Category Archives: Politics

An important new book

Rebuilding after Collapse: Political Structures for Creative Response to the Ecological Crisis

Edited by John Culp

As society grapples with the reality of climate change, many believe that technology will somehow save the planet. As this book argues, that is not enough: larger-scale collaboration, coordination, and funding is needed. Individuals and groups, even with significant personal resources, will not be able to reverse the present course of ecological disaster. What our endangered planet needs is broadly supported community action, which is what happens when people come together and organize for the common good. What we need, in short, is political structures and actions. The essays in this book examine the political structures that have led to our present crisis and offer concrete lessons from the U.S., Japan, Brazil, and Greece, that can, if heeded, bring us back from the brink and toward an ecological civilization.

This book of essays emerged out of some of the presentations that were given at a major conference, Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization. that was organized by Center for Process Studies and held at Pomona College (CA) in June 2015 and attended by more than 1500 people. It includes two of my own essays, Greece and the Global Debt Crisis, and How Private Currencies and Credit Clearing Exchanges Can Help Save Civilization, as well as essays by John Cobb, Ellen Brown, Gayle McLaughlin and several others.

The full list of contents and order form can be found here. The book can also be ordered on Amazon.com

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2019 Spring Newsletter

2019 Spring Newsletter

  • Summer travel plans
  • Announcing Beyond Money Podcast
  • Jubilee
  • Elections 2020
  • Global War Profiteers vs. the People of the United States

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Summer travel plans

My travels last year were quite limited for various reasons. This year I’m planning to spend six weeks in Europe and the UK starting in early May and extending to the middle of June. My first objective is to meet up in London with colleagues who have been working toward organizing a mutual credit clearing network to enable moneyless trading among cooperative businesses and small and medium sized enterprises. I also have plans to meet up with colleagues in Italy, and I am slated to spend the first two weeks of June as a facilitator in residence (FIR) at the Kalikalos holistic summer school at Mt. Pelion in Greece, where I have previously conducted workshops and spent a lot of productive and enjoyable time. At this point I have some unscheduled blocks of time mainly in the latter part of May, which makes possible visits to other places as opportunities arise and the spirit moves me.
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Announcing Beyond Money Podcast

Building upon last year’s interview with executives of the Moxey trade network, Ken Freeman and I have been working together to set up the Beyond Money Podcast website. The site is now live with the first two of what we hope will be a long series of audio interviews with major players who have knowledge and/or experience in some aspect of alternative currencies and exchange systems.

In the premier episode I provide a broad overview of the money and banking system, its history and dysfunctions, and discuss reciprocal exchange alternatives that have emerged and are continuing to develop. The second episode is an interview with educator and social activist Heloisa Primavera, in which she tells about the conditions that led to the rise of the social money movement in Argentina around the turn of the century, its eventual fall, and current efforts to rebuild it.
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Jubilee

I have long argued that the global interest-based debt money regime is dysfunctional, destructive and unsustainable, yet debts in both the private and public sectors continue to explode exponentially along with increasing disparities of incomes and wealth, causing social, economic and financial pressures to continue to build. The need for strong measures and serious restructuring is enormous but the vested interests, fearing their loss of power, are resistant to change.

In his latest book, “…And Forgive Them Their Debts, renowned economist Michael Hudson, reveals that periodic debt forgiveness has been a practice in many cultures going back thousands of years, even predating the Jubilee prescribed in Mosaic Law and described in Old Testament of the Bible. Hudson’s long historical purview is highlighted in the book’s subtitle, “Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year.” He argues that periodic debt forgiveness is a necessity to preserve civilization because of the inevitable imbalances that develop over time. The Financial Times has called this book one of the best economics books of 2018.

I’ve not yet read the book, but I met Hudson more than 30 years ago and have followed his work ever since. There are numerous videos available in which Hudson describes his research findings and prescriptions, including this recent interview by award winning journalist Chris Hedges: On Contact: The history of debt forgiveness.

It is to be expected that such a proposal as debt forgiveness, if acknowledged at all, would be greeted by the mainstream as “radical,” “impractical,” or even “communistic,” but it is not hard to see the necessity of making a periodic reset when it comes to debt. Anyone who has ever played the game, Monopoly, knows that, if played long enough, one player ends up owning everything and all the others end up with debts they cannot pay.

Bankruptcy procedures have long since been established to enable some financial restructuring for individual and corporate debtors. These procedures invariably include the reduction of debts in whole or in part. Debtor prisons have long since been abolished but debt bondage remains in many forms and laws tend to favor creditors and the owners of capital over those whose livelihood depends on their ability to sell their labor in the market.

