Category Archives: My activities

Newsletter – July, 2014

Contents

  • From Visby to Bisbee
  • Website improvements, slide shows, and videos
  • My upcoming events
  • Ecuador leading the way toward a “Commons Economy”
  • Kalikalos Summer School/Vacation.
  • Bitcoin—the currency and the technology
  • J. W. Smith and the Institute for Cooperative Capitalism Worldwide
  • More lessons in global economics, finance, and internet access

From Visby to Bisbee

Last year around this time I was in Visby, on the island of Gotland in Sweden where I was privileged to be able to attend the annual Almedalen event, an exciting convergence that brings together a wide variety of business people, politicians, academics, grassroots activists and ordinary folks for several days of presentations, discussions, and festivities.

This year I’m in Bisbee, Arizona, a former mining town turned artist’s mecca and tourist destination where I have the use of a comfortable house while my friends who own it summer in New England. Bisbee is located in Cochise county which is in the southeastern corner of Arizona, close to the Mexican border. I’ve gradually been adjusting to small town living and finding it to my liking. At five thousand feet elevation, the climate is pleasant—not too hot, and the summer monsoons have provided abundant rains over the past couple weeks. The ocotillo plants, which most of the time look like clumps of dead sticks splayed out toward the sky, are now covered with lush green leaves and tipped with red blossom tassels. _____________________________________________________

Website improvements, slide shows, and videos

The slower pace of small town Arizona has given me the opportunity to focus much of my energy and attention on consolidating the considerable body of work that I have built up over the past three decades, work that has taken a variety of forms—articles, books, websites, presentations, and interviews. Thanks to modern technologies, much of this work has been recorded and thus can be made readily available to present and future generations. I’ve spent a lot of time going back over my accumulated material—reworking and updating it, finding ways to make it more accessible, and in some cases, publishing it for the first time. I’m proving (to myself at least) that an old dog can learn new tricks, and I’ve been having a fun doing it.

I’ve been using Power Point for several years but up to this point had not tried to learn more than its basic functions, nor had I made much of an effort to learn how to edit audio and video files. With the acquisition of Power Point 2010, which has some powerful new features, plus some new found motivation on my part, I’m now beginning to master it along with audio editing software like WavePad and Audacity (both are free). Together, these tools are enabling me to create videos of reasonably good quality from many of my Power Point presentations that have been recorded over the years. I am posting these for viewing on my Vimeo channel at https://vimeo.com/tomazg/videos.

One of my best presentations, A New Paradigm in Exchange and Finance: The pathway to peace, justice, freedom, and a dignified life for TG-PBIbySL-0496CRsall, was delivered at the Public Banking Institute conference in Philadelphia in 2012. I’ve made a video of that slide show presentation, which you can view at https://vimeo.com/100765695.

I’ve also done some work on my YouTube channel. I’ve sought out and collected materials in which I am featured. You can find these in my YouTube playlist labeled, My presentations and Interviews.

These links are also provided in a new menu button labeled, My Videos and Sites, that I’ve added at the top of the home page on my website http://beyondmoney.net/. That button also brings up links to my other sites.

As you explore my sites, please let me know if you find any broken links, errors, or other problems. You can reach me at thgreco@mindspring.com.

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My upcoming events

I’ve been invited by the Sunbelt World Trade Association to give a presentation in Tucson on Monday, August 18. This presentation will describe how local businesses can create local liquidity on the basis of their own production and collaborative credit, thereby reducing their dependence on bank borrowing and protecting the local economy from the ill effects of national and global monetary policies (Details at http://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/2014-tucson-flyer-063014.pdf). If there is sufficient interest, I may follow that up with a workshop covering the issues that need to be addressed in preparing to launch a complementary community currency for southeastern Arizona.

In October, I’ll be going to the San Francisco Bay area. I will present at Living the New Economy conference in Oakland, October 23-26 (http://www.bayareaneweconomy.org/), being organized by the people at Bay Bucks, a complementary currency and trade exchange for the SF Bay Area. Their banner reads: “We help local businesses cut costs, increase revenue and in the process, build local resilience.”

On October 30 I will present, The Evolution of Money and its Potential to Improve Humanity at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Details can be found here.

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Ecuador leading the way toward a “Commons Economy”

In 2013, the government of Ecuador embarked upon a program to rethink the fundamentals of its economy and plan its transition to a free and open knowledge society. Friend and colleague, Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation was engaged to lead a ten month process of research and discussion.

David Bollier has provided a good overview of the project and a progress report in his magazine On The Commons.

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Kalikalos Summer School/Vacation

If you’re in the market for a European vacation combined with an educational and community-building experience, you must check out Kalikalos Summer School where you can experience “Alternative holistic holidays on Mt Pelion above the sea.” Their three campuses are all in close proximity to one another in one of the most beautiful parts of Greece. This short video will give a good idea of what to expect.

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Bitcoin—the currency and the technology

The story of Bitcoin goes way beyond alternative currency. As a “virtual commodity,” Bitcoin represents a step backward toward a more primitive form of currency, but the “block chain” technology that Bitcoin uses has far reaching applicability. An interesting article that speaks to that point appeared in The Telegraph (UK). Titled, The coming digital anarchy, the lead-in to the article reads, “Bitcoin is giving banks a run for their money. Now the same technology threatens to eradicate social networks, stock markets, even national governments. Are we heading towards an anarchic future where centralised power of any kind will dissolve?

An interesting counterpoint to that one is Matthew Slater’s excellent article, What happens after the crypto-revolution?

