Category Archives: Developing Alternatives

2022 September Newsletter – Economic Prospects and Exchange Innovations

In this issue:

  • The Legacy and Vision of Dee Hock
  • My Upcoming Presentation: Private and complementary currency systems
  • My Latest Article
  • There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit
  • Will 2023 Be the Year from Hell?
  • Central Bank Digital Currency, a the Totalitarian Nightmare

The Legacy and Vision of Dee Hock (b. March 21, 1929 – d. July 16, 2022)

I had occasion to meet Dee Hock in September of 1995 when we were both invited to participate in the first of a series of symposia titled Peace Building for the 21st Century, a semi-annual gathering that was jointly organized by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the World Business Academy, and Pathways to Peace and convened at the Fetzer Institute in Michigan. When prior to the meeting I read that Hock was CEO of VISA International, a rather lofty position in the world of conventional banking, I wondered how his beliefs and objectives about money and exchange could possibly find any agreement with my own. I soon discovered that my pre-judgments about him could not have been more wrong. During the symposium he impressed me as being a man of integrity and vision, and more a “monkish” philosopher than a banker.

That impression was strongly reinforced when in 1999 I read Hock’s newly published book, Birth of the Chaordic Age (later republished as One From Many), which told his personal story along with the story of how the VISA organization came into being and became “the largest commercial enterprise on earth.” To give you a sense of what captivated me I will share just a few quotes from the book. In the prolog, Hock said, “We are experiencing and epidemic of institutional failure that knows no bounds,” and, “The organization of the future will be the embodiment of community based on shared purpose calling to the higher aspirations of the people.” Such an observation and expectation were quite remarkable and unexpected but consistent with my own observations and aspirations. Then, on the back of the dust cover I read, “We are at that very point in time when a 400-year- old age is dying and another is struggling to be born–a shifting of culture, science, society and institutions enormously greater than the world has ever experienced. Ahead, the possibility of regeneration of individuality, liberty, community, and ethics such as the world has never known, and a harmony with nature, with one another, and with the divine intelligence, such as the world has always dreamed.”

Such ideas could not have resonated more closely with my own, and as I delved further into the book I was delighted to find a great deal more of that sort of visionary, humane, and wise thinking and expression. I took some time to ponder all of that as I went about my own work trying to move forward toward the development and implementation of innovative systems of exchange and finance that would embody the values and aspirations that Hock and I seemed to share. Then, in January of 2001, I wrote to Hock and was pleased when he responded a couple weeks later.  Rather than try to excerpt the essence of each letter, I think it appropriate to present each in its entirety (I don’t think Dee would mind).

Dear Dee,

I’ve been meaning to write you ever since I finished reading your book almost a year ago. I guess my procrastination is due to the fact that I was not, until now, clear about what I wanted to say to you, or how to say it so you would take it seriously.

Certainly, praise is due. The Birth of the Chaordic Age is a masterful story, but, of course, it is more than a story, it is a philosophical treatise – and a work of art, studded with gems of wisdom. (In that, your monkish, contemplative bent is evident). I’m most grateful to you for seeking out these gems and fetching them back for us to admire and use. I especially like your four ways of looking at things – how they were, how they are, how they might become, and how they ought to be. It serves me well in the research I’ve been doing, and serves to remind me of why I’m doing it.

 I am in full agreement with the testimony of your vision which appears on the back of the dust cover. I believe that, in the present era, the thing that is “trying to happen” (as Willis used to put it) is a fundamental shift from elite rule (command and control) to a more participatory, democratic, inclusive, just, equitable, and sustainable order. This means that, in addition to our own spiritual and interpersonal work, there is a need for thoroughgoing restructuring of our institutions and the emergence of networks and communities which will supplant limited liability corporations and much of the government bureaucracy.

As I approach my 65th birthday, I have a sense that my most important work is yet to be done. Despite your great accomplishments, I have a sense that that may be the case for you as well. Of particular relevance for me is the area of money, banking, and finance. This is where I think I can make a major contribution, and this is what I want you to know.

You have the distinction of having been the leader who guided the development of the world’s first global payment system. Yet, you express dissatisfaction with the outcome. It doesn’t satisfy me either. You say (on page 193),


“I could think of no way to fully realize the concept by including merchants and cardholders as owner-members. The slightest hint in that direction raised a storm of opposition. We should have included them. Perhaps, with more time, tenacity, and ingenuity we could have.”

