Painting a (false?) picture by the numbers

During my academic career my primary teaching duty was to provide my students with an understanding of Liesthe use of statistics to draw conclusions about the real world, and how to avoid the common pitfalls that lead to error. In connection with that I would remind them of an old saying of uncertain origin but often attributed to Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Here’s a case in point.

A report in the January 1 edition of the Arizona Daily Star (page B1) is headlined, “Longtime Nogales migrant shelter director Juan Francisco Louriero dies from COVID.” But, it is not until paragraph 6 that the reader learns the true story. It reads, “At 76, Louriero was already in fragile health. He lived with diabetes and kidney failure,” then goes on to say, “The COVID-19 pandemic hit the city of Nogales particularly hard, so his family took precautions, limiting his exposure and using face masks and sanitizer whenever they left their home.” The article reports that Louriero started feeling ill on December 12, went to the hospital the next day, was intubated two days after that, and died on December 18.

There are a number of troubling things about this report, besides some important unanswered questions. First is the headline. Is it fair to say that Mr. Louriero died from COVID rather than from diabetes and/or kidney failure? Was he actually tested for covid or was he one of the “presumed” cases? Even if he did test positive for covid, might that have been one of the many false positives associated with the test, and can covid honestly be considered to be the cause of death? In his reported condition it is likely that any additional stressor, even the common cold, could have pushed Mr. Louriero over the edge. Would the headline then have read, “Louriero dies from common cold?”

Furthermore, is it possible that intubation might have been the proximate cause of his demise? Serious questions have been raised about the possible harm resulting from the use of ventilators (intubation) on critically ill patients, especially those with covid. An article in the April 16, 2020 issue of Time Magazine explains Why Ventilators May Not Be Working as Well for COVID-19 Patients as Doctors Hoped.  An article in the journal STAT, says, “New Analysis recommends less reliance on ventilators to treat coronavirus patients,” and cites a report by the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene which concludes that “by using ventilators more sparingly on Covid-19 patients, physicians could reduce the more than 50% death rate for those put on the machines.” (The Time article puts the death rate of covid patients on ventilators even higher, up to 80%, “based in numbers out of China and New York City”).

It appears that the Star article is one more instance of the mainstream media using misleading headlines and hyping the threat which Covid-19 allegedly poses. There is plenty of evidence to show that this “pandemic” has been seized upon as an opportunity to advance a deeper agenda that has more to do with politics and social control than with public health. And any article or video, even those posted by highly qualified people, that questions the official covid narrative is quickly suppressed or taken down. Science and democracy both depend upon transparency and open debate but the concentration of power over information channels has given the few great power to censor the many.

This is a critical time in the evolution of civilization. There is as much disinformation emanating from the mainstream as there is from the fringes. It is up to people themselves to re-calibrate their BS detectors and make up their own minds.

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Sovereign or Slave? How perversion of the money power has decided the issue—until now!

As I indicated in my previous post, No democracy when government has the money power, E. C. Riegel, more than 75 years ago, explained, better than anyone else I’ve encountered, the nature of money, its fundamental function, and the history and consequences of its politicization, and outlined a way of transcending the perverse and dysfunctional system that we have lived under for far too long. His work is perhaps best summarized in his book, Private Enterprise Money, from which I quoted. I continue here with further quotes that elucidate the key points of sovereignty, money and government.

Riegel’s solution involved the organization of credit clearing circles that he called “Valun Exchanges” that would be joined together in networks for exchanging goods and services. He argues, as I do, that it is the individual person that is sovereign, not any king, emperor or government, and that the power to issue money, therefore, also resides in the individual. When we realize that money is really only short-term credit, it becomes clear that it is in our power as individuals to give it or withhold it as we go about our daily business of exchanging the value (goods and services) we produce and consume.

