Category Archives: Debt

Shall We Have Honest Money–or Inflation, Depression, and War?

This little vignette written by Don Werkheiser remains one of the best concise explanations of inflation I’ve ever seen. It was published in the spring 1982 edition of Green Revolution, the journal of the School of Living a non-profit organization with which I was associated throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s. The story helps to elucidate the nature of the dysfunctional political money system that has plagued the world for hundreds of years, but in its brevity and simplicity neglects to mention another feature of the money system that adds to our misery; that is the fact that the “Mayor” and his friends do more than spend counterfeit money into circulation, they have also established “banks” and require that other people who need money to do business must borrow their pseudo-money into circulation and pay interest on it. That enables the bankers to extract even more wealth from the rest of the people while creating an unending and unsustainable expansion of debt. I have articulated that “debt-growth imperative” in my paper titled, the Usury Conjecture.  

An Honest Money Would Stop Inflation by Don Werkheiser

A rural village has no money. All trade is by barter. A farmer comes to town and deposits 10 bushels of corn with a man who has a store room. This operator gives the farmer 10 receipts, each redeemable in a bushel of corn. But the farmer asks for receipts in smaller denominations. The storekeeper gives him 40 receipts for 40 pecks. The farmer trades ten of these corn-receipts for other products; they are each accepted at the value of a peck of corn. That acceptance constitutes the issue of corn notes as money.

Such receipts are generalized credit instruments. They refer to stored corn, but not to any specific peck of corn. When the seller wants a peck of corn the receipt is redeemed. Otherwise it is spent again, and ownership of a peck of corn is conveyed to the next seller. The next day the farmer returns to town and spends 10 corn notes (each of one peck of corn in value) for his wife’s birthday present. Now the farmer has doubled the money supply in circulation, but there is no inflation; there are redeemable goods back of them.

What then is inflation? We must understand “money” and the storekeeper’s actions.

The store room owner noticed that the corn notes were accepted in trade. So he made 40 more “peck-receipts” looking just like corn-receipts and then he spent them into circulation. That is inflation–counterfeit receipts passed as valid receipts. Assume that the counterfeit receipts were accepted at face value. In that case, the counterfeiter effected a robbery of commodities equal in value to 40 packs of corn, while those who accepted them received receipts which measured the extent to which they had been robbed. So long as confidence lasts, the game would continue and receipts could be spent. New sellers would be holding empty receipts. The game would collapse when all the corn in the warehouse was redeemed, and holders of the 40 counterfeit receipts found no one who would take them in trade.

Worse could happen if the counterfeiter had the skills of a politician. If, when confronted by angry holders of his counterfeit receipts he declared himself a benefactor of the community–and showed that the original issue by the farmer was too limited, and that his own issues stimulated industry and trade (he would not mention that the farmers issue was redeemable while his own was not). He noted that most people did not want corn; they wanted a medium of trade that they could use to speed up trade.
More to come.

They were told: “If the game stopped then, the holders would be losers, but if they continued, they could all buy what they wanted. In fact if they elected him Mayor he would declare pseudo-corn-notes to be legal tender, and he’d also begin a program of public works. Soon everyone would be rich.” An ignorant public agreed.

Elected Mayor, the counterfeiter issue another stock of corn-notes called “pecks” and declared them to be worth a peck of corn in the market (but not anywhere redeemable). On each note was a picture of a peck-basket, but what it contained was not specified.  Just a peck of value.

The “pecks” circulated and trade increased. Then a strange thing happened. The Mayor and his agents could outbid everybody for produce and services. They also controlled the printing presses for printing “pecks.” Prices were bid up on the things the Mayor’s group approved. Workers and businessman migrated into those industries for wages and profit. The stock of other things became short. Everyone couldn’t buy what they wanted. People threatened to recall the Mayor if he didn’t improve things. So he issued more “pecks” and then more and more.

The more money people had, the less they could buy. Only the Mayor and his friends had enough — rather too much — money. They gave expensive parties, bought votes, hired police and soldiers; and gave everyone a vested interest in continuing the game, through welfare, social security, profitable contracts, and “peck-funded” jobs.

Confusion resulted. It is evident there are two kinds of money: honest redeemable money and inflatable unredeemable money. These keep our economy teetering between “prosperity” and “depression.” Have we any proof that those in charge of our money system intend to create an honest system? That would break their power. A sound alternative is for people to operate their own money system. American and world history have produced workable patterns; some are underway today.

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Take note that the story does not mention any need for gold or silver backing for money to be honest. As E.C. Riegel makes plain in his book, Private Enterprise Money, “When businessmen resolve to set up a money system, they agree to hold in trust for each other goods and services that are pledged against the drafts which they have issued in the form of money. These values — that are held in trust by all for any who may present a money draft therefore — constitute a vast pool, not housed at one place, but scattered throughout the trading sphere. This vast pool of goods and services is the basis or backing for the outstanding money supply. “Reserves” and metal hoards are but window dressing. Only that which is purchasable is back of money.”  

