Category Archives: My activities

Newsletter—2017 Year-end, and prospects for the coming year

  • New web posts:

            Disruptive Technologies Making Money Obsolete

            Limiting Factors in the Operation of Commercial Trade Exchanges

  • Newly discovered video from 2003 interview, Democratizing Money
  • 2017 recap
  • Thoughts on the state of the world, plus recommended authors, commentators, and sources

 20171230_160838_Burst01

It’s been a long while since my last newsletter. It’s not that I’ve been idle, rather, more preoccupied with other aspects of my life. I’ve been somewhat less motivated to keep my nose to the grindstone, and more inclined toward spending time with friends and family, and recreational pursuits like playing bridge, enjoying the outdoors, and reading good literature. My commitment to societal improvement remains, but I realize that it is necessary to have the proper balance in life in order to be both happy and effective.

Now that 2017 is behind us, we can be hopeful that 2018 will bring better conditions and new opportunities for progress in our work.
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New Web Posts

Broadly speaking, technology is the organization of knowledge, people, and things to accomplish specific practical objectives. It includes processes, practices, techniques and systems as well as things. So what are the disruptive technologies in money and finance? Or is that even the right question to be asking? Is it Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other so-called crypto-currencies? Is it the blockchain, “smart contracts,” “big data,” algorithms?

To find out, watch my 15 minute video, which was extracted and adapted from a longer recording of A World Without Money and Interest: A pathway toward social justice and economic equity, the presentation I  made to the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 10, 2016. It describes how communities and businesses can escape the debt trap and become more resilient and self-reliant? New independent approaches to payment and reciprocal exchange are being deployed which are making conventional money obsolete. It’s not as  complicated as you may think.

You can view the video at either of the following links:

YouTube link: https://youtu.be/ty7APADAa8g

Vimeo link: https://vimeo.com/245661935

Many thanks to Ken Richings for doing all the hard work of editing and preparing the video for publication.

I’ve also posted another excerpt from my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

This one, taken from Chapter 15, Commercial Trade Exchanges—Their Present Limitations and Potential Future, describes the ways in which present practices of commercial trade exchanges are limiting their own growth and development.
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Newly discovered video from 2003 interview, Democratizing Money

A long-time correspondent recently alerted me to a video that was made during my tour of the Pacific Northwest in 2003. It is an interview on Network X, in which the late Jeff Fairhall and I spoke about Democratizing Money. This is still every bit as relevant today as it was back then. You can find it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/l4zVbNig–g.
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2017 recap

Travel in 2017 was minimal, only two trips, one to South Carolina to visit family on the occasion of my granddaughter’s university graduation, and the other to Greece in June/July to conduct my weeklong workshop at Kalikalos Holistic Summer School and to confer with colleagues in Volos and Athens. I’ll not be conducting another formal workshop at Kalikalos next summer but I may spend some time there at the Kissos campus as a Facilitator In Residence (FIR)

During the first part of 2017 and the last two months of 2016, I participated in a cooperative living experiment in Tucson with two friends and colleagues, Susan and Jock. Susan is an author, administrator and grant writer, and Jock is an expert in community living and the founder of Kalikalos. We took a 6 month lease on a house in central Tucson with the intention of working out some alternative possibilities for seniors to age in place in a supportive community, and to take a first step in establishing a learning center that I call the E. C. Riegel Institute for Sustainability and Financial Innovation. With Susan’s expert help, we submitted a couple grant proposals for funding  the Institute but did not manage to get a grant, so by the end of April when our lease expired, the experiment was wrapped up and, as planned, we scattered. Susan moved back east to be closer to her son and daughter, Jock developed some health problems so he chose to move into an assisted living community in Marin county California, and I moved into another shared house in Tucson.

I maintain regular correspondence and collaboration with many in my peer networks but I’m finding it impossible to keep up with all the email I receive, so I’m having to be more selective about what gets answered. Also, there continues to be a steady stream of groups and individuals asking my advice about their ideas for a new economy, community currencies or credit clearing exchanges. As you might imagine, many of those who contact me have only a germ of an idea and little background in the principles of economics, money, finance and exchange. I try to direct them to resources (my own and others’) that are appropriate to where they happen to be on the learning curve, but there are a few who seem better prepared and have demonstrated abilities in related fields that I choose to work with more intensively. It’s hard to assess the ultimate impact of these efforts, and I’m still hoping to connect with social entrepreneurs and funders who are willing to take my advice to create and take to market an exchange system or currency that is sound, credible, effective and scalable, one that can adequately demonstrate the real potential and effective enough to be widely replicated.