And the nerds among us would do well to read Marc Andreesen’s New York Times article, Why Bitcoin Matters. Andreesen has invested almost $50 million in Bitcoin-related start-ups. He begins by painting this picture:

“A mysterious new technology emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, but actually the result of two decades of intense research and development by nearly anonymous researchers.

Political idealists project visions of liberation and revolution onto it; establishment elites heap contempt and scorn on it.

On the other hand, technologists – nerds – are transfixed by it. They see within it enormous potential and spend their nights and weekends tinkering with it.”

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J. W. Smith and the Institute for Cooperative Capitalism Worldwide

The Institute for Cooperative Capitalism Worldwide (ICCW) is the latest project of J.W. Smith, a long-time scholar and advocate of economic democracy, who has been writing on “full and equal rights economics” for many decades. I’ve know J.W. for many years and have a high regard for his work. I first became aware of him from reading his book, The Worlds Wasted Wealth. Now in his eighties, J.W. is still going strong and making a difference. His latest book is Periphery of Empire is Free: Empire’s Citizens Soon Will Be Free, which is being offered as an e-book at the bargain price of $5.50, along with books by William Kotke, Alanna Hartzok, and others.

The ICCW seeks to publish e-books by authors who share this full and equal rights philosophy. See their “creative commons” page. For responses and questions you can contact Dr. J.W. Smith at cc@ccus.info or phone 623-875-4624 .

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More lessons in global economics, finance, and internet access

Whenever you need to take a short break from whatever you’re doing, Clarke and Dawe’s video can provide you with some deep insights about the global financial crisis, with a few chuckles thrown in.

And for a few more laughs relating to an important current topic, view John Oliver on net neutrality, and sign the petition to protect internet access at The Daily Kos.

Wishing you a pleasant summer,

Thomas

Newsletter–late Spring, 2014

Newsletter Contents

  • Colleagues doing great work
  • Upcoming Conference
  • The Buddhist way—Principles to live by
  • Psychiatry running amok
  • Flight MH370

I do some of my best thinking when I’m on the move—in a bus, a train, a plane (though perhaps not in a Thai minivan). I can’t help but wonder if this might be due to a physical phenomenon of “induced creativity” akin to the electromagnet induction of electricity that occurs when a coil of wire is moved through a magnetic field. Could it be that “creative energy” is induced when an idle brain is moved through the Earth’s magnetic field or through a monotonous landscape? Far out, eh?

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Colleagues doing great work

 * The NGO, Koru Kenya, headed by American social entrepreneur and aid worker, Will Ruddick, which I’ve written about before, is now undertaking, with support from the Kenyan government, a program to replicate their successful Bangla-Pesa community currency program in other poor areas around Mumbasa and Nairobi. This is one of the most promising projects I know of that demonstrates how local liquidity can be created by producers themselves to facilitate trading amongst them. See my May 4 post about the project , and please help to support it financially by donating even a small amount via their Indiegogo Crowd Funding site.

* Our friend and associate, Michel Bauwens, who is founder and director of the Peer to Peer Foundation, has been engaged by the government of Ecuador to head an effort to plan the transition to a commons based peer-to-peer economy and shared-knowledge society. The project is known by its acronym, FLOK (which derives from the words free, libre, open, knowledge). Bauwens has just announced the publication of the “integrated Commons Transition Plan” which can be seen at https://floksociety.co-ment.com/text/xMHsm6YpVgI/view/. Bauwens recently explained the FLOK transition project at an Integral Theory Conference. You can see it here.

* In 2012, Professor Jem Bendell was appointed to head the newly formed Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at Cumbria University in the U.K. His inaugural lecture, Exploring Sustainability, given in April of this year was both interesting and enlightening. It is well worth watching at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Opqi-2UgY.

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Upcoming Conference

Chong Kee Tan and his Bay Bucks team are in the process of organizing a major “new economy convergence” titled, Living the New Economy, to be held in San Francisco October 23—26. I will be one of the keynote speakers, along with Charles Eisenstein and Ian MacKenzie. For details and to register, visit this site.

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The Buddhist way—Principles to live by

I often receive useful input from my correspondents via email. One that came to me recently was a list of life principles referred to as “The Buddhist Way.” I immediately posted it on my blog at https://tomazgreco.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/the-buddhist-way-principles-to-live-by/ , and intend to tack it up on my wall so that I may keep the principles always in mind.

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Psychiatry running amok

A few nights ago I went to a showing of a documentary film titled, The Hidden Enemy: Inside Psychiatry’s Covert Agenda, a film of the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights. I was astounded to learn, among other things, the extent of suicides and domestic violence amongst our military personnel, and the scale and scope of the their drugging by psychiatric staff both during and after their active duty service. Our troops have been virtual guinea pigs for psychiatric drugs that have questionable benefit and horrendous side effects.

The showing, sponsored by Veterans for Peace, highlighted some startling facts about psychiatry in the military:

  • The shootings at Fort Hood and the Washington Navy Yard are linked to psychiatric drugs.
  • 22 veterans are committing suicide every day.
  • In 2012 more active duty soldiers died from suicide than were killed in battle.
  • A questionnaire used to screen military personnel for depression and PTSD is copyrighted by Pfizer, who manufactures the antidepressant Zoloft and other psychiatric drugs.
  • 85% of military suicides had never seen combat.
  • More than 60% of suicides in the military were taking antidepressants or recently undergoing outpatient psychiatric treatment.
  • The antipsychotic drug, Seroquel, is referred to by soldiers and veterans as “serokill” because of its implication in cases of cardiac arrest and sudden deaths.

