Author Archives: Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

My latest interview on It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown

I was the featured guest on Ellen Brown’s podcast of December 30, 2021. I consider this to be one of my best interviews in which I covered a wide range of the most important questions related to rebuilding our system of money and finance. My interview is comprised of the first 38 minutes of the program.

This audio together with a transcript can also be found here.

Transcending the present political money system–the urgent need and the way to do it.

In case you missed my webinar and would like to see the presentation, here is the recording that was made. The first part is a specially prepared slide show presentation titled, A World Without Money, Interest, and Debt: A Pathway Toward Economic Equity, Social Justice, Freedom, and Peace. The webinar concludes with a short video titled, VITA: A worldwide web of exchange, Locally controlled but globally useful, in which I describe my vision of a new decentralized, peer-to-peer, system of exchange.
The question and answer portion is not include.

Updates:
A PDF file of the slide show plus some added pertinent slides can be viewed here.
I’ve recently added an edited recording of the discussion that followed my presentation. You can view it at Q&A Discussion.

Upcoming webinar: Transcending the present political money system–the urgent need and the way to do it.

Jefferson_EndOfDemocracy2
This Wednesday, Nov 24, 2021, I will be presenting one of the most important webinars I’ve ever done. It is being organized by Prof. Lubo Jankovic of the Centre for Future Societies Research at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK.

Here is the description and link.
Transcending the present political money system-the urgent need and the way to do it, by Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

Date and Time: Nov 24, 2021
at 4:00 PM London [11:00 AM New York, 09:00 AM Arizona, 08:00 AM Pacific time]
Join Zoom Meeting
https://herts-ac-uk.zoom.us/j/96844432493?pwd=VXZZN0dSblVxUDJMZXdlNU4zcDR2Zz09

Meeting ID: 968 4443 2493
Passcode: 099266

Abstract
This presentation describes the fundamental role of the global system of money, banking and finance in generating social injustice, economic inequity, environmental despoliation and violent conflict.  It outlines the collusive arrangement that exists between finance and politics that has created the global central banking regime to centralize power and concentrate wealth in ever fewer hands and explains how the creation of money by banks as interest-bearing debt causes a growth imperative that is destructive to the environment, democratic government, and the social fabric. But more importantly, it describes the positive developments that are emerging to create a new “butterfly economy” and a civilization in which everyone can live a dignified life.

Thomas H. Greco, Jr. is a preeminent scholar, author, educator, and community economist. He is widely regarded as a leading authority on moneyless exchange systems, community currencies, and financial innovation, and is a sought after speaker internationally. He has conducted workshops and lectured in 15 countries on five continents and has been an advisor to currency and reciprocal exchange projects around the world. He has authored numerous articles and books including, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization (https://beyondmoney.net/the-end-of-money-and-the-future-of-civilization/).

The Worldwide Walkout, Wednesday, November 3

Over the period from July to October 2020 I wrote and published three articles in my “Walking Away series. My aim was to show readers a more complete picture of our predicament, to present some largely overlooked facts, and to alert readers to the dangers of following the course that political leaders across the globe had set for us.  
 
In part one, as in my previous writings, I pointed out that we are presently confronted with a global multi-dimensional mega-crisis which global leaders propose to address with various techno-fixes that will do little to solve our problems but will further reduce individual freedom, free enterprise, and community control, and ratchet up the power and wealth of an elite “super class” that are determined to impose a “new world order” of mass surveillance, regimentation, and domination.
 
Now, more than a year later, it has become patently clear to anyone who cares to open their eyes that this is precisely where we are about to arrive. While we were assured that mask mandates were just a temporary precaution to slow the spread and “flatten the curve,” they have been continued by various governmental entities, medical facilities, and private businesses in many places including my home city and county where one must mask up to enter public buildings, even the public libraries. We were also assured that there was no need for vaccine mandates, and that medical passports would not be imposed, but now they are well on the way to becoming universal. If you think it will end with that, think again. Power and wealth have been so thoroughly concentrated in the hands of that “super class” who own and control the systems and institutions on which we all depend, that they are able to completely dominate the rest of us. Every new technology provides them with better tools to more effectively shape your perceptions, to monitor your every move; to control where you go, what you do, with whom you do it, and your access to everything you need. Everyone who is not a member of that relatively small class will be living in an open air prison.
 
