Category Archives: Global Economy

Pertinent to global economic issues and events.

The Relentless Rise of Corporate Power

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Did you know that after winning independence from the British Empire “…our country’s founders retained a healthy fear of corporate power and wisely limited corporations exclusively to a business role. Corporations were forbidden from attempting to influence elections, public policy, and other realms of civic society. 

Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Enabling shareholders to profit was seen as a means to that end. The states also imposed conditions (some of which remain on the books, though unused)…

  • Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly for violating laws.
  • Corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.
  • Corporations could not own stock in other corporations nor own any property that was not essential to fulfilling their chartered purpose.
  • Corporations were often terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused public harm.
  • Owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts committed on the job.
  • Corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making.

Read the whole story, Our Hidden History of Corporations in the U.S.

You might also wish to consult David Korten’s excellent book, When Corporations Rule the World, and Thom Hartmann’s Unequal Protection: The rise of corporate dominance and theft of human rights.

To be entertained while being informed and inspired watch the movie, They Live.
TheyLive1
Obey, Consume, Stay asleep, Watch TV, Submit, Conform

There is a movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to put an end to corporate personhood and re-impose reasonable limits on corporate powers.
On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.”    — Move to Amend

I consider huge transnational corporations to be the malevolent aliens among us. The small elite class of humans who control them are using these corporations to shape a global neo-feudal dystopia in which they will be absolute masters over the rest of humanity, the Earth, and all of its resources. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people remain complacent and blind to this reality, but it cannot exist without our complicity. You don’t need special glasses to see the truth, just open your eyes, don’t be afraid to inquire, trust your own senses, and think for yourself. The way toward a better future for ourselves, our children, and our posterity lies in reducing our dependence upon all of the social, economic, political and subsidiary systems and structures that have been utterly corrupted, and working together to empower ourselves and our communities to be more self-reliant and masters of our own destiny.

It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll; I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
            — William Ernest Henley.

Alternative History — What If?

This Power Point slide show presentation was delivered virtually to the Alternative History Festival in Poland in September 2020. It highlights several historical turns as modern civilization has evolved that led to our present predicament and then asks how things might have been different and how they ought to be.

You can download it here.

James Corbett addresses the topic of alternative currencies

In his presentation that was part of The Greater Reset, James Corbett (of the Corbett Report) provided an overview of alternative means of exchange. In it he mentioned community currencies, LETS, trade exchanges, and my book, Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender, as well as this website.

You can view his excellent presentation here. Scroll down to find James Corbett: Why We Need a Survival Currency

The New Reformation?

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The election of Donald Trump was just a symptom of a major shift of civilization. In this essay, Mike Krauss (http://thekrausscommentary.com/) compares it to the Reformation of the sixteenth century.  It seems an apt analogy.

From Martin Luther to Donald Trump: Reading the Signs of the Times


Martin Luther published his Ninety-Five Thesis in 1517. Some histories record that he nailed them to the door of the chapel of the Wittenberg Castle. His challenge to the monolithic authority of the Catholic Church in Western Europe  set off an upheaval among the governing class and peoples of the European continent that was not only religious, but was also political, cultural and intellectual.
 
That upheaval did not follow immediately on Luther’s bold action, but erupted about four years later as the Church banned citizens of all the nations from espousing, defending or disseminating Luther’s ideas, and hardened the division into what would become the Reformation and Counter Reformation, decades of strife and bloody conflict within and between the peoples and nations of the continent. Lives were unspeakably brutalized. Property was confiscated and families destroyed. Mobs desecrated or destroyed churches and pulled down or defaced their statues and relics. Justice was whatever princes and popes said it was.
 
In the end, Europe was changed and the course of western civilization altered, as more democratic norms of government gradually displaced centralized royal and ecclesiastical power and the rule of law grew stronger.
 
It is tempting at this remove to compare Donald Trump’s 2015 ride down the escalator in his cathedral to capitalism, Trump Tower, to Luther’s arrival on the scene. But with Trump, the reaction of the monolithic governing class was immediate, as they recognized the power of Trump’s challenge to their authority and mounted a fierce counter attack. It has become as brutal as that of the 16th century, as the Counter Reformers now seek to politically, socially and economically excommunicate, exorcise, punish and destroy utterly Trump and any vestige of his American Reformation.
 
Now as then, the opposing sides in the contest use the same language of centuries of a shared “faith” to claim the moral high ground, with this difference: Trump’s reformers just want to be left alone by controlling, centralized authority to live their lives as they think best, while the statist counter reformers demand conformity to their “civic virtues,” and take no prisoners in an all out war to regain and retain power.
 