The showing was followed by a Q and A session during which many veterans described their own personal experience with psychiatric drugs that were prescribed based only on brief interviews and descriptions of symptoms, not a very scientific approach to treatment, in my view. In many cases, multiple drugs are prescribed even though no scientific testing has been done to determine possible interactions among them. I urge everyone to read the information and view the video here.

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Flight MH370

While news of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has faded from the headlines the mystery remains, and the failure to find one shred of physical evidence that the plane crashed into the ocean, adds to the plausibility of explanations other than the official ones.

No less a figure than Mahathir bin Mohamad, who served for 22 years as Malaysia’s Prime Minister, has accused the CIA and the Boeing Company of hiding key information. The May 19 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald reported as follows:

One of the most influential figures in Malaysia’s ruling party claims information about flight MH370 is being hidden and the Australian-led search for the plane off Western Australia is a waste of time and money.

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said the plane’s disappearance on March 8 was “most likely not an ordinary crash after fuel was exhausted”.

“The plane is somewhere, maybe without MAS [Malaysia Airlines] markings,” he said. “It is a waste of time and money to look for debris or oil slick or to listen for pings from the black box.”

“Someone is hiding something. It is not fair that MAS and Malaysia should take the blame,” he wrote.

Dr Mahathir suggested the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency had knowledge of the disappearance of the plane with 239 people on board but was not sharing it with Malaysia.

He also claimed that Boeing, the plane’s maker, and “certain” government agencies, have the ability to remotely take over control of commercial airliners such as the missing Boeing 777. [emphasis added-t.h.g.]

“For some reason, the media will not print anything that involves Boeing or the CIA,” he said.

Further, a number of articles compiled by Intellihub report that:

1. Malaysian opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has accused Malaysian officials of withholding evidence.

2. ‘Hijacked flight 370 passenger sent photo from hidden iPhone tracing back to secret U.S. military base Diego Garcia’.

3. One of the passengers, Philip Wood, sent a text message saying “I have been held hostage by unknown military personal after my flight was hijacked (blindfolded). I work for IBM and I have managed to hide my cellphone in my ass during the hijack. I have been separated from the rest of the passengers and I am in a cell. My name is Philip Wood. I think I have been drugged as well and cannot think clearly.”

What a strange world we live in.

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Newsletter – April, 2014

Flight MH370
Shortly before midnight on March 6 I departed Kuala Lumpur on board a Boeing 777 bound for Tucson, via Tokyo and Los Angeles. That was just 26 hours ahead of the mysterious flight MH370 which departed from the same airport just after midnight on March 8 and has become the object of a massive search and equally massive speculation. I get an uneasy feeling when I consider how close I came in time and circumstance to being on that plane. Now, more than a month later, the mystery of the flight’s disappearance seems no closer to being solved.
Given the changing and contradictory news that has been provided by Malaysian authorities and others involved in the search, I can’t help but wonder if the news is being manipulated and crucial information is being withheld from the public. Why haven’t we heard more about the passengers? Who they are and what might they have been involved in? One tantalizing fact that is no longer mentioned is that 20 of the passengers were employees of Freescale Semiconductor, which according to the Express (UK) “makes powerful microchips for industries including defence.” The Express article, Malaysian plane: 20 passengers worked for ELECTRONIC WARFARE and MILITARY RADAR firm, reveals some facts about the company’s ownership that raise suspicions and ought to be fully investigated. A casual search of the internet will bring up plenty of other possible scenarios and explanations of what might have happened to flight MH370.
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Russia, Ukraine, and the New world Order
While still in Malaysia I picked up a copy of The Star (March 4 edition), one of Malaysia’s leading daily newspapers. One of the main articles had to do with the crisis in the Ukraine. The headline read: Ousting democratically-elected leaders, with the sub-head, The ousters of democratically-elected leaders have often been carried out directly or indirectly by champions of democracy themselves, thus suggesting how hypocritical and disingenuous western politicians have been in any number of cases where regime change has been the intended result. The article was written by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, who is President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST). You can read it here.As western leaders vilify the Russian leadership and the media beat the drums for “sanctions,” it is important to keep in mind that the Ukrainian government of PresidentViktorYanukovich was democratically elected in 2010, and he was forcibly removed by a coalition that includes neo-Nazis and fascists, backed by western countries intent on bringing Ukraine into the EU orbit and NATO.If the United States and EU are really interested in a negotiated settlement, they will need to seriously consider the Russian point of view and address the legitimate concerns of the Russian government. Floyd Rudmin’s recent article in Counterpunch, Viewing the Ukraine Crisis From Russia’s Perspective, provides some fundamental background facts that provide a more complete picture.
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It’s Time to Put Money Out of its Misery
Last month I wrote an article for publication in Transformation as part of their 9 article series on money. Now, editor, Michael Edwards has provided a wrap-up piece, It’s time to put money out of its misery. Read it here.
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Traveling with Children
One curious thing I noted during my recent visits in Southeast Asia is the number of  young adults that I saw traveling with small children. In one instance I happened to be on a motor coach going from Penang to Kuala Lumpur. Among the passengers were two Scandinavian couples in the company of two infants and one toddler. This experience put me in mind of a very acute observation made by some long forgotten sage (it might have been Ogden Nash, but I can’t swear to it): The definition of a baby–“An alimentary canal with a loud noise at one end and a foul odor at the other.”

