In this edition:
- Upcoming interview—December 13, 11 AM Eastern time (8 AM Pacific time)
- My New Course Offering — Principles of Exchange Innovation
- Report on California Tour
- Major conference upcoming, June, 2015
- My next book?, + video projects
I have accepted an invitation to be the featured guest on Bartertown Radio on Saturday, December 13.
Bartertown Radio, which describes itself as “your educational station for Trade,” is a Live Radio Talk Show every Saturday Morning at 11:00 EST ( check your local time please). My interview will be all about moneyless trading and exchange innovation, particularly as it applies to the commercial trade exchange business. To listen in and/or share your thoughts you can call 1-347-989-8557 for the show. Calls can be made using any phone or by using your Skype account which provides calls at very low cost especially for those living outside the U.S.
My New Course Offering — Principles of Exchange Innovation
As the years pass I become ever more aware of time as a scarce commodity, and as the global mega-crisis intensifies, I feel a greater urgency about the need to transcend the global interest-based, debt-money system that is driving us to destruction. Thus I am eager to pass on to the next generations the important insights and discoveries I have made over the past 35 years. I am intent on doing this in ways that will have a greater impact than the presentations, workshops and writings I have been producing over the past many years.
While I relinquished my formal academic career decades ago in favor of independent inquiry, scholarship, writing, and consulting, I remain a teacher a heart and am making it my highest priority to offer a course in the Principles of Exchange Innovation. I am quite sure that there is no other course like this anywhere, and I am uniquely qualified to conduct it.
It is my intention to guide dedicated cadres of change agents through an intensive process of inquiry, discovery, and planning to bring to market revolutionary structures and processes for value exchange that promote a sustainable economy and have the potential to usher in a new equitable and peaceful economic paradigm.
I am willing to go wherever suitable venues might be found. I’ve considered offering this as an online course, and that can be one component of it, but I believe that the impetus toward timely and effective action requires the continuity and intensity that comes from the regular face-to-face interaction and ongoing collaboration in a classroom setting.
You can find the detailed course description and syllabus here: https://beyondmoney.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/principles-of-exchange-innovation-course-syllabus.pdf.
Prospective course participants and host institutions are invited to fill out the short form at http://wp.me/P43RA-Ea. If you know of other institutions, departments, or individuals that might be interested in participating, please pass this along to them.
My two week trip to California in October could not have been better. It started with the Living the New Economy Convergence that was held in Oakland, October 23-24, and ended with a delightful visit with my dear friends, the Lub family, in Napa and Martinez. In between, I gave another presentation at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, attended an open house at the new Oakland offices of Berrett-Kohler Publishers, and conferred with several long-time friends and colleagues.
Living the New Economy Convergence
The convergence was the best conference I’ve attended in many years—well organized, with excellent presenters, and participants that were enthusiastic, well-informed, and intelligent.
A few of the presentations, including one of my own, were recorded by Bitcoin magazine. My presentation during the panel on The Future of Value Exchange can be found in my blog post here. Links to the others can be found here, and a few photos that I took at the Convergence can be viewed on my Picasa Web gallery. If you would like to see a more detailed report on this event, check out this one on the Shareable website.
The convergence was followed by a two day “hackathon” that gave participants an opportunity to brainstorm together and propose ideas, collaborations, and business projects. Sergio Lub’s pictures from that part of the event (October 25) are on his Flickr site.
The event at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) on the evening of October 30, was very gratifying, drawing about a dozen participants, many of whom I’ve known and worked with over the past several years. My presentation titled, The Evolution of Money and its Potential to Improve Humanity, was followed by a lively discussion that went on for more than 2 hours. The entire proceedings were video recorded by Sergio Lub and can be seen via my blog post at BeyondMoney.net.
The day before I left to return to Arizona, Sergio and I visited our friends who run the Sonoma GoLocal project. This is an exciting project that goes well beyond the conventional “buy local” agenda.
A few years ago, Sonoma GoLocal initiated a merchant rebate program, which is gradually becoming more popular. According to Terry Garrett, about 17,000 swipe cards have been issued to consumers and there are now 53 merchants offering “Reward Points,” with each merchant choosing their own percentage rate of rebate that varies from 2% to 10%, with the median rate being 5%.
Over the past year they have experienced a growth rate of about 20% in both the number of participating merchants and the number of cardholders. Between January1 and September 30, 2014, the amount of transactions involving either issuance or redemption of Reward Points was about $3.8 million with that number expected to reach $5.5 million by year’s end. Sonoma GoLocal has been publishing both a printed pocket guide and a free bi-monthly magazine that help to make the project financially viable. You can see some photos from our meeting, including cover photos of the publications here.