Well, storms of opposition should be expected when those in control are asked to share power. The bankers have been a privileged class for a long time. Why should they give up such a powerful and lucrative position? There is only ever one compelling reason – because they can see that it is in their best interests to do so, and they have the courage to let go. Are you ready to show them the economic “magna carta?”

For the good of the people and the planet, the monetary system must be changed and economic power must be more widely dispersed. The key lies in the payment system. There is plenty of ingenuity being applied to the “money problem” within the current grassroots transformational movement, within the commercial “barter” business, and within the realm of emerging internet commerce. Proper leadership can draw out sufficient tenacity. And, time? Well, “carpe diem.” “The future is not about logic or reason. It’s about imagination, hope, and belief.” (p. 152).

Can you envision a federation of credit-clearing circles which include everyone who wants to be a member? Which is democratically organized and operated? Which allows each person the power to monetize some of their own resources and productive potential without having to pay interest to anyone?

It is my hope to assist in launching such a system. I believe that it is possible to assemble, right now, sufficient talent, resources, and commitment to get the job done. This could be your prototype socio-economic chaord which would demonstrate to everyone the kind of model needed for 21st century organizing.

I have no illusions about the willingness of bankers’ to accept such systems right now, but I must do what I can to harmonize how things might become, with how they ought to be. If we can create the seed crystal, the rest will take care of itself.

What do you say?

Tom Greco

About two weeks later I received this reply:

Dear Tom:

Thank you for your most kind, thoughtful letter. Indeed, people in position of privilege and power cannot be expected to surrender it to others, especially when no better alternative has emerged which the public trusts and demands, which captures the imagination of the powerful and privileged, ameliorates their fears, and which is allows them to make an orderly, safe transition. Power is never given, it is always taken. How to take it without destructive confrontation and brute force is the perpetual problem. In my view, that can only be done by creating new concepts which do not attack and destroy the old, but transcend and enfold them.

There is no doubt in my mind that more than enough intelligence, communication capacity and experimentation has already emerged to allow such new concepts to be devised and implemented. However, to transcend and enfold a system that is already global, ubiquitous, deeply entrenched in all societies and organizations and embedded in the consciousness of the whole world is not something that can be done by any one person, or even a narrow segment of them. Nor do I have any illusions about the desperate need for better means of exchanging value among all people. We have had much contact over the years with many people in emerging systems of barter, local currency, internet commerce and alternate currencies – Bernard Lietaer, Hazel Henderson, James Fierro and a host of others.

One of the concepts we think will take shape within the Terra Civitas movement is something we call, for want of a better term, the “resource commons,” a coming together of people with financial expertise of all kinds, new and old, to reconceive and bring into being new concepts of organizations and instruments that “result in more equitable distribution of power and wealth, improved health and greater compatibility with the human spirit and biosphere.” That is, I think, precisely what you refer to, albeit in other terms.

We are simply overwhelmed with response to chaordic concepts. Opportunities to create such organizations in various fields already exceeds our present resources and capacity. This is not something we can, at the moment, call into being. The initial interest and impetus would have to emerge elsewhere. We might act as a catalyst, a “strange attractor,” to put in terms of complexity theory and would gladly lend what legitimacy and expertise we could.

I have no doubt that with sufficient commitment from a design team of the right thirty or forty people and a hundred or two others to critique the work and reasonable resources, a “chaordic, fractaled organization” for the purposes you envision could be conceived, perhaps even implemented, before the end of 2002.

Again, many thanks for your thoughtful letter and kind comments about the book. With all best wishes,

Dee

Of course, 2002 came and went and twenty years later we are still seeking allies, supporters and resources, and wondering what else it will take to make this grand vision a reality, but surely its time will eventually come. That is not to say that progress has not been made. Promising innovations and improvements in exchange processes and moneyless payments have been made in both the grassroots and commercial “barter” realms, and I continue to work with several of those groups and individuals.  

Numerous Dee Hock obituaries have been published online including the VISA website and Market Watch, and you can glean much more of his wisdom from Dee Hock’s webpage which is still accessible.

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My upcoming presentation

I’ve been invited to be a keynote speaker at the 6th Biennial RAMICS International Congress in Bulgaria, October 27 to 29. RAMICS is the Research Association on Monetary Innovation and Community and Complementary Currency Systems which includes both academics and practitioners.

