Category Archives: Politics

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

David Stockman on Donald Trump’s Demagoguery—The Dangers And Digressions Of It

David Stockman, who was Budget Director under President Ronal Reagan, makes a great deal of sense in this essay which is about much more than Donald Trump’s “domineering and authoritarian personality” and his scary authoritarian inclinations (he accuses Trump of being and “incipient police statist.)” Stockman also presents facts that belie the justifications for insane government policies like monetization of government debts, the war on drugs, and foreign interventions, as well as the illusions created by the sensationalist media. I recommend reading the entire article but here are a few excerpts.—t.h.g.

Donald Trump’s Demagoguery—–The Dangers And Digressions Of It
By David Stockman

“…both parties are fully onboard, of course, with the massive fraud that has become central bank policy both here and around the world.”

“The Fed has actually purchased $4 trillion of Treasury debt and GSE securities since the year 2000 and funded it with credits conjured from thin air. This has been a monumental act of “something for nothing” economics in which the trillions Congress has wasted on war and peace have been financed with digital money magic.”

“The purported crime and terrorism wave, in fact, is essentially a figment of cable news version of reality TV, and most especially the CNN War Channel and its perennial Black versus Blue &White race narrative. …According to the FBI data there has been an astonishing 50% reduction in the U.S. violent crime rate since the early 1990s.”

And regarding the supposed increase in targeting of police officers by criminals, Stockman points out that, “In fact, the actual rate of intentional, felonious killings per 100,000 officers has been plummeting for decades. During 2014 it was actually 71% lower than the year Ronald Reagan left office.”

“At the end of the day, the overwhelming message of the data is that there is no crime wave nor an eruption of police violence on either the giving or receiving end.” —More

Dump Trump and Hillary, Too

I don’t usually put much energy into partisan politics but comes the time when opportunity knocks and we all must stand up and be counted. That time is now.

The US has been on the road to fascism for a long time. Both Democrats and Republicans have for decades been advancing the same agenda of ceding power to transnational mega-corporations and the global banking cartel. So called “free trade” agreements are simply ways of allowing capital to more freely exploit labor and the environment and forcing governments to guarantee their profits.

Changes in financial regulations, like the repeal of Glass-Steagall under Bill Clinton in 1999, have enabled banking companies to grow to monstrous size (“too big to fail”) and to more easily cheat the clients they are supposed to serve. In this article, James Rickards places the blame for the 2008 financial crisis squarely where it belongs and demolishes the arguments of the big bank apologists: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2012/08/27/repeal-of-glass-steagall-caused-the-financial-crisis.

Many countries are caught in the debt trap and are being forced to sell off government owned assets which further concentrates wealth and control of “the commons.” Those who control the creation and allocation of money are able to control politics, economics and virtually everything else.

When political and financial pressures prove inadequate, the US military is used to bludgeon countries into line with the global financial regime which is the most anti-democratic force in the world today. 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: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. A thorough account of General Clark’s story is told by Glenn Greenwald here: http://www.salon.com/2011/11/26/wes_clark_and_the_neocon_dream/.

Under Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, the Pentagon came up with a new organization–the “Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG) to carry out secret missions designed to “stimulate reactions” among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to “counterattack” by U.S. forces. Those “violent acts” would also be used to justify regime change in countries accused of harboring the terrorists. This article from 2002 clearly described the causes of the mayhem we have seen unfold in the years since then: http://www.counterpunch.org/2002/11/01/rummy-s-plan-to-provoke-terrorist-attacks/. A little research will make it clear that the US and NATO are responsible for the turmoil in Syria and the consequent refugee crisis.

Hillary is clearly in the pocket of the banking/corporate elite and will continue to promote their agenda, just as Obama has. We were sold on Obama with promises of change and the feel-good idea of electing the first black President. Hillary is being sold to us as the non-Trump candidate together with the feel-good idea of electing the first woman President. I’m all for making the oval office accessible to minorities and women but what we have gotten is a lot of broken promises, a continuation of the Clinton-Bush policies, and an escalation of US interventions in other countries and a rekindling of the cold war against Russia.

