The New Reformation?

Luther-Nailing-ninety-five-theses
The election of Donald Trump was just a symptom of a major shift of civilization. In this essay, Mike Krauss (http://thekrausscommentary.com/) compares it to the Reformation of the sixteenth century.  It seems an apt analogy.

From Martin Luther to Donald Trump: Reading the Signs of the Times


Martin Luther published his Ninety-Five Thesis in 1517. Some histories record that he nailed them to the door of the chapel of the Wittenberg Castle. His challenge to the monolithic authority of the Catholic Church in Western Europe  set off an upheaval among the governing class and peoples of the European continent that was not only religious, but was also political, cultural and intellectual.
 
That upheaval did not follow immediately on Luther’s bold action, but erupted about four years later as the Church banned citizens of all the nations from espousing, defending or disseminating Luther’s ideas, and hardened the division into what would become the Reformation and Counter Reformation, decades of strife and bloody conflict within and between the peoples and nations of the continent. Lives were unspeakably brutalized. Property was confiscated and families destroyed. Mobs desecrated or destroyed churches and pulled down or defaced their statues and relics. Justice was whatever princes and popes said it was.
 
In the end, Europe was changed and the course of western civilization altered, as more democratic norms of government gradually displaced centralized royal and ecclesiastical power and the rule of law grew stronger.
 
It is tempting at this remove to compare Donald Trump’s 2015 ride down the escalator in his cathedral to capitalism, Trump Tower, to Luther’s arrival on the scene. But with Trump, the reaction of the monolithic governing class was immediate, as they recognized the power of Trump’s challenge to their authority and mounted a fierce counter attack. It has become as brutal as that of the 16th century, as the Counter Reformers now seek to politically, socially and economically excommunicate, exorcise, punish and destroy utterly Trump and any vestige of his American Reformation.
 
Now as then, the opposing sides in the contest use the same language of centuries of a shared “faith” to claim the moral high ground, with this difference: Trump’s reformers just want to be left alone by controlling, centralized authority to live their lives as they think best, while the statist counter reformers demand conformity to their “civic virtues,” and take no prisoners in an all out war to regain and retain power.
 
Where is this leading? In the short term, to fascism and repression. The counter reformers have seized both the government and the means of communication of an entire nation. This contrasts with the Protestant Reformation; in that, as the printing press came into wider use at that time, the ideas of Luther and other reformers were more widely circulated than had ever before been possible. New technology aided the Reformation. Now in the United States, new means of communication serve the Counter Reformation and the governing class. For the foreseeable future there will be only the “party line” heard in the United States. 
 
But even the dullest of ears will by now have picked up the incessant, preening moralizing of the counter reformers. Completely self sanctified and utterly un-self aware, these elites are likely to drive the Biden administration. Biden is not strong enough to resist.  He may not want to.
 
 “Joe Biden, Savior of the Republic” may be the story Biden has going in his head. Legislation has been introduced in Congress to establish a domestic surveillance agency with authority to define any reforming thought, speech or action which challenges the governing class as “domestic terror,” the modern equivalent of heresy.
 
There is one element to this conflict today that was not present in that of 16th century Europe and is entirely modern and American: race. The resentments of some whites on the right and some blacks on the left are equally poisonous and capable of overcoming any hope of reason and accommodation among the warring parties.
 
American liberalism, the former church of the secular left is dead, having collapsed under its own failures. The two greatest failures have been the decades long reduction of the mostly white middle class, its wealth redistributed to a permanent governing class of corporate overlords and their political retainers; and the simultaneous creation of a mostly black, permanent underclass, consigned to the apartheid landscape of American cities which liberal policy created, islands of white prosperity in a sea of mostly black poverty.
 
Until these twin failures of the governing class are remedied a time of conflict and turmoil in America is inevitable,.
 
Trump simply called out the reality of the decadence of the American governing class, as Luther called out that of the Medieval Church.  Leading up to Luther’s challenge, Pope Sixtus IV began the practice of selling Indulgences to wealthy sinners  –  ecclesiastical get-out-of-purgatory- free cards  – the way Congress sells legislation to lobbyists. Pope Alexander VI enforced celibacy on the priesthood but was the father of seven  (!) children, operating with the same hubris on display daily in the American governing class today: “rules for thee, but not for me.”
 
Hubris invites nemesis: then Luther, now Trump.
 
In the weeks ahead there may be a period of relative calm, as the people wait and watch. But it won’t last long. As the government of the American Counter Reformation becomes steadily more repressive, authoritarian and fascist, it will run up against something Luther did not have to help fuel his Reformation: a people with the experience of centuries of democratic government, the protection of individual liberties and the rule of law.
 
This conflict will not be resolved any time soon.

And this assessment, That’s All Folks, from former Congressman Ron Paul, provides another take on the matter. And his latest essay, When Fascism Comes, It Will Be Wearing a Mask, spotlights actions by the Biden administration that look a lot like a counter-reformation.

Let’s see if we can find ways to enjoy the ride and take advantage of the opportunities to build a better world.

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Who’s Reset will it be?

The oligarchs, plutocrats, and technocrats have a plan for you. It’s been called the “New World Order,” and now, “The Great Reset” which is being promoted by the World Economic Forum. Despite their high sounding rhetoric, you and I will have no role in formulating this plan, rather it is self-elected “global leaders” who will “come together to design a common recovery path and shape the Great Reset.”

It is imperative the people around the world come together now to plan our own future, one that is based on our own common values, needs, and a shared vision of how humans can live in harmony with nature and with each other. One current initiative that intends to facilitate that effort is “The Greater Reset” which is upcoming starting Monday, January 25th and continuing through Friday, January 29th.

Our World. Our Way.

The Greater Reset Activation: January 25th – 29th, 2021

“The Greater Reset is the world’s collective response to the World Economic Forum’s Initiative: The Great Reset.

“We offer an alternative to the WEF’s top-down, centralized, authoritarian vision. Our desire is to help all people find community and liberty by providing practical steps and knowledge for co-creating a world that respects individual liberty, bodily autonomy, and choice. We invite you to join us for 5 days of discussion about the diverse opportunities available for those who seek to live in harmony with humanity and the planet, while respecting our innate freedom.”

You can get program details, and sign up for “The Greater Reset” at https://thegreaterreset.org/

R.I.P. Spencer Heath MacCallum

Spencer MacCallum and Emalie

Spencer MacCallum and Emalie Caley

Spencer Heath MacCallum (b: December 21, 1931; d: December 17, 2020) was truly an amazing and wonderful person–multi-talented, intelligent, kind, and compassionate. Spencer was an anthropologist, archeologist, editor, publisher, entrepreneur, and philosopher. The world is much poorer without him. I was privileged to count Spencer as a friend for more than 25 years. Among his significant achievements were his preservation and promulgation of the works of E. C. Riegel (b. 1878; d. 1954), a man whom I’ve described as a “master of monetary truth” whose insights have greatly inspired my own work on the “money problem” and the development of innovative and equitable means of exchanging value.

In his Editorial Preface to Flight From Inflation, Spencer tells the fascinating story of how he happened to meetSMECTG_Cr Riegel, how he subsequently rescued Riegel’s literary legacy from oblivion, and then went on to preserve, reprint and republish much of his work. Among the treasures discovered in Riegel’s papers was an unpublished manuscript titled Flight From Inflation that Spencer went on to edit and publish in 1978.

Spencer was also the person who discovered the work of potter Juan Quezada, helped him to develop his craft, and made the pottery of Mata Ortiz, Mexico famous throughout the Americas. That story and more about Spencer’s remarkable life is told by Walter Parks and Richard O’Connor in this remembrance.

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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.