Tag Archives: transition

Newsletter-Fall 2011

Update

Hi all,

As you know, I’ve been residing in Thailand since the middle of June, but I’m sensing a call to get to where the action is, and right now that seems to be North America. So, I’ll be returning to the U.S. soon.

First on my agenda is to collect my mail and gather some warm clothing, then I’ll head for Michigan to participate in the International Conference on Sustainability, Transition and Culture Change, near Traverse City, Thursday, Nov. 10 – Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 at the Shanty Creek Resorts, Bellaire, Michigan.
http://sustainabilityconference.org/index.htm.

That conference could be the initiating event for an ongoing process of design, strategy planning, and implementation of alternative systems, especially systems of exchange and finance. I’m encouraging all who are able to attend and to pass the word to your networks. Notable participates will be Australian economist Steve Keen and Nicole Foss of Automatic Earth.

Over the coming weeks or months I’ll be available and open to invitations to speak, confer, and collaborate. [Contact me by entering a comment to this post]. You can view/hear many of my presentations and interviews by scanning the sidebar on this website. Some of my most notable recent presentations are on my Vimeo site: http://vimeo.com/tomazg/videos

I’ve been watching with great interest the OWS movement and am encouraged to see that so many people are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo. I’ve posted a few items about it recently on this site and will post more in the future. This may be the surge that begins the kind of real change that people have been looking for.

Demonstrations and other expressions of discontent can help to inspire people and encourage them to act, but that energy must be applied in ways that can effect real change. I’m generally optimistic about the prospects for a successful metamorphic change in civilization, but it will require us to learn radical ways of sharing, cooperation, and organization.

If we are to make the necessary shift of power away from Wall Street and Washington, we will need to reduce our dependence upon their systems and structures (like political money and banks) and organize new structures that empower people. Let’s work together to provide the direction this movement needs.

Just Released

Pertinent to that is the release a new book from EVOLVER EDITIONS/North Atlantic Books. Edited by Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan, and titled, What Comes After Money: Essays from Reality Sandwich on Transforming Currency & Commerce, this anthology includes “thoughtful, provocative essays from economist Bernard Lietaer, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, Sacred Economics author Charles Eisenstein, musician Paul D. Miller (a.k.a. DJ Spooky), theoretical physicist Amit Goswami, Larry Harvey (founder of Burning Man), alternative historian Peter Lamborn Wilson,” and yours truly, Thomas Greco. My essay is titled, Local Control of Credit: The Foundation of Economic Democracy (p. 191).

In his introduction to the book, Daniel talks about the emergence of a conscious culture to challenge Wall Street’s consumerist paradigm. You can read it here: http://www.realitysandwich.com/impossible_alternative. More information about the book can be found at Amazon.com, which is offering the book at a discounted price.

Thailand Floods

Many people have been asking about the flooding in Thailand that has been widely reported in the news. Monsoon rains are normal for this part of the world, but this has been one of the rainiest years on record. A large amount of farmland has been inundated and some crops destroyed, but the biggest problems are in the urban and industrial areas that are built along the major rivers. As is the case everywhere, land is quite valuable in such areas and attempts are made to fill in marshland and restrict waterways to narrow channels. Nature has no regard for such activities. One of the worst effects of flooding is the increase in illnesses from water-borne microbes as floodwater is contaminated with sewage, which can also cause food supplies to be contaminated.

Fortunately, Chiang Mai, where I spent most of my time, experienced only a small amount of flooding along the Ping River for a few days a couple weeks ago, but fresh food markets in that area had water standing a foot or two deep, which might have caused some bacterial transfer to food supplies here. There are reports of increased numbers of people visiting emergency clinics and I myself was sick for a while with what seemed like a bad head cold and respiratory congestion. I don’t know if that was flood related but whatever the case I’m better now.

The main problems seem now to be in the south around Bangkok and Ayutthaya where severe flooding continues and has affected a great many people, plus manufacturing facilities, so you may feel some effect as well. Here’s an excerpt from some news reports about that:

Disk manufacturing sites in Thailand — notably including the largest Western Digital plant — were shut down due to floods around Bangkok last week and are expected to remain shut for at least several more days. The end to flooding is not in sight, and Western Digital now says it could take five to eight months to bring its plants back online. Thailand is a major manufacturer of hard drives, and the shutdowns have reduced the industry’s output by 25 percent.

And..

Inner Bangkok has so far escaped major flooding as the authorities divert water to areas outside the main capital in a bid to prevent the Chao Phraya River bursting its banks and flooding the political and economic heartland.

But efforts to keep the city of 12 million people dry have been complicated by a seasonal high tide.

Read more here: http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/506532-thai-pm-says-floods-in-parts-of-bangkok-inevitable/

The airports seem to be OK for now—if the dikes hold. I fly out of Bangkok next week.

