Tag Archives: Riegel

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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New Year’s Newsletter — January 2020

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The dirty secret of capitalism — and a new way forward
In this TED talk, billionaire businessman, Nick Hanauer debunks the assumptions of neo-liberal economics and shines light on the path toward a new economics that promotes a more sustainable, Hanauer_biz_tedtalks_0517prosperous and equitable society. Hanauer argues that neoliberal economic theory has sold itself to us as “unchangeable natural law, when in fact it’s social norms and constructed narratives, based on pseudo science.” He says that “If we want a new economics all we have to do is choose to have it.” Watch it here.

Of course, implementing that choice depends on “we” having enough power to tilt the political landscape back toward something closer to level. I continue to argue that E. C. Riegel had it right when he said:

We have not even made a beginning in democracy by merely putting at the westPointAdjdisposal of man an occasional ballot to choose who should be his governor under a system that is inherently paternalistic and autocratic. Man must have untrammeled command of a daily – an hourly ballot which he casts in the market place to support the things and services he desires and which he withholds from others and which he transmits to the state or denies it according as it merits his patronage. He must have the power to create this money ballot in a measure commensurate with his power to produce and serve his fellow man without hindrance from his servant, the state. The moment we limit or thwart or bias this money power, which is natural to man, and the very criterion of his sovereignty, we pervert democracy beyond the power of any political ballot or any parliament to remedy. Money power cannot be separated from democratic power without miscarriage and ensuing frustration – political and economic. Democracy implies the sovereignty of man; and, since man cannot be sovereign without the money power, there cannot be democracy under the political money system.

Until, through the assertion of his money power, man can requisition from industry all he produces, and put government under his direct patronage, human aspirations will be unattainable.
— From Private Enterprise Money.


How to assert our “money power” has been the substance of my work for more than 40 years. See my books, articles, presentations and interviews at my website, https://beyondmoney.net
Presidential Debate
I took a pass on watching the January 14 Presidential debate which pitted Bernie against five establishment candidates in what was a predictably bland rehash that Tulsiwas limited in scope. I chose instead to watch the discussion between Tulsi Gabbard, Dennis Kucinich, Lawrence Lessig, and Stephen Kinzer which was live streamed on YouTube. The discussion focused on the key policy issue, the US interventionist foreign policy, and the fact that most Senators and Representatives of both parties in Congress are beholden to the military-industrial [and banking] complex, and are complicit in the immoral, illegal, and wasteful pursuit of global domination. If you missed it you can still see it at https://tulsi.to/discussion.
All Wars Are Bankers’ Wars
Anyone who wishes to be well informed and understand civilization’s present predicament would do well to watch this video. I may not agree with all the specific details but the basic story is correct and well documented, and congruent with my argument that the global interest-based, debt-money regime that centralizes power and concentrates wealth is the primary obstacle to social justice, economic equity and peaceful relations among people and nations, and indeed, an existential threat to civilization itself. View it here.

Wishing all a happy, productive, and peaceful year,
Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

Can governments and banks be trusted with the money power?

As governments around the world struggle to manage their soaring debt burdens, the wisdom of E. C. Riegel rings ever more true. The masters of the political debt-money regime are pressuring Cyprus to confiscate part of the savings of their citizens, and Greece and other countries to impose budgetary cuts that burden the poor and middle class. Argentina wants to grab their people’s savings by nationalizing their pension funds. All the while, the purchasing power of national currencies shrinks as governments inflate them to enable deficit spending.

Riegel’s call for monetary freedom must no longer be ignored. –t.h.g.   


[by E. C. Riegel, written circa 1940s]

Old Liberty Bell rang out the political freedom that we cherish. But unless we learn how to make freedom ring the cash register, bureaucracy will ring down the curtain on our liberties.

What is the strange power that makes the government at Washington grow stronger and our state and local governments grow weaker while the people suffer the torment of war and the travail of insecurity and the shadow of dictatorship falls across the land? It is the same power that oppresses the people of all the world — the political money power.

The political money power is the power of national governments to buy the people’s sweat and blood with scraps of paper – paper that falls like a blotter upon our production and our freedom. Each day our

wealth diminishes and more of our liberties vanish. Inflation that threatens to bring chaos is just around the corner. As our sons bleed and our mothers weep, the same grinding power throws its pall over other lands.  Yet our chains are paper – paper money that, through our ignorance, binds us to the treadmill of our own destruction.

We can be masters of our destiny; we are all powerful, if we but realize it. In each of us resides the power to assure liberty, prosperity, security and peace. In each of us lies the money power, which, when springing from us, is democratic and virtuous; when springing from government is authoritarian and vicious. As we liberate our inherent money power we curb the political money power, for the more we use our self-created money, the less we need political money. Thus we defeat dictatorship. Thus we reconstruct the shattered world on a free democratic basis. Thus we save civilization.