Trump appeals to people’s fears and outrage over being misled by both parties. He promises what he cannot possibly deliver, while pandering to the religious right with his selection of a running mate whose policy positions seem diametrically opposed to much of what Trump says he is for. That makes his promises as unbelievable as Hillary’s and leads me to wonder if he has even a glimmer of understanding of the geo-political facts of life. I can only conclude that he is a megalomaniac to whom winning is everything.

So, what can we do to stop this madness?

We can continue to bide our time, watch the chaos unfold and hope for the best while waiting for new opportunities to emerge, and working to make our communities better and more resilient in spite of it all.

But maybe we already have an opportunity to make a change at the level of national politics. There is a viable third choice, and it is on the ballot in every one of the 50 States. It is the Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Johnson is a former businessman and Republican governor of New Mexico, and Weld is a former Republican governor of Massachusetts, US Attorney, and head of the Department of Justice Criminal Division. In this short twitter video they make a strong pitch for their progressive social and anti-war agenda. https://mobile.twitter.com/GovGaryJohnson/status/748320273754165249/video/1. It sounds good to me.

This ticket should have broad appeal, especially among Sanders supporters who cannot bring themselves to vote for Hillary and Republicans who cannot bring themselves to vote for Trump. With the Republican Party in disarray and Hillary’s vast unpopularity among voters, this may be the year when a third party candidate can win the White House and upset the pattern of politics as usual.

With virtually no advertising, a recent CNN poll shows Johnson already with 13% support (and the Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 5%), and a CBS/New York Times poll had Johnson at 12 percent. According to the Libertarian Republic, “If Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, polls at least 15 percent in five national public opinion polls before the first presidential debate, he’ll be eligible to appear on the stage with the Democratic and Republican nominees.”

If Libertarians, Greens and all the rest of us who are dissatisfied with the state of politics in America can get behind the Johnson/Weld ticket, we can have the much needed Second American Revolution before this year is out.

Are we the people ready to govern ourselves? The power elite think not; let’s show them that we are.

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America’s yeoman class revolt

Here is a comment I posted in response to an article, Donald Trump and the Ghost of Christopher Lasch: America’s yeoman class revolts, that appears in The American Conservative. –t.h.g.

Yes, there is a yeoman class revolt, but the characterization of the elite as “liberal” is in error. The elite class spans the socio-political spectrum. They have a hidden agenda which they advance by pandering to the sentiments of both social liberals (mainly by Democratic politicians) and social conservatives (mainly by Republican politicians), but both parties have been moving us inexorably toward a “new world order” that is anti-democratic and neo-feudal which concentrates ever more power and wealth in their own hands.

Their primary instrument of control is the global system of money, banking, and finance which they have constructed over a long period of time without any public debate, and with the help of politicians, academic economists, journalists, and others whom they have invited to the table to share the spoils.

Since the debt crisis of 2008, Americans of all classes and ideologies have finally begun to wake up to the facts that the game is rigged against them and that they have been manipulated and exploited by the Wall Street-Washington nexus. The next American revolution will happen when liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, Americans of all religions and races, stop being seduced by “hot-button” rhetoric and come to realize what their common interests are and are able to work in harmony toward the common good

Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

 

What do Trump supporters and Sanders supporters have in common?

It has been said that “all TV is entertainment.” Whether a program is labeled “news” or a “candidates’ debate,” that characterization still applies. Well, the current Presidential campaign has sure been entertaining, with Donald Trump’s bombast and Bernie Sanders’ grandfatherly populism, in contrast to Hillary Clinton’s bland appeal to feminism and her (dubious) record of achievement.

Hillary is clearly the favorite of the establishment, the darling of Goldman Sachs and big corporate business, and the standard bearer for the status quo and continuation of Obama’s policies.

