Here is a strategy for bringing most citizens online in the US to engage meaningfully with government and participate in sustainable community development through the creation of more than 40,000 online marketplaces - one for each zip code - that continuously circulate many billions of dollars within communities.
How It Works: Upon authorization by Congress, the US Treasury issues twenty virtual dollars - V$20 - identical in value to USD$20, to each citizen. Individuals are contacted by mail with info on how to claim their V$20 by registering online to create V$ (virtual dollars) email accounts. V$ are permanently "stamped" with the zip code of the participant so they stay local (adjoining zips can agree to honor each other's V$ to expand markets effectively) and they expire whenever not spent within 90 days so that oversupply self-corrects and timely and continual participation is encouraged. Existing community-based organizations facilitate use of V$ by issuing debit cards that pay the combination of V$ and USD stipulated by each vendor to assure sufficient USD for taxes and other non-local expenses (free software exists now for this).
Why It Works: This initiative creates local marketplaces that are partly insulated from the global marketplace - metamarketplaces - and so delivers increased opportunity, resilience, and support to local businesses and real communities. Moreover, because most people will likely participate to claim their V$20, the V$ email accounts establish fast, low-cost direct communication between most citizens and government, and so help facilitate the most informed and effective government decision making possible.
How To Know It Works: The success of this initiative can be measured as the amount of commerce using V$ and the number of citizens who engage with government through this interface.
What This Fixes: The current momentum in policy and development is shifting towards "green" energy and the support of the smallest businesses through "microenterprise development." This is a vital shift in direction, but within the global marketplace, green energy and microenterprise development actually accelerate the unsustainable exploitation of resources. The cost of green energy is beginning to compete with fossil fuels, producing an increase in the cheap energy supply that fuels unsustainable consumption of resources. And cheaper green fuels must push the price of fossil fuels down, leading to more fossil fuel use rather than supplanting them. Similarly, microenterprise development agencies currently strive to graduate the poorest and smallest merchants out of the informal economy and into the global marketplace, but to compete in the global marketplace, these growing enterprises must then strive to exploit human and natural resources as effectively as the worst offenders.
How It Fixes: Seen in this light, its clear that the great challenge of the 21st Century is to transform our marketplace from one that enables and rewards irresponsible development into one that prevents that exploitation without diminishing the vital benefits of the global marketplace. The metamarketplace helps accomplish this change by working complementarily with the global marketplace to empower local communities with the prosperity they require to protect human and natural resources. Indeed, the metamarketplace is the ideal venue within which green energy and microenterprise might achieve their greatest good, as practitioners are freed from the necessity of competing globally because the metamarketplace itself competes with the global marketplace.
How To Accelerate The Success of This Strategy: To strengthen individual metamarketplaces so as to better compete with the global marketplace, municipalities can discount taxes and services when paid with V$, giving an advantage to V$ that augments demand while compelling municipalities to spend tax revenue back into the truly local marketplace for essential commodities (water, food, energy, etc) and vital services (health, education, safety, etc).
By creating metamarketplaces across the nation, the US can lead in creating a sustainable future.
Learn more about creating strong local currencies at http://sunmoney.org and http://complementarycurrency.org
(The US Government is Constitutionally empowered to issue currency, so creating V$ requires no borrowing or taxing.)