Parchment freedoms are but taunts and mockeries without money freedom. A people dependent upon their government for money is a subject people regardless of the form of their government. No people can declare their independence and govern their government unless they assert their money freedom. A government that is not dependent upon its people for money supply is a tyranny regardless of its professions. Government must be made to beg the people for money; the people cannot be sovereign while petitioning government for money. The citizen must command both government and business through his money power. Political democracy is a delusion without economic democracy and economic democracy can function only through the power to issue money – the power to ring the cash register – the power to support and the power to withhold support. To prevent political dictatorship the citizen must himself be a dictator. To prevent centralization of power, power must be reserved by the people. Money power is sovereignty; without it democracy is impossible.

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From Money Freedom, organ of The Private Enterprise Money Movement.

More monetary wisdom from E. C. Riegel, including his book, Private Enterprise Money, can be found at http://www.newapproachtofreedom.info/, and via my website https://beyondmoney.net/.

— Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

October Newsletter and Fall tour itinerary: Europe & UK

In this edition

Fall Tour Itinerary – Europe and the UK

The Wealth of the Commons now in print.

Recent posts

  • QE3
  • Riegel essays:
    • Right-wing Socialists
    • Breaking the English Tradition


Fall Tour

My fall tour agenda has filled out nicely and includes an exciting assortment of presentations, workshops, and consultations.

On October 1, I will begin a five week tour that will take me to Switzerland, Greece, and the UK.

Here is a chronological list of events. If you wish to participate in any of them, please go to the indicated website or get in touch with appropriate contact person.

3-6 October. Geneva. Presentations and conferences with Community Forge. “CommunityForge is a non-profit association that designs, develops and provides complementary currency systems and tools.” (Use the “Contact” button on the website to connect with Tim Anderson). This stop will probably include a presentation at the UN Palais des Nations, Human Rights Social Forum, on October 3. My topic will be “Strategies for community empowerment and the creation of economic democracy.”

7-14 October. Crete, Greece.

On October 10 and 11, I will be a presenter at the International Sustainability Summit, to be held at the European Sustainability Academy (Sharon Jackson, Director ).

The segment on Strategic shifts in prevailing systems includes a 2 day workshop that will focus specifically upon Community Exchange Systems and Alternative currency systems for Sustainable Communities. On October 10, I will give a presentation on The Emerging Butterfly Society: Making the shift to a steady-state economy and a world that works for all. Details and registration materials can be found at: http://www.eurosustainability.org/en/esa_summit4.htm

15 October to approximately 21 October. Mainland Greece

During this time period, I will be traveling to Thessaloniki, Volos, and Athens. Specifics are still developing.

25 October. York, UK

I will be speaking at the York LETS Conference on the topic, “Why local exchanges and currencies fail to thrive, and what is required to take alternative exchange to scale.” Booking at, http://yorkaltcurrencies-efbevent.eventbrite.co.uk/ . Info at Facebook.

October 27-28. London. Events on Money and Alternative Currencies are being planned by Mary Fee of LETSlinkUK, http://www.letslinkuk.net/. Details will be posted here when available.

30 October. Ambleside (Lake District). Cumbria University, Presentation, Beyond Money, Banks, and the Left-Right Divide.

31 October. I will be delivering a free public lecture, A New Approach to Community Economic Development at Cumbria University in Lancaster, UK.

1 November. I will conduct a workshop titled, Complementary Exchange Systems: Design, Organization, and Implementation, at The University of Cumbria in Lancaster( Room AXB003) from 2pm to 5pm.

Details of both events at: http://www.localwealth.co.uk/tom-greco/

Register for either at http://www.localwealth.co.uk/booking-for-tom-greco-events-in-lancaster/ .

I will return to the U.S. from London on November 5.


The Wealth of the Commons

Following my participation in the Commons Conference in Berlin two years ago, I was asked to contribute a chapter to an anthology titled, The Wealth of the Commons: A world beyond market & state. This book is a “new collection of 73 essays that describe the enormous potential of the commons in conceptualizing and building a better future.” At long last, the English edition has now been published and can be ordered from Leveller’s Press,

I think the chapter I wrote for this book is one of the most succinct and information-rich essays I’ve ever written, so I’ve posted it here on this site at Reclaiming the Credit Commons.


QE ad infinitum (QE3)

“Quantitative Easing,” commonly referred to as “QE,” is a euphemistic expression for currency inflation, i.e., the creation of money on the basis of junk securities and empty promises. On September 14, Ben Bernanke announced that the FED would continue to inflate the dollar on an ongoing basis for “as long as it takes.” A week earlier, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi announced a similar plan to save the Euro by buying the bonds of euro-zone governments, notably Spain and Italy. “There will be no “ex ante limits on the size” of the purchases, said Draghi.” He sugar-coated the bitter pill by saying, “governments that want the ECB to buy its bonds must agree to a program of reforms and oversight by the bailout funds and possibly the International Monetary Fund.” We know what that means for the ordinary person. Two of my recent posts address these announcements (https://beyondmoney.net/2012/09/20/qe-ad-infinatum/, and https://beyondmoney.net/2012/09/21/et-tu-ecb-inflating-the-euro/).


