Newsletter – late winter, 2012

In this issue

  • David Cobb, Creating Democracy & Challenging Corporate Rule
  • Catherine Austin Fitts, The global financial system and the power of people to overcome it.
  • Camilo Ramada, Can the Latin American C3 Model of Complementary Currency work also in the USA?
  • Occupy how?
  • The U.S. is already at war with Iran
  • Investing in yourself and your communities
  • Building our social capital
  • My 2012 U.S. Tour

Greetings!

Hanging out in the San Francisco Bay area has provided me some great opportunities for networking and enrichment. Over the past few weeks I‘ve had the privilege of hearing three excellent presentations. One of these was by David Cobb, titled Reversing Citizens United: Amending the Constitution to abolish corporate personhood. David is a lawyer and a fiery speaker who ran for President in 2008 on the Green Party ticket and has been traveling the country telling people about the history of corporations and how they have managed to usurp the political rights of real people. It is unfortunate that his presentation was not recorded, but you can get more information at the website, http://movetoamend.org/, and you can get involved, and perhaps find a group in your area by going to http://movetoamend.org/calendar. Amending the Constitution is one strategy for reigning in the power of corporations over our lives, but there are others that we can take directly that may have more immediate results. We first need to recognize our dependence upon corporations, then act to lessen it. We can also take concerted action to pressure them into being more responsible through organized boycotts and local ordinances, and we can work to get our pension fund manages to vote our corporate share holdings in ways that promote the public interest. None of these is a panacea, but as we the people unite to change the status quo, we will come up with even more creative approaches.

Another excellent spokesperson on this issue is Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University. I highly recommend his article, Occupy Corporations: How to Cut Corporate Power.

Another recent event was a fascinating presentation by Catherine Austin Fitts. Catherine is an investment advisor and entrepreneur who once held a high level position in the federal government, having served from 1989 to 1990 as Assistant Secretary for Housing, responsible for the operations of the Federal Housing Administration during the first Bush administration. Her experience close to the center of power in Washington gave her a unique vantage point from which to view government malfeasance at the highest levels. She has some amazing stories to tell.

Here are a few important sound bites from Catherine’s presentation:

  • Over the past three decades, America has experienced a “financial coup d’état.”
  • The financial system is actually a centralized control system.
  • Americans have a traditional respect for individual rights. We need to globalize our covenant with one another regarding that.
  • Money follows trust.
  • Life is more valuable than metal (gold, silver, etc.)
  • “The beginning is near.”
  • The most likely economic and financial scenario is not sudden collapse, but a “slow burn.”
  • Invest your time in things that are both fun and productive.
  • Invest in things that provide a positive return to the commonwealth.
  • Some of the Occupy tactics have had a negative return to the commonwealth.

Catherine is the publisher of the Solari reports. I highly recommend Catherine’s website Solari.com, and her blog. These can help you to cut through establishment propaganda and provide critical financial planning information.

Still another major event was a presentation on January 30 by Camilo Ramada at the Foundation for the Future in Palo Alto. Camilo is central figure in a Dutch non-profit called STRO, The Social Trade Organization. STRO has projects in various countries around the world and has a history of developing effective models for local economic development. Camilo gave a description of “C3,” a local currency project that has been operating successfully, with government support, in Uruguay. The Commercial Community Circuit (C3) creates a digital means of payment that is fully backed by cash reserves, financial guarantees and/or credit insurance.

Here is the official description of C3.

This digital currency is managed through the Cyclos software that offers all the functionalities of traditional on-line banking software:

  • a set of accounts through which users can make and receive payments
  • payments through Internet, cards or text messages
  • wide array of functionalities for users and administrators

The C3 works as a set of contracts between key partners that focus on their specialties. It does not require new skills or departments.

In a C3, a partner such as a community bank offers digital credit to be used locally as a means of payment. This digital credit will be more flexible because it does not require an immediate outlay of cash. It is cheaper than cash credit because it can charge less interest.

Entities with designated budgets for particular purposes, such as foundations, public agencies, and large construction projects can channel their budgets through a C3 to increase its local multiplier effect.

The C3 is self sustaining through transaction fees that, once costs are covered, can be reinvested in local social projects.

STRO’s websites are:

STRO www.socialtrade.org

Cyclos software project site www.cyclos.org

Camilo’s presentation was recorded and you can view the complete proceedings at http://vimeo.com/36120270

Occupy how?

