The Life Currency Exchange - FAQ
This is a work in progress. Email your questions to us.
What is The Life Currency Exchange?
The Life Currency Exchange is a fully developed non-usurious, sustainable, cooperative, alternative monetary system designed to completely replace usurious bank issued money which is an economic disaster. Usurious bank issued money has a long and ugly history and is the cause of many of the social, political and environmental problems humanity faces today. Life Currency is an independent global currency designed to create, support and maintain a grass roots cooperative economy anywhere and everywhere in the world. The Life Currency Exchange is the creation of Francis Ayley who has spent the last 40 years engaged in a critical analysis of mainstream bank money and the last 25 years as a monetary reformer developing successful alternative monetary systems. The Life Currency Exchange is the culmination of his work to date. In short, the Life Currency Exchange is the solution to the economic madness that we see all around us today.
Is the Life Currency Exchange the solution to our global financial crises?
Could this be used to solve the economic problems of whole countries?
Yes. By using Life Currency any country can solve 95%+ of its economic problems in one powerful move. Life Currency has been designed to do exactly this by rewriting the rules of money and giving the people the power to create their own money supply, independently from banks, governments or big business corporations.
How much has been traded within the Life Currency Exchange?
In total, since January 2004 when we started trading with just 12 members, we have exchanged goods and services to the value of over $ 1,570,662.88 USD. Not every exchange that happens is recorded. Once people get to know each other, some of the exchanges between members happen as part of the Gift Economy. So the trading figure is simply what members have chosen to record.
What is Fourth Corner Exchange?
Fourth Corner Exchange is the founding branch of the Life Currency Exchange. We called the original group Fourth Corner Exchange because we started trading in Bellingham WA, in the Pacific Northwest corner of the continental USA (the Fourth Corner of the country). Since then, we have opened other chapters, and have accepted members in other states and other countries. We are all part of the same cooperative, using the same Life Currency, so any member anywhere can trade with any other member, regardless of geographical location.
What is the North Olympic Exchange?
The North Olympic Exchange is a local branch of the Life Currency Exchange. They are located on the Olympic peninsular in Washington State.
What is our currency called?
In the continental USA our currency is called Life Dollars. In other countries it could be called something appropriate to the local culture and society. Collectively it is known as Life Currency.
How is our currency valued?
A Life Dollar is valued at one hour of someones time at a basic living wage, in their local community. In the USA this usually means a Life Dollar is valued at between $10 and $12 USD, but this will change as the US Dollar continues to lose it's value. Time is a universal currency; an hour of time is the same length for everyone, no matter who you are or where you live. Unlike time banks, however, we do not impose an 'hour for an hour' equivalence on exchanges. We recognize that differences in value do exist, and that the 'hidden' hours someone spends in order to offer one hour of service must be taken into account for a trade to be fair and for an economic system to function universally.
In thinking about exchanging time, we ask questions like: How much of someone else's life energy am I asking for in exchange for what I have to offer? How much of my own time and energy has gone into being able to provide this service or this item? What is a fair exchange of life energy for what I want to buy or sell?
In this way, we move beyond the usual concepts of how much 'money' something is worth to a more just and equitable assessment of value. We eliminate artificially-created inequalities between the currencies of different nations, and normalize economic transactions between communities. We are creating a world of economic justice and sustainable prosperity for all.
Do we accept other community currencies?
Yes. Presently we accept Sound Hours on an hour for hour basis. One Sound Hour = One Life Dollar. Sound Hours were created by Joanne Lee in Olympia WA (USA) in 1996 as a printed currency. They were used for a number of years by businesses and citizens in the Puget Sound area. They have been dormant for a number of years.
We are open to connecting with other local community currency groups and discussing the idea of linking their currency to ours. This will provide a badly needed mechanism for small local community currency groups to intertrade, which at the moment is not possible.
Have Life Dollars been subject to inflation or deflation?
No! One of the key features we designed into Life Currency is zero inflation/deflation. Life Currency, unlike any national currency, holds its value over time. This feature by itself is enough to justify switching to using Life Currency. Usurious bank issued money has rarely maintained its value. As a result, citzens have been subjected to disasterous inflation and deflation cycles that have needlessly destroyed their livelihoods, businesses and communities.
What are the advantages of trading cooperatively?
It would take a whole book to do justice to cooperative economics. Consistently during difficult economic times people instinctively join together to help each other. By doing so, they increased their chances of survival and suffered less. Read 'No Contest' by Alfie Kohn, or 'The Brighter Side of Human Nature' also by Alfie Kohn, and you will see that cooperative behavior is more powerful than competitive behavior. We are biologically hard wired to work cooperatively in a group. This is how we used to live, in cooperative tribal societies where the available resources were shared more justly than we see in our ugly 'competitive' economy. We make a distinction between 'healthy' competition and 'destructive' competition. The mainstream economy is mainly comprised of the latter.
Can the public view of the database?
