Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

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Trinity's picture
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Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

Mish Shedlock posted on this today and I just had to share. (Click the links for the full articles; there is also a video for the Currency story.)

Competing currency being accepted across Mid-Michigan by Dan Armstrong: (Connect Mid-Michigan)
New types of money are popping up across Mid-Michigan and supporters say, it's not counterfeit, but rather a competing currency. Right now, you can buy a meal or visit a chiropractor without using actual U.S. legal tender.

They sound like real money and look like real money. But you can't take them to the bank because they're not made at a government mint. They're made at private mints.

The U.S. Treasury Department says the Coinage Act of 1965 says "private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash, unless there is a state law which says otherwise."

That allows gas stations to say they don't accept 50- or $100 bills after a certain time of day in hopes of not getting robbed.

I think this is a great idea and I hope it catches on...though I'm sure if it does, the government will do whatever they can to try to stop it. The un-paving of roads seems like a brilliant idea especially if a municipality is facing short-falls (are there any that are not?) and has the choice of expensive road upkeep or raising taxes. Although, I think gravel roads would be a tough sell in this area; too many pretentious vanity cars on the roads here, so I guess I'll be stuck with higher property taxes! Yell


Chickens Invade Lansing by Bill Castanier (

Many cities across Michigan have changed city ordinances to allow the raising of hens in backyards.

For those who like to sleep in on weekends, not to worry- roosters are banned. For non- farms folks, those are the critters which do the “cockadoodledo.” Also for the squeamish, chickens will not be allowed to be killed on the property.

Roads to Ruin: Towns Rip Up the Pavement

Asphalt Is Replaced By Cheaper Gravel; 'Back to Stone Age' 

by Lauren Etter (

Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls.

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as "poor man's pavement." Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.

Rebuilding an asphalt road today is particularly expensive because the price of asphalt cement, a petroleum-based material mixed with rocks to make asphalt, has more than doubled over the past 10 years. Gravel becomes a cheaper option once an asphalt road has been neglected for so long that major rehabilitation is necessary.



LogansRun's picture
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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

Here's the followup video for the competing currency video.

I would have liked to have seen them discuss the Federal Reserve in this, but it didn't happen.  

Thanks for the links Trin.

Nacci's picture
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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

Why would anyone use a precious metal to pay for goods and services when the Dollar is accepted everywhere?  This article would make better sense if it asserted that people and businesses were refusing to accept the Dollar.  Only then would it make sense to let go of your precious metals at this point in the game.  In other words; if you can use worthless paper to buy goods and services then you do so.  Nacci

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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

Hi, Nacci.  I think the part where it says that "right now I accept gold, silver copper... but I could accept marbles if I wanted to" is an important one.  Its larger than people trading precious metals for goods; there are numerous examples of local currencies.  The simplest example is a time bank, but there are also examples of folks taking it to the next level like the Totnes Pound, or LETS currencies.  When I was in the fifth grade, I won a Mother's Day poetry contest; my mom got a dinner for two, flowers, and gift certificate to a salon.  I got a certificate, and a Truro Dollar. 

"Truro Dollars" were issued by a group of 300 local merchants as a 'local currency' of sorts.  They are no longer still in circulation, but at the time I could have walked into any one of those 300 businesses and spent my "silver" Truro dollar.  I keep it in my jewlerly box as a reminder that if we could organize something like this in the 1980's (just for fun) then perhaps we could do it again, when it matters.

Great link, Trinity.


PS   Our town just amended its animal control bylaw last month.  Residents may keep all number of animals (including chickens), provided that they do not make continuous noise for more than 30 minutes, that their premises are kept clean (and subject to health inspection) and that they are not permitted to run wild in the town.  We were particularly amused that asses were named among the list of animals that are not permitted to run wild in the town; my husband maintains that this is an impossible standard, as no one has successfully managed to keep "asses" from running wild in the town in the past.

Trinity's picture
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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

Logan, thanks for pointing out the follow up article & vid! Wink

Nacci, I think they're doing it more on principle (kind of like a protest) than anything else.