To learn more about honest and effective forms of money and how to create them, see my books, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, and, Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender.

The debt crisis spreading around the world

A recent news post blames pandemic spending, a rising dollar and poor leadership for the debt crises in Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Ghana, El Salvador, Zambia, and Pakistan, but while those may be the proximate causes of the crises, there is a more fundamental underlying cause.

The real cause of debt crises in those countries, as well as worsening crises even in “developed” countries, is the flawed, dysfunctional, and destructive global interest-based, debt-money system, which is designed to extract wealth and accumulate it into the hands of a small global power elite. The system has been doing that for a very long time but now the adverse effects are becoming acute and spilling over beyond the financial and economic realms and into the political and social realms as well.

Total Global Debt as percentage of GDP

These problems will not be solved by ever greater amounts of poisonous debt. Any real cure must include massive amounts of debt forgiveness and the deployment of new systems of money, credit and exchange that are decentralized and interest-free. Such systems are described in my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

What’s coming and how to prepare?

SURVIVAL STRATEGIES FOR TROUBLED TIMES

By Thomas H. Greco. Jr.

For years I’ve been saying that we are being led, actually “driven,” toward a new global paradigm that is at once financial, economic, political and social, and I’ve been urging people to prepare for it. They naturally ask me what sorts of changes to expect and what they ought to do to be prepared. I first compiled a list of my ideas on that way back in the mid-1980s, a list that I’ve revised slightly from time to time and republished in various places. Since then the times have become increasingly “troubled” and I am convinced that the situation is quickly approaching a climax during which we-the-people who are not included in the super-class will be hard pressed to maintain any semblance of normality in our lives. We will be challenged as never before to adapt and to find ways to survive (and thrive) in the face of what I’ve been calling the global “mega-crisis” the dimensions of which include global warming, climate change, pandemics, terrorism, and financial and political malfeasance that are causing inflation, depressions, wars, loss of freedom, and that will ultimately enable the super class to engineer a “great reset” and usher in their New World Order.

Here is my latest revision of my Survival Strategies for Troubled Times.

General Strategies
Do what you can to enhance your own health, resiliency and independence, but don’t try to “go it alone;” our safety, survivability, quality of life, and happiness lie in our relationships and mutual interdependence. It pays to be kind, helpful, and cooperative with those around us and to work together to build a new human-centered convivial civilization.

HEALTH, SAFETY, AND SELF-RELIANCE
Learn healthy living and acquire a diversity of practical skills. Cultivate a low input lifestyle. Secure your own material needs as much as possible, and find a safe place to live.

COOPERATION AND MUTUAL SUPPORT
Build mutually supportive relationships. Nurture the development of networks and self-contained, cooperative communities.

DISENGAGE
Reduce your dependence upon conventional systems and structures, governments and institutions, especially those that are being used to drain away our wealth, like political fiat money. Get out of the debt trap and reduce your financial obligations, Shift yout financial resources from Wall Street investments to investments in Main Street. 

BE ALERT AND BE INVOLVED
Keep attuned to the changing global conditions of humanity and its habitats. Consult a variety of news sources, not just the ones whose views you typically agree with. Participate in local politics. Ask tough questions. Work with others to help solve local, regional, national, and global problems.

SPECIFIC POSSIBILITIES TO CONSIDER:

1. Food. Grow at least some of your own food, store staple food items, save seeds, plant perennial food plants, especially fruit and nut trees. Learn how to forage for wild foods – many “weeds” are edible. Support local (preferably organic) farmers.

Participate in “Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), also known as “subscription farming.” This is an arrangement in which a group of consumers contract to support an area farmer who in turn delivers their produce to the contracting group. The farmer is guaranteed a market and the consumers are guaranteed a supply of fresh wholesome food.

2. Collect valued items and useful commodities that are likely to retain their value and can be used as exchange media. Some favor gold and silver coins. In modest amounts, these may be useful in the event of hyper-inflation or collapse of the currency. I prefer to hold things that are more useful, like tools, equipment, materials, and books.

3. Get out of the large cities, if possible. Locate a country place that you can retreat to if and when it becomes necessary. Buy productive land that can support you and your family. Choose land that can provide food, clean water, and fuel. Ideally, locate near small towns where you have access to helpful neighbors and common facilities. If you lack the resources to buy land on your own, consider buying in partnership with others or organizing a Community Land Trust, a legal arrangement in which a trustee organization holds title to land while assuring secure tenure, but limits individual speculative gains.

