Monthly Archives: July 2011

The monumental Fed Rip-off

We now have the results of the first-ever audit of the Federal Reserve. What it reveals is astounding and outrageous.

Senator Bernie calls it “socialism for the rich,” but it’s not merely “socialism for the rich,” it’s wholesale looting of our common wealth by the people who run the world. This blows sky high all arguments in favor of an “independent” central bank. Independence in this case means allowing an unelected self-serving elite to take what they want free from any effective oversight or control by the people or the people’s representatives.

The list of institutions that received the most money from the $16 trillion Federal Reserve bailout can be found on page 131 of the GAO Audit and are as follows..

Citigroup: $2.5 trillion ($2,500,000,000,000)
Morgan Stanley: $2.04 trillion ($2,040,000,000,000)
Merrill Lynch: $1.949 trillion ($1,949,000,000,000)
Bank of America: $1.344 trillion ($1,344,000,000,000)
Barclays PLC (United Kingdom): $868 billion ($868,000,000,000)
Bear Sterns: $853 billion ($853,000,000,000)
Goldman Sachs: $814 billion ($814,000,000,000)
Royal Bank of Scotland (UK): $541 billion ($541,000,000,000)
JP Morgan Chase: $391 billion ($391,000,000,000)
Deutsche Bank (Germany): $354 billion ($354,000,000,000)
UBS (Switzerland): $287 billion ($287,000,000,000)
Credit Suisse (Switzerland): $262 billion ($262,000,000,000)
Lehman Brothers: $183 billion ($183,000,000,000)
Bank of Scotland (United Kingdom): $181 billion ($181,000,000,000)
BNP Paribas (France): $175 billion ($175,000,000,000)

An excellent article on this story, from which the above list was obtained, can be found on Countercurrents.org.–t.h.g.

Iceland, a case that deserves careful study

Iceland was one of the first countries to experience the financial crisis that plagues the world. It seems to be the canary in the coal mine, and as such, it may be showing us not only what is in store for the rest of us, but also a way out of our dilemma.

In this series of 5 videos, Prof. Michael Hudson explains very clearly what happened to Iceland and shows it to be an example of the pattern that is being played out in the rest of the world.

In the time since that interview was recorded, the people of Iceland have taken action that may get to the root of the problem. Instead of bailing out the banks and rewarding those who caused the problem in the first place, Iceland has, according to one of my correspondents:
– Totally recalled its government.
– Nationalized its main banks.
– Decided not to honor the claims from the UK and Holland due to their speculative policies.
– Created a popular assembly to rewrite its constitution.

Strangely, there has been very little about that in the media.

I would very much like to see reports that detail these actions, so I invite any of my readers who find them to pass them on by making comments to this post–t.h.g.

Sonoma County GoLocal Leading the Way

As I’ve been saying for some time, civilization is at a major turning point. Many things need to change if we are to have the kind of world we want to live in. To make the transition gracefully, I think new structures need to be built from the bottom upward, community by community.

One of the most promising projects that is currently underway is Sonoma County GoLocal. In a recent communication, Prof. Philip Beard has provided this update.

Dear Friends,

As most of you know, I’ve been involved for the past several years in the Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative, our regional localization initiative. The Coop’s development has been rapid and impressive. (If you like, check out our website: http://sonomacounty.golocal.coop/.) But like everybody else, we need money. I’ve applied to the Ashoka Foundation in Washington DC for one of the five $50k grants they are awarding under the rubric Powering Economic Opportunity: Create A World That Works.

I’m writing to ask your assistance with this application, if you’ve got a few spare moments. Ashoka suggests that applicants’ chances will improve if supporters go to the project website, read the application, and post their comments. If you’re interested, here’s the link that will get you to my page: http://www.changemakers.com/node/103467. My project summary will show on that page; to read the various segments of the proposal, you’ll need to hit the “read more” buttons.

Apparently you need to “log in” with Ashoka to leave comments, as you’ll find out if you hit the “discuss” and even just the “like” button. I apologize for this inconvenience, and will be doubly grateful if you decide to brave it out.

The judges start vetting the proposals on July 20, so if you want to post a comment it’ll have to be before then.

Many thanks,

Philip Beard

I’m urging everyone to get behind this project in whatever way you can. I have great confidence that Sonoma County GoLocal has the potential to become the kind of optimal model needed to inspire other communities and lead them onto the right path toward achieving economic democracy.–t.h.g.