As conditions build toward the next financial crisis, the powers-that-be will undoubtedly employ ever more desperate measures to hold on to power. An article in SD Bullion outlines the ways we should expect them to react to the eventual crisis.
Here is an excerpt:

 “Writing for the Financial Times in February of 2018, the former head of research for the central bank of central banks (the BIS), William White stated the common sense perspective that, “Governments and international forums need to revisit bankruptcy procedures. Debt that cannot be serviced will not be serviced.

“What Mr. White failed to mention in his somewhat recent op-ed article was that the BIS’ FSB has been writing and enacting new global bank and globally important financial institution bankruptcy laws for years now. 

“Far [too] few people banking in supposed first world nations fully understand the existence nor the potential implications of current Bank Bail-in Laws and other financial emergency provisions which have been enacted in recent years.

“Various financial spillover lock down laws have been put into place since the last great recession in 2008 thoughout the G20 nations (yes the USA is part of the G20).”

The bottom line is that, as always, those least able to afford it will be required to pay the cost of systemic failures. Your “money in the bank” may not be as safe as you think. Now that depositors are “legally treated as unsecured creditors,” the stage is set for partial or total confiscation of depositors’ funds. A global financial reset is inevitable. It can be done intentionally in an orderly fashion, but more than likely, the debt crisis will be left to fester until or the reset happens spontaneously and chaotically. The big question is, when will it occur?
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Elections 2020

For the first time in many years, the people may have a chance to decide who will be a major party candidate for US President. For the past several decades, the “Demopublican” regime has forced voters to choose between two preselected candidates, both of whom can be counted upon to advance the agenda of the elite political establishment. But on the heels of the 2018 midterm election victories of many reform-minded and progressive candidates to Congress, the winds of change are beginning to blow.

In anticipation of the Democrat party primary elections, the field of potential Presidential candidates has exploded. It is extremely important that all voices and all ideas be heard. We must not allow the media to tell us which ideas are workable and which are not, or which candidate is able to win and whjich is not. To that end I am supporting with my small voice and small financial contributions the campaigns of many candidates to assure that they will qualify to participate in the upcoming debates.

The criteria established by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for participating in the Democratic primary debates in June and July are:

  1. Receive at least 1% in 3 polls either nationally or in early states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina) between January 1 and mid-May; or
  2. Receive 65,000 individual donations, including at least 200 from 20 different states

The DNC has also said that the field would be restricted to 20 candidates, so if more than 20 candidates satisfy the criteria above, they would knock out the bottom few.

While a closer look at the details of their various platforms is necessary, and I am not yet ready to endorse any candidate, I like what I’ve been hearing from Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard.

Yang has many ideas that I like. Citing advances in automation and artificial intelligence, Yang, on his website, declares one of his main priorities:

I’m not a career politician—I’m an entrepreneur who understands the economy. It’s clear to me, and to many of the nation’s best job creators, that we need to make an unprecedented change, and we need to make it now. But the establishment isn’t willing to take the necessary bold steps. As president, my first priority will be to implement Universal Basic Income for every American adult over the age of 18: $1,000 a month, no strings attached, paid for by a new tax on the companies benefiting most from automation.

The Yang campaign reports that he has already reached the threshold of 65,000 individual donors more than two months before the May 15th deadline, and they have also raised over $750,000 in the last month.

As for Tulsi Gabbard, this excerpt from her website resonates with my own values:

She is a champion for protecting our environment, ensuring clean water and air for generations to come, investing in infrastructure and a green energy economy, healthcare for all, civil liberties and privacy, support for small businesses, criminal justice reform, sustainable agriculture, breaking up the big banks…and she needs your help!

Regime change wars are bankrupting our country and our moral authority. We need to redirect those resources into a renewable, sustainable economy that works for everyone and bring about an era of peace. We must put service above self and reclaim our great democracy from the forces of hatred and division.

As the 2020 campaign season heats up, it is crucial that we attend to more than just the mainstream media channels. You can find a list of my favorite sources here.
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Global War Profiteers vs. the People of the United States

David DeGraw’s report on the vast extent of corruption in the military-industrial-security complex.

The problem has long been recognized but it’s far worse than we thought. DeGraw’s report quotes President John F. Kennedy, speaking in 1961 about the state secrets privilege:
It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed….If you are awaiting a finding of ‘clear and present danger,’ then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.”

