What we can and cannot afford

Can we afford health care for all, free education for all, housing for the homeless, food for the hungry, a decent and efficient national system of transportation, a clean and healthy environment, a fair and equitable distribution of our collective production, and a true democracy in which people decide their own fate and how their money is to be spent? Politicians of all stripes tell us we cannot. “Where will the money come from?” is their plaint whenever such measures are proposed.

But other countries have many of those things. There is a vast number of countries that have free or almost free universal health care, as can be seen in this list. And here is a list of 11 countries that have BOTH free universal health care AND free college. The list includes not only affluent countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, but relatively poor countries such as Greece, Argentina and Brazil.

Anyone who has traveled in western Europe knows that Amtrak is a bad joke compared HSRinChinato the extensive and efficient rail systems in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and elsewhere. China too has much better trains than the U.S. and has been rapidly expanding its transport infrastructure. According to Wikipedia, China already has “the world’s longest high speed rail network” which is “also the most extensively used, with 1.713 billion trips delivered in 2017 bringing the total cumulative number of trips to 7 billion.”

Way back in 2005 I rode from downtown Shanghai to the airport at  Pudong on the maglev train that reached speeds up to 431 kmph (268 mph).

Yet, when President Trump calls for an almost $80 billion increase to the military budget, hardly anyone asks, “where’s the money going to come from?” and the measure easily gains Congressional approval.

Here are the things we cannot afford:

  1. We cannot afford continuation of the Empire with its deployment of military forces around the world and endless overt and covert warfare.
  2. We cannot afford continuation of the interest-based, debt-money regime that forces unnecessary expansion of economic activity and centralizes power and concentrates wealth in the hands of a super elite.
  3. We cannot afford continuation of the environmental destruction and climate change that is caused by the fossil fuel based economy.

The $727 billion U.S. military budget for 2019 dwarfs all other segments and amounts to 61% of all discretionary spending. To trump2019_discpie_unbranded_largeput it in perspective, the U.S. spends many times more on military than any other country. According to the National Priorities Project, the next highest military spender, China, spends only about one third as much on its military.

I have written extensively about the defects inherent in the centrally controlled interest-based, debt-money regime, which is driving the endless expansion of debt that makes economic growth an imperative. See, for example, my article, Money, debt and the end of the growth imperative.

Ultimately, if we do not take appropriate action, nature will decide our fate. See the work of Joseph Tainter and Jared Diamond, starting with this interview of Joseph Tainter by Jim Puplava.

In a future post I will elaborate upon these points, but for now I recommend viewing the recent Jimmy Dore show at https://youtu.be/yHpN7X9iK3o.

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My latest article: Confronting the power elite

Confronting the power elite
Thomas H. Greco, Jr.
[PDF version]

The world today is controlled by a small elite group that has been increasingly concentrating power and wealth in their own hands. There are many observable facets to this power structure, including the military security complex that president Eisenhower warned against, the fossil fuel interests, and the neocons that are promoting U.S.  hegemony around the world, but the most powerful and overarching force is “the money power” that controls money, banking, and finance worldwide. It is clear that those who control the creation and allocation of money through the banking system are able to control virtually every other aspect of global society.

Having taken control of the political leadership in North America and western Europe, they are determined to use military force, if necessary, to create a unipolar world order in which the power elite enjoy “full spectrum dominance.” Based on a long established pattern of covert and overt interventions, it is evident that they are willing to employ, either directly or through proxies, a wide range of tactics, including propaganda, bribery, cooptation, deception, assassinations, false-flag attacks and war. Large segments of the media and entertainment industries, education, and the military power have been captured to help manufacture public consent.

Be that as it may, I believe that the natural course of human evolution tends toward a multi-polar world order based on honesty, openness, compassion, cooperation, and fairness, but that requires a well-educated and informed populace and “broad spectrum” participation in the political process. Fortunately, the internet and world wide web have enabled people to be better informed than ever before and to engage with one another directly, bypassing intermediaries that control and limit what people can share. On the other hand, the political machinery has been so thoroughly taken over by the power elite that the will of the people has thus far been of little consequence in deciding the course of world affairs.

