economic freedom and stability is possible!

Experience Freedom Now

By Joining a Local Mutual (LETS) Economy

You could struggle and worry about the mainstream economy, or enjoy more abundance and freedom now by learning to depend more on your neighbors and less on distant suppliers and central banking systems (in our case the Federal Reserve). The more you localize your sourcing and finances, the more you can enjoy abundance and freedom now.

Everyone involved with the transition movement understands local sourcing, but that is only half the story. The other half is local currency. With both of these components, we can protect our community from the scarcity and instability of the mainstream economy. As neighbors, we can join together and build a resilient, sustainable, and autonomous local economy. How do we know it's possible? Because it's been done before. Not only were there communities that suffered much in the Great Depression of the 1930's, there were others which fared well by localizing their economics using “scrip” or local currency. What we offer is a high-tech equivalent of that proven concept.

You can overcome scarcity, despite tough times; buy and sell goods and services freely with neighbors without dollars; and protect yourself and your community from the instability of the mainstream economy. All of this is realistic and within reach now, by transitioning to a local mutual economy.

Snohomish Mutual Credit System is a not-for-profit community service, the only MCS or LETS system specifically for Snohomish, Everett, Mill Creek, Monroe, and Lake Stevens. (More about membership and geography.) We offer a local currency, a non-usurious medium of exchange for use between neighbors, a platform for executing transactions and tracking your transaction history and local currency balance, and a venue for advertising goods and services offered or wanted. We enable a resilient, sustainable, and autonomous local economy, independent of the scarcity, risk, and usury inherent in the mainstream economy.

Join us for free and begin trading in local currency and creating local sourcing relationships today!

Member Owned: We are a not-for-profit member-owned community service project. Please volunteer to help make this worthy project a success.

Is This a Bartering Network?

No, it's a platform for trading in local currency. Local currency is money (a medium of exchange), just a little different from the money you're used to. The LETS concept has been implemented in many communities around the world, and we follow the tried and true core principles of LETS. So we're not suggesting any brand new fundamentals. But it is new to our community, and there are a lot of money-related myths, so you may have to challenge your assumptions about money.

Bartering is a direct exchange of goods or services between two parties, where each has what the other needs. In the real world, this doesn't happen very often, so bartering isn't very practical. The two parties involved in an exchange are unlikely to both have exactly what the other needs, in exactly the right amount, and to assign the same exact value to those needs. For this reason, bartering is cumbersome and imprecise, and money (which is more convenient and precise) solves that problem.

based in Snohomish, WA
Our mutual credits are currency, just like dollars are currency. “But mutual credits are only units of value stored in a computer”, you may think. Yes that's true, but it does not really distinguish them from dollars. For the most part, dollars are also units of value stored in a computer. (A very small proportion of the dollars in circulation actually exist in printed form.)

The primary differences between mutual credits and dollars are that (1) dollars are scarce because they are only issued as instruments of interest-bearing debt, while our mutual credits flow freely because they are mutual and interest free; and (2) mutual credits carry a local focus, and can only be exchanged within the local network.

You will always need dollars, silver coins, or some other universal medium of exchange in order to trade goods and services with people and businesses outside our community. So mutual credits should be considered a “complimentary” currency, not a replacement. But that doesn't make them unimportant. Considering how unstable the mainstream economy is becoming, reducing your dependence on it (even partially) makes sense.

Because Scarcity is Caused by Interest

Why are dollars always scarce? The fundamental answer to this question is surprisingly simple.

Dollars are scarce because they are instruments of interest-bearing debt. When dollars are created by a bank, principal is created, but interest is not. The interest still has to come from somewhere, but the money to pay it is never created. More dollars always have to be paid back to a bank than exist in circulation. There are never enough because the necessity to repay interest creates a bottleneck. That is why dollars are always scarce, and even honest hardworking people (to the extent they depend on dollars) are forever trapped in an economic squirrel cage. That interest bottleneck is what creates scarcity, inflation, unemployment, foreclosure, repossession, poverty, and the necessity for infinite growth.

Our mutual credits flow freely because they bear no interest. When credits are created by our system, principal is created, and interest isn't involved. Mutual credits come into existence as abundantly as they are needed in order to facilitate the trades of goods and services across the network. Exactly the same amount of mutual credits are first created by the network and then paid back into the network. There are always enough, because there is no bottleneck due to interest. This is how honest hardworking people (to the extent they switch to mutual credits) can enjoy abundance and freedom. A mutual interest-free local economy (to the extent we transition into it) can eliminate scarcity, inflation, unemployment, foreclosure, repossession, poverty, and the necessity for infinite growth.

a strong local economy can free us
from artificial lack

Because Stability Requires Autonomy

Local economic autonomy has two essential components: (1) a local currency, and (2) a local source for your daily needs and wants.

Local currency is insulated from the abuses of Wall Street and the unstable central banking systems (in our case the Federal Reserve), and therefore local currency is unaffected by fluctuations in the value of the dollar. With a mainstream economic collapse or a disruption in the flow of petroleum, the international and regional distribution network which delivers goods and services may be interrupted.

So, in order for transitional communities to achieve economic stability in an unstable world, autonomy is necessary. That autonomy is only possible with local sourcing and local currency, so that we are not dependent on petroleum-reliant mainstream distribution networks or the unstable mainstream economy. Local currency is more stable because its value is measured against common food staples, and backed by neighbor trust. No matter what the future holds, we will always have neighbors.