4. Build community where you are. If you must live in a city, get to know your neighbors and organize neighborhood cooperatives and mutual-support structures. Large cities depend on a complex and well maintained infrastructure, and the importation of tremendous amounts of resources from distant places. In hard times these systems may fail, in whole or in part. Learn about critical systems like water, electricity, gas, sewage disposal, health care, and police protection. With your neighbors, plan back-up strategies and create back-up systems that will assure at least minimal life-support. Get involved in local politics and hold officials accountable.

5. Disengage financially. Begin to disengage from the conventional financial systems as much as possible. Don’t depend too much on banks or other fiduciaries, and avoid, as much as possible, the use of the conventional money system. If banks fail, you may lose your deposits, while finding that your debts remain. Convert most of your financial assets to real (tangible) assets while holding some in liquid form for payment of taxes, utilities, and other necessities that require monetary payment. Support the emerging decentralized economy that promotes humane values, equity, social justice, sustainability, and local self-determination. Help to organize and use properly issued community currencies and credit clearing exchange systems.

6. Become debt-free; kick the credit habit; pay as you go. Don’t get caught in the “usury trap.” Especially, avoid borrowing from predatory lenders and credit card companies. Do not borrow to buy consumer goods; purchase these only when you can pay for them in full. Get out of debt as quickly as you can and stay out of debt. If you must borrow, borrow from people, not banks. In a crunch, it’s better to have your debts in friendly hands, someone who won’t take advantage of your distress or press for foreclosure. If you have a home which is mortgaged or are making payments on a major durable item such as a car or truck, you might consider the following possible options:

a. Accelerate your repayment schedule by making extra principal payments out of current income.

b. Refinance using funds obtained from individuals-relatives, friends or associates to pay off the bank. You might obtain from them non-interest-bearing loans or, better yet, negotiate a contract that will allow for sharing of both the risks and benefits of ownership. You might give the new funds providers a part-ownership in the property. You, the user/occupant, would pay rent on a lease and they would receive a part of the rent in proportion to their investment. You would also buy back their investment over time.

c. In the case of a farm or multi-unit residential property, you might create a “community land trust” or LLC to hold title to the property which you would then lease back on a long term basis. Others would put up enough money to repay the bank mortgage in return for equity in the buildings or a lease hold on the land.

d. Another possibility is to sell the property and buy one you can afford to hold free-and-clear.

e. If you are in extreme debt, filing personal bankruptcy may be an option. Consult a financial advisor or lawyer for advice, which can often be obtained through non-profit organizations like councils on aging or legal aid.

7. Simplify your lifestyle and reduce your needs. Learn how to live better with less. Do it yourself, fix what you have, reuse, make-do, or do without. Share with others. Kick the shopping habit and emphasize non-material satisfactions and gifts.

8. Learn to share and cooperate. Secure your basic necessities like food and shelter by creating community and cooperative arrangements. Possibilities to consider are neighborhood associations, buying clubs, food cooperatives, shared or co-op housing, barter clubs, trade associations or mutual credit clearing exchanges.

9. Finally, engage with others to work out your own ways of securing access to the basic necessities–water, food, shelter, energy, clothing, tools and equipment, transportation, and health care, and through it all keep a positive, hopeful attitude, and make time to play, meditate, and pray.

Follow my websites: BeyondMoney.net and ReinventingMoney.com.
Read my article, Confronting the Power Elite.
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Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

This article has also been published on Expert Click and Medium

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/).

My latest interview on Ellen Brown’s podcast, It’s Our Money

In Ellen’s October 10 podcast, on which I was the featured guest, I argue that our best hope for escaping the tyranny of the global banking cartel lies in creating a decentralized network of exchange in which credit is locally controlled and allocated based on personal relationships and the productive capacity of community economies (starting at 27:25). This episode begins with a report by David Jette of the California Public Banking Alliance on the landmark public banking legislation that was recently passed into law in California. David describes what this act enables and the long and arduous process of getting it passed.

https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-tuza2-c2cf19

Is Capitalism about to crash?

Richard Wolff provides an insightful analysis and historical perspective on the present state of capitalism and democracy. Clearly, Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism in the 1930s by yielding a bit to the masses’ demand for a share of the economic benefits. Will there be a repeat of that in the coming decade under the next President?

That is doubtful. Conditions today are much different than they were in the 1930s. Big government is no longer in vogue since governments have ceded most of their power to transnational corporations. People now are much more aware of the need for structural change in politics, economics and finance. The vogue today is decentralization of power and restoration of the commons.

I don’t know if Marx has any answers because I’ve never studied Marxist economics.

I am convinced of one thing however that no one else seems to recognize, that is the fundamental flaw in the global interest-based, debt-money, central banking regime. It is the “debt-growth imperative” that derives from the way banks create money by making loans that require the payment of interest. One need only look at the empirical evidence of global debt growth over time to see that it conforms to the exponential growth function of compound interest. Even the richest countries have exploding levels of sovereign debt because there are limits to how much debt the private sector can bear, so governments become the “borrower of last resort” to keep the money supply from collapsing. That’s the reason for bank bailouts and “quantitative easing.”