Recent posts

In recent weeks, I’ve been re-reading some of E. C. Riegel’s essays. I’ll be posting the more important ones from time to time. Here is one that, although written more than 60 years ago, seems especially timely: The Right-wing Socialists.

Another important Riegel essay is, Breaking the English Tradition, which years ago I embedded, with my comments in a post to my other website Reinventingmoney.com. That post titled, The Politics of Money, can be download at here.

Hoping to see some of you along the way,


Beware of the Right-Wing Socialists

Here below is another insightful gem from E. C. Riegel. In this essay, Riegel (1) highlights the predominant fallacy which holds that money is based on political authority and should be controlled by the State, and (2) explains why true free enterprise can only exist when private enterprisers control not only the means of production, and the means of distribution, but also the means of exchange.

The present global system of money is far from that. It is the product of collusion between politicians and bankers that has established a dysfunctional, exploitative, and violent despotism. –t.h.g.

The Right-Wing Socialists

THERE ARE three classes of socialists: the left-wing, or Marxist, group, who believe that the government should own and control everything; the middle-of-the ­road socialists, who believe the government should own and operate public utilities; and the right-wing social­ists, who believe that the government should control only the monetary system.

The right-wing socialists are by far the most danger­ous, because they are not known as socialists and call themselves capitalists, individualists, private enterprisers, etc. They even believe themselves to be anti-socialist and profess full faith in private enterprise. They are not only numerically the largest group of socialists but are also individually the most influential. Among them are the leading industrialists and mercantilists and bankers and statesmen.

The right wing socialists believe that with produc­tion and distribution facilities in the ownership and operation of private interests, and with monetary facilities in the hands of government, we can have free enterprise. They might as well believe that if a man owns an auto­mobile, he need not worry about who or what controls the gas.

Private enterprise means the right among men to come to voluntary agreement on the exchange of their goods and services. These agreements, some written, some oral, some implicit, some explicit, run into the millions, and upon their fidelity rests the entire social structure. In a money economy, all these contracts are expressed in terms of the monetary unit, which is itself based upon a contract-the basic contract which is the foundation of the entire pyramid of contracts.

What is the money contract that makes possible or impossible the faithful performance of every other con­tract? Ask any businessman, banker, lawyer, economist or statesman, and you will find that his idea is not only vague, but that it involves legislation. In other words, he believes that money is a political product.

In contrast with this universal belief, the truth is that the state is incompetent to legislate money and power­less to issue it. The substance of money is supplied en­tirely by private enterprise. The state’s intervention in money is at best an impediment to private enterprise, and with the assertion of the issue power, it becomes the active agent of socialization. Thus those who believe in or accept political money power – and their number is legion – are the most dangerous, though innocent, socialists.

While the great mass of people have no ideology, those who think on the issue between private enterprise and socialism are virtually all socialists of the three classes named. This is a startling fact that we must recognize before the final battle lines are formed. The would-be friends of private enterprise must be made real friends, instead of innocent fellow travelers with those who would destroy our liberties.

Private enterprise, to survive, must control its three facilities, namely, the means of exchange, the means of production, and the means of distribution. To control the means of exchange, we must have separation of money and state.

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This essay is contained in the republished version of Riegel’s, New Approach to Freedom. That book, and Riegel’s other major works can be found at http://www.newapproachtofreedom.info/.–t.h.g.

Liars for LIBOR: Betrayal of the public trust, one more chapter

News of another mega-scandal broke last week reveling again the corrupt nature of the global system of money and banking. In the video below, former New York State Governor and Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer discusses the LIBOR scandal with investigative reporter Matt Taibbi. According to Wikipedia, LIBOR stands for “The London Interbank Offered Rate.” It isthe average interest rate estimated by leading banks in London that they would be charged if borrowing from other banks.” The LIBOR has wide ranging effects on the rates that ordinary people must pay on various types of loans. Falsification of LIBOR results in higher costs for everyone and illicit profits for big banks.

E. C. Riegel had an answer to the money problem, which he summarized in the following brief essay. The word valun is one he coined, which stands for “value unit,” and he pronounced val-yoon. My own work has been greatly influenced by Riegel, and my prescriptions for a decentralized, locally controlled network of interest-free credit clearing exchanges draws from and extends Riegel’s proposals (See my book The End of Money and the Future of Civilization).

I Am the Valun by E. C. Riegel

I am the valun, the universal money unit.

My mission is to unite all men on the economic plane, regardless of their political differences, and to enable them to govern government.

I bring to trade a common language and thus make commerce homogeneous.