Why Not Return to the Gold Standard?

Local currency derives value through neighbor trust rather than flimsy government assurances or the gold standard. The gold standard is only useful to those who have the gold. If you have liquid assets, by all means do invest in physical gold and silver (not mere certificates) now, while your dollars still have value. We particularly recommend physical silver coins, because silver is likely to increase in value while gold is likely to decrease, and small silver coins are more practical for everyday spending than ingots or bars.

Referral Reward: Snohomish Mutual Credit System is new as of January, 2012, and seeking new members. Refer your friends, relatives, and merchants. Have them specify your name when they become a member, and get a MC 10.00 referral reward credited to your account, usually within 48 hours. The more members we have, the more in-network opportunities we will have for trading for daily needs and wants in local currency. We are a not-for-profit community service. Please send us your friends, relatives, and merchants as new members. Thank you.
But there are many of us who do not have liquid dollars or precious metals, so that “solution” is quite limited in applicability. The days of looking out for “number one” are long over. We have to start thinking as communities, because what affects one affects all. This principle may become more self-evident in the age of transition, as we discover that our independence and isolation from one another is an artificial and undesirable effect of unsustainable petroleum use.

Free-flowing local currency enables everyone to trade vital goods and services without having to first obtain a scarce medium of exchange. It is the vital goods and services themselves that matter, not the medium of exchange. Scarcity of a medium of exchange should not limit trading opportunities, for the same reason that the construction of a new home should not come to a halt for a lack of inches. Wouldn't that be absurd? Yet in relation to money, we have been conditioned to consider such nonsense as “normal”. A medium of exchange should ideally be only a unit of measurement, not a commodity having inherent value. The inherent value is in the goods and services traded. A medium of exchange is only a tool to facilitate trading.

Why Not a Paper Currency?

Our mutual credits are stored in a computer as units of value, and do not exist in printed form because a mutual credit system offers not only a medium of exchange, but also a means to obtain instant interest-free “loans”, which (in our case) are generated by a computer. Paper currency is only useful when you have it, and there is no such thing as a negative balance with paper currency. However, this limitation does not exist with an account on a computer system, which can carry a negative balance.

Mutual credits in your account can be spent even when you have a negative balance (creating a greater negative balance, within reasonable limits). That is, you don't have to earn before spending. In the mainstream economy, a negative balance would be a problem, because it would cost you interest and/or penalties. In a mutual economy, however, it is not a problem. It is simply the way it works. (Remember, we did say you may have to challenge your assumptions about money!)

a new beginning is possible
But it's not a “free ride” either, as you do have to commit to engage productively with your neighbors in a mutual economy, or lose their trust—and with it your trading opportunities. This commitment means paying off your negative balance later, if any, by selling goods or services for local currency. A computerized system offers protection from counterfeiting risks compared to a paper currency system, and reduces administrative costs compared to a paper-and-ink accounting system.

For Individuals and Businesses Alike

Snohomish Mutual Credit System is for both individuals and businesses. Everyone can become less dependent on the undependable dollar (and freer from the artificial scarcity caused by interest) by partially switching to local currency. The more we switch to local currency and find local sources for our daily needs and wants, the less we will be impacted when the dollar fluctuates in value, and the freer we will be from economic scarcity caused by interest, which is built into the mainstream economy.

Our system can be used to earn local currency as well as spend it. If you're unemployed, it may be time to start thinking more like an entrepreneur and less like an employee. There are probably a lot of things you could make and sell, or services you could perform, that you may not have considered. In transitional economies, where neighbors depend on one another, it makes sense to think “outside the workcube”.

Individual members will find they have more capacity to purchase their daily needs and wants, and business members who accept local currency from their customers will find they have a more capable customer base, which naturally means more sales.

In-Person Events? Please check our calendar of events regarding upcoming opportunities to meet with our members in person, to learn how our system works, how it can benefit you, and to ask questions in person.

Our Local Currency

Our unit of currency is called a “mutual credit”. Mutual credits are abbreviated as “MC”. 100 mutual credits would be written as “MC 100.00”. Mutual credit transactions only occur within our computer system, which members access via this website. In order to make a payment, buyers log in to the member control panel, then click “MyAccount/MakePayment”. (Since mutual credits do not exist in printed form, there is no other way to pay with mutual credits.)

How much is a mutual credit worth? The exchange rate was originally set at 1:1 (one mutual credit was equal to one dollar) at the initial valuation on 11/18/2011, and is expected to change over time as the value of the dollar falls and the value of a mutual credit remains steady. We will recalculate and adjust the exchange rate once every calendar quarter, based on the prevailing local price of staple foods. (For the current exchange rate, see “Currency Value”.) However, this is only a suggested frame of reference, since trading partners ultimately determine pricing and value for themselves as they negotiate each trade.

Join Us & Begin Trading Today!

You can overcome scarcity, despite tough times; buy and sell goods and services freely with neighbors without dollars; and protect yourself and your community from the instability of the mainstream economy. All of this is realistic and within reach now, by transitioning to a local mutual economy.

Join Snohomish Mutual Credit System by creating a profile on our system for free and begin celebrating your independence from artificial lack by trading with your neighbors in local currency today.

The more members we have, the more opportunities we will have to trade in local currency, so tell your friends and neighbors, and the local stores where you shop, about Snohomish Mutual Credit System!

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