Category Archives: The state of democracy

Fake News, Fake Money, How to Tell the Difference

Why is it so hard these days to tell fact from fiction? Who can be trusted to tell us what’s really going on? Can the New York Times and Washington Post still be believed? And what about money? Can we still trust the dollar, the euro, the pound sterling? What supports national currencies, anyway? Is this Bitcoin thing real or fake money, and should I buy some?

Here’s a compelling presentation by Andreas Antonopoulos, that addresses all of these questions. Antonopoulos is a technologist and entrepreneur and probably the most knowledgeable and insightful expert on bitcoin, blockchain technology and the profound changes that lie just ahead.


Here’s the YouTube link:

Now take a deep dive into the political realities of our time by watching this presentation by CIA officer Kevin Shipp, in which he exposes the Shadow Government and the Deep State. If you question his credibility here is a brief bio from Information Clearing House:

Kevin Shipp, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, intelligence and counter terrorism expert, held several high-level positions in the CIA. His assignments included protective agent for the Director of the CIA, counterintelligence investigator searching for moles inside the CIA, overseas counter terrorism operations officer, internal security investigator, assistant team leader for the antiterrorism tactical assault team, chief of training for the CIA federal police force and polygraph examiner. Mr. Shipp was the senior program manager for the Department of State, Diplomatic Security, Anti-Terrorism Assistance global police training program. He is the recipient of two CIA Meritorious Unit Citations, three Exceptional Performance Awards and a Medallion for high risk overseas operations. Website/book:

Here’s the YouTube link:


The Post–Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

Yesterday, I had occasion to watch Stephen Spielberg’s latest film, The Post, which tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the top secret government documents that came to be known as the “Pentagon Papers.” The film does a fine job of portraying an episode in history that everyone needs to know about and understand. These leaked documents, which Ellsberg hoped would help end the Vietnam war, formed the basis for a series of articles that were published by the New York Times and the Washington Post. A major point that the film brings out is the fact the Vietnam war was perpetuated over several administrations because no President wanted to admit that the war was unwinnable (not to mention, unjust). As a consequence, the lives of tens of thousands of American servicemen and untold numbers of Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians were sacrificed for no good reason.

Here is an NPR interview with Ellsberg originally broadcast Dec. 4, 2017:

I’m pretty sure that no mainstream media outlet today would likely be willing to do what the Times and the Post did back then, and I wonder how long it will be before the independent internet channels are also taken over or censored out of existence.

Greater government openness and transparency are essential to ending the war economy and the culture of war, but that will not occur until we the people empower ourselves enough to force politicians to bring it about. We need a strategy that can effect a power shift toward popular control, and I believe the most promising approach for achieving that is to decentralize control of credit-based exchange media. Private and community currencies, and credit clearing networks can circumvent political currencies and bank-created debt money. We’re running out of wiggle room so we had better not waste any time in deploying them.

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And while we’re on the subject of the Vietnam war, here’s a pertinent documentary that tells about another important aspect of the anti-war movement.

“In the 1960’s an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history. This sir-no-sirmovement didn’t take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in army stockades, navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services. Yet today few people know about the GI movement against the war in Vietnam.”


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


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.
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:

Vimeo link:

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.
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–g.
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.
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,, 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.

Wishing you peace, love, and joy throughout the coming year,

American Made

How do you take a tragic story about deception, malfeasance, and betrayal at the highest levels of American government and turn it into a farcical comedy? Remarkably, that is precisely what has been achieved in the just released movie, American Made, starring Tom Cruise as Barry Seal. The tag line in the movie publicity says this film is “based on a true lie.” In reality, it’s about the mountain of lies that became known as the Iran-Contra affair, and shows it in a way perhaps that far surpasses what could have been achieved in a dry documentary. As one old enough to remember those times and at least the superficial reports of those events, I came away with an even more cynical regard for the myth of the United States government as the champion of decency and democracy.
See it as expose’ or see it as entertainment, but see it!