I liberate the artisan and the trader from political money control and thus defeat authoritarianism.

I deny to government the power to finance war without the people’s direct and conscious financial support and thus fortify their will to peace.

I facilitate trade, induce technological improvement, increase wealth and leisure.

I conserve the profit motive in the production of wealth but deny it in the creation of money.

I am the creature and servant of every man who would render service useful to his fellows.

From his pen I spring, but by the monetary exploiter or the state I cannot be generated.

I am homogeneous because I am homo-generated.

I guarantee to everyman freedom to labor and the full rewards thereof with preservation of his right to freely choose his vocation and with full respect for the dignity of his personality.

I am the implement of freedom, prosperity and peace to all men throughout the world.

I am the surprise weapon against the enemies of private enterprise and human rights — the friend of the individualist, the foe of collectivist.

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Newsletter July 2012

Dear friends,

I know we’re all overloaded with information these days, so I’ll keep this brief.

In this issue:

Summer in Tucson

Presentations and Interviews

Public Banking in America

Fall Tour

Recent Blog Posts

Commons Anthology

Nuclear Power

Summer in Tucson

Summers in Tucson can be a challenge. June is the hottest (and driest) month with daytime high temperatures averaging around 100 degrees, but with many days 5 to 10 degrees hotter than that. July can be just as hot, but by then we can expect the start of the eagerly awaited summer monsoons. These are not the sustained rains that fall in the tropics, but (usually) brief thunderstorms that provide some relief from the blazing sun and oppressive heat, and we can always count on the temperatures dropping by thirty degrees or more overnight. Like winters in the north, summers here are a time of reduced activity and indoor pursuits, like reading. A couple of the books that I’ve read recently that I highly recommend are David Sloan Wilson’s, Evolution for Everyone, and Malcolm Gladwell’s, Outliers. Both of these books challenge established beliefs in a way that I find fascinating, and both tells stories that are very engaging.

Presentations and Interviews

In March I conducted a teach-in for Move On and Occupy Tucson, presenting my ideas about The Emerging Butterfly Society, then, later in the month traveled to San Diego under the sponsorship of Activist San Diego & Women Occupy San Diego, where I gave a presentation titled, Occupy the Commons: Reclaiming Our Birthright. That was followed up with a workshop titled, Complementary Exchange Systems: Preparing to Launch, which I conducted for a small group of social entrepreneurs who are now in the process of starting up a local exchange system for their community.

Also in March, I was a guest on Catherine Austin Fitts’ monthly Solari Report program on which we discussed various approaches to value exchange and investments that bypass conventional banking and financial institutions. Catherine, who was Assistant Secretary of Housing in the first Bush administration, is a knowledgeable investment advisor. See her website at http://www.solariadvisors.com/ .

In April, I was invited to do a brief interview for Bloomberg TV’s program, In Business with Margaret Brennan. Later, I traveled to Philadelphia to attend the Public Banking Institute conference (see details below).

May and June included another presentation at the Sustainable Tucson monthly meeting, an interview by Jay Taylor on his webcast program, Turning Hard Times into Good Times, on Voice America internet channel (download it from https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/thomasgreco20120522jaytaylor.mp3), and an interview by Marcus Matthews from London, England, on his webcast program, The Money Maverick.

Public Banking in America

During the last weekend in April, The Public Banking Institute (http://www.publicbankinginamerica.org/ ) hosted their inaugural conference, Public Banking in America, in Philadelphia. It was one of the best conferences I’ve attended in many years—very well organized, excellent speakers, and intelligent and energetic participants. I had the privilege of having been invited to speak. My presentation was titled, A New Paradigm in Exchange and Finance: the End of Financial Crises, Trade Wars, and Economic Exploitation. Other presenters include Ellen Brown, PBI President and author of Web of Debt, Gar Alperovitz, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Minister of National Defence and founder of the Canadian Action Party, and Bill Still, producer of The Money Masters videos, among others. All presentations were video recorded and will eventually be posted. You can find them here: http://www.publicbankinginamerica.org/speakers.htm

PBI is all about promoting Banking in the Public Interest and is fostering the widespread establishment of state-owned banks modeled after the bank of North Dakota. This from the PBI website explains their main mission:

Public banking frees the credit potential of public revenues and then harnesses this public wealth to create sustainable, abundant and affordable credit. This credit — our credit – supports our economy and citizens if it is then used to build economic capacity (think renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, etc. — things that private banks do not fund). PBI is committed to public banking becoming a mainstay to support the new economy.

As PBI matures as an organization, I expect that the scope of its mission will expand to include other more fundamental approaches to community empowerment and economic development.

Fall Tour

I continue to enjoy good health and am considering the possibility of a Fall tour of Europe and the UK to conduct workshops and presentations for groups that have been following my work and have a serious interest in the approaches that I have been advocating. Preliminary discussions have been positive but my decision will depend on booking enough stops to cover my expenses and provide a small honorarium. If your group, or some other that you know of, would like to be included, please contact me at thgreco@mindspring.com .