I would like to make everyone aware of a major conference that is upcoming next June 4-7. This conference, to be held on the campus of Pomona College, located in Claremont, CA, is the result of several events held in conjunction (10th International Whitehead Conference, 9th International Forum on Ecological Civilization, Inaugural Pando Populus Conference, Pilgrim Place Centennial Celebration, and Process & Faith Summer Institute) and will consist of 12 Sections divided into approximately 78 Tracks. Each Track will have 8 sessions, which will be 90 minutes each.
After my meeting with renowned philosopher and theologian, John Cobb, a couple years ago, he invited me to participate in this conference which he was then helping to plan. I will be presenting in Section I, The Threatening Catastrophe: Responding Now, Track 6, Political Collapse: The Alternative. You can get all the details, and register at http://www.ctr4process.org/whitehead2015/.
My next book?, + video projects
I’m aware that in today’s information-rich environment people tend to be overloaded and getting their attention is becoming ever more difficult. Short videos on YouTube, Vimeo, or other video showcases are probably the best bet for getting a message across. I’m hoping to find someone with the requisite editing skills to help me parse some of my recorded presentations into short topical lessons. That, combined with a new book aimed at the mass market, might attract the kind of attention, and provide the essential information needed to dispel false beliefs that prevail in the minds of the general public and stimulate the kinds of fundamental structural changes that are becoming ever more urgent. I’m inclined to give this new book a provocative title, like Everything You Know About Money (And Banking) Is Wrong! It would follow a question and answer format that presents first a fundamental question, then the orthodox answer and prevalent belief, then the truth of the matter as I have come to see it.
This project is of course a major undertaking, and if it is to achieve the kinds of results hoped for, calls for some skills and resources that exceed my own. Collaborators and suggestions are invited.
Finally, on a personal note, after spending the summer in Bisbee, I’ve reestablished myself in Tucson, sharing a house on the far east side, close to the Rincon Mountains and Saguaro National Park. Though a bit distant from downtown, it is in a lovely, peaceful setting—rather ideal for creative work.
My accustomed robust health has been disturbed in recent months by some digestive difficulties. A course of medication and a combination of dietary changes and natural supplements seem to be resolving the worst of it and I’m hopeful that I’ll soon be back to normal.
Best wishes to all for a Happy Holiday Season, and may the coming year bring a great leap forward in creating a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.
Bank of Japan announces plan for massive inflation of the Yen, as US Fed curtails dollar monetization (QE). What does it mean for you?
A recent article in the Guardian (UK) reports that the Japanese central bank has announced plans to “inject ¥80tn (£447bn) a year into the financial system, mainly through the purchase of government bonds, in a bid to ward off the threat of deflation.”
Thus, Japan takes over much of the burden of keeping a flawed global money system alive, as the US central bank (the Federal Reserve) ends its own program of dollar inflation.
Bloomberg provides a “quick take” on the FED policy saying, “It was the biggest emergency economic stimulus in history and now it’s over. The U.S. Federal Reserve’s once-in-a-lifetime program to buy immense piles of bonds, month after month, in an extraordinary effort to restart a recession-deadened economy came to an end in October after adding more than $3.5 trillion to the Fed’s balance sheet – an amount roughly equal to the size of the German economy. The bond-buying program, called quantitative easing or QE, had been controversial since its start in 2009, as had the Fed’s decision in 2013 to gradually reduce the monthly economic boost, a plan that became known as the taper. Whether the Fed tapered too soon, given global economic weakness, or too late, given signs of bubbles in some markets, was hotly debated. But even after the taper’s end the Fed continued to pump support into the economy the old-fashioned way, by holding its interest rates near zero.”
As I’ve pointed out before, “Quantitative easing” is simply a euphemism for inflation of the currency (mainly by central banks buying government bonds and other uncollectable debt). Other things being equal, currency inflation eventually leads to price inflation. But other things are not equal. The US has indeed seen significant inflation of prices in some sectors, especially food, but other prices are being kept down, primarily because of layoffs and underemployment, leaving consumers with lower incomes and reduced purchasing power. If income from wages and interest on savings are held down, people must either do without or borrow more money to maintain their levels of spending. The following table from the Federal Reserve shows the growth in consumer credit over the past few years.Consumer Credit Outstanding ($ Billions) 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
As of 8/31 2,552.8 2,647.4 2,755.9 2,923.6 3,097.9 3,225.3
These figures cover most short- and intermediate-term credit extended to individuals, excluding loans secured by real estate.
Those figures show a more than a 26% increase in consumer credit just over the past four and one half years, much of it high-interest credit card debt. Although credit card debt has declined somewhat from its 2009 peak, according to nerdwallet.com, falling indebtedness is largely due to defaults rather than repayment.