Actually, I think it’s wonderful that so many young people are willing and able to balance child rearing with their search for adventure, but it’s too bad the children will have little of it to recall.
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Sharing the Commons
One thing that seems certain to me is that the new paradigm society will come about through radical sharing and a major shift of our collective energies toward projects that promote the common good. On the Commons has just announced the offer of their new e-book Sharing Revolution: The essential economics of the commons by Jessica Conrad. You can download the free e-book here. I’ve not yet read it, but I’m confident that it will prove to be a major resource in “helping people connect and collaborate to advance the common good and develop greater economic autonomy.”

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Newsletter – March, 2014

Contents. (This edition will be timely but brief).

Back to America

My latest article

Degrowth Conference on Social Equity and Ecological Sustainability

Malaysia

Hi, Well it’s just a matter of hours now before I board my flight that will take me back to the United States. I always find other places and cultures interesting, but four months abroad has been long enough and I’m looking forward to being back in more familiar territory, seeing friends and family, and discovering what the universe has to show me next. To begin with, I’ll be enjoying the relative calm and quiet of the Arizona desert, then looking for a more permanent place to hang my hat.

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My latest article

I spent a good amount of time over the past few weeks writing an article that I was invited to submit for publication in an online journal, Transformation, published by Open Democracy. I’m pleased to announce that my article, Money, debt and the end of the growth imperative was published yesterday. You can read it here,

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Upcoming Degrowth Conference on Social Equity and Ecological Sustainability. Call for papers extended to March 14th

A recent message from Birte Ewers announces that the 4th International Degrowth Conference to be held in Leipzig Sept 2-6, and that the original deadline for submissions of short papers has been extended. The deadlines for other formats have expired but deadline for “short papers” is now March 14th. The review process will be concluded by the end of April. See the conference website at http://leipzig.degrowth.org/en/http://leipzig.degrowth.org/en/ and the Call for Papers at  http://leipzig.degrowth.org/en/call-for-papers/ for details.

About The Conference:

4th International Degrowth Conference on Social Equity and Ecological Sustainability – Bridging movements and research for the great transformation.

The International Degrowth Conference has reached its fourth venue. Since Paris 2008 the debate on how to move away from a growth-oriented economy towards a more sustainable society has drawn world-wide attention. The fourth international conference will take place in a country that is considered as the European engine of economic growth.

Different traditions of growth critique, such as the concept of a post-growth society stemming from the German-speaking community and the French and Southern European degrowth debate, are invited to a fruitful dialogue. The conference seeks to bring practitioners, activists and scientists together and encompasses various formats for presentations, interaction, workshops, and exchange.

The 4th conference will address following thematic threads (abstracts for short papers can be submitted to any of them):

- Organizing Society (Emancipatory politics, participation, institutions)

- Building a social and ecological economy ((Re-)productivity, commons, society-nature relations)

- Living conviviality (Buen vivir. Open knowledge. Convivial technology)

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Malaysia

For my current journey in Southeast Asia, Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) serves as both my entry point and exit point. Flights to and from KL tend to be cheaper even than Bangkok, and I always enjoy spending some time in Penang, which is only about a 4 ½ hour bus ride from KL Thailand is easily reached from there.

Malaysia is quite a developed country, though it still has some third world charm, as well as annoyances, like the roar of motorbikes zipping around through every available space, making it difficult and dangerous for pedestrians to cross the streets. Sidewalks, if they exist at all are usually obstructed by parked motorbikes, or food stalls, or even workshops that flow out into the public spaces.

One interesting thing about Malaysia is language. Almost everyone speaks some English and signage is usually in both English and Bahasa Melayu, or Malay language, which derives many words from English. Malays have developed what seems to me to be a very reasonable pattern of phonetic spelling.

Here are a few familiar English words with their phonetic Malay spelling, which I think we should adopt.

Complex

Kompleks

Bus

Bas

Central

Sentral

College

Kolej

Bicycle

Bisikal

Community

Komuniti

Counter

Kaunter

My pictures from my November visit to Penang

https://picasaweb.google.com/112258124863172998784/201311Penang?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCMnztYHzp4268gE&feat=directlink

Pictures from my February/March visit to Penang and Kuala Lumpur have not yet been uploaded.

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Joke of the month

Certainly not original, but here it is; some of you may appreciate it.

You know you’re old when you and your teeth no longer sleep together.

May you enjoy this season when life springs anew,

Thomas

Newsletter – January 2014

Hi, This is my first newsletter since mid-October. An excuse, if I need one, is that I’ve been traveling. To be truthful, I’ve been lacking in motivation and I’ve felt the need to reassess both the scope and the methods of my work. Pondering the question, “What makes an old man grumpy,?” I think I’ve begun to figure it out—

Despite a half a lifetime of work and dedication, the world has yet to heed my advice and conform itself to my view of how it ought to be.

So there it is. There’s the root of my late-life discontent. My muse tells me that I ought to lighten up and enjoy whatever time I might have left; the world will muddle through, with or without me. Maybe I’ll take up the challenge to become a stand-up (or sit-down) comedian. In the meantime, while I try to hone that skill, I offer below a few bits of hopeful (and not so hopeful) news and an overview of my recent travels, including links to my photos which you can browse at your leisure.

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Bangla-Pesa officially relaunched in partnership with the Kenyan Government.

