschaftsordnung", German, English and Spanish(even partly)versions are available on the Web) published in 1916, which is highly appreciated by Keynes in his book "General Theory."
And the first city which put this theory into effect was Wörgl, Tirol, Austria(Ende insinuates this fact in the interview with Hisashi Inoue on "Three Mirrors"), when 400 of 5000 habitants were unemployed. Michael Unterguggenberger, the then mayor, thinking that money stock and consequent circulation jam is the biggest problem that causes such economic slump, decided to coin the local currency in July 1932. The city itself becomes the entrepreneur, hires the unemployeds, and pays them the bill called "work certificate." Printed "Look. The money which is stocked without circulating has put the world into a big crisis and put us into the poberty. Whenever we work, we shouls receive the corresponding value. Money mustn't be exclusively for a certain persons. In this order this "Work Certificate" in Wörgl was made. Save the poors and give them work and bread" on the other side, this bill came to be used so quickly in the trades in the city, the city hall's income also increased, and here the naration points up something very important: "By circulating money can do economic activities several times." But why was the money circulated so quickly? It's because this bill is valueless without putting a stamp whose value is 1% of the whole bill every first day of the month. In other words, this bill loses its value 1% every time a new month comes. It's nonsense to keep this bill in your hand, everybody rushed to use this bill up, and this "aging money" promoted the consumption and activated the economy. It was also used for the officers' salary and bank payment, and neighboring cities which saw this miracle tried to adopt this system when Austrian government banned it in September 1933. Ende says, on "Three Mirrors," that "most capitalists didn't like such idea to be spread over," and the core here is that those who are on the top of this modern society(=those who suck the capitalistic profit) don't see this non-capitalist monetary system seriously.
This TV program says this theory was introduced also to the U.S. and that a number of local currency were minted, with Hazel Henderson's analysis that says: "(in the 30s) Thousands of local currency were published in every small villages and towns. Enterprises paid employees salary with the currency callde 'emergency money.' Unemployment labor unions also published their own currencies. At that time such currencies were circulated inside locally. This was the best way to hold the local richness nad fortune the local community produces. So I suppose this kind of local currency will revive whenever the government is with no good economic policies. The capitalism reached a turning point by the Great Depression. Germany saw Fascists' uprising, communism is widespread in everywhere in the world, and the New Deal Policy was taken into effect in the U. S. Thanks to the New Deal Policy the government began to put their money for the local communities. And public works that made local habitants arrange their environment, gave them the initiative for the art projects or to build local institutions and museums were realized throughout the country. Roosevelt also spend the budget to promote the employment in the local community. So many wonderful museums were built in fact in the 30s. With this policy the local currency disappeared. National capital's public investment activated the loalo economy."
After the report on Wörgl the scene goes to Ithaca, NY, USA, where the local currency called "Ithaca Hour" is circulated. On every Ithaca Hour bill the followging message is shown: "This note entitles the bearer to receive one (half, quarter, eighth) hour labor or its negociated value in goods or services. Please accept it, then spend it." A woman answers to the TV program saying that "I don't support a lot of things of the US government. Dollar is thei money, greatly the foreign policy and what they're doing overseas. I don't support a lot of what they do," and this message has a great significance, because the US dollar, which is generally used by US citizens, is a specific action to support FBI which publishes the currency and even the US government itself. The Ithaca Hour, even changeable(1 Ithaca Hour=$10), is a local currency which isn't circulated outside the city, and of course you don't have to pay the income tax in Ithaca Hour. This money is a good tool for those who are against the government's policy becuase they can refuse to pay tax for it.
In 1991 Ithaca Hour began to be circulated. Like the Wörgl's case, Ithaca was also in a severe depression, and this currency was coined to get rid of this circumstance. Says Monica Bergraves, of the Ithaca Hour Committee: "We can print the money as much as we wish, but we have a strict rule: we publish money only in the following three cases: (1) Somebody else becomes a new member, (2) Somebody bills a loan, (3)Contribution to NPO(s). In other cases we never publish it," setting a limit on the money supply. This project, begun eight years ago with no more than forty members, now accounts for more than 400 companies and stores. The amount of Ithaca Hour in the market is only about $70,000, but this generates some $2 million's effect. This amount isn't a small one for a city with only 30.000 residents. A man says the convenience of Ithaca Hour as "I suppose it benefits both for us and for the whole local community. If I support them they'll also support me. Dollar is so useless it&s soon sucked up into the capitalists, but Ithaca Hour is spent so quickly it comes back to us," showing his confidence that Ithaca Hour, unlike US dollar, will certainly circulate inside the Ithaca city.