I’ve recently posted several important items that relate to the Occupy movement on my blog, BeyondMoney.net, which I encourage you to read. The latest of these is: The Occupy movement at risk from violent protesters A key point that I make in that post is that, “The real threat to the powers that be, (and the most promising path toward our goals) is intelligent, non-violent, empowering actions that make them and their systems irrelevant. The way forward, as I see it, is to assert our fundamental rights and to organize better ways of providing for our basic needs.”

Other recent posts that may be of interest are:

*   The 100% solution: non-violent organizing for the common good

*   Taking Cashless Trade to a Higher Level

Just scroll down until you find them, or enter a portion of the titles in the search box.

The U.S. is already at war with Iran

There are many ways to fight a war that don’t require air strikes or military invasion. As Jim Rickards points out in his article, Iran, The Dollar And Financial Warfare (Tue, Feb 7), “The U.S. has applied financial and economic sanctions to Iran for over 30 years,” but what is new is President Obama’s recent move to prevent international banks from doing business with Iran’s central bank. “The result,” Rickards says, “was an immediate isolation of Iran from the dollar system and an acute shortage of dollars in Iran. The Iranian currency, the rial, crashed in value 40% against the dollar in a few days. Since many goods in Iran are imported, local prices doubled as merchants demanded more rials in order to acquire whatever dollars might be available on the black market to buy imported goods. Iranian banks responded by raising local interest rates to over 20% in order to keep rials from flooding out of the Iranian banking system.

In a matter of days, the U.S. had isolated Iran from the world banking system, destroyed the exchange value of Iran’s currency, injected hyperinflation into the local economy and caused a stratospheric increase in interest rates.”

But that’s not the end of the story. Rickards article also mentions the sabotage and assassinations that the west has recently carried out against Iran. But Iran may have some weapons of its own, and they have nothing to do with nuclear weapons. Please read the entire article. I don’t know Rickards, but he seems to be uncommonly knowledgeable and insightful in the realm of money and international finance. He is the author of Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis, and author of numerous articles, two of which are:

The Real Agenda Behind The Fed’s Easing.

The Pending Currency War And What We Can Do About It.

Investing in yourself and your communities

I’ve been reading a pre-publication copy of Michael Shuman’s book, Local Dollars, Local Sense which is due to be released within the next few weeks. This book is a valuable addition to the literature about local investing and community empowerment. You can order it from Chelsea Green Publishing, but in the meantime, check out Michaels article, 5 Ways to Make Your Dollars Make Sense, in the February issue of YES! Magazine.

Building our social capital

We should all be working to build social capital in our communities because it is the social fabric that provides the foundation for political and economic empowerment. How to do that in our highly mobile and impersonal society is a crucial question. One example given by Bill McKibben in his best-selling book, eaarth, is that of a couple in Burlington, Vermont who printed up 400 flyers that they distributed throughout their neighborhood. The flyers invited people to use an email forum they created to inform one another of their news, events, problems, needs, etc. The emails would be assembled periodically and sent out as a single message to everyone on the list. Participation grew steadily and eventually reached 90% of the neighbors. McKibben relates some remarkable things that occurred as a result. Now the idea is spreading quickly and gave rise to FrontPorchForum.com that within two years “reached thirteen thousand households, participating in more than a hundred neighborhood forums…” That number has now grown to 33,000 households. FrontPorchForum describes itself as a free community-building service. Your neighborhood’s forum is only open to the people who live there. It’s all about helping neighbors connect. FrontPorchForum  makes it easy for anyone to create a forum for their own neighborhood or group.

My 2012 U.S. Tour

I’m planning a tour of the U.S. that will begin sometime in March and take me through the southern tier of states from California to Florida, then up the eastern seaboard. I hope to balance work with leisure and will be conducting a few workshops, presentations, and consultations along the way.

I’ll be spending some time in Tucson, then commence the tour from there. On the docket so far are a presentation and workshop to be held in San Diego, March 19 and 20, and a presentation at the Public Banking in America Conference in Philadelphia, April 27–28. That event is a “response to the growing demand for monetary and banking reform in the public interest,” and is being sponsored by The Public Banking Institute.

If you would like me to consider making a stop in your area, please contact me.

Let’s make 2012 the breakthrough year we’ve all been hoping for.

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