Category Archives: Implementation Strategies

Thanksgiving Newsletter 2018

In the United States, the fourth Thursday in November is designated as Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday. Days of thanksgiving were variously celebrated in the colonies from very early times, but the national holiday we celebrate today was proclaimed in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, by President Abraham Lincoln. It is fitting that we take time to remember the many blessings that each of us enjoys, even in the most dire circumstances.

What we consistently fail to do is to recognize the misery that our actions may be causing for others. While individually, the way we live our lives may be exemplary, our collective circumstances often derive from less than benevolent actions take on our behalf by political and economic leaders. One need not look very deeply to see the absurdity of the present world order that is based on perpetual war and struggles for dominance among national and supra-national elites. When one considers the marvelous technological advances and the vast amounts of material wealth that humans have been able to produce, it is clear that no one in this world should need to live in squalor. Yet, vast numbers of our brothers and sisters around the world lack the barest necessities to live a dignified life, much less the resources needed to realize their full potential. Still others are being terrorized, bombed, detained and persecuted through no fault of their own.

The hard question for me is, “How am I complicit in all of this, and what can I do about it?”

While driving in my car I often have the radio tuned to the local NPR station. A couple of days ago I happened to hear an episode (Ep. 356) of the popular Freakonomics program, this one titled, America’s Hidden Duopoly. The discussion was about the American two-party political system, which is in essence a duopoly of political power. Many Americans have long lamented the fact that they are often required to make a choice between “the lesser of two evils.” Third parties come and go by none has ever gained enough support to offer anything but “a wasted vote.”

Is there some other way in which the problem can be addressed? One initiative mentioned in the interview that seems to hold some promise is Unite America. Their motto is Country Over Party and their focus is on “building a movement to elect common-sense, independent candidates to office who can represent We, the People – not the party bosses or special interests.” The way they propose to achieve that is through their “Fulcrum Strategy,” that is “focused on electing independent candidates to narrowly divided legislatures, like the US Senate, where they can deny both parties an outright majority and use their enormous leverage to forge common ground solutions.” The argue that it would take only 4 or 5 independent Senators to swing the balance of power.

Hmmm, that itself is a tall order, but it just might work. Another initiative that looks promising is World Beyond War.
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David Brooks is a familiar figure on the PBS News Hour, where he has for years been providing political commentary alongside Mark Shields. I can’t say that I’ve been all that impressed with him, but after a friend referred me to a presentation he gave at the 2018 Pacific Summit earlier this year I came away with a different opinion. I find Brooks much more impressive and insightful as a social philosopher and historian. He articulately and entertainingly provides an assessment of our present sociopolitical predicament. I recommend that you can view that presentation on YouTube.

Still, I have a little different take on the situation, something that no one else seems to be seeing. Arnold Toynbee is quoted as having said, “Civilizations start to decay when they lose their moral fiber and the cultural elite turns parasitic.” That is the situation we find ourselves in today. Our political leadership has let us down. When the power elite works to dominate and exploit us, when they can no longer be trusted to tell us the truth,  when they fail to act on behalf of peace and the common good, what is there but to revert to tribal identities and find common cause with those whom we know and trust? While pundits and politicos decry the rise of “populism,” I see it as a natural response to the failure of the power elite. Populist actions are not always tainted by racism, sexism, and scapegoating. We need to rebuild society from the bottom up, starting with the people around us, then branching out to form alliances and coalitions. But if we are to end up with something better than what we wish to replace, our actions need to be open-hearted and beneficent. With good will toward all, perhaps it is possible to have a populist revolution that is peaceful and advances the causes of social justice, economic equity, individual liberty and human unity.
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The American Economy Is Rigged

In a recent article, Joseph E. Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank, argues that the American economy is rigged and outlines a few things that we can do about it.

Stiglitz begins his article by saying:
“Americans are used to thinking that their nation is special. In many ways, it is: the U.S. has by far the most Nobel Prize winners, the largest defense expenditures (almost equal to the next 10 or so countries put together) and the most billionaires (twice as many as China, the closest competitor). But some examples of American Exceptionalism should not make us proud. By most accounts, the U.S. has the highest level of economic inequality among developed countries. It has the world’s greatest per capita health expenditures yet the lowest life expectancy among comparable countries. It is also one of a few developed countries jostling for the dubious distinction of having the lowest measures of equality of opportunity.”