Nowadays even banks accept this Ithaca Hour. They pay it for local enterprises as a consideration for their cleaning, recycle collection, PC's maintenances and so on. The value Ithaca Hour contains makes the local economy run more smoothly and enriches it without being sucked up by capitals of other places. The Local Authority also admits its usefulness and even promotes its use. The TV tells of this area where the percentage of small-size and organic-way farmers are higher than other places in the USA, and a keypoint which enabled the Ithaca Hour is told: "This area has a support system that people pay farmers the crop's value in advance," which means the direct contact between residents and farmers and their strong awareness as a member of this local community enabled this local currency to be accepted. In big cities where all the services are offered anonymously, or without being aware of who and who are related in which relation, it's next to difficult for residents there to have the awareness that they live as members of the local community, but the cities of this size gives birth to such idea, and the Ithaca Hour worked to strengthen it. I'd like all those who are thinking of introducing this currency to be aware of this fact.
John and Taddy, who immigrated from California, managed to make ends meet with their farm thanks to the local currency. They could found their life there thanks to the Ithaca Hour financing. They say: "People gain much money to spend. Everybody's concerned of the GNP or the economy, but it shows how much money they spent, doesn't it? And people think they should gain much money, but many friends and we believe we can live simple and good a life. We don't have to buy what we don't need. We don't need a big car."
The Smith family, a daily farmer, is another case which also makes ends meet thanks to the Ithaca Hour. First of all the wife tells: "As you know, Ithaca Hour supports the local farmers, doesn't it? Farmers protect the local lands. If local farmers can't make ends meet, the land will be either devastated or bought up by big-size farmers. They neither cherish the land nor make a good use of it. So Ithaca Hour serves also for the protection of the local environment," showing that Ithaca Hour plays a role in preventing the big farmers, backed by the big capitalists, from advancing to the city. Ithaca Hour has no value outside the city, which prevents the local economy from being collapsed. By being financed by the interest-free Ithaca Hour residents there are free from having more debt than the amount they borrowed, and they get rid of the hard management. In other words, they don't have to offer their own farm as a mortgage for their debt, and consequently they can save their land. Next tells the husband: "Anyway we wish this place to be richer and more beautiful by running. We give our children a happy childhood and help them realize their dreams. We are far from saving their money; that's impossible! Some years ago I worked for the NASA and gained well, but working outside the family, taking my precious time for commuting, and I wasn't a member of the family in a real term. So I decided to give up a high-salaried lifestyle and to live together with my family. I don''t repent not to spend time seeking money," and you see how important the Ithaca Hour's role is to make such life possible.
And again we here Ende's tape: "Marx thought it's possible to solve capitalism's all the problems by establishing the only entrepreneur, or nation, instead of quite a few private ones. His biggest error is not to change the capitalism: he left it to the nation. In other words, we've had the opposite twins for the last fifty or seventy years; private capitalism and national one, both are no more than capitalismt. Marx's big merit resides in thinking up the idea that enables us to criticize our economy," tells Ende. For further information please refer to "The French Revolution's keyword" in "Fantasy, Politics, Culture" or "II" of "Talk with Ende."
The next case is in Halle, Sachsen Anhalt, former East Germany. Here the trial to revive the community began in 1992; a system called deMAK, to change goods and services on the books without using bills(exchange ring: click here for further information in German). Sometimes the balance sheet is in red, but this isn't their debt but is regarded that "To be in the red in the exchange ring means you have to pay it back to somebody. Here a new relation is established: a minus de-MAK is a symbol to be the member of the community"(narration). Some of you'll be skeptical on such exchange ring system without bills. There's a worriness to write a false value on the book, but I find a Germans' typical characteristics on this system when they write honestly the exact amount they have. But in some countries it'll be complicated to take this system into effect without altering.
A man who makes ends meet thanks to the deMAK appears on the screen. His name is Martin Birch, and they gain their cost by doing the tasks other deMAK members ask him. "I work twenty hours a month as a gardener or a caretaker to pay the rent, I work another fifteen hours for other tasks to pay the food, so I can save my rent and food. For the rest of my time I'm free," says him. His deMAK balance sheet is now minus, but he doesn't have to worry of the debt's increase because deMAK has no interest. Right now he makes pasta, and if he managed to sell it he can erase the debt, and even in case he fails to do so only the amount of deMAK for such matters will be added to his balance sheet, and he can minimize his debt when beginning his new business.
