Be Amazing: Print Your Own Money

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Whether you're looking to glow in the dark, swallow a sword, quit smoking, find Atlantis, get out of jury duty, buy the Moon, sink a battleship, perform your own surgeries, or become a ninja, our new book Be Amazing covers all the essential life skills! This week, we'll be excerpting a few lessons from the book.

Here are three home-grown monetary systems you should avoid copying too closely:

The Raam

Although best known for his contribution to the spiritual lives of the Beatles, Yogi Maharishi Mahesh and his Transcendental Meditation movement recently got into another business: International financing. In 2001 or 2002 (reports differ), the Maharishi's so-called spiritual nation, the Global Country of World Peace, began issuing its own legal tender. Called the "Raam" and adorned with Indian-style art, the bills are currently only in use in TM"“associated communities, like Vedic City, Iowa, and some areas of the Netherlands, where their exchange rate reportedly rests at $10 or 10 Euros per 1 Raam.

The REAL Dollar

The Midwest apparently attracts a lot of people dissatisfied with the dollar. Just down the interstate from Vedic City, Iowa, you'll find Lawrence, Kansas, a mid-size college town that began printing its own currency in 2000. Meant to encourage people and businesses to buy locally, REAL (Realizing Economic Alternatives in Lawrence) Dollars were printed in denominations of $1, $3, and $10 and featured images of home-town heroes like Langston Hughes and William S. Burroughs. Unfortunately, their creation managed to coincide with the rise of the cashless society. Today, of the $65,000 worth of REAL Dollars printed, only $5,000 remain in circulation—much of that in the hands of out-of-state collectors.

The Company-Store Token

Think your job's the pits? Trust us, it could be worse— at least you're paid in U.S. greenbacks. For blue-collar workers in America and England during the 19th and early 20th centuries, payday often meant pay in non-exchangeable tokens, which could only be used at stores owned by their bosses. You see the problem? Of course, there was some logic to this. Many factories and most mines were far from established cities, so owners built housing, stores, churches, and schools for workers' families, making it more convenient than traveling all the way to a non-company town just to go shopping. Still, without competition, company stores were free to over-charge and mistreat customers, who, until the labor reforms of the 20th century, had little recourse.

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March 4, 2009 - 5:05am
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