by Michael Poulin, guest writer

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Many of our activities today strike me as fitting that description. For example, searching for work and applying for jobs when nobody has the money to pay wages.

Or expecting to find customers when nobody has the money to pay for goods or services.

Expecting to move about without money for transportation.

It gets worse. Expecting to keep warm when we cannot pay for utilities. Expecting a home when we cannot pay the rent. Expecting to eat . . . Well, you get the idea.

Our labor, our goods and services may be as much needed now as before the depression, just as our need for home and hearth, food and health care remains constant. What is absent, of course, is the currency required to complete the transaction.

Where is that currency? Elsewhere. In banks, in the pockets of the rich, everywhere butin our control.

All our lives, that currency has been American dollars, the good old greenback, the buck that stopped somewhere else, somewhere out of our control.

So then, how do we gain control of that most important commodity which controls so much of our lives?

We can’t. It’s out of reach and, frankly, probably not worth bothering with.

Why? Because we don’t need it. We need a means of exchange, of course, but we don’t need that currency. We can and should create our own, an alternate currency accepted by everyone we want to do business with. An alternate currency that remains in and enriches our community. It’s not rocket science. It’s done all over the world, and there is no reason it cannot be done here.

You need food? I need labor. Now I can’t trade you food, but between ourselves we can craft a currency that will get us both what we want. And with the internet, it is very easy to keep track of who spent and who earned. It’s not rocket science.

And now to the most sacred cow of all the insanities. Voting, yes, I said it, voting for political parties and, for the most part, candidates which behave exactly alike. Has it never struck you that this so-called two party system which Ralph Nader calls the duopoly has consistent yielded deteriorating results? That it consistently and increasingly fails to provide the essentials for life? And in the final analysis, what else is a government – the product of a political system – good for? Voting within this system is the glue. Voting is the insanity. Year after year, we vote, we get screwed; we vote, we get screwed. Knowing full well that the game is rigged, we prepare to vote again. That, to me, is insanity.

Why? Because our political system, like our currency system, is out of our control. It matters not who we vote for, the results are always the same, only worse.

Can we bring this system under our control? We can try more voting, more insanity. Or we can regain our sanity and create an alternative political system, an inclusive system in which one person, one vote means just that, not encumbered by money and power. It is up to us how to design this system, but first we must exit the present one.

We have in our community working examples of essential services delivered by non-governmental agencies. Food Not Bombs. Meals on Wheels, SNAP, The Center for Justice. The San Francisco Bay Area has its long-standing Free Clinic. I’m sure you can think of more. And though some of them enjoy government funding, most of them do not, and they are all independent of the government.

Much of this has been done in other countries. Essential services forming the basis of revolutionary movements which eventually become the government. This process has rarely, if ever, happened without first providing essential services which, in turn, generates the loyalty and patronage which supports the eventual revolution.

While I am not advocating revolution, at least not publicly, I am suggesting we seriously start thinking out of the box to what will get us out of the repetitive morass into which we sink deeper each year. And that, I hope, will form the basis of a discussion.