Money. You hate it–maybe, you must have it–surely. Its acquisition will claim your best years, dampen your creative initiative and suck the very life out of you. For money most of us trade our time and skill, our muscle or brain, whole decades of existence as wasted as a 7 gallon flush. In the mean time we enrich the people whose very words can terminate our livelihood.
You’ve heard this all before. You know why you hate jobs–if not necessarily work; you’re a cog, a wage-slave, a Ph.D. with more vision than bucks, a class-traitor who got it. Maybe you’re just tired of seeing a third or more of your paycheck extorted every-fucking-time-and-there-isnít-a-damn-thing-you-can-do-about-it. So what, if you don’t want to subsidize the meat and dairy industry, the war machine, the petro-chemical industry, corrupt foreign governments, the corporate elite, the pri$on $system or border patrols. For every bucket you sweat to earn a paycheck one-third goes directly back to the corporations. Oops, I mean the government. The rest eventually makes its way back to the corporate elite that owns the country–heck, the world. Dollars are like homing pigeons and though just as lousy they are not nearly as lovable.
The point of my rant is that almost anything we do goes to benefit the power structure. Once we’ve bought at a chain or from a corporation our money leaves the local economy. It no longer circulates back to us to improve our standards of living, inspire initiative, create a viable mode of exchange. That’s your life blood coursing through someone else’s veins.
For years I’ve been pounding my head, avoiding wage-slave dynamics, living a rewarding and frugal life. All the while thinking, knowing, there has to be a better way, an alternative to the continuous unrelenting grind. Something that will give us empowerment as well as a tangible economic boost. Something that can benefit us both personally and collectively.
Well there is. We now have BREAD (Berkeley Regional Exchange and Development) a local organization that is doing exactly what so many of us have been dreaming about for years. BREAD has printed its own money to be used as a valid mode of exchange between members and with participating local businesses. Their currency is printed in hours and comes in one, half and one-quarter hour denominations. The rate of exchange is an agreed upon $12 per hour minimum wage. The advantages of this are clear. You can trade your hours with many people with different skills. That person will then trade that same bill with another local person and the cycle repeats itself. This means our labor stays here. Bread is not electronically transferable. No, its not backed by the gold standard but neither are the dollars in your wallet, your bank account, your IRA or social security account.
There are a variety of skills offered in the BREAD directory. I counted eighteen categories. The listing offers everything from childcare to computer literacy, auto repair to gardening, tutoring in many areas, carpentry, book repair, accounting skills, etc. I couldn’t possibly list all the headings let alone their contents. The best way to find out more about BREAD is to give them a call, leaving your name and address or mail a request for more information. They’re swamped right now so be patient. You can also just write them stating you would like to join. Membership costs an initial $6-$60 sliding scale. You should include your name and phone number, what skills you can offer, group activities (if any) and what skills you seek. In return you will receive the ever expanding BREAD Directory and 3 BREAD hours. Because you knead it!
Contact BREAD at:
PO Box 3973
Berkeley, CA 94703
(510) 595-4011 (fax).
The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of BREAD.