Category Archives: Emerging paradigm

Understanding the “big picture” of change

The past several decades have seen the emergence of diverse movements that seek to address specific problems and provide general improvements to society. Environmentalists have been trying to stop pollution, climate change and resource depletion; civil libertarians seek to stop the abuse of basic human rights and the erosion of democratic institutions; humanitarians are trying to end hunger, disease, and degrading treatment like human trafficking, genital mutilation and genocide, to name a few.  And yet, the juggernaut rolls on, destroying more forests, polluting more water, concentrating more power and wealth in fewer hands. The need for change is obviously becoming more urgent, but why isn’t it happening?

This latest post by Tom Atlee helps to frame both the fundamental problem and broad approaches to transformation. Please give it your careful attention– then take appropriate action.

Surveillance and parasitism harm society’s collective intelligence

Government of Kenya attacks self-help program in Mombasa slums

In an unbelievably heavy handed move, the Government of Kenya last week arrested an American aid worker and five local micro-entrepreneurs for operating a complementary exchange system in a poor suburb of Mombasa.

The recently launched Bangla-Pesa voucher system is intended to provide additional liquidity that makes it possible for unmet needs of local residents to be satisfied out of their own excess productive capacity. In just two weeks of operation, the amount of goods and services traded among the members of the Bangla-Pesa network increased substantially. Now, the program is shut down and six people are facing seven years in prison.  Why? Is this simply a case of ignorance on the part of government officials, or an attempt to keep poor people poor and dependent upon inadequate or even exploitative systems that are controlled by bankers and politicians ? The answer to that will become clear as this case develops. Your help is needed to get this matter resolved in favor of freedom, justice, and rationality. Here is the official appeal from American aid worker Will Ruddick.

Dear Friends, Family and Supporters,

End Africa’s dependence on Aid through Complementary Currencies. Eradicate poverty and keep six people from seven years in prison.

Click here to support this program and watch our videos.

Bangla-Pesa, a complementary currency program in one of Kenya’s poorest slums, needs your help. This innovative program gave participants the ability to create their own means of exchange so micro-business owners could trade what they have for what they need. In two weeks, the program already showed great success. But the Central Bank of Kenya has deemed the program illegal and is pursuing a legal battle against its organizers, despite enthusiastic community support.

These six people face charges that could put them in prison for as much as seven years:
·         Alfred Sigo a youth activist.
·         Emma Onyango a grandmother and community business owner.
·         Rose Oloo a grandmother and community business owner.
·         Paul Mwololo a grandfather and community business owner.
·         Caroline Dama a mother and volunteer.
·         Will Ruddick a new father and program founder.
We need help raising funds for legal fees and to bring this program back to life so it can help people throughout Africa in expanded form via mobile phones.
Our goal is to raise 47,000 Euros over the next 47 days.

Click here to read more and donate:
http://igg.me/p/bangla-pesa/x/31801
Spread the word!
Sincerely,
Will Ruddick, Bangla-Pesa Program Founder

NSA whistleblower challenges “Big Brother”

In an act of tremendous courage and commitment to “government by the people,” Edward Snowden has revealed the abusive power that is being wielded by the United States government, in particular through the National Security Agency (NSA), at which he was employed.

Here below is a video interview of Snowden by Guardian (UK) columnist Glenn Greenwald, in which Snowden  explains his actions.

http://youtu.be/3P_0iaCgKLk

You can read the related Guardian article here.

And here blow is a CNN interview of Greenwald in which he explains what the NSA and the tech companies have said about the PRISM program of collecting personal communications of ordinary American citizens.

http://youtu.be/k6NyiFMrDqY

In my latest book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, I included a chapter titled, The Contest for Rulership—Two Opposing Philosophies, in which I attempted to outline the inevitable conflict that will decide what kind of world we will live in. Here is the first part of that chapter:

Chapter 3. The Contest for rulership—Two Opposing Philosophies

There appears to be a general tendency for those who get a little power to try to acquire more of it—and like an addictive drug, power’s ability to satisfy seems to depend upon its use in ever-larger doses. Lest the following be misunderstood, let me say at the start that I believe the same tendencies exist in every one of us, and that our efforts to improve our collective lot should not be cast as an “us versus them” contest. When I speak of ruling “elites” it is not to cast them as “evil” in opposition to the “virtuous masses,” but to explain the distortions in human affairs that have developed over time and to suggest what may be needed to give civilization a chance of evolving toward higher levels of achievement and a more harmonious condition.