Recent Blog Posts

I’d like to call your attention to some recent posts to my blog that I think are especially important. Two of these present some of E. C. Riegels most important ideas, along with my commentary on them. They are E. C. Riegel’s Money Quiz and the True Money System, and The Language of Money and Accountancy. I’m planning to post more of Riegel’s incisive writings over the coming months, so please watch for them.

I also suggest that you follow the insightful work of Tom Atlee, expert facilitator and advocate for group intelligence. I’ve excerpted one of his recent articles at, What and whom do we really depend upon?. Finally, my post about Cyclos, Cyclos, worth another look?? , has elicited a number of comments, including some from the Cyclos developers. These comments contain much valuable information for those of you who are searching for a suitable software platform for your exchange system.

Commons Anthology

The long-awaited English version of the commons anthology is now expected to be published in September from Levellers Press under the title The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State. At that time, I will be posting the text of my chapter on https://beyondmoney.net/. I think it is one of the best articles I’ve ever written, so please watch for it.

Nuclear power

This video featuring Ed Asner makes some powerful arguments showing the insanity of the proposed nuclear power plant in Florida. Please watch it and pass it on. It is not only Florida that is at stake, it’s the health and financial well-being of everyone on the Planet. http://tomazgreco.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/ed-asner-the-insanity-of-floridas-proposed-nuclear-plant/

Wishing you all an pleasant summer,


E. C. Riegel’s Money Quiz and the True Money System

How many people in the world really understand money—its essence, its purpose, its proper management, its potential either to free us or enslave us? Sadly the number is close to nil as Riegel discovered decades ago, an opinion that was shared by renowned monetary economist Irving Fisher of Yale University. According to Riegel, Prof. Fisher, in a public speech “indicated that most persons who undertook to discuss money did not understand the subject and that those ‘who understood the real meaning of money’ were very few.” That was sometime in the mid-1930s, but it seems that the same situation still prevails today.

A little later, Riegel wrote a letter asking Fisher to specify whom those few might be, to which Fisher responded with a list of ten names, along with the caveat that the list was by no means exhaustive, and that there were probably several other of which he (Fisher) was unaware.

Next, Riegel, under the banner of the Consumer Guild of America, prepared a questionnaire which he sent out to the ten “experts” that Fisher had named. Riegel then published, in 1935, the results of his survey in a book titled, The Meaning of Money. I’m not aware of the existence of any digital file of that book, but there are a few bound volumes and photocopies still available.

My intention here is not to review or summarize that book, but simply to provide some background showing Riegel’s diligent research of the subject and to set the stage for presenting some of his eventual conclusions.

Riegel died in 1953, but part of the vast legacy he left behind is a one page document that bears the heading, Are These Propositions Correct? This document bears no date, but was probably written late in his life, and seems to be a concise summary of what he discovered and came to believe as result of his many decades of research and cogitation in the areas of money and the exchange process. I have transcribed that document, and present it below for your consideration.

Are These Propositions Correct?

  1. Money is a means of facilitating trade by splitting transactions in halves, giving the buyer value and the seller a claim for equivalent value upon any one or more traders in the community of traders.
  2. The issuance of money arises out of a purchase and sale transaction requiring tender and acceptance. Therefore, it is a bi-lateral function that can be exerted only by a buyer and a seller and there can be no money issue on behalf of another. Therefore governments cannot issue money on behalf of their constituency.
  3. Implicit in the act of issue is the agreement of the issuer (in common with all others in the trading community) to accept the issue in exchange for value when tendered. Therefore, only one who is prepared to accept money in exchange for value, when tendered, is qualified to be a money issuer and all persons so qualified to accept are ipso facto qualified to issue. Thus the power to issue is inherent in all traders.
  4. Money circulation is a cycle wherein the money passes from issuer to acceptor and from acceptor to acceptor until finally accepted by the issuer and thus retired. The money system is therefore a bookkeeping system whereunder money springs from a debit and is retired by an offsetting credit. The instrument evidencing the bookkeeping process need have no intrinsic value.
  5. Money is actually backed by the value surrendered by the seller and potentially backed by the value in possession of the next seller. Therefore, all “reserves” such as precious metals or other values are purely gratuitous and irrelevant.


If the above propositions are correct, we must conclude that a true money system, not only may, but must be established as an integral part of the private enterprise system and the issuing power must be denied to all except private enterprisers, the exclusion to include all governments and non-profit institutions. The true money system must be based upon voluntary cooperation of the participants. Therefore no legislative or political action is required. Therefore, without political sponsorship or boundaries, the true money system is potentially universal and uniting all traders with one monetary language.