Canada in the coming weeks is launching a standardized proof of vaccination credential for both domestic and international travel that will be required of everyone. Airline pilots in the US have been resisting similar moves by the US government and airline companies, but their attempts to block the mandates through the courts have so far been rebuffed.
 
Even more extreme demands are being made upon citizens in other places, like India. Just the first 5 minutes of this Jimmy Dore report is enough to show you the picture of what is being implemented there and is already programmed to be deployed worldwide. A social credit system similar to what has been operating for some time in China will be rolled out everywhere. As the old vaudevillians and early TV performers used to say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
 
Primary features of the New World Order are “transhumanism” and the “the Internet of Things” (IoT) in which everything is wirelessly connected to the internet, including machinery, robots, livestock, pets, household appliances, and YOU. But as Microsoft describes it, “The Internet of Things isn’t just about connected devices—it’s about the information those devices collect and the powerful, immediate insights that can be garnered from that information.”  From a purely physical/material perspective, there may be some advantages to that, but who will have access to all that information, and how will it be used? Can they be trusted to use it to our benefit? It’s obvious where this is heading: Today the medical passport, tomorrow the implanted chip that you will need to gain access to everything.  Like the cattle in this video, you will be “managed” by your masters. Are you willing to surrender your life to a centralized “Big Brother” authority? Where will you draw the line? Do you want to be a “thing” in this “brave new world?”
 
We humans are more than physical bodies; there is a spiritual dimension to our existence, a force that gives us life, consciousness, intellect, emotions, creativity, and free will. Another civilization is possible and it has been in the process of emerging for a very long time. It is a civilization that is being built upon better sentiments and values than fear, hatred, and limitless greed. It is a civilization in which the spiritual aspects of being are valued above the material.
 
The Worldwide Walkout
Now is the time to stand up and refuse to submit to the New World Order, the Great Reset, and the Brave New World that the oligarchs want to impose on us. Our rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of worship, freedom to refuse medical treatments, and all of the other hard won freedoms that have been the object of centuries of struggle are rapidly being stolen from us. We the people need to strongly express our refusal to submit. A Worldwide Walkout is happening this Wednesday, November 3.  In this one minute video, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is urging everyone to get out onto the streets on Wednesday to make our resistance visible. I am suggesting that we need to go even further. While our actions must remain non-violent, our massive demonstrations need to be accompanied by non-participation in the “system” that has become totally corrupted. Let’s make November 3 the day on which we begin to seriously withdraw from the old corrupt civilization by refusing, as much as we are able, to buy anything (and if you must buy something, pay for it using cash to preserve some shreds of financial privacy); let’s refuse to go to work except only for critical jobs (in health care and other front line occupations); let’s get creative and share other ideas for non-participation, and let’s make this a recurring event that builds with each iteration. 
 
Many workers, especially in the airline industry have been asserting their power by not showing up for work, resulting in thousands of flight cancellations and delays. On the heels of the massive disruptions to Southwest Airlines operations a few weekends ago during which thousands of flights were cancelled and many more delayed, similar disruptions have occurred to American Airlines just this past weekend. Most mainstream media blamed them on the weather but that is patently false. This local Dallas TV report at least was halfway honest in reporting: American Airlines Cancels 1000+ Flights Sunday Due to Weather, Staffing Shortages. Cancelled AA flights over the weekend reportedly numbered more than 2000 and the disruptions have continued into the workweek with an additional 400 flights cancelled as of early Monday morning. Staffing shortages in many other businesses and industries are further evidence that growing numbers of people are refusing to accept the increasingly onerous terms and conditions of employment and are just choosing to “walk away.”

We the people have the power. The system cannot stand without our consent and participation.  Submission is our downfall. We must rise up and take action, not only for ourselves but also for our fellows who remain blind to the corrupting forces that have them still in thrall, and especially for our posterity, the Earth and the entire web of life. We are not alone, more people are waking up, and with courage, faith and compassion we can overcome the forces of tyranny and avert our descent into the totalitarian nightmare.

