Author Archives: bob

The Size of Trump’s Button – Oh My

One would have to live under a rock or not be plugged into numerous media to not be aware of Trump’s button size. In responding to Kim Jong Un’s comment on having a nuclear button on his desk, Trump tweeted “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works.”

He brags about the size of his nuclear launch button? This is the behavior of a child, a schoolyard bully, not the president of the most powerful nation on earth. Even without the use of nuclear weapons, hundreds of thousands, even millions of South Koreans are threatened. Seoul South Korea is within artillery range of North Korean forces. And did I mention the hundred thousand American troops and their dependents in South Korea and Japan? They are clearly in harm’s way in the event of a conflict in the region.

So this is where we are, the president of the United States is in a shouting match with a near child dictator of North Korea. It would be laughable were it not that this is a confrontation between nuclear-armed nations. If this argument were to spin out of control it could put millions of folks, worldwide, at risk. Frighteningly, we are depending on a thirty-three-year-old dictator of the most cloistered country on the planet to be the adult in the room, the responsible individual who will act in the best interests of all.

At least the pattern is consistent. Trump couldn’t get past his inauguration without serious puffery. He claimed, and had then spokesperson Sean Spicer repeat, that the crowds at his inauguration were the biggest ever. The National Park Service which oversees these events no longer comments on the size of crowds but even a cursory examination of aerial photos of the event compared to those of previous administrations proves Trump wrong. When Kelly Ann Conway commented on the discrepancy she brought us the phrase “alternative facts” to justify Spicer’s rendition of Trump’s lie.

His buffoonery and bombast seem endless. Although he won the electoral college vote and therefore the presidency, he lost the popular vote by three million votes to Hillary Clinton. Rather than simply accepting the situation that allowed the outcome, he denied that he lost the popular vote, claiming that illegal (popular) votes turned the tide. He even created, since disbanded, a commission to look into illegal voting in the absence of any credible evidence supporting such a claim.

Most troubling is his resolute rejection of reality. He lives in his own world which is completely distinct from average Americans. He began life with a multi-million dollar grubstake and parlayed that into, if you believe him, a billion-dollar real estate empire. He claims to be a populist but his every action as president is to enrich his cronies at the expense of the rest of us. Want just one example? He has instructed the labor department to inform the owners/management of restaurants that it is acceptable to keep the tips given to their wait staff. Really.

Trump’s attack on the Environment

If one sentence could encapsulate the Trump administration’s approach the environment it would be “ Modern air is a little too clean for optimum health.” This is a statement made by Robert Phalen, a Trump appointee to the Science Advisory Board, Environmental Protection Agency. Trump and his minions seem to be working to reverse the work of the previous decades in protecting the environment and the health of the planet.

Although much of his effort has been focused on reversing Obama era regulations, the focus is actually much broader. Fossil fuels producers and various and sundry extractive industries are favored without the burdensome regulations meant to protect our health and the environment.

In 2007 during the Bush presidency, the supreme court ruled that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a pollutant and the EPA has the responsibility to regulate it. CO2 is the major greenhouse gas driving climate change. And what is Trump’s response? He appointed Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier, to head the EPA.

Trump withdrew from the Paris Accords, an agreement among every country on the planet that recognizes the reality of anthropogenic global warming. This can’t be overstated. Every single country, besides us, be they capitalist, communist, socialist, monarchy, or whatever agree that actions must be taken to prevent or at least mitigate climate change caused by global warming. Everybody but us. Every scientific body including those in the United States. Friends and enemies alike, every single government, but us.

President Obama created the Clean Power Plan, meant to gradually but substantially wean us off the use of fossil fuels in electrical power generation. In October Trump proposed repealing the clean power plan in favor of increased use of coal. Ironically deregulating the use of coal will most likely have no effect to “bring back coal” because it is economics, not regulations, that has caused such a decline in its use. They will, however, have the effect of delaying the development of sustainable energy production from wind and solar.

Trump has also proposed a repeal of the methane rule. Methane, otherwise known as natural gas is a potent greenhouse gas in its own right. The methane rule was meant to tighten regulations concerning its release to the atmosphere during production and distribution. Sadly, it is cheaper to be sloppy and allow fugitive emissions that contribute to global warming.