Sometimes Riegel’s statements require clarification and elaboration, which I have done in some of my own writings, and there are a (very) few points on which I disagree. But Riegel has given us here a clear view into the simple essence of money and the true nature of the exchange process, providing the material we need for building a solid foundation upon which economic democracy can be erected. –t.h.g.

The Language of Money and Accountancy

One of E. C. Riegel’s most important published articles is, Money Is the Language of Accountancy, which was published in The Journal of Accountancy, the official publication of the American Institute of Accountants, in November 1945 (pp. 358-360).

In this article, Riegel outlines the benefits of a proposed “Private Enterprise Money” system (which I have highlighted), explains its elegant simplicity, and shows how it can be the key to solving myriad economic, social, and political problems.

The article achieves Riegel’s usual high standards of incisive reasoning and eloquent expression, but there are a few points on which I disagree. I therefore find it necessary to write and publish my critique along with it. While Riegel’s explanation of the nature of money is superb, I have some serious disagreements with him regarding the measure of value and the requirements for implementation of the mutual credit system. We now have the advantage of six decades of actual experience with clearing systems of the sort that Riegel envisioned. I also find it necessary to clarify a few of Riegel’s points. I urge the reader therefore to read both the article, which appears below, and my critique which follows it.

Anyone who truly wishes to understand money and to discover the way forward toward justice, freedom, and economic democracy should study Riegel’s works starting with his book, Fight From Inflation. These can be found at http://www.newapproachtofreedom.info/—t.h.g.

Money Is the Language of Accountancy

By E. C. Riegel

Proceeding from the assumption that the study and comprehension of money is an integral part of accountancy, this author explains his own conception of the function of money and credit, proposes the establishment of a “private-enterprise money” system, outlines it’s operation, and lists some of the advantages which he believes would result from the point of view of accountants, in particular, and the national welfare. Mr. Riegel, who is president of the Valun Institute in New York, describes himself as “a non-academic student of credit and money.” He is the author of several books, including a recent volume entitled “Private Enterprise Money,” which develops the proposal outlined in this article.

SINCE money is the language of accountancy, an unstable unit plagues the accountant with a confusion of tongues. This year’s statement is written in a tongue different from last year’s and perhaps even last month’s. Figures are not merely black and red; they are also gray and pink. Taxes are impossible of estimation because when the government runs a deficit there is a hidden tax that manifests itself in inflation. Depreciation cannot be gauged because property may show appreciation in terms of the changing dollar. Profit-and-loss figures are deceptive. Reserves may depreciate or appreciate in terms of the unit. All is confusion. Is accountancy futile?

The problem is serious enough to challenge the profession. If it is not solved accountancy must suffer. If accountants master the problem the profession will be raised to new levels of prestige in the business world. The study and comprehension of money is an integral part of accountancy and must not be left to the voodooism of monetary economics.

Money can best be understood by inquiring into the purpose of it. In simple or whole barter there is no need of money. When barter is to be split into halves, i.e., one trader is to receive full satisfaction in value, and the other is to receive only a promise of value, there arises the need of an accounting system and money is a system of split-barter accounting. It is essential to remember that in the process of trading by means of money, there is no departure from barter, but merely a facilitation of barter by splitting it into two parts, one half finished and the other half prospective. Values still continue to exchange for values with money acting as an interim device, but itself having no value.

Perhaps the easiest way to comprehend money is to imagine ourselves in a position where we had to initiate a system that would enable us to escape from the rigidity of whole barter to the flexibility of split barter. Let us approach the problem as one purely of accountancy, completely divorced from politics.

The problem would be one of providing the means whereby trader No. 1 could receive value from trader No. 2 by the former giving the latter an order for an equal value which order would be acceptable to any trader at any time. An IOU would not be sufficient; it must be converted into a WeOU. In other words there must be a conversion from private credit to composite credit underwritten by all the participants in the trading circle. Obviously, this calls for a pact of all the traders agreeing to honor the promises of each as if issued by all. Mutual or social or composite credit is, therefore, the foundation of a money system and the device that liberates traders from the limitations of whole barter.

Before such common agreement can be obtained two questions must be determined: (a) what is the promise of each that is to be credited by all? (b) what is the limit of such promises? In other words we must define the meaning of the credit and the limit of it. Since the purpose of money is to split barter in two parts with one trader receiving value and the other “holding the bag,” it is obvious that the money must issue from the former (the buyer) and must pledge not money but value and the buyer-issuer promises to deliver value when any money is tendered to him from whatever quarter. Thus we see that the essence of credit under a true money system is not to promise to pay money but a promise to receive money. To comprehend this is to liberate private enterprise from the control of finance.

As to the limit of the credit of each participant, this can be agreed upon on the basis of the needs of various trades, and industries, and professions rather than passing upon the applications of each member thereof. This being done, each participant would be authorized to draw checks against his assigned credit without giving any note or other instrument. The credit would have no term but would be in the nature of a call credit since the pledge is to deliver value on demand by tender of money.

