2020 May Newsletter

In this issue

  • What could be nicer than this?
  • Planet of the Humans
  • The Need to GROW
  • Trade Exchanges and Credit clearing are No Longer Experiments, They’re Mainstream Business

There is so much going on these days, and so much I want to share with you that I hardly know where to stop. Yet, I do not wish to overwhelm my readers, so I’m choosing to keep my newsletters short. Whether they also become more frequent will depend on my own state of overwhelm and how the spirit moves me in the weeks ahead. In this edition I’m starting off on a lighter note with an amusing presentation by one of my longtime favorite authors. Oh, and by the way, there’s nothing in here about Covid-19. That’s not for lack of serious concerns or important sources to share, but I think we all need to take a break from it, so I’ll leave that for next time when we’ll get into it big time.
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What could be nicer than this?

Take a few minutes to relax and be amused. Whether or not you’ve ever been a fan of Kurt Vonnegut, as I have, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this lecture he gave in 2004 on the Shape of Stories.
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Planet of the Humans

This new and controversial documentary by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore lays out the hard, cold facts about our energy intensive way of living and the implausibility of renewable energy sources ever being able to replace fossil fuels. The inevitable conclusions are that we humans need to reduce our energy consumption, stop the growth of our population, and start making better public policy choices regarding infrastructure and technologies.

But vested interests have refused to believe the obvious facts and are intent of continuing on the present path in order to protect their material fortunes. In Tucson, where I live, tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on road widening projects just to deliver traffic more quickly to the downtown bottlenecks, a policy that in the process has been killing off more pedestrians and bicyclists and raising noise pollution to maddening levels.

The film has been controversial because it argues that the much vaunted shift to renewable sources of energy is an illusory savior, and the mainstream environmental organizations have been largely co-opted by corporate interests.  The movie is freely available for viewing at https://planetofthehumans.com/.

Among those featured in the film is energy and climate expert, Richard Heinberg of the Postcarbon Institute. Heinberg’s review of the film provides a more nuanced picture of our energy future and I encourage everyone to read it. The bottom line for me is my long held belief that there is no techno-fix maintain that will allow us to maintain the profligate ways of our current civilization, and that is a good thing because we are presently face with a multi-dimensional mega-crisis that is forcing us to transition to a different way of living that does not promote endless economic growth. I’ve also been arguing for a long time that we need to get off this perpetual growth spiral and shift our efforts away from ever increasing consumption and toward a Butterfly Economy that is in harmony with nature. If we do not make the necessary changes in the way we live, nature will do it for us.
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The Need to GROW

Speaking of living in harmony with nature, one of the most important things that we can do is to change the way we grow our food. This award winning documentary shows that it is possible. There are viable alternatives to industrial agriculture that are not only capable of producing an abundance of more nutritious food, but of saving the planet in the process. Get it here.
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Trade Exchanges and Credit clearing are No Longer Experiments, They’re Mainstream Business

This opinion piece by Paul Brandus appeared recently on the MarketWatch website: How small businesses can stay afloat during the pandemic without government help.

While still often referred to as “barter exchanges,” the scores of commercial trade exchanges operating around the world enable their business members to transact billions of dollars worth of purchases and sales annually without using conventional money. How do they do that? As I’ve been explaining for many years, established business members are given an internal line of credit in proportion to their sales volume, thus creating a new form of liquidity within the exchange that is independent of bank borrowing and conventional money.

The proliferation of trade exchange networks is a fundamental necessity in rebuilding the economy to be more resilient, fair, and democratic, and preserving the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are the backbone of every community economy and political democracy.
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Monday, May 25 was Memorial Day in the United States. It is a day when we remember and honor all those who have fought and died in our many wars. Let us also remember the horror and utter waste that is the essence of war, and resolve to put an end to it forever.

Thomas

My latest article in Medium

The global money system: not the kind of normal we should get back to describes the urgency, and the opportunity, of ushering in a new, more equitable and sustainable economy based on the deployment of the innovative mechanisms of exchange and finance that I have long advocated. We need to ask ourselves what it is that keeps us on the treadmill. We try to get ahead but so often we end up simply standing still or falling farther behind. We are all chasing after that thing that everyone demands from us–money. The problem is that there is never enough money in the right places to fairly distribute the vast amount of wealth that the economy produces. What if we could all stop chasing after money? Money scarcity is an artifact of the interest-based, debt-money regime. Better means of exchange are available; we simply need to organize and use them.

A Conversation About the Dysfunctions of Money, and the Need for Decentralized Exchange Alternatives

This conversation, sponsored by the Praxis Peace Institute, is Episode 8 in our podcast series. It was recorded on April 10, 2020 and covers such critical questions as:

  • What is the essence of money?
  • What are the functions of money?
  • Where does money come from?
  • How does money enter the economy?
  • Who controls the issuance and flow of money?
  • Why does total debt in the world keep growing?
  • Is the system of money, banking, and finance stable, fair, sustainable?
  • Are there better ways to “do” money?
  • Why have local currencies not been more successful?
  • Are there any success stories?
  • Is there a “magic formula” for making an alternative money system work?