In the meantime, I keep trying to improve my communication skills so that people can better understand, not only what is dysfunctional about conventional money, banking and finance, but also the principles and technical details required to realize the great potential of private currencies and moneyless exchange systems. Last year I published the Solar Dollar white paper, and I will soon be publishing another article in which I will try again to clear up the most common misconceptions, and help the next corps of social entrepreneurs to avoid repeating the old recurrent errors.
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Thoughts on the state of the world

2017 has sure been an interesting year geopolitically, with Trump’s tweets, Russiagate, North Korean weapons tests, mass killings, and continuing U.S. interventions in the middle-east and elsewhere,  giving the pundits plenty of material to yack about 24/7. U.S. politics is playing out like a melodramatic farce. The executive branch seems to be a house divided against itself, and the political landscape is undergoing a seismic shift. The Trump presidency has shaken things up and it’s difficult to predict what might happen next. The corporate and banking oligarchs seem to be getting  enough out of Trump to accept (for now) his presence in the White House, but his rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and his coziness with Putin and the Russians must be exasperating to them.

It’s getting ever more difficult to sort out the real facts from the fake news and propaganda. If you get your news solely from the main TV channels, newspapers, and magazines you’re getting only a small part of the big picture and are thereby being misled. For a more complete picture, one needs to study history, listen to whistle blowers, and consult independent authors and commentators, and foreign as well as domestic sources. My current list of  recommended sites and sources is here. It’s up to you to decide what makes sense and what to believe. As one sage told me long ago, “Don’t believe everything you hear, and only half of what you see.” Over the past several months, I’ve posted five segments in a series I call, What in the world is going on? Go to my website, https://beyondmoney.net/, and search on “What in the world” to find them.

Finally, regarding the economy, since the 2008 financial crisis the central banks have been inflating asset bubbles in stocks, bonds, and real estate by their policies of market interventions (quantitative easing) and low interest rates. Now they are making noises about raising interest rates and reducing the size of their balance sheets (by selling securities), but I don’t expect they will be able to go very far with those moves without causing more economic distress. They are more window dressing than real policy shifts. The Republican tax bill which was recently passed into law will, in the short run,  add to that bubble inflation by giving the rich and the corporations additional funds which they will mainly invest, not spend. Corporations, rather than raising wages or building new capacity, will likely use much of the windfall to buy back their own shares. That added demand will keep stocks pumped up for a while longer. But nothing has been done to remedy the flaws that are inherent in the global system of money, banking and finance (MBF), which in fact have been made worse. Another financial crisis is surely on the way and it’s likely to be more severe than the last one, but when it will break is difficult to predict.

Everyone wants to know how to protect their nest egg. My general advice for communities is to convert financial resources into resilient infrastructure that provides a steady stream of necessary goods and services. But what can individuals do? An inflationary depression is the most likely scenario, so keep enough cash on hand to last a couple weeks and hold some liquidity in a credit union account, but invest a major portion of your money in real things that will be useful and hold their value no matter what. For more detailed advice about that you can read my post Survival Strategies for Troubled Times.
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Wishing you peace, love, and joy throughout the coming year,
Tom

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Disruptive Technologies are Making Money Obsolete

Broadly speaking, technology is the organization of knowledge, people, and things to accomplish specific practical objectives. It includes processes, practices, techniques and systems as well as things. So what are the disruptive technologies in money and finance? Or is that even the right question to be asking? Is it Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other so-called crypto-currencies? Is it the blockchain, “smart contracts,” “big data,” algorithms?

To find out, watch this 15 minute video, which was extracted and adapted from a longer recording of the presentation, I  made to the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 10, 2016. It describes how communities and businesses can escape the debt trap and become more resilient and self-reliant? New independent approaches to payment and reciprocal exchange are being deployed which are making conventional money obsolete.

Links to this video:
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/ty7APADAa8g
Vimeo link: https://vimeo.com/245661935

Many thanks to Ken Richings for doing the hard work of editing and preparing the video for publication.

The full Malaysia presentation titled, A World Without Money and Interest: A pathway toward social justice and economic equity, can be found here.

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

2016 Summer Newsletter

 Greece Workshop Report

During the last week of June I conducted a weeklong workshop and colloquium on Innovation in Exchange and Finance at the Alexandros campus of the Kalikalos Holistic Summer School on the beautiful Pelion peninsula overlooking the Aegean Sea in Greece.

I had planned this to be a collaborative, interactive and problem-centered workshop that would bring together skilled and accomplished people to produce significant innovations in the areas of exchange, finance, and economics. We were fortunate in being able to draw together an excellent cohort of participants having diverse knowledge, skills and experience. Nine of these were full-time and several more participated in various parts of the workshop, particularly the June 25-26 weekend when we had a number of Greek participants from Volos and Athens. The Volos contingent shared their experiences over the past four years in creating and operating the Volos TEM trade exchange. It was very useful for all of us to hear about their difficulties and false starts and the lessons they have learned which will be applied as they move forward into the next phase of their project.