What in the world is going on? —part 5. Chris Hedges reports on Russia-gate, media credibility and more.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and former New York Times correspondent, Chris Hedges, is, to me, a credible source for real news. In a recent interview he had much to say that gives a clearer picture of the present state of geo-politics, the media, and the global problematique.

About Russia’s swinging the U.S. Presidential election toward Trump, he says, “it’s as ridiculous as Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. It is an absolutely unproven allegation that is used to perpetuate a very frightening accusation—critics of corporate capitalism and imperialism are foreign agents for Russia.”

This obsession with Russia is a tactic used by the ruling elite, and in particular the Democratic Party, to avoid facing a very unpleasant reality: that their unpopularity is the outcome of their policies of deindustrialization and the assault against working men and women and poor people of color. It is the result of disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA that abolished good-paying union jobs and shipped them to places like Mexico, where workers without benefits are paid $3.00 an hour. It is the result of the explosion of a system of mass incarceration, begun by Bill Clinton with the 1994 omnibus crime bill, and the tripling and quadrupling of prison sentences. It is the result of the slashing of basic government services, including, of course, welfare, that Clinton gutted; deregulation, a decaying infrastructure, including public schools, and the de facto tax boycott by corporations. It is the result of the transformation of the country into an oligarchy. The nativist revolt on the right, and the aborted insurgency within the Democratic Party, makes sense when you see what they have done to the country.”

Hedges, himself a correspondent for New York Times from 1990 to 2005, offers a scathing critique of the paper, saying, “Critical thinking on the op-ed page, the Week in Review or the Book Review, never very strong to begin with, evaporated under Keller. Globalization was beyond questioning. Since the Times, like all elite institutions, is a hermetically sealed echo chamber, they do not realize how irrelevant they are becoming, or how ridiculous they look. Thomas Friedman and David Brooks might as well write for the Onion.

He then adds, “The rules aren’t written on the walls, but everyone knows, even if they do not articulate it, the paper’s unofficial motto: Do not significantly alienate those upon whom we depend for money and access! You can push against them some of the time. But if you are a serious reporter, like Charlie Leduff, or Sydney Schanberg, who wants to give a voice to people who don’t have a voice, to address issues of race, class, capitalist exploitation or the crimes of empire, you very swiftly become a management problem and get pushed out.”

Hedges is equally critical of the broadcast media. He says, “The commercial broadcast networks, and that includes CNN and MSNBC, are not in the business of journalism. They hardly do any. Their celebrity correspondents are courtiers to the elite. They speculate about and amplify court gossip, which is all the accusations about Russia, and they repeat what they are told to repeat. They sacrifice journalism and truth for ratings and profit. These cable news shows are one of many revenue streams in a corporate structure. They compete against other revenue streams. The head of CNN, Jeff Zucker, who helped create the fictional persona of Donald Trump on “Celebrity Apprentice,” has turned politics on CNN into a 24-hour reality show. All nuance, ambiguity, meaning and depth, along with verifiable fact, are sacrificed for salacious entertainment. Lying, racism, bigotry and conspiracy theories are given platforms and considered newsworthy, often espoused by people whose sole quality is that they are unhinged. It is news as burlesque.

Of special significance is Hedges’ description of coverage of the Iraq war: “I was on the investigative team at the New York Times during the lead-up to the Iraq War. I was based in Paris and covered Al Qaeda in Europe and the Middle East. Lewis Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle and maybe somebody in an intelligence agency, would confirm whatever story the administration was attempting to pitch. Journalistic rules at the Times say you can’t go with a one-source story. But if you have three or four supposedly independent sources confirming the same narrative, then you can go with it, which is how they did it. The paper did not break any rules taught at Columbia journalism school, but everything they wrote was a lie.”

Read the entire interview here. Hedges is a regular contributor to Truthdig.