My illustrated presentation titled, Private and complementary currency systems: purposes, principles, practices, and performance, is slated for Thursday, October 27. It will summarize what I have learned over more than forty years of research and experimentation in this field, and describe what must be done to realize the full potential of decentralized private and community exchange mechanisms. You can see the full abstract here. For various reasons, I am planning to deliver my presentation remotely from Arizona. This congress promises to be exciting and productive, and if you wish to participate you can find program details here and register at https://ramics2022sofia.sciencesconf.org/registration.
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My Latest Article
My latest article, The Money Economy Is Not the Real Economy: “The Global Banking and Financial System is Fatally Flawed,” was published last week by Global Research, and recently republished on Medium.
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There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit
One of my most popular posts has been, There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit. If you missed it when I first published it, you may want to check it out. I’ve used metaphor to try to show how we have all become slaves to money and those who control money. Using water to represent money, I’ve also tried to show that we the people can free ourselves and take back control by thinking outside the box to end our fixation on political fiat money, and deploy better ways of enabling the exchange of real value that our own labor and creativity produce.

Every metaphor, of course, is limited but I am hoping that readers/listeners will come to understand that there are alternatives to conventional money that we can use to reduce, and eventually eliminate our dependence upon conventional political fiat money. Credit is the foundation of an honest system of exchange and we have the power to give credit to each other in accordance with our own values and objectives, outside of conventional banks and without charging interest. You can access the story on my website (audio with transcript) or on YouTube (audio only).  

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Will 2023 Be the Year from Hell?
Noted economic forecaster, Martin Armstrong, says it will and makes a very convincing case in this interview on Greg Hunter’s USA Watchdog podcast; and it is very instructive to see the remarkable story of Armstrong and his work in the documentary movie, “The Forecaster,” if you can get hold of it. Amazon.com says “This video is currently unavailable to watch in your location,” but you can watch the trailer on IMDb and buy the DVD here. The movie includes the story about the persecution he suffered at the hands of the US government, being imprisoned for 7 years without a trial, and eventually forced to plead guilty to regain his freedom.  

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Central Bank Digital Currency, a the Totalitarian Nightmare

If that isn’t enough to get your attention and stir you to action, this article, Just Say No to CBDCs, by N.S. Lyons clearly describes the nightmare world the technocratic oligarchy has prepared for us and will very shortly pressure us to accept. Some difficult choices are in prospect.

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Despite the gloom and doom that these present circumstances portend, I believe humanity has never been in a better position to create a world of peace, freedom, and conviviality. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “When the people lead, the leaders will follow.”

Thomas

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Permission to reprint contents from this newsletter in whole or in part is granted on the condition that full credit is given and a link to the original source is provided. – t.h.g.
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Reprising Beyond Money Podcasts

During 2019 and 2020 we recorded a series of ten podcast interviews with leading experts and social entrepreneurs who have been working on developing and implementing improved means of exchange aimed at making the economy more equitable and ecologically sustainable. Each podcast is valuable in its own way and the series in total provides an excellent overview of what one needs to know to get a proper start to working in this field.

Among practitioners, Will Ruddick and his associates at Grassroots Economics continue to make exciting progress in developing Community Inclusion Currencies and organizing exchange circles throughout Kenya and other parts of Africa. Our September 2019 discussion with Will is a treasure trove of information about their innovative work that will be of great value to others who aim to organize similar exchange alternatives. Listen to it here.

The entire podcast series can be found here.

One of my most popular posts–There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit

One of my most popular posts has been, There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit, in which I’ve tried to show how we have all become slaves to money and those who control money. Using water in this little fable to represent money, I’ve also tried to show that we the people can free ourselves by thinking outside the box to overcome our fixation on the sort of money that has been provided for us and over which we have lost all control.

Every metaphor of course is limited and what I am hoping that readers/listeners will come to understand is that there are alternatives to conventional money that we can use to reduce, and eventually eliminate our dependence upon conventional political money. It is credit that is the foundation of an honest system of exchange and we have the power to give credit to each other in accordance with our own values and objectives, outside of conventional banks and without charging interest.  

You can access the story on my website (audio with transcript) or on YouTube (audio).
Or listen here.

You are welcome to post comments.

My reply to, Prof. Richard Werner on “the central banking system and how to start regional alternatives.”

Earlier this month Prof. Richard Werner posted a video on YouTube, which I thought was quite good in explaining the way banks create money, but I felt moved to post a response to it that provides some fundamental concepts and clarifies what is required to start regional alternatives  to dominant centralized banking system and political fiat monies. I recommend that you watch Werner’s 10 minute video, and then contemplate my responses.