In addition to the registered workshop attendees who came from Australia, India, Ireland, Serbia, Sweden, the US and the UK, several Kalikalos staff members participated in some aspects of the workshop. We were disappointed however that one registrant from Saudi Arabia was unable to attend because his entry visa was denied by the Greek government.

Our work sessions were loosely structured to allow space for each person to share not only their questions but also their experiences and insights, and for the spontaneous emergence of ideas action plans. In addition to my presentations of foundational concepts using slide shows and videos, the format included a number of participatory exercises. Participants had opportunities to showcase their ongoing or planned projects and receive feedback from the group, and as is usual in any such gathering, informal discussions and networking were an important part of the experience.

Kalikalos has invited me to return again next year to conduct another similar workshop on monetary and financial innovation. It will be scheduled in the general timeframe of the second week of June (exact dates to be determined soon). My colleague Matthew Slater, one of this year’s participants who has particular expertise in IT, crypto-currencies, has agreed to assist me in that workshop, and over the coming months we will be working to further develop the format and the program.

I am hoping to once again attract participants who are ready, willing and able to put their knowledge and understanding into action. As Malcolm Gladwell points out, it takes mavens, connectors, and marketers working together to make a project successful, but most of all I think it takes entrepreneurs who are able to bring harmony to the mix, to hold the vision and to dedicate themselves fully to its realization.

As the time approaches, we and the Kalikalos team will be asking you to help us get the word out to our target groups— trade exchange operators, social entrepreneurs, local government officials, serious students, and enthusiastic agents of change.

In the face of the ongoing global economic and financial crisis and increasing political uncertainty, the creation and deployment of innovative decentralized mechanisms for reciprocal exchange and equitable finance are becoming ever more urgent and the opportunities have never been greater. We are now on the brink of ushering in a new more just and sustainable economic paradigm that will enable small producers and local enterprises to thrive, and communities to gain more control over their own destiny and quality of life.

Before and after my workshop I spent an additional three weeks at Kalkalos living in community at the Kissos campus. That in itself was an enlightening and enjoyable experience.
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Upcoming presentation – Malaysia

In October I’ll be presenting at the International Forum on Inclusive Wealth (http://www.ifiw.my/) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I’ll be outlining my revolutionary plan for a decentralized global exchange network based on direct control of credit by producers.
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“IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro and apologises for the immolation of Greece“

In a July 29 article in The Telegraph, journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard dissects a recent report by the IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO). He says the report, “goes above the head of the managing director, Christine Lagarde. It answers solely to the board of executive directors, and those from Asia and Latin America are clearly incensed at the way European Union insiders used the fund to rescue their own rich currency union and banking system.”

He concludes that “The injustice is that the cost of the bailouts was switched to ordinary Greek citizens – the least able to support the burden – and it was never acknowledged that the true motive of EU-IMF Troika policy was to protect monetary union. Indeed, the Greeks were repeatedly blamed for failures that stemmed from the policy itself. This unfairness – the root of so much bitterness in Greece – is finally recognised in the report.” Read the full article here.
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Recommended reads and views

Chris Hedges: The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism.

Michael Hudson interview: The new global financial cold war

Basic Income gaining ground:

General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, testifies in this 2-minute video that the US planned to overthrow seven countries after 9/11.

Wishing you a relaxing and enjoyable summer,

Thomas

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

Greetings from Athens

I’m excited to be back in Greece and reconnecting with my colleagues here. The mood here seems to be more subdued as the people try to cope with asset privatization, wage and pension cuts, higher taxes and other conditions imposed from outside. I’m told that mortgage foreclosures will begin soon, which may trigger some popular reaction. The metro workers in Athens have announced they will be striking for several hours each day over the next few days. Fortunately the hours of service disruption have been posted so one is able to plan accordingly.

All of this underlines the urgency of designing and implementing systems that are capable of devolving power to the national, community, and personal levels. For me, the most effective strategy seems to be reclaiming the “credit commons”. That is what we will be working on during my workshop on innovation in exchange and finance from 24 June thru 1 July, 2016 at Kalikalos Holistic summer school near Volos, Greece.

Space is still available if you would like to participate. Details about the course, fees, and booking are at http://www.kalikalos.org/exchange-finance. Don’t let finances stop you; we will be able to offer a limited amount of bursaries (Please write an application to our team rachaeldavson@gmail.com).

Special arrangements for Greek participants provide them (1) a discount of 33% on the full course, or (2) for those who can participate only on the weekend of 25/26 June, an invitation to do so on the basis of a free will offering.