 

 

He then explains how economic inequality and political inequality are mutually reinforcing, each growing in response to growth in the other. When the super-rich are able to make the rules, they can rig the game to become ever richer. He concedes that “There is no magic bullet to remedy a problem as deep-rooted as America’s inequality. Its origins are largely political, so it is hard to imagine meaningful change without a concerted effort to take money out of politics.”

Stiglitz outlines a number of measures that could achieve that but all of them require legislative action. That seems like a “catch 22.” If the political machinery is so thoroughly in the hands of the economic and political elite, how is it possible to use the political process the change the status quo? I have long argued that, in view of that political reality, the only viable strategy is to design and deploy  innovative monetary and financial systems that enable us reclaim “the credit commons.” By decentralizing the control of credit, it is possible to reduce our dependence upon bank borrowing and political forms of money. This is not so far-fetched as it might first appear. For details of how it can be, and is being done, see my article, Confronting the power elite.

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Thomas Greco’s 2017 Summer Workshop in Greece

Following last summer’s exciting and successful workshop in Greece, Thomas Greco will again this summer be conducting a workshop in Monetary and Financial Innovation for the New Economy at the Alexandros campus of the Kalikalos Holistic Summer School on the beautiful Pelion peninsula in Greece.

[Edit:During the 2017  workshop Tom will again have the assistance of Matthew Slater and the benefit of a guest appearance by Prof. Jem Bendell of Cumbria University (UK).]

View southward from Alexandros

In this week-long workshop we will examine the problems and deficiencies of both conventional money and local currencies and exchange systems, and delve into the principles and practices of innovative exchange and finance.

Over the past three decades, a great many complementary currencies and exchange schemes have sprung up, gained some degree of acceptance and notoriety, then faded away. This workshop will focus in on the reasons why none of them has become a significant factor in their community economies, and uncover the principles of design and implementation that need to be applied to make exchange alternatives more effective, robust, and scalable. It will also cover new ways of providing entrepreneurs with the resources needed to bring their ideas to fruition and achieve success in the marketplace.

Alexandros Center

Alexandros Center

This course is designed especially for social entrepreneurs, government officials, enthusiastic agents of change, and serious students who are ready to co-create a new sustainable and convivial economy from the bottom up. In this highly participatory workshop, we will use a combination of presentations, discussion groups (some on the beach), videos, and simulation games, to dive deeply into the process of exploring and developing innovative methods of finance, exchange, and value measurement. Participants will have the opportunity to showcase their projects and ideas and receive feedback from the group.

Here is an opportunity to work with one of the world’s leading experts in innovative economics, finance, and exchange, and to collaborate with like-minded peers to create a new economy that works for everyone, while enjoying a delightful summer holiday on the magical Pelion peninsula. Come join us in a process of inquiry, discovery, sharing and collaboration.

The workshop will run from 16 to 23 June, 2017. Space is limited so register early at http://www.kalikalos.com/community/x/exchange-finance-new-economy-thomas-greco/.

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 All the perplexities, confusions and distresses in America arise not from defects in the Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, as much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation. –John Adams, second president of the United States.

Just as the political monetary system trends power toward the state, so the system based on true money will release the natural forces that trend society toward private initiative, enterprise and democracy. Pending this fundamental reversal, all resistance to statism is futile. As long as the only available monetary system is political, exchange, that process by which the social order functions, will never accomplish its natural purpose, the development of prosperity and freedom.– E.C. Riegel, Flight From Inflation

Final Workshop Announcement—Innovative Finance and Exchange

Society is Exchange! – Frederic Bastiat.

All the perplexities, confusions and distresses in America arise not from defects in the Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, as much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.
– President John Adams, from a letter to Thomas Jefferson (1787-08-25), in The Works of John Adams

As the time grows near I want to remind everyone that my workshop on innovative finance and exchange is set to begin in about 10 days time at Kalikalos Holistic Summer School in Greece (http://www.kalikalos.org/exchange-finance). It will start on the evening of 24 June and conclude on the morning of 1 July.

While it is described as a “course,” the format will be that of a workshop/colloquium in which everyone plays an active role in an intensive process of inquiry, discovery, sharing and collaboration aimed at:
1. achieving a deeper understanding of sound principles of credit, finance, and the exchange process, and,
2 developing action plans for the design and implementation of robust systems that can be widely proliferated and quickly scaled up to global dimensions.
3. assembling a knowledge base that can provide guidance to others on the same path toward achieving more equitable and sustainable economic structures.