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Thomas H Greco Jr

Prof. Werner makes many good and important points in this lecture, about how money is created and allocated by huge banking institutions which gives them enormous power over governments, people and the economy. Yes, control of money needs to be decentralized and democratized. Public and community banks are important elements in achieving that but they exist within the current dominant paradigm of creating money by making loans at interest, which is a fundamental flaw that forces a growth imperative. Debt grows exponentially as time passes so there is never enough money to enable all borrowers to pay what they owe. A distinction must be made between “exchange credit” and “investment credit.” The former should be allocated without interest to producers based on the value of goods and services each is able to sell immediately or in the near-term; the latter should be the reallocation of existing money from savers to entrepreneurs. The exchange function can best be organized as credit clearing circles, like the original WIR cooperative circle that Werner mentioned, then these various circles can be networked together into a global system of exchange. I have been articulating these points and more for the past several decades, most recently in a webinar I conducted for the University of Hertfordshire in November 2021: 2021-11 Transcending the present political money system–the urgent need and the way to do it. (https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/2021-11-hertfordshire-preso.mp4).  The Q&A that followed is at https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/12/herts-qa.mp4.  
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Vox Libertatis

Thank you for the insightful comment, Thomas. What are your thoughts on the concept of interest in general? Is a interest-based financial system doomed to always end with enormous inflation culminating in financial collapse?
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Thomas H Greco Jr

That’s a very good question. One must distinguish between primary interest that banks impose on “borrowers” in the process of creating debt-money, and secondary interest that is demanded by those who hold existing money when they lend it to others for whatever purpose.

The primary interest causes debts to banks to grow exponentially because the interest payments do not, for the most part, go toward consumption expenditures but to ever expanding pools of capital held by “capitalists.” Thus, the money supply available for repayment to the banks is always deficient unless the banks create more money by making more “loans” to stay ahead of the extinction of money that occurs when principal payments are made. The empirical evidence of debt growth over time clearly supports this; I call it the ‘usury conjecture,” which I hope will eventually be proven mathematically and/or through some realistic model of the system.

The so-called “business cycle” that oscillates between inflation and depression is natural result of that inherent flaw in the centralized, interest-based debt-money regime. The interest must be paid, one way or the other. Quantitative easing by the various central banks amounts to life support for that failing system. It is essential that the new system be ready to take over before the plug is pulled on the old one or it dies in a chaotic collapses.

Capital can dominate only when exchange media are scarce, either naturally (commodity money like gold and silver) or artificially (centrally controlled debt money). When exchange media are abundant there is no basis for demanding interest. That abundance derives from reconnecting to the real economy of valuable goods and services. As E. C. Riegel clearly showed, only producers are qualified to issue (credit) money. That is money that producers SPEND into circulation and is accepted by others as payment based on the issuer’s credible promise to accept it back as payment for their own goods and services that they are ready, willing and able to deliver immediately or in the near term. That credit money can take the form of currency vouchers (physical or digital) issued interest-free by individual producers, or more effectively, issued jointly by the members of credit clearing circles. Those circles can then be combined into a global network of exchange in which trade credits are allocated and controlled locally but are globally useful as payment. I outline that system toward the end of my previously mentioned webinar (https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/2021-11-hertfordshire-preso.mp4). Once that system is in place, interest on secondary “loans” will give way to returns on equity shares as a way of funding capital formation.

Riegel remains obscure but there is more to be learned from his legacy works that from any other source I know of. My annotated précis of his, Private Enterprise Money, can be found at https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2021/10/thg_precis-of-pem-1.pdf, and his main works can be downloaded from my website at https://beyondmoney.net/library/.    

My latest appearance on the Intercoin show

I appeared on today’s Intercoin show in conversation with crypto entrepreneurs that covered a range of interesting topics including cryptocurrencies, NFTs, exchange alternatives, and digital savings mechanisms. View and listen on YouTube, https://youtu.be/6FXsuBMG2VY.

Community Currencies Can Enable Universal Basic Mobility (UBM)

It may not be a basic necessity for life, but mobility surely is a basic necessity for living in a modern economy and for having a decent quality of life. This fact is increasingly recognized, and in response, many cities have been subsidizing public transit, and now many are considering making public transit completely free to all riders.  

