Category Archives: Developing Alternatives

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.

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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.  

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.

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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.

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Upcoming Presentation — Solar Dollars

This 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.

On Monday July 12, 2021, I will be presenting my proposal for a currency based on, and redeemable for renewable energy. My presentation titled, Solar Dollars: Unblocking Multi-dimensional Mega-crisis with Complementary Currency Obtained from the Sun, will be part of a two day virtual conference titled Pathways to Resilient Zero Carbon Cities organized by Zero Carbon Lab, School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire (UK). My presentation is scheduled for 16:15 – 16:45 GMT (11:15-11:45 EDT; 08:15-08:45 PDT and Arizona time), You can register for the conference via this link – please book early as the number of registrations is limited.

Newsletter May 2021. Upcoming podcast series on “Our Money System,” and other news

In this issue:

  • Upcoming podcast series
  • Conversation with Tim Jenkin, Edgar Cahn, et al
  • Latest post–How, Then, Shall We Live? — What we might learn from the Amish
  • Markets and finances in today’s world
  • U.S. foreign policy, the primary threat to peace
  • Travel plans

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Upcoming webinar series

I will be conducting a free three part webinar series for the Henry George School of Social Science. Here is the description and registration link:

Our Money System – What’s Wrong with it and How to Fix it
A critical look at money & credit, their political and economic implications, and innovations that are making conventional money obsolete.

About this event

HGS_WebinarIn this webinar series, renowned monetary reformer Thomas Greco Jr., will present our system of money and banking, how it has evolved, why it is problematic, and where it is trending. The series will also look into past, present, and future exchange and payment alternatives, like Depression-era script, local and private currencies, commercial trade exchanges and LETS systems that apply the “credit clearing” process, and the more recent emergence of crypto-currencies and blockchain ledgers and their potential role. It will include discussion of how these have evolved, their advantages, limitations and future potential and what needs to be done to take them to scale.

The speaker, Thomas H. Greco, Jr., is the author of The End of Money and the Future of Civilization. For more than 40 years Mr. Greco has been studying, writing and lecturing and advising on the subjects of money, exchange, and political economy. His distinctive insights into these subjects and his innovative approaches to a more equitable and sustainable economy have made him a sought after speaker and advisor worldwide. His full bio can be viewed here.

Topics

  • WHAT is money?
  • WHY do we need money?
  • WHAT is wrong with our money system?
  • Can we live without money?
  • How can business be conducted without money?
  • What are the economic, social and political implications of monetary policies and systems?
  • What is the likely impact of present day monetary innovations?

May 21 – Session 1 will provide an overview of the present system of money and banking, how it has evolved, how and why it is problematic, and where it is trending. Mr. Greco will talk about the interest-based debt-money system, how it causes the growth imperative and the politicization of finance and exchange, and the political and economic consequences of its continuation. He will outline the fundamental concepts of exchange and finance and the principles upon which sound and sustainable systems are being developed. Participants will be asked to read or listen to some specific materials in preparation of the subsequent sessions.

June 4 – Session 2 will be a more interactive webinar that will provide ample opportunity to discuss whatever questions have been evoked by the previous session and the assignments. These might include topics like inflation, depressions, asset bubbles and busts, the savings and investment functions, and government responses to shocks like the 2008 financial crisis and the more recent pandemic. This will lead into a discussion about possible solutions to the problems that the present system causes, and the role of local currencies and other alternatives for the exchange of value.

June 18 – Session 3 will concentrate upon past, present, and future exchange and payment alternatives, like Depression-era scrip, local and private currencies, commercial trade exchanges and LETS systems that apply the “credit clearing” process, and the more recent emergence of crypto-currencies and blockchain ledgers and their potential role. It will include discussion of how these have evolved, their advantages, limitations and future potential and what needs to be done to take them to scale.
Please note that each session will start at 6 PM Eastern Time (3 PM Pacific and Arizona time), and end at 7:30 PM (4:30 PM).