So what can be done to turn the tide? How can we the people empower ourselves to effectively assert our desires for a more fair, humane and peaceful world order? Is it possible to influence the behavior of those in power? Or is it possible to install new leaders who will act more responsibly and in accordance with the popular will? Or is necessary, or even possible, to reinvent and deploy political and economic structures by which people can more directly assert themselves?

It seems reasonable to assert that action must be taken on all levels, but I am inclined to believe that the greatest possibility of bringing about the desired changes lies in economic and political innovation and restructuring.

The monopolization of credit

I came to realize many years ago that the primary mechanism by which people can be, and are controlled, is the system of money, banking, and finance. The power elite have long known this and have used it to enrich themselves and consolidate their grip on power. Though we take it for granted, money has become an utter necessity for surviving in the modern world. But unlike water, air, food, and energy, money is not a natural substance—it is a human contrivance, and it has been contrived in such a way as to centralize power and concentrate wealth.

Money today is essentially credit, and the control of our collective credit has been monopolized in the hands of a cartel comprised of huge private banks with the complicity of politicians who control central governments. This collusive arrangement between bankers and politicians disempowers people, businesses, and communities and enables the elite super-class to use the present centralized control mechanisms to their own advantage and purpose. It misallocates credit, making it both scarce and expensive for the productive private sector while enabling central governments to circumvent, by deficit spending, the natural limits imposed by its revenue streams of taxes and fees. Thus, there is virtually no limit to the amounts of resources that are lavished on the machinery of war and domination.[i]

In today’s world, banks get to lend our collective credit back to us and charge interest for it while central governments get to spend more than they earn in overt tax revenues, relying on the banking system to monetize government debts as needed. These two parasitic drains on the economy, interest and inflationary monetization of government debts, create a growth imperative that is destroying the environment, shredding the social fabric, and creating ever greater disparities of income and wealth. At the same time, this scarcity and misallocation of money, which belies the abundance that exists in the real economy, leads to violent conflicts and provides the power elite with the means to pursue policies of domination, even at the risk of global nuclear war.

What most people still fail to recognize is that regardless of the nominal form of their government, their political power has been neutralized and exhausted by the political money and banking system. Democratic government in today’s world is more an illusion and a hope than a reality. As Prof. Carrol Quigley wrote in his book, Tragedy and Hope (1966), “… the powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.”[ii]

In the succeeding decades since Quigley’s revelation, their control mechanisms have been refined and extended to include the intelligence services and military power, political think tanks, the media, and virtually every segment of society. The U.S. agenda of regime change over the past several years[iii] is not so much about taking mineral and petroleum resources, that is a side benefit. By examining the pattern of interventions by the U.S. and NATO powers, it is clear that the primary objective is to force every country of the world into a single global interest-based, debt-money regime. No exceptions will be tolerated. Thus, Saddam Hussein had to go, Gaddafi had to go, Assad has to go, and Putin has to go (but deposing Putin will not be so easy). The war against Islam is also related because a significant proportion of Islamists are serious about eliminating riba (usury) which is an essential feature in the creation of all political money throughout the world today. The United States military is the enforcer that is used when threats, bribes, cooptation and covert operations prove insufficient. Thus, the United States, Britain and their NATO allies have become the greatest perpetrators of state-sponsored terror in the post-World war II era.

How can such a power be confronted?

Fortunately, we the people have in our hands the means of our own liberation. It is the power to allocate our credit directly without the use of banks or political money. How to effectively assert that power is the main theme of my most recent book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

Over the years there has been a long parade of “reformers” who wish to take the power to create money away from the banks. This is an admirable objective that I wholeheartedly endorse. But the alternatives that they propose have been either to revert to commodity money, like gold, which has proven to be inadequate, or to transfer the money-issuing power to the central government—what I call the “greenback solution.” The latter harks back to Abraham Lincoln’s scheme for financing the Civil War. That proposal calls for the federal government to bypass the Federal Reserve and the banks by issuing a national currency directly into circulation from the Treasury. At first glance that may seem like a good idea, but there are many flies in that ointment. First of all, the greenback solution does not propose to end the money monopoly but merely to put it under new management. But it is a gross delusion to think that the Treasury is, or might become, independent of the interests that now control the Federal Reserve and the major banks. Consider the fact that most of the recent Treasury secretaries have been former executives of Goldman Sachs, the most powerful financial establishment in the country. It is naïve to expect that they will serve the common good rather than the money power that has spawned them.