It continues with a discussion of the history of local currency efforts in Sonoma County, California and a description of straight forward approaches to creating local liquidity that is independent of banks and conventional money.

Newsletter — Spring, 2020

  • My latest article, Riding the Populist Wave
  • The Economics of Peace, Justice and Sustainability
  • How can the next world war be averted?
  • System change demands economic change–building the Open Credit Network
  • Swami Beyondananda
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
  • The dangers of 5G wireless technology: Warnings from an industry insider

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My latest article,
Riding the Populist Wave

In my latest article I report that capitalists now admit that the system is “rigged” in their favor. I argue that Trump and Sanders represent two edges of the populist wave that is now dominating U.S. politics, that a Sanders win over Trump is entirely plausible, that the New Deal of FDR has been systematically dismantled and needs to be reestablished, and that in the long run people will need to work together in communities to build systems and structures that can circumvent the rigged system.

Here is an excerpt, but click here to read the entire article.

There, the capitalists are admitting it–the system is rigged.

In his latest newsletter, financial advisor, John Mauldin, Co-Founder of Mauldin Economics, acknowledges that the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy and powerful, and against everyone else, including the shrinking middle-class. Mauldin says:

The “financialization” of the American economy has led to increasing income and wealth disparity. As much as it pains me to say it, the “system” really is rigged. Whatever the good intentions of the Federal Reserve in particular and the US government in general have been, it has distorted the economic feedback loops that balance a true market-based economic system. The fact is we already have “socialism” today. It’s not the socialism we feared in 1974. We have socialized the risks of capitalism, to the benefit of a small portion of the country, while a larger portion struggles.

So, Mauldin admits what has been obvious for a long time, that the U.S. economy is characterized by socialism for the rich ruling class, and dog-eat-dog competition for everyone else. He cites this fact as the main reason why political outsider Donald Trump was elected President in 2016 and why “socialist” Bernie Sanders might conceivably be elected President in 2020. I agree.

So, what do Trump and Sanders have in common?

As I see it, both are viewed by the electorate as “populist,” which ostensibly means anti-elite, Trump representing right-wing populism and Sanders left-wing populism. But, except for paying lip service to a plan to shift U.S. foreign policy away from the imperial belligerence of the deep state, Trump’s actions as President belie any anti-elite sentiment. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

What people want is something other than the globalist, interventionist, imperialist policies of the past several decades that have wasted enormous amounts of resources, killed hundreds of thousands of people, destroyed communities and nations, and caused political upheaval around the world. People want relief from the economic policies that have favored capital over labor by increasing capital mobility while shifting jobs from the U.S. to low wage countries especially in Asia, and at the same time reduced constraints on banks and corporations, enabling them to more fully exploit people and the environment. … More…

The article has also been published on Medium and republished at OpEd News
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The Economics of Peace, Justice and Sustainability

This video was recently prepared by Ken Freeman based on a presentation I gave at the Economics of Peace Conference in Sonoma, California in October, 2009. My prescriptions for reclaiming the credit commons and creating a new “butterfly economy” remain completely relevant, and their implementation is becoming ever more urgent.
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How can the next world war can be averted?

If you want an answer to that, listen to this interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts’ on Ellen Brown’s podcast, Resolved for 2020: Come Together, starting around 21:20. The most interesting part of the interview is toward the end (at 45:50) where Dr. Roberts talks frankly about the current geopolitical situation and the response to his recent article, Putin’s Hour Is At Hand, which has gone viral around the world. If you can put aside any judgments you may have made about Putin and Russia based on the chorus of Russophobic rhetoric coming from the mainstream media you may learn something important.
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System change demands economic change, by Oliver Sylvester-Bradley

In this recent article, Oliver Sylvester-Bradley of the Open Coop, announces the alpha launch of the new web platform for the Open Credit Network (OCN), a cooperative mutual credit clearing system that enables the moneyless exchange of goods and services among its member businesses. The Open Credit Network has the potential to realize the ideals and processes that E.C. Riegel expounded and that I have been elaborating and refining for the past 40 years.
https://www.thealternative.org.uk/dailyalternative/2020/1/11/open-credit-network
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Swami  Beyondananda

Swami  Beyondananda (Steve Bhaerman) makes light of the heavy. An occasional dose of Swami’s wisdom can help to keep you sane in this insane world. https://wakeuplaughing.com/.

And check out Steve’s other website, https://wikipolitiki.com/, “Where left and right come front and center to face the music and dance together, to turn the funk into function and leave the junk at the junction”
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Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

This book by Chip and Dan Heath, rated at 4.5/5 stars on Amazon.com, is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. I read parts of it a few years ago and was quite impressed but too busy at the time to finish it. Recently, as I was scanning the shelves at my local public library I noticed the audio version of the book so I picked it up and checked it out. Over the past few weeks I’ve been listening to it in my car, a few minutes at a time as I travel about town. Whether the change one wishes to make is on a personal level, an organizational level, or the societal level, this book is a treasure trove that provides important insights and basic principles about how change happens, and numerous fascinating stories that illustrate their successful application. Whether your intention is to change yourself or to change the world, this book is essential reading (or listening). Find it at your public library or at your favorite bookseller.
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The dangers of 5G wireless technology: Warnings from an industry insider who tells it all.