In Chapter 9 of his book, Riegel proposes that the Valun Exchanges be organized on a “state-wise” basis. He observes that:  “The sovereign power of the citizen rises to the state government; and from there it is delegated upward to the federal government, and downward to subdivisions. We are, first of all, citizens of our respective states; and this implies citizenship also in local and national governments.” p. 139

He then recounts the history of the union of the American colonies after their separation from British rule and argues that: “The advantage in abolishing this multiplicity of monies [of the various colonies] was obvious, but the implications involved in surrendering the money issuing power to the federal government was not comprehended. The gain to all in uniformity of money unit was visualized; the loss in sovereignty thereby suffered, was not.”  p. 140

From this point onward, I will let Riegel’s words speak for themselves. All page number refer to the printed edition.

“We now realize that the money power of the private citizen is in fact his sovereignty; and that in yielding it he yields his sovereignty. Thus the transferring of the money power from the states to the federal government was the transferring of the citizens’ sovereignty to the national government, and the reducing of the state to the status of a subordinate. p. 140

“The political money system implies that the citizen will abate his natural money issuing power, and make the criterion of his exchanges and the regulation of the money system entirely dependent upon the government that he recognizes as the money power. By making the federal government the sole money issuing power, the individual states transferred the fealty of their citizens to the national government, because they became thereby dependent upon its money power. The citizen having thus had his fealty transferred to the national  government—it was taken from the state governments—and the latter are now dismayed by the increase of federal power and the commensurate subordination of state power.”

“What has actually transpired is a reversal of the intent of the federal plan whereby the national government was to be dependent upon the states for grants of power. The national government, through its money power, is now supreme and in reality holds the state governments in subjection to it. Federal fiscal policy now determines the bounds of state sovereignty. It took many years to reveal this structural weakness because, in the earlier days of the federation, the economy depended more upon the private issuance of money through the banking system, and thus federal fiscal power was dormant. The policy of the federal government up to 1932 was to leave to the banks the function of supplying money. During the Jackson administration, with the abolishment of the United States Bank, government participation in money supply reached its lowest point—with the government confining itself to the mere minting of gold and silver coins at a seigniorage charge to any one who brought the metal to the mint.” pp. 140-141.

Money Power Is Sovereignty
The states, to recapture their independence and sovereignty, must look to their citizens who, in turn, must assert their sovereignty by exercising their inherent money power. It was right that the states should have surrendered their money power; but they should have surrendered it to their citizens, and not to another government. At the time the federation was formed the nature of the money power was not understood; and it was not realized that it is the essence of sovereignty. But we know now that it is and if we wish to preserve the federation and also home rule, we must now deal intelligently with the money power.

While the states have surrendered their money power, their citizens have not. The citizens have merely failed to exercise their natural powers against which there is no prohibition in either state or federal constitutions. This is not a political issue – requiring legislation or repeal of legislation, or constitutional amendments, or any official action – but it is, nevertheless, a profound political movement; because, as the people assert their money power, their natural intimacy with their state and local governments asserts itself – since there is no other power that can step between. Today, the federal government stands between the citizen and local government, and thus alienates him.

If our states are to develop their individuality and counter the stereotyping influence of a monetary dictatorship, if local government and private enterprise are to work out their natural virtues, if democracy is to prevail in business and government, and if our federal republican system is to survive, we must meet our problems by dealing with their fundamental causes – the political money system.”

To accomplish these broad and vital aims, the Governor or some other public official should take the leadership of this cause within his state. In the absence of this, leadership must be taken by private citizens. It offers an incomparable opportunity for public service.”

While the money issuing power is inherent in every man, it can be realized only by a pact among many. Therefore, the individual is helpless, and organized action is necessary. The method of organizing a Valun Exchange should be no different from organizing any other cooperative movement.” pp. 143-144.

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No democracy when government has the money power

Think for a moment about the basic necessities of life. One can live only a few minutes without air, a few days without water, and a few weeks without food. We also need shelter from the heat and cold, from rain and snow and sun. We need energy–gas, oil, electricity–to warm us when the weather is cold and to cool us when it is hot, to help us do our work and enable us to move about­.

And how do we acquire those things? Air is still freely available, although it may not always be clean or healthy to breathe. Water is increasingly not free, even if we draw it from the kitchen faucet, and all of those other necessities, we depend upon others to provide. But at every turn there is someone with an outstretched hand saying, “Pay me.” The point is that there is another element that we are utterly dependent upon–MONEY!