Cheers,
Thomas

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Investing in Uncertain Times

A few weeks ago, after I commented on something she said in her monthly newsletter, author and alternative financial consultant, Susan Boskey (Susan@AlternativeFinancialNow.com), asked me to write something about investing for a subsequent issue. (You can find additional information on her website). Here is the article I wrote, which she has published. It expresses my idea about our current situation, and my advice about how to better use our resources in this time of transition.  – t.h.g.

Investing in Uncertain Times

Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

Many people today are in a quandary about their personal savings and investments. The conventional advice has it that every family should have three to six months’ living expenses squirreled away. But that begs another question which is, in what form should that ‘nest egg’ be held?

Is it safe and prudent to leave it in a bank? Should I buy bonds, or stocks, or real estate, or commodity futures? How can I balance risk with income and capital appreciation? These are questions that are difficult to answer even in “normal” times, but the present situation seems especially uncertain. The near financial meltdown of a couple of years ago coupled with the ongoing stream of bad economic news leads one to wonder, along with billionaire George Soros, is this the end of an era?

I think it is. My view on the matter is that the era of economic growth is over, kaput, finished. If you stop for a minute to think about it, you must admit that we live on a finite planet, that we are rapidly using up the available resources, that we are adding ever more pollution to our air, water and land, and that the distance (in time) between the end of the production line and regional dump is growing ever shorter. This cannot continue. Nature shows us that nothing grows forever. What would it be like if children never stopped growing? What happens as insect or animal populations grow? They either level off or experience a catastrophic collapse.

So, if we cannot expect the economy to return to what has been “normal” in our past, what can we expect? I believe that we must, and in fact are right now transitioning toward a steady-state economy, one in which overall quantitative growth is supplanted by qualitative development, i.e., an improvement in the conditions of life that really matter,

This is a transition that I compare to the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly. The caterpillar’s role is to eat and to grow, i.e., to accumulate the resources that will be used during the chrysalis stage by the emergent butterfly as it assembles itself into a new and different creature. The butterfly behavior contrasts sharply with that of the caterpillar. While the caterpillar can be very destructive as it devours plants, the butterfly helps to pollinate them as it sips nectar from their blossoms.

So, if this is an apt description of what is going on, we ought to withdraw our resources from Wall Street investments that perpetuate “the Caterpillar economy” of endless consumption and despoliation, and start investing in “the Butterfly economy,” which is more equitable, sustainable and restorative of the environment upon which our lives ultimately depend.

This can be achieved through

  • the Localization of Production,
  • on a Human Scale,
  • for Local Consumption,
  • using Locally Available Inputs.

As our communities become more self-reliant, we become more secure, providing for ourselves more of our food, energy, housing and other necessities of life.

Right now, the economy is in a depression because in the wake of the last bubble-bust cycle the private productive sector is being starved for credit while the wasteful government-military-industrial-financial sector is appropriating ever more resources to keep itself alive. There is not much we can do about that since the political power is mainly in the hands of those interests. But we can use our own resources in our own communities to secure a better future for ourselves and our descendants.

In a depression “cash is king” because many people don’t have enough of it to cover ordinary living expenses. At the same time, the money powers are inflating the currency at unheard of rates, so ultimately fixed-dollar securities, including bank deposits, will be eaten up by rising prices.

If savers and small investors can buy into local enterprises that provide returns as a share of their actual product, they can achieve some measure of security (in food and energy, for example) while transforming depreciating dollars into something (like food, or alcohol for fuel to replace gasoline) that will become increasingly valuable as time goes on. Use value is becoming more important than market value, and personal responsibility and local cooperation are becoming more important than reliance upon declining institutions and structures.

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Here are a few links to pertinent information:

No Time to Be Complacent–Fifty Statistics About the U.S. Economy

Global Research provides some interesting facts that make it clear that we are at the end of an era in economics, finance, and the industrial economy.

The article, Desperate Financial Situation, Biggest Debt Bubble in World History: Fifty Statistics About The U.S. Economy, begins with the statement

Most Americans know that the U.S. economy is in bad shape, but what most Americans don’t know is how truly desperate the financial situation of the United States really is.  The truth is that what we are experiencing is not simply a “downturn” or a “recession”.  What we are witnessing is the beginning of the end for the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen.  Our greed and our debt are literally eating our economy alive.  Total government, corporate and personal debt has now reached 360 percent of GDP, which is far higher than it ever reached during the Great Depression era.  We have nearly totally dismantled our once colossal manufacturing base, we have shipped millions upon millions of middle class jobs overseas, we have lived far beyond our means for decades and we have created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.  A great day of financial reckoning is fast approaching, and the vast majority of Americans are totally oblivious.

I should add that billionaire financier George Soros has projected that total U.S. debt will soon reach 500% of GDP. Governments are not going to fix the problem. It is time for people to look to their own resources and creativity and begin organizing in their communities to assure their survival and thrival as we make the transition to a steady-state economy and a more equitable, harmonious society.