The same site reports that, in total, American consumers owe:
- $11.63 trillion in debt, an increase of 3.8% from last year
- $880.5 billion in credit card debt
- $8.07 trillion in mortgages
- $1,120.3 billion in student loans, an increase of 11.5% from last year
Central banks find currency inflation necessary in order to offset the reductions in the money supply caused by charging interest on money that banks create when they make “loans.” There is never enough money in circulation to enable repayment of the aggregate of principal plus accrued interest of money created as bank “loans.” Thus the “natural” tendency of the usury-based debt-money system is toward deflation. Central governments then must become the borrowers of last resort and central banks become the lenders of last resort as bankers and politicians continue their absurd dance that is a death spiral of recurrent and ever more extreme financial crises.
The real solution to our monetary, financial, and economic problems is to end the usury-based debt-money system. But the bankers, the rulers of the world, will not stand for that. By control of the money creation process, they have extended their power to tightly control the political process, as well. Thus, the wealth and purchasing power of the vast majority of people will continue to decline as the system continues to pump up the wealth and power of the few who control the money system, and their minions.
According to the Fed, between 2010 and 2013, “mean (overall average) family income rose 4 percent in real terms, but median income fell 5 percent, consistent with increasing income concentration during this period.” And “Families at the bottom of the income distribution saw continued substantial declines in average real incomes between 2010 and 2013, continuing the trend observed between the 2007 and 2010 surveys.”
So, what can people and communities do to counter these trends and regain control of their economic fortunes and enhance their political power?
Considering the dynamics of power that prevail in the so-called democratic countries today, reliance on the political process to effect systemic reforms seems futile. So, while it is necessary to continue to protest the status quo and reframe the political dialog, it is even more important to take action to rebuild society from the bottom upward. We must reduce our dependence upon the very systems that are being used to disempower us, of which the political money system is foremost.
That is not so daunting as it might first appear, and conceptually it is not very complicated. It is what my work of the past quarter century as been all about. The biggest difficulties have had to do with dispelling erroneous myths about money and banking and helping people to see beyond the orthodox. This, and the lack of adequate tools have retarded the process of taking promising alternatives to scale, but that is quickly changing as new technologies that enable moneyless trading become available.
But don’t sit idly by waiting for things to happen “out there.” Start with your own personal development and empowerment, while working to strengthen your various communities and networks, your city, state, and region. Some tips to get you started can be found here. –t.h.g.
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Is it a good idea to start a LETS in 2014? The brand is 30 years old, and has a track record littered with poor governance, currency collapse, low participation and high turnover. The domesticated hippies of the 80s and caring sharing consumers of the 90s are not the same as the Occupiers and Transitioners of today. The existing LETS projects at least in UK are failing to thrive even in recession. The movement preferred decentralisation over software coordination, and slicker projects emerge every week.
Of course I'm jealous. People tell me every other day that my work is important, but much funding flows to demonstrably stupid projects.
I no longer seek funding or material support or even volunteers for my work. I no longer worry about funded projects overtaking mine. I have understood that what I'm doing is antithetical to money, and unlikely to be funded by any reasonable plutocrat or angel. Just as states and banks simply can't see moneyless people, projects which neither beg nor boast are invisible to donors.
Thomas Greco’s presentation at the Living the New Economy convergence, Oakland, CA, October 23, 2014
At the recent Living the New Economy convergence in Oakland, I was the first speaker on a panel that addressed the question of the Future of Value Exchange. Here it is below:
If you would like to download the slide deck of that presentation, you can get it here. I had only enough time to show the first 15 slides; the other were included for possible discussion.
You can also find some of my other presentations and interviews on my YouTube playlist.
You can find video recordings of several other sessions from Living the New Economy convergence here.
Medium of exchange for traders/producers
measure of value etc.
No one monetary design is optimal for all functions. A typology of money Very little consensus on this. Important for the integrity and long term stability of the project. For all currencies note that the issuer has a tremendous benefit by being able to thrust the money into circulation and usually to control the quantity. Recession means not enough money circulating in the economy.
A recent article, Evo Morales: A Bolivian idol, posted on the Aljazeera website, quotes the Bolivian president as saying,
“I have no regrets – in fact, I am pleased to have expelled the US ambassador, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and to have closed the US military base in Bolivia. Now, without a US ambassador, there is less conspiracy, and more political stability and social stability. Without the International Monetary Fund, we are better off economically.”
Bold action, indeed. Read the full article here.
Thomas Greco’s Presentation at The Institute of Noetic Sciences: The Evolution of Money and its Potential to Improve Humanity
On October 30, 2014, I gave a presentation, titled, The Evolution of Money and its Potential to Improve Humanity, at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in Petaluma, California.