Usury and the Money Problem, a Message to Faith Communities

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) is an international interfaith movement that has been working for peace, justice and nonviolence for almost a century. As a result of meeting Ray Foss during my tour of Oregon and Washington about a year ago, I reconnected with FOR. Ray has lately been instrumental in raising the issues of “usury” and “the money problem” amongst various faith-based communities. I think it is largely through his efforts that a recent issue of Fellowship, the magazine of FOR, had a major focus on Rethinking Money.

Starting with a fine editorial by Mark C. Johnson, FOR executive director, that section of the magazine contains articles by both Ray and myself. My article Money, Usury, and the Economics of Peace, can be read online.

The arguments against the practice of usury/interest go way beyond scriptural prohibitions. It is now obvious to anyone who cares to see, that there are solid economic and social arguments that should be sufficient to persuade any rational person that our present system of money and finance, based as it is on compound interest (usury), is not only unjust, but also destructive to the natural environment, the social fabric, and the common good.

World debt has been growing much faster than any measure of economic output, even GDP (gross domestic product), which includes not only the production of goods, but also the production of “bads.” The financial crises we are seeing in various countries and economic sectors are evidence that the debt burdens have grown far beyond what can be borne by either the private sector or by governments.

The growth of debt must stop. A new economic and financial order must soon emerge, if not consciously and deliberately, then it will happen on its own through the descent into chaos. If political and financial leaders cannot accept the end of the old order of things, then the people themselves must take the lead to develop new arrangements that build a peaceful, more equitable society, from the bottom up. How that might be done s the subject of the latter (prescriptive) chapters of my book, The End of Money and the future of Civilization.

Recognizing Interdependence

Money is supposed to be our servant, but it has become our master. A major step in liberating ourselves is the recognition that “we are all in this together,” that the entire web of life is based on intricate patterns of co-dependence and symbiosis.

Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute, in his Independence Day musings, provides a useful history of the “interdependence movement,” and it various proponents. Here is an excerpt:

For countries as well as individuals, independence is a dramatic move from dependence into a more self-defined, self-created life.

The next developmental step takes us into greater INTERdependence – bringing ourselves into increasingly mutual, peer, give-and-take relationships with others.

Nature has been developing interdependence as an art form for billions of years.  Animals like us depend on plants for oxygen; plants depend on us for carbon dioxide.  Flowers feed bees with nectar; bees pollinate flowers.  Rabbits feed foxes; foxes keep rabbits from destroying their own habitat and starving.

We humans have our own ways of being interdependent.  With each passing year, global economics, technology, media and mobility have woven us all together.  On the other side of the coin, climate change, ocean exploitation, terrorism and wind-borne toxins and radiation have taught us — or should be teaching us — how relative our boundaries are and how solidly real our shared destiny.

As the fundamental fact of interdependence becomes increasingly obvious, we are slowly learning how to use it consciously to further our collective well-being. We are developing new forms of mutuality, community, synergy, sustainability and co-intelligence which empower us to make our shared fate a good one.

Declarations of Interdependence and Interdependence Days can help us remember just how important and valuable interdependence is.

You can read the rest of Tom’s message here.

My Summer 2011 Newsletter

The long silence

It’s been a long time since I sent out my previous newsletter in mid-February. That doesn’t mean I’ve been inactive—quite the contrary, I’ve just been too busy to document all the things I’ve been doing or to compile the list of important links and resources I want you to know about. This edition is intended to remedy that.

I returned to the U.S. from Asia in mid-February for a four month stint, but am now back in Thailand for an indefinite period. While in America, much of my time and energy was taken up with preparing and delivering some new presentations, providing media interviews, and trying in vain to keep up with email and other correspondence. The first few weeks in Tucson were devoted to resting up, reconnecting with friends and colleagues, and taking care of some personal business details.

By the middle of April, I had completed a new presentation which elaborates the themes that I began expounding more than a year ago about societal metamorphosis and the “Butterfly economy,” and added more material about “new finance” to my perennial topic of alternative exchange.

The North American tour

Long-time friend and associate, Les Squires, made it possible for me to venture up to Colorado for a few days in April to conduct a series of presentations, discussions, and consultations. Highlights of that trip included my presentation titled, Money and Finance in the Emerging Butterfly Economy, which I delivered to the Highland City Club in Boulder, and another presentation on The Butterfly Economy at the Louisville Public Library. These were co-sponsored by various Transitions groups and individuals and will eventually be made available on my website http://beyondmoney.net.