Where is this leading? In the short term, to fascism and repression. The counter reformers have seized both the government and the means of communication of an entire nation. This contrasts with the Protestant Reformation; in that, as the printing press came into wider use at that time, the ideas of Luther and other reformers were more widely circulated than had ever before been possible. New technology aided the Reformation. Now in the United States, new means of communication serve the Counter Reformation and the governing class. For the foreseeable future there will be only the “party line” heard in the United States. 
 
But even the dullest of ears will by now have picked up the incessant, preening moralizing of the counter reformers. Completely self sanctified and utterly un-self aware, these elites are likely to drive the Biden administration. Biden is not strong enough to resist.  He may not want to.
 
 “Joe Biden, Savior of the Republic” may be the story Biden has going in his head. Legislation has been introduced in Congress to establish a domestic surveillance agency with authority to define any reforming thought, speech or action which challenges the governing class as “domestic terror,” the modern equivalent of heresy.
 
There is one element to this conflict today that was not present in that of 16th century Europe and is entirely modern and American: race. The resentments of some whites on the right and some blacks on the left are equally poisonous and capable of overcoming any hope of reason and accommodation among the warring parties.
 
American liberalism, the former church of the secular left is dead, having collapsed under its own failures. The two greatest failures have been the decades long reduction of the mostly white middle class, its wealth redistributed to a permanent governing class of corporate overlords and their political retainers; and the simultaneous creation of a mostly black, permanent underclass, consigned to the apartheid landscape of American cities which liberal policy created, islands of white prosperity in a sea of mostly black poverty.
 
Until these twin failures of the governing class are remedied a time of conflict and turmoil in America is inevitable,.
 
Trump simply called out the reality of the decadence of the American governing class, as Luther called out that of the Medieval Church.  Leading up to Luther’s challenge, Pope Sixtus IV began the practice of selling Indulgences to wealthy sinners  –  ecclesiastical get-out-of-purgatory- free cards  – the way Congress sells legislation to lobbyists. Pope Alexander VI enforced celibacy on the priesthood but was the father of seven  (!) children, operating with the same hubris on display daily in the American governing class today: “rules for thee, but not for me.”
 
Hubris invites nemesis: then Luther, now Trump.
 
In the weeks ahead there may be a period of relative calm, as the people wait and watch. But it won’t last long. As the government of the American Counter Reformation becomes steadily more repressive, authoritarian and fascist, it will run up against something Luther did not have to help fuel his Reformation: a people with the experience of centuries of democratic government, the protection of individual liberties and the rule of law.
 
This conflict will not be resolved any time soon.

And this assessment, That’s All Folks, from former Congressman Ron Paul, provides another take on the matter. And his latest essay, When Fascism Comes, It Will Be Wearing a Mask, spotlights actions by the Biden administration that look a lot like a counter-reformation.

Let’s see if we can find ways to enjoy the ride and take advantage of the opportunities to build a better world.

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Money and Finance Have Now Been Completely Collectivized

It is almost laughable to see “the powers that be” fumbling around, and bending everything they touch out of shape, as they try to maintain some semblance of life in the deeply flawed zombie system of money, banking and finance. Laughable, that is, if it were not so tragic.

This financial “Titanic” has not been ripped open by a sudden encounter with some unexpected and random “iceberg.” It was doomed from its very beginning because of its flawed design, construction, and operation, which I have repeatedly described over the past thirty plus years.[i] It has been taking on water and shaking itself apart for a very long time, but it is just within the past few years that its inevitable demise has become obvious, and is now imminent.

The Great Revelation of 2008
— more —

This article was first published on Medium

After the Great Pause–toward a New Society

Recent events have made it clear that there is no going “back to normal.” It seems to me that in this time of flux there are many possibilities, but I think they boil down to two fundamental choices. The world can continue on the trajectory of increasing concentrations of power and wealth, and dominance of the many by the few, or society can begin to decentralize and move toward community empowerment and local control.

Many are calling for people to embrace “a new human story founded on the principles of connection and diversity” and argue that such a story is already emerging.

The upcoming online event called World Localization Day promises to move our collective consciousness in that direction. I’ve already registered to participate and suggest that others do likewise. It will be happening next Sunday, June 21. This global event will be streamed three times: starting at 4pm in Sydney, 4pm in New York and 4pm in London. Registration fees are on a sliding scale, or even free for those with scant means.

As the website says:
After COVID-19, we can return to stressful disconnected lives and climate catastrophe, or we can slow down, scale down and rebuild our connections to each other and to the Earth.

Check it out.