The second article & video goes into their reasoning. The article does not state this but since Michigan is one of the hardest hit areas with unemployment (granted it is awful everywhere), I can imagine local business owners started accepting barter and other tender from people that have assets to trade but do not have FRNs because they don't have jobs; this keeps them in business (if you have no customers who can pay for your goods/services, you'd quickly be out of business) and gives their neighbors a way to buy the things they need with what they do have. (Perhaps I'm reading too much into this.) 

In part two, Dan goes deeper, discovering why certain businesses say it's better to have private currency than actual U.S. legal tender.

There was a time in America when you could buy four gallons of gas for a dollar.

That dollar came in the form of a coin, around one ounce, made mostly of silver.

In today's market, that same coin is worth about 10 times its face value because of the silver.

Therefore, that same coin in theory, could still buy around four gallons of gas.

Supporters of competing currency say they'd like to see the government to go back to a gold and silver-backed currency rather than simply printing more money.

Trinity's picture
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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?


Thanks for your input.  Asses running wild in the town? There's a lot of that! Somebody better start with rounding up the ones in City Hall here! Laughing 


land2341's picture
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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

Our community does something similar with the kids.  The kids earn "dollars"  - coupons good at local businesses for good grades or citizenship.  The school determines who gets them,  but most local businesses accept them.   Any group of people or businesses could do the same.

pinecarr's picture
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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

Thanks for clearing up a local mystery, Trinity!  My husband and his friends are avid road bikers (bicycles), and they have noticed lately -to their dismay- that a number of roads in nearby areas are being resurfaced with rough, gravely surfaces  vs the nice smooth pavement they are used to.  Not fun for road biking!  But it makes a lot of sense when seen as a move by those towns to try to save $.  I suspected it might be for $ reasons, but this is the first I've seen that confirmation of that suspicion, and the first I've seen that it is a more widespread occurence!


Doug's picture
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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

A friend once decided to go to Alaska by motorcycle.  To his dismay, he found that much of the Alcan (sp?) highway is gravel.  Those freeze-thaw cycles play hell with pavement out on the tundra.  But, it is probable that any kind of two wheel transportation (except maybe balloon tired bycycles) will be largely useless if the going back to gravel thing becomes the norm.


edited to correct spelling.

joemanc's picture
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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

I've noticed over the years that there are quite a few roads in Vermont that have some type of gravel or dirt base. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing they do this because it's expensive to pave and with the cold winters, you get better traction than on asphalt.

Chronic Agitator's picture
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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?


This "local currency" has been available for several years.  The 10% exchange premium would be hard to swallow but it helps keep commerce local.

From their website........."BerkShares are a local currency for the Berkshire region. Dubbed a "great economic experiment" by the New York Times, BerkShares are a tool for community empowerment, enabling merchants and consumers to plant the seeds for an alternative economic future for their communities. Launched in the fall of 2006, BerkShares had a robust initiation, with over one million BerkShares having been circulated in the first nine months and over two million to date. Currently, more than three hundred and sixty businesses have signed up to accept the currency. Five different banks have partnered with BerkShares, with a total of thirteen branch offices now serving as exchange stations. For BerkShares, this is only the beginning. Future plans could involve BerkShare checking accounts, electronic transfer of funds, ATM machines, and even a loan program to facilitate the creation of new, local businesses manufacturing more of the goods that are used locally.
Click here
for more information about BerkShares."

Regards, CA

Mr. Fri's picture
Mr. Fri
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Re: Gold, Silver, Gravel Roads, & Chickens?

If you're interested in alternate currencies, we did a "Two Beers with Steve" podcast about it.  It's the BJ Lawson interview on Feb 2, 2010.  The podcast can be found here:

BJ tells how the "Plenty" (the name of their local currency) came about, the struggles they had and how it has finally caught on.  Information on the Plenty can be found here:

The Plenty is used in the North Carolina Piedmont region.  (They have beautiful artwork on the bills.)

For those of you not familiar with "Two Beers with Steve," it's a weekly podcast which some of us who met here at CM's site put together. The focus is on sustainability and the 3Es.



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