You may recall earlier reports about the Bangla-Pesa community currency project that launched in Kenya last May. One of the most promising community currency projects on the current scene, Bangla-Pesa quickly ran into a major roadblock in the form of government interference that included unfounded criminal charges against the organizer and five board members. We are extremely pleased to learn that all of that nonsense has been sorted out and the Bangla-Pesa project is now back on track. According to project founder, Will Ruddick, Bangla-Pesa has just been relaunched, this time with official government support. Ruddick states that the relaunch celebration included several government representatives who have unanimously requested that the program be replicated in other areas in the county as a means of reducing poverty. You can read the details at http://koru.or.ke/bangla-pesa-relaunch.

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Ending the Growth Imperative

Richard Heinberg, in his recent article, Shutdown and default: the worst-case scenario (http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-10-10/shutdown-and-default-the-worst-case-scenario ), stated that, “Almost nobody in the commentariat mentions that the US economy is currently being held together by deficit spending and quantitative easing. Rapid economic growth as experienced during the mid-20th century is over and done with.”

Heinberg is surely right about that, but how are we to get out of the predicament we are in? I have said repeatedly that our financial system is set up to require continuous and accelerating growth, that creating money based on banks’ lending at interest results in exponential growth of debt, which, in turn, forces exponential growth in economic activity to justify further growth in debt to prevent financial collapse. All of the major central banks, the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, The Bank of Japan, and the European Central Bank, have been buying government bonds to keep the system going and avoid the inevitable shift to a steady-state, resource efficient, non-polluting economy.

CentralBanksInflating

How long can the monetary authorities continue to inflate their currencies under the euphemistic rubric of “quantitative easing” (QE), without causing prices to spin out of control? If they were to stop, however, that would cause a cascade of defaults, financial market chaos, and major global economic depression. They are between a rock and a hard place.

Heinberg goes on to say, “In 2008 it became clear that, as limits to growth are encountered, the inherent instability of financial systems can precipitate a much faster crash than would otherwise be the case. It also became clear that governments and central banks will undertake extraordinary measures to avert a fast-crash scenario. The rapid expansion of household debt, which had kept the growth balloon inflated since 1980, effectively ceased with the advent of the Great Recession. The balance sheet of the Fed stretched dramatically, and the Federal Government’s debt levels soared, as policy makers strove to keep the economy from imploding.”

He concludes with this advice: “Pass a new debt limit and re-open the government, no conditions attached. Then get to work designing a post-growth, post-fossil fuel economy that protects people and planet. Do it in that order. Simple.”

Well, not quite so simple. The debt limit has been raised and the government shutdown ended as everyone knew it would be, but there is still no sign that the powers-that-be have any interest in promoting a “post-growth, post-fossil fuel economy.” To undertake such a mission would require that they give up the “usury game” and the central banking system that has enabled them for so long to centralize power and concentrate wealth in their own hands, and that they surrender power to the people in a government that is truly democratic. No, the massive changes required must come from the bottom, from creative efforts that result in new structures, especially of exchange, finance, and cooperative enterprise, that reduce our dependence upon the dominant systems and make them irrelevant.

The prescription I’ve provided in my books and presentations for creating a new world order in which the people govern instead of a global elite oligarchy is to Share, Cooperate, and Restructure. We must recognize that the seat of sovereignty is the individual, not in isolation, but as a free moral agent within a convivial community, we must assert our independence from the dominant political, economic, and financial power structures, and we must organize new structures, under local control, that empower people and provide for the basic needs of all.

Our urgent need is to transcend the global interest-based debt money system, but digital commodities like Bitcoin are not the answer any more than a return to using gold, silver or other real commodities as payment media. The better and more complete answer to the money problem in the one I’ve been proposing in my books and presentations for many years. What I foresee is a global network of small credit clearing exchanges that proved a means of payment that is locally and cooperatively controlled, yet globally useful.

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ReinventingMoney.com website redesign and relaunch

Thanks to the good graces and enormous efforts of Matthew Slater, my ReinventingMoney.com website has been redesigned and relocated to WordPress. The url remains the same, http://reinventingmoney.com/.

ReinventingMoney.com is mainly an archival site for researchers that was compiled several years ago. If you are aware of any useful material, such as case studies, correspondence, or academic treatises that are particularly important, please send us a description and the link or file. Also, I’d be grateful to have a volunteer willing to help maintain that site. My active site is http://beyondmoney.net/.

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Travels

My current odyssey began on Nov 13 when I boarded a plane for Istanbul where I gave a presentation at the Green Economy and Commons conference. After spending a few more days exploring the city, I flew on to Kuala Lumpur, then a couple days later went by bus to Georgetown on the island of Penang, a world heritage city and my favorite place in Malaysia. On December 5, I began my month-long Cambodia adventure, making stops in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Otres Beach, Kampot, Kep, and Siem Reap where I visited the amazing ruins of Angkor Wat. Since January 3, I’ve been in Thailand. Chiang Mai is one of my old haunts and a good place to get my teeth cared for at very reasonable prices.

My Cambodia visit got off to an inauspicious start. After checking into my hotel, I decided to take a stroll down by the river. While crossing the street through relentless traffic, I got sideswiped by a motorbike that went roaring past in the far lane. I managed to get to the other side and sat down on a convenient bench where I almost passed out. My left shin was skinned and bruised in a couple places, but needed no stitches. I got some aid from a British friend I had been traveling with for some days, and a Polish couple who happened to be passing by. My wounds have fortunately healed well by now and I seem to be none the worse for it.

Siem Reap and Angkor

One should not miss an opportunity to visit Siem Reap and Angkor. The ruins of Angkor are numerous and cover a vast expanse. Angkor Wat is only part of it. Exploring them requires a lot of walking and climbing, though, as vehicles can take you only so close.