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E. C. Riegel and Private Enterprise Money

Announcing,  The Monetary Wisdom of E. C. Riegel: An annotated précis of Private Enterprise Money, with commentary compiled by Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

I have long credited E. C. Riegel as the foremost authority in shaping my understanding of money and the process of reciprocal PEMexchange. His penetrating insights and proposals for a new independent system for the exchange of value have provided a solid foundation for my own work of developing improved exchange mechanisms that I consider to be crucial to the future of civilization.

Riegel’s book, Private Enterprise Money, published in 1944, is perhaps the most complete and concise statement of his insights and proposals. For that reason I have undertaken the task to extract what I consider to be Riegel’s most important insights, interpret for the contemporary reader the passages that seem difficult to understand, and articulate the few points on which I disagree with Riegel. With that said, I urge every serious student of money and exchange to read Riegel’s book, Private Enterprise Money, in its entirety, as well as Riegel’s other works which are available to be freely downloaded from my website, BeyondMoney.net.  

To Jab or not to Jab, That is the Question

I published this article yesterday on Medium. Today I’ve been notified that Medium has suspended it because it was “found in violation of the Medium Rules,” nothing specific, just the usual boilerplate. I have no idea what the find objectionable about it. Everything in the article is factual and correct.
Regular followers of my site may find in it echoes of previous posts, but this article is mostly new, an expanded and much improved version of what you may have seen here before. I hope you will take the time to read it.
— thg

Daniel Pinchbeck is an author, journalist, publisher and self-described “bohemian outsider.” I’ve known Daniel for several years, we’ve corresponded on and off, and in 2009 he interviewed me and recorded my views on “The End of Money and the Future of Civilization,” views that I expressed in my newly published book by that same name. Daniel is a brilliant thinker and prolific writer whose knowledge covers a broad scope, and he digs deep when researching topics of fundamental and universal concern. For those reasons, I tend to pay attention to what he says.

I was surprised to read in his recent newsletter that he had chosen to take one of the experimental Covid injections. His rather lengthy essay, From Vacillation to Vaccination: Why, despite uncertainty, I got the Johnson shot, cites many diverse sources of information that he has consulted in weighing the pros and cons of the various options, and then describes his somewhat contorted process of reaching his decision. He raises all of the pertinent questions about the pandemic, its cause(s) and official reactions to it, the likely motivations of the various actors, and their eventual outcomes and long term consequences. He provides numerous useful links for any who wish to become more fully informed.

As I read through his essay from start to finish, it occurred to me that one’s decision to take the injection or not is less a matter of the “science,” and more a question of one’s particular values, attitudes and beliefs, which are, for better or for worse, heavily influenced by each person’s cultural conditioning and the information sources they are aware of and choose to follow. That is something I know from my own experience, having had my own mind-changing “wake up call” that pulled me out of the “matrix” more than 45 years ago. Am I on the right track now? I think so but I’m no longer so adamant in my beliefs and I have a greater tolerance for ambiguity. I try to keep tabs on my internal compass of conscience and compassion by daily meditation, and I remain open to hearing different points of view. I think my conclusions are correct, but I acknowledge that I may be wrong, and that is why I refrain from telling others what to do. I can share information that I think may be important, and I may give advice when asked, but I will not presume to decide the proper course of action for someone else.

In regard to the subject at hand, I will never coerce anyone to take off their mask, nor will I do anything to prevent them from being injected if that is their choice. Uncertainty is a constant in life and everyone has a right to decide what the right choice is for them. It is my responsibility to take care of myself as best I can based on what I know, and it is your responsibility, likewise, to take care of yourself. I will never knowingly put others in jeopardy, but I cannot allow your fears or mine to damage my personal integrity.

Despite the many alarm bells about the various Covid injections that Daniel acknowledges and references in his essay, he went ahead and took one anyway. There are three things that appear to have ultimately tipped the balance for him. First, I detect a sense of helplessness and resignation in his statement that, “Perhaps one reason I finally acquiesced, sadly enough, is my sense that we have gone too far down this road at this point to be able to pull the brakes.” That is difficult for me to fathom, coming from someone I’ve long considered to be a free thinker who has for a long time demonstrated courage in swimming against the current.