2020 May Newsletter

In this issue

  • What could be nicer than this?
  • Planet of the Humans
  • The Need to GROW
  • Trade Exchanges and Credit clearing are No Longer Experiments, They’re Mainstream Business

There is so much going on these days, and so much I want to share with you that I hardly know where to stop. Yet, I do not wish to overwhelm my readers, so I’m choosing to keep my newsletters short. Whether they also become more frequent will depend on my own state of overwhelm and how the spirit moves me in the weeks ahead. In this edition I’m starting off on a lighter note with an amusing presentation by one of my longtime favorite authors. Oh, and by the way, there’s nothing in here about Covid-19. That’s not for lack of serious concerns or important sources to share, but I think we all need to take a break from it, so I’ll leave that for next time when we’ll get into it big time.
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What could be nicer than this?

Take a few minutes to relax and be amused. Whether or not you’ve ever been a fan of Kurt Vonnegut, as I have, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this lecture he gave in 2004 on the Shape of Stories.
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Planet of the Humans

This new and controversial documentary by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore lays out the hard, cold facts about our energy intensive way of living and the implausibility of renewable energy sources ever being able to replace fossil fuels. The inevitable conclusions are that we humans need to reduce our energy consumption, stop the growth of our population, and start making better public policy choices regarding infrastructure and technologies.

But vested interests have refused to believe the obvious facts and are intent of continuing on the present path in order to protect their material fortunes. In Tucson, where I live, tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on road widening projects just to deliver traffic more quickly to the downtown bottlenecks, a policy that in the process has been killing off more pedestrians and bicyclists and raising noise pollution to maddening levels.

The film has been controversial because it argues that the much vaunted shift to renewable sources of energy is an illusory savior, and the mainstream environmental organizations have been largely co-opted by corporate interests.  The movie is freely available for viewing at https://planetofthehumans.com/.

Among those featured in the film is energy and climate expert, Richard Heinberg of the Postcarbon Institute. Heinberg’s review of the film provides a more nuanced picture of our energy future and I encourage everyone to read it. The bottom line for me is my long held belief that there is no techno-fix maintain that will allow us to maintain the profligate ways of our current civilization, and that is a good thing because we are presently face with a multi-dimensional mega-crisis that is forcing us to transition to a different way of living that does not promote endless economic growth. I’ve also been arguing for a long time that we need to get off this perpetual growth spiral and shift our efforts away from ever increasing consumption and toward a Butterfly Economy that is in harmony with nature. If we do not make the necessary changes in the way we live, nature will do it for us.
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The Need to GROW

Speaking of living in harmony with nature, one of the most important things that we can do is to change the way we grow our food. This award winning documentary shows that it is possible. There are viable alternatives to industrial agriculture that are not only capable of producing an abundance of more nutritious food, but of saving the planet in the process. Get it here.
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Trade Exchanges and Credit clearing are No Longer Experiments, They’re Mainstream Business

This opinion piece by Paul Brandus appeared recently on the MarketWatch website: How small businesses can stay afloat during the pandemic without government help.

While still often referred to as “barter exchanges,” the scores of commercial trade exchanges operating around the world enable their business members to transact billions of dollars worth of purchases and sales annually without using conventional money. How do they do that? As I’ve been explaining for many years, established business members are given an internal line of credit in proportion to their sales volume, thus creating a new form of liquidity within the exchange that is independent of bank borrowing and conventional money.

The proliferation of trade exchange networks is a fundamental necessity in rebuilding the economy to be more resilient, fair, and democratic, and preserving the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are the backbone of every community economy and political democracy.
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Monday, May 25 was Memorial Day in the United States. It is a day when we remember and honor all those who have fought and died in our many wars. Let us also remember the horror and utter waste that is the essence of war, and resolve to put an end to it forever.

Thomas

My latest article in Medium

The global money system: not the kind of normal we should get back to describes the urgency, and the opportunity, of ushering in a new, more equitable and sustainable economy based on the deployment of the innovative mechanisms of exchange and finance that I have long advocated. We need to ask ourselves what it is that keeps us on the treadmill. We try to get ahead but so often we end up simply standing still or falling farther behind. We are all chasing after that thing that everyone demands from us–money. The problem is that there is never enough money in the right places to fairly distribute the vast amount of wealth that the economy produces. What if we could all stop chasing after money? Money scarcity is an artifact of the interest-based, debt-money regime. Better means of exchange are available; we simply need to organize and use them.

Spanish Edition of The End of Money and the Future of Civilization

I’ve waited ten years for it to happen but I’m delighted to announce that, thanks to the efforts of translator Enric Montesa and publisher Julio Fernández, my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, is now available in Spanish. The Spanish language edition, titled El Fin del Dinero y el Futuro de la Civilización, can be ordered from the publisher, Ediciones Kaicron, at their website, https://www.kaicron.es/tienda/el-fin-del-dinero-y-el-futuro-de-la-civilizacion/.

The book will be introduced and discussed in Madrid this Friday (November 8) during a roundtable session, Money and Sustainability, at the four day event, Biocultura: La Revolución Ecológica (Bioculture: The Ecological Revolution).   

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.