Second, central planning of complex economic factors has been shown to be unworkable. That is especially true with regard to money. Neither the Fed nor the treasury is qualified to decide what kind of money and how much of it is necessary for the economy to function smoothly. The issuance and control of credit money should be decentralized in the hands of producers of needed and desired goods and services. Thus the supply of money (credit) must automatically rise and fall in accordance with the quantity of goods and services that are available to be bought and sold. If private currencies and credit clearing exchanges are allowed to develop and grow without interference from the vested interests in political money, their superiority will quickly become apparent.

Third, the greenback solution does nothing to eliminate deficit spending and inflation which are enabled by legal tender laws. As long as political currencies are legally forced to circulate at face value, the abusive issuance of money, the debasement of national currency value, and the centralization of power will continue. All government programs, including social programs and the military budget, ought to be funded by legitimate government revenues, not by the underhanded means of monetary debasement. Centralized control of credit money and the imposition of legal tender laws enable the hidden tax that is called inflation. Salmon P. Chase, who as Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary presided over the issuance of greenbacks, argued later as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that the issuance of greenback currency was unconstitutional and exceeded the powers of the federal government. He said, “the legal tender quality is only valuable for the purposes of dishonesty.” Finally, the political process has been so thoroughly corrupted and taken over by the power elite that political approaches to solving the money problem have virtually no chance of passage anyway.

Toward effective means of empowerment

Business people, farmers, professionals, and others who are engaged in productive enterprise are clamoring to gain access to credit, credit which they fail to recognize is already in their collective hands. Under the present arrangements, we give our credit to the banks, then beg them to lend some of it back to us, and pay them interest for the “privilege.” But there is no good reason for credit to be monopolized. Business routinely offer credit to one another when they deliver goods and services then allow some period of time for payment to be made. This practice can be extended and organized on a multilateral basis.

The real solution to the problem lies in creating new structures for allocating credit based on the legitimate needs and the resources of businesses, workers, and state and local governments. Competition in currency can transcend the dysfunctions that are inherent in the present centralized system and ensure that there will be sufficient amounts of exchange media to enable all desirable trades. Competing currencies will also ensure that political currencies (like the dollar, euro, pound, etc.) cannot be abused without losing patronage in the market. Rather than establishing the state as the money power, we need to promote the separation of money and state by deploying exchange mechanisms that decentralize and democratize the control of credit.

Money is first and foremost a medium for facilitating the exchange of goods and services and other forms of real value, but the exchange function can be effectively and efficiently provided outside the banking system and without the use of conventional political money.[iv] This is already being done through credit clearing exchanges and through the issuance of private currencies or vouchers by businesses that produce real valuable goods and services. Both approaches have the capacity to provide exchange media that can be also be used by general public to mediate all manner of transactions.

Is there any practical possibility of organizing producers on a sufficiently large scale to achieve this? I strongly maintain that there is. This approach, based on private initiative, is far more practical and empowering than any political approach to reform of money and banking that is currently on offer. Improvement in the human condition have always stemmed from the creativity, industriousness, and goodwill of people. A cooperative, compassionate, society can emerge from the creation of exchange alternatives based on voluntary, free-market, and community-based initiatives that enable people to transcend the money monopoly and the “war machine.”[v]

This is begun at the local level by utilizing the credit of local producers to mediate the exchange of goods and services that are locally produced or sold. There are many historical examples of successful private currencies that have been circulated in various times and places. Call them vouchers, scrip, credits, certificates, or coupons—sound private and community currencies can be SPENT (issued) into circulation by any trusted producer or reseller who is ready, willing, and able to reciprocate by accepting it back (redeem it) as payment for real value, i.e., the goods or services that are their normal stock in trade and are in regular demand. There is nothing mysterious or complicated about this process.[vi]