Elitist or Egalitarian?

In 1944, F. A. Hayek warned that the western democracies were on the same “road to serfdom” that had been followed by fascist Germany and Italy (and communist Russia) during the early twentieth century.

He characterized the political contest as being between socialism on the one hand, and capitalism on the other—equating the former with “collectivism” and the latter with “individualism.” Hayek’s dichotomy is, I think, an overly simplistic characterization, and the fundamental struggle goes beyond particular political ideologies or economic systems however one might wish to define them. In my view there is a contest raging in the world that is more fundamental and less apparent than Hayek’s. It is one that impinges directly upon our freedom, our dignity, and our morality. It is a struggle between what might be called elitism on the one hand, and egalitarianism on the other. By elitism I mean the centralized rulership exercised by a small privileged class, while egalitarianism implies the dispersal of power and popular self-government. As Lord Acton keenly observed, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Whether that power be wielded through political office or economic dominance makes little difference; the outcome is the same. It is easy for those who live far above the masses to delude themselves into thinking that power and privilege are their “right,” and that whatever serves the narrow self-interest of their class, or race, or religious group also serves the general interest.

Hayek was sensitive to the defects of communism, but he seems to have been blind to the defects inherent in capitalism that make it equally susceptible to becoming totalitarian and tyrannical. The defining feature of totalitarian systems is the centralization of power and control, whether it be economic, political, or social, for these three are but facets of one whole. Considering the millennia of institutionalized hierarchy in our societies, Laurence Victor goes so far as to say,

I believe that [bureaucracies] are strong attractors for human psychopaths. In fighting their way to the top, individuals are selected who have the greatest tolerance for collateral damage of their actions. Today, the top [levels] of most power echelon hierarchies are populated by psychopaths. . . . The greater the power, the greater the collateral damage required and the greater the deception—both to others done damage [to] and those who are indoctrinated to damage others.[There are] two alternative modes for coordinating activity so as to accomplish what only many hands in coordinated activity could accomplish. The egalitarian mode involves voluntary cooperation to achieve requisite coordination. An exemplar might be a tribe’s collective effort in gathering materials and constructing a long house. The egalitarian mode can have leaders or managers, as roles to assist in coordination. Ideally, each person contributes as to their existing competencies and interests—and all essential roles are covered. The elitist mode involves forced labor in a top down command structure to achieve coordination (and even to get persons to act as demanded). The force could be facilitated by slavery or wages, both essential for survival in the prevailing situation. Once a people settle into an elitist mode, it must be defended by force and the indoctrination of labor to accept their status.

For that reason,  any excuse for concentrating power and curtailing the personal rights and freedoms to which all are entitled, even national defense or a “war on terror,” must be viewed with suspicion—for as H. L. Mencken observed more than seventy years ago, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” The real hobgoblins, often created by government itself, can be effectively addressed only by a responsible citizenry acting together from its community base.

Law, by itself, is incapable of restraining the behavior of the addict, for addiction creates imperatives that are stronger than the inhibitions induced by law. But, beyond that, power addicts’ need for ever more power leads them to seek ways to control the very process by which laws are made, changed, and adjudicated. While the separation of governmental powers into executive, legislative, and judiciary functions was intended to offer some assurance of pluralism and impartiality, the ever-widening socioeconomic differences have the effect of drawing these functions together into the hands of power elites whose members possess shared interests that are typically antagonistic to those of the masses who comprise the rest of society. As legal constraints upon concentrated power are gradually nullified, government becomes a weapon against freedom, and the ruling class tightens its grip. The people must be ever watchful for the telltale signs of creeping totalitarianism—government secrecy, stonewalling, obfuscation, classified information, abuse of prisoners, surveillance of citizens, harassment of dissenters, appeals to national security and executive privilege, and covert interventions in the affairs of other countries. These signs have been plainly evident in America for some time, and the trend toward totalitarian government has been ramped up since the events of September 11. This is clearly shown in Naomi Wolf ’s book The End of America, which outlines ten steps common to all transitions from democratic to totalitarian rule, and shows how they are already manifest today in the United States. Chalmers Johnson, in his Blowback trilogy, has clearly described how America’s imperial overreach has all but destroyed our republican form of government.

It is said that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” but it cannot end there—vigilance is but the beginning of freedom. The acquisition and preservation of freedom require, in addition, responsible civic action. An informed, organized, and politically active citizenry is the only kind that has any chance of remaining free. {end of excerpt}

So long as we put material things foremost, and so long as we remain dependent upon their system of money and their banks, they will continue to control and dominate us. But we have it within our power to declare our economic independence, share the resources we have at our disposal, and apply our skills and talents to serving the common good.