As Adam Smith observed long ago, “When the division of labor has been once thoroughly established, it is but a very small part of a man’s wants which the produce of his own labor can supply” (Wealth of Nations). That puts economic exchange and the devices we use to facilitate it at the center of human interaction. Money has become so familiar to us in our daily lives that we hardly even notice it, except when it is lacking. But our ignorance of the nature of money, where it comes from, and how it is created has cost us dearly both in terms of material comfort and increasingly in our loss of freedom.  

Economics and politics are inextricably linked; they are in fact a unitary system which early economists like Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau recognized, using the term “political economy” to categorize their work. Economics as a separate discipline did not exist until about a hundred years ago when latter day academicians sought to cloak the fact behind a mask of mathematical rigor. But it cannot be denied that economic structures and policies have heretofore made implicit choices about who would be the winners and who would be the losers. The challenge before us today is to build political-economic systems that allow everyone to win, not just in terms of material comfort, but in terms of peace, harmony, dignity, and freedom. We cannot change politics without changing economics, and we cannot change economics without changing money.

In my own work I have often credited E. C. Riegel for much of my enlightenment on these matters. He said:

“We have been pursuing the illusion that by voting political ballots biennially and quadrenially, we controlled our affairs. While the government must beg us each two years for our political ballot, we beg the government every day for our economic ballot. Since we are dependent upon our government for our daily dollar ballot, there stands over our political democracy a monetary autocracy. Therefore, we are not democratic governors; we are economic subjects. … The process whereby parchment freedoms become sterile is quite simple. It begins with the fact that we need a constant money supply to effect our exchanges whereby we live. The supply is completely in the hands of government. We beseech the government to issue it. … Is not every public expenditure the result of pressure by some large or small segment of the citizenry? And are not these pressure groups impelled by the necessity of petitioning government since it is the only source of the economy’s life blood? How can we blame the government for spending and on the other hand, how can we blame those who invent schemes for spending, without which our economy would stagnate? It is the false concept of political money power that converts citizens into petitioners, and makes government a dispenser of patronage instead of a public servant. This power of patronage utterly destroys the democratic system of government–since the people cannot be both petitioners and rulers” (Private Enterprise Money (1944. pp. 78-79 in print edition).

Riegel devoted his life to showing not only how the political money system corrupts both economics and politics, but also how it can be transcended, a work that I have taken up and pursued over the past 40 years. My own books, lectures, interviews, and web posts have built upon, interpreted, and extended the works of E. C. Riegel, Henry George, Ralph Borsodi, Ulrich von Beckerath, Heinrich Ritterschausen, and many others. My latest book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, is a comprehensive treatment of money and politics and a guide to how to create effective exchange media that are independent of government, banks, and political money. Once we realize that money is credit, and that it is in our power to give or withhold it, we can take back control of the exchange process and our government.

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Move your money, preserve your capital, improve your community and make housing more affordable

Poverty and homelessness have been persistent problems in virtually every community and are becoming worse, and disparities in incomes and wealth have long been increasing. Meanwhile the stock markets are booming while returns of savings accounts have been driven below zero in real terms. All of this has been happening while human productivity is greater than at any time in human history. What’s wrong with this picture?

Clearly, there must be some serious defects in the systems by which our collective production is distributed and used. This is the realm of money, banking and finance which controls the functions of value exchange, saving, and investment. As I’ve repeatedly argued, it is not just a matter of how these systems are managed (policy), but the way they’ve been designed, i.e., their very structure. Whether by intention or by accident, these system are designed to do precisely what they are doing. They enrich and empower the few at the expense of impoverishing and dis-empowering the many.

While there may be little possibility of reforming these systems, they can be transcended. New systems and structures can be designed and deployed that better serve the necessary functions. My work has been focused mainly, but not entirely, on the exchange of value function, which is the fundamental purpose of money. Over the past forty years I’ve written and lectured extensively about private and community currencies and mutual credit clearing as ways of transcending the political money regime. See, for example, How to Bring Liquidity Into an Economy, Free of Interest, Inflation, and Boom and Bust Cycles.

