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on 31 March 2000
Loved it! A wonderful combination of vision, and often curious factual insights and stories which amusingly, informatively (and endearingly!) lead the reader into and through an exciting new approach to money (the thing that effects our lives in more ways than we perhaps acknowledge) - the way we think about it, create it, use it. It challenges our most basic notions about it, makes us laugh in the meanwhile, and presents us with an extraordinary, viable, alternative future.
It's about a new way of thinking about money. It's liberating. It seems as though it could change the world. No longer us and them, but people taking control over "money" funny or otherwise. It's not new age fantasy but very firmly based in our current economical climate - multi-nationals (to whom we are all connected through pension funds etc) through to 'the new alchemists' - small communities creating their own money, their own banks, a sort of barter, but better.
It's inspiring, amusing (wonderfully so! - "Bill Bryson with a purpose" (Norfolk reviewer) absolutely! ), - if you have any interest at all in the way money goes round (and it's a/the key cog to the modern world), or you just want a laugh! - buy it, read it, and change the world into the bargain!
Perhaps I'm beginning to sound like the blurb on a dust jacket - but I just thought it was brilliant! I'd urge anyone to read it - you'll enjoy it and learn more about real economics than you ever envisaged.
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on 29 March 2000
As the introduction to this book points out, we can't go on with the current, increasingly surreal systems of global finance, based on imaginary situations and vast profits. David Boyle explains very clearly how an alternative system, based on bartering skills within individiual communities, could provide an answer, particularly for cash-poor areas. I already know some people involved in similar systems and it seems this will be the way of the future for a lot of people. Funny Money explains how these systems work, so you could set up your own if you want. But rather than preaching, it is a witty, interesting read, describing systems already in place in the US and how they work. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone, particularly if you're not very well off!
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on 28 March 2000
When there's so much depressing news to read about market crashes, financial disaster and how short of money everyone is, it's a delight to read David Boyle's uplifting tales of a trek around the USA in search of the people who don't let those things hold them back - the ones who are conjuring funny money out of thin air.
But this is no weary economics book for tired hacks - the stories in here are of real people, with passion and fire in their hearts, changing the world in their own backyards. And regardless of how off-the-wall they may appear, the author's winning charm and disarming style brings each story vividly to life. He focuses on what is admirable and hopeful about each of the people and groups he visited on his travels. Such faith in human nature is not simply unusual, it's inspiring.
Funny Money is more of an a travelogue-with-a-mission, and the writing is always accessible, endearingly open, and ... a bit like Bill Bryson with a purpose! Take this bit for example, describing arriving in a new town and waiting to meet the person to show him around, that always makes me laugh:
"My host Marty arrived shortly afterward... she glanced at my deeply unfashionable grey socks under my shorts and said 'You must be David Boyle.'"
I found it a wonderful book to read. It's engaging and funny. It begins with small, personal experiences, and from these builds bold statements and radical arguments about one of the things we take most for granted - money - in such an appealing way that you couldn't possibly disagree. And yet despite this amiability, the implications of agreeing are profound and made me re-evaluate our world and our values entirely.
If you like your economics warm-hearted and tender, then Funny Money is for you.
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on 19 December 2008
Alternative currencies are counter-cyclical, meaning they become more important in times of recession. It's a great time to be involved in the whole area of community finance, so I picked up a copy of Funny Money to find out a little more.

The book charts David Boyle's visits to various alernative currency projects, mainly in the US, meeting the organisers and the beneficiaries. He visits Ithaca Hours, Edgar Cahn's Washington time bank, and the Schumacher Society's Berkshares programme, among others. Each is an intriguing experiment in finance, often run on a shoestring or by volunteers. The community around the project is always as important as the project itself.

Boyle has chosen to write it partly as a travelogue, so there are digressions, descriptions or observations, and detailed conversations. Some of this is amusing and insightful, some of it is tangential and I found myself skipping ahead. The book is also ten years old now, and many of the projects will have grown beyond recognition or folded.

But, it remains a good introduction to pioneering new currency, and will be inspiring to those now considering similar experiments. It's also a fascinating exploration of the nature of money. After all "if its creation is so simple that banks and governments can do it", says Boyle of money, "we may be entering a world where we can all do the same thing for ourselves."
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on 3 September 2007
This is an important book for those who have seen or might see the problems that the current money system has created.

The reviewer who criticises it has failed to understand the first principles about money and is obviously trapped in the current paradigm's deception.

The whole point of desiring more money is perhaps because the author feels that he does not have what he requires. The current system empowers a few at the expense of the majority and often has little to do with how hard a person works. Alternative systems empower and ensure that even those who might be shunted by the current system are able "to get a little more".

The point has also been missed regarding the Africans living on 65 cents a day, with an alternative system they would be empowered to take control of their lives and create a much better living standard and also have a little more.

Sorry but this sort of aloof criticism is not helpful and shows the weakness of "intellectual" argument when it does not have an objective position and understanding. This is just a waste of words.