In what must be one of the worst-timed deregulatory actions, Trump repealed a construction standard meant to reduce damage from flooding only days before the worst flooding ever in the Huston area. The standard would have added less than 1 % to the costs of construction in flood-prone areas but saved much in the long run.

One accounting suggests the Trump has repealed or rolled back 60 different rules that protect our health and the environment. These actions are out of step with most Americans. Polling consistently shows that three-quarters of the electorate favor increased environmental protection whereas less than a quarter feel the current efforts to protect the environment have gone too far.

Scientific Serendipity

Serendipity is a term for discovery by dumb luck. The word was created by Horace Walpole in 1754 based on a Persian tale about the Three Princes of Serendip, who wandered through life continually stumbling across good luck. Much of scientific discovery has come about through serendipity rather than forethought.

This is not to say that scientific training is immaterial. Noble Prize wining scientist Louis Pasteur, inventor of the eponymous process- pasteurization, said “fortune favors the prepared mind.” Scientific discoveries whether by luck or purpose both require scientific training to ask the right questions, and properly interpret the findings of investigations, especially if the result is unexpected. The following stories are just a few taken from physics, and chemistry, and biology.

The detection of radio waves from space began in the 1930s. Sources of the radio waves (microwaves) varied but was first observed from the Milky Way galaxy. In 1964 two astronomers at Bell Labs were testing a new sensitive radio antenna but could could not find the cause of a constant hum. At one point they thought it was due to a pair of pigeons that had taken up residence in the horn of their antenna. They cleared it out but the hum remained, regardless of where they pointed it. Unbeknownst to them at the time, they had discovered the Cosmic Microwave Background, a form of radiation that provides the best evidence for the creation of our universe 13.8 billion years ago.

In the mid 19th century dyes for fabrics were few and expensive, being obtained from natural sources. Royal Purple, so called as only the royals could afford it, was a dye obtained from a sea snail. A young chemist in England had been charged with developing a synthesis of Quinine, used to treat malaria. He was not able to make Quinine, but during his investigations using coal tar as a starting material, he ended up making the first of what are called aniline dyes. This accidental discovery began a global industry.

In 18th century Italy a physician was performing experiments on frogs. He took a dissected leg which was held to the table with brass clips and began cutting with a steel scalpel. When the steel scalpel accidentally touched a brass clip it caused the frog’s leg to twitch. When dissimilar metals come in contact it can cause a electrical current, essentially a simple battery. The current that induced the twitch in the frog’s leg was the first evidence of an animal’s nervous system.

More modern examples involve a couple of synthetic sweeteners. Aspertame, possibly better know by the trade name Nutrasweet was discovered when a chemist produced it as an intermediate on the way to another more complex compound that was to be used to treat ulcers. When he went to make a notation in his lab book, he licked his finger to turn a page. He noticed the intense sweetness of the compound and a billion dollar industry ensued. Another sweetener, Splenda was also discovered by accident. A graduate student was asked to test a particular chlorinated compound. He misunderstood the instruction and came back to report the he tasted, not tested the compound and found it to be quite sweet.

Measuring Wealth

Currently, the top 2% hold over 50 % of the wealth in this country, and about the same holds true for the rest of the world. It hasn’t always been that way. A recent study published in Nature examined wealth distribution over time.

The most primitive cultures, stone age hunter/gatherer societies were quite egalitarian. Early agricultural societies were likewise egalitarian. The first large-scale shift to a wealthy class came with the domestication of animals. In early agriculture all labor was manual, an individual could only manage so much land. With a draft animal however, the amount of land that could be utilized greatly increased. Their study used archaeological records of the sizes of houses to create a Gini index of wealth distribution within various societies.

The Gini index is a number between 0 and 1. In a hypothetical society where the wealth is equally distributed the value is 0. At the other end of the spectrum, 1, would be a society where all the wealth is held by one person, hence the lower the index the more equally distributed is the wealth.

Agrarian societies at the earliest stages in both the old and new world were compared and both had Gini Indices of about 0.35. Over time, wealth inequality grew in old world Europe (Gini index 0.6) but remained flat in the new world (the Americas.) The difference was accounted for by the development and use of draft animals in the old world. With the exception of Llamas in limited use in the Andes, no draft animals existed in the New World.