I had a rewarding but exhausting trip back east in May, with family visits sandwiched in between presentations in Florida and Toronto. The first of these was a workshop that I was asked to provide for members of the Financial Planning Association at their annual retreat. I titled it, Financial Planning in the Emerging Butterfly Economy: Realities, Trends and Discontinuities. You can view the power point slide show at http://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/greco-fpa-powerpointrevpost.pps. I have a recording of my narrative which I would like to combine with the slide show but I’ll need some help to do that. If anyone has the skills and the time to work with me on that, I’d greatly appreciate it.

The hardest part was the last 4 days in Toronto where I gave a lecture at the MINT film festival on the first day, two TV interviews on the second, and workshops on the third and fourth days, with a lot of consultations in between. That trip was hosted by Glen Alan who, as the new director, has put renewed vigor into the Toronto Dollar currency project. Glen, who happens to be a musician and operates a professional recording studio, is well-connected, very effective, and a fountain of energy.

All of the Toronto proceedings were professionally recorded and are in the process of being edited. Glen and Ron Elmy are putting together a DVD that will be available from The MINT Film Festival website in less than a month. Watch for it on http://mintff.org. You can download a short video teaser now at http://www.ronelmy.com/files/thg.zip.

Already posted are my interview with Frank Touby (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvCruoYcN4Q), and my interview with Hugh Reilly (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7nOYCRHjOY&feature=player_detailpage).

My particular vision, interests and expertise are, I think, fairly well expressed in these interviews.

I’m hopeful that my Toronto visit and the follow-up activities will have a far reaching positive impact.

Funding the Common Good

CREW

Sometime toward the end of last year I mentioned an exciting new project called, CREW, the purpose of which is to provide a perpetual pool of capital to finance both for-profit and non-profit enterprises that help to create resilient, sustainable communities. It is one instance of an emerging phenomenon called crowd sourcing or crowd funding. CREW is not intended to provide any direct personal gain. Money we put in is not a loan, nor is it an ownership share, but a gift that is intended to be a permanent investment in the common good.

I have great expectations for this initiative, and as a member of the CREW Founder’s Circle, I invite you to join my CREW. We will together decide how the funds in our joint stewardship account will be invested. Just go to http://www.CREWfund.org/tomg, watch the short video, and click on the orange Join Now button.

Recent Posts to my Website

For those of you who do not regularly follow my posts, I’d like to highlight a few especially important ones. You can be notified of new posts by following me (tomazgreco) on Twitter.

  • The war against the middle class. It is ever more apparent that there is a deliberate policy to impoverish and disempower the middle class. As far back as 2006, billionaire Warren Buffet was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” More recently, Senator Bernie Sanders, in a speech to his Senate colleagues, plainly described the war that is being waged against the middle class by the super-wealthy elite and their minions in Congress. Find it at this post, http://beyondmoney.net/2011/03/28/what-happened-to-class-war-in-america/, and search “Sanders” on my site for additional material on the subject. This is not simply an American war, but one that is being waged globally, as we see from the austerity that is being imposed on Ireland, Greece, and other “developed” coutries.

One aspect of that war is the ongoing shifting of the tax burden from corporations and wealthy individuals onto the backs of the poor and middle-class. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains that part of it in a 2 minute video. See it at, http://beyondmoney.net/2011/06/20/the-truth-about-the-economy/.

Miscellany

  • I’ve written a new article, Reclaiming the Credit Commons, the Key to a Peaceful and Happy Society, that will be included in an anthology tentatively titled, Self-Sustaining Abundance: The Commons, Beyond Market and State. The book project is being supported by The Heinrich Boell Foundation of Germany, and is being co-edited by Silke Helfrich and David Bollier. It will be published early next year in English, German and Spanish.
  • One of my published articles will be included in the upcoming anthology What Comes After Money? which will be published later this year by Evolver Editions (http://www.evolvereditions.com) in partnership with North Atlantic Books, and will be distributed by Random House.
  • The Chinese translation of my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, is now in print.

I’m reassessing how I want to spend my time and energy from here on out. I’d like to be a little less busy, and direct the bulk of my attention to aspects of my work that are most creative, enjoyable, and effective. I’ll be cutting back on correspondence and lecturing, and emphasizing consultations and collaborations with groups and individuals working on projects that show promise of making major breakthroughs toward interest-free cashless trading, equitable finance, and economic democracy.

May we all find the courage to do what needs to be done, in a joyful spirit and with love in our hearts,

Thomas

Mobile phone (Thailand): +66 84 373 5645
Skype/Twitter name: tomazgreco