Cambodia is certainly a third world country with much inferior infrastructure but it is rapidly developing with help from outside and gearing up to be a major tourist destination. The people are friendly and helpful, and you can find accommodations at every level from backpacker hostels to luxury hotels. In Kampot I had a nice clean room with private bath, hot shower, free Wi-Fi, and cable TV for $8 per night.

No coins in Cambodia

One thing that is noticeably strange about Cambodia is the fact that I had no coins jingling in my pocket. Strange, too, is the fact that market transactions are conducted mostly in U.S. currency. Yes, Cambodia has its own currency, called the Riel, with an exchange rate of about 4,000 riels to the dollar, but ATMs dispense dollars, and riel notes are used only as small change. Prices are typically stated in whole dollars and quarter dollars. So, if I buy a restaurant meal for $3.75 (not an uncommon price there) and I tender a five dollar bill to pay, I’ll generally get back in change a one dollar bill and a 1,000 riel bill. The smallest denomination note I saw, though not a very common one, is 100 riel, which is considered to be worth one fortieth of a dollar or two and half cents (and we in North America quibble about keeping the penny).

If you want to see images from the places I have visited, my photos can be viewed at the following links:

Istanbul: https://picasaweb.google.com/112258124863172998784/201311IstanbulTurkey?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCJv3nPOd34igcQ&feat=directlink

Malaysia: https://picasaweb.google.com/112258124863172998784/201311Penang?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCMnztYHzp4268gE&feat=directlink

Cambodia: https://picasaweb.google.com/112258124863172998784/201312Cambodia?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCL_hyunb-fnu4gE&feat=directlink

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Contact

By the way, I’m keeping my Verizon wireless account active. The number is 520-820-0575.  I don’t keep that phone turned on while I’m abroad so you won’t reach me directly that way, but you can leave a voice message (I cannot retrieve text messages) and I will get it when I check messages every few days.

I do have another mobile phone with me and as long as I’m in Thailand, you can reach me at +66 93 170 2910.

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Events Upcoming

The New Economy Coalition is convening a gathering at Northeastern University in Boston, MA from June 6-8, 2014. You can get more information and signup here: http://neweconomy.net/content/june-6-8-2014-national-gathering-new-economy-movement?utm_source=New+Economics+Email+List&utm_campaign=2a4c2d8654-New+Economy+Newsletter+-+October+2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6f7a9ab0ed-2a4c2d8654-18189817

Wishing you a happy and productive New Year,

Thomas

Mid-October Newsletter – 2013

In this issue

   November travel to Turkey and beyond

   Summer tour report, Part 2. Sweden and England

   Bangla-Pesa Charges Dropped

   The Geo-political Struggle

On the move again

I’ve been invited to give a presentation at the 4th Green Economy Conference, Green Economy and Commons, 16-17 November 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey. As a panel member on the 16th, my topic will be, Reclaiming the Credit Commons: the Key to a Green Economy and Global Harmony.

Now, as we approach the end of a very busy and demanding year, I’m feeling the need for rest and renewal, so my intention is to travel onward from Turkey to southeast Asia where I will take a lengthy sabbatical. I will try to remain in touch, but don’t be surprised if email messages are not answered promptly. If your communication is really important, mark it “urgent” and keep trying, or Skype me.

European tour report — Part 2, Sweden and England

Following the Hague conference, I travelled to Sweden for a two week stay (June 24 to July 8) during which time I gave presentations and met with community currency activists in Gothenborg, Lindsberg, Gotland, and Stockholm.

My Gothenborg presentation, titled The Economics of Peace, Justice and Sustainability: Toward a New Convivial World Order, was held in a lovely old church that has been converted into a community center and café that provides, among other things, services to the city’s homeless population. One of my Swedish hosts and main tour organizer, Marianne Påsse, sent out a report on that event. Here is an slightly adapted version of it:

We had a wonderful evening yesterday! We were around 50 people, including us. I was content with that (I had no idea of how many might come)! The evening started with a mini-concert; a leading violinist (Helga Hussel) accompanied by Barbro Fridén on accordion, playing Pearls of World Music. It was lovely listening to them in that very nice building, good acoustics!

After that I spoke a little…making a bridge between Charles Eisenstein’s recent presentation (Approx. 25% of the audience were listening to him in the same building some weeks ago) and Thomas. I also asked the audience to raise their hands if they needed translation of some expressions (happened just 2 or three times…once at the very first picture).

Thomas presented a power point show with very well selected pictures. He spoke about them and…it is good to be able to read at the same time (Microphone is necessary). He spoke for approximately one hour, and people were very interested and kept him busy for another ½ hour, until I closed the session (it was late). The questions were very accurate and in depth. People came up to me afterwards and thanked for a very interesting evening. Afterwards Yoshi and Jackie had an evening meal and chat at our place. And today we pack for Lindsberg! So, we are very pleased!

At a summer gathering at an intentional community in Lindsberg I lead two workshops on successive days, each one beginning with a slide presentation. These were titled, Building Resilient Communities: A New Paradigm for Community Development, and The Global Financial Meltdown: Its Causes, and Opportunities for Localized Restructuring. The participants in each of these sessions were few in number but enthusiastic.

As it happened, I was in Sweden at the right time to participate in the Almedalen Week on the island of Gotland. This has become an annual event that brings together a wide variety of business people, politicians, academics, grassroots activists and ordinary folks. You can learn more about this remarkable event at http://www.almedalsveckan.info/.

