How a beekeeper made his own currency, why diversifying your wallet (digital or physical) is important and the virtue of accountability – The trifecta.
Photo: Alex Utopium
Back in 1984 in the Swedish town Skattungbyn, with a population of about 300 people, the local Kjell Holmstrand wanted to start a beekeeping business. There was a slight problem to his plans: Finances. A severe lack of money to start up the process of getting bees and equipment needed to be solved somehow, and since Mr. Holmstrand wasn’t a big fan of loaning money from a bank for interest, he needed an alternative source.
What he did instead was issuing his own money, ‘Klöver’ (English: Clubs/Clover. it is also Swedish slang for money), and handed it out to people in exchange for Swedish kroner and the equipment needed for the beekeeping business. They look like “real” paper money and is made from the same materials as the Swedish currency Kroner. The currency is backed by his honey production – He will exchange one of these notes for one of his honey jars at any time.
Curiously, Kjell Holmstrands bee-money has gained two and a half time its value compared to what honey used to cost in 1984 – The ‘Klöver’ is still worth a honey jar, but the honey to kronor conversion reveals how inflated the Swedish state-money has become over time.
There are several mechanics behind the success to ‘Klöver’ (that is collectively worth about $20,000 in honey at the moment, but has been “recycled” through purchases and trades for a value far above that number), one of them being that its commodity backed – It has some value beyond its use as a middle-man in trade. It is “Sound Money” in that regard, just like all money used to be (with gold and silver as the commodity in most cases) and this brings accountability to the value of the money and trust in the issuer.
Patrick Barron wrote a fantastic short essay on the importance of accountability, the primary function of sound money in my opinion, over at Mises Institute homepage:
“The free market monetary system would drive bad money issuers out of the market. Plus, bad money issuers would suffer the loss of both their personal finances and, in the case of outright fraud, loss of their personal freedom. This would be a sobering incentive to deter criminals and attract only legitimate money issuers. Money would be a bailment; i.e., property held for the benefit of another, which must be surrendered upon demand for redemption.”
Swedes are great at embracing new technology and with the rapid development of the financial industry in digitalizing currency, the countries citizens are soon phasing out regular cash handling and enter the era of microchipping yourself as the next logical (transhumanist) step in the evolution of purchasing goods and services.
Swedish scientists say that everyday transactions will be completely cash-free in the span of 2023-2030 and while that might make Swedes more vulnerable in the sense that if the electricity goes, so goes the monetary means of trading – But I’d argue that if the electric grid is attacked we would have bigger problems than the inability to trade, survival would be the natural first priority and survivability in an environment without electricity is very low at the moment.
I am not worried about the digitalization of currency at all, because if there is a need for cold, hard cash, the market will find a way to get it in the hands of people. The big issue though is the inflationary nature of fiat-currency and how one bad government decision can tank the value for everyone holding the money, in mattresses or in bank accounts, and everyone sinks together. With several independent currencies competing and decentralized from the power of the state (as far as you can stretch that concept, sooner or later there will be restrictions by those in power).
But, what is important to note though, is the need to build up new currencies before catastrophes happen to have any real, life-saving effects. That’s the spot I see local (decentralized) currency to take, as the lifeline alternative to mainstream money. There is even a possibility for the alternative currencies being stronger since they rely heavily on trust (more so than Swedish kroner, for example) to even get used as an alternative to the state’s currency.
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