Wealth in modern societies today is much more complex but Gini Indices are still relevant. The United States has an index of about 0.8, the highest in the developed world. Interestingly, we don’t think so. Chris Rock, a comedian, said “If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.” In multiple surveys, Americans greatly underestimated the degree of inequality even while expressing that it should be more equitable than what they thought it was.

Averages from the survey suggested that people think the first quintile, the top 20%, should have 32% of the wealth, and they think that group has 60%. In reality, they own 85%. For the poorest 40%, people thought that they should have 25% of the wealth and guessed that they had 9%. They actually have a paltry 0.3%. The disparity has been widening over the last quarter century. The rich are getting richer, the middle-class share of the pie is decreasing slightly and the poor are rapidly getting poorer.

So what about the proposed tax reform being rushed through Congress? The Congressional Budget (CBO) scored the Senate bill and found that it will increase the national debt by 1.7 trillion dollars over ten years, the benefits of the tax cuts will favor the rich, and will actually burden the middle and lower class citizens. The rich will continue to get richer and the poor poorer.

Net Metered Distributed Energy

While the rest of the world’s governments continue to move ahead with the development of sustainable energy supplies, the Trump administration seems to be operating in reverse gear. President Trump has famously declared that global warming is a hoax promoted by the Chinese. He pulled us out of the Paris Agreement (to reduce global warming) claiming that China would gain an advantage if we were forced to reduce our use of fossil fuels.

Ironically, it appears that China will now be looked to as the world leader in the development of sustainable energy. They are deploying both solar and wind energy plants at a rate that no other country can match.

Although the Trump administration can’t see the future, states, communities, and even individuals do and can work for a sustainable future and save money in the process. The cost of solar arrays continue to fall. The payback period for solar arrays is now below 10 years. With lifetime guarantees of 25 years, one can recoup considerable savings and help clear the air.

For home owners and small businesses the most cost effective approach for solar is to grid tie the system. Connecting the array to the grid allows for net-metering. When the sun is shining and the solar panels are producing energy in excess of what a home owner or small business is using, that excess is sent to the grid making the electric meter run backwards. This is good for the owners of solar panels but is this good for the power companies that provide the power when the sun isn’t shining.

Right now the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) is considering rule-making which may impact the costs of net metered systems. Power companies argue that grid-tied systems cost them money. But is that really the case? A recent study by Crossborder Energy, specific to Arkansas contradicts the claims of costs to the Power company and in fact finds that net-metered systems save money not only for the owners of such arrays but also for the power companies and their rate-payers. A win-win for both economic and societal considerations.

Solar generation is frequently well-matched with demand. On hot summer afternoons solar arrays replace very expensive peak power that the grid operators must add to their base load. This peaking power is very expensive beyond what solar arrays are paid via net metering.

Solar arrays generate within the grid, thus decreasing transmission costs compared to power that is brought from farther away. Solar is eminently scalable. As the demand within a grid expands with population growth, incremental addition of solar is much less expensive and doesn’t need the the lead time that other large scale sources such as nuclear, which can take a decade or more to bring on line. Solar, on any scale affords more predictable future costs as there are no fears of price fluctuations for fuel.

Societal benefits are quantifiable also. Increased stability and resiliency, cleaner air, a more stable climate are economically beneficial. The use of private capital and private property can leverage additional capital to the benefit of all rate payers, not just the solar array owners themselves.

Finally the study reconfirms that renewable energy such as grid-tied, net-metered energy systems create more jobs compared to energy systems fueled by fossil fuels.

Zounds! the Sounds?

Much has been made recently in the press about the mysterious “health attacks” on American embassy personnel in Cuba. In February of this year several embassy personnel reported strange symptoms including hearing issues upon returning to the us. Reported symptoms range from brain damage to hearing loss, speech disturbances, headaches, dizziness, nausea and tinnitus.

Some of those reporting symptoms claim to have heard various noises while others didn’t. Some report that these “attacks” occurred at night, even reporting that the attacks were only perceived when in bed or in a particular location in a room. Several Canadian diplomats and their families also reported untoward symptoms.

US officials have accused the Cuban government or agents acting on its behalf of conducting nefarious “sonic attacks.” Cubans have vehemently denied any such attacks. Speculation of others suggests that Russian or Chinese agents are responsible in an effort to degrade the otherwise improving relationship between the US and Cuba. Earlier Washington expelled two Cuban diplomats and recently decided to remove 60 % of the Americans from our embassy there.

