Silvio Gesell

Michael read and re-read "The Natural Order" by Silvio Gesell. He talked with people in the town and convinced the members of the Wörgl Welfare Committee to hold a session on July 5, 1932. In this session he gave a short summary and then proposed a "Distress Relief Program". He stated that slow circulation of money is the principal cause of the faltering economy. Money as a medium of exchange increasingly vanished out of working people's hands and accumulates into the hands of the few who collect interest and do not return it back to the market. He proposed that in Wörgl the slow-circulating National Bank currency would be replaced by "Certified Compensation Bills". The council would issue the Bills and the public would accept the Bills for their full nominal value. Bills would be issued in the denominations of 1, 5 and 10 shillings. A total issue of 32,000 Wörgl "Money Bills" was printed and put into circulation.

Wörgl Money

On July 31, 1932 the town administrator purchased the first lot of Bills from the Welfare Committee for a total face value of 1,800 Schillings and used it to pay wages. These first wages paid out were returned to the community on almost the same day as tax payments. By the third day it was thought that the Bills had been counterfeited because the 1000 Schillings issued had already accounted for 5,100 Schillings in unpaid taxes. Michael Unterguggenberger knew better, the velocity of money had increased and his Wörgl money was working.

Wörgl money was a stamp script money. The Wörgl Bills would depreciate 1% of their nominal value monthly. To prevent this devaluation the owner of the Bill must affix a stamp the value of which is the devaluation on the last day of the month. Stamps were purchased at the parish hall. Because nobody wanted to pay a devaluation (hoarding) fee the Bills were spent as fast as possible.

The reverse side of the Bills were printed with the following declaration:

"To all whom it may concern! Sluggishly circulating money has provoked an unprecedented trade depression and plunged millions into utter misery. Economically considered, the destruction of the world has started. - It is time, through determined and intelligent action, to endeavour to arrest the downward plunge of the trade machine and thereby to save mankind from fratricidal wars, chaos, and dissolution. Human beings live by exchanging their services. Sluggish circulation has largely stopped this exchange and thrown millions of willing workers out of employment. - We must therefore revive this exchange of services and by its means bring the unemployed back to the ranks of the producers. Such is the object of the labour certificate issued by the market town of Wörgl : it softens sufferings dread; it offers work and bread."

< Back  |  Next >