Can Boston benefit from an alternate currency? The Berkshares used in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts sets a good example encouraging that idea. For a city so dependent upon tourism, the idea of raising taxes on meals and hotels cannot help Boston city revenues. The state sales tax was increased and the state’s revenue has not improved. Toss in unemployment at 9.5% and set to only go up, and the situation for the city is bleak. Now it does not matter that national GDP increased 3.5% last quarter. There is a stark artificiality about the growth numbers. Home sales are being propped up with tax credits and regulatory inspired mortgage activity that mimics the housing bubble that precipitated the recent crash. Cars for clunkers inflated productivity. In essence, government policy borrowed economic activity from the future to look good in the present.
With manipulation, government reporting no longer reflects the commonly perceived economic realities, just as Wall Street is a different country from Main Street. The economy needs help, since employment and production are not due to increase for a year or more. A supplemental economy rather than more “stimulus” deficit spending may be that help. Boston needs help, like the rest of the country. The people of Boston can help themselves by developing ways to help people engage in economic activity, meaning pay for goods and services, without the punishing taxes and policies of state and municipal governments.
This economic experiment, (from the Berkshares web site)” Launched in the fall of 2006, BerkShares had a robust initiation, with over one million BerkShares having been circulated in the first nine months and over two million to date. Currently, more than three hundred and sixty businesses have signed up to accept the currency. Five different banks have partnered with BerkShares, with a total of thirteen branch offices now serving as exchange stations.” Such growth potential for Boston cannot be ignored. It is only sad to think that as the world, despite the coverage in the press, seriously considers dumping the dollar as the reserve currency a similar idea could support Boston out of the worse economy in a century.