Buy the book.
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This book is really a great read. It is funny and inspiring - quite an achievement as money normally makes me depressed. The book is full of hope. It shows that money can be generated by and made to work for people and communities. We do not have to be its slave.
The book shows that money comes in all different shapes and sizes. The book's well written cases studies make it clear that money can be whatever people want it to be. It simply requires that people believe in its worth. This idea is revolutionary. It means that communities can generate money to make local work happen - the important stuff that often gets missed out like caring for the elderly or bringing communities together.
The ultimate lesson of the book seems to be that there will always be more important work to do than there is money to pay for it. Rather than wait for Gordon Brown to put more money in our pocket we can do it ourselves.
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on 26 March 2000
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I practically read the index I was enjoying it so much and didn't want it to end. I found it very informative, not only about its stated topic but about the phenomenon of money altogether, fun, a pleasure to read, very comprehensive and well researched. David Boyle can be congratulated on a good job well done. He takes the reader on a journey through the history and landscape of how money gets its value, how it loses it and how people are developing effective ways to create local economies that can weather the storms of international money fluctuations and keep locally generated value flowing locally and in ways that empower the "have nots". Excellent!
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on 21 March 2001
Funny Money David Boyle
Since money is the existing and active concept of value, Boyle questions it's omnipotence, while coyly admitting he would not mind a little bit more of it himself, like everyone else. The book is idiotic as a result and has little to distinguish itself from the mainstream economics it decries. To attempt to treat money through a collection of anecdotes and mysticism is more revealing of the author and his market, than it's subject. There is nothing surreal about the financial world; share prices rise when labour is laid off. It is not 'blips on a computer screen' that do this; it is the class struggle, without the politics. Global capital's remorseless assault on labour takes the form of Global financial speculation.
Fortunately the next liquidity crisis should provide Boyle with his first 'practical' on the subject of money. Although how Boyle can stand the stench is beyond me. Perhaps it is the absence of method when tackling a heavy weight topic. At best this ignorance, coupled with his soulless style, makes for a bad night in with the bourgeoisie.
Method, tiresome research, theoretical work are not for Boyle or his readers. Simply weave together anecdotes and 'the mists of time' to reveal money to be nothing more than a psychological construct. This must be hilarious to the 600 million Africans living on 65 cents a day.
Boyle considers it natural for man to price objects in order to overcome the constraints of barter, while holding that 'in the mists of time' price was only a measure and the unit of measurement had no value in itself.
It would have to be very misty for an object of no value or use to provide the 'price' of an object of use and value. An object of use and value is superior to an object of no use or value. Why exchange bread for seashells in the first place unless the seashells can be exchanged for objects other than bread?
Seashells can price all objects to overcome barter, only if seashells become the object preferred, over all other objects, i.e. money. But now an object of no intrinsic value or use is omnipotent over all objects of value or use, therefore it is the most useful! This is a misty area in mainstream economics too and for good reason.
Exchanging one use value for another directly (barter) means that two individuals 'prefer' the use value held by the other, it is therefore impossible to measure. A jug of water 'exchanged' for salt has no quality common to both and therefore it cannot be measured in exchange. Objects could not exchange at all unless there was some preferred object, but what would be the price of the preferred object? Something cannot be the 'price' of it's self and also the price of everything else unless the English language is no longer language.
The preferred object is not an object at all, it is money. From whence does an object of no use, derive omnipotence over objects of use? Money, value, price and use are all aspects of a product but the connections are not at all straight forward. A mobile phone has a price but that does not measure it's usefulness. Two years ago less people had mobile phones, that does not alter the usefulness of mobile phones to the people who now have them. 'Needs' are independent of price. A baker does not bake bread because we need it but because he can make a profit. The fact that capitalism spends billions on 'creating' need through advertising, while millions of people are so obviously in need, lacking the most basic material for human life and that same system now generates a grotesque charity and poverty management 'industry' should be a cause for sober reflection, not fantasy.
Leaving the 'mists of time' Boyle heads for the clouds. There is the good side of money and the bad side. Leaving aside the bad side of money, contract killings or the Internet adoption market for example, Boyle wants the good side to prevail. Boyle wants us to think. Boyle does for 150 pages, and then realizes that money is just a psychological construct. Just as the 600 million Africans who exist on the psychological construct formally known as 65 cents a day would realize, unless they burnt their copies rather than waste their time reading them. No matter! When the 'developed world' grasps Boyle it will produce new forms of money, which will be better constructs. Therefore reform money! Starting locally of course, since swapping baby sitting time credits, for car washing, has yet to develop into a market in Sub Saharan Africa.
Money's essence for Boyle is time. We don't all have money but we do all have time. If we could exchange time directly we would produce new forms of money. Or was it, new forms of money are needed so we can exchange time. Time will tell. With the oppressive psychological construct of syntax out the way, it can be whatever you like.
Dollar time in exchange for Time Dollars. More valuable time with less valuable time, at such a rate that the time poor become time rich, and the time rich become time poorer and richer at the same time, and world poverty disappears in a puff of smoke, or rather in no time.
True some people's time is more valuable than others, that is only natural to Boyle. But through time, their time would become more valuable to. It is difficult to go further with this nonsense, but Boyle is only warming up. Money is also 'part symbol of real wealth, part information about value and both are inextricably intertwined.... There was a mythical time when they were separate. And that time is coming back in the form of blips on a computer screen which are information about value which is not money.' The mythical mist swirls in again.
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