Second is his need to be perceived as a responsible member of mainstream society, which he reveals in saying, “Even though the vaccines are leaky and imperfect and I don’t trust the entire apparatus that creates them, I also desired to participate in society and do my little part.” His part in what, what does it mean to participate in society, to go along to get along? Many scientific studies of human behavior have revealed that people will, more often than not, disregard the evident facts and choose to do what everyone else is doing, especially when the group behavior is prescribed by some authority figure.

Third is his fear (of fear) regarding the possible impact of Covid on himself or others. He says, “I didn’t want to be afraid that my failure to get a vaccine would cause my mother, or other elderly people, to get sick, or that I would get a more severe case of the Delta variant in the next months — considering its hyper-infectiousness, nearly everyone is going to get it at some point.” That final point indicates that he believes that asymptomatic people can spread the illness and that nearly everyone is going to get it anyway, So what that boils down to is a “cover my ass” move, as if to say: “I did what I was asked to do so when you catch the illness and die it will not be my fault.”

At the same time, Daniel tried to hedge his bets by seeking out the particular variety of injection that he thinks may be less dangerous because it is more conventional and not an mRNA treatment like the others. He says: “I find it a bit ironic that I finally got vaccinated just as we discover that the vaccines may be more dangerous and of much less value than was originally touted. In fact, one of my main reasons to avoid the shot was concern over ADE, particularly when it comes to the experimental mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. That is why I chose the less popular Johnson & Johnson one, which relies on more traditional mechanisms, even though I had to spend a day asking in pharmacies around Manhattan to find it.” ADE stands for Antibody-dependent Enhancement, a phenomenon where the presence of antibodies makes a disease worse.

Many people, examining the same information as Daniel, have made different choices. One need not be totally against vaccinations to reject a specific injection or treatment. When it comes to bodily sovereignty, everyone’s personal choice needs to be respected. In the wake of the Nuremburg Nazi war crime trials, as well as some notorious medical experiments and studies that were conducted by American scientists, the principle of “informed consent” became established as the rule for any medical study or procedure. In one such case, prisoners, soldiers, and mental patients were intentionally infected with syphilis without their knowledge or consent.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “informed consent” is both an ethical and legal obligation of medical practitioners in the US and originates from the patient’s right to direct what happens to their body.” In considering the questions of personal choice, vaccine mandates, and medical passports, the question before us is this: Shall we allow our present fear to drive us backward into that dark realm of inhumane coercion? Who, after all, owns your body?

As I approach my 85th birthday, I know that statistically I am in the high risk group, but I’m also aware that the human immune system, having evolved over thousands of generations and tens of thousands of years, is the most powerful defense we have against disease. My own personal immune system has been informed and trained by a severe case of the Hong Kong flu in 1968, a disease that reportedly caused over one million deaths worldwide, and by a bad case of typhoid while I was in India in 2007, and by numerous colds and sinus infections over the years, not to mention all of the usual childhood diseases that we all experienced when I was in my early formative years in the 1930s and 40s. So I’m inclined to trust my immune system now. I will take reasonable precautions to keep it strong and to avoid pathogens that might cause serious disease. I believe that if I do fall ill to this infectious disease I will survive it, as the vast majority have, especially if I can get access to proven treatments that if administered early can help me to recover. And if I don’t survive it, so be it, I’m ready to accept my mortality and embrace my fate.

I trust my natural immunity more than I trust experimental inoculations that were rushed through the development process that usually requires much more extensive testing and takes from 5 to 10 years to complete, and I trust it more than I trust the present global power elite that seem intent on getting every person on the planet to accept inoculation and to conform to whatever further dictates they care to impose in advancing their plan for a “Great Reset,” a plan that sounds benign until you look deeper into it. Is all this really about protecting public health? Do huge pharmaceutical companies that are given immunity from liability put my health and yours ahead of their profits? Their past record of frequent malfeasance causes me to greatly doubt that they put anything ahead of profit maximization. I also have serious doubts about the safety of these inoculations. The numbers of adverse effects and deaths from the various “vaccines” that are being reported is extremely troubling. In a recent presentation at the America’s Frontline Doctors summit, Dr. Lee Merritt, reported the numbers that have been compiled by the CDC’s own Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and they are staggering. One must wonder why the vaccination program has not been halted in the face of such a miserable record, and why any informed person would agree to be a “guinea pig” in such an experiment.