10 Mind-Blowing Pentagon Audit Reports All Americans Need to Know

Key Findings:

1) Record Number of Whistleblowers Retaliated Against & Silenced, As Trillions of Dollars Unaccounted For
2) Department of Defense Inspector General Caught Covering Up Corruption, Altering Audit Reports
3) Intelligence Community Whistleblowers Retaliated Against, Cover-Up Attempts Reported, Key Officials Wrongfully Fired, ‘Honest Inspectors Flee,’ Prominent Insiders Speak Out, ‘There Is No Oversight’
4) C.I.A. Caught Illegally, Unconstitutionally Spying on Congress, Using National Security Classification to Cover-Up Corruption, Routinely Retaliating Against Investigators & Whistleblowers
5) First-Ever Full-Scope Audit Failed, No Congressional Briefing, Accounting Fraud “Legalized”
6) Fixable Pentagon Accounting Problems Ignored, Well-Proven, Long-Established Systemic Failure to Address Known Critical Issues
7) Many Critical Cyber Vulnerabilities Ignored at Pentagon & U.S. Treasury, An Open Invitation For Criminals Worldwide
8) Known Solutions – That Can Save Tens of Billions of Tax Dollars Annually – Not Implemented, As Key Gov Accountability Offices Drastically Underfunded & Understaffed
9) Since 1998, $21 Trillion Unaccounted For, $2.6 Billion in Bribes and 12,727 Government Officials Through Global Military Revolving Door
10) Classifying Corruption: Under the Guise of National Security, U.S. Treasury Looted & Constitution Rendered Null & Void
Conclusion
Download Full Report

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President Donald Trump – the first two years


The American people elected Donald Trump to shake things up, and, for better or for worse that is what he’s been doing. Most of what Trump has done in the first two years of his presidency has been destructive—to the environment, to social justice, to economic equity, and to civil discourse. But whether he knows what he is doing or not, he has been shaking up America’s longstanding foreign policy in a way that I think is positive. The United States, under both major parties, has, since the fall of the Soviet Union, been working to maintain “full spectrum dominance” around the world. It has been bent upon constraining the power and influence of potential rivals like Russia and China, and promoting by both overt and covert means, regime change in numerous countries around the world in hopes of installing puppet regimes that would be subservient to the demands of the “New World Order.”

Trump may very well be a narcissistic “loose cannon,” and his intentions may be purely self-centered and aimed at self-aggrandizement, but many of his foreign policy actions are moving the world in the direction that it needs to go, i.e., towards a multi-polar world order. He is doing this by (1) trying to cooperate and normalize relations with Russia, (2) pressuring Britain and Western European (NATO) allies, thus undermining longstanding alliances, and (3) upsetting prior trade agreements via the imposition of tariffs.

The turmoil in Washington politics has at times been almost comical, as we’ve seen the evident tug of war between a strong-willed President with his own ideas, and the entrenched “deep state” that is controlled by the elite global power establishment. This has been evident in some of the presidential appointments that seem at odds with Trump’s rhetoric, like the appointment of super-hawk and Russophobe, John Bolton as national security advisor.

The appointment of John Kelly, as White House Chief of Staff, was supposed to control Trump, but now Trump has ousted Kelly and named Mick Mulvaney as his temporary replacement. Does that indicate a power shift in Trump’s favor? Or now that the Democrats have taken control of the House, will they be able to tie Trumps hands?

Time will tell.

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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Trump resists pressure from the war mongers; makes friends with Russia

The meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit was encouraging in its length, breadth, and outcomes. The western mainstream media propaganda machine has been relentless in its barrage of allegations, innuendo, and hype against Russia in the elite’s attempt to rekindle the cold war and corral every nation into the global debt-money regime that is their greatest lever of control.

President Trump seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into the works on that, but it  remains to be seen how far his administration will be allowed to get out of line before the rug is pulled out from under him—one way or another. This article by Israel Shamir on the Global Research website provides a thorough account and analysis of the Trump-Putin meeting. And this article by Finian Cunningham about the reaction from the US Deep State, is also worth reading. -t.h.g.

Roberts says raise taxes on corporations’ offshore profits; the FED manipulates all markets, may crash the economy.

Here is another excellent interview of Dr. Paul Craig Roberts in which he outlines the political situation in the U.S, some of the prospects for the Trump administration, limits to Presidential power,  and what would need to be done to rebuild the American economy.

What is Henry Kissinger Up To? — Paul Craig Roberts

This new post by Paul Craig Roberts is the best, most authoritative assessment I’ve seen of the current geopolitical situation and explains how the Trump administration is shaping up to possibly be in opposition to the neoconservative agenda and what Roberts refers to as The “military/security complex.”

He says, “Clearly, the military/security complex and the neoconservatives see Trump and Tillerson as threats, which is why the neoconservatives and the armaments tycoons so strongly opposed Trump and why CIA Director John Brennan made wild and unsupported accusations of Russian interference in the US presidential election.”

Read the entire article here.