Based on what little we know and even less we understand, what is the reality? Three scenarios come to mind: The illnesses are real and are due to purposeful attacks,or the illnesses are real but due to unrelated causes, or the illnesses are not even real physical symptoms but rather psychological issues. There is overlap between the latter two scenarios.

Physical evidence or even plausibility for the first scenario is weak. Many health physicists believe that any sound device that could produce actual brain damage (concussion) is inconceivable. A device capable of delivering that much power, at a distance, and through walls and windows of all kinds is just not realistic. Lower power devices may be able to produce lesser effects but the range of conditions over which people were effected such as at home, at the embassy or even while staying in hotels stretches credulity.

Assuming that all the above symptoms are real, what evidence is there that sonic attacks were responsible? If hearing loss exists, was there any evidence that the hearing loss wasn’t pre-existing? Could the reported brain damage have been there, undetected, from some other event? Dizziness, nausea, and headaches are extremely common and can be due to a welter of causes.

If we abandon the sonic attack hypothesis, what’s next? There are other conditions which could account for the symptoms, Meniere’s disease being foremost. This condition could explain all the above symptoms short of brain damage. The symptoms are due to fluid accumulation and or pressure differentials in the inner ear. Note that these symptoms are occasionally reported by travelers returning from warm moist climates to the north, especially in the winter. The first reported cases were from embassy officials traveling from Havana to the US in February.

Another confounding feature of all this is the reports of various strange nigh time events where noises or even spooky vibrations occurred. And in weird circumstances such as in only one part of a room and not another. Could this be no more than extremely lucid nightmares? Certain drugs, especially those used to prevent malaria infections, are know to produce these effects.

Finally and most contentiously is the possibility that some, if not many of the reported symptoms are psychological in nature. Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate physicist, defined science as “what we do to keep from fooling ourselves.” We need to be sure we are not fooling ourselves and know much more conclusively the origin of the symptoms. We should refrain from making decisions which may do harm to the fragile but improving relationship between the United States and Cuba.

Property Assessed Clean Energy Act

Whether you personally are or are not concerned with global warming, you should be interested in saving money. Many steps taken to mitigate climate change such as sustainable energy supplies and energy efficiency save money. The Trump administration refuses to acknowledge the risk of global warming and subsequent climate change, indicated by his refusal to join the rest of the world in the Paris Accords. Regardless, cities, states, schools and universities, even businesses across the country do get it and are acting to honor the goals of the agreement.

Assuming Arkansas is like the rest of the United States, about half of all the energy and three-quarters of the electrical energy used goes into buildings. Acts, ordinances, etc. which lead to increased utilization of non-carbon energy sources can go a long way to save energy, lower costs, and lessen the use of fossil fuels which drive global warming.  Act 1074 of 2013, called the Property Assessed Clean Energy act or PACE is a program that allows a person or business to finance energy projects through the inclusion of the costs in a property tax assessment.

The act enables governments such as cities, counties or combinations thereof to form Energy Districts which organize financing for projects. Fayetteville, (later joined by Springdale,) and North Little Rock have active programs. A property owner/business identifies a project that will save energy or water or create clean renewable energy. The improvement district then arranges the financing for the project. This can be done with bonds or a variety of private financing. The property owner repays the loan through a property tax assessment over a defined period of time.

A number of energy efficiency projects come to mind: Increased insulation, more efficient window windows with low-E glass, solar hot water systems, projects which reduce water consumption, more efficient heating and cooling systems such as ground source heat pumps. Projects which actually produce clean energy are also funded: photovoltaic panels, micro-hydro projects, wind turbines and biomass energy are all included.

Here is an example of how it could work. A property owner with an older structure decides to upgrade the HVAC, insulate the walls and attic, and replace the windows. The total cost of the project is 10,000 dollars. She goes the Energy Improvement district and receives 100 percent financing. The cost is repaid over ten years through a property tax assessment. Generally, the savings in utility costs will cover or even exceed the annual fee. If she sells her structure before ten years the buyer assumes the assessment, just as they assume the energy savings from the energy improvement.