Realizing that we have a mutual credit agreement whereunder the credit can be offset only by delivering value (selling goods or services), it is obvious that we cannot afford to admit to our money exchange as a money issuer any factor [entity, ed.] that is not engaged in the business of buying and selling. Ipso facto governments are excluded since they have no way of making good their promise which is implicit in the issue power. This explodes the delusion that governments back money. It is only private enterprisers that back money; governments merely depreciate it by freely issuing it but never backing it by over-the-counter transactions.

Establishing a Monetary Unit

Before we can give meaning to our agreements we must determine the size or power of the money unit. This may seem formidable but is quite simple. Few people realize that our dollar was given its meaning by merely making it par with the Spanish dollar already current in the colonies and the states. Thus we can agree that our unit (I suggest the name “valun” from VALue UNit) shall be equal to the current dollar or some multiple thereof and set our prices in valuns accordingly.

Having agreed upon the three essentials: (a) the definition of the credit, (b) the extent of the credit, (c) the size of the unit, we are ready to set up a clearing house through which our bookkeeping can operate and to provide the means of covering its expenses. This latter can be accomplished by the simple device of a check-clearing charge. No investment is needed, the
Exchange being able to equip itself on credit based upon its prospective income from check-clearance charges. The Exchange itself would have no money-issuing power but could draw only upon accrued income. To provide currency in bills and coins would be very simple. The Exchange would purchase the bills and coins and they would be subject to requisition by members by cashing a check. Such requisition would bring a debit to the account of the check writer and a credit to the account of “the currency controller.”

A deposit of currency would, of course, bring the reverse action. The cost of printing the currency and minting the coins could be charged to each drawer or thrown into overhead and covered by the check-clearing charge just like the cost of printing check books.

Private-Enterprise Money

These are the general outlines of the establishment and operation of a private-enterprise money system. For details I must refer the reader to my book, Private Enterprise Money. Since the substance of the whole plan is mutual credit there is no occasion for anybody to pay interest to anybody and, of course, there is no place for the promissory note. Check drafts and deposits are the only instruments of record and the “money-makes-money” principle is absent. Money is made the instrumentality of the private profit system but of itself is valueless and profitless. This revolution has tremendous significance in the issue between private enterprise and collectivism because the criticism of the former is due entirely to financism.

The reason a private-enterprise money system assures stability of the unit and gives definite meaning to accountancy is that no units will be issued except for value received since each trader in self-defense must restrict his issue to selfish purposes. There could be no issues for boondoggling, or relief, or subsidy, or war, because the government would have no issue power. There could be no inflation or its reflex, deflation. This does not imply that the government could not carry out any project that the taxpayer approved, but it does mean that such approval would be necessary since the taxpayer would be the sole source of money and the government would be powerless to tax by the deficit process of changing the power of the unit through inflation. In brief, we would have government of government—democracy at last. The private-enterprise money system would accomplish the following:

Provide a stable price level.

End the debt-money system. Credit would be extended solely on the promise to pay with goods and services.

Abolish interest within the system.

Take the money-creating power out of the hands of government and banks and place it in the hands of private enterprisers.

Make government operate on a cash basis; prevent deferred and delusive taxes through inflation.

Assure distribution of goods by distributing money power.

Prevent inflation and deflation.

Defeat bureaucracy, fascism, and communism by taking the money power from government

Defeat hidden money control from any quarter.

Assure full employment and a high standard of living.

Give the people the veto power over war and all government extravagances.

Supply the perfecting element in democracy and private enterprise.

If the accounting profession will interest itself in the establishment of a true money system it will render an incomparable service to business and the public. The study of the subject is not extra-curricular; it is part and parcel of accountancy. No profession can gain so much from its solution; none must suffer so much from its non-solution.

Money and Reconversion

The reconversion problem with which the nation is now engaged is basically a problem of dollar-power conversion from the prewar power to the current power. By rationing and restraints upon spending, the action of demand upon supply has been cushioned. This cushion must be removed and since there are now about eighteen available dollars for each dollar of consumer goods (at 1939 prices) we face a tremendous potential inflationary price rise. If through the self-restraint of the people, or by artificial restraints imposed by government, the accumulated dollars are not permitted to come into the market, industry will stagnate and relief and public-works payments will increase the unbalance between a dollars and goods. When the flood breaks prices will skyrocket into runaway inflation. The dollar must be converted, sooner or later, from its prewar power to its natural current power which will grow progressively smaller and I believe will not be arrested short of complete fade-out.

The creation of a private-enterprise money unit is, therefore, imperative if we are to escape chaos and bloodshed. The subject is one of greatest urgency and I hope that the accountants will actively participate in the project.

This article was published in The Journal of Accountancy, November 1945, pp. 358-360. (Official Publication of the American Institute of Accountants).