A non-member can view a random selection of 25 listings which have had all telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, names and other identifying information removed.
What can I buy with Life Dollars?
Anything that is offered for sale by another member.
What can I sell for Life Dollars?
Anything that it is legal to sell.
Are you obliged to trade with another member?
No. You are under no obligation to provide goods and services to another member at any time. You have the right to refuse to trade with them. Please read our 'Member Agreement' to see the legal contract you are entering into with the Life Currency Exchange.
How are prices of goods and services set?
The members involved in the exchange must agree on the price, either 100% in Life Dollars or a combination of Life Dollars and $USD. If the members cannot come to agreement about the price, they do not have a trade. The Life Currency Exchange administrators have no part in these negotiations.
Are members free to charge any amount of LifeDollars they see fit for their product or service?
Yes. But if your asking price in Life Dollars is too high you may not find a buyer.
Why do you charge national currency for membership?
We are in the process of transitioning from a dysfunctional monetary system to a healthy one. Whilst we are in the process of transitioning, we have no alternative but to work within the old dysfunctional mainstream monetary system because we cannot create a new system overnight.
Creating a new monetary system is not an easy thing to do. It involves re-educating people about the whole money problem, and then introducing them to a viable alternative and showing them how to use it. Right now this takes time, energy and yes, bank issued money. Until we can pay all our organisational running expenses and bills in our new currency, we have no choice but to run it using the old monetary system. Realistically this is our only option. Until we have created a fully operational alternative that is widely known and available to everyone, we will continue to work within the present dysfunctional system with the long term goal of transitioning to our new healthy monetary system.
We currently cover about 10% of our running costs in Life Dollars and I expect this percentage will gradually increase over time.
Do you have a complaints procedure?
Yes. Since 2004 our members have conducted over 18,000 exchanges. During that time we have received 4 formal written complaints (Yes, only 4). Three of these were resolved satisfactorily. One remains unresolved (chances are it never will be). This is a staggering record of succesful exchanges and a tribute to the cooperative economic model which works for the benefit of the people, not the banks. It demonstrates the potential we have for collectively solving our economic problems by abandoning competitive economics and switching to a cooperative economic model.
How do you deal with the "cheats?"
One of the things that has been destroyed by the mainstream economy is our capacity to work together cooperatively for the greater good of everyone. The fact is we are communal animals, we are biologically hardwired to live together in groups and communities. Mainstream economists have indoctrinated people with a load of intellectual tosh about how competitive we are and how the competitive 'Free-Market' is the natural way for us to operate. This is a pack of lies. (See What are the advantages of trading cooperatively? above for references to Alfie Kohn's work in this area). The fact is we are biologically hardwired to work together cooperatively in groups. The human need to identify with the group and be included within the group is very powerful, and when our natural instincts are allowed full expression we naturally work together peacefully and harmoniously for the greater good of the group. This is my professional opinion as a British trained 'Consultant Psychotherapist', having worked in the field of 'Violence Management' for 14 years. (Opinion of Francis Ayley, M.Arc. D.D.(Hon)). Less than 1% of the main population exhibit psychopathic behavior. This is easily contained and rendered relatively harmless within a cooperative economy, but psychopathic behaviour thrives unrestrained within mainstream 'competitive' economy.
Fourth Corner Exchange has recreated a cooperative economy that allows people to give full expression to their cooperative instincts, which are stronger than our selfish, competitive drive. As a result nearly everyone in our group acts with a very high degree of goodwill and trust. This is something you will almost never see in the mainstream competitive economy; goodwill, trust, cooperation and mutual respect.
Also, there is a strong self-correcting mechanism operating within our group. Because we operate an 'Open' system where members have full access to other members' trading history, each member's reputation within the system is crucial. If you behave badly in our system it is immediately obvious to everyone, not only because of the feedback system which allows members to leave feedback about their experiences trading with others, but also because if I want to find out about another member I will call the people they have traded with and get information directly from them. This means that any 'bad behaviour' becomes known very quickly and if the bad behaviour continues the other members will simply stop trading with you. In other words, you will be 'excluded' from the group. If you know anything about tribal societies, you will know that exclusion from the group is regarded to be a fate worse than death.
During seven years of trading only one person has run up an unpaid commitment and then walked away. Ironically, in 2011 she asked if she could rejoin and was told that she could, but that she would have to pick up her account as she had left it previously. In other words, you cannot mess around with people in your community and expect to be able to get away with it indefinitely. So there is a strong self balancing mechanism within our cooperative economy which simply does not exist within the mainstream economy.
Is the Life Currency Exchange president, Francis Ayley, available for presentations?
Yes. If you are willing to cover accommodation, travel expenses and we can negotiate a reasonable fee.
How Do I Start a Local Chapter of the Life Currency Exchange?
Talk to us! We can train you and walk you through the necessary steps to creating a successful local chapter.
To contact us go to our Contact Us Page.