The decay of western civilization

One of my correspondents, Irish financial advisor Christopher Quigley, recently sent me a link to his article, Civilizations Die by Suicide Not by Murder. In that article, he mentions famed historian Arnold Toynbee’s monumental work, A Study of History which describes the rise and fall of 23 civilizations throughout human history. Toynbee concluded from his study that, “civilizations start to decay when they lose their moral fiber and the cultural elite turns parasitic.” That certainly rings true for our present world—the banking and corporate elite and their political minions have clearly turned parasitic, putting power and profit above all else.

Then by some strange coincidence I happened to notice a few days ago a book on display at my public library.  The book is, The Lost City of the Monkey God, by Douglas J. Preston, which tells the story of the search for a legendary city that was supposed to have existed several hundred years ago in the eastern part of Honduras in Central America. It is a true adventure story that reads like fiction. Preston was part of a team that went looking for, and by using some highly advanced technology, ultimately found, not only a city, but extensive remnants of a lost civilization, one that appears to be distinct from the Mayan and others of the region that are well known.

In one chapter, Preston speaks more generally about the civilizations that existed in that region and tells of the decline around AD 650 of the Mayan city of Copan. He says,

“This happened even as the ruling classes apparently swelled in size over succeeding generations…in what archaeologists call the ‘increasingly parasitic role of the elite.’  (We see the same process today in the gross expansion of the Saudi royal family into no fewer than fifteen thousand princes and princesses.) This proliferation may have triggered the vicious internecine warfare and killing among the elite.”

He goes on to say, “The commoners were willing to support the privileged class as long as they kept up their end of the bargain with effective rituals.”

What does that suggest for western civilization today? Who are those that comprise our privileged class, and what is the nature of the bargain between them and the “commoners?” I leave it to the reader to ponder those questions, but I would suggest that the bargain must at least include assurances of social justice, basic human rights, and access to a fair share of our natural and cultural heritage. But however one might define that bargain, political developments around the world in recent years seem to indicate that increasing numbers of people are feeling let down by their leaders.

Are we then doomed? Will western civilization continue to  decay and collapse to be followed by another dark age?

I think it is not “we” who are doomed, it is the global interest-based debt-money regime that sits at the pinnacle of the power pyramid, and the American imperial hegemony that are doomed. How long the collapse will take, how much pain and suffering will it cause, how can the present dysfunctional systems be displaced? These are all open questions. The optimist in me sees the peaceful emergence of a multi-polar political order and a sustainable and equitable global economy based on the devolution of power and new exchange and financing mechanisms that are interest-free, cooperative, and grounded in a spirit of compassion and mutual aid. –t.h.g.

Edit: This article from the BBC provides an excellent elaboration on the topic of this post: How Western Civilization Could Collapse.

What in the world is going on? — Part 3

George Friedman, professional geopolitical analyst, founder of STRATFOR and author of The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century seems quite knowledgeable about history and the current status of military and economic power around the world.  In the following presentation he talks about U.S. strategy over the past 100 years and “the real interests of the United States.” He argues that the powers that control U.S. foreign policy have one overriding fear, which is “a united Eurasia”–“Our primary interest is to make sure that Russia and Germany do not form an entente,” neither by conquest nor agreement.

He observes that “Eurasia is now in complete chaos,” Russia and China are both weakening, and that Japan, Turkey, Poland are on the rise. He admits that “We staged the coup in Ukraine.” Regarding the Middle-East, he says “it will come down to Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to work it out.”

He believes (or claims to) that the U.S. intervention in Libya was ethically motivated, but I find that hard to believe. The evidence of the past century of U.S. interventions around the world shows quite clearly that ethical and humanitarian motivations provide mere cover for quite different  objectives. In the case of Libya, I believe that the attacks by the U.S. and NATO forces, and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, had more to do with keeping Libya within the global debt money regime than with rescuing the Libyan people from the clutches of a “brutal dictator.”–t.h.g.