In a recent message, long-time correspondent Ben Levi alerted me to a video by Frank Clegg, former President of Microsoft Canada, in which he talks about the dangers inherent in 5G/Wireless Technologies. This is something that must be taken seriously; evertyone’s health depends on it. You can view the video here. Ben also recommended an alternative to 5G that he is promoting and is described at http://www.safeg.net.
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As I write this the drama surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to intensify. Around the world events are being cancelled, people are limiting their movements and interpersonal contacts, and many spheres of routine activity are being disrupted. Can the spread of the virus be stopped or is it destined to become, like the flu, a universal and recurrent cause of disease? What will be its social, political, and economic implications? Is there a silver lining to this dark cloud? Time will tell.

Wishing you a healthy and happy Spring season,
Thomas

Riding the Populist Wave

This, my latest article, points out that capitalists now admit that the system is “rigged” in their favor; it argues that Trump and Sanders represent two edges of the populist wave that is now dominating U.S. politics, that a Sanders win over Trump is entirely plausible, that the New Deal of FDR has  been systematically dismantled and needs to be reestablished, and that in the long run people will need to work together in communities to build systems and structures that can circumvent the rigged system.

Here is an excerpt, but I hope you’ll read the entire article.

There, the capitalists are admitting it–the system is rigged.

In his latest newsletter, financial advisor, John Mauldin, Co-Founder of Mauldin Economics, acknowledges that the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy and powerful, and against everyone else, including the shrinking middle-class. Mauldin says:

The “financialization” of the American economy has led to increasing income and wealth disparity. As much as it pains me to say it, the “system” really is rigged. Whatever the good intentions of the Federal Reserve in particular and the US government in general have been, it has distorted the economic feedback loops that balance a true market-based economic system. The fact is we already have “socialism” today. It’s not the socialism we feared in 1974. We have socialized the risks of capitalism, to the benefit of a small portion of the country, while a larger portion struggles.

So, Mauldin admits what has been obvious for a long time, that the U.S. economy is characterized by socialism for the rich ruling class, and dog-eat-dog competition for everyone else. He cites this fact as the main reason why political outsider Donald Trump was elected President in 2016 and why “socialist” Bernie Sanders might conceivably be elected President in 2020. I agree.

So, what do Trump and Sanders have in common?

As I see it, both are viewed by the electorate as “populist,” which ostensibly means anti-elite, Trump representing right-wing populism and Sanders left-wing populism. But, except for paying lip service to a plan to shift U.S. foreign policy away from the imperial belligerence of the deep state, Trump’s actions as President belie any anti-elite sentiment. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

What people want is something other than the globalist, interventionist, imperialist policies of the past several decades that have wasted enormous amounts of resources, killed hundreds of thousands of people, destroyed communities and nations, and caused political upheaval around the world. People want relief from the economic policies that have favored capital over labor by increasing capital mobility while shifting jobs from the U.S. to low wage countries especially in Asia, and at the same time reduced constraints on banks and corporations, enabling them to more fully exploit people and the environment.
More…

A version of the article was also published on Medium and republished at OpEd News.

The Economics of Peace, Justice and Sustainability

This video is based on a presentation I gave at the Economics of Peace Conference in Sonoma, California in October, 2009. My prescriptions for reclaiming the credit commons and creating a new “butterfly economy” remain completely relevant, and their implementation is becoming ever more urgent.

A PDF of the slide show can be downloaded here.

Tulsi Gabbard calls for reforms of US voting system

These measures represent a step toward true democracy and a secure balloting system.

Open Primaries. Transitioning to open primaries in every state, away from our broken and egregiously expensive caucus system, and getting rid of the influence of superdelegates

Same-day Registration. Allowing same-day registration so every person gets to vote, regardless of how they choose to affiliate that election cycle

A paper ballot. Instituting a paper ballot system (or voter-verified paper backup) to keep our elections secure and free of foreign influence

Ranked-choice Voting. Introducing ranked choice voting at the national level, making sure no vote is ever wasted.

Automatic Voter Registration. Ensuring automatic voter registration for every person who turns 18 because there should be very few barriers to participating in democracy.

Make Election Day a Federal Holiday. We should reduce all barriers to performing one of our greatest civic duties.

Who else among the 2020 candidates is calling for such common sense changes? Who else is calling for an end to aggressive US foreign policy and regime-change wars? Who else has experienced first-hand the horrors of combat? Who else has sacrificed the fast-track to the top of the power pyramid in order to serve the common good?
See Tulsi’s website for more details.