The exchange of goods and services is also enabled on a moneyless basis by using a process of direct credit clearing among buyers and sellers. This is already being done by the scores of commercial trade exchanges (sometimes called “barter” exchanges) that have been operating successfully around the world for more than 40 years. These commercial credit circles, comprised of thousands of businesses of all kinds, presently mediate an estimated 20 to 30 billion dollars’ worth of trades annually, and these numbers continue to grow. As operational improvements are made and credit management procedures become standardized, these exchanges will be networked together to more fully realize the vast potential of moneyless credit clearing arrangements.[vii] In this emerging worldwide web of exchange, members of each local circle or node are known to one another and allocate credit to one another based on their reputation and ability to provide valuable goods and services. Thus we can eventually have an independent system of non-monetary payment in which credit is locally controlled but globally useful.

In conclusion, I maintain that it is essential and entirely feasible that we reduce our dependence upon the banking system and conventional political monies. Through the deployment of innovative mechanisms of exchange, like private currencies and credit clearing networks, individuals, businesses and communities can empower themselves economically and politically to build a society that is free, fair, prosperous and peaceful.  The way forward is clear. The blueprints have been drawn. What remains is for entrepreneurs, business leaders, and community activists to act boldly to implement these exchange mechanisms in ways that are sound, credible, effective, and scalable.

Thomas H. Greco, Jr. is an educator, author, and consultant dedicated to economic equity, social justice, and community empowerment. He specializes in the design and implementation of private and community currencies and mutual credit clearing networks. His latest book is The End of Money and the Future of Civilization. His main website is https://beyondmoney.net/. He can be reached at thgreco@mindspring.com.
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[i] As E.C. Riegel put it in his book, A New Approach to Freedom, “…as long as our governments are vast counterfeiting machines, Mars can laugh at peace projects.”

[ii] This and other works of Carroll Quigley can be downloaded at the Quigley website, http://www.carrollquigley.net/ .

[iii] View General Wesley Clark’s two minute revelation at https://youtu.be/9RC1Mepk_Sw.

[iv] An animated video that makes clear the credit nature of money and its sound basis is The Essence of Money, https://youtu.be/uO7uwCpcau8.

[v] My 15 minute video, Disruptive Technologies Making Money Obsolete, https://youtu.be/ty7APADAa8g, describes how communities and businesses can escape the debt trap and become more resilient and self-reliant.

[vi] These arguments are more fully developed in my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization. My Solar Dollar white paper at https://beyondmoney.net/2016/08/26/solar-dollars-a-private-currency-with-multiple-benefits/ provides the basic framework for the design and issuance of a private currency.

[vii] Some details on how to do this are outlined in chapter 15 of my book, an excerpt of which can be found at https://beyondmoney.net/excerpts/limiting-factors-in-the-operation-of-commercial-trade-exchanges/.

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Fake News, Fake Money, How to Tell the Difference

Why is it so hard these days to tell fact from fiction? Who can be trusted to tell us what’s really going on? Can the New York Times and Washington Post still be believed? And what about money? Can we still trust the dollar, the euro, the pound sterling? What supports national currencies, anyway? Is this Bitcoin thing real or fake money, and should I buy some?

Here’s a compelling presentation by Andreas Antonopoulos, that addresses all of these questions. Antonopoulos is a technologist and entrepreneur and probably the most knowledgeable and insightful expert on bitcoin, blockchain technology and the profound changes that lie just ahead.

MUST WATCH!

Here’s the YouTube link: https://youtu.be/i_wOEL6dprg

Now take a deep dive into the political realities of our time by watching this presentation by CIA officer Kevin Shipp, in which he exposes the Shadow Government and the Deep State. If you question his credibility here is a brief bio from Information Clearing House:

Kevin Shipp, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, intelligence and counter terrorism expert, held several high-level positions in the CIA. His assignments included protective agent for the Director of the CIA, counterintelligence investigator searching for moles inside the CIA, overseas counter terrorism operations officer, internal security investigator, assistant team leader for the antiterrorism tactical assault team, chief of training for the CIA federal police force and polygraph examiner. Mr. Shipp was the senior program manager for the Department of State, Diplomatic Security, Anti-Terrorism Assistance global police training program. He is the recipient of two CIA Meritorious Unit Citations, three Exceptional Performance Awards and a Medallion for high risk overseas operations. Website/book: fortheloveoffreedom.net

Here’s the YouTube link: https://youtu.be/rQouKi7xDpM

Local Currencies—what works; what doesn’t?