In another place deMAK members gather with their handycrafts to deal each other. Some members talks of this system: "I came to know a lot of people, and I could realize my ideas. With the real money it won't be so easy," or "I was greatly helped by the exchange ring. I've never been in such a comfortable place," and you can see that this community awareness between members, or "fraternal economy" according to Ende's words in "The French Revolution's keyword" in "Fantasy, Politics, Culture," comes true here.
The last example is a bit different than the former ones. Until now we've seen cases of local currencies that were used maily for personal trades, but this currency is for commerces between enterprises and stores, and is more than sixty years old. This is WIRBANK(their homepage is currently under construction), and this bank was established in 1934 according to Gesell's theory by Swiss small companies and stores. Here a currency unit called "wir"(1wir=1SwissFr) is used, and formerly their own bills were circulated, but now bills no more exist and only the unit is used for the settlement. This system is so rooted into the Swiss economy 76000 companies, or 17% of all Swiss ones, take part in it. Recently the electronic settlement became possible, wir is used just as Swiss franc, and the trade amount by wir is on the rise. Various industries, from manufacturers to hotels and restaurants are members, and the other main difference between wir and other local currencies is that both wir and Swiss franc must be used for any settlement. The percentage of both currencies vary from enterprise to enterprise, but for instance if you buy something that costs 10.000 Swiss franc you must pay some 70% in wir(7.000 wirs) and the other 30% in Swiss franc(3.000 francs)=(7.000wir+3.000Swiss franc). There must be several reasons, but I supopse the main reasons will be (1)wir is useless for any enterprises to pay salary for their employees, (2)Only Swiss franc is good for international trades, (3)Both the Federal Government and local authorities are worried of their tax income decline. Says a president of wir-member company: "We have only merits with wir; new clients, with further Swiss francs," and a WIRBANK employee: "In the Switzerland 80% of the companies are medium or small-sized enterprises, and you'll see how important we are. The way we support them is that our wir system brings further Swiss-franc business. Each currency merits the other. And by entering the wir they have more solidarity, the adquisition power rests within a circle without escaping outside, and that is our secret," which shows Wir's effect.
An international congress in Austria on the future monetary system is shown on the screen. Several specialists gather to this congress that will be a first step for the one Ende wished. Also on this congress the Gesell-based Wörgl's case is discussed. Bernard Lietaer, of Berkley, UC, tells as follows:
"I suppose the main point of the problem resides in the monetary system. Since 1971 when Nixon separated the dollar from the gold standard system we live in the unprecedented times. The times of the currency with no assurance which should make sure for the real economy began, and such unstable currency is now confusing the whole world. The current recession may be more severe than the 30s' one. The last depression was limited to the U.S. and Europe. The problem is our current worldwide economic system itself. I believe the althernative currency system will build the another type of relationship. The one we use every day forces nations and companies to compete, for the financial system works on the basis of the competition. If I want to collaborate with you we need another type of currency that may enable it. We should use different tool for different purposes. So we need plural currencies. The economy's future is up to which relation we want to build. The thousands of local currencies in the whole world is a new tool to restore it."
After the gold standard system is abolished all the currencies became unstable. Until 1971 US dollar was stable thanks to it tie with gold, but today's currencies have no endorsement, and run the risk of losing their value just like the German Mark after the World War I. Please note that both a leading person of the money trading and Ende, who expresses his opinion in "II" of "Talk with Ende," share the same idea on the current money demands both interest and eternal growth.
The TV program ends with Ende's following words. Please refer to "II" of "Talk with Ende" after reading it. Thank you.
"It's clear the victims of the current system is those who live in the Third World and the Nature. They'll go on being exploited mercilessly so that this system, which can't work without consuming and growing, can go on. The growth doesn't come from nothing but from something that suffers from it. Those who learn from the history know that the actual events will move human beings when their reason doesn't. What I can in this respect is to tell them not to repeat the same mistake and to think up new ideas. And this society will change. The world won't ruin, but human beings will suffer a great trauma that will last for centuries. They think they can't change money, but it isn't true. We can do it, because we made it."