Register Now!

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Conversation with Edgar Cahn, Tim Jenkin, et al

I was recently the featured guest on Taking Back Our Economy, a podcast series hosted by the Community ExchangeEdgar-Cahn-photo-600x599 Alliance. In this episode I discuss principles of exchange, the various kinds of systems that have been tried, and what needs to be done to realize their full potential, with Tim Jenkin, founder of the Community Exchange System, Edgar Cahn, founder of Time Banking, Anitha Beberg, Christine Gray, and Martin Simon.

You can tune in to the discussion on YouTube at https://youtu.be/BtIG9YLySD4.

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My latest post: How, Then, Shall We Live? — What we might learn from the Amish

While most of us have been caught up in the high-tech, consumerist, debt-ridden rat-race, there are certain groups that have been thriving on low-tech, low-consumption, earth-friendly, cooperative approaches to living. Notable randy-fath-Amish-Cramong these are the Amish communities which are characterized by their strong social bonds and mutual support. In the present chaotic times as we struggle to reinvent civilization there may be something important to be learned from the Amish. Read about it here.

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Markets and finances in today’s world

The biggest players in money and markets today are central banks and central governments. Their market interference is massive and largely overrides the effects of other market player’s actions. If you have not already done so, please read my article, Money and Finance Have Now Been Completely Collectivized.

One complicating factor that market analysts and investment advisors universally fail to mention, and probably do not even recognize, is the withdrawal of large segments of the population from the work force, and from the “old civilization.” In my view, a new civilization has been emerging for decades from the bottom upward and that process is now accelerating as people lose faith in the dominant centralized financial, economic, and political systems and structures. The new civilization is being built on relationships of trust that already exist among family members and friendship groups and within local business and political circles. As corruption, malfeasance, and errors in the dominant centralized structures become more egregious and apparent, this process is bound to accelerate further until the old systems become irrelevant. My “Walking Away…” series of articles (Part I, Part II, Part III) articulates in more detail my thoughts about that.

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U.S. foreign policy, the primary threat to peace

Two or three years ago in my efforts to gain a deeper understanding of the political dynamics of the Middle East I came across Graham E. Fuller, a Middle-east analyst and former CIA operations officer. Reading his book, Turkey and the Arab Spring, gave me an appreciation for the pivotal role the Turkey plays in the region and in the Muslim world generally. Since then I’ve been following Fuller on his website and on Facebook.

In his recent editorial, US primacy is a self-fulfilling threat generator, Fuller provides an excellent overview of US government foreign policy and the US role in the world. In it, Fuller states:

I have no wish to launch into a litany of American sins, failures, or mistakes by omission, or more often commission, that have by almost any measure been disastrous for so many foreign countries “visited” by U.S. military operations. The list is long and well known — Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, indirectly in Yemen in most recent times. He then nicely summarizes the essence of US foreign policy, saying, “…it’s hard to get off that enemy list when you actively assert your independence from Washington.”

The editorial is brief and well worth reading. You can find it on Fuller’s website.

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Travel Plans

As spring passes and summer begins, we wonder about the possibilities for travel and tourism to return to anything like normal. Will “vaccine passports,” testing, and/or masking be required to travel? If so, what form will those passports take, paper certificates, digital apps, chips embedded under the skin? Will governments impose quarantine requirements for people entering their country, as many have been doing for more than a year? If one does travel abroad, what are the chances of being stuck there and not allowed to leave?

Considering all that, it seems unlikely that I’ll be doing much traveling this year.

Stay alert, keep learning, and seek your inner peace,

Thomas

How, Then, Shall We Live? — What we might learn from the Amish

I grew up in the 1940s and 50s, a time that I consider to be the Golden Age of prosperity and promise, a time when the middle-class was growing larger and more prosperous and it seemed that things would only continue to get better. It was a time when a family could manage quite nicely, as mine did, on a single modest income. My dad was a “debit agent” for a big mutual insurance company, selling life insurance and collecting the premiums from policy holders within his territory, or “debit.” On his modest income he was able to provide us with a nice home, put both my sister and me through college, and allow my mother to remain at home to take care of us kids, keep house, and prepare our meals as middle-class wives typically did in those days.