Local Currencies—what works; what doesn’t?
By Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

Community  currencies, and mutual credit clearing exchanges are key elements in the emergence of a new economic paradigm. These approaches to enabling the exchange of value are not entirely new, they have a long and varied history, but their enormous potential and possibilities have become widely recognized only within the past three or four decades. This is largely the result of increasing disillusionment with conventional money and banking systems, the emergence of Bitcoin and other non-governmental, non-bank currencies, and the growing interest in decentralized, peer-to-peer approaches in all realms of human activity.

The latest wave of exchange alternatives has seen the emergence over the past few decades of scores of commercial trade or “barter” exchanges, and hundreds, if not thousands of local currencies. The scores of commercial trade exchanges that have  been operating in many countries around the world for the past four or five decades enable moneyless trading among their business members, and collectively “clear” tens of billions of dollars’ worth of trades annually. Their success provides the strongest proof of the viability of decentralized, non-governmental, non-bank, moneyless exchange options.[i]

On the other hand, the plethora of local and community currencies that have popped-up all over the world have not been so encouraging. The avowed purpose of local currencies has generally been to keep money circulating locally instead of “leaking out” of the community. It is hoped that by keeping exchange media circulating within the local community, the vitality of the local economy will be enhanced and local businesses will be better able to compete with large global corporations and merchandising chains.

That is well and good, but it misses the main point of what ails our communities, and our world. It is the very nature of the dominant political money system that is problematic. So, localization is not the end in itself, but the necessary means to an end, which is personal re-empowerment and freedom; community resilience, sustainability, and self-determination; and the revitalization of democratic governance. Community currencies and exchange systems provide an essential tool kit for achieving those goals but they need to be designed in such a way as to make people less dependent upon political money and banks. So long as we remain harnessed to the dominant money and banking regime, there will be little chance of significant improvement in the human condition, in fact, the trend has been exactly opposite. ….  Read the full article or download the full PDF.

The Post–Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

Yesterday, I had occasion to watch Stephen Spielberg’s latest film, The Post, which tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the top secret government documents that came to be known as the “Pentagon Papers.” The film does a fine job of portraying an episode in history that everyone needs to know about and understand. These leaked documents, which Ellsberg hoped would help end the Vietnam war, formed the basis for a series of articles that were published by the New York Times and the Washington Post. A major point that the film brings out is the fact the Vietnam war was perpetuated over several administrations because no President wanted to admit that the war was unwinnable (not to mention, unjust). As a consequence, the lives of tens of thousands of American servicemen and untold numbers of Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians were sacrificed for no good reason.

Here is an NPR interview with Ellsberg originally broadcast Dec. 4, 2017:
https://www.npr.org/player/embed/568310782/568340893

I’m pretty sure that no mainstream media outlet today would likely be willing to do what the Times and the Post did back then, and I wonder how long it will be before the independent internet channels are also taken over or censored out of existence.

Greater government openness and transparency are essential to ending the war economy and the culture of war, but that will not occur until we the people empower ourselves enough to force politicians to bring it about. We need a strategy that can effect a power shift toward popular control, and I believe the most promising approach for achieving that is to decentralize control of credit-based exchange media. Private and community currencies, and credit clearing networks can circumvent political currencies and bank-created debt money. We’re running out of wiggle room so we had better not waste any time in deploying them.

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Addendum:
And while we’re on the subject of the Vietnam war, here’s a pertinent documentary that tells about another important aspect of the anti-war movement.

“In the 1960’s an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history. This sir-no-sirmovement didn’t take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in army stockades, navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services. Yet today few people know about the GI movement against the war in Vietnam.” http://sirnosir.com/

 

Newsletter—2017 Year-end, and prospects for the coming year

  • New web posts:

            Disruptive Technologies Making Money Obsolete

            Limiting Factors in the Operation of Commercial Trade Exchanges

  • Newly discovered video from 2003 interview, Democratizing Money
  • 2017 recap
  • Thoughts on the state of the world, plus recommended authors, commentators, and sources

 20171230_160838_Burst01

It’s been a long while since my last newsletter. It’s not that I’ve been idle, rather, more preoccupied with other aspects of my life. I’ve been somewhat less motivated to keep my nose to the grindstone, and more inclined toward spending time with friends and family, and recreational pursuits like playing bridge, enjoying the outdoors, and reading good literature. My commitment to societal improvement remains, but I realize that it is necessary to have the proper balance in life in order to be both happy and effective.