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A Brief Critique of E. C. Riegel’s article, Money Is the Language of Accountancy

By Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

Riegel says,

“Having agreed upon the three essentials: (a) the definition of the credit, (b) the extent of the credit, (c) the size of the unit, we are ready to set up a clearing house through which our bookkeeping can operate and to provide the means of covering its expenses.”

I agree that “the essence of credit under a true money system is not to promise to pay money but a promise to receive money,” but I cannot fully agree with his proposals for b) and c).

Regarding b), he says:

“As to the limit of the credit of each participant, this can be agreed upon on the basis of the needs of various trades, and industries, and professions rather than passing upon the applications of each member thereof. This being done, each participant would be authorized to draw checks against his assigned credit without giving any note or other instrument.”

Surely, the nature of the member’s particular business must be considered, but it cannot be the sole criterion for determining credit limits. I would want each account limit to be based, at least, upon their historical volume of business, plus perhaps one or two additional factors, like their reputation and overall contribution to the welfare of the community. Also, he does not make clear that there must be some formal underlying agreement defining rights and responsibilities of membership in the clearing exchange.

Regarding c), the size of the unit, it is not enough to set its initial value equal to the dollar at the time of commencement, as Riegel suggests. That is only a logical starting point, considering that dollar valuation is what we are all accustomed to. Dollars is the value “language” we understand. But unless the system unit is defined in physical terms, it will simply depreciate along with the dollar as debasement of the dollar by the monetary authorities continues. I’ve written about that before in my books. In order to maintain its value over time, the credit unit (Riegel calls it a valun) must be defined in terms of something other than the dollar. My choice of definition has long been a “market basket” of basic commodities, because that will be the most stable measure over time and is impossible for any group of entities to manipulate.

Further, I think it is naive and inconsistent for Riegel to say that, “No investment is needed, the Exchange being able to equip itself on credit based upon its prospective income from check-clearance charges. The Exchange itself would have no money-issuing power but could draw only upon accrued income.”

I agree that the system should support itself through transaction fees, i.e., what he calls “check-clearance charges,” but if the Exchange itself has no money issuing power, how is it to cover its start-up costs? Either some up-front investment will be needed, or the exchange must be given a credit line. I favor the former as a safer alternative, but if the exchange is given a line of credit it must be strictly limited on the basis of its anticipated near-term revenues.

Regarding Private-Enterprise Money, Riegel is quite correct in saying, “Since the substance of the whole plan is mutual credit there is no occasion for anybody to pay interest to anybody and, of course, there is no place for the promissory note.”

By way of clarification, what he means is that mutual credit does not require that anyone borrow money into circulation. Thus, there is no need for the issuer of credit to sign a promissory note to a bank or anyone else, or to pay interest on negative account balances. There is however the need for each member of a mutual credit exchange to sign a general agreement that outlines the rights and responsibilities of their participation. I have provide a draft of such an agreement in my book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.

The key provision, as Riegel states, is that “no units will be issued except for value received.” That means no monetization of government debts or the inflation of credits on the basis of valueless or non-marketable assets. It is Riegel’s objective and mine to deprive government of the power to exceed its budget by debasing the currency, but Riegel’s insistence that “the government would have no issue power,” may be both impractical and overly restrictive, especially with regard to lower levels of government, like counties and municipalities. Nonetheless, government spending at all levels must be strictly limited to their legitimate tax revenues as approved by the people. Their participation in a mutual credit system must limit their credit issuing power to some small fraction of their annual anticipated tax revenues.

Finally, I wish to make a point about one of Riegel’s predictions. In the final section of the article titled, Money and Reconversion, Riegel says, “The dollar must be converted, sooner or later, from its prewar power to its natural current power which will grow progressively smaller and I believe will not be arrested short of complete fade-out.” Obviously, he was wrong about the “complete fade-out” of the dollar in the post World War II era. There was, indeed, a significant increase in prices at that time, but the tremendous increase in productive capacity that America achieved during the war enabled an unprecedented flood of consumer goods to reach the market rather quickly and absorb the very large savings that people had accumulated. While dollar debasement has continued up to the present day, and the purchasing power of the dollar has continued to decline, the monetary authorities have found many ways to forestall an acute crisis—until recently. Now, concerted action can no longer be deferred. The usury-debt-money system must be transcended, the credit commons must be reclaimed, and a decentralized and democratic network of mutual credit clearing circles is within our power to create. Riegel has provided us a torch to light our way.—t.h.g.

Money as Debt 3, now available on YouTube

Here is Paul Grignon’s latest video animation that explains the money and banking problem and it’s fundamental  importance to the future of civilization. Please note the opening quote of E. C. Riegel,whom I have acknowledged as the most important source of my own understanding. You can find links to Riegel’s writings elsewhere on this site, or click here.

While I don’t fully agree with Grignon’s analysis of the effect of interest in the money creation process, I highly recommend this video, along with his shorter video, The Essence of Money.