Kansas City, Missouri implemented fare-free rides in response to the pandemic and then made free rides generally available in 2021. Tucson, Arizona, where a large portion of public transit costs have long been covered by the city budget, and where discounted fares have been available to certain low income groups, responded similarly to Kansas City and is now considering making zero fare rides on its Sun Tran system permanent for all.

A recent article titled, Is Universal Basic Mobility the Route to a Sustainable City?,  reports that the city of Oakland, California has recently begun a pilot project aimed at providing universal basic mobility (UBM), which according to the article, involves “a combination of policies, funding, and partnerships that aim to provide all members of society with a basic level of access to mobility.”

My own extensive efforts to help cities become more sustainable have been focused largely upon finding ways to provide them with locally created means of payment that are independent of the banking system and the federal government. Local currencies have a long record, hundreds of them have been created over the past few decades, and hundreds more appeared during the Great Depression of the 1930s. A properly issued local currency can help make a local economy, not only more sustainable, but more robust and prosperous, and enhance the quality of life for local community residents. It can do this by reducing the community’s dependence upon the centralized system of money creation and allocation and handouts from the federal government, and by using its own local production of goods and services as the basis for creating sound payment alternatives to fiat money.

Proper issuance requires a basic understanding of the essence of a currency and what is required to make it sound and acceptable as a payment medium. A sound local currency is a credit instrument that is spent into circulation by a trusted provider of goods and/or services that are in regular demand. The accepting party then has a claim against the goods and services of the issuer.  The issuer must be ready, willing, and able to redeem the currency, not in cash, but by accepting it back as payment for goods or services that they already have available, or soon will have available for sale.

Mobility is extremely important not only to the local economy by helping people get from their homes to the shops and their places of employment, but also to people’s physical and emotional health. Low income and disabled people are the most dependent upon public transit, so making transportation easy and inexpensive is especially important to them. On the other hand, providing those services constitutes a major expense and the question of how those expenses are to be covered remains a stumbling block.

It occurs to me that a community currency can play a role in providing universal basic mobility (UBM). The public transit agency qualifies as a trusted provider of transit services that it is ready, willing and able to provide at all times. That qualifies it to spend a currency (“Transit Tokens”) into circulation, using it to pay for goods and services that it needs for its operations, or even for services that benefit the entire community. Transit Tokens could be spent into circulation by the city government in return for work done voluntarily by citizens, work that is in the public interest, like graffiti abatement, trash pick-up, street beautification, aiding the homeless and disadvantaged, and many other things that contribute to our quality of life but for which funding is generally hard to find.

Why not keep transit fares at some modest level but accept payment not only in dollars but also in Transit Tokens? Those riders who are able to work can easily earn them and at the same time gain a sense of purpose and participation in the community. Others who are willing to volunteer  may not be able to donate dollars, but most are able to do some useful work to acquire Transit Tokens which they can then donate to homeless people or to nonprofit organizations that can then distribute them to others in need.

Further, if Transit Tokens are made generally transferable they can circulate amongst local merchants and throughout the local economy to provide an exchange medium that is supplemental to the supply of dollars, giving the community a source of homegrown liquidity that boosts the local economy and makes it more self-reliant. The issuance and circulation of Transit Tokens can be a good start toward reclaiming “people power” and rebuilding our local economies and a democratic society.

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A new paper on my Solar Dollar proposal has been published.

On July 12, 2021, I presented my Solar Dollar proposal as 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). Following that presentation, I was invited to submit a paper describing my proposal for publication in an academic journal. That paper titled, Solar Dollars: A Complementary Currency that Incentivizes Renewable Energy, has now been published and can be read or downloaded at https://doi.org/10.3389/fbuil.2021.785145.

February 2022 Newsletter: The State of the Economy: What’s going on, what to expect, and how to prepare.

Photo by Daniel Sessler, unsplash

These are the topics covered in this newsletter edition:

  • The State of the Economy
  • What’s going on and how to prepare?
  • Social Collapse Best Practices
  • Prospects and Prescriptions from Ernst Wolff     
  • My Recent presentations and interview
  • The End of Money
  • Personal News

Rather than post the entire contents here, I’ve decided to simply provide the link to it on my MailChimp site:
http://mailchi.mp/acd12f7f51ba/the-state-of-the-economy-whats-going-on-what-to-expect-and-how-to-prepare   
If you want to be on my list to receive my occasional newsletters directly by email, you can subscribe there.

Comments are welcome and can be left here.

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.