My expectation is that increasing numbers of “cracks” (like Snowden’s revelation) within the despotic systems of control will lead the top level rulers to prematurely attempt to spring the trap on democratic government. This departure from “gradualism” will provide enough contrast to enable people to see what is being done to them, and to recognize that their fundamental common interests are at stake. Hopefully, we the people will assert our collective will in coordinated peaceful action that will turn the tide toward popular control and a world that works for everyone.–t.h.g.

Non-violent revolution, is it possible?

What will it take to bring about a civilization that is peaceful, equitable and happy? This is a key question that I have been contemplating for the almost four decades during which I’ve come to realize the fundamental changes that are required in order for a convivial civilization to emerge.

In my most recent book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, I drew upon Prof. Philip Zimbardo’s work on human behavior and the lessons learned from his famous Stanford Prison Experiment. Just recently I happened to hear on the TED Radio Hour on NPR, a fascinating program that explored, The Violence Within Us. Besides Philip Zimbardo, talking about “Why Do Good People Do Bad Things?”, the program featured three other related segments as follows:

Jim Fallon: What Does The Mind Of A Killer Look Like?

Leslie Morgan Steiner: Why Don’t Domestic Violence Victims Leave?

Steven Pinker: Is The World A Less Violent Place?

These segments, each dealing with a different question relating to violence comprise one of the most thought-provoking programs I’ve heard in a very long time. I think we can learn a great deal by contemplating the facts and ideas presented. Please visit the program page and have a listen.

Update: Crowdfunding and 2013 Summer tour

Great news! Summer is almost upon us and I’m excitedly making preparations to begin my European tour. With  two full days to go in our Crowdfunding campaign, we’ve successfully raised our target amount of $4,000! Thank you to everyone who’s helped make that happen!  It really is so wonderful to have your support. Thank you!

Of course, we don’t want anyone to feel left out! You can still help out by donating here at our Indiegogo site: http://igg.me/at/tomstour/. Funds raised above the original target will be used to redesign and update our websites and upgrade our email service, greatly improving our service to you. You all have my deepest gratitude for your generosity!

Here’s an update on my agenda

I’ve been invited to give a number of presentations and workshops. Starting in the Netherlands, I will be making a presentation hosted by STRO on the evening of June 18 (19:00 – 21:30) in the Hague. That presentation, intended for practitioners and social entrepreneurs, will describe the various issues that must be considered in creating and managing alternative exchange mechanisms. Both Time/bank The Hague and STRO will also give short presentations. The location is “Quartair” in the Hague, close to the CCS conference centre. In this building Time/bank also will host an exposition during the CCS conference.

The 2nd International Conference on Complementary Currency Systems (CCS), which is also in the Hague, begins the following day and runs until the 24th of June. My conference presentation (on June 20) is titled, Reinventing Money: How Complementary Currencies and Mutual Credit Clearing Can Create a Sustainable, Regenerative Economy. I’m also slated to be a panelist for two other sessions on June 21. One of these will address the topic of The Future of Community Currencies, and the other, Control of new types of e-money by financial regulators. Conference details and registration information can be found here.

Following the Hague conference, I will travel to Sweden for a stay of almost two weeks during which time I will give presentations and meet with community currency people in Gottenborg, Lindsberg, Gotland, and Stockholm.

From Sweden, I will travel to England to present at an all day workshop in Lancaster, Unlocking Local Wealth, an event organized by the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) of the University of Cumbria Business School, in association with the New Economics Foundation and the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service, with the support of Impact International. You can find the program for that event here.

I expect to remain in the UK for a week or more then travel on to Greece for an extended stay in Volos, Crete, and Athens. Visits to other places are also possible and I’m expecting important opportunities to develop spontaneously, as they invariably do. I’m scheduled to return to the U.S. on August 21.

Thanks again for your interest and support! Once again, here’s the link where you can invest in my ability to serve you all better moving forward: http://igg.me/at/tomstour/

Thomas

TG_meme_3.2

Milestones in Moneyless Exchange

TG_meme_2_sm

I often compare the evolution of exchange alternatives to the development of aviation. Just as many early attempts to fly were clumsy and poorly informed by good science, so too have been many early attempts to create private and community currencies. But much has been learned over the past three decades, and conditions are ripe for major advances in our ability to rise above antiquated and dysfunctional means of  payment. My role is to guide the design and implementation of community based currencies and trade exchanges that enable general prosperity and a stable and sustainable economy.

