Wörgl Success

Over the 13-month period the Wörgl money was in circulation, the mayor carried out all the intended works projects. The council also built new houses, a reservoir, a ski jump, and a bridge. The people also used scrip to replant forests, in anticipation of the future cash flow they would receive from the trees.

Six neighboring villages copied the system successfully. The French Prime Minister, Eduoard Dalladier, made a special visit to see the "miracle of Wörgl". In January 1933, the project was replicated in the neighboring city of Kirchbuhl, and in June 1933, Unterguggenburger addressed a meeting with representatives from 170 different towns and villages. Two hundred Austrian townships were interested in adopting the idea.

One eyewitness report was written by Claude Bourdet, master engineer from the Zürich Polytechnic.

"I visited Wörgl in August 1933, exactly one year after the launch of the experiment. One has to acknowledge that the result borders on the miraculous. The roads, notorious for their dreadful state, match now the Italian Autostrade. The Mayor's office complex has been beautifully restored as a charming chalet with blossoming gladioli. A new concrete bridge carries the proud plaque: "Built with Free Money in the year 1933." Everywhere one sees new streetlights, as well as one street named after Silvio Gesell. The workers at the many building sites are all zealous supporters of the Free Money system. I was in the stores: the Bills are being accepted everywhere alongside with the official money. Prices have not gone up. Some people maintained that the system being experimented in Wörgl prevents the formation of equity, acting as a hidden new way of exploiting the taxpayer. There seems to be a little error in that view. Never before one saw taxpayers not protesting at the top of their voices when parting with their money. In Wörgl no one was protesting. On the contrary, taxes are paid in advance; people are enthusiastic about the experiment and complain bitterly at the National Bank's opposing the issuing of new notes. It is impossible to dub it only a "new form of tax" for the general improvement of Wörgl. One cannot but agree with the Mayor that the new money performs its function far better than the old one. I leave it to the experts to establish if there is inflation despite the 100% cover. Incidentally price increases, the first sign of inflation, do not occur. As far as saving is concerned one can say that the new money favors saving properly so-called rather than hoarding money. As money lost value by keeping it at home, one could avoid the depreciation by depositing in the savings bank. Wörgl has become a kind of pilgrim shrine for macro-economists from a variety of countries. One can recognize them right away by their learned expressions when discussing the beautifully maintained streets of Wörgl while sitting at restaurant tables. Wörgl's population, proud of their fame, welcomes them warmly."

Could the concept Worgl Money help us today?

The most recent economic depression in the United States was caused by a number of factors, but as you read this article you will see a lot of parallels. The biggest parallel is that unemployment, and the fear of unemployment by those who still had jobs, caused money to stop moving. People who lost their jobs stopped spending money on all but the bare essentials. Those who were still employed were uncertain about the fate of their positions, so they also tightened their belts. Businesses like Santander Consumer USA, a company that provides auto financing, saw their income slow to a trickle as people chose to get a couple more miles out of their current vehicle. Santander Consumer USA had money to lend, but nobody was interested in borrowing it in case they lost their incomes. Car salesmen's pay checks shrunk considerably, so they no longer went out to eat at restaurants, causing diners and restaurants to fold. You can easily extrapolate this chain reaction to see how almost every person in every industry was directly affected.

Introduction of a system like Worgl Money wouldn't have prevented the depression, but it would have greatly shortened its duration. Imagine if the average employee received a pay check that was half Worgl Money and half real dollars. Lay offs would have been slowed as companies would then have had twice as much real dollars to pay for things like the electric bill and the lease. A person could have paid their landlord in Worgl Money, allowing them to stay in their apartment. The landlord could then use the money to take his family out to eat, keeping the restaurant doors open and their staff employed. Although a company like Santander Consumer USA wouldn't be able to accept Worgl Money for a car payment, the average person would be able to make that payment in real dollars because they would be using Worgl Money almost exclusively for day-to-day expenses, thus saving those real dollars for big-ticket items like a new car. The end result would have been that the money would have kept changing hands for both necessities and non-essential items, just like it did for the citizens of the town of Worgl, Austria in 1932.

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