On the Republican side, it seems that no establishment candidate has so far been able to derail the Trump march toward the nomination. The last best hope for them at this point seems to be Ted Cruz. While Cruz has been trying to portray himself as being against the big banks, the fact is that his wife, Heidi, is an investment banker and a longtime employee of Goldman Sachs. Furthermore, his 2012 Senate campaign was financed in part by a sizeable loan from Goldman Sachs. For the details on all of this see John Cassidy’s New Yorker article at http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/ted-cruzs-goldman-sachs-problem.

Despite the evident philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats and the outdated characterization of political sentiments as being either right or left, conservative or liberal, the phenomenon of massive popular support for the two apparent anti-establishment candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sander, reflects a deeper concern that is shared amongst their supporters.

They are sick and tired of politics as usual and the course this country has been on for the past three decades.

They are sick and tired of:

  • Politicians who promise one thing but deliver another.
  • “Political correctness” that interferes with our ability to debate the deeper issues and concerns.
  • The rich getting richer and ever more powerful while the middle class is being destroyed.
  • Big banks that are “too big to fail” yet refuse to provide adequate financing to small local businesses.
  • Legislation that favors big corporations over small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Fiscal policies that reduce taxes on corporations and the rich while forcing states and municipal governments to assume ever greater burdens.
  • Trade agreements that cede power from sovereign governments to transnational corporations thus undermining democratic government, the rights of labor, and environmental protections.
  • A disastrous foreign policy of interference in countries around the world that kills thousands of innocent people and stirs up hornet’s nests of resentment that manifest as massive displacements of people and acts of terror against the U.S. and its European NATO allies.

Can either Trump or Sanders, or anyone else for that matter, remedy any of those concerns from the White House? Given the present political structures and dynamics of power based on the control of money, that seems very unlikely. Reversing the destructive anti-democratic trends will take a massive popular movement, one that makes clear to people what their common interests are, and is able to get them to work in harmony toward common goals.

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Transcendence instead of reform: taking a fresh look at money and its function

Here is  my comment on a recent article titled Krugman’s Craziness that appeared in the New York Sun. –t.h.g.

Very few people today, including prize-winning economists, possess a deep knowledge of the fundamental principles of reciprocal exchange, and most of those who do are committed to maintaining the global interest-based, debt-money regime that enables an elite few to control economies and governments worldwide.

In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown and the ongoing economic crisis, more and more people are waking up to the fact that there is something seriously wrong with our systems of money, banking, and finance, but remain mystified by it and have no idea what to do about it.

Many are calling for reform of the system via the political process, and most reformers want a return to the gold standard and favor a government monopoly over the issuance of money. Clearly, new legislation is needed to reverse the trend toward ever greater centralization of power and concentration of wealth, but such measures have no hope of passing into law so long as the “money power” is able to buy politicians wholesale. Further, since money is a human contrivance that is supposed to facilitate the exchange of value (like goods, services, and various financial claims), people should be free to use whatever payment media they find mutually agreeable. Rather than monopoly of money, either bank-controlled or government-controlled, we need competition in currency. Let us have more freedom, not less.

There are solid precedents that prove the effectiveness of private and community currencies, as well as direct clearing of credits among buyers and sellers, a process that has the potential to make money as we’ve known it obsolete. Private initiative is presently bringing to market new and creative mechanisms of exchange and finance that have the power to bring about economic and financial stability, social harmony and a dignified life for all.

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Curbing the Influence of Big Banks: 3 Reforms proposed by Sanders

Bernie has it right in trying to curb the enormous power of the banking establishment. As I’ve said many times, “Whoever controls the creation of money and the allocation of credit controls everything.” Bernie doesn’t go quite far enough but what he proposes is a good start. A recent article, Curbing the Influence of Big Banks: 3 Reforms proposed by Sanders, by Deena Zaidi outlines the Sanders plan:

  1. Break up the big banks so that no bank is “too big to fail.”
  2. Reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act which for decades prevented “investment banks” from combining with “commercial banks.”
  3. Reducing conflicts of interest at the Fed.

Read the full article here.