The fundamental need is for a deep restructuring of money, banking, and finance to decentralize control of credit and eliminate the “debt-growth imperative.” Such an idea may seem radical in the extreme and will not be welcomed by the powers that be, but alternative approaches are already in the works and will be ready to save the day when the capitalist train crashes off the rails.

Greece and the Global Debt Crisis

Greece and the Global Debt Crisis
Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

ABSTRACT

The Greek debt crisis is emblematic of a more general, decades-long pattern of economic exploitation and reactionary politics that threatens not only the European Union but the stability of the global financial infrastructure and Western democratic civilization. The situation calls for a different form of globalization, not one that is dominated by transnational banks and corporations, but one that is built upon local self-determination and self-reliance, and based on local and domestic control of money, credit, and finance. Greece (and other debtor countries) can recover a measure of sovereignty and rebuild its economy by combining “debt triage” with public and private actions for creating domestic liquidity.

            In the summer of 1977, I first ventured abroad from North America on a journey to explore ancient civilizations, cultures, and religions, and to experience contemporary life in Egypt, Israel, and Greece. During my six-week odyssey, I was able to visit the Pyramids, amble over the Holy Land, and visit the temple ruins of Athens and Delphi.

At one point while in Cairo I came upon a scene that greatly troubled me. There was a small burro hitched to an enormous cart that was laden to the hilt with onions. I felt nauseous as I watched the poor animal lying on its side being flogged by a man in a vain effort to rouse it to the task of moving what seemed to be an impossible load. As a stranger in a strange land, I felt helpless to intervene and quickly moved away. I often wonder what might have been the ultimate outcome, but in my imagination I see the man with the whip standing over the lifeless body of that animal lying in the street, and weeping in worry and frustration.

Now, when I contemplate Greece’s current predicament, that image comes to mind. I see Greece as that beaten and dying animal, overburdened with debt that is beyond its capacity to service, and being flogged by its creditors in a vain attempt to get it to pay up. In my mind’s eye I see a future in which the dead carcass of Greece is being carved up and distributed amongst the creditor institutions. In actuality, Greece will survive, but under new (foreign) management, as she is forced to sell off her assets at fire-sale prices.

In the eyes of the Germans and other creditors, represented by the so-called “troika” institutions (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund), the Greek people are lazy freeloaders who have been living “high on the hog” at their expense, and who now balk at repaying what they borrowed.

But there is another side to the story that paints a different picture, and even if there is a bit of truth in that characterization, what is there to be gained by creditors insisting upon their “pound of flesh”? As civilization has advanced, debtor prisons have been eliminated and bankruptcy laws have been instituted to protect people and companies from creditors who insist upon collecting more than debtors, for whatever reason, are able to pay. Why can’t nations be afforded the same considerations?

First of all, it was not the Greek people who did the borrowing, it was a series of Greek governments that were either corrupted, coerced, or seduced into taking on a series of debts that were increasingly burdensome. Greece was lured into the debt trap from which it seems impossible to escape. Ellen Brown has summarized in her article, The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion, some of the many moves that were made to ensnare the Greek government, and by extension, the Greek people.  … more.

To read my prescriptions and the full article, click here. The article is excerpted from the book, Rebuilding after Collapse: Political Structures for Creative Response to the Ecological Crisis, edited by John Culp. –t.h.g.

Thomas Greco’s Latest Interview–March 3, 2017

Here is my latest interview on Primo Nutmeg. Discussion topics include alternative currencies, credit, central banks, the Federal Reserve, Austrian economics, the gold standard, bitcoin, geopolitics, and the relationship between U.S. foreign policy and the global system of money and finance.

Recovery? What recovery?

Despite the happy talk coming out of Washington and New York about the supposed economic recovery, the present economic and political order remains on course toward self-destruction. I’ve said it over and over again that the fundamental flaw is the compound interest that is built into the global debt-money regime. The fact that virtually all money is created by banks that “lend” it into circulation at interest causes debts to grow faster and faster with the passage of time. A quick glance at the timeline for public and private debt makes this obvious.Total-US-DebtTo2014

Prof. Richard Wolff, in the video below, does not mention this debt-growth imperative, but he does a good job of explaining how the governments and the central banks managed to temporarily forestall total collapse following the 2008 financial crisis, and why their actions are failing to solve the basic problem of slack demand.

We need to look beyond economic ideologies to find ways of defusing the debt bomb which grows bigger and more deadly with every passing day. A shift toward innovative, interest-free, approaches to the exchange of value and the financing of enterprise development provides the most promising route toward a soft landing. See The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.