Others have been active in addressing the functions of saving, and investment. Notable in this regard are Ellen Brown and her associates at the Public Banking Institute, John Katovich and associates at Cutting Edge Capital, attorney Jenny Kassan, John Fullerton at the Capital Institute, and community economist Michael Shuman.

Michael, in his recent newsletter, Gimme Shelter (With Local Investment), reports on some exciting developments, one of which is “…the SEC quietly increased the ceiling on a crowdfunding raise from $1.07 million to $5 million—effectively enabling significantly more housing projects to be funded by grassroots investors sick of Wall Street.” Another is the emergence of community investment trusts (CITs), which “allow members of the community to invest in neighborhood projects. Whereas most CLTs [Community Land Trusts] are nonprofit, CITs can be for-profit and issue equity.”

“Still another approach is to buy pieces of equity in homes to make home ownership more affordable. That’s the strategy of a new company called Landed. It strikes a deal with new homeowners to pick up half or more of the down payment.”

For more details on all of that, read Michael’s entire article here.
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Get Ready to Play in the Butterfly Economy

Presentation by Thomas H. Greco, Jr. to the (virtual) 2020 Annual Convention of the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA.) on September 24, 2020.

My Latest Interview

On October 7 I was interviewed by Patricia Cori for her program, Beyond the Matrix.

WE’RE IN AN INFLATIONARY DEPRESSION! NOW WHAT?

Walking Away… Part III — My latest article

Photo credit: Andrew Amistad

This is the third in a series of articles that began in July 2020. Parts I and II can be found on Medium and my website beyondmoney dot net.

In 1979 I took a leap of faith and walked away. What did I walk away from? I had for a long time said that if I had to have a job, I could think of no better job than the one I had. With the rank of assistant professor, I held tenure at an institution of higher learning. The pay at that time was not that great, but the job carried high status and I had plenty of freedom to do the job as I saw fit. That is what I walked away from just a few months prior to completing my 14th year in academia.

What seemed like an insane move to my friends and family was to me a “life” choice; a choice over what- stagnation, security, death, perhaps? I had seen others who had chosen to “hang on” just a few more years so they could enjoy a retirement of comfort and freedom, only to die a short time afterward. I once saw a T-shirt that advised: “Don’t Postpone Joy!”

— Read the full article here.

Go, set, get ready for your mark!

The dystopian world of George Orwell’s, 1984, and Aldus Huxley’s, Brave New World, has been creeping up on us for a very long time. Now it’s coming on at a gallop and seems bound to cross the finish line in just a few short strides. Its pounding hooves shake the earth as they grind into dust truth, privacy, human rights, and all that humans hold sacred. The heat and stench from the monsters fiery breath give fair warning that it means to consume whatever stands in its way. Like the temptation of Jesus by Satan, it promises us the world, but at the price of our very souls.
Read the full article here or on Medium.

A Landmark Event in Exchange Alternatives

Greetings,

This is a heads up to inform you of an important upcoming virtual event in which I will be a featured presenter. It is the annual convention of the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA), the premier organization for the commercial trade exchange industry and a leading force for monetary and financial innovation.  

The theme of this year’s convention is Navigating the Future, something that is becoming increasingly problematic for businesses and individuals alike, especially in the wake of the massive economic disruptions of the past several months. But every crisis brings with it opportunities, both for good and for ill, and we will need to choose wisely.

The presenter lineup is the most diverse and interesting to date, and brings together knowledgeable experts representing all aspects of the exchange revolution, including commercial, grassroots, for-profit, non-profit, and technologies like crypto currencies and blockchain.

The convention will convene virtually over three days, September 23rd-25th, 2020, for four hours each day. You can see the entire list of presenters and the full program schedule at the convention website: https://irta.pathable.co/

My interactive session, titled “Get Ready to Play in the Butterfly Economy,” is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24th at 1:45 PM Eastern time (10:45 AM, Pacific and Arizona time).

Here are some convention highlights:
Michael Terpin, the “Godfather of Crypto & Blockchain” will be the Keynote Speaker!

