Usage and purpose
According to Benjamin Feldman, the Minister of Finance for the Global Country of World Peace: "There are 1.5 billion people living in extreme poverty and currencies like the US dollar are not available to most of them. The Raam can be used to build new houses, roads, schools and health clinics". Feldman states that the idea is to start 3,000 farms in undeveloped areas, have the farmworkers paid in the new currency, and then have that currency converted to hard currency when the farms began exporting to world markets. According to Maharishi Global Financing, agreements were made in 2004 with a farmers' association in South America and with traditional leaders in Africa to start using the Raam for agricultural development projects. CATO Institute currency expert James Dorn expressed doubt about the viability of the plan, suggesting that other economic approaches would be a better way to establish the network of collective farms envisioned by the Raam project. As of March, 2004, there was no information available about the Raam development projects, what projects had actually been started, or whether there were any results from the first 2½ years of the project.
The Raam differs from other complimentary currencies because its focus is on the export of products―in this case organic agricultural products from third world growers to consumers in developed countries―rather than improving local circulation to benefit the lives of local people. Other developmental currencies instead focus on local and regional self-development.
Denominations and terms
The Raam is a bearer bond that earns a total of 3% interest after five years (.06% simple interest annually).
It is issued in denominations of 1, 5 and 10 Raams, with one Raam equal to 10 Euros in Europe, and one Raam equal to 10 dollars in the U.S. Raam notes are printed by Joh. Enschedé.
The Raam is currently used alongside Euros in accordance with Dutch law in more than 100 shops in the Netherlands. Shops associated with department store chains in 30 villages and cities have begun accepting the currency as payment for goods and services. The Raam is convertible in Holland at the Fortis Bank in Roermond, Holland. As of 2003, the Dutch Central Bank estimated that there were approximately 100,000 Raam notes in circulation.
The Raam is also in use in Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa.The Maharishi Vedic City Raam is identical to the Dutch one except for a small yellow stamp "Maharishi Vedic City". In 2002, Maharishi Vedic City Mayor Bob Wynne estimated that there was $40,000 worth of Raam in circulation.
The Raam is accepted at Maharishi University of Management and a few businesses in nearby Fairfield. However, local banks, Jefferson County officials and other local businesses do not accept the currency. The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution requiring that property taxes be paid in dollars, to preclude homeowners from attempting to pay in Raam. The First National Bank of Fairfield initially agreed to accept the Raam and exchange it for dollars, but stopped after a few weeks because of discomfort in monitoring the alternative currency on a daily basis, and potentially being stuck with worthless Raam.
It is unclear as to how the Raam will circulate in the other countries, since 1 Raam is worth 10 Euro, and there are no smaller denominations