As far as spreading the virus to others, The World Health Organization itself has now concluded that asymptomatic spread of the disease is “very rare.” That being the case, why have we not been advised to isolate the ill and let the healthy go about their business? If and when I do manifest symptoms, I will then act according to common sense and self-isolate to avoid spreading disease to others.

But most importantly for me it comes down to this: Life is more than breath and pulse, flesh and blood, muscle and bone. The fear of death inhibits true life which goes beyond the physical aspect; it is spiritual — free, adventuresome and spontaneous, and open to unknown possibilities. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). And this same essential truth, from the more secular point of view has been stated by W.H. Auden: Life is the destiny you are bound to refuse until you have consented to die. I pray that whenever fear arises, I might find the courage to push through it, embrace my destiny, and choose to truly live.

# # #

Solar Dollars — a community currency based on real value

In August of 2016, I posted a white paper that described in some detail how a private or community currency ought to be issued on the basis of real value, which in this case is the electric energy from renewable sources that a utility company provides to its customers. My fundamental objectives in implementing such a program are:
(1) To incentivize a more rapid shift from fossil fuel energy sources to renewable sources,
(2) To help communities to become more resilient and self-determined, and
(3) To enable the decentralization of economic and political power.

The immediate benefits of this plan are:

  1. It provides the issuing company with an interest-free source of short-term credit,
  2. It provides the community with a sound and reliable supplemental means of payment that can:
    • Augment the supply of debased and often unavailable official money,
    • Circulate throughout the local community connecting the unused capacity of local businesses with the unmet needs of people in the community,
    • Remain within the local economy to encourage local spending and local economic development.

Once this basic concept of “monetizing” the value of real goods and services is understood, it can be applied to any goods or services that are in steady demand and are readily available for sale by a trusted issuer(s).

In July of 2021, I was invited to give a presentation on the Solar Dollar currency at a virtual conference that was sponsored by the Zero Carbon Lab at the University of Hertfordshire (UK). That presentation was recorded and can now be viewed on the Zero Carbon Lab website at http://zerocarbonlab.com/rzcc-2021/videos/ThomasGreco.html or here.

The white paper, Solar Dollars-a private currency with multiple benefits, is still available. You are welcome to quote it with proper attribution, or download and distribute it provided it remains unchanged.

Special Note:
This same basic currency model can be used not only to promote the shift to renewable energy but also to promote other desirable economic shifts. The fact is that the value of any product or service that is in everyday demand can be monetized in the form of a private currency. Providers of organically produced food, for example, could issue Organic Dollars or Bio Dollars by using them to pay their contractors, suppliers, and employees, in just the same way as we described for the issuance of Solar Dollars.

#     #     #

One Man’s Journey to the Covid Jab

I know Daniel Pinchbeck, we’ve corresponded on and off for many years and in 2009 he interviewed me and recorded my views on the end of money and the future of civilization. Daniel is a brilliant thinker and prolific writer whose knowledge covers a broad scope, and he digs deep when researching topics of fundamental and universal concern. For those reasons, I tend to pay attention to what he says.

I was surprised by his latest newsletter, From Vacillation to Vaccination: Why, despite uncertainty, I got the Johnson shot. This essay is long and comprehensive in outlining the many diverse sources of information that Daniel has consulted in weighing the pros and cons of the various experimental Covid injections and his somewhat contorted process of reaching his decision. He raises all of the pertinent questions about the pandemic, its cause(s) and official reactions to it, the motivations of the various actors, and the eventual outcomes and long term consequences. He provides numerous links for any who wish to become more fully informed.