The social revolution of the 1960s and 70s brought some massive cultural changes, including the rise of the environmental, civil rights, human potential, feminist, gay-rights, back-to-the-land, and peace movements, along with a relaxation of sexual mores, a shift to more casual modes of dress, the hippies, the flower children, experimentation with psycho-active substances, and experiments in communal and cooperative living.

The leveling of class distinctions and income distributions that characterized the post-World War II era continued up until about 1980. Around that time many of those earlier trends seemed to run out of energy, and reactionary forces threw many of them into reverse. Notable among the latter has been the massive reversal of economic fortunes of the middle and lower classes. Despite huge increases in productivity and increased material abundance, class and wealth differences again began to increase and have by now reached unprecedented proportions. For most families, the income from one job is no longer sufficient.

But my purpose here is not to recapitulate the history of that era, nor to critique it, but simply to introduce the reader to a drastically different way of living that has been thriving for decades, if not centuries right alongside the high-tech, consumerist, debt-ridden rat-race that most of us are caught up in, and to suggest that there may be something important to be learned from the Amish as we try to reinvent civilization amidst the present intensifying chaos. 

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Given my interest in social justice, economic equity, personal freedom, intentional communities, and the social phenomena of the 60s and 70s, it is not surprising that I would discover Donald  Kraybill’s book, The Riddle of Amish Culture, which for me was an eye-opener that showed me a much different way in which people were able to thrive. That was sometime in the 1980s, the same time as my involvement with the School of Living which caused me to make frequent trips into Pennsylvania where School of Living headquarters were then located. Those trips took me through parts of the state where Amish farms and businesses were numerous.

Recently, as I was sorting through some of the many boxes containing my archives and personal records, I came across a photocopy of an article titled, Amish Economics by Gene Logsdon that appeared in the September-October 1986 issue of Community Service Newsletter. Rereading that article after so many years and in the present day context of social, economic and political upheaval, it struck me as being even more pertinent now as we struggle to reimagine how we ought to be living on this finite planet. I’ve scanned that article, converted it to a PDF file, and am making it available here for your edification.

In spite of what many consider to be their backward ways and their inclination to eschew much of modern technology, the Amish have managed to thrive both as a religious and social community as well as economically while many in the conventional world have struggled to survive. According to Wikipedia, “The Amish are among the fastest-growing populations in the world.” Between 1920 and 2019, the Amish population in the United States increased from about 5,000 to 350,000, and they have spread beyond Pennsylvania into many other states, notably Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, New York, and Michigan.

Now I am not advocating that we all live as the Amish do, but I think we might do well cultivate some of their attitudes about community and mutual support, and adopt some of their agricultural, land stewardship, and small business practices. Amish communities also enjoy certain freedoms from government policies and dictates because of their religious beliefs and practices.    

If you’d like to dig deeper into what the Amish might teach the rest of us, you can learn a lot from the links in this article and from the Amish Times.

Your comments on this article would be welcomed.

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There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch: Principles of Credit, Exchange, and Finance

“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” That’s a well-known adage that goes back a long time, but it was popularized by famed economist Milton Friedman and expressed in his 1975 book titled, There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.

But the abuses of political money by national governments, central banks and the banking establishment and the consequent separation between the financial economy and the real economy have made it appear that there may be a free lunch after all. But we must not allow ourselves to be misled. It may not be immediately apparent but there is always a price to be paid when fundamental principles of reciprocal exchange are violated.