Now that 2017 is behind us, we can be hopeful that 2018 will bring better conditions and new opportunities for progress in our work.
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New Web Posts

Broadly speaking, technology is the organization of knowledge, people, and things to accomplish specific practical objectives. It includes processes, practices, techniques and systems as well as things. So what are the disruptive technologies in money and finance? Or is that even the right question to be asking? Is it Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other so-called crypto-currencies? Is it the blockchain, “smart contracts,” “big data,” algorithms?

To find out, watch my 15 minute video, which was extracted and adapted from a longer recording of A World Without Money and Interest: A pathway toward social justice and economic equity, the presentation I  made to the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 10, 2016. It describes how communities and businesses can escape the debt trap and become more resilient and self-reliant? New independent approaches to payment and reciprocal exchange are being deployed which are making conventional money obsolete. It’s not as  complicated as you may think.

You can view the video at either of the following links:

YouTube link: https://youtu.be/ty7APADAa8g

Vimeo link: https://vimeo.com/245661935

Many thanks to Ken Richings for doing all the hard work of editing and preparing the video for publication.

I’ve also posted another excerpt from my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

This one, taken from Chapter 15, Commercial Trade Exchanges—Their Present Limitations and Potential Future, describes the ways in which present practices of commercial trade exchanges are limiting their own growth and development.
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Newly discovered video from 2003 interview, Democratizing Money

A long-time correspondent recently alerted me to a video that was made during my tour of the Pacific Northwest in 2003. It is an interview on Network X, in which the late Jeff Fairhall and I spoke about Democratizing Money. This is still every bit as relevant today as it was back then. You can find it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/l4zVbNig–g.
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2017 recap

Travel in 2017 was minimal, only two trips, one to South Carolina to visit family on the occasion of my granddaughter’s university graduation, and the other to Greece in June/July to conduct my weeklong workshop at Kalikalos Holistic Summer School and to confer with colleagues in Volos and Athens. I’ll not be conducting another formal workshop at Kalikalos next summer but I may spend some time there at the Kissos campus as a Facilitator In Residence (FIR)

During the first part of 2017 and the last two months of 2016, I participated in a cooperative living experiment in Tucson with two friends and colleagues, Susan and Jock. Susan is an author, administrator and grant writer, and Jock is an expert in community living and the founder of Kalikalos. We took a 6 month lease on a house in central Tucson with the intention of working out some alternative possibilities for seniors to age in place in a supportive community, and to take a first step in establishing a learning center that I call the E. C. Riegel Institute for Sustainability and Financial Innovation. With Susan’s expert help, we submitted a couple grant proposals for funding  the Institute but did not manage to get a grant, so by the end of April when our lease expired, the experiment was wrapped up and, as planned, we scattered. Susan moved back east to be closer to her son and daughter, Jock developed some health problems so he chose to move into an assisted living community in Marin county California, and I moved into another shared house in Tucson.

I maintain regular correspondence and collaboration with many in my peer networks but I’m finding it impossible to keep up with all the email I receive, so I’m having to be more selective about what gets answered. Also, there continues to be a steady stream of groups and individuals asking my advice about their ideas for a new economy, community currencies or credit clearing exchanges. As you might imagine, many of those who contact me have only a germ of an idea and little background in the principles of economics, money, finance and exchange. I try to direct them to resources (my own and others’) that are appropriate to where they happen to be on the learning curve, but there are a few who seem better prepared and have demonstrated abilities in related fields that I choose to work with more intensively. It’s hard to assess the ultimate impact of these efforts, and I’m still hoping to connect with social entrepreneurs and funders who are willing to take my advice to create and take to market an exchange system or currency that is sound, credible, effective and scalable, one that can adequately demonstrate the real potential and effective enough to be widely replicated.