Reading through it from start to finish, it occurs to me that one’s decision to take the injection or not is less a matter of the “science,” and more a question of one’s particular values, attitudes and beliefs, which are, for better or for worse, heavily influenced by each person’s cultural conditioning and the information sources they are aware of and choose to follow. That is something I know from my own experience, having had my own mind-changing “wake up call” that pulled me out of the “matrix” more than 45 years ago. I wonder, am I on the right track now? Maybe; I try to keep tabs on my internal compass of conscience and compassion by daily meditation, and I remain open to hearing different points of view. I think my conclusions are correct, but I acknowledge that I may be wrong, and that is why I refrain from telling others what to do. I can share information that I think important, and may advise when asked, but I will never coerce anyone to take off their mask, nor will I do anything to prevent them from being injected if that is their choice. Uncertainty is a constant in life and everyone has a right to decide what the right choice is for them. It is my responsibility to take care of myself as best I can, based on what I know. It is your responsibility, likewise, to take care of yourself. I will never knowingly put others in jeopardy, but I cannot allow your fear or mine to damage my personal integrity.

Despite the many alarm bells about the various Covid injections that Daniel acknowledges and references in his essay, he went ahead and took one anyway. There are three things that appear to have ultimately tipped the balance for him.

First, I detect a sense of helplessness and resignation in his statement that, “Perhaps one reason I finally acquiesced, sadly enough, is my sense that we have gone too far down this road at this point to be able to pull the brakes.” Second is his need to be perceived as a responsible member of mainstream society, which he reveals in saying, “Even though the vaccines are leaky and imperfect and I don’t trust the entire apparatus that creates them, I also desired to participate in society and do my little part.” Third is his fear (of fear) regarding the possible impact of Covid on himself and others. He says, “I didn’t want to be afraid that my failure to get a vaccine would cause my mother, or other elderly people, to get sick, or that I would get a more severe case of the Delta variant in the next months — considering its hyper-infectiousness, nearly everyone is going to get it at some point.”

That final point indicates that he believes that asymptomatic people can spread the illness and that nearly everyone is going to get it anyway, So what that boils down to is a “cover my ass” move, as if to say: “I did what I was asked to do so when you catch the illness and die it will not be my fault.”

At the same time, Daniel tried to hedge his bets by seeking out the particular variety of injection that he thinks may be less dangerous because it is more conventional and not an mRNA like the others: “I find it a bit ironic that I finally got vaccinated just as we discover that the vaccines may be more dangerous and of much less value than was originally touted. In fact, one of my main reasons to avoid the shot was concern over ADE[i], particularly when it comes to the experimental mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. That is why I chose the less popular Johnson & Johnson one, which relies on more traditional mechanisms, even though I had to spend a day asking in pharmacies around Manhattan to find it.”

Many people, examining the same information as Daniel, have made different choices. One need not be totally against vaccinations to reject a specific injection or treatment. When it comes to bodily sovereignty, everyone’s personal choice needs to be respected. In the wake of the Nuremburg Nazi war crime trials, as well as some notorious medical experiments and studies that were conducted by American scientists,[ii] the principle of “informed consent[iii]” became established as the rule for any medical study or procedure. In considering the questions of personal choice, vaccine mandates and medical passports, the question before us is this: Shall we allow our present fear to drive us backward into that dark realm of inhumane coercion?

#     #     #

[i] Antibody-dependent Enhancement is a phenomenon where the presence of antibodies makes a disease worse.

[ii] One example is the U.S.-sponsored experiment, conducted Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 in which “nearly 700 men and women—prisoners, soldiers, mental patients—were intentionally infected with syphilis (hundreds more people were exposed to other sexually transmitted diseases as part of the study) without their knowledge or consent.” https://www.history.com/news/the-infamous-40-year-tuskegee-study

[iii] “Informed consent is both an ethical and legal obligation of medical practitioners in the US and originates from the patient’s right to direct what happens to their body.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430827/

How to Fix Money, Banking, and the Economy, and Usher in a New Convivial Civilization

The jungle reclaims its own

It is clear that governments and banking corporations have long colluded in creating the present system of money, banking and finance that dominates economies around the world, and that they have no interest in making the kinds of changes that would reduce their power or share the wealth more fairly. As I have described it before, the banking cartel has been given the privilege of creating money out of thin air as debt and charging interest for its use, while the central governments get to spend as much as they want for whatever they want without regard to their limited tax revenues or the popular will.

