What Is local currency?
Local currency is a system of trade where paper notes (scrip) are used for formal and informal commerce within a specific geographic region. Our local currency is called MHH (Mile High Hours).
Imagine, money just for the Colorado Front Range! Local currencies are supported by real labor, real goods and real services in our own community. One Mile High Hour (1MHH) is equal to ten federal reserve notes ($10). MHH acknowledge the value of local labor and goods and highlight the time and effort invested by the seller. It’s suggested that no one be paid less than 1 MMH for one hour of work.
MHH are not meant to replace federal dollars. Instead, they supplement dollars, making more money available in circulation. Currently, there is FAR less money in circulation than debt owed. This is the cause of widespread foreclosures, bankruptcies, and loss of national sovereignty.
Buy Local, and then some – Using MHH is taking the idea of buying local one step further. When you use MHH, you trade with money that will never leave the community. Money that stays in the community circulates over and over again instead of leaking out to distant corporations and financial institutions. If 1 MHH changes hands 100 times, that’s an equivalent to $1000 in trade right here in our community, with zero leakage.
Why use a local currency?
- Local currencies can only be spent on goods and services locally, so the purchasing power stays within the community and boosts the local economy.
- Local currencies create opportunities for people who have skills to trade but are not employed in the current job market.
- Local currencies create opportunities for people to earn income doing the things they really enjoy. For example, a person may love making quilts, but find it difficult to earn money from that hobby in the regular job market. Local currencies create new avenues for earning more income from this type of skill.
- Local currencies bring publicity and tourism to the regions using them, and thereby, more federal money. Using MHH organic money is fun for locals AND tourists.
- Because local currencies cannot be hoarded in a savings account, they always encourage local spending of both federal dollars and the local currency.
- Local currencies build and strengthen community relationships and self-reliance.
Susan Witt of the E.F. Schumacher Society explains that by favoring regionally based economies, local currencies are a tool for bringing a human face and sense of place back into our economic transactions. She goes on to say that this interweaving helps bring the community together in all its mutuality – ecological, economic, social, and cultural. Local currencies are a practical way to act locally in the face of globalization.
Who can benefit from Mile High Hours?
- Local merchants, who will attract more customers by accepting MHH.
- Full-time employees who want a second job.
- Part-time employees.
- Under-employed workers who seek income from their skills.
- The unemployed.
- The housebound.
- Children and teens with skills to offer.
- Entrepreneurs developing a part or full-time business doing something they enjoy.
- Business people who want more customers.
- Those who need to pay informal debts faster.
- Anyone trying to save federal dollars for travel or other goals.
How do I get Mountain Hours?
The most common way to acquire MHH is to become a goods or service provider, and advertise. When you agree to accept MHH in your business, we issue you 20 MHH/3 months that you can immediately start spending into the community. The amount to be issued occasionally changes to balance with the amount of currency in circulation with relation to the goods and services offered. Typically, 20 MHH ($200) are issued for local businesses which agree to accept Hours in return. Each local independent business that signs up will get 20 MHH for each 3 months that they remain a member. The more local businesses that except Hours, the more valuable the money becomes. Additionally, currency must flow. The more places it flows the stronger our economic circuit becomes.
Other ways to acquire Mile High Hours:
- Ask for MHH as change when shopping at stores that accept them.
- Exchange your federal dollars for MHH from an trader who has an excess supply.
- Accept them in payment for your labor or goods.
- Ask your employer to consider accepting MHH by agreeing to accept MHH as a percentage of your regular pay.
MHH will also issued into the community by the The MtnHours Currency Cooperative (mCC) when purchasing goods and services for business purposes and through traders choosing to advertise in the trade directory.
Are Mile High Hours legal?
Absolutely. Similar currency systems thrive in dozens of communities around the United States. Law professor Lewis Solomon states in his book, Rethinking Our Centralized Monetary System, that there is no legal prohibition to creating a local currency system in the United States. The IRS, FBI, US Secret Service, Federal Reserve and Treasury Department have all declared the printing and use of local currencies to be legal.
Criteria for legal local currency design:
- Must correspond to a specific dollar amount.
- Must not look like federal dollars to avoid confusion.
How are Mile High Hours taxed?
Treat your MHH like federal cash. Each MHH denomination is assigned a specific conversion value. Since the federal government considers supplemental currencies to be a cash equivalent, you must pay taxes on MHH income just as you would for other income.
One MHH is equal to ten Federal Reserve Notes. It is unnecessary to file any special IRS forms for your local currency activity. When you receive a MHH, ask yourself, “If this were a $10 bill, would I report it as taxable income and pay tax on it?” If the answer is “yes,” then add $10 to your business income and pay tax on it.
How do I handle accounting for Mile High Hours?
MHH are handled the same as Federal Reserve cash. Since the government views local currencies as a cash equivalent, no special accounting procedure is needed. However, because MHH are not yet accepted for deposit at any area banks, you will need to total them separately from your federal currency.
What gives Mile High Hours value?
Just like all forms of money, MHH have the same source of value as U.S. dollars ~ the faith and support of the people who use them. Our local currency is designed to value a person’s time and is backed by the goods and services of your neighbors who trade in MHH. Barter existed long before money. People traded their time, energy, and products without banks, or money. Money is a technology which just made barter easier. View MHH as barter receipts.
MHH have a much smaller geographic and economic base than federal dollars, but the principle is the same. The more people there are who see them as useful, the more useful they will be.
Where does the idea for Mile High Hours come from?
The first Hours-based currency system was created in 1991 in Ithaca, New York. The Ithaca Hours system now has over 2000 individual and 300 business participants. There is the equivalent of about $70,000 in circulation, and about $2 million in transactions had been generated as of 2004. Ithaca Hours serves as a model for MHH and dozens of similar local currencies established over the last decades around the United States.
What other local currency systems are in use today?
There are currently local currency systems in use in Canada, Austria, Mexico, Australia, The United Kingdom, and all of the United States of America. Some local currency systems in use today in the United States include:
Ithaca Hours, Ithaca, New York
Madison Hours, Madison, WI
Cascadia Hour Exchange, Portland, OR
River Hours, Columbia River Gorge, OR/WA
In Ithaca New York, people can even pay their mortgage fees with local currency at Alternatives Federal Credit Union!
The E.F. Schumacher Society maintains a Directory of other local currencies throughout North America.
What about inflation or deflation?
The MtnHours Currency Cooperative (mCC) steering committee will monitor the flow of Mile High Hours in the community. mCC members will occasionally be asked their opinion concerning the amount of MHH in circulation. Based on these reports, the mCC may alter issuing policy to keep MHH a strong stimulant to our local economy. There are many factors which determine how much money is put into circulation. Just as with federal currency, if too much money is in circulation, we will experience inflation. If there is too little money in circulation, the trading of goods and services will be stifled.