Posted by: Francis Koster Published: March 29, 2020

Will you be a “first responder” to save our local economy?

I dare you to take this ‘Pop Quiz’: When will the Coronavirus stop impacting our local economy? Hint-look at the timeline at the bottom of the graph. This graph from The New York Times [1] shows that if you, your family, and your friends act like good citizens, and practice ‘physical distance’ and hand washing, things should be better about a year from now. If we don’t behave well, millions will die before October 2020 just in our United States. In either case millions will lose their jobs. How do we rebuild? How do we take care of each other? This crisis end only when a) reliable treatment of the infected is available and delivered, or b) an effective vaccination becomes available to all, . The medical professionals say we are at least a year or more away from either of those. [2] Economists have announced that the coronavirus is starting a devastating collapse of our economy that will last several years. Unemployment will soar, and families will have difficulty paying for food, utilities and housing. Even the most optimistic politicians are calling the CARES ACT President Trump just signed a “short term rescue effort”. Locally owned small business-like hair salons, local restaurants, bookstores, convenience stores with gas stations, and hardware stores have already lost so much business that they may never re-open. How do we rebuild? How do we take care of each other? Here is how: Think back to when our economy was largely agricultural. Farmers would come together at harvest time and agree to help each other out. Bringing their own tractors to the job, those in agreement would help one farmer harvest wheat, then the collaborative team would move down the road and harvest corn, and then on to another location for yet another task. By prior agreement, no money changed hands, all the participants in the agreement put in work and equipment, and all got something in return that felt fair. Today, using cell phones, apps and the internet, there is a proven, innovative, locally implementable solution that we can use while working from home or elsewhere (using ‘physical distance’, of course). The work is paid for using a form of a credit, similar to Frequent Flyer points, and once earned can deposited in something resembling a “credit union”. The points can then be spent to acquire other goods or services from other agreeable members of the organization (let’s call it Carolina Dollars for now). Imagine parents who need a math tutor for their child. Once we launch the website, the parents go online to the Carolina Dollars Skills Inventory and identify/email a well rated fellow “credit union” member who is a suitable teacher. After completing the assignment, the teacher gets a “frequent flyer points” payment to their Carolina Dollars account at the “credit union”. The teacher in turn can reach out to another member to cut their grass and pay them using the Carolina Dollars from their account. The lawn cutting person can pay their hairdresser, and on and on, as long as each buyer and seller are members of the organizational “credit union”. These kinds of community co-ops have been in existence around the world, and in the United States for decades, strongest after the Great Depression, and again after the Recession of 2001-2009. You can see a comprehensive review of all sorts of systems, with many different areas of focus, by going on line to hOurworld. Think of the examples there as a box of candy – you will like some, and not like others – but you can select the ones that suit your tastes. If you and some of our neighbors join me, we can head off long term economic misery in North Carolina. If you are interested in providing advice, volunteering your time/skills, or just getting on our mailing list for progress reports, go to www.theoptimisticfuturist.org and sign up to join the mailing list. You will receive an invitation to the planning process so we can get started. Francis Koster Ed.D. is a local activist who has been studying, teaching and implementing local solutions to national problems for decades. (1) March 13, 2020 https://images.app.goo.gl/xyiQivYL5UBVo2LY8 (2) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/coronavirus-vaccine#when-will-it-be-ready


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