In a recent interview, Prof. Richard Werner confirmed that fact and also explained that banks have been buying the wrong kinds of assets with the money they create, and that is why programs of “quantitative easing” (QE) have failed to achieve the outcomes he intended when he proposed them.

He argues, as I have, that we need more small banks that direct their money creation power toward small enterprises that will use the funds for productive purposes and strengthen their local economies. But the long term trend has been in the opposite direction, toward fewer and bigger banks that direct funds toward big corporations and capital funds that use the money for asset purchases, and toward central governments that use the money to acquire massive amounts of weaponry and conduct military adventures and destructive wars around the world.

But our most pressing need is to eliminate the growth imperative that arises from banks creating and lending money at compound interest. Since interest on money created as debt accrues with the passage of time and causes the debt to grow, the money supply is never sufficient for all loans to be repaid, so additional loans must be made in order to keep the money supply from shrinking and causing recessions or depressions. Since the money supply always lags behind the total amount owed, the economy is stimulated toward artificial and wasteful expansion of economic output. Not all increases in GDP are beneficial, and some are downright destructive. The production and use of weapons of war, for example, add to GDP but provide nothing to satisfy basic human needs or desires, and actually result in the destruction of existing infrastructure and death and misery for the people who happen to be on the receiving end.

If the necessary changes cannot be expected to come from the top of the economic and political pyramid, then they must emerge from the grassroots. Achievement of a steady state, equitable, peaceful and environmentally friendly economy requires deep restructuring of our systems of exchange and finance, and a shift away from debt finance and the increasing size and power of corporations and national governments.

As I’ve argued before in my articles and books, banks are supposed to perform two essential functions, the exchange function and the finance function. In the exchange function they should provide flexible short-term interest-free lines of credit to active buyers and sellers that are ready, willing, and able to provide goods and services to the market immediately or in the near term. This, in effect, monetizes the value of each business’s goods inventories or their capacity to provide valued services in the short run. As an adjunct to providing them with short-term exchange credit, banks should also provide them with credit clearing services in which their purchases are offset by their sales. This is precisely the sort of service that has been provided since 1934 by the Swiss WIR Bank (founded originally as the WIR Economic Circle Cooperative), and by the scores of commercial trade (or “barter”) exchanges that have been operating around the world.

In contrast to the exchange function, the finance function requires long-term credit instead of short-term credit. In performing the finance function banks should not create new money but should reallocate the temporary surplus funds of savers to entrepreneurs who will use it for productive purposes like capital improvements that increase their capacity to produce and distribute needed goods and services, and not for speculative and non-productive asset purchases. Further, they should provide these funds, not as interest-bearing loans, but as temporary equity that, unlike debt, causes the providers of funds to share both the risks as well as the rewards of business enterprise, and does not cause the growth imperative. If the equity stake of the bank is temporary instead of permanent, that will prevent the endless accumulation of vast pools of capital and will make capital a servant to productive enterprise rather than its master. Such equity shares that banks would administer on behalf of their depositors (savers) should expire after the original funds have been repaid to the savers along with a reasonable share of the profits that have been earned during the period of the agreement.  

By making these simple changes in the kinds of banks we have, and way money and banks work, we can eliminate the endless expansion of debt, the inequitable distribution of power and wealth, the erosion of democratic government and the despoliation of the environment, and usher in a new more peaceful civilization.

If existing banks are unwilling to make these changes, or if existing banking regulations do not permit them, they can be implemented by other organizations that are entirely outside the banking system. The commercial trade exchanges mentioned earlier have, for more than 40 years, been facilitating the exchange function by providing credit clearing services to small and medium sized businesses, and are classified by the US government as “third party record keepers” that are not subject to banking regulations. By making some minor improvements in their operations and by networking them together, trade exchanges can evolve the exchange function in ways that can provide a worldwide web of exchange in which interest-free credit is locally controlled but globally useful.

Likewise, the finance function can be, and is, increasingly provided by small investors directly to entrepreneurs without involving banks by using innovative mechanisms like crowdfunding, community investment funds, and direct public offerings. By providing investment funds to SMEs and cooperatives in the form of equity shares, interest-free loans, or revenue shares, they can help rebuild local economies in ways that make communities more resilient and self-reliant, and most of this can be achieved by private enterprise without the need to enact any new laws or regulations.