Other presenters will include:

  •  Giuseppe Literra, Founder of Sardex & Local Pay, Sardinia, Italy
  • Will Ruddick, social entrepreneur and founder of the Grassroots Economics Foundation
  • Dr. Lee Oi Kum, SME Visionary, Singapore & Malaysia
  • Caroline Macdonald, COO, BBX, Artamon. Australia 
  • Dariusz Brzozowiec, Co-Author, University Research Paper on Economic Security of Regions During the Covid-19 Period in Poland.
  • And, of course, yours truly.

Because of the key role that the exchange of value plays in the lives of every person on Earth, and in light of the evident failures of existing systems of money, banking and finance, anyone can benefit from participation in this IRTA convention. Don’t miss it!

Ticket prices are extremely reasonable and are available on Eventbrite at: 
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/irta-2020-virtual-convention-tickets-117110644089?aff=affiliate1

Hoping to see you there,
Thomas

Orthodoxy and the meaning of events

Orthodoxy and the meaning of events is the title of an article recently published by Richard K. Moore, author of Escaping the Matrix: how We the People can change the world, and numerous insightful articles that are helpful in making sense of the present state of our world.

Here are some excerpts:

When something dramatic happens, we want to know what it means. We want answers to questions like: Why is it happening? How important is it? What will happen next? Where is it heading? What does it all mean?

In the mainstream narrative, the orthodox narrative, a clear meaning is always provided, right along with the news of the dramatic event itself. Like on the morning of 9/11, when the video of the explosions was first being shown, there was already a banner going across the screen: America under attack by Al Qaeda. And soon after: They want to destroy our democracy. 

This prompt assignment of meaning to an event has an important psychological effect. The first plausible explanation someone hears tends to fix in the subconscious, and resists being displaced by later explanations. That’s why the orthodox meaning is provided promptly, is repeated endlessly, and is reinforced from a variety angles by the various media genre, such as news broadcasts, talk shows, official announcements, comedians, documentaries, interviews, newspapers, etc.

It is easy to see why followers of the mainstream media would consider themselves to be well informed citizens. On any big public topic, they know what it means, and from that framework they can discuss this or that development from a knowing perspective, with a sense of knowing what they’re talking about. 

The world of the mainstream narrative is to a large extent a closed universe. Its stories and their meanings cover the whole scope of ‘what’s important’ and there’s no room for alternative explanations to find a place there. If a contrary explanation emerges from some non-mainstream source, there are many reasons why the explanation will be dismissed. First: ‘We already have an explanation for that’. Perhaps next: ‘Who are you that thinks you know better than the world’s experts?’ Every source that is non-mainstream is automatically suspect.

Moore goes on the say that:

In the orthodox world big changes always come as a response to some unexpected crisis (eg Pearl Harbor, 9/11, WMDs, 2008 collapse, COVID). A crisis is identified, it is given a meaning, and changes are announced. And then another crisis comes along, and again we get big changes. Each crisis comes with its own little meaning story, unrelated to the meaning of the crisis that came before or the one that comes after. Society stumbles along, it seems, always responding to unexpected crises. 

If someone observes that there is a pattern in such sequence, they are dismissed as paranoid or a “conspiracy theorist,” and that “conversations of any significant kind are nearly impossible across the boundary of the orthodox bubble.”

So much of each person’s worldview is based on the trust they have in the sources of the information they regularly consume, whether is MSNBC, Fox News, the BBC, New York Times, the Washington Post or other long established sources with big reputations. But it has been well documented how the media channels throughout the world have been gradually absorbed into a few mega-corporations, and how the owners of those channels use them in the process of Manufacturing Consent to the demands of the elite class that they represent, and their power has become greatly enlarged in the years since Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, described it in their book by that name. That, and other aspects of the decline of western civilization since the 1970’s is also well documented in a video I watched recently titled, HEIST Who Stole the American Dream.

Richard Moore’s article concludes with his views on how people with differing beliefs about reality might talk with one another in a productive way. I strongly recommend that readers take the time to digest the entire article which can be found on Moore’s website.

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