I was greatly encouraged by the high caliber of those who attended and the quality and intensity of the discussion that followed.
The proceedings were video recorded by organizer and master networker, Sergio Lub, and can be viewed at this Vimeo site.
This interview of Thomas Greco was conducted and recorded by award wining documentary filmmaker, Marie-Monique Robin, during the 2nd International Conference on Complementary Currency Systems in The Hague, Netherlands in June, 2013. In English with French subtitles.
Last time I described several solidarity economy networks and a bit about their software situation and needs. Today I want to look at some solutions which could help them work in a more integrated way.
This article starts from the specific problem of accounting, and widens out to whole-platform approaches.
For full interoperability the accounting needs to be abstracted out of the community portal into its own service, and made accessible with an API.
The failure of state-level economic policy is driving the emergence of many independent 'solidarity economy' networks accross the world. While the old story says that resources are short and the fittest will survive, these movements are forging a new story about creating local abundance together. As well as creating a new culture, a new spirituality , they are learning how to
- feed themselves from their gardens better than supermarkets
- maximise exchange between themselves (and each other) to keep the value local
- finance sustainable enterprises,
- pool risk
Most ecovillages are progressive outposts on the frontiers of a necessary transition. Damanhur however is the centre of a nascent civilisation. With over 500 adult residents and tens of thousands of connected souls it is the largest ecovillage in Europe; it has created its own culture and its own ways of living in community and understanding and practising spirituality.
A recent Bloomberg news item reports that some major retailers are dropping Apple Pay, not because they don’t like the new technology of smartphone payments, but because they have a plan of their own. Here is an excerpt:
“Objections to Apple Pay aren’t actually about convenience, reliability, or security—they are about a burgeoning war between a consortium of merchants, led by Walmart, and the credit card companies. Rite Aid, CVS, Walmart, Best Buy, and about 50 other retailers have been working on their own mobile payments system, called CurrentC. Unlike Apple Pay, which works in conjunction with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, CurrentC cuts out the credit card networks altogether. The benefit to the merchants is clear: They would save the swipe fees they now pay to the credit card companies, which average about 2 percent of the cost of transactions.”
Read the full article here,
On Thursday, October 30 I will present, The Evolution of Money and its Potential to Improve Humanity at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). in Petaluma, California. If you happen to be in the San Francisco Bay area or northern counties you might want to attend. Details can be found here.Please RSVP here.
In my 2001 book, Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender, I included a description of a proposed community currency I call Youth Employment Scrip.
This currency design is intended to provide the local community with a supplemental means of payment based on the labor that young people can provide to local businesses, non-profits, and government agencies, that normally could not afford to hire them.
Combined with presently available employment agency services, such a plan could help reduce youth unemployment while providing the entire community with additional liquidity that will help local businesses to sell some of their unused capacity.
For a complete description, you can view or download the entire chapter here: Money Chapter 22 YES
M-Pesa, is a mobile-phone based money transfer service that was started up in Kenya 2007. Since then it’s usage has grown by leaps and bounds. This recent article provides a thorough understanding of how it works and the benefits it provides: 10 Myths About M-PESA: 2014 Update.
In the slums of Kenya, money is especially scarce. Still, the residents are productive and have plenty of goods and services to offer one another. American social entrepreneur Will Ruddick, together with hundreds of local enterprisers, has found a way to create supplemental exchange media that enable them to trade with one another despite the lack of Kenyan shillings.
Here’s a new video about their Bangla-Pesa currency that they have created in Bangladesh, a slum area of Mombasa.
And, here’s a recent TV news report, which is described as follows:
Published on Apr 10, 2014. When news of the complementary currency branded Bangla-pesa first broke out, claims arose that it was linked to the proscribed Mombasa Republican Council, MRC, and its secessionist agenda, almost spelling doom for the project. A year later, we returned to Bangladesh slum in Mombasa county where the vouchers were first launched, and discovered that not only has the program grown in leaps and bounds, but plans were afoot to roll it out in different slum in the region.
Yesterday I wrote about how using a currency strengthens the story and gives value to the acts for which that currency was issued. I suggested that anyone can informally certify socially beneficial behaviour and accept those certificates as recognition of their own contributions. Today I will discuss how that principle might pan out in the macroeconomy.
When we are compelled to use a currency using such violent means as legal tender laws, latterly money transmission laws, taxes, bailiffs, and the throttling of alternatives, it hardly matters where the money gets its value, or if it has value at all. The 'value' of the dollar tends to mean its price expressed in other commercial credit currencies, but the real value is what the paper represents, what justified its issue.
The emission of money is always complemented by an equivalent value exchange somewhere in time.