#     #     #

Ivan Illich and the Coming Cultural Revolution

Ivan Illich

Do educational institutions make people stupid? Do medical institutions make people sick?

Such questions may at first glance seem preposterous, but they were raised in all seriousness a few decades ago by Ivan Illich, and strongly argued in his books, Deschooling Society (1971) and Medical Nemesis (1975). In both cases his arguments stem from his overarching belief that as institutions become too large and too centralized they end up doing the exact opposite of what they are intended to do. Over the subsequent decades, we’ve seen mounting evidence that Illich was correct in his assessments. In our attempts to improve efficiency, eliminate uncertainty, and get more done in less time, we have allowed everything to become too big, too rigid, too fast, and too centrally controlled. In the process the individual has become ever more helpless and alienated and more dependent on impersonal institutions that are being corrupted by their power and inherent conflicts of interest. As Illich argues, we have become slaves to our institutions and our myths about who we are and how the world works. George Bernard Shaw spoke similarly in declaring that all professions are “conspiracies against the laity.”

Ivan Illich (1926–2002) was a Catholic priest, theologian, philosopher, and social critic, who became famous in the 1970s and 80s, and although his fame may have faded a bit in recent years, his ideas and works have been, and remain highly influential and are now more relevant than ever. Notable in this regard are such resources as The International Journal of Illich Studies, the upcoming, The Philosophy of Ivan Illich: An 8-Week Course, being offered by Nina Power, PhD, and a brand new book by noted journalist and broadcaster, David Cayley, titled, Ivan Illich:An Intellectual Journey (2021).

Cayley has followed the work of Illich since the 1960s, and in 1989 he visited Penn State University where Illich was then teaching, to record a series of interviews that were then used in a five part series in Cayley’s Ideas program that aired on CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Company). That series titled, “Part Moon, Part Travelling Salesman: Conversations with Ivan Illich,” was comprised of one hour segments that included biographical information and comments about Illich and his ideas by others who knew him. The series is now available online and can be accessed here.

I became an instant admirer of Illich and his work in the early 1980s after reading both of the above mentioned books, as well as his prescriptive work, Tools for Conviviality (1973). In the latter he points out what Wikipedia calls “the institutionalization of specialized knowledge,” and “the dominant role of technocratic elites in industrial society.” Illich argues in favor of “appropriate technology” and the reacquisition of practical knowledge and simple tools that empower people and help to build community. In short, he calls for a general deinstitutionalization of society and a reconceptualization of what it means to be human.We have, by and large, internalized the belief that we are, in Illich’s words, “poor, sick and ignorant,” and in need of institutional services to remedy that situation.

In August of 1989 I had the honor of welcoming Illich to give a presentation at the 8th Assembly of the Fourth World and Decentralist Congress that was held in Toronto, Canada. As President at that time of the School of Living, the sponsoring organization, I served as moderator of the event which also included presentations by such insightful thinkers and activists as Leopold Kohr and John Papworth.  

Both Cayley and I have taken Illich’s insights to heart in our personal responses to the ongoing crisis of civilization and to its latest manifestation, the “pandemic” and official reactions to it. Cayley’s sentiments are expressed in his recent post, Concerning Life, in which he delves deeply into Iliich’s expressions of what the word “life” actually means and what Illich meant when he said that life has become “an idol” and “a fetish.” He and I seem to share the view that the concept of life has been distorted in the public mind as Christendom, and religious institutions in general, have tried to accommodate with a materialistic civilization that is now unraveling.

For me it comes down to this: Life is more than breath and pulse, flesh and blood, muscle and bone. The fear of death inhibits true life which is more than physical, it is spiritual– free, adventuresome, and spontaneous and open to unknown possibilities. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). And this, from a more secular point of view states the same essential truth: Life is the destiny you are bound to refuse until you have consented to die. –W.H. Auden.

God grant that I might find the courage to push through my fear whenever it arises, to embrace my destiny, and choose to truly live.  

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