PACE benefits the local community by creating a cleaner, greener environment. Local businesses that supply the equipment will see increased sales. Installers will have more work and create jobs for skilled tradesmen and unskilled labor alike.

Such a program is easily within the reach of Russellville, and other cities which may choose to join the program. The City of Fayetteville created the model ordinance used by the aforementioned cities. Were the program adopted county-wide many farmers or other rural businesses and homes could benefit from energy saving/production.

The best way to save money and the environment comes through energy efficiency. Reduced use of electricity means lower costs but also less burning of coal and natural gas. This is a win, win, win situation. The adoption of ordinance to create an energy district will save the property owners money, create business opportunities and jobs for the community, clean the air, and cool the planet. What’s not to like?

Climate Change, Weather Change

Climatology is meteorology writ large. They are really just different branches of atmospheric science. If you want to know whether it is likely to rain tomorrow talk to the weatherman who is a meteorologist. But if you want to know about what the weather will be like in a number of years, you should consult a climatologist.

As I write the water has yet to drain out of the east Texas area where Hurricane Harvey caused the greatest rainfall event ever in United states (over 50 inches of rain.) Meanwhile, there are three hurricanes off our shores. These are weather phenomena which are impacted by climate. Climate change of necessity causes weather changes.

Hurricane Irma is the most intense Atlantic hurricane ever. It appears to be on a collision course with Miami Beach. If it veers slightly to the west the Carolinas are threatened. Right behind Irma is Jose streaming in our direction from the east. Hurricane Katia is stewing off the coast of Mexico with little indication of movement.

Meanwhile on our west coast earlier this year we saw record flooding and now a severe heat wave and wildfires from Los Angeles to Vancouver.

Is this normal? Or is the the new normal if climate change is factored in? There is uncertainty in blaming any one event on global warming. Realistically that can’t be done. But let me analogize if I may. Mark McGuire was a major league baseball player. Much of his success at home plate he later admitted was due to his use of performance enhancing steroids. Just one example, from 1996 to 1999 he led the league in home runs.

So here is the question: Can we attribute any one of those home runs to steroid use? Not really. What we can say is the muscle mass developed due to his steroid use greatly contributed to his success.

Adding Carbon Dioxide to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is like providing steroids to an athlete. The added CO2 causes heat to be trapped in the atmosphere which which causes warming, but also creates a more dynamic atmosphere. More droughts occur because it’s hotter. More intense rainfall events occur because a warmer atmosphere holds more water.

Hurricanes are driven to large degree by the warmer ocean water, clearly demonstrated by the summer/fall hurricane season when the Atlantic is naturally warmer. Make it warmer still from global warming and you get Irma, the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever.

The concentration of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is now higher (407 ppm) than it has been for at least 2 to 4 million years. Other heat trapping gasses such as Methane and Nitrous Oxide are also at all time highs. Yet there are those, in fact whole political parties, which deny anthropogenic climate change even in the face of rising seas, melting ice, and intensifying storms.

The United States contributes 20% of the heat trapping gasses to the atmosphere, but only constitute about 5% worlds population. Every scientific body on the planet including all major science organizations in the United states agrees that climate change is a threat and needs to be addressed. Our government is alone among the nations of the world in our refusal to address global warming. ALONE.

Executions and Midazolam

It appears that the State of Arkansas plans to perpetuate its inhumane misunderstanding of pharmacology – again. It has secured a supply of Midazolam for use in executing those convicted of capital crimes.

Over the years Arkansas has shot, hanged,electrocuted, and now poisoned convicts. The last hanging was in 1914 – John Tillman was executed for killing his girlfriend and throwing her body down a well. John Swindler became the last to be electrocuted in 1990. Charles Singleton, whose appeal took 24 years due to schizophrenia, was the first to be executed by lethal injection in 2004.

The standard protocol is to use a three drug cocktail. First, Sodium Thiopental (a rapid acting barbiturate) is given to induce deep anesthesia. Second, Pancuronium Bromide is used to cause paralysis of skeletal muscles which stops breathing. This drug is similar in chemical structure and mode of action to Curare, the famous dart frog poison of the Amazon. Lastly a massive dose of Potassium Chloride stops the heart.

