The HOURS article is intelligent and sensible overall. I'd like to emphasize, though, that Ithaca's cash long ago outgrew its tie-dye roots. Food was for many years the largest single category in the HOUR Town newspaper. HOURS have been negotiable at Cayuga Medical Center, the public library, with over 500 businesses, 200 area healers, and 75 Farmer's Market vendors; and for health insurance, newspaper advertising, clothing, land and rent.
Banks other than AFCU were indeed invited to join but were cautious then, at least about local currency.
HOURS are backed directly by real people rather than dollars, so they're real money. Dollars are backed by less than nothing - rusting industry and $10 trillions debt - so they're funny money.
But just as dollars have armies of brokers facilitating circulation, a local currency needs at least one full-time promoter, troubleshooter and networker. Hiring this person hardly needs dollars, either. Tax-deductible donations of an apartment, groceries, meals, health club membership, gift certificates, movies, massages and medicine will anchor the system.
Finally, City Hall can make HOURS more powerful than ever by taking them for part of taxes, since State law allows a city to define money. First place to spend HOURS: to enroll City employees in the Ithaca Health Alliance, to lower health insurance premiums that increasingly hog the budget.