I had no official role in the Almedalen proceedings, but was able to attend a few of the 2,000+ organized sessions and got to shake hands and chat a bit with the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, Mark Brzezinski (son of Zbigniew Brzezinski who was National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter).

I finished up my Sweden tour in Stockholm, where I was hosted by an American friend who has been living there for several years with his Swedish wife and young son. In Stockholm I got to meet some of the main figures in the JAK Bank, a unique financial institution that since 1970 has been providing interest-free loans. They together with a few other groups organized an event for me which attracted a sizeable crowd, where I repeated the presentation I gave in Gothenborg.

My photos from Sweden can be found at Sweden 1, and Sweden 2.

England (July 8 – July 20)

I may at times complain about it, but I love Britain, and this time I had the opportunity to be in the Lake District at a time when the weather was simply superb (“the first real summer we’ve had in seven years,” the locals told me).

The focal point of my visit was a full day workshop (July 12), Unlocking Local Wealth, held at Cumbria University in Lancaster, 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, the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service, and Impact International. The event was billed as “a one day workshop with world experts on alternative currencies and exchange systems.”

That workshop was preceded the day before by a gathering in which most of the same “world experts” came together to “clarify an action research agenda, explore ideas for collaboration, begin grant mapping,” and provide “feedback on one key new initiative (Eurocat).” Then, that evening, there was a public event titled, Starting Your Own Currency: Why and How? sponsored by (IFLAS ) in association with Lancaster’s Ethical Small Traders Association. This event featured a keynote presentation by John Rogers followed by my response and a general discussion.

Here are the links to videos that were recorded during that event:

Jem Bendell introduces the keynote

Keynote by John Rogers, co-author of People Money

Keynote response by  Tom Greco, author of The End of Money and the Future of Civilization

Along with a few other colleagues, I had the pleasure of enjoying a few more days of discussions and Jem’s hospitality at his home overlooking Lake Windermere.

My England photos are here:

I’ll report the final portion of my tour (Greece (July 20 – August 21)) in the next edition of my newsletter

Bangla-Pesa Charges Dropped

I reported earlier that one our close associates, Will Ruddick, along with several of the local currency activist there in Kenya had been arrested and their Bangla-Pesa currency project shut down. I’m happy to report that finally, the charges against them have been dropped. You can read about it here. (A very interesting earlier account that describes their ordeal can be found here.

This is great news, not only because the threat of punishment has been removed, but because this important development project may again have a chance to improve the lot of poor micro-entrepreneurs in Kenya and to demonstrate the power of the local credit clearing model in alleviating poverty. The Bangla-Pesa project is the most significant complementary currency project that I am aware of and has the potential to become THE model for other communities to follow. It deserves strongest support.

[Update. This just in from Will: We won! The official court order to release us was just released last week and can be seen here: http://koru.or.ke/Bangla-Pesa-Dream-Nov Not only have we been acquitted but we've been given a relaunch date of November 23rd to restart the program

Will adds, We've also created this 3 minute cartoon to explain how these programs form an effective barrier against poverty and market stagnation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaspBGmsdLE Please share widely.

The community is really excited and ready to move forward.]

The Geo-political Struggle

Alvin Toffler observed more than 30 years ago that the power of nation states was in decline and predicted that the trend would continue. It is clear that national governments are ceding sovereignty, not to global democratic institutions, but to transnational corporate entities resulting in a New (fascist) World Order that bypass all the checks on power that have been built into democratic governments over the past three centuries. George Monbiot’s recent article, Elite Insurgency, articulates some current features of that shift.

And Karen Hudes has revealed that World Bank corruption is an inherent element in the global Elite takeover. After Twenty one years at the World Bank, she has blown the lid off the cover-up of the corrupt global financial regime. Watch this interview with Karen: http://youtu.be/M4VGoXV5vYg . A longer interview in four part can be seen here.

These are a few pertinent quotes from her interviews:

“This is a massive cover-up; this makes Watergate look like tidally-winks.”

“Big boys who think they own the world.”

“We don’t have a democracy here.”

 “The Federal Reserve has “gamed” the capital markets.”

“This whole country is so corrupt, you can’t begin to imagine. I can’t tell this to the people because the press is owned by those thugs”

“Stakeholder analysis” identifies a “super entity” of ownership and control.

All of that is very troubling, but we have a choice—to  build our own (democratic) new world order from the bottom up, community-by-community. PowerShiftWe cannot be complacent; we must reduce our dependence upon corporate controlled mega-systems, especially banks, and secure the availability of the necessities of life within our local regions.

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Newsletter – October 2013

In this issue

  • Changes
  • European tour reportPart 1, the Hague Conference

It’s been quite a while since my last newsletter went out in early June. Since then, a great deal has been accomplished. My European tour, which spanned nine weeks from mid-June to the latter part of August, was successful, productive, exciting, and I might add, exhausting. I’ll say more about that below, but most recently, I provided a remote presentation (via Skype) to a group assembled at Kalikalos on Mt Pelion in Greece as part of the week-long workshop titled Occupy Money. Then, toward the end of September, I participated in the 34th Annual International Convention of the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA) in Las Vegas where I shared the podium with Annette Riggs and Rob van Hilten in a panel session about Understanding Diverse Exchange System Models: From Bitcoin and Berkshares, to Transparent Credit Clearing Networks. Unfortunately, that session was not recorded, but the slides that I prepared as talking points can be seen here. Needless to say it was not possible to cover them all in the short time provided.