If one can describe any execution as humane, this is supposed to be. First you’re made completely insensate (comatose) then and only then your breathing and heart are stopped. You’re dead and it’s over. A problem in the protocol arose when drug companies decided they didn’t want to be associated with (or there was insufficient profit connected to) providing drugs for the executioner. First the European Union banned the export of Sodium Thiopental to the US, and then the only US manufacturer refused to sell it to states for execution.

Enter, arm right, Midazolam. Some states, including Oklahoma and Arkansas were unable to obtain Sodium Thiopental. They decided to stay with the three drug protocol but substitute Midazolam for the anesthetic drug. The problem is that Midazolam is not, nor was it ever intended to be an anesthetic. Midazolam is a sedative, and a mild one at that. In surgical procedures, it is use as a per-anesthetic. It can make you drowsy but not insensate. If a person is not insensate when injected with the muscle blocker trouble ensues.

There have been errors during surgeries where patients were given insufficient amounts of anesthetics, then administered Pancuronium Bromide. They report extreme pain and even terror during surgery because this drug has no effect on the central nervous system. They were awake but completely incapable of reacting physically.

In Oklahoma in 2014, an execution begun with Midazolam never finished the complete protocol. Clayton Lockett struggled, convulsed, and 14 minutes into the procedure spoke and tried to get off the executioner’s table. 43 minutes later he died of a heart attack, without ever receiving the heart stopping drug.

In April 2017 Kenneth Williams was executed with Midazolam as the initial sedative. He convulsed violently even before the administration of the muscle blocker. It is quite conceivable that he was fully aware of his circumstances but unable to react after the administration of the second drug. There are sufficient questions about the efficacy of Midazolam to induce a coma and therefore reason to question the humanity of this method of execution.

Local Money

Money is the untimely fungible commodity. Within a specific currency two fives and ten can be traded for a twenty regardless of where they come from or who is doing the trading. Even between currencies money is fungible as long as a mutually agreed upon exchange rate is employed. (Money is also a progressive rock piece by Pink Floyd, but that is a matter for discographers, not economists.)

It stands to reason that before money goods with actual intrinsic value were bartered – cows, salt, grain, etc. Bartering is not the same as money however, because money has little to no intrinsic value other than as a medium of exchange.

Paper money sometimes referred to as banknotes, coins (specie,) and recently even electronic money such as bitcoin are traded across communities, countries and the globe. There is a trend to develop local money which can be used to exchange for goods and services with a limited area. The use of local money ensures that it will stay within and therefore benefit the local economy.

Ad hoc money pops up temporarily at certain venues. Attendees to things like multi day music and entertainment festivals use “real” money to buy the event money. This event money is used within the venue for buying goods and services. After the event the vendors exchange the event money back into “real” money.

There is a growing trend for locales to create their own money to support the local economy. In the light of bank failures during the depression years, and especially in rural communities, local banks produced notes to be used locally. The value of the banknotes was guaranteed by the gold reserves held by the issuing bank. More recently (1973) an experiment with local currency began in Exeter, New Hampshire.

This was followed in 2006 by the issuance of Berkshares in Berkshire county Massachuttes. These are traded by over 400 merchants around the region. Currently their value is pegged to US dollars but it has been suggested to peg their value to a basket of local goods, further isolating them from the non-local economy.

Other local currencies include Baybucks (San Francisco), Aloha Hours (Hawaii), and Clearwater Hours (Tampa Bay) among many others. Modern local currencies are popping up outside the US. Barcelona, Spain is the titular capital of the Catolonia region. Their local currency is for commerce, and at least partial payment of wages and salaries of municipal employees. A number of other cites in western Europe are experimenting with local currencies.

Economists are generally much less sanguine about the significance of using local money at least compared to the proponents. One of the stronger arguments against local money is it doesn’t seem to persist, as many roll out and are in use for a few months to years, then fade out of existence. There are albeit small but real costs with creating and maintaining an alternate currency, thus creating a penalty for both buyers and sellers. Costs of goods that benefit from economies of scale can be higher if required to be produced with the local (small) economy.

The strongest argument against local money is that no community has ever tried to completely isolate its commerce from outside money. That kind of isolation would be a return to a sort of archaic tribalism. Evidence for economic value may be lacking but there still remains a human value at least in the eyes of Sociologists . Their position is that local money produces a sense of community and neighborhood ties. Conversely, local currencies seem to do best where these qualities already exist.