There is still space available for those who feel moved to participate.
Details about the course, fees, and booking are at http://www.kalikalos.org/exchange-finance.
Some of the areas that we will explore include:

  • The essence, function, and forms of money
  • The concepts of currency, credit, credit clearing, liquidity, monetization, and basis of issue
  • Various models of private currencies and moneyless exchange
  • Value measurement and units of account
  • Exchange networks and inter-trading

Don’t let finances stop you as will be able to offer a limited amount of bursaries. Please write an application for that to our team at rachaeldavson@gmail.com.

We offer Greek participants who take part in the week-long workshop a discount of 30%.
The weekend Saturday, 25 and Sunday 26 is being offered to Greeks on a Gift Economy basis which means that you offer what you are able to give. If you want to participate on these terms please send a mail to: rachaeldavson@gmail.com.

I look forward to working with you.  –Thomas

Greenbacks, monetary reform, or revolutionary innovation?

I have long argued that the likelihood of getting government to do anything “good” about the money problem is near zero because the controllers of the present monetary regime are able to buy the kind of government they want that will keep in place the system that enables them to consolidate their power and increase their wealth.

Even if your proposal to restore the Greenback could be legislated into actuality it would only be a stop-gap measure and there would be negative side-effects. FDR ameliorated the 1930s crisis in a somewhat similar way and managed to get some progressive legislation passed, and WWII provided the war-bondsexcuse for massive government deficit spending (along with rationing and “bond drives” to control consumer demand).
Massive increases in productivity enabled a flood of consumer goods to enter the market after the war, and people had the money to buy them.

But in today’s world the old tricks will not be sufficient. We need a totally new system of money, banking and finance, one that is decentralized and interest-free. This will emerge by the design and deployment of relatively small credit clearing exchanges in which it is possible to build trust through personal relationships (verified identity and reputation of all parties, along with organizational transparency), and to allocate credit to members based on that and the market value of their output. At the same time, these credit clearing exchanges can be networked together to enable non-monetary payment on a global basis–a payment system that I describe as “locally based but globally useful.”

We will have an “exchange revolution” that is analogous to the IT revolution. Our micro-computers were initially isolated and had limited capabilities; now we have tremendous power right at out fingertips to do many useful things, and our local devices are linked through the internet giving us unprecedented access to each other almost anywhere and anytime, and almost unlimited amounts of information on most any subject.

Realization of this vision is close at hand.–t.h.g.

Thomas H. Greco interviewed on Bartertown Radio

My December 13 interview by Bob Prentice and Sandra Harshman on Bartertown Radio considered moneyless trading in general then zeroed in on what needs to be done to take credit clearing and private currencies to scale. To stream it or download it, click here.

Living the New Economy. Thomas H. Greco to speak at October conference

Living the New Economy is a major event slated for Oakland, California October 23-26.

LNE Oakland is designed to be different from any event you’ve attended before. Drawing inspiration from hackathons, conferences, networking events, festivals, and jams, the result is a unique event that has components of each. More than a conference, this is a convergence.

The first two days will be provide opportunities for you to “hear about thriving New Economy projects, identify gaps and opportunities, and find out how you can plug into the New Economy on a personal level.” During the second two days the New Economy principles will be explored and “participants will collaborate in teams to develop a business idea, program, art project, or anything that supports the transition to a New Economy.”

I am one of several speakers who will be presenting at the conference. Program and other details can be found at the conference website.

Get tickets NOW to receive substantial early bird discounts available until August 15. Register and get tickets here.

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Revolutionary aid project set to spread in Kenya

On the heels of the successful Bangla-Pesa community currency project, the NGO, Koru Kenya has been asked by the government to create similar programs in other poor neighborhoods around Nairobi and Mumbasa. Unfortunately, no significant funding is being provided by the government, so private contributions are being solicited through a Crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo: Fight Poverty in Africa by Redefining Community Development.

This is a revolutionary approach to aid, one that empowers people to sustainably provide for their own needs. I strongly endorse this project and encourage all to make a financial contribution. Even small amounts can make a big difference. –t.h.g.