In the meantime, I keep trying to improve my communication skills so that people can better understand, not only what is dysfunctional about conventional money, banking and finance, but also the principles and technical details required to realize the great potential of private currencies and moneyless exchange systems. Last year I published the Solar Dollar white paper, and I will soon be publishing another article in which I will try again to clear up the most common misconceptions, and help the next corps of social entrepreneurs to avoid repeating the old recurrent errors.
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Thoughts on the state of the world

2017 has sure been an interesting year geopolitically, with Trump’s tweets, Russiagate, North Korean weapons tests, mass killings, and continuing U.S. interventions in the middle-east and elsewhere,  giving the pundits plenty of material to yack about 24/7. U.S. politics is playing out like a melodramatic farce. The executive branch seems to be a house divided against itself, and the political landscape is undergoing a seismic shift. The Trump presidency has shaken things up and it’s difficult to predict what might happen next. The corporate and banking oligarchs seem to be getting  enough out of Trump to accept (for now) his presence in the White House, but his rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and his coziness with Putin and the Russians must be exasperating to them.

It’s getting ever more difficult to sort out the real facts from the fake news and propaganda. If you get your news solely from the main TV channels, newspapers, and magazines you’re getting only a small part of the big picture and are thereby being misled. For a more complete picture, one needs to study history, listen to whistle blowers, and consult independent authors and commentators, and foreign as well as domestic sources. My current list of  recommended sites and sources is here. It’s up to you to decide what makes sense and what to believe. As one sage told me long ago, “Don’t believe everything you hear, and only half of what you see.” Over the past several months, I’ve posted five segments in a series I call, What in the world is going on? Go to my website, https://beyondmoney.net/, and search on “What in the world” to find them.

Finally, regarding the economy, since the 2008 financial crisis the central banks have been inflating asset bubbles in stocks, bonds, and real estate by their policies of market interventions (quantitative easing) and low interest rates. Now they are making noises about raising interest rates and reducing the size of their balance sheets (by selling securities), but I don’t expect they will be able to go very far with those moves without causing more economic distress. They are more window dressing than real policy shifts. The Republican tax bill which was recently passed into law will, in the short run,  add to that bubble inflation by giving the rich and the corporations additional funds which they will mainly invest, not spend. Corporations, rather than raising wages or building new capacity, will likely use much of the windfall to buy back their own shares. That added demand will keep stocks pumped up for a while longer. But nothing has been done to remedy the flaws that are inherent in the global system of money, banking and finance (MBF), which in fact have been made worse. Another financial crisis is surely on the way and it’s likely to be more severe than the last one, but when it will break is difficult to predict.

Everyone wants to know how to protect their nest egg. My general advice for communities is to convert financial resources into resilient infrastructure that provides a steady stream of necessary goods and services. But what can individuals do? An inflationary depression is the most likely scenario, so keep enough cash on hand to last a couple weeks and hold some liquidity in a credit union account, but invest a major portion of your money in real things that will be useful and hold their value no matter what. For more detailed advice about that you can read my post Survival Strategies for Troubled Times.
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Wishing you peace, love, and joy throughout the coming year,
Tom

Disruptive Technologies are Making Money Obsolete

Broadly speaking, technology is the organization of knowledge, people, and things to accomplish specific practical objectives. It includes processes, practices, techniques and systems as well as things. So what are the disruptive technologies in money and finance? Or is that even the right question to be asking? Is it Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other so-called crypto-currencies? Is it the blockchain, “smart contracts,” “big data,” algorithms?

To find out, watch this 15 minute video, which was extracted and adapted from a longer recording of the presentation, I  made to the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 10, 2016. It describes how communities and businesses can escape the debt trap and become more resilient and self-reliant? New independent approaches to payment and reciprocal exchange are being deployed which are making conventional money obsolete.

Links to this video:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/ty7APADAa8g
Vimeo link: https://vimeo.com/245661935

Many thanks to Ken Richings for doing the hard work of editing and preparing the video for publication.

The full Malaysia presentation titled, A World Without Money and Interest: A pathway toward social justice and economic equity, can be found here.