Blue Bills — Money for a Clean World.
By Tim Holmes.
I’ve been absolutely horrified to see the continuing financial crisis unfold around the world. It seems that the banks and other super rich players are able to seize pension plans, retirement accounts, homes and savings belonging to we, the people, all with near total impunity.
In the face of such enormous global forces I didn’t think there was anything one person could do. But then one little old lady in my Helena neighborhood showed me how, with a very simple process: by dying her money blue. And that all by itself is one act that could transform our whole economy to protect people and nature from exploitation.
This was how the Blue Bills project was launched — a movement that invites us to be honest with what money symbolizes or represents and its value. Blue Bills are regular US currency tinged blue and stamped “Based on the value of a clean world.” After all, the only value money has is what we believe it carries.
U.S. Currency is no longer backed by gold. In fact it is backed by …nothing! So where does it derive its value? Only by the trust we place in it. Currently the way money is used is in pursuit of “profits at any cost” (privatizing profits and externalizing costs). We know that if you want to make money you don’t go into helping professions like teaching or social services, but rather exploitative ones like drugs, prostitution or resource extraction.
We also know, deep down, that if our grandchildren have any chance of survival it will depend on their access to a clean, healthy world. Blue Bills are based on the belief in the value of a clean world. If you believe money based on something is more valuable than money based on nothing, then you get the concept.
Given the choice, most people would choose money that is backed by something (Blue Bills) rather than nothing. This has the potential of transforming the entire economy since the more Blue Bills in circulation, the less dishonesty in the economy. Eventually, with enough Blue Bills in the economy, any entity who hopes to hide the costs of their economic activity — such as selling toxic financial instruments — would be put out of business.
Though the project has the potential to transform the economy, the real power of Blue Bills exists at the individual level. Money is a relationship between two people who agree unconsciously on its value and meaning. Blue Bills make that relationship conscious.
Those who refuse for one reason or another, are not refusing the Blue Bill so much as they are refusing to think about what all this means. No one in their right mind would refuse a (Blue) bill backed by faith in a clean world over a (green) bill backed by nothing. That makes no sense, economically or politically.
This is one of those gifts that, like humor, is its own reward. If you get it, you get it big and you win, and in some way your life will be forever different. If you don’t get it, it just seems like a needless irritation and a waste of energy. There will be many who simply never get it.
Here’s an interesting speculation: even a cadre of hard core Blue Bills deniers, sitting around a stove in the country store griping about how horrible the Blue Bills idea is, could easily trade the bills among themselves because they agree on the bills’ meaning!
In the face of global financial forces that threaten to destroy whole nations and economies, there is very little one person can do. One thing that one person can do is – take charge of your own transactions by dying your money blue and telling the person you spend it with what it means.
The process is no more complex than making breakfast. It gives you a sense of control and it just might help change the world.
Tim Holmes is the first American artist ever honored with a solo exhibition in the Hermitage museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where three of his works remain in the permanent collection. He is recognized for many international human rights projects and peace awards, including the U.N. Peace Prize for Women. Archbishop Tutu, President Jimmy Carter, President Vaclav Havel and Coretta Scott King are among his notable collectors. Holmes has lectured and taught workshops around the country and in Europe. He believes that art is the medicine that will heal the world.