Upon my return to Arizona from Europe I had to begin searching for another residence, since the house where I had been renting a room is no longer available. I’ve just moved into another shared housing arrangement which I hope will turn out to be suitable, at least temporarily.

This uprooting, combined with the let-down that followed the summer’s excitement, has caused me to deeply ponder the questions, What’s next? and Where do I want to be? While my energy level is not what it once was, I still enjoy relatively good health and am able to adapt to different environments so long as they provide a reasonable level of comfort for living and working. I’m growing impatient to hear opportunity’s knock, still hoping to involve myself in a breakthrough project that is adequately funded, with an able and energetic team that can achieve results that are on a par with the best business start-ups.

European Tour Report—Part 1, June, 2013

The first 4 weeks of my tour were a whirlwind of presentations, workshops, interviews and discussions. I’ll skip the details and report only the highlights, starting with the Hague conference, then report on the rest of the tour in my next newsletter.

The Netherlands and 2nd International Conference on Complementary Currency Systems (CCS)

It was a great pleasure to again visit (for the third time) STRO in Utrecht and to discuss with Henk van Arkel and the STRO team our various projects and common interests. STRO, with projects in several countries, is one of the most effective organizations working in the area of sustainable economics, community empowerment, and exchange alternatives. Together with Time/bank The Hague, they sponsored my first tour presentation (on June 18) for practitioners and social entrepreneurs. My slide show was titled The Exchange Revolution: Taking complementary currencies and moneyless trading to a new level, which described the various issues that must be considered in creating and managing alternative exchange mechanisms.

The CCS Conference in Den Hague far exceeded my original high expectations. I’m very encouraged and inspired by the quality of the presentations and discussion sessions that occurred during the entire 5 days of the conference. It seems that the movement has reached a new high level of competence and increasing cohesion, and seems poised to achieve significant results in both the theory and practice of community empowerment through the creation of systems for providing local liquidity. That, of course, is a prerequisite to transcending the growth imperative and transitioning to a steady-state economy. I expect that progress will be very rapid from this point onward.

Presentations, documents, and interviews from the Academic portion (June 19 and 20) of the Conference are available toward the bottom of this link. You will find what I think is a pretty good interview with me here, and brief video interviews of 27 presenters from Day 3 (policy makers day) can be found on the YouTube channel of Qoin. More video recordings by Hagen Schmidt of some of the sessions are to be found at this link.

As usual, I took many photos to document my travels and events. The pictures of the Netherlands portion of the tour can be found at this link.

Practitioner Sessions

Among the practitioner sessions that I participated in during the final two days of the conference were the following.

* Intertrading. One of the two discussion groups I proposed in the “open space” was about networking credit clearing exchanges together and development of the necessary intertrading protocols. We had quite a lively and productive discussion, which has become an ongoing process since Sebastiano Scrofina set up a Google group for that purpose. If you want to view the posts or join the discussion, go to this link.

* Measures of value and Units of account. Another session I lead was about measures of value and units of account. This also resulted in a lively discussion. Thanks to Zsuzsanna Szalay, we have a voice recording made with a digital recorder. You can download the file from this link.

* Business Models for Complementary Currencies. Daniel Neis provided input for a session on business models. Pertinent links are provided in his post to a Google group which he has started for discussion on that topic. You can read it, and join the conversation by going to this link.

As a side note, it always amazes me to see how effectively the DutchIMG_2753 deal with personal transportation. Besides having a very efficient network of trains, trams, and buses, their use of bicycles exceeds that of any other people I’ve visited, even urban Chinese. They make bike travel safe and convenient by providing many bike “roads” that keep bike traffic IMG_2754physically separated from motor vehicle traffic, and by providing huge amounts of space for bike parking at train stations and other locations.

I hope you are all enjoying the cooler Fall weather.

Thomas

A few words of gratitude +

ScreenIndiegogo June3We’re on our way! Thanks to you our crowdfunding campaign has exceeded our goal. We are now assured that we will have sufficient funds to carry out our planned work in Europe this summer. Altogether, the tour will span 9 weeks from mid-June to mid-August. The first half is pretty solidly booked with multiple events in the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and Greece; the second half is a bit more flexible with some room for spontaneous developments.

As you know, the debt crisis continues to worsen. Austerity for Greece is still in the news, and depositors with funds in Cyprus banks have been forced to take a “haircut.” Don’t be surprised if bank deposits in other countries get raided in like manner by their respective governments.

While the spotlight is presently on Europe, this crisis is global and bound to worsen. Virtually every country of the world has a central bank, and those in the developed world at least, work together. Every one of them is set up to allow their respective governments to deficit spend, and banks to lend our own credit back to us at interest. They will monetize the debt to whatever extent is necessary to keep the game going. The exponential growth of debt is inherent in the way money is created. It must stop somehow, sometime. All efforts to keep it going are futile in the long-run.

Currency inflation and cuts to social programs are the paths that bankers and policy makers have chosen, but that will do no more than delay the inevitable, and in the process create more pain for the masses. Either we create new methods for exchange and finance, or we descend into chaotic collapse and widespread civil unrest.

Let us hope that this year will see the widespread emergence of decentralized, community-based, credit-clearing networks. That’s what my mission is all about, and that’s our the best approach to making a peaceful transition to a steady-state economy and sustainable way of life.

Again, my sincere thanks for your help in supporting this important work!

Thomas

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

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Milestones in Moneyless Exchange

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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.