There have been many in the alternative currency and exchange movement who seem to think that this principle does not apply to their proposed schemes and the landscape is strewn with the wreckage of their folly, but the lessons from that experience are yet to be learned. Political currencies have the power of governments and huge financial institutions behind them and are able, through legal tender laws and taxation, to compel the circulation of their currencies and hide the ill effects of their malfeasance. Private and community currencies however must stand on their own merits without the crutch of legal compulsion and must therefore demonstrated their superiority in enabling the reciprocal exchange of goods and services in the marketplace.

Any would-be innovators in this realm must therefore understand the fundamental principles of currency, credit, investment, saving, and the exchange of value. That is a rather vast territory that I have been writing and lecturing about for a very long time. In this post I wish only to state explicitly the fundamental principles that must underlie the design and implementation of any private, community or complementary currency.

Principle #1, the essence of a currency: A currency is a short-term credit instrument of the issuer.
Currency is created when a provider of real value accepts it in payment from issuer, and it is redeemed and destroyed when the issuer accepts it back in payment for the goods or services that they provide. It may change hands many times between issuance and redemption.  

Principle #2, Currency circulation: The circulation of a currency is driven by the issuer’s obligation to accept it back.

Corollary #1.a.: To be sound, credible and effective, a currency must be spent into circulation by one or more trusted issuers who are ready, willing and able to deliver valued goods or services that are in regular demand, and to accept the currency back as payment.

Corollary #1.b.: A currency that is issued in such a way monetizes the value that is inherent in the goods and services that the issuer is ready, willing and able to sell immediately or in the very near future. In other words, it takes the value that is inherent in those real goods and services and converts it into a form (currency) that can be used to make payments.

Definition: Liquidity is the ability to pay, i.e., to meet immediate and short-term obligations.

It has long been recognized that the issuance of private, non-governmental currencies is not only possible and desirable, but also necessary if true freedom and government “by the people and for the people” is to be achieved. It is entirely feasible that any community can create its own liquidity (means of payment) by monetizing (in the form of its own currency) the value inherent in the goods and services produced within that community.

This is not a new idea. Arthur Kitson made the same point 125 years ago:

To the average man, a currency that has not the authority or stamp of government is inconceivable; and yet there is no good reason why communities should not create and control their own currency without the aid or intervention of governments, just as they incur debts or liabilities without such aid or intervention. —Arthur Kitson, A Scientific Solution of the Money Question (1895), p. 279.

Addendum 1: This may help to further clarify the matter:

Credit is given and received in each transaction as follows: a seller gives credit to a buyer when he delivers real value in exchange for the buyer’s promise (his/her currency or i.o.u.) to reciprocate at some time later. The buyer reciprocates when he/she later becomes a seller and accepts his/her previously issued currency as payment.
ReciprocityCircuit

Addendum 2: One of my correspondents on LinkedIn replied to my post saying this:

During high interest phases, credit clearing so clearly offers many benefits. In the current low or no interest phase these seem to be less obvious. Unless the community currency can avoid inflation maybe? But in a way inflation helps productive businesses to repay their debt. So where do you see the biggest benefit now?

That comment highlights some common misconceptions which I answer as follows:

Interest savings are a minor benefit of direct credit clearing. The BIG benefit is that it makes buyers and sellers independent of money and banks. This is especially important when money is made scarce, as it usually is for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) who are often not able to get credit from banks, and when they do it is on onerous terms: high rates of interest, burdensome repayment schedules, pledge of collateral, and the inclination of banks to foreclose and force liquidation of assets rather than help a business through a difficult period. Credit clearing provides a friendly independent source of liquidity that is limited only by the value produced by businesses that are part of the credit clearing circle.

Regarding inflation, it is never a good thing for SMEs or for most consumers. Inflation “helps productive businesses to repay their debt” only if the business has sufficient market power to raise prices of the things it sells and/or to keep the cost of inputs like labor and materials low. That may be true of big corporations that dominate those markets, but not for SMEs who get caught in the squeeze and are unable to raise their prices enough to keep up with inflation or to prevent their costs from rising.

The corporatocracy would like us to believe that the effects of inflation are the same for everyone but they are not.

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