During my upcoming tour of Europe I will be speaking about the power of community currencies and mutual credit, and consulting with communities on doing good things where they are.

With still two weeks to go, our Crowdfunding campaign is now more than halfway toward our goal. Thanks for your support, and please help spread the word. Our campaign site is http://igg.me/at/tomstour/x/31801.

Complementary currency conference shaping up to be a landmark event

The Conference on Complementary Currency Systems that will be held 19-23 June in The Hague, Netherlands, is shaping up to be a significant landmark in the development of currencies and exchange processes. It will bring together practitioners and theoreticians from all over the world. The following message that came in recently from Edgar Kampers, one of the organizers, highlights the program for just one of the five days. Anyone involved in, or having a serious interest in this field, will probably want to be there.

Are you eager to learn about the future of currencies? Or are you keener to know how complementary currencies can support the local economy and build communities? Are you intrigued by digital currencies like Bitcoin, Freicoin and Ripple?

Then join the 2nd International Conference on Complementary Currency Systems on Friday 21st of June. It will bring a fresh perspective on local currencies like the Brixton Pound, Bristol Pound, Chiemgauer, Berkshares and the Calgary Dollars! It will explore several amazing time banks and time credits systems like Spice, Fureai Kippu and De Makkie!

The conference will be held in The Hague, The Netherlands and will bring together world-leading experts including Bernard Lietaer, Thomas Greco, Jem Bendell, Bart Jan Krouwel, Shann Turnbull and Tony Greenham.
Step into the world of complementary currencies, join the conference!

Join today at http://www.iss.nl/forms/ccs_conference_governement/
Or learn more at qoin.org/conference_english/
Twitter @CcsConference13, #CCSconf13
Prezi http://bit.ly/12qzePu

How to protect your “nest egg” while making your communty more resilient

This podcast featuring Michael Shuman, Jenny Kassan, and Elizabeth Ü, is a “must watch.” It clearly explains the options available to savers, investors, and entrepreneurs.

Crowdfunding Update – February 2013

Compiled by Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

There are two fundamentally different but related aspects of the “money problem” that urgently need to be addressed. One is exchange problem, the other is the finance problem. Recent history has made it clear that in both realms, existing structures and institutions are serious flawed.

The exchange problem stems from the monopolization and misallocation of credit by the banking cartel and the perverse and improper issuance of political currencies (dollars, euros, pounds, yen, etc.). Solutions to the exchange problem are intended to provide liquidity, i.e., a means of payment, wherever it is needed so that markets can continue to function, so that producers can continue to sell and consumers can continue to buy despite the shortage or abusive issuance of conventional money.

The finance problem is the shortage of investment capital to small and medium sized and locally-owned business. That shortage stems from bank investment policies and preferences and government regulations that favor the channeling of everyone’s savings into corporate and government securities. Solutions to the finance problem seek to enable savers to directly allocate their savings to enterprises and projects that enhance the resilience and sustainability of their communities, provide real security, and contribute to the common good.

Decentralization, relocalization, and disintermediation are the emerging trends leading to a new economic paradigm. “Crowdfunding” is raising investment capital from large numbers of small investors. This may be in the form of donations, loans, or equity shares.

This is needed today because,

1. People (justifiably) do not trust banks and Wall Street,
2. People are looking for better returns than can be had from banks and the stock market,
3. People are looking for ways to protect their savings from inflation,
4. People are looking for ways to assure their access to basic necessities through direct ownership of enterprises that produce them.
5. People are seeking security by making their local community economies more resilient and sustainable.

Unfortunately, there are legal obstacles that currently limit those possibilities. The Jobs Act that was passed into law in April of 2012 is intended to remove some of those obstacles, but the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has yet to act on its mandate to come up with new regulations that relax those restrictions.

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Among the leading organizations in the field, and one of the best sources of information about funding options, is Cutting Edge Capital. Their mission is “to develop tools that will make it easier and more affordable for businesses and nonprofits to do legally-compliant community capital raising.” Their website is http://www.cuttingedgecapital.com. /

A very useful article from their website, authored by Nathan Hyun, is titled, The Direct Public Offering – The Original Securities-Based Crowdfunding Model. Here is the concluding paragraph.

