As a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Bob Blain spent decades trying to change the world's monetary system, one set of students at a time. Now semiretired, he's hit the road with his show, jetting across three continents this year alone.
Blain's most recent stop was Lucknow, India, where he presented his theory - "hour money"- at a symposium attended by international chief justices.
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO COME TO A GLOBAL SYMPOSIUM IN INDIA?
I came to India to say that Hour money is what we need to begin to fairly address the huge problems we face in the world today.
EXPLAIN "HOUR MONEY"
The money we use now has no definition. "Dollar" was originally defined as a weight of gold and silver. That never helped us decide what was a fair price. With Hour money we would all understand that a fair price is an hour of money for an hour of work.
WHAT'S THE FIRST STEP TO SWITCH FROM DOLLARS TO HOURS?
Calibration. We need to convert all prices, including wages and salaries, to work time.
HASN'T ST LOUIS ALREADY DONE THIS ON A SMALL SCALE - GRACE HILL SETTLEMENT HOUSE'S TIME-DOLLAR EXCHANGE, FOR EXAMPLE?
There are examples like that all over the world, thousands of groups using local currencies based on work time.
WHY SHOULD WE BOTHER MAKING THESE CHANGES?
I think people understand that money is out of control. Look at the lottery somebody just won, $270 million. At $50 an hour, to earn that much would take 2,700 years. Just add a zero to millions to get years of income.
Then look at all the people who can't pay their bills. That much inequality is wrong.
AND HOUR MONEY CREATES EQUALITY?
Inequality would become more reasonable. It's like giving pilots an instrument to determine their actual altitude. A person would realize, "Wow, my $100 million is equal to 1,000 years of income! I don't need that much."
Thanks to Adam Scott Williams for this story and photograph from St. Louis Magazine, April 2007 stlmag.com page 145.
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