This will be 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 the 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.

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Newsletter—Spring 2016

Upcoming AgendaIMG_5014

Europe. I’ve booked my flight to Europe. I’ll be landing in Milan, Italy on 31 May, will remain there for 2 or 3 days, then travel onward to Athens, Volos, and Pelion.

As I mentioned in my January newsletter, I will be conducting a weeklong course in innovative finance, exchange, and economics from 24 June thru 1 July at the Alexandros campus of the Kaliklos Holistic Summer School. This collaborative and problem-centered course titled, Exchange and Finance for the New Economy: Principles and Practice, is intended to stimulate the development and deployment of community currencies, moneyless exchange system, and equitable finance, and is designed especially for social entrepreneurs, enthusiastic agents of change, government officials, and serious students who are ready to co-create a new sustainable and convivial economy from the bottom up. Besides learning and co-creation, courses at Kalikalos also provide participants with opportunities for community building, personal growth, and recreation.

I am excited to be returning again this year to Greece and to be working with course participants to achieve some truly revolutionary outcomes. We’d be pleased to have you join us.

Details about the course, fees, and booking are at http://www.kalikalos.org/exchange-finance. One or two bursaries may be available to qualified low income participants.

Greek participants are being offered (1) a discount of 33% on the full course, or (2) for those who are able to participate only on the weekend of 25/26 June, an invitation to do so on the basis of a free will offering.

Malaysia. I’ve accepted an invitation to speak in October at the International Forum on Inclusive Wealth (http://www.ifiw.my/) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The subject of my presentation will be a revolutionary plan for the creation of a global exchange network based on locally controlled credit clearing exchanges. This will be an elaboration of ideas I first laid out in a chapter of my 2009 book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

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The Panama Papers: The secrets of dirty money

The rich and powerful have for a very long time used shell companies and secret numbered bank accounts in tax haven countries to not only avoid taxes, but to hide their gains from illegal and immoral activities. Now, thanks to yet another courageous whistleblower, the general public is getting a glimpse into this world of hidden wealth and malfeasance.

The so-called Panama Papers that have recently been disclosed by the media were first delivered by an anonymous whistleblower about a year ago. Since then additional documents have been provided and the trove of data now consists of 11.5 million documents that total 2.6 terabytes of digital files. This leak is said to be a bigger bombshell than even Edward Snowden’s revelations of U.S. government’s spying on citizens and allies.

It will take a long time to sift through all that material but a few startling revelations have recently been made. I have to wonder though, why it has taken so long for any of the contents to be reported in the mainstream media, and why the initial focus has been on Russia, Iceland, and FIFA? Why have we not heard about names of any Americans turning up in these documents? Surely we have more than our share of crooks in the USA, the greatest of all tax havens. MSNBC has something to say about that, which you might want to read. I wonder, might something in these documents have implications for the 2016 Presidential election? Hey, you journalists, let’s get cracking on that.

If you wish to dig deeper into this matter, a good place to start is on the website of Süddeutsche Zeitung, http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/en/.

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Geopolitics—Why was Qaddafi murdered?

The US-NATO attacks on Libya and the overthrow of its government is by now old news, but very few people are aware of the real reasons behind the intervention. Ellen Brown, in a recent article, Exposing the Libyan Agenda: A Closer Look at Hillary’s Email, has done a good job of exposing the real agenda in Libya, and to the rest of the world for that matter. She concludes, “violent intervention was not chiefly about the security of the people. It was about the security of global banking, money and oil.” The fact is that anyone who is perceived to be a threat to the dominance of the global money and banking regime will be ridiculed, discredited, or eliminated.

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Living in Community

As I grow old(er) I’m feeling the need to be a bit more settled than I’ve been in recent years. Although I’m in pretty good health and still independent, my nomadic lifestyle is becoming more difficult. I’m seeking to connect with others of like mind to invent new ways of aging together and supporting each others’ independence and whatever good work we still hope to accomplish. To that end I recently posted an ad on the Fellowship for Intentional Communities website. Here’s what I said:

We are seeking to organize a group of independent seniors (and maybe a younger or two) who are still actively engaged and working in various ways to make a better world. We don’t like, or cannot afford retirement homes. We think a better way is to cooperate and share in a cooperative household where we can have the privacy we need while working together and providing each other with companionship and support.

The community might be located anywhere but our focus right now is on Tucson and southern Arizona which offers a delightful climate, a relatively low cost of living, and all the amenities that one might desire. Large houses in this area can be leased for quite reasonable rents.

If you have any interest, please let me know at thgreco@mindspring.com.

Spring flowers and fragrant blossoms refresh my spirit, I hope they do the same for you,

Thomas