Ultimately, the new crowdfunding exemption (when it becomes legal) will provide companies with another option for accessing securities-based capital from the crowd and it could prove even more exciting for those wishing to build platforms and tools to offer issuers. In the meantime, the original crowdfunding model, the DPO, continues to provide companies with an effective way to conduct a self-underwritten and self-administered public securities offering. If you are a small or medium sized business, startup or nonprofit and are looking to immediately raise capital from the crowd through a public securities offering, a DPO is presently your only option and may be the best option even when the new crowdfunding law goes into effect.

Several informational resources related to crowdfunding are listed below.

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What is Crowdfunding and JOB’s Act?

http://www.rysalisbury.com/announcements/what-is-crowdfunding-and-jobs-act

This site provides a thorough overview of the present regulatory situation. It specifically states that, “Crowdfunding, or to be more specific, ‘equity-based crowdfunding’ is not yet legal.”

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Crowdfunding Predictions for 2013

2012 was quite a year for the crowdfunding industry. In April, President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law, which will open up equity-based crowdfunding for unaccredited investors. In May, the Pebble E-Paper Watch set a crowdfunding record and gained national media headlines, raising over $10 million on donation-based crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Research firm Massolution estimates the crowdfunding industry (equity + donation + lending +reward crowdfunding) will grow from $1.5 billion in 2011 to $2.8 billion in 2012.

Complete article at:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryancaldbeck/2012/12/11/crowdfunding-predictions-for-2013/

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4 Signs A Company Is NOT A Good Candidate For Equity Crowdfunding

1. The company is a tech company.

2. The company will need multiple rounds of financing.

3. The company is built on Intellectual Property, not brand.

4. The company is difficult to understand.

Read the entire article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryancaldbeck/2012/10/16/4-signs-a-company-is-not-a-good-candidate-for-equity-crowdfunding/

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http://www.kicktraq.com/

Why 84% of Kickstarter’s top projects shipped late

http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/18/technology/innovation/kickstarter-ship-delay/

http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/18/technology/innovation/kickstarter-ship-delay/

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More About Legal Issues

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

The SEC updated its home page (http://www.sec.gov/), with info re: JOBS act (http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/jobs-act.shtml)

with a specific reminder

“On April 5, 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was signed into law. The Act requires the Commission to adopt rules to implement a new exemption that will allow crowdfunding. Until then, we are reminding issuers that any offers or sales of securities purporting to rely on the crowdfunding exemption would be unlawful under the federal securities laws.”

http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/jobsact/crowdfundingexemption.htm

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Selected sites

Indiegogo

http://www.indiegogo.com/

Kickstarter

http://www.kickstarter.com/

Propel Arizona

http://www.propelarizona.com/

Propel Arizona is on the front page of the Arizona Republic business section on February 14, 2013. They did a good job of explaining what crowdfunding is, too.

Online version:  http://www.azcentral.com/business/arizonaeconomy/articles/20130213arizona-crowdfunding-propel-arizona.html

Gofundme

http://www.gofundme.com/crowdfunding-websites/

http://www.gofundme.com/

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Other related articles

SEC uses JOBS Act to set up new roadblocks to crowdfunding

Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2012/08/31/sec-uses-jobs-act-to-set-up-new-roadblocks-to-crowdfunding/#xOwOvdrWaKqW3Ysi.99

‘Rich Man’s Crowd Funding’

http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2013/01/15/rich-mans-crowd-funding/

Creting the new paradigm economy

There has been over the years, no shortage of common sense ideas that have the power to create a world that works for everyone. Many of these are included in this recent article. I leave it to the reader to use their good judgement in sorting the wheat from the chaff. –t.h.g.

Six Economic Steps to a Better Life and Real Prosperity for All

By Gar Alperovitz and Steve Dubb

We’ve got to break out of the old ways of thinking about the economy.

Most activists tend to approach progressive change from one of two perspectives: First, there’s the “reform” tradition that assumes corporate control is a constant and that “politics” acts to modify practices within that constraint. Liberalism in the United States is representative of this tradition. Then there’s the “revolutionary” tradition, which assumes change can come about only if the major institutions are largely eliminated or transcended, often by violence.

But what if neither revolution nor reform is viable?

Paradoxically, we believe the current stalemating of progressive reform may open up some unique strategic possibilities to transform institutions of the political economy over time. We call this third option evolutionary reconstruction. Like reform, evolutionary reconstruction involves step-by-step nonviolent change. But like revolution, evolutionary reconstruction changes the basic institutions of ownership of the economy, so that the broad public, rather than a narrow band of individuals